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Topic: Making it sound more real

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  1. #1

    Making it sound more real

    Hi Guys,
    I am using Dan Dean, Miraslov and Roland woodwinds. What are some of the mixing tricks and performance tricks you use to make the winds sound more real? The flute and piccolo need the most work. Do you eq your winds a certain way? I'm using Cubase SX for my mixing. Also my mixing tends to sound a bit flat or dull on cd, how do I get a more vibrant sound from all of the instruments and in the overall sound?
    Thanks,
    S

  2. #2

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Well, I think the best way is to learn how to play a wind instrument and get the feel for it. Learn to phrase it etc and then imagine how you would play the part you are writing. You don't have to be a virtuoso, but I feel much more comfortable with wood wind phrasing since I've learnd how to play the flute.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Making it sound more real

    To me, 90% of the realism comes from the issues Markus raises. Ultimately, it manifests in being able to choose articulations, edit note lengths and velocity, etc., in a way that causes the samples to most effectively create a human, musical-sounding performance.

    Once those parameters have been performed as well as possible, then edited as effectively as possible, what remains is using the expression controller to do whatever additional dynamic shaping is possible. You want each part to dynamically cover the range of a real performance.

    All through the process of track creation, one should be paying attention to which samples are expressing well right on the beat, and which are lagging. Use the sequencer's track-based time adjustment to bring the lagging tracks forward in time. This works better than just pushing the notes themselves off the time grid, since you'll largely defeat the advantage of being able to quantize (or partially quantize) tracks that are played a little too loosely.

    Per quantizing itself, I never have considered it a bad thing. Indeed, most really great players play remarkably steady time. The secret to quantizing is not doing it to things which already sound great. Only quantize the parts which are begging to be a little tighter, and then only by degree. Quantizing a phrase even 40% strength can be plenty. One of my personal tricks is to manually place phrase beginnings right on the beat, then use as little quantization as possible. That still allows very accurate and easy pasting up of large-format pieces with repeated phrases, but doesn't require you to quantize things to 100% just so splitting tracks can go faster. And doing just a little quantizing on a "lagging" phrase can often bring it into the groove without negating the musical intention. In fact, it can sometimes turn a too-erratic "mistake" in phrasing into really good sounding phrasing. Never hurts to try any tool available.

    At that point, when every part is in and of itself as musically played as is possible, you put it all together and see where you are. Ideally, if all preceding steps have gone well, the amount of realtime volume automation and mixing should be quite minimal. If not, then there is still more work to be done with the raw note data, articulation choices, and expression...you have to go back a step, and do some adjusting. Once you've gone back and forth a few times, things should be rapidly tightening up.

    EQ--always subtract, never add. This is the great EQ secret. Rules are meant to be broken, and should be when there is an absolutely compelling artistic choice. But normally, you are going to be in very great trouble the moment you start EQ'ing things INTO a track. Better to listen with an ear that asks, "What is keeping this track from sounding great? What frequency band is clogging?" That will usually put you right on target.

    Reverb--Better is better. Never get too far into reverb (unless you're a really experienced engineer) without listening to lots of reference material and a/b'ing along the way. It is easy to seduce yourself into creating a big pile of mush, especially if you're mixing with the volume cranked.

    Finally...

    Don't mix with the volume cranked. You will become very seduced, and anything will eventually sound good. Mix with the volume at slightly below listening level. Check your work in two ways. First, turn down the monitoring volume to very soft, and listen to see if you can hear every part in its proper place. If something is sticking out at a very soft volume, then fix it, and get it right. When you crank back up to normal levels, you will be amazed at how much more balanced the sound becomes. Seduction, again. Volume is the grand seductress. Second method: Listen very very very softtly in headphones. Same basic premise, but the headphones will clue you in on things which may be getting canceled or eaten up in the air. Always make headphones the reality check, not the mixing medium. They are more seductive than anything. You can throw a mix way out of whack in minutes using headphones, and never be the wiser until you switch back to speakers and realize you've got 200% too much reverb and the imaging and balance are all over the map!!

    That's all I've got. Basic Mix 101 stuff on the back end. What is far more important is the musical taste and experience to make the samples behave like musicians.

  4. #4

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Bruce, that's a great tutorial, condensed into a few paragraphs. You ought to try writing for a living! I'll bet one of the major music magazines would - what? Oh, right, you already DO that!

    Seriously, that's a very concise tutorial for the advanced beginning mixologist, all that's missing is an equally concise paragraph on compression/limiting. I know several forums that it would be welcomed. Would you mind if I either link to it (if that's OK with Papa Chalk) or copy/paste into a digital video forum I work with?
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  5. #5
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    Re: Making it sound more real

    Regarding woodwinds, VSL may be your answer with some scale runs from AO added in strategic places where necessary. VSL requires a little work in the mixing department however (panning seating arrangement and a good impulse response coupled with midi expression tweaking). I'm sure you have some great sounds in the libs you mentioned - its just that I like the sound of VSL better especially what's happening in between the notes and how the notes connect via performance tool legato.

  6. #6

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Lot of wonderful tips and advice! I really appreciate you help!
    S

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Making it sound more real

    Quote Originally Posted by thesoundsmith
    Seriously, that's a very concise tutorial for the advanced beginning mixologist, all that's missing is an equally concise paragraph on compression/limiting. I know several forums that it would be welcomed. Would you mind if I either link to it (if that's OK with Papa Chalk) or copy/paste into a digital video forum I work with?
    Freely given, do what you like with it as long as it's OK with everyone else involved (the forum's owners, etc.).

  8. #8

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Cool, Bruce!!,
    I was wondering guys, how many of you mix your tracks by sections or just sigle wavs, you know one track woods, other Brass, Strings, or you work wiht independents wavs, one per piccolo, 1flute, 2Basson...etc.., i Work in that way, but, don´t know if is a good or a realy necesary thing,

    D.M
    "God is Love"

  9. #9

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Assuming you have good arranging and composing technique, I think the hands down winner for most effective tool in bringing life to your virtual orchestra is...drumroll please...composing naked. In all fairness, using the expression controller ad-nauseum came in a close second.

    Also assuming you're not one for going "freebird", using the expression controller should be as secondary to you as breathing or telling your girlfriend she doesn't look fat in that dress. You shouldn't even have to think about it.

    It's the difference between a living, breathing orchestra and that Elementary School Winter Concert you were suckered into attending for your third cousin's niece's step daughter.
    Scott

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevethemusicman
    Hi Guys,
    What are some of the mixing tricks and performance tricks you use to make the winds sound more real?
    Thanks,
    S

  10. #10

    Re: Making it sound more real

    Thanks, Bruce. I haven't seen a reply from PC, so 'll just copy the info when relevant (I don't think any of these folks are into MIDI, but the audio stuff is very clear and concise.).

    Ern, howya doon, bud? Yep, Christmas is over, and Comet's definitely down the drain, Cupid is off shooting arrows into Prancer and Santa's off with the Donner party - having roast venison! My advice to the oboist - be aware of breeding. Too much of it produces oboe sections but I guess it's OK, at least they all know how to reed...)
    Dasher
    -------
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

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