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HELP! What does the term printing mean?

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HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby charlieaudio98 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:29 pm

Hello.

A youtube channel called Pensados Place uploaded an interview with the engineer Patrizio Pigliapoco and I understood everything he was talking about till he used the term "prints".

At around 20 min into the video he gets asked what his vocal chain is and he replies that he uses a telefunken 251, 1073 and cl1b and directly into daw. Then he says "He prints autotune" and I've come across this term a few times now without understanding it...

What does he mean with "He prints autotune", It's probably something very simple but would like to understand haha, answers is appreciated.

thanks in advance
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby desmond » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:45 pm

"Records" to audio.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby blinddrew » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:46 pm

Hi Charlieaudio98, welcome to the forum.
When people talk about printing they basically mean fixing the sound in some way. Historically that would be 'printing to tape' whereby you'd take the audio track you had, plus any outboard effects that you were running that signal through, and record it to tape. This would then be fixed and therefore you couldn't go back and tweak any of those effects.

So in this case he's saying that rather than having autotune running a live plug-in on the track he's fixing that in place. Depending on the DAW in question there could be a number of ways to do this, but basically he's committing to that sound and sequence of effects.

[EDIT - Ha! Desmond has it covered in three words!]
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:53 pm

It simply means that the track is recorded with all the effects applied and recorded. So rather than record a straight vocal to a track and then add and adjust compression, EQ etc., you record with the effects in place so that the track now holds the vocal + EQ + compression. So you need to be sure what you are doing as you can't go and undo it, or decide to use a different compressor etc.

It's the historical difference between the 'British' way of recording to multitrack tape, where the track went down complete with compression, E.Q., delay etc. and the 'American' way of recording, which generally was to record with minimal effects (maybe a touch of limiting to prevent serious tape overload) and then add the effects during mixdown.

You had to know what you were doing when printing effects to tape, so experience counts, but it does prevent the indecision that can affect you when mixing and then constantly tweaking the effects and swapping one effect for another.

So "he prints autotune" means that he's using the live pitch correct version of Autotune, at whatever degree of aggressiveness for pitch correction (probably very, in today's popular music climate) so that's the sound of the vocal on the recorded track, rather than having the raw vocal track recorded, then adding autotune as an insert in the DAW and then constantly adjusting it on replay until he was happy.

Hope that makes sense.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby charlieaudio98 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:19 pm

Ahaaaaa okay, I finally understand it. I'm new to this game so the terms can get confusing at times but I'm just trying to learn!

Personally I don't really see the "pros" of this and I can't see when I'd use this, but I guess if you know what you are doing it might be something.

thank you so much for helping me!
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:10 pm

It's not that usual a practice these days, unless you are maybe using tape or want to force yourself to work as if you were recording in the '60s or '70s. Sometimes people will record through a hardware compressor or limiter on a light setting as they know they'll always want to add some vocal compression and it makes the vocals easier to mix with, and more compression can be added later if necessary.

But there may be a subtle method behind printing the vocal with autotune. Without it, the artist may like their unaltered natural vocal (especially if they can sing in tune), but if the producer's commercial decision is to go with the flow and have obvious autotuning, then there's no way of going back if it's recorded with it, short of recording a complete new vocal. So it may make the producer's life easier.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Still Vibrations » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:31 am

A friend of mine (who is a successful session player) said that recently there has been a trend to use more than one reverb and print them to a track.
Although the electronic music I do is not mainstream, I nearly always print the effects to a track, although the sounds are heavily processed. I do have a reverb send that all tracks go through, even if subtly, as it puts everything in the same sound space.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby BJG145 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:43 am

charlieaudio98 wrote:Personally I don't really see the "pros" of this

A feature on the Antares website has this:

Pigliapoco and Brown print Auto-Tune to tracks, which gives Pigliapoco more freedom, considering it’s not unusual for Brown to record up to 10 records in one day. “At the end of the day, with Chris, when he cuts a take and he hears it back and he says, ‘Okay. Next line,’ that take is done,” he says. “There’s no going back. If there is something wrong with it later, he’s just going to recut it. It’s just a lot faster than trying to open up the Auto-Tune editing and try to edit something when you can cut it 10 times in that time.” As Pigliapoco puts it, with an artist as prolific and fast moving as Brown, Auto-Tune helps him keep “a momentum of perfectness. We just got to keep it going.”

Committing to effects makes sense sometimes because the way you perform something is closely tied to the way you hear it when you're performing, and it gives you less to worry about in the edit.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Still Vibrations » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:02 am

BJG145 wrote:Committing to effects makes sense sometimes because the way you perform something is closely tied to the way you hear it when you're performing, and it gives you less to worry about in the edit.

I agree, you play differently with effects than without.

Before the days of computer recording I had a colleague who censured me for printing effects. He said that when mixing he may decide to put a fast, shallow chorus on the rhythm guitar, a slow deep chorus on electric piano, delay on the lead synth etc. I had to point out that as he only had one effects unit, he didn't have a choice anyway and if he wanted so many effects they would have to be printed at some stage.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Brian M Rose » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:24 pm

A couple of other (historic) meanings from the film industry:
1) Print it: The instruction to the Labs to Print a selected take, of several takes. Camera, Continuity and Sound take a note of the several takes to go onto the Editor. This saves times and money.
2) Making an Optical Print of the final mix. Yes I'm old enough to remember this - just. The final mix down would go onto the optical soundtrack (not tape, not digital) from which there was obviously no going back. Perhaps also it would mean cutting the disk for records.
Often these were live mixes (admittedly from far fewer track, perhaps just 4; Dialogue, Music A, Music B and Effects).
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Wonks » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:28 pm

Interesting, Brian. And I'm sure that will be where the term originally came from, as I'm sure there must have been some film industry sound engineers crossing over to recording studio work once tape machines became available who carried the term with them.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby The Elf » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:21 pm

I do tend to print effects, since whatever you're using may no be available when you come to remix in 20 years' time ( ;) ), but I will record those effects in parallel, i.e. *in addition* to a dry signal. Committing to an effect is all well and good, but when we have the ability to give ourselves safety options then I see no point in not allowing ourselves those options.

On one recent remix I thanked my earlier self so much when I realised I had dry DI's from 8 tracks of guitars and I was able to push those signals into all kinds of creative places that wouldn't previously have been possible.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby charlieaudio98 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:53 pm

Reading and learning a lot from your answers!

Basically I could just insert the effects to the Apollo Console and record with the effects on, and it would be "printing"... Since I would be stuck with the effects on the playback in DAW.
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby jaminem » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:01 am

charlieaudio98 wrote:Personally I don't really see the "pros" of this and I can't see when I'd use this, but I guess if you know what you are doing it might be something.

Hi.

This is an interesting point

When you start out you naturally don't have the experience to understand what a 'good' sound is, and by that I mean not one that just sounds good in the room, but also translates well to the sound you are trying to achieve in your mix.

Typically then you are quite rightly guided to record a 'dry' signal - i.e. with no effects printed on it, so that you have the opportunity to apply processing later and are not constrained by the decision you made while recording.

A good example of this is distortion - simply you can always put more on, but you can't take it off - so if you've got too much much on your recording, your stuck with it or you have to re-record.

BUT!

There is a major pitfall with this technique, that a lot of people (including myself) have fallen into - with so many plugin's and processing options available to you, and limiltless undo's you can often fall into the trap of not 100% focussing on getting the actual sound 'right' when you record it, thinking that you can always 'fix it in the mix' with processing.

This leads you down the wrong path - a well recorded sound with a little processing always sounds better than an 'alright' recording with loads (unless your going for a special effect)

This is why when you see the Pro's interviewed, they are always talking about mic placement, the right instrument, the right performance and getting the sound right at source, which can include some printing of effects - the Steve Albini Mix with the Masters question session (free on You Tube) covers this perfectly - worth a watch..
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:00 pm

jaminem wrote:There is a major pitfall with this technique, that a lot of people (including myself) have fallen into - with so many plugin's and processing options available to you, and limiltless undo's you can often fall into the trap of not 100% focussing on getting the actual sound 'right' when you record it, thinking that you can always 'fix it in the mix' with processing.

This really is the key.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a pro and an amateur is that the pro starts with a good idea of where the track is heading and what it needs to sound like, so concentrates on getting the right sound at the beginning and making that decision early. Getting that right makes everything else a lot easier.

Of course, many will record DI feeds and whatever as well so that there are options for later if some unexpected inspiration takes things in a new direction, but the core idea is to record what you need at the start, rather than record any old rubbish and expect to sort it out later... because you never will.

Hence the critical hierarchy of having a good song arrangement, performed skilfully, by a well-rehearsed player, in an appropriate acoustic space... Captured by mics in the right place... and appropriate types of mic... through a signal path with an optimised gain structure.

If all those things are perfect you can think about the subtleties of mic preamp colour, converters and all the rest... but without that critical hierarchy the best preamps and converters in the world won't make it sound any better.

H
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:03 pm

Or, "you can't polish a......" :bouncy:
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Wonks » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:33 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Or, "you can't polish a......" :bouncy:

But you can. But it's still a polished turd.

https://youtu.be/yiJ9fy1qSFI
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Re: HELP! What does the term printing mean?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:45 pm

Probably better to just roll it in sprinkles then :D
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