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Digital Audio Principles

Some useful techniques


From:

Digital Audio Principles

with Dave Schroeder

Video: Some useful techniques

So, let's talk a little bit about a few techniques you can use when you're mixing, to try and get better results. Chances are that as you've been working and recording and editing, you've already been adjusting the levels a little bit here and there and maybe even applying some different plug-ins or EQs and things like that, and that's fine. It's good to start with kind of simple rough mix, put things up fairly evenly, and just start to listen to everything that you have there, think of it in terms of the big picture and see how all the sounds relate to each other. Think about what competes, what sounds are kind of dominant, what sounds are important, what sounds are less important.
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  1. 50s
    1. Welcome
      50s
  2. 39m 10s
    1. What is sound?
      4m 15s
    2. Hertz and frequency response
      5m 34s
    3. Phase
      2m 39s
    4. Capturing audio
      3m 39s
    5. Sample rate
      6m 16s
    6. Bit depth
      9m 47s
    7. The waveform
      5m 3s
    8. Audio file formats
      1m 57s
  3. 7m 25s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      2m 59s
    2. Typical DAW signal flow
      4m 26s
  4. 50m 33s
    1. What microphones do
      1m 57s
    2. Element types
      5m 0s
    3. Pickup patterns
      6m 51s
    4. Axis
      2m 52s
    5. Frequency response and the proximity effect
      5m 10s
    6. Phase issues
      1m 41s
    7. Microphone types
      8m 44s
    8. Miking vocals
      5m 39s
    9. Miking amplifiers
      2m 17s
    10. Miking drums
      10m 22s
  5. 16m 39s
    1. Cables and connectors overview
      2m 42s
    2. Balanced and unbalanced cables
      3m 19s
    3. Common cable types
      7m 13s
    4. Cable tips
      3m 25s
  6. 12m 16s
    1. What is an I/O device?
      1m 41s
    2. Analog to digital conversion
      3m 10s
    3. Tour of an audio interface
      4m 49s
    4. Interface considerations
      2m 36s
  7. 21m 5s
    1. What is a preamp?
      3m 21s
    2. Input levels
      5m 29s
    3. Padding
      2m 18s
    4. Phantom power
      2m 37s
    5. Phase reverse
      3m 4s
    6. Preamp demo
      4m 16s
  8. 12m 56s
    1. What is a mixer?
      5m 55s
    2. Input section
      1m 17s
    3. Channel strips
      3m 16s
    4. Master section
      2m 28s
  9. 18m 21s
    1. What is monitoring?
      2m 11s
    2. Speakers
      4m 47s
    3. Room considerations
      5m 43s
    4. Headphone types
      3m 50s
    5. Monitoring levels
      1m 50s
  10. 15m 23s
    1. What role do computers play?
      1m 36s
    2. Performance issues
      4m 11s
    3. Hard drives
      4m 38s
    4. Mechanical noise
      2m 10s
    5. Authorization
      2m 48s
  11. 6m 54s
    1. Planning for recording
      54s
    2. Doing a system check
      1m 26s
    3. Planning your inputs
      1m 42s
    4. The recording environment
      2m 52s
  12. 25m 52s
    1. Types of digital audio software
      38s
    2. Multi-track recorders/sequencers
      4m 56s
    3. Two-track recorders/waveform editors
      4m 55s
    4. Loop-based music production software
      5m 44s
    5. Plug-ins
      6m 56s
    6. Other varieties
      2m 43s
  13. 18m 59s
    1. Common components
      46s
    2. The transport
      2m 4s
    3. The toolbar
      3m 19s
    4. The Edit/Arrange window
      4m 42s
    5. The mixer
      5m 8s
    6. The file list
      3m 0s
  14. 19m 17s
    1. Setting up a session
      3m 30s
    2. Assigning inputs and getting signals
      3m 19s
    3. Input modes
      3m 28s
    4. Overdubbing and punching
      5m 14s
    5. Bouncing down
      3m 46s
  15. 19m 42s
    1. What is editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Waveforms
      2m 53s
    3. Making silent cuts and trims
      7m 1s
    4. Fades and automation
      8m 27s
  16. 1h 23m
    1. What are plug-ins?
      3m 0s
    2. Using plug-ins
      6m 11s
    3. EQs
      7m 4s
    4. Dynamics pt. 1: Compressors, limiters, expanders, and gates
      5m 40s
    5. Dynamics pt 2: Applying dynamic effects
      7m 2s
    6. Pitch shifting
      6m 14s
    7. Reverb
      9m 28s
    8. Echo and delay
      6m 23s
    9. Modulation effects: Phaser, flanger, and chorus
      9m 39s
    10. Sound tools pt. 1: About, gain, normalize
      7m 39s
    11. Sound tools pt. 2: Reverse and time compression/expansion
      6m 29s
    12. Sound tools pt. 3: Noise reducers, dither
      8m 11s
  17. 23m 43s
    1. What is MIDI?
      3m 6s
    2. Keyboard controllers
      1m 23s
    3. Computer-based virtual instruments
      1m 6s
    4. Control surfaces
      1m 6s
    5. Recording and editing MIDI
      12m 4s
    6. Virtual instruments
      4m 58s
  18. 27m 29s
    1. What is mixing?
      1m 54s
    2. Some common objectives
      3m 4s
    3. Some useful techniques
      5m 59s
    4. A quick mixing demo
      16m 32s
  19. 18m 48s
    1. What is mastering?
      2m 24s
    2. Sonic maximization
      9m 43s
    3. Final preparations and exporting
      6m 41s
  20. 13m 34s
    1. What is audio compression?
      2m 16s
    2. Popular formats
      2m 9s
    3. Bit rate, sample rate, and channels
      5m 42s
    4. Other adjustments and considerations
      3m 27s
  21. 15m 6s
    1. Essential gear
      7m 36s
    2. Voice recording setups
      1m 43s
    3. The voice production process
      5m 47s
  22. 10m 4s
    1. Analog vs. digital
      2m 48s
    2. Tube vs. solid state
      5m 6s
    3. The continual upgrade
      2m 10s
  23. 18s
    1. Goodbye
      18s

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Digital Audio Principles
7h 57m Appropriate for all Mar 02, 2007

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Subjects:
Audio + Music Audio Foundations Acoustics Microphones
Author:
Dave Schroeder

Some useful techniques

So, let's talk a little bit about a few techniques you can use when you're mixing, to try and get better results. Chances are that as you've been working and recording and editing, you've already been adjusting the levels a little bit here and there and maybe even applying some different plug-ins or EQs and things like that, and that's fine. It's good to start with kind of simple rough mix, put things up fairly evenly, and just start to listen to everything that you have there, think of it in terms of the big picture and see how all the sounds relate to each other. Think about what competes, what sounds are kind of dominant, what sounds are important, what sounds are less important.

The idea is to take a step back and kind of breathe it all in and get the big picture. Listen to everything they have to deal with and start to get a sense of their relationship to each other before you've applied too much processing and tonal changes and played with the volumes too much. Just think about everything that's there and put together an overall game plan and analyze what's going on there with all the sounds that you have. So, then you want to start to dial in the sounds independently. You want to focus on a track or specific instrument, take some time to EQ them, make them sound a little bit better and maybe add some effects.

But I always like to say just take them about 70% of the way home, or get them close to where you want them, but don't spend three or four hours turning one knob at a time to try and get the bass right, right, right to where you want it. Because you'll find that as you start to dial in each of the sounds independently, you'll actually start making changes to other sounds because their relationship starts to change. So, I like to get all the sounds close to home and then I step back again, take it all in and assess the relationship between these different sounds again.

Then I go back into kind of finish the other 30% or so. So, in these final stages of kind of dialing in the sounds independently and then thinking about their relationship to the other sounds, you need to start to create the sonic landscape, and that means putting sounds in different frequency ranges, putting sounds different dynamic ranges, and put things in different locations out in space, or the stereo field. By putting things in different frequency ranges or letting different instruments occupy different frequency ranges, you'll free them up and let them feel a little bit more separated from other instruments.

A good example is if you have two guitars and maybe they're both rhythm guitars doubling the same part. If you EQ one a little bit differently than the other one so that you boost certain frequencies in one and cut those same frequencies in the other, you'll find that all of a sudden you'll able to hear each of them a lot more, as opposed to them blending together into one. That kind of separation, that kind of clarity where you can focus in on either sound if you want to is one of the things you're trying to achieve. The other thing, and this is a pretty classic mix thing, is usually if you are working with the band, you have a lot of people. I'm the bass player, and I'm the guitar player.

I just want the guitar to be the loudest, or I am bass player, it's got to sound great. This can be problematic when you're mixing. You are not trying to make one instrument alone sound incredible; you are trying to make a whole combination of sounds sound like a great song. You'll find that a lot of times even though you perceive something like a guitar to be this big full range instrument, actually, if you listen to a lot of mixes, you'll find that it's actually not that big and boomier. It doesn't have all that power behind it that you might think it does. It's actually mixed as a narrow thing. That's because it needs to kind of get out of the frequency range that other instruments need to live in, and by being in a certain frequency range, it's easier to focus on.

It still has the perceived power of being you know a huge, giant marshall stack that rattles the stage. But actually, if you just close your eyes and listen to it, you'll realize that there's not as much kind of low-end and girth to it in the mix as you might expect. Another thing you can do is put things in different dynamic ranges by using things like compressors and limiters or gates. Just by playing with volume, you can make certain things pop in and out of mixes, or be more apparent. Working with drums in the dynamic ranges is really important because generally we want them to kind of maintain a consistent dynamic range throughout the song, but at the same time we want certain things like snare drums and kick drums to kind of pop out.

So, playing with things like gates and compressors can give us more room to move them up and down so that it's always right at about the same level that we want it to be at. Finally, putting sounds in different locations in space means using panning and reverb and delays and even changing the tonal character with EQ to put things out into the sound field. Traditionally, if you think about watching a live band, you've got the drummer in the back in the middle, maybe a guitarist over to the right, a piano player to the left, a vocalist in the middle. So, when you are mixing you want to take advantage of the stereo image and put different instruments or different voices in different parts of the stereo image - to the left, to the right, closer to the listener or farther from the listener.

And these three things will make up the sonic landscape. Finally, a few things you can do to kind of hone your skills, or zero in on your own mix is to work with your eyes. Digital audio is great because we can do a lot of things visually but at the same time it becomes possible to kind of be distracted or sucked in by the visual and not actually spend as much time doing critical listening or focused listening as we need to. So, always be ready to work with your eyes shut and kind of pay attention to the stereo image and think about what's where and then go back to work with your eyes open and make some adjustments.

It always pays off. Another thing you can do to hone your skills or just get better at mixing is pay attention to mixes that other people have done. Grab your five favorite records and put them on in your home studio, or wherever you are doing your mixing, and just sit there and listen to with your eyes closed and try to think about the different sounds or the different components and how those things come together. Pay attention to that guitar part or what kind of reverb they might've used on the vocal, things like that. You'll notice that once you start to do it, it's pretty fun. It's kind of like a puzzle that you start to solve. You'll also notice that there are lots of things we listen to all the time and just take for granted, but when we actually stop and really focus on these things, we can start to come to pick apart how they're put together.

In the next movie, we'll go back into Pro Tools and just open up a few things and move some faders around and talk about a few things you can do to kind of build a mix.

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