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Topic: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

  1. #1

    OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    I am using a Tascam DM-24 Mixer with 3 GS\'s and TDIF Midiman audio cards. Outboard Mac with Altiverb plus a Lex PCM 91. I am running GOS,DDBE,DDW,PMI,London Perc.SI etc. through this setup. The music is large Orchestral with a lot of Ethnic instruments. Needless to say it is one mixing nightmare or dream depending on your POV.

    My opinion of this setup is that while it is quiet it does not stir my Soul sonically speaking. I think it sounds a little harsh in fact and the EQ and automation are not easy to use.

    I am wondering if anyone has tried mixing several GS systems on a large Neve or Trident console? How would you describe the difference in Sound Quality using a Pro Board over an inexpensive Digital Mixer?

    Has anyone tried mixing GS through a Tube mixer? I am under the impression that an analog board is going to \'breathe\' a little more and not sound as \'strident\' as a Tascam or Mackie type board.

    Also there is the subject of \'rendering\' the tracks to Hard Drive rather than live Midi, as long as you have enough voices why bother with this time consuming process? Or areall those Waves Plug Ins impossible to live without?

    Any thoughts on this subject? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    Originally posted by Mel Tron:

    Also there is the subject of \'rendering\' the tracks to Hard Drive rather than live Midi, as long as you have enough voices why bother with this time consuming process? Or areall those Waves Plug Ins impossible to live without?

    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Well, several thoughts.

    If you want the highest possible fidelity on each part, then rendering is the only way to fly.

    As far as the \"time consuming\" aspect of it--this is why I suggest rendering tracks to 24 bit audio immediately upon getting each part finished. You\'re still in the listening stages at that point, and one more repetition at that time doesn\'t waste time. With your three-box rig, you could easily be listening to newer parts while rendering those that are \"set,\" wasting no time at all. Saving it all until the end of the process makes it pretty tedious...but still necessary.

    Getting all the tracks rendered and into an audio editing application gives you a visual reference for the ACTUAL audio, not just the MIDI that\'s triggering it. You\'re able to zoom in and check precision, for instance, if there\'s a section of your work that\'s just not clicking (or to gently remove some \"precision\" that\'s implausible by doing some nudging).

    Mixing from rendered tracks gives you the opportunity to use envelope-style mixing, so you are able to manipulate volumes, FX sends, etc., with sample level detail. With sampling, this is SO important--because at this point, you can fix issues like attacks which are not aggressive enough, add and accentuate expressive contours...SO many things that are impossible to do in a realtime/fader automation scenario. The level of detail you can address in a mix is one hundred fold what you can achieve in a standard \"mixer\" scenario. Since we are forcing expression from a medium that can sometimes prove difficult to wrangle, this level of control is really one last opportunity to sculpt parts for maximum impact. The type of automation in a fader/digital mixer scenario is not ideal for this application (as you have discovered).

    And yes, those Waves plugins are pretty valuable. Got a bass drum that only growls when you want the room to shake? Try Renaissance Bass, which will add \"fake harmonics\" to achieve this--plus will keep the speaker cones from rattling out of their baskets. Need to bring out the bite in a muddy trombone line? Try a C4 Multiband--clamp down a little on the fundamental register while gently expanding the 2-4k range.

    Give it a try. I think you might be amazed. With 3 Giga-rigs, you\'ll be able to render a full piece fairly painlessly. You\'ll more than make up the time on the back end.

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    Thanks Bruce for your reply. I have learned a great deal from you. I will try your method. It will make recording live players easier for sure and keep the project in 1 domain as well.

    Further on rendering; e.g. I am running all the Orchestral Winds out on 2 channels. Flute, Piccolo, etc. I guess you are suggesting to render each instrument to its own 24 bit stereo track? If so that would be 40 to 60 24 bit stereo tracks. I would need a 1 Gig G4 to do that on DP 3. I suppose I could run the DM 24 in 24/96 mode-haven\'t tried that yet. There is no doubt that the D.P. automation is much easier to use than the DM-24.

    I am still wondering about the sound quality of the Pro Mixing Consoles. Really- how much better do they sound over a Tascam,Yamaha or Mackie Digital Board?

    What console(s) are you using? Are you pleased with the sound- OR is mixing now at the stage where there is enough detail and clarity to achieve pro results with my setup? If so, why does Hans Zimmer use +$300,000 consoles?

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    why does Hans Zimmer use +$300,000 consoles?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Like the answer to why does a dog lick himself: Because he can! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Also, of course, there IS a difference. But in my-not-nearly as well-informed as Bruce Richardson opinion, my Mackie d8b is LOT closer to a Neve or SSL than my Tascam Model 5 used to be!

    But it has always been my impression (again, with relatively less experience being recorded, recording and mixing on the big boards) that the important differences were:

    a) Neve/SSL can work more reliably 24/365 than a project-level board.
    b) They have MUCH better mic pres, built-in comp/EQ
    c) lower noise floor on all analog I/O
    d) You tend to get statistically \'better\' clients than a project-level room. \'Better\' being defined as deeper pockets, more studio experience, better paid talent - also, greater expectations...

    But I\'ve heard some GREAT music recorded on project-level equipment, and for the kind of work I do (48 tracks max of electronic composition, local commercials and band demos, etc.) the difference is really much less than trying to mix 144 tracks of Foley, dialog and music for a movie.

    I know Bruce will have some excellent advice, but I thought I\'d throw in my $0.02 as someone from the low-budget world...


  5. #5
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    Any answer to \"Why does Hans Zimmer (fill in the blank)\" is easy. Because he can afford any toy he wants.

    If you have the money for unlimited GigaStudio boxes, unlimited funds for a Neve or equivalent, unlimited funds for the outboard gear, etc...then why not? Throw in the cash for a band of merry elves to maintain that system, and you\'re home free.

    I\'m making the assumption your funds are not unlimited, haha. In all seriousness, a full-bore pedigreed console is a nice thing, but it will not get you a better mix than you can get internally in a DAW application--in the case of sample based production like we\'re discussing. In fact, you\'ll still have a lot less control, because you still enter that automation by hand on the hardware, rather than precisely sculpting it against visual representations of the audio data. Our little niche is pretty specialized.

    Now if you were running a more full-service, live recording kind of operation, that would be different. Your mix wouldn\'t involve the abstraction and tweaking of performance/musical considerations...it would be much more about mixing in a literal sense. In that case, a lot of sample-level sculpting isn\'t really what it\'s all about. There\'s also a certain customer service component to a big mix desk--when you have producers, artists, etc., in the control room and decisions are being made in that kind of collaborative environment, a big handful of faders helps make things happen very quickly, if not so precisely in the time domain.

    Another example where a big console is most often preferred is on a mix stage where people are mixing to picture. In that case, the convenience of being able to watch, roll, and mix in a continuous fashion tends to outweigh the precision and directness of DAW-style envelope mixing.

    I have a few mixers, but the one I\'m using in the GigaRig is just a cheap 24x8 Behringer. I use it strictly as a gigantic patchbay for monitoring...I have other mic preamps, for instance, and really, the mixer is just there to accommodate all the outputs and get them into the monitors.

    I\'d suggest a couple of things. First, in many cases, the stereo tracks are actually harder to image into an orchestral soundscape. They\'re describing one space--while you\'re attempting to build another. I hardly ever use stereo tracks for solo instruments, woodwinds, etc. This can reduce your streaming load. You can also render the individual tracks, but produce submixes of those tracks as an intermediate step. That way, you can reduce your streaming count, but still be able to go in and alter individual mixes.

    Have you ever considered a PC for your mixing rig? I would never have suggested that to a Mac user until recently, but the difference in performance and capability is becoming almost obscene. My rather mediocre AMD 2200+ boxes can stream those kinds of huge track counts without breaking a sweat, and with all the plugins I can pile on!! No PC bigotry here, just thinking that you\'re looking for options and that is one, for sure. As far as I\'m concerned a machine is a machine is a machine...just interested in the bottom line of what it can do for me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    Haha, Dasher, didn\'t see your reply until I posted this.

    I\'ve worked on some GIGANTIC boards, and for sure, I would not mix that way even if I had the money. They are perfect for running clients, but my only client is myself anymore, and that type of automation is just not as good for mixing sample/synth based music as is the DAW/envelope type of system. I have not worked outside the digital domain for a LONG time, and I really don\'t have much interest in it any more.

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    Thank you gentlemen for your lucid posts...

    So it IS TRUE... the DAW reigns supreme for us GigaGuys doing the Midi thing.

    Now I can sneer at Zimmer--and say wow...look at all the Fluff! BTW how does ANYONE use 20 Gigas? He\'s probably running 4 to 8 midi channels per GS.

    I\'m sure you\'re right about the PC\'s but I already own the Mas Plug Ins already so it is a no brainer especially when you know the programme inside and out.

    Just add a High End Mic Pres front end and you\'re laughing! ... back to work.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    The reason why people still mix on SSL\'s, Neve\'s or Euphonix boards is because they add \'something\' to the sound. What that \'something\' is, is often hard to define, but it is similar to the reason a lot of mixing engineers or mastering houses prefer analog tape to digital.
    I presume that \'something\' is either saturation of the sound, a certain emphasis or de-emphasis of the frequency spectrum and a smoothing or enhancement of the transients (or a combination of these). It even gets to the point where some people like to mix digitally with for instance protools, but use an external analog box to do the summing (ie. mixdown to stereo), because they don\'t like the inevitable digital quantisation that needs to happen to get down to stereo.
    So yes, there is a reason stuff still gets mixed on the big boards, but that doesn\'t mean you can achieve perfectly good mixes with the stuff that you have.
    Personally, I usually bounce my gigatracks and import them into Protools for additional mixing.
    However, in Logic, I use my interfaces and the TDM buss as a mixer. This means you can put TDM plugins on each input, and my current favourite is Mcdsp\'s Analog channel. This simulates buscompression of abovementioned famous desks (with saturation) and analog tape.
    Even for more classical stuff a hint of this seems to make tracks \'gel\' better for lack of a better description, and although not a substitute for the real thing, it is more than adequate for 16 bit samples! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Next to that, I\'ve also found that limiting the stereofield of some samples makes it easier to mix them. Since Gigastudio most of the samplelibs are in glorious stereo with usually a wide stereofield, thus mixing a few of those together can become problematic. Using something like Waves\' S1 I tend to narrow the field to 50% and pan it to the position where the instrument would be. Applying Altiverb or another quality reverb will bring the \'stereoness\' back without cluttering up your mix.
    Also, surgical EQ can help a great deal. I tend to use a lot of highpass filters to filter out the bottom end, especially the higher strings (violins, violas) and stuff like trumpets and flutes; this makes sure the lower instruments (Double bass, Tube, Basstrombone) supply the actual bass.
    If you\'re mixing instruments in isolation and add reverb, get a good balance and then subtract about 25% of the wet/dry level, so it is 25% dry-er than your original setting. This makes sure that when you mix multiple pre-reverbed tracks together they don\'t drown in the reverb (I tend to do this with Altiverb because it is so processorhungry).

    Just my 2 cents,



  9. #9

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed

    \"Any answer to \"Why does Hans Zimmer (fill in the blank)\" is easy. Because he can afford any toy he wants. If you have the money for unlimited GigaStudio boxes, unlimited funds for a Neve or equivalent, unlimited funds for the outboard gear, etc...then why not?\"

    ...and he probably has more stuff in boxes or just sitting around unused than I have in my whole studio. But everything I have heard about the Z man is that everything is aimed at one thing: to allow him to concentrate on composing without distractions with the fastest results possible. After spending a day screwing about with computers and NOT composing, this becomes painfully true. Thankfully, all those hardware, software and sample makers out there are all working towards making life easier for me at a lower cost with the latest features. We are slowly catching up with those with unlimited money, and there will be no more excuses not to produce excellent work.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Pro Mixing Advice Needed


    First, I\'d like to say that I\'ve learned a great deal from your posts on this forum and would like to add myself to the list of people happy to have you here.

    I\'m using Logic on a Mac to run a Giga PC. I try to get at least my levels balanced well while I\'m composing in the MIDI domain. When I print each track over lightpipe, do I need to make sure that my levels going into Logic are hot or is this just an analog concern? Should I normalize each track before I begin mixing in the audio domain? Does it make sense to normalize sounds that will be quiet and mostly background effects?

    Also, when using stereo orchestral samples, how should we go about printing them in mono? Should we mix both channels, throw out one channel, do we do this in Giga or Logic, ...?

    Thanks for any suggestions.

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