Where's the suicide button? Nick----- Original Message ----- From: "Bryan Smart" <bryansmart@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Sunday, January 24, 2010 5:19 AM Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracksHmmm. Did you hear me about the converters? They didn't sound warm or great or any of that. They had lots of hiss. Yes, it was great for the time, and certainly great for the money, but it wasn't great compared to what we have now.
Without being put through effects, FM in particular sounds thin and brittle. Like old school video game sounds.
You played a DX7? You played it dry? You liked it dry?My only real point was that the way that these old instruments (including non electronic instruments like particular classic guitars that people prize) sound, are not, by themselves, what you hear on recordings. Obtaining the old kit isn't going to make you sound like the old recordings. If the old stuff has presets, those presets will get you even less of the distance toward the sound you heard on the old recordings than you'll get by using presets on newer gear. A DX7 preset won't dial up the effects or post-processing that you need to set it up. A classic amp won't select the correct microphone, use the right placement, and configure appropriate compression and EQ settings. That's why we have FM7s or guitar in a box devices like the Pods for people that want a pretty good sound without having to know much of anything about how the older sounds were made. If you're not satisfied with the results of those devices, though, you can still get those classic sounds. Just because a preset box can't give them to you doesn't mean that you can only get them with old gear.
Maybe DAWs and guitar in a box devices make recording look too easy. I mean, its pretty easy to add an audio track and press record. And there are presets for everything, so why should we need to know anything.
One or two versions down the road, Apple will probably put a button in to garage band labeled mix. The new automix will use a combination of spectrum analysis and templates to automatically adjust EQ and dynamics, balance levels, and squish the mix to be as loud as possible. Fortunately, all most people will need to know is that you're supposed to press the mix button when you're finished recording stuff, to make it sound good. People will be all excited about it for a while, hailing it as the ultimate advance in bringing music to the masses. Anyone can record a studio quality album at home, even if they don't know anything about all of that recording mixing stuff. The songs that it makes will sound pretty good, especially considering how hard the automix is having to work in order to compensate for the RF leak that the electric guitars are picking up from the televisions that people sit near while they record their parts in to their laptop, or the background noise and horrible frequency response of the headset mic they used to record their vocal. Nevermind the minor miracles it is working to touch up their timing and pitch issues as they rhythmlessly warble away in c flat major. Some skilled engineers and musicians will use automix to be able to combine good technique with the new tools to produce great work at an unbelievable rate. Amateur musicians and total novices will have fun making music that they would never had a hope of making only years before, given their lack of skills and their limited level of commitment to improving those skills.
On web forums, though, people will talk about how the Garage Band automixes don't have the warmth of the old huge recording systems of days gone by, like Pro Tools. They swear that there was something in those Accel expansion cards. Something about those circuits just had a certain character that Garage Band version 18.3 just can't copy. I mean, it has real-time noise reduction, automatic time and pitch correction, and even a fully automated backing band, but its really not that great, since all of it is done in software on our 50 gigahertz Pentium 12s. There is just something special about the sound of recording systems that use dedicated hardware. Even PC programs like Sonar, though they didn't have dedicated hardware, just sound richer for some reason. Some people will swear that, even though Sonar and Cubase were entirely software-based, the slower processors of the time meant that the programs had to go through the data more slowly than the new 50 gigahertz Pentium 12s. There will be people that proclaim that they can hear the new processors actually skipping over bits, and that's why they pay the big bucks for the slower systems that actually take the time to think about their ones and zeros.
Don't forget, you heard it here first. *smile* I'll be hocking my copies of Pro Audio 9 on XBay. Bidding will start at $20,000 for such rare vintage software, but who can actually put a price on this level of quality and detail. They just don't compile ones and zeros like this anymore.
Bryan -----Original Message-----From: ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Mike Christer
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 10:26 AM To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracksI hear what you're saying, but I think you're totally wrong about the DX7 sounding tinny, crap and noisy!
It was none of these things, and at the time was a great bit of kit...I don't understand why peeps have to slag off the quote older unquote stuff, like it didn't have its place, was crappy, and couldn't compare to anything available today!
For the time, it was great, and still sounds good, the A d/D A converters being a perfect example of just why. Obviously they aren't as quote good unquote as ones available today, , how could they be, it was over 25 years ago!
But, therein lies the whole trip, stuff wasn't as sanitized as it is nowadays, digitally sterile or lacking any character/personality!
This is why peeps love the old kit, because, no matter what anyone says, it duzz sound different. To some peeps it sounds better, and to others not, but like any of this stuff, its purely subjective...
So, Steve, there is a lot of truth to what you say 'bout the older kit, loads of dance and electronica producers totally hear where you're coming from, and who's to argue?
----- Original Message ----- From: "Bryan Smart" <bryansmart@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: <ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:08 PM Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Steve, I'm not picking on you here really, but people that go on these threads about older stuff sounding warmer, or somehow more legit, are, in many cases, either hearing what they expect to hear, or else are forgetting what else went in to what they used to hear. You called out FM7, so, since you're familiar with that, I'll use it as an example. If you have a Korg or Roland keyboard, and dial up an FM Rhodes patch, the few velocity-switched samples, even when berried in effects, aren't going to be exactly like the DX7 piano patches. I get that. In a lot of cases, that's ok, since the newer keyboard is supposed to be able to let you dial up fair representations quickly without knowing anything about what you're doing. People trade off some quality for that advantage. Still, its accepted that, in this case, accuracy isn't the top priority. However, the FM7 is perfectly like a DX7. When modeling analog gear, people frequently go off in to metaphysical territory that vaguely involves some facts, like the imperfections in the analog circuits of the original gear being discussed. Of course, they miss out on the idea that, since analog circuits aren't perfect, there would be subtle differences between two analog devices, even of the same model. Still, the DX7 isn't analog. It is 100% digital. The waveforms of the DX7 were generated mathematically by a CPU, not from oscillators. The modulation of the operators took place mathematically inside the DX7 before they ever became real sounds, and, when they became real sounds, they were rendered using digital to analog conversion circuits, just like the ones on your audio interface. The DX7 was a very simple-purpose computer, with an attached MIDI control keyboard, running an entirely software-based synthesizer engine. The FM7 is an emulator of the original DX7 CPU and software. Everything that happens inside the plug in produces mathematically identical results to the original. It even responds to the same MIDI CC and SysEx commands, and will accept data dumps via SysEx. The only real difference between the DX7 and FM7 are the D/A converters on the original DX7, and the D/A converters on your audio interface, which are profoundly superior. Have you loaded the factory presets bank on the FM7? The patches sound identical to an original DX7, and by that, I mean they sound like thin plastic crap. I don't doubt that you hear something, though. The thing is, I don't think that you have correctly identified the cause. You can make your software instruments sound much better, though, if you take time to think carefully about what's involved in shaping the over-all sound. Part of what you hear is your audio interface. If you're using a low-end interface, the quality of the analog signal that is produced by its digital to analog converters might not have the character that you'd like for the software instruments or samples that you're using. I'm sure you're aware of the endless discussions of better A/D converters on high-end interfaces for getting a good take from an instrument or mic. The difference in those is indisputable. People only argue about which character they prefer, but there is practically no argument that the higher-end interfaces give a better result. Going the other way, digital to analog converters aren't as difficult to make, and so we get very good sound for very cheap equipment. Still, there is better d/a conversion out there. You should check out nicer interfaces. Secondly, and I don't know how old you are, so please pardon me if I'm telling you stuff that you already know, but one thing that I've noticed with many people that are starting out on modern keyboard workstations and DAWs, is that they know very little about legacy studio recording and mixing processes and techniques. That isn't important if your main interest is focused more on the music than the specific sound, but, for someone that cares about the sound, that 1000 foot preset view won't satisfy them. They're very used to dialing up a sound, like an FM piano preset on a keyboard, and just having it sound fairly good. For someone like that, when they go back and listen to a recording from the 80's, made with a real DX7, it sounds like what they have on their keyboard or software instrument, a little bit, but not quite. Even if they have a modeled software instrument ,like FM7, it won't sound exactly like what they heard on that 80's song. The reason isn't so much because the FM7 isn't the DX7, but its because, in this case, they aren't recording and mixing like they're in a circa 1980's studio. The original DX7 sounded bad. It sounded thin. It almost never sounded like a real instrument, except for some mallet and bell type sounds. People didn't use the crap out of it because it was a supremely wonderful instrument, the likes the world will never see again. They used it because it was a new sound (people had heard enough Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos to last them for a while), it was inexpensive (about $1500, very cheap for a polyphonic synth at the time), and, since it was digital, it didn't drift out of tune like analog synths would. If you were in 1984, and you wanted an FM7 on your record, there are a few ways that you'd go about it. If you were in a hurry, such as using it for an overdub, you'd hook up the DX7, and track its cheap and thin sound direct. It would continue to sound cheap and thin until the time came to mix the multitrack. When you started mixing, the first thing that you'd do is to really get to work with the EQ. If you've never recorded a real DX7, you might not know how noisy its wonderfully authentic post D/A amplifier is. You wouldn't believe how much high frequency hiss you'll get. So, you need to roll that off with a high shelving EQ, but, you can't be too steep with it, or else you'll take away too much of the signature brightness in the tones that it produces. Next, that FM piano preset is so wonderfully dynamic, which is really expressive, but that also means that it will be berried in the mix unless you really hit it with compression...a lot of compression. Now that you've got the dynamics worked out, though, you notice that that horrible hiss is back, since compressing the DX7 also brought up the noise floor of not only the DX7, but the tape, too. You EQ a little more, and maybe use an expander or gate to hide the hiss on the track when the keyboard player wasn't actually playing. It sounds cleaner, but it still has a crap thin tone. So, you need chorus. Everyone used chorus on the DX7 pianos. The DX7 had no built-in effects, but it should have, since almost no one ever used those sounds raw. If they didn't use chorus, they used heavy gated reverb. Anyway, back to the mix. Now, you have a mixed track of a simple FM piano performance. Of course, the fact that you were tracking to tape adds a certain character, mostly the weird EQ curve that is applied to it in association with the Dolby noise reduction that you're trying to use to overcome its own hissy noise floor. Once the mix is finished, someone will master the mix, and part of that will involve a multiband compressor using tube amplifiers. The tubes will add distortion to the tone of the whole thing, but some people actually like the fuzzy sound of the harmonics that are added by overdriving the signal just a bit, so a little of that might add an additional mark on the track's sound. If you ended up listening to the song on vinyl, since it was the 80's, there would be additional post-mix EQ and drastic dynamic compression applied so that the track would be louder than the popping and crackling noise floor of the vinyl, and also so that there weren't any drastic peeks in the sound that could cause the needle to jump out of the groove. This all colors the track, and contributes to what someone might associate as the sound of the DX7, even though the DX7 was just the seed in a long sequence of processing that formed the finished sound. Now, that is just for someone that wanted a simple FM piano. If you were a serious keyboard player going in somewhere to track a song that featured FM piano as a primary instrument, then you probably wouldn't be using a DX7. Instead, you'd be using one of the Yamaha TX rack units. The TX816, for example, combined 8 DX7 synth engines, complete with independent outputs. What a lot of people would do is to hook up their controller, set all of the TX modules to the same patch, and slightly detune them from each other. Some people would also make other tweaks, like slightly changing the velocity response of each module. Then, you feed all of those to a mixer where you create a sub-mix by panning the 8 TX modules around in the stereo field. Then, instead of tracking the modules directly, you track the stereo output of the sub-mix. This is like recording a huge, stereo, thick-sounding DX7 ensemble. What you get on tape is a really thick and glossy sound that is similar to using a stereo chorus on one DX7, but doesn't have so many of the subtle harsh frequency beating artifacts of using a stereo chorus on a single DX7, since each of the modules in the rack can be independently tuned to a pleasant sounding offset. When you get to the mix, you still need to clean up the track a bit, but there was less hiss on the TX modules than the DX7s. Still, you have compression and EQ working. You still have the mastering considerations, and any post-mastering processing that made it in to the medium where you heard the recording, like Vinyl, radio, film, etc. The point of all of this is that the older stuff didn't sound better to you because it was better than what you have now. The older stuff sounded better in many cases because it went through many layers of strategic processing by people that, in most cases, knew how to mix and process the material that they were given in order to maximize the good and minimize the bad. You can select an FM7 preset, and can play that through your monitors, but most presets aren't going to factor in everything that an experience mix or mastering engineer would do to make it fit the situation. Plus, in the case of the second example above, you'd need 8 instances of FM7 running to mimic what you heard on that 80's song. If you really want to make that classic FM piano sound in Sonar, and do it totally authentic, then try this. Load the factory presets bank in an instance of FM7, and call up the piano1 patch. Create a new bus, and call it keyboard sub-mix. Set the output of your FM7 track to the keyboard sub-mix. Now, clone the FM7 track 7 additional times, so to simulate the 8 DX7 engines available in your simulated TX816 rack. Go to FM7 instances 2 through 8, and use the fine detune parameter to detune them from instance 1, which will be the fundamental pitch of the ensemble. Detune will shift the tuning in semitones. I suggest detuning them like this: +4, -4, +8, -8, +12, -12, and use your imagination with instance 8. Now, pan each instance to a different stereo position. I suggest going like this: left 20, right 20, left 40, right 40, left 60, right 60, left 80, right 80. Finally, so that you can play them all at once, manually arm and turn on input echo for all of the tracks. If you don't do this, you'll only be able to play one instance at a time with your MIDI controller. Now, you have a simulated TX816 rack, and the keyboard sub-mix bus simulates the stereo signal coming in from your TX816 sub-mixer. Next, put the Cakewalk tape sim on the keyboard sub-mix bus as an insert effect, to simulate the FM7s being played back from tape. Set the keyboard sub-mix bus's EQ to post-effects, and tweak it to taste. I suggest that you, at minimum, roll off the frequencies below 150Hz a bit. Thankfully, the FM7 doesn't produce any hiss (wonder if NI ever got a request to simulate that), so no need to attenuate the highs. Add the LP64 multiband compressor to the keyboard sub-mix's effects chain, since it models tube distortion when amplifying. Use the global controls on the compressor to squish the dynamics of the keyboard sub-mix a lot. Add a new send to the keyboard sub-mix bus, selecting to create a new stereo bus. This will be your aux send for the chorus effect. On the new chorus bus, add the Sonitus modulator to the bus, and configure it as a stereo chorus. The default modulation rate is too high, so slow it down to almost 0. Change the chorus send level on the keyboard sub-mix until you have the balance right. You won't need very much, since the 8 simulated modules in your simulated TX816 will be detuned and chorusing a fair amount on their own. That should get you most of the way there. After you've recorded the other parts, and when you wrap up the mix, use the LP64 multiband compressor on the master bus, and overdrive it a little. If you're really after the 80's, then remember to use very little enforcement to lower frequencies, so maybe select the heavy mastering preset, and turn bands 2 through 4 up another 2 DB. To go for that fairly well recorded 4-track home demo sound, substitute the tape sim on the master bus in place of the LP64 multiband compressor, and turn up the master bus's output level until just before you can start to hear distortion. That's your simulated tape saturation. If you try this, I hope that you have fun. Also, I hope that you save your setup as a track template, because a setup like this takes a while to assemble. Hey, nothing like picking a preset, right? Except it just isn't as authentic sounding. *smile* This level of detail is just too much for what most people need, so most people don't bother anymore. It isn't just the DX7. You mentioned the warmth of the Fairlight CMI. The Fairlight was a revolutionary machine for its time. Still, thankfully, those days are gone, and we have better machines. If you think cleaning up a DX7 sounds hard, you might not want to dream too much about the Fairlight. Again, the mix engineer saves the day. Its 8-bit digital to analog converters produce horrible buzzing aliasing artifacts. You can try to EQ that out, but, since most of the samples are recorded around 12Khz, there won't typically be any strong natural harmonics above 6-8Khz. So, by equalizing away the aliasing, you make its very muffled sounds seem even more muffled. So you might try to make the weak sounds larger with chorus, or lots and lots of reverb to get over the fact that they have almost no high frequency content. I think that the cheap keyboard gear was mostly what brought on the massive reverb and super effects-washes of most music from the 80's. Lots of effects make crap sounds better. Ugh. Who wants a Fairlight. Google around and read about how long it took to boot, or how slow it was loading samples from those huge 8 inch floppy disks. If you're wanting to improve your sound, then read some books on mixing. It will help a lot! Even old stuff is great. The ideas are absolutely the same. We track to digital instead of tape, and the effects are in the computer instead of in a rack next to the console. The processes work almost identically, though. Have you heard some of the multitracks of pop songs that have been floating around the Internet recently? Go listen to some of those raw. It will really open your ears as to what the right sort of strategic processing can do for normally uninspiring sounds. Regarding the drums, you know, the original topic of the thread, I can't believe that no one has brought up the PX7 percussion plug in Sonar 8.5. That combines lots of effects that are commonly used for processing drum mixes in to one plug. They also have lots of ready to go presets. And so much about the over-all sound of drums is about processing! Most of the drum softsynths don't have a lot in the way of built-in effects. Even when they do, you usually only get the complete processing if you use their main stereo output. You have a lot more control if you let the synth use the individual outputs, which usually correspond to each of the mics that would be used when tracking a physical drum kit in a physical studio. Then, it is just like you have a multitrack recording of a drum session, and you can bring all of your mixing tools to bare in order to get the sound that you want. Bryan -----Original Message----- From: ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Steve Wicketts Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:00 PM To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Hi Mike, The reason I've been discussing the issue of softsynth soft sound is I don't under stand why my new tracks for my live Shows is taking so long to have the presence that I get when using the Motif. I'd never consider myself a producer, I'm a musician who can't yet afford a producer, and may sometimes ask obvious questions. I can't speak the science of sound like you and the other guys do, I just know what sounds good. An example is, The FM7 does not sound like the DX7 even though they are both digital processors. There is a difference and that difference is the warmth and depth of the sound. The DX7 sounds better. The TR909 and TR808 still are hot property, once again there's a warmth to the sound. I can only explain myself in simple terms,, If I was buying a sports car, I wouldn't expect to only be able to do 10 mile per hour unless I add extra boosters and a turbo. I want a sports car that gives me 150 miles per hour. I don't have any desire to know what's going on under the bonnet, I just want 150 miles per hour. If you know the car can do 150 miles per hour, then you also know that 10 is going to be a breeze. The Roland R8 from the 1980's gave you a snare which was the equivalent to a pretty good sports car. 25 years on I'm hearing software drums that are the equivalent to a bicycle. I am getting close to the sound I want to hear, It's not an over produced sound I'm after, it's a live feel sound for my backing tracks. I want the crowd at my Shows stomping their feet not tapping their glasses. It's reassuring to hear that others on the list have been experiencing the similar issues, it's also reassuring that their are experts like yourself who can explain the process. Sorry if my questions have been bugging you. Steve W ----- Original Message ----- From: Mike Christer <mailto:m-christer@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 12:50 PM Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Hey guys! I was wondering about this anti-software snare drum thread, and came to the inevitable conclusion... Surely this discussion is quite redundant? Not everyone wants or needs a kick ass snare, and there are literally hundreds of plug-ins out there that'll give you the appropriate beef/punch/attitude? Isn't it simply a question of processing? Mike ----- Original Message ----- From: Steve Wicketts <mailto:steve.wicketts@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:40 PM Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Hi Phil, Will be upgrading to Sonar 8.5 in the next few Months. Phil, my remarks about the quality of software snares, is me having a gripe about Superior and the other software companies. I apologise if it sounds like I'm aiming my gripe at you as that's not my intention at all. The HSC set you created for Superior is brilliant and if we are talking accessible drum software, there's nothing to touch Superior. Superior gives more overall control to a producer than if there was a real drummer in the drum room. My problem isn't just with superior, it's with most software companies that create drums. Most software drums don't seem to have the snares beefy enough for me and they don't have enough attack. It's like they sample a snare then whilst editing they decide to cut off the sound of the stick striking the snare. Maybe they don't want the time delay between the stick hitting and the snare responding, well, that time delay applies to a real snare... the Thing I don't understand about Superior, they did an excellent job with the toms and the kick drums, as both toms and kicks sound really beefy and show a lot of attitude. You can get the snares to show a little attitude but it shouldn't have to takes several effects to make this happen. Moan over, the first one of 2010. Steve W ----- Original Message ----- From: Phil Muir <mailto:info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 6:55 PM Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Also, if you have a newer version of Sonar such as 8 or, 8.5 then, you can always add a bit of tube saturation to your drums. The Tube warmer is to me at least, a good enough reason to upgrade to a newer version of Sonar. Regards, Phil Muir Accessibility Training Telephone: US (615) 713-2021 UK+44-1747-821-794 Mobile: UK +44-7968-136-246 E-mail: info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx URL: www.accessibilitytraining.co.uk/ -----Original Message----- From: ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ddots-l-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Steve Wicketts Sent: 18 January 2010 09:27 To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [ddots-l] Re: getting more punch on drum tracks Hi Len, The thing I've found about software drums is they're not usually as punchy as top spec hardware. Drumcure (not accessible) is the only Drums software I've come across that really does kick hard. Regarding Sonic Reality Oceanway Drums, I don't believe the Sonic Reality snares are any better than Superior. To give the Superior snare more attack: 1: make sure you are using all the audio tracks across all the Drums. 2: I believe three of the microphones are purely for the snare, these all need to be assign to one bus. 4: on the Snare Bus Channel, go to the effects column, add either Sonitus Compression (Drum Destroyer) or Sonitus Compressor (Vintage DBX). 5: Still on the Snare Bus Channel, put the cursor 1 right of the effect column so you are on the Compressor and then press your application key (this will ensure that this next effect that we are about to add is in front of the compressor. 6: Add sonitus Gate, select (Zero One Default Gate) This should not only give the snare some body, it should add a little punch. Superior Bass drums will not need any compression. Using HSC, go to Mixer presets. arrow down to Kick sub menu, now arrow down to muscle and press enter and this will blow your speakers off the wall. The guys at Toontrack may have only spent 5 minutes on sampling the Snares but they spent Days on the Bass Drums. Hope this helps. Steve W ----- Original Message ----- From: Len Viljoen <mailto:len@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> To: ddots-l@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 6:49 AM Subject: [ddots-l] getting more punch on drum tracks Hi guys. I use superior drummer on my tracks. I need to get more punch or power or thickness or whatever it's called on my drum tracks. Especially my snare drum sounds a bit thin. Any ideas on wich plugins I could use or what form of eq could remedy the problem? Any help will be greatly appreciated. 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