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Topic: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

  1. #1

    Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I would like to know the experiences of others regarding mastering of MIDI generated compositions. I have been producing a CD series for a Bluegrass group over the last 18 months and have used several \"post-processing\" tools in mastering the CDs. However, I am reluctant to use these tools as much and go as far with MIDI generated sounds, especially symphonic works. I guess I feel the samples are already \"pre-mastered.\" Also for orchestral work, I feel that it is degrading to the fidelity. But I think all that I said is in my head and is not necessarily reality.

    Here are some of the tools that I have used:
    Equalization (multi-point paragraphic)
    Stereo spread control
    Master limiting (loudness maximization)

    I would like to know what others are doing in post processing for orchestral, pop, and other gendres.


  2. #2

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I think one thing many people overlook in this process is the midi mixing that needs to be done.

    For example, if you have an orchestral score that was \"typed in\" (not played live) no matter what you do it is not going to sound realistic.

    The first thing I do is make several passes on each channel automating expression and fine tuning the velocities of certain notes that either stick out or get lost.

    This may be a no brainer but make sure everything is panned appropriately. I hear demos all the time where nothing is panned.

    Next once everything is done \"humanize\" all the parts. I usually use about 2-3% on the sample onset and offset and 5% on the velocities. This will make a huge difference in the playability. For example if you have a chord with all instruments playing at the begining of it the humanization will slightly offset the attack so that everything does not hit at once thus making it much more true to life.

    Next bounce everything over. Yes I know this is a pain. Maybe Nemesys could make the capture tool record several channels at once. For example if you have an ADAT out you could be able to record eight channels at once. Anyway, if you need to save time record like sections instead of indivdual tracks. For example, high brass, low brass, woodwinds, double reeds, etc.

    EQ: Use this sparingly. I genereally like a slight boost around 8-10k to brighten up brass but thats about it.

    Compression: Rarely if ever use if you want a true orchestral sound.

    Reverb: Heres the tricky one and one that I am still working on myself. Try thinking of this as vertical panning. In other words apply a reverb to the percussion that will put them in the back. Put a reverb on the brass that will put them slightly infront of the percussion and so on. Roll off the high end of the EQ in the reverb to remove the tinnyness.

    If you have access to Acusstic Mirror by Sound Forge use it! It blows away any other software reverb.


  3. #3

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I recently had a collection of live-recorded acoustic instruments \"professionally\" mastered at a studio. One tool they used regularly was Waves Stereo Imager. It cleaned up individual instruments and vocals to a degree I did not think possible. I have not tried it yet on MIDI-generated sounds.

    Has anyone had any experience with Waves Stereo Imager?


  4. #4

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I have tried Acoustic Mirror but thought it colored the mix a bit too much. The reverb was great. Any suggestions on how to lessen the coloration?


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I basically do all the MIDI processing the Donnie does. Another thing I do is detune like instruments. For example, 2 clarinets one a little flat and the other a little sharp. If 3 trumpets, 3rd trumpet a little flat, 2nd trumpet a little sharp and the 1st trumpet in tune. This beefs up the sound of each sections and gives a natural chorus sound. I also mix samples from multiple libraries.

    I then mix down each woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp & piano, strings into 5 stereo audio tracks in Cakewalk (Sonar). All recordings are 24 bit at this point. I usually use a Lexicon reverb as I mix down the tracks. My system is setup so most sections are maximized in level so I don\'t have to normalize at this point. I then check balance between the sections at this point and modify if necessary. Usually they are pretty well balanced as they have been mixed before laying the audio tracks.

    I then mix down to a stereo track - still 24 bits. I can use DirectX effects if necessary. The level is checked to get as close to 0 db before recording the final mix. This helps me from doing normalizing on the final mix. I rarely equalize orchestra pieces. I then dither the final mix to 16 bit. Then I export from Cakewalk as a .wav file. I rarely use compression.

  6. #6

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    Haydn I don\'t think I ever heard any of your stuff. Is there something I can download somewhere? The techniques described here sound pretty awesome (and time-consuming), I would like to hear if it pays off If you have a webpage with mp3s or anything, let me know!

  7. #7

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI


    Just wanted to add that I\'ve been experimeneting with using an aural exciter. In particular, I have purchased Spectralizer by steinberg (direct X version).

    after I do most of what has already been listed in this forum, I apply a little of this exciter effect on the final mix. I set the application point at 7000Hz and put about 25% of this effect into the mix. Spectralizer has an \"effect only\" buuton to push in that will let you hear only the effect being applied. You can get a better idea of what you\'re adding to your mix.

    My mixes aren\'t great (my inexperience) but the Spectralizer does add a bit of crispness to the final mix that helps clarity. Strings sounds more sparkling. Vocals tend to be more clear.

    I usually add this after I\'ve done an amount of EQ cutting from muddy spots in particular instruments.

    I am of the opinion that sampled libraries, though they may have been EQ\'d at one point doens\'t mean we won\'t have to EQ them again in our own mixes.
    Every song with it\'s unique instrumentation will produce it\'s own sonic behaviour complete with \"lumps and bumps\" in the EQ spectrum that need to be sometimes ironed out.

  8. #8

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    I have to say the most tedious part for me with Gigastudio is the mixing down process. Having to \'capture to audio\' each track and then send it to Cool Edit Pro to mixdown and add directx. (Oh well, that\'s what has to be done! )
    Sometimes for orchestral works, I just \'capture to audio\' string parts, horn parts, woodwinds, and percussion into 4 audio tracks as opposed to each individual violin, viola track etc.
    I use TC reverb and am very pleased with the results. I find using the \'less is more\' approach with the reverb is the best way to get my orchestral stuff not sounding so fake.
    I usually try not to add any eq to the samples as you have said most of the samples are already mastered to sound good, but not so in some libraries. Good reverb will make your sounds sound even better IMO as well.
    I have had some hassles mixing down some of Miroslav String Ensembles pizzicato parts. I think they sound very muddy as opposed to Ultimate Strings pizz.
    I tend to stay away from using stuff like noise reduction as it will take away your highs unless you know how to really use it minimally in Cool Edit Pro.
    I use CEPros limiter to get the song as loud as possible without clipping as an end result.
    I am not a professional engineer and I have alot to learn, but these are the basic things I use to mixdown.

  9. #9

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    Like Donnie, I like Sonic Foundry\'s Acoustic Mirror. But I think I\'m becoming a convert to Cakewalk\'s Sound Stage (FX3). It\'s remarkable for its ability to allow you to place each instrument precisely where you want it on the \"sound stage.\" The presets are quite good and a little experimenting can produce some pretty amazing sonic results. Sometimes Sonic Foundry\'s package has a \"ringiness\" to it that Cakewalk\'s pretty much avoids. - Doug

  10. #10

    Re: Sweetening, Post Processing, and Mastering for MIDI

    Is Cakewalk\'s Sound Stage (FX3) a plug in that will work in Sound Forge?


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