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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
Now in the last movie, we looked at the different kinds of dynamics processors that are available as plug-ins, and how they affect sound and show you a few practical applications. We will add a compressor to a voiceover, and then we will also play a gate to a kick-drum track. So let's go ahead and start by selecting our voiceover track and kind of zooming in and giving it a good listen. I am going to go ahead and let that be a little bit bigger, so we can see it. And now we are going to apply a compressor at the file level, so we will bring it in from the AudioSuite, as opposed to using as a real-time, and we are going to go with the Renaissance compressor from the Waves family.
We can see we've got an input over here and the output over here. I've got that voiceover selected, I'll let it play. (Female speaker: Welcome to lynda.com video training podcast for Friday January 19th, 2006.) So we can see where the sound's coming over here, and this is the output and this is the magic threshold. So I am going to play that again and adjust my threshold based on the level of the incoming signal. (Female speaker: Welcome to lynda.com video training podcast for Friday January 19th, 2006.) So now we have a good visual of the volumes above the threshold and below the threshold.
Now, I am going to use this to kind of squash the top end. If we look at the waveform, we can see we have some peaks and then some quiet parts. And I kind of basically I want to take these louder parts and make them a little bit quieter so that I can turn the whole volume of this track up and get as much signal out to the listener as possible. So, let's go back and preview. Now, I'll set the ratio. (Female speaker: Welcome to lynda.com video training podcast for Friday January 19th, 2006.) I will set my attack so that--your attack refers to how fast the effect takes place, and the release is how fast it stops taking place, or when it stops applying the effect. If you have a longer release, it's kind of a slower gradual off, if it's a fast release, it's kind of an on/off, on/off.
And a lot of times you need to have a kind of slow attack and kind of a slow release, so that you don't get a weird sound effect. You want to try to avoid that sound effect being turned up and turned down really quick. I am also going to go ahead over here and turn up our output gain, so that we get a good visual of what's happening. So let's take a look at those, and now I will go ahead, and actually I am going to increase my ratio a little bit here. I want to kind of really squash this. (Female speaker: Welcome to lynda.com video training podcast for Friday January 19th, 2006. Oops) All right, so we will process it, and see what happens to our waveform.
So, see, now we have got a little bit more body on everything, and that's because we increase the gain after we compress things. (Female Speaker: for Friday January 19th, 2006.) Here I will undo it, so we can take a look at the difference. See how our low point's here. We increased the gain of the whole track. Now, if I apply this effect without any gain, we will just see the higher piece go down, so we will add it again. So it made our whole track a lot quieter, but you can see there is not as much of a difference between the peaks and the quiet parts.
Female Speaker: .com video training podcast for Friday January 19th, 2006.) So now I can go in and select this and turn the volume of the whole channel up, which I won't do, but that's what you would do. You can either set the gain here, or you can just set the compression and then apply another plug-in to increase the gain back up to the maximum level. So you get a lot more of the voice signal and fewer of these peaks. Now, let's take a look applying a gate to a kick-drum track. I will switch around here and change my view a little bit for you.
So here is our kick-drum track, we will zoom back out and zoom in. I am going to highlight a little section here. And we will go ahead and give this a listen. I don't know if you can hear that, but I can hear the rim shot right now of the snare in between there, and there we can hear the snare being hit.
So that's all picked up from a drum microphone that was on the bass drum. What I want to do is use a gate to try and get rid of the sounds in between the bass drum hits. So over in my insert--and we will do this in real time-- I am going to load up a gate, and we will send the signal through and take a look and do some settings. I am actually going to go back to our factory defaults, so everything is zero, bypass it, and send it. (drum playing) So here we have the full signal without any gating effect on.
And we see that on the top all that we can see is the reduction, or how much quieter we are going to make things that don't make it to the threshold. So let's go ahead and drag the threshold up, which now is very low, so everything is getting through. There we go. So right around 38, we are starting to see that things are making it to the threshold, and we are turning things down. But we can still hear that drum a little bit, the snare drum that is. (drums playing) So, now we just hear the kick-drum more or less.
Every time it comes up, because it's the loudest thing in the track, everything it hits that threshold, we are saying, hey, let's hear you, we are opening the gate, and we want to hear you. But everything else that doesn't make it, we are just saying, no, the gate is closed, there is no volume on this track unless you are at least this loud. So, here is our threshold. Let me stop that for a second. So this is a great tool to be able to use if you are doing things, especially with drum sets where you have a room mic and then individual mics and you want to really isolate that sound and then go in and apply some EQ.
If you want to apply something to kind of make that kick-drum boomy or brighter or some EQ, you don't necessarily want that EQ to also get onto the snare drum that's bled into, or is also part of, that track that the microphone picked up. So a gate is a great way to isolate a specific sound and then apply effects to it. You could also use this with voices if you have extended periods of time where there isn't speaking. A gate should be applied to voices with a fair amount of caution, and you can come with effects that are a little bit unnatural or jarring. So, try it, play with it, but in the end, trust your ears. If it's sounds a little awkward, you might want to use fades and actually go in and do a lot of editing and take out those periods of noise.
So that's a nice look at a few different ways to use dynamics processing as plug-ins. Next, we will take a look at what you can do with pitch shifting.
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