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Piano, Effects Processing ???

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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:43 pm

Just as a comment... In fairness, it can be very hard to distinguish frequencies , dynamics and ambience in terms of "I don't like this" for someone with no experience. Most people with no experience will just have a vague feeling of something off, but being able to actually pinpoint what it is, and then fix it, it is a skill. And (I speak for myself) a skill that one never stops learning and improving :)

But to the OP: Elf's advice is invaluable. Keep it simple. Don't do stuff "just because" - every move you make in a mix should have a reason, and if you don't know what you're trying to achieve, don't do it.

Take an effect (say compression) learn its basics, and then try to achieve a certain goal (say you want to make sure there's no level lower than -20dB and higher than -10dB, stuff like that), and go back re-reading in case of trouble. It's gonna take some time but it's not rocket science, it just takes patience, method and practice.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Jan 22, 2021 4:25 am

I misread the thread title as:

"Piano, effects poisoning"

Which has some resonance (ha!) for me and might be relevant to the issue.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Fri Jan 22, 2021 5:27 am

The Elf wrote: A solo piano really shouldn't need compression

Really.. why is that ?
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 22, 2021 9:28 am

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:
The Elf wrote: A solo piano really shouldn't need compression

Really.. why is that ?

Compression is needed only if the dynamic range of the source (i.e. the difference in level between the quietest and loudest sounds) exceeds the one of the recording medium.
With 24 bits recording, that never happens (bar an operator error, when the gain level for the source is set too high). That's because 24 bits allow for a huge dynamic range (even taking into consideration that real-world equipment won't make use of all the bits available).

Specifically, the dynamic range possible for any piano is smaller than the one that can be accommodated by a digital 24 bits recording. So you don't need compression.

You can still use compression "for color" (i.e. to change the timbre and the feel of the recording), but for classical recordings normally the point is to capture (or create) the performance as it is, not change it.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:03 am

By the way, something that came to my mind.

If you are using sample-based instruments or synths, it's often the case that their gain settings out of the box are, for some reason, ridiculously high (they peak near 0dbFS).

At least I've seen it a lot with drums instruments. I guess they do it because inexperienced users may think there's something wrong otherwise. A consequence of this is that people end up thinking they need to compress the instrument - especially if it's in a mix with something else.

So if you are writing your MIDI performance or playing it, check the meter levels on the instrument track.

If the peaks are anywhere 0dBFS, the first thing to do is to lower the gain level of the channel containing the instrument, so that your loudest playing peaks around -12dBFS on the DAW meter and no higher. If it sounds too low, turn up your playback volume.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Arpangel » Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:50 am

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:
The Elf wrote: A solo piano really shouldn't need compression

Really.. why is that ?

"Oh yes it does"!!!!! :D
One of my favourite piano sounds is on very old worn out films, where they have used way too much compression, with a long slow release time, where you can hear the release of the piano notes being brought back up with all the noise of the optical sound track, that’s a classic, very emotive sound, which you can duplicate with a nasty compressor, and a tape simulator.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 22, 2021 10:57 am

But that's a broadcasting shortcut rather than a conventional mixing/mastering technique, and your tastes are just weird! :lol: Let's not get the chap even more confused than he already is!
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 22, 2021 11:30 am

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:
The Elf wrote: A solo piano really shouldn't need compression
Really.. why is that ?
The others have covered this. Hopefully you're recording 24-bit and leaving sensible headroom - no meaningful piano note is going to get lost with that amount of dynamic range.

You seem to be starting from the premise that to make a good recording you need to do A, B, C, D... and add process E, F, G... If it were that prescriptive then all our recordings would sound perfect!

It's rather like an artist asking 'does my painting need the colour green?'. It may do, it may not. Only *you* can tell!

A large generalisation here, but... with solo recordings, the *less* you can do (especially with 'classical' material), the better.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:01 pm

Arpangel wrote:
DigitalMusicProduction wrote:
The Elf wrote: A solo piano really shouldn't need compression

Really.. why is that ?

"Oh yes it does"!!!!! :D
One of my favourite piano sounds is on very old worn out films, where they have used way too much compression, with a long slow release time, where you can hear the release of the piano notes being brought back up with all the noise of the optical sound track, that’s a classic, very emotive sound, which you can duplicate with a nasty compressor, and a tape simulator.

There's the difference between can and need. :lol:
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:53 pm

CS70 wrote:If you are using sample-based instruments or synths, it's often the case that their gain settings out of the box are, for some reason, ridiculously high (they peak near 0dbFS).
Quoting this for emphasis. I don't use a lot of VSTs but of the ones I have probably more than half have their default level set way higher than it needs to be.
Bring it down to a sensible level and play with passion and feeling, and let the dynamics take care of themselves.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Jan 22, 2021 11:38 pm

blinddrew wrote:
CS70 wrote:If you are using sample-based instruments or synths, it's often the case that their gain settings out of the box are, for some reason, ridiculously high (they peak near 0dbFS).
Quoting this for emphasis. I don't use a lot of VSTs but of the ones I have probably more than half have their default level set way higher than it needs to be.
Bring it down to a sensible level and play with passion and feeling, and let the dynamics take care of themselves.

+1 to this.

Ever since I started following Zukan's 'Pink Noise Mixing' advice, where you roughly match individual track levels for 'just heard' audibility against a -18dBFS noise source, I find most of my channels have their gain initially dropped by anywhere between - 6dB and -24dB.


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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Sat Jan 23, 2021 12:12 pm

CS70 wrote:If the peaks are anywhere 0dBFS, the first thing to do is to lower the gain level of the channel containing the instrument, so that your loudest playing peaks around -12dBFS on the DAW meter and no higher. If it sounds too low, turn up your playback volume.

When you say the gain level of the channel containing the instrument, which of the two are you referring to, the gain level of the instrument track in Logics workspace? Or the instrument channel strip volume fader in Inspector?

I believe both will act in doing the same thing? But just to be sure..
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 23, 2021 1:55 pm

Leave your faders at unity - adjust the gain prior to the fader. Maybe the volume control within the virtual instrument might be the easiest method, though I always use Cubase's channel gain.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:18 pm

I'm not familiar with the Garritan, but many VSTs have an output level meter within the instrument GUI. Have a shufti at this (if it exists) and make sure those levels are bumbling along around that -18 mark with your peaks around -12 or so.
That way if you do decide to put any plugins afterwards they'll be getting a sensible level.
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Re: Piano, Effects Processing ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:45 pm

Thanks.
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