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Audio Mixing Bootcamp
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Compressing the acoustic guitars


From:

Audio Mixing Bootcamp

with Bobby Owsinski

Video: Compressing the acoustic guitars

Acoustic guitars generally have a lot of dynamic range, which means that they require some compression to keep the sound even in the mix. In this video I am going to show you how to set up the compressor to keep that signal steady, and to keep everything even in the mix. So the first thing to realize is that acoustic instruments are usually a lot more dynamic than electric instruments, so they have to be controlled more, and that's why we use a compressor. The other thing to remember is the more wild the peaks the higher the compression ratio should be, just like we did on other instruments. So let's have a listen in the track without a compressor and you can hear how sometimes you hear it really well and other times it drops out in the track.
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  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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Audio Mixing Bootcamp
8h 53m Beginner Nov 11, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Bobby Owsinski reveals industry tips, tricks, and techniques for producing professionally mixed audio on any digital audio workstation. He offers recommendations for setting up an optimal listening environment, highlights the most efficient ways to set up and balance a mix, and shows how to build a powerful sound with compression. The course also explains how to master the intricacies of EQ; incorporate reverb, delay, and modulation effects; and generate the final mix.

Topics include:
  • Optimizing your listening environment
  • Setting up sessions, subgroups, and effects
  • Understanding which mixing elements to avoid
  • Understanding the principles of building a mix
  • Panning instruments
  • Setting up the compressor
  • Using noise gates and de-essers
  • Understanding the concept of frequency juggling
  • Using the magic high-pass filter
  • Timing reverb and delay to a track
  • Using reverb to layer the mix
  • Understanding the Haas effect
  • Modulating guitars, keyboards, and vocals
  • Mixing with subgroups
  • Tweaking the final mix
Subjects:
Audio + Music Mixing Music Production Audio Effects
Software:
Pro Tools
Author:
Bobby Owsinski

Compressing the acoustic guitars

Acoustic guitars generally have a lot of dynamic range, which means that they require some compression to keep the sound even in the mix. In this video I am going to show you how to set up the compressor to keep that signal steady, and to keep everything even in the mix. So the first thing to realize is that acoustic instruments are usually a lot more dynamic than electric instruments, so they have to be controlled more, and that's why we use a compressor. The other thing to remember is the more wild the peaks the higher the compression ratio should be, just like we did on other instruments. So let's have a listen in the track without a compressor and you can hear how sometimes you hear it really well and other times it drops out in the track.

(music playing) Now, one of the things to realize about an acoustic guitar that strums like this, it's almost a rhythm instrument sometimes because it's pushing the track along. Just have a quick listen without the acoustic and listen to the difference.

(music playing) So there are two things that happen here: the first thing it takes up a nice frequency range in the middle that really sounds good, and the next thing is it pushes everything along. It's almost like another rhythm instrument, and sometimes with a good acoustic guitar track you don't have to add percussion or something like that to make the track really move. That's the value of a good acoustic guitar track. Anyway, let's put our normal compressor in that we always use, which is the standard Pro Tools compressor, and let's have a listen.

(music playing) So like we did with other instruments, we're going to adjust the attack time until it just begins to dull, because we're cutting off the actual attack of the instrument. That's when we want to back off a little bit. So let's do that now. (music playing) Now, next thing we're going to do is we're going to back off on the release a little bit; we're going to make it longer. (music playing) And because there are a lot of peaks, what we're going to do is we're going to raise the ratio up.

(music playing) Now, we can hear the compressor kick in, and that's not what we want. So we're actually going to use something that we haven't used up until now, and this is the Knee parameter. What this will do is right at the point where the compressor kicks in, it will soften that a little bit. So instead of going from no compression to compression, it gradually turns on. So it makes it sound a little bit smoother.

(music playing) Now, I think the gain is different, and it should be because we're compressing a whole bunch and the more we compress, the less the gain will be. Let's listen to it where the compressor bypass and hear how loud it is. (music playing) So what we're trying to do is use the Gain control to even out the differences between the uncompressed and the compressed sound, and now that they are about the same, we can really hear the compressor working here.

(music playing) Let's listen to the track. (music playing) We can hear it pushing the track along, and we can hear all those strums.

The problem is this doesn't really sound all that good, and sometimes that happens; certain compressors sound better on certain instruments and sometimes they just don't work as well. So we're going to try a different compressor. In this case we're going to go to another native compressor in Pro Tools, and this is going to be the Bomb Factory, BF76. And what this is is a software emulation of the hardware UREI1176, which has been a standard in studios for fifty years about.

This is actually one of the first compressors built and used by studios all over the world, and it's still revered by just about everybody. The thing about the 1176 though, or in this case the BF76, is that the Attack and Release controls work backwards from normal Attack and Release controls. So in other words, on the attack the fastest is actually all the way to the right and the slowest is all the way to the left, and that's completely different from what we see in most other compressors. What we're going to do is back the attack off to its slowest, and we're going to put the release at its fastest and have a quick listen.

(music playing) Now, I can hear it getting even already. What we're going to do is we're going to back the attack off until we just about hear a dull, and when we hear that, we're going to back off. (music playing) Now we didn't hear a dull and that's because this works so well for this particular acoustic guitar that sometimes it's just a perfect match. That's because the attack time of the 1176, or in this case the BF76, is fairly slow.

Now, let's back off the release time and make it breathe with the track. (music playing) Now, let's listen in the track. (music playing) Now usually what I like to do in cases of an acoustic guitar that's strumming is back it off until you can just about hear it, and that way it will add motion to the track, which is what it's supposed to do.

It will fill up an acoustic space, which is also what it's supposed to do, but it won't be too prominent so it drowns out the other instruments. So let's bring that back a little bit. (music playing) Now let's just listen without it, hear the difference. (music playing) After we EQ it and add some effects, this would sound really, really good.

But now you get an idea of how to make it fit into the track, how to make it sound even with a little bit of compression, and what it will do to the motion of the track.

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