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Good software compressor for tracking?

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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Sep 06, 2019 4:03 am

Arpangel wrote:
Thanks Elf, I always make sure reference levels are set at -12db or lower...

There is really no such "reference" level. Some music starts out at almost a whisper but in the last bars ends up like a thunderstorm. We have to allow for those very last bars, plus some more for safety. Modern converters are so capable. They're not the problem...
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby The Elf » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:14 am

Arpangel wrote:I always make sure reference levels are set at -12db or lower. I'm dealing with our Marimba, and my rather "all over the place" piano playing. It would all be great if I was just an engineer sitting there keeping an eye on things, but I'm playing as well. Hence the need for an intelligent dumb engineer, also known as "a compressor"
Seriously, if you need an engineer, dumb or smart, to avoid clipping, you're recording too hot. It really is that simple!
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby CS70 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 7:39 am

Yes, turning the gain down is the way to go. If you still get distortion, it could also be that the sound level is overwhelming the mic - you may need to find a mic with a pad and engage it, or move it someplace in the room further away from the loud source (which of course will give you a more roomy sound).
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:56 pm

CS70 wrote:Yes, turning the gain down is the way to go. If you still get distortion, it could also be that the sound level is overwhelming the mic - you may need to find a mic with a pad and engage it, or move it someplace in the room further away from the loud source (which of course will give you a more roomy sound).

Looks like I'll just have to drop the level then.
I'll also start recording at 24/96, I guess.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:29 pm

24 bit good, 96kHz maybe. Many on here seem to prefer 44.1 for audio only and 48 if working with video. Doubling sample rates mostly doesn't add anything useful.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:16 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:24 bit good, 96kHz maybe. Many on here seem to prefer 44.1 for audio only and 48 if working with video. Doubling sample rates mostly doesn't add anything useful.

I agree, I've never used anything other than 16/44.1 its always been more than good enough for our music. I'm just going to have to reduce levels, and see what happens.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:26 pm

Go 24 bit and you'll be fine. You can record at a lower level and still have plenty of room above the electronics noise floor.

I think Hugh once said that around 80kHz was probably the best sample rate to improve very small timing artefacts that the brain is able to discern and affects sound quality slightly, but not have too many other artefacts created by using too high a sample rate. So 88.2kHz is probably the best easily available rate to record at. But I can't remember whether you also had to play back at the same rate to keep the benefits. I assume so.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby The Elf » Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:28 pm

44.1/24-bit is the way to go.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:01 am

Wonks wrote:I think Hugh once said that around 80kHz was probably the best sample rate to improve very small timing artefacts that the brain is able to discern and affects sound quality slightly, but not have too many other artefacts created by using too high a sample rate.

I've seen the figure of 60kHz mentioned by a few people as being sufficient to move filtering artefacts out of the audible spectrum. The timing argument is a red herring as timing is not directly affected by the sample rate. The page at https://science-of-sound.net/2016/02/ti ... tal-audio/ seems to give a good explanation.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:36 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:
Wonks wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:But a compressor after the converters will not prevent clipping as has been said.

Bob
But we've already moved on to hardware compressors as software ones won't work. Why are you referring back to software compressors?

Because Arp's response to Elf was ambiguous?

Bob

On a digital mixer, is it possible to place effects anywhere? Like, before the main gain stage? A compressor for instance?
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:43 am

The input gain stage is there to set the level going into the A/D converter. Until the signal has been through the A/D converter, you can't add any digital effects at all.

The input gain stage may be pure analogue with its own pot, or digitally controlled analogue electronics, but at that point the signal is still analogue. There may be insert points so you can add outboard compressors/limiters, but these too will be in the analogue domain.

So, no.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:23 am

Wonks wrote:The input gain stage is there to set the level going into the A/D converter. Until the signal has been through the A/D converter, you can't add any digital effects at all.

The input gain stage may be pure analogue with its own pot, or digitally controlled analogue electronics, but at that point the signal is still analogue. There may be insert points so you can add outboard compressors/limiters, but these too will be in the analogue domain.

So, no.

Thanks Wonks, the way to go is definitely -24 I think!
I worked with my friend Mike Skeet for years, on music of all types, and I didn't see him use a compressor once when recording. I'm using his mic pre, which had toms of headroom, it's just my Motu that keeps overloading, back to keeping the levels down again.,
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Wonks » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:26 am

It's a good move and costs nothing except 50% more file storage space.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:56 am

Arpangel wrote:On a digital mixer, is it possible to place effects anywhere? Like, before the main gain stage? A compressor for instance?

Nope. The gains stage has to be in the analogue domain, obviously, while a digital compressor in a digital mixer has to be in the digital domain, after the A-D converter. It therefore won't help if your gain staging is inappropriate such that you're clipping the converter.

But we've had this discussion before in your original recording a piano/marimba thread: you just need to record with more headroom. As the Elf says, it really is that simple!

I'd definitely switch to 24 bits if you're currently using 16 -- that will allow you the required additional headroom without compromising the system noise floor. Switching to 96k (or 88.2) sampling won't make any difference to your clipping problems, but you might perceive it as capturing the percussive transients better.

From your descriptions, I'd set up with around 20dB headroom. Just record a noisy part of the rehearsal, play it back, check the level, and tweak the preamp gain accordingly for peaks to reach around -20dBFS. When you record your actual performances you'll probably find the peaks are 10dB higher, but that's fine...

H
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby CS70 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:01 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:When you record your actual performances you'll probably find the peaks are 10dB higher

This seems to be an immutable laws of the universe - Thou Shall Play The Performance Way Louder Than The Soundcheck

Must be etched in some stone given to a beardy type somewhere.
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:05 pm

CS70 wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:When you record your actual performances you'll probably find the peaks are 10dB higher

This seems to be an immutable laws of the universe - Thou Shall Play The Performance Way Louder Than The Soundcheck

Must be etched in some stone given to a beardy type somewhere.
It's currently under the shelf in Hugh's shed! ;)
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:00 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Arpangel wrote:On a digital mixer, is it possible to place effects anywhere? Like, before the main gain stage? A compressor for instance?

Nope. The gains stage has to be in the analogue domain, obviously, while a digital compressor in a digital mixer has to be in the digital domain, after the A-D converter. It therefore won't help if your gain staging is inappropriate such that you're clipping the converter.

But we've had this discussion before in your original recording a piano/marimba thread: you just need to record with more headroom. As the Elf says, it really is that simple!

I'd definitely switch to 24 bits if you're currently using 16 -- that will allow you the required additional headroom without compromising the system noise floor. Switching to 96k (or 88.2) sampling won't make any difference to your clipping problems, but you might perceive it as capturing the percussive transients better.

From your descriptions, I'd set up with around 20dB headroom. Just record a noisy part of the rehearsal, play it back, check the level, and tweak the preamp gain accordingly for peaks to reach around -20dBFS. When you record your actual performances you'll probably find the peaks are 10dB higher, but that's fine...

H

I know Hugh, it's definitely a level "thang" :)
I don't know why, but I always have to have those meters showing a healthy level, I've just got to get used to seeing them in the weeds! It just makes feel really insecure!!
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:09 am

Arpangel wrote:I don't know why, but I always have to have those meters showing a healthy level, I've just got to get used to seeing them in the weeds! It just makes feel really insecure!!

You're too old school! :-)

Get yourself an analogue meter -- an old PPM or VU meter display.

Analogue engineers were sensible people and so analogue meters don't show the headroom margin, meaning you can have apparently 'healthy' levels, and even 'push into the red' without fear of actually overloading anything!

Alternatively, a K-meter plugin on the DAW, or reconfigure the colours of the DAW's own meters so that it switches from green to orange at -20dBFS and orange to red at -12dBFS. That will encourage sensible headroom margins and provide confidence that all is as it should be when tracking!

H
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby CS70 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:13 am

Arpangel wrote:I don't know why, but I always have to have those meters showing a healthy level, I've just got to get used to seeing them in the weeds! It just makes feel really insecure!!

Yeah it's one of the main challenges of moving from analog to digital recording.

Not helped by the fact that most DAWs try to emulate analog visually, so they give you misleading images - like minuscule waveforms and meters that turn yellow just before 0dBFS and stay very very low when you average at -18dBFS.

It is really only a matter of zooming in.

If DAWs' waveform default zoom were set to show a few less decibels (instead of the full dynamic range) and DAWs' default meters had a sensible reference level for a 24bits dynamic range, (showing yellow starting at say -12dbFS, and zooming in so that -18dbFS looks healthy, nobody would overcook levels inadvertently.

In some DAWs you can change the defaults and there are replacement meters which help, but it's little use when most people open the DAW and go (including me at the beginning)..
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Re: Good software compressor for tracking?

Postby Arpangel » Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:41 am

Hugh, I've been looking for ages for a big hardware meter to sit on top of my gear, so I can see it from anywhere in the room! but no luck. I can't configure my meters in Reaper to go anywhere near large enough.
Maybe a software meter?
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