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  1. #1

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    I posted an earlier recording of this a while ago. Since then I've been trying to learn more about both mixing and mastering and I could definitely use some feedback. It's another recording of The Days of Wine And Roses and my hope is that the low end is under control, the level is realistic and the high end is clear without being brittle. I'd appreciate any feedback you may have to offer. Thanks in advance.



    Here's new version that incorporates some of the input I've received here and elsewhere. One big change is moving the tremolo to the end of the mastering chain since both the compressor and limiter tend to eliminate trem. Other than that I've reduced the volume of the lower shelf a bit more so the lows should be a little less prominent and I've added a limiter with very gentle settings.

    Dowar - 03 - 18 - 2021 - ReBalance by Jim Soloway | Free Listening on SoundCloud
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 03-19-2021 at 10:28 AM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I'm not a recording guy, but I enjoyed the music, Jim! Thanks for sharing!

    Marc

  4. #3

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    Hi Jim,
    You always play beautiful, soothing, masterful stuff - I personally think that is the best you ever “sounded”. To my ears there is not a single fault in the entire performance.
    I would keep this workflow and not change a thing.
    The guitar although played gently, sounds, Big..
    JD

  5. #4

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    I think too much bass. Everyone wants more dynamic range and hears the evils of compression, but compression is a necessary thing. What mastering software are you using?

    I'd probably e-q out some bass and compress more. In general it is very difficult to master one's own work. Frequently one is too tied to the "sound" of your guitar and amp and strings to be afraid to eq and compress the heck out of it that might be needed to play well on the listener's HiFi system.

    The production on this one is good, I think. Just like a guitarist might copy licks or tunes, as an engineer sometimes it is good to try to copy the mastering.


  6. #5

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    BTW when I'm listening, I have my computer tied to a PreSonus AD converter, to a HI Fi amp then to JBL 530 speakers. Basically I'm web surfing and listening to your recording on the exact same setup I use for my own music recording.

    I'm not much of a Jazz player but here is an example of my own. I have compressed quite a bit then backed off when it started to sound compressed. I have also done bass cutting with the EQ. I was trying to get a sound like the Bireli Lagrene recording above.

    L5 | Valco

  7. #6

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    Listening on studio monitors in my somewhat acoustically-treated home studio. I think this is the best sounding recording I've heard from you.

    my hope is that the low end is under control, the level is realistic and the high end is clear without being brittle
    I think you've achieved all three goals. You might take out a bit more low-end, but at least on my setup, it sounds balanced. Tricky thing with mixing is, after awhile, it's easy to make changes without necessarily making the mix any better—often times, making it worse.

    If you wanted to get really nitpicky, a few melody notes jumped out at me—that is, they seemed to rise above the average volume in a way that caught my attention. Not sure if you're using any compression already, but some light, surgical, highly targeted compression on those few melody notes would make it perfect IMO. Are you using tremolo? I know you usually do, but I don't seem to hear it in this recording. But maybe I do hear the tiniest little bit? I can imagine it can be tricky to get a compression and tremolo to play nicely together.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr
    I think too much bass. Everyone wants more dynamic range and hears the evils of compression, but compression is a necessary thing. What mastering software are you using?

    I'd probably e-q out some bass and compress more. In general it is very difficult to master one's own work. Frequently one is too tied to the "sound" of your guitar and amp and strings to be afraid to eq and compress the heck out of it that might be needed to play well on the listener's HiFi system.

    The production on this one is good, I think. Just like a guitarist might copy licks or tunes, as an engineer sometimes it is good to try to copy the mastering.

    I am definitely not tied to the sound. I'm just trying to learn enough to get rid of the excess bass. Engineering is hard work and I'm making progress very slowly (but I am making progress).

  9. #8

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    Beautiful arrangement! I listened to it on a pair of DT770 Pro and the track is perfectly fine IMHO. Despite the headphones being a tad bit bass-heavy, I found the low end to be very well balanced.

  10. #9

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    Thanks all. This was very useful. I've just taken my traditional next day listen and I think I know the next steps. I'll keep you posted.

  11. #10

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    Sounds great to me.

    I'm listening on Kali LP-8 reference monitors. The bass is working for me on these speakers. Regarding the bass one test is to: try listening through the car and your tv speakers, see if you can it moderately loud without the speakers farting out. I'm actually not overly concerned about my recording being played over a tv or car, but especially the car, is how a lot of music is listened to.

    Reaper, which I believe you are still using, does come with plugins you can master with. My master channel chain in this order, ReaComp, ReaEQ, ReaXcomp, Master limiter, Youlean loudness meter. Only the Youlean loudness meter is not included with Reaper, but it's free.

    Regarding taming low notes in general. If you have your highpass on your EQ set as far as you can go without hurting your tone, the next step for me would be using the ReaXcomp which is a multi-band compressor. There is a Reaper Mania video for that, I think it might be a mastering or master channel video.

    In a situation of solo guitar, I'd want it to sound like I want before mastering so the mastering should be pretty light. I'd mostly master in relation to the other tracks you are putting on the CD, getting the volumes consistent between tracks, the EQs close enough so they sound like they belong together, the LUFS at the right level. At this step I'd have every track rendered, in album order on one track. These would be separate media items on the track. Don't place the mastering effects on the master channel, instead place them on the individual media items (right click the media item/Take/Show effects chain for active take). Do the first tune, copy that effects chain to the next item, adjust, etc. As an aside, you can put markers with #your song name at the start of each tune, and you can render as an album with song names and time gaps between tunes.

    What is compression for on a solo guitar performance? To make the soft notes louder at the expense of losing some of the the dynamics, also to tame any notes that come out too loud due to performance/technique. It's a balancing game. I could clearly hear every note you played and nothing jumped out as being too loud, I wouldn't add any more compression. However, if listening in a car with road noise, could I hear all the notes? Not sure. If you care about that you should test it out.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Sounds great to me.

    I'm listening on Kali LP-8 reference monitors. The bass is working for me on these speakers. Regarding the bass one test is to: try listening through the car and your tv speakers, see if you can it moderately loud without the speakers farting out. I'm actually not overly concerned about my recording being played over a tv or car, but especially the car, is how a lot of music is listened to.

    Reaper, which I believe you are still using, does come with plugins you can master with. My master channel chain in this order, ReaComp, ReaEQ, ReaXcomp, Master limiter, Youlean loudness meter. Only the Youlean loudness meter is not included with Reaper, but it's free.

    Regarding taming low notes in general. If you have your highpass on your EQ set as far as you can go without hurting your tone, the next step for me would be using the ReaXcomp which is a multi-band compressor. There is a Reaper Mania video for that, I think it might be a mastering or master channel video.

    In a situation of solo guitar, I'd want it to sound like I want before mastering so the mastering should be pretty light. I'd mostly master in relation to the other tracks you are putting on the CD, getting the volumes consistent between tracks, the EQs close enough so they sound like they belong together, the LUFS at the right level. At this step I'd have every track rendered, in album order on one track. These would be separate media items on the track. Don't place the mastering effects on the master channel, instead place them on the individual media items (right click the media item/Take/Show effects chain for active take). Do the first tune, copy that effects chain to the next item, adjust, etc. As an aside, you can put markers with #your song name at the start of each tune, and you can render as an album with song names and time gaps between tunes.

    What is compression for on a solo guitar performance? To make the soft notes louder at the expense of losing some of the the dynamics, also to tame any notes that come out too loud due to performance/technique. It's a balancing game. I could clearly hear every note you played and nothing jumped out as being too loud, I wouldn't add any more compression. However, if listening in a car with road noise, could I hear all the notes? Not sure. If you care about that you should test it out.
    Thanks. I'm digesting all of that and it's worth more time and attention than I have right now but I do want to respond to one thing. I know what I listen to in the car and I wouldn't even try to listen to this sort of music over road noise. So no that's not one of my considerations. It's meant to be intimate music for reasonably quiet environments and that's all it has to succeed at.

  13. #12

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    I've added a new version to the original post with some changes to accommodate some of comments here and elsewhere.

  14. #13

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    Reviewing #3 — Great performance. I listened through Apple earbuds, Sony MDR-7506 headphones, and my hi-fi. I like the EQ. It’s very present/transparent. It’s a definite improvement over the earlier mixes. The reverb seems just about right—it adds to the sense of presence without being distracting.

    My only concern is that there’s a slight hiss or high frequency buzz near the top of my old-man’s hearing range. I didn’t notice it at first with the earbuds, but I did with the Sonys and my hi-fi. I think it’s in your original signal. I can hear it being gated out when you aren’t playing but returns when you start again. I don’t think anyone would notice in an ensemble recording, but in a solo recording everything is exposed. Of course, perfection doesn’t exist and you can hear similar artifacts in other professional recordings, but it seemed like it was a bit higher in yours than I might expect. I might be overly sensitive to that noise issue but I’m just trying to be helpful. I doubt most people listening for enjoyment rather than criticism would ever notice.

    Here’s a short tip sheet on how compressors affect noise levels.
    Your compressor adds noise to your recording. Why does it do that?

    Here’s a more thorough tip sheet.
    When Noise Attacks Your Signal, Fight Back! - Audiofanzine
    Gain Optimization is one key to minimizing hiss—making sure the input to whatever device is generating the hiss isn’t lower than necessary. The most likely source of hiss is the first preamp stage.
    Last edited by KirkP; 03-19-2021 at 12:58 PM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr

    If you wanted to get really nitpicky, a few melody notes jumped out at me—that is, they seemed to rise above the average volume in a way that caught my attention. Not sure if you're using any compression already, but some light, surgical, highly targeted compression on those few melody notes would make it perfect IMO. Are you using tremolo? I know you usually do, but I don't seem to hear it in this recording. But maybe I do hear the tiniest little bit? I can imagine it can be tricky to get a compression and tremolo to play nicely together.
    If it's a few notes you want to get surgical on, you don't need to use compression. You can use a volume envelope on tiny pieces of your audio, i.e. one note, and adjust the volume to that item manually. If I have a recording that is important to me, I manually adjust volume of certain notes or phrases before I add compression. One can go lighter with the compression this way, or even not need the compression. Mostly though, I go the lazy way and just do the compression.

    What I'm talking about is similar to manually de-esssing. See this video at the 9:20 mark:


  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    If it's a few notes you want to get surgical on, you don't need to use compression. You can use a volume envelope on tiny pieces of your audio, i.e. one note, and adjust the volume to that item manually. If I have a recording that is important to me, I manually adjust volume of certain notes or phrases before I add compression. One can go lighter with the compression this way, or even not need the compression. Mostly though, I go the lazy way and just do the compression.

    What I'm talking about is similar to manually de-esssing. See this video at the 9:20 mark:

    I had a similar thought this morning that one could use automation to “ride the fader” like they used to do in the days of yore and send the signal to the reverb bus post-fader. Either way, when there are multiple strings ringing out simultaneously you have to be judicious.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    Reviewing #3 — Great performance. I listened through Apple earbuds, Sony MDR-7506 headphones, and my hi-fi. I like the EQ. It’s very present/transparent. It’s a definite improvement over the earlier mixes. The reverb seems just about right—it adds to the sense of presence without being distracting.

    My only concern is that there’s a slight hiss or high frequency buzz near the top of my old-man’s hearing range. I didn’t notice it at first with the earbuds, but I did with the Sonys and my hi-fi. I think it’s in your original signal. I can hear it being gated out when you aren’t playing but returns when you start again. I don’t think anyone would notice in an ensemble recording, but in a solo recording everything is exposed. Of course, perfection doesn’t exist and you can hear similar artifacts in other professional recordings, but it seemed like it was a bit higher in yours than I might expect. I might be overly sensitive to that noise issue but I’m just trying to be helpful. I doubt most people listening for enjoyment rather than criticism would ever notice.

    Here’s a short tip sheet on how compressors affect noise levels.
    Your compressor adds noise to your recording. Why does it do that?

    Here’s a more thorough tip sheet.
    When Noise Attacks Your Signal, Fight Back! - Audiofanzine
    Gain Optimization is one key to minimizing hiss—making sure the input to whatever device is generating the hiss isn’t lower than necessary. The most likely source of hiss is the first preamp stage.
    Good ears. It’s most noticeable at the end of the track as the final note rings out and fades.

  18. #17

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    As I read these comments about the noise I'm becoming more and more convinced that the real answer is that I really needed a hotter track to start with. That would lead to a lot less work trying to get it loud enough and, paradoxically, less noise. That's one of the reasons I've been experimenting with this particular song. I'm comfortable enough with it to know that if I have have to start over I can get a new performance down very quickly.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    As I read these comments about the noise I'm becoming more and more convinced that the real answer is that I really needed a hotter track to start with. That would lead to a lot less work trying to get it loud enough and, paradoxically, less noise. That's one of the reasons I've been experimenting with this particular song. I'm comfortable enough with it to know that if I have have to start over I can get a new performance down very quickly.
    But you need to leave enough headroom that you never get an objectionable level of clipping. Analog clipping can be pleasant (a matter of taste) but clipping in the digital regime never sounds good. I think limiter placed before the preamp can allow run the guitar at a higher level without clipping. You could set it so it has no effect in normal playing, but if you hit a note a little harder than you intended it will trim those transients, possibly saving the take.

    This discusses a similar approach for vocal recordings.
    The Audio Limiter - What It Is And How It Is Used

    (Disclaimer: I’m no expert!)
    Last edited by KirkP; 03-19-2021 at 03:12 PM.

  20. #19

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    Now it may look like I'm a Reaper Mania junky, I suppose that's true. I workout at home and while lifting weights or using the rowing machine or exercise bike, I'm often watching the Reaper Mania tutorials. Now that's entertainment.

    Good recording level info hear:

    Last edited by fep; 03-19-2021 at 06:22 PM.