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cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

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cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby hooty2 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:43 am

Hello again:)

I present this question on advisement that the format may be not be open to the scrutiny i ask for, or indeed there are too may wrong decisions to make meaningful comment possible.
This is a fresh post relating to my previous, about adjusting volume levels on a cd to better suit people who requested less of a dynamic range in respect of a school concert recording. It was suggested that quieter parts could be louder so the volume control, either in kitchens or cars would not need constant adjusting.
The concert repertoire ranges from tiny children singing solos & plinking harps and hand bells, to full on brass (right under my stereo pair),big organ and lusty choirs, to small acapella groups. The logistics of all this is itself another tale!
The xmas concert is soon to be, so i'm practicing now with old recordings.

I've first chosen the Armed Man recording i made in Cirencester Abbey as this has a big variation in dynamics.
I have put two examples on soundcloud of two attempts to re-balance volume levels at playback. Unfortunately the waveform doesn't give much away, hence my details of process below.
The file dropped into REAPER was a 24bit/44.1 stereo wav. (pre dither for 16bit HOFA burn).
The track is limited to -0.4 peak.
NB: i can't give a good answer as to why i used this file and did not go back to the original project and re-do all over
I put FF-ProL2 limiter on the master track & automated the gain with an envelope.
I put a volume envelope on the track itself.
My logic?: I hoped/imagined...i would adjust volumes up/down on track envelope & increase, or do i mean maintain?..... energy, especially on loud parts, with the ProL2 gain envelope.
I wanted quiet parts heard at low volumes and loud parts still to have energy at low volumes.

Is that error number two?
Am i displaying a misunderstanding of Limiting entirely?

To soundcloud. And as stated already, i'm not sure much can be said, but maybe it can? Candour welcomed.
I don't have enough space on my free to air soundcloud so i haven't put the original recording up.
I marked those places that are typical of the variation in levels at the concert and on the original recording.

The first soundcloud example is the loudest,
https://soundcloud.com/user-463354445/a ... er/s-eSikU

The second, i used the same envelope settings but dropped the actual track playback level by -6dB
https://soundcloud.com/user-463354445/a ... ck/s-vWYRi

all advice, from whatever perspective duly accepted & welcomed
thank you
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:56 am

I don't really get the problem, or the faffing with the limiter...

The loud parts stay as they are. (possibly with a bit of limiting to tame any excessive transient peaks).

As for the quiet kiddie stuff, you just need to ride the faders gently and slowly (or use automation envelopes) to pull up the quieter stuff in a subtle way, anticipating the crescendos and diminuendos smoothly so that the level riding is (hopefully) not noticed by the casual car-driving or cooking listener!

If you're having trouble judging the required amount of low lift, try turning your monitoring down lower than normal and balancing so that the quieter bits remain sensibly audible rather than disappearing!

Being of the old school I still use a BBC style PPM for reference. Set the loudest peaks to PPM6, and ride the faders to try to keep the quiet stuff above PPM2 or thereabouts.
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby Wonks » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:06 pm

Have you tried using a compressor rather than a limiter? Something with around 2:1 and a low threshold so the whole of the program has its overall dynamic range compressed (maybe increase the ratio slightly if you find you want even less dynamics).

As limiters operate on much faster attack and release times than compressors, just using a limiter can mean that whilst the loud peaks are truncated, the dynamic range differences in the quieter sections can remain unaltered, even if the overall signal level is higher because you've increased the gain before limiting.
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:39 pm

This kind of low level lift could be achieved with a gentle compression ratio from a very low threshold, or by using an upwards compressor...

The former will tend to make the loud peaks sound squashed, and possibly with a rise in distortion, depending on the compressor -- although the latter can sometimes be useful in enhancing the impression of being loud.

The latter tends to leave the loudest parts relatively unmolested, but does require a compressor that remains clean-sounding when experiencing a very large amount of gain reduction (30dB plus).

But both of these solutions are reactive, in that they can only control the dynamic range fractionally after the event... which is not ideal.

Fader-riding or automation envelopes allow pre-emptive level control and, if done skillfully, can result in control of the dynamic range which is virtually imperceptible.

H
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:58 pm

I present this question

Er.. what is the question? :)
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby hooty2 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:34 pm

Er.. what is the question?

Is a good question & deserving of reply!

Being somewhat isolated in terms of who i can share thoughts & general sound stuff with, beyond this place, i recognise i tend to be too hopefully implicit in many of my posts.
Because?....
I know i'm not very good at tech stuff but i really want to be...so sometimes i don't know what to ask or how to ask it properly.....
When responses are forthcoming, i bring them home, sift through and collate what is both explicit & implicit, & then try stuff out. I'm always on the look out for tangential input that speaks to a question i couldn't formulate or never even occurred to me.
I don't intentionally 'use' the good members as such, and i hope i am at least seen to make an effort and be open and honest....even though it's a tad embarrassing at times!
so..
my question could have been:
"does the way i have presented my armed man scenario have any saving grace"?
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby MOF » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:58 pm

You could try adding on another track (only while adjusting the audio, not at the bounce/output stage) a loop of background noise such as moving car interior, crowd chatter or some pink noise.
That will give you the ‘noise floor’ you’ve got to compete with. Set it peaking at -35dB FS I would say.
I agree with other respondents that compression and fader rides are more useful tools than limiting in this case.
The advantage of this is that there will still be dynamics within any section for those listening in a quiet environment (so long as you haven’t overdone the compressors/limiters).
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby James Perrett » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:27 pm

If your customers are expecting Classic FM levels of compression then it might be worth trying Themeo's Stereo Tool

https://www.stereotool.com/

I had a quick play with it on the material you sent me on the other thread and choosing one of the smooth presets seemed to help (once I'd turned down the processing a little).
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby CS70 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:24 pm

hooty2 wrote:"does the way i have presented my armed man scenario have any saving grace"?

I guess by that, you mean to ask if the soundcloud clips sound acceptable? :D

They do, at least to a casual listener.

I've listened on headphones, only to a little bit of the clips (some loud parts and some quiet parts, clicking on the waveform representation). So can't say that there isn't any peak distortion etc... but what I heard was sounding like a recording, and not necessarily one made by using a phone.

Particularly the difference between loud and quiet parts is reasonable. Perhaps even too reasonable - I would expect a symphonic orchestra to be much louder than some people speaking, but art is art and no representation can be questioned.

I'd also say to not overthink it. Here we're really focused on the sound, but a casual listener (and even-commemoration-cd-buyer) won't - he/she will be interested in anything that even vaguely resembles the event they've been participating to.
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby hooty2 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:18 am

plenty for me to work on here, thanks all.

What i'm also getting, and maybe this is the thing a good engineer does, is a balance between the meters & critical listening & knowing how to employ both in decision making. both aspects are implicit & explicit in the replies above.

Looking up Hughs PPM for further background, i found this on-line:
(comparing VU & PPM meters)

"...The VU meter closely corresponds to the level sensing mechanism of the human ear. It provides a useful indication of the subjective loudness of different programs and is very useful when matching levels between programs. But the VU meter does not give an accurate indication of peak signal levels because of its relatively slow ballistics. In practice, a VU meter will under-indicate the peak signal level by 8 to 20 dB...
...The best advice is to listen critically while recording and not rely solely on meter readings."

I'm trying to 'bend' that thought into the advice you all gave and be mindful of meters & subjective fader riding/(automation)

respect & gratitude
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby hooty2 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:44 am

Hugh says:

"...Fader-riding or automation envelopes allow pre-emptive level control and, if done skillfully, can result in control of the dynamic range which is virtually imperceptible..."

Pre-sonus say:

"just plug the control surface into a USB port and take command of your mix."

Given the level of acuity i've shown so far, does this, PreSonus Faderport, seem like a good idea?
I've always shyed away from anything external that needs patching or even hints at the acronym 'MIDI'.

Reaper is my DAW,
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby CS70 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:53 am

It really depends on what you like.

While it is nice to ride with a real fader, the automation lines end up being made by manny points and small segments.

I feel that I have better control just drawing automation by using the mouse, but it’s really a personal preference.
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Re: cars & kitchens CD & volume levels across programme

Postby blinddrew » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:23 pm

Riding a fader can be a very quick and efficient way of doing things. Especially if you set up Reaper to allow you to stack multiple passes, but it's important to realise that it's a skill that takes time to practice and learn.
Behringer do a nice single-fader unit now that might be worth looking at?
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