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Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

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Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby skipper01 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:27 pm

Hi, just wondered if anybody could generically advise?
I'm mixing a simple live performance in Logic X from a restaurant recording and have stems for live vocal (Sennheiser e965 - condenser), digital piano (stereo), midi from piano, Rode nt2 atmos (x2) and camera audio.
I'm very happy with the balance and sound but have had to work a bit on the vocal.
The vocal sound is a little harsh and 'biting' in my opinion but I've overcome this to a point of being happy . The dynamic range of the vocal is not huge, enough to compress a bit in my opinion but my confusion is what best to do with some spiky transients on the vocal.
Clearly the singer was eating the mic a little in points and I appreciate condensers will react fast to transients more than dynamics.
The vocal transients are particularly evident when the track is mixed and bounced and looking at the stereo render these few moments make the mix reaches the top due to sharp transients even after conservative final mix buss processing including Limiting.
Currently my vocal chain is -
UAD API Vision (to add a bit of high end sheen at 8khz upwards and cut a little mid around 1.5khz),
Fabfilter Deeser,
Fabfilter Q2 EQ to cut some 240hz mud and 6 kHz where the bite centred in my opinion,
Teletronix LA2A set to Limit and gets up to 3db of reduction that is made up

I've tried implementing double compression via a 2nd very fast attack and release Compressor before the LA2A that clamps the spikes ok but I'm wondering if there is a better way as I'm convinced this ?
I was looking at mac available transient shaping plugs-ins but wonder whether these will need automation to shape when they work plus setting attack and where to set levels of control of these etc etc...

Thanks for any thoughts in advance
Regards
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:02 pm

Boosting the high end will naturally also boost any fast transients, so best to do the limiting / compressing / dynamic range control stuff first, before the EQ.

From what you're describing, decent limiter should help, followed by the compressor. Setting the threshold appropriately is the key with the limiter.

But if that's struggling for some reason, it may be necessary to get into some waveform editing to manually tame the big transients before the overall compression. It's pretty quick and easy to do, since you can see the problematic transients on the waveform display, and you just need to cut either side and drag the level down a bit.

H
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:12 pm

If you want a plug-in to take care of this for you, the new Oeksound Spiff is very nifty at this sort of thing, though figuring out how to get the best from it can require some trial and error.

Alternatively, feel free to send in a track for one of the SOS team to have a go at!
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby blinddrew » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:44 pm

If you're just looking to take a little off the top of the transients it's worth giving GClip a go. It's free and, I've found, very useful.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Jadoube » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:54 pm

errrr... you could always use a vertical tracking software solution... Faders! Faders + automation = nice levels.

(and it can be drawn manually if you need to 'cheat' it a bit)

Cheers!
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby wdsteele » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:07 pm

The Oeksound stuff have a free trial - currently trying out the "Smooth" plugin which is very effective at taming the top end ; have liked what it does on everything so far but as the recent review noted , it's difficult to know what is actually going on.

Think the trial last for 30 days , so worth a go if you're curious.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Jadoube » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:34 pm

wdsteele wrote:The Oeksound stuff have a free trial - currently trying out the "Smooth" plugin which is very effective at taming the top end ; have liked what it does on everything so far but as the recent review noted , it's difficult to know what is actually going on.

Think the trial last for 30 days , so worth a go if you're curious.

Oeksound "soothe" is my new favourite plugin! It's fantastic and would likely help... although things might get weird with a "live" track re" stage bleed. Interesting to see what would happen... its an extremely capable plugin.

For me, "soothe" is a great representative of the new breed of DSP that is working in very minute detail in "real time". The Izotope Neutron plug seems to be similar in process. I also thought that Har-bal is doing something along these same lines.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby skipper01 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:38 pm

Thanks for all the replies and advise.
Very helpful as ever!
Ill have another play over the next few days considering all the suggestions.

Many thanks
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby MOF » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:13 pm

Since you’ve got access to UAD plugins, try one of their tape simulators as the first plugin before the API, they’re well know for sorting transients. Pushing the input level a fair bit but not so much that it gives obvious tape compression should do the trick and turn off tape hiss, unless you want it to sound like analogue tape.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby wdsteele » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:17 pm

Jadoube wrote:
wdsteele wrote:The Oeksound stuff have a free trial - currently trying out the "Smooth" plugin which is very effective at taming the top end ; have liked what it does on everything so far but as the recent review noted , it's difficult to know what is actually going on.

Think the trial last for 30 days , so worth a go if you're curious.

Oeksound "soothe" is my new favourite plugin! It's fantastic and would likely help... although things might get weird with a "live" track re" stage bleed. Interesting to see what would happen... its an extremely capable plugin.

For me, "soothe" is a great representative of the new breed of DSP that is working in very minute detail in "real time". The Izotope Neutron plug seems to be similar in process. I also thought that Har-bal is doing something along these same lines.

Ah ..yes thank you , I did mean “soothe”.

I noticed that on my 2014 MacBook Air two instances on different tracks caused some sync issues which I’ve never experienced before , I put that down to real time processing demands so have been using primarily on the master channel across complete mix.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby skipper01 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:04 pm

Cheers again.
Before i delve back in I assume a sensible target is to aim to just pull back and reduce these large and very fast transients to benefit opening up mix headroom without noticing the change sonically?
That’s what I assume and was the reason for the question.
I guess it’s just a question of controlling but not totalling artificially changing this dynamic with moderation....?!
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Jadoube » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:47 pm

wdsteele wrote:I noticed that on my 2014 MacBook Air two instances on different tracks caused some sync issues which I’ve never experienced before , I put that down to real time processing demands so have been using primarily on the master channel across complete mix.

That is strange. I have not noticed anything like that at all. I have used many instances of soothe on a full band multi-track mix in Reaper& UAD interfaces on a newish Macbook pro with no sync issues. Just like any other plugin. Maybe you have something else going on...

skipper01 wrote:Cheers again.
Before i delve back in I assume a sensible target is to aim to just pull back and reduce these large and very fast transients to benefit opening up mix headroom without noticing the change sonically?
That’s what I assume and was the reason for the question.
I guess it’s just a question of controlling but not totalling artificially changing this dynamic with moderation....?!

Yes... you have the idea. You need to tame those spikes down. Personally (and this is just me and my background) for really bad spikes (drummer tags a mic with his stick, vocalist bangs a mic into the stand or her teeth) I would edit them out of the waveform rather than trying to get some vst perfectly set up to control it. In my opinion, what seems like a lot of time editing, is time well spent to absolutely know it is dealt with 'perfectly' and then forget about it. I'm old school that way...

If that is too nasty, I would next look at video dialogue vsts like the ones found in Izotope RX. De-Clicker for example. They are excellent and used carefully (read subtly) they will save the day and not cause a horrible mess with side effects. And I think you already have the next line of defence running... 'dessers' ... tuned to grab the spike (if possible... sometimes desser frequencies don't work down low), perhaps more than one plugin if needed... and then finally into your normal processing chain.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Zukan » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:41 am

blinddrew wrote:If you're just looking to take a little off the top of the transients it's worth giving GClip a go. It's free and, I've found, very useful.

My weapon of choice as well. I use it to remove spikes...
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Humble Bee » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:58 am

Zukan wrote:
blinddrew wrote:If you're just looking to take a little off the top of the transients it's worth giving GClip a go. It's free and, I've found, very useful.

My weapon of choice as well. I use it to remove spikes...


It seams to be windows only... Or am I wrong here?
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Zukan » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:23 am

Looks to be pc only.

You can actually do this with any compressor or limiter and you can do it transparently.

Use a limiter and set the ceiling to -0.1 and that's pretty much it. This will remove errant spikes that peak above or at 0 .

It's a standard technique used to manage ISPs.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby blinddrew » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:34 pm

Humble Bee wrote:
Zukan wrote:
blinddrew wrote:If you're just looking to take a little off the top of the transients it's worth giving GClip a go. It's free and, I've found, very useful.

My weapon of choice as well. I use it to remove spikes...


It seams to be windows only... Or am I wrong here?
Ah, sorry.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Humble Bee » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:29 am

Have now tried the Oeksound “Soothe” and it’s very nice and simple to use but expensive at €149.

I have also tried the free version of TDR Nova which gives the same results but requires a bit more tweaking. The full ‘Gentleman’s Edition” ads more bands and functionality and comes in at €60.

So I’ll stick to the free Tokyo Dawn Records Nova. It does the soothing trick and much more.

And it’s free... We like that! :thumbup:

https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby CS70 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:30 am

Ride the faders.

If it's a few point where the vocals spike, you can decide initial and end point and the shape of the curve, so you have absolute control on the result.
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Re: Dealing correctly with very spikey transients on live vocal in a mix

Postby Still Vibrations » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:12 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
But if that's struggling for some reason, it may be necessary to get into some waveform editing to manually tame the big transients before the overall compression. It's pretty quick and easy to do, since you can see the problematic transients on the waveform display, and you just need to cut either side and drag the level down a bit.

H

I think waveform editing is definitely the the most natural way to do this (although you obviously have far more experience of this than I do). There is no reason to use equipment designed for live use, or pre-computer editing, on a computer. (The same as pasting audio instead of using a delay on vocals.)
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