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Author Topic: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering  (Read 1802 times)

Zephyr Bowman

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Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« on: October 13, 2007, 01:10:23 pm »

Hello to all:

I am new here and would very much appreciate some help - I figure that the more information you have the more you can help me so I will go into some detail as to what I have done and what I am trying to do.  To skip these details and get right down to the issue at hand, skip to the next set of asterisks.

************

I have been recording for over 15 years and yet have spent very little time in the mastering world.  My job was basically to go out, get the source material and then someone would take over (or in many instances not).

My style of recording has been an older school - 2 mics, 2 ears, make every component as quality as possible - from mics to pre-amps to cables to power supplies.

I have mainly Schoeps microphones (cardioids, sub-cards - tube and solid state)  and Earthworks (omnis).  My pre-amps have been Sonosax pre-amps and Millenia.  A/Ds by Apogee - first the AD-500, then the 1000, then the PSX-100 and now the Mini-me/DAC combo.

I have always had full permission and am not doing "Grateful Dead or Phish" style recordings from 50 feet back.  My recordings have tended to be of jazz bands (in the FULL meaning of the word), who control their balance mainly on stage.  My main mentor was David Baker and may he rest in peace.

My end product was initially recorded to at 16/48 DAT and then high resolution 24/96 using DTRS tapes.

************

I am now engaging in more mastering.  This is for two reasons - 1) I have thousands of hours of recording on tape which makes me very nervous given the stories of tapes degrading and 2) I have seen the prices of multi-terabit hard drives come down to the point where it is possible to back up much of this.  In addition, much of this material needs to get into the hands of the musicians and the mastering folks have disappeared.  With pipelines as large as they are getting having multiple mixes possible and available on an FTP site seems like a great way for the musicians to have access.

************

My question right now concerns compression.  I bought a valve compressor that I would like to use to make the recordings more usable by the average listener.

Now I know basically nothing about compression, past what I have read - and I have tried to read as much as possible before posting here.  The compressor I bought to learn on is the TL Audio FAT MAN 1 as it is valve driven and has some presets.  Once I wrap my head more around the concept, I intend to upgrade this.

MY goal is generally to apply rather light compression to the mixes.

There are various (and I imagine typical) adjustments possible on the compressor:

- Input Gain - how much gain to add to the mix before it hits the tube phase

- Output Gain - how much to add after the valve phase

- Gain makeup - how much gain to add to bring the recording to levels acceptable in todays digital world - not sure why this is necessary with output gain (but that is a separate question).

These I can understand and I see that Input gain is the most important in terms of how hard do I drive the unit and the valve side.  I would expect to drive it less for a full mix than I would for a single instrument.

Then we have the parts I am *seriously* fuzzy on:

- Threshold - I understand this as when does the compression kick in

- Ratio - I understand this as how hard does it compress when it does kick in - how many decibels it drops.

- Knee - (2 options - hard and soft) - and I understand this to be how quickly and harshly does it bring it down below the appropriate level.  ie how steep the curve is.

- Attack (2 options - fast and slow) - and I understand this to be how fast does the compressor compress

- Release (2 options - fast and slow) - and I understand these to be how fast does the compressor let go

I am not particularly happy with the 3 preset mixes provided and am not trying individual instrument settings as I doubt there is much there to help me.  As such, I have manual mode where I can set everything myself.  When the unit is in preset mode - everything minus the gain options is disabled (ratio, threshold, attack, etc).

From logic - I am thinking I want rather light compression for these mixes.  To me that would mean:

- a highish threshold
- a lowish ratio - if not very low
- a soft knee
- slow attack?
- slow release?

The last two I am totally lost on.  And the knee isn't really THAT much clearer.

So first question: is my assumption of light compression correct?  I am kind of confident on it, but you never know and always worth asking.

And most importantly - HOW do I achieve that?

SO THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE for ANY help.  I am sorry for the totally newbie question and to most of you, I am sure this is cake.  I spent so many years concentrating on ideal mic placement and this side of the equation was totally lost.

All the best.
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Eric Snodgrass

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 01:46:17 pm »

You would be better served to post this in the REP forums, where some outstanding recording folks post, rather than here, where some outstanding live audio folks post.  This forum is about Live Audio, not recording and mastering.
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Eric Snodgrass
No, really, I do this for a living.

Mac Kerr

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 01:50:50 pm »

Despite your use the word "live" in the subject your question has nothing to do with live sound reinforcement, which is the subject of these forums. There are few here with experience in mastering, and the subject is off topic here. Part of the ProSoundWeb.com group of forums however are the R/E/P forums which deal directly with recording issues, and are led by some of the most successful people in the industry. Copy and paste your post to those forums and you will get much better results.

Mac
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Zephyr Bowman

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 02:05:24 pm »

Sorry about that.

I will move the post.

I put it here only because they are 100% live mixes and there is certain headroom that you allow in live mixes that you would then want to compress our.

Apologies.

Is there a way for me to delete the topic?
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2007, 02:14:14 pm »

Zephyr Bowman wrote on Sat, 13 October 2007 14:05

Sorry about that.

I will move the post.

I put it here only because they are 100% live mixes and there is certain headroom that you allow in live mixes that you would then want to compress our.

Apologies.

Is there a way for me to delete the topic?
There is no need to delete the topic, if someone wants to respond they are welcome to. My point was that you will get a more experienced audience in a forum dedicated to recording. Mastering recordings is not what the members here do, at R/E/P it is.

Mac
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James Tan

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2007, 02:27:01 pm »

Also, along with the REP forums, you may want to check out the Gearslutz forums...which have a remote recording section...and a mastering section.
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Eric Muller

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2007, 05:05:01 pm »

You say you are "mastering", but only ask about compression...what types of EQs do you have, what type of monitors are you listening on? Mastering involves critial listening to start with. Don't take a broadsword to something just beacause it's not as loud as a production recording.

Most mastering is done with multiband compressors, which allow you to compress frequency ranges separately, sort of a compressor/EQ. For example, if the bass is too loud in the mix, compress the bass frequencies indpendent of the mid/high frequencies.

Simple compression across a 2 track mix is NOT mastering, that's just making it louder at the cost of dynamics.

Look for the Bob Katz book, "Mastering Audio".

Another thing, always record at 24 bits. I'd take 44.1/24 over 48/16 everytime, especially if my converters were of great quality. You don't gain quality by resampling a 48/16 recording to 96/24. It might help the precision math of your computer plug-ins, if you're using them.
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Matt Collins

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2007, 09:52:41 pm »

I think Bob Katz has a decent book out about Mastering on Focal Press. Check it out.

Here are two books:
 http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Audio-Second-art-science/dp/  0240808371/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-5491208-1196660?ie=UTF8&s =books&qid=1192672302&sr=8-1

and


 http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Engineers-Handbook-Mix-Audio  /dp/0872887413/ref=pd_bbs_6/103-5491208-1196660?ie=UTF8& s=books&qid=1192672302&sr=8-6

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Phillip_Graham

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2007, 03:56:25 pm »

Matt Collins wrote on Wed, 17 October 2007 21:52

I think Bob Katz has a decent book out about Mastering on Focal Press. Check it out.

Here are two books:
  http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Audio-Second-art-science/dp/   0240808371/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-5491208-1196660?ie=UTF8&s =books&qid=1192672302&sr=8-1



Bob Katz's book is the only decent one out there, and has a lot of good info in it, but the way it is structured is kind of rambling.
I say that after receiving a free signed copy from the author after helping him set up a new iso transformer scheme for his mastering suite, so take it for what its worth...
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Compression for live mixes POST recording in mastering
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 04:15:59 pm »

+1 on BK

JR
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