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Saturation in mixing problem

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Saturation in mixing problem

Postby hardminder » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:27 pm

Hi guys.

Lately I came across to the concept of saturation in mixing and decided to try ut for myself. k
I ran 3 rhythm guitars and 1 bass (all sample based vsts) through a tape saturator plugin (Waves Krammer tape). I'm using different instances of the plugin and different settings too.

All the tracks peak lower with the saturation on and they all sound louder and richer to the ear. They all read higher on the LUFS too. That far everything is as intended, really pleased with that.

The problem is that when I play those four tracks with the rest of my piece, the bus master will peak higher. It doesn't make any sense. I tried it individually also. I bypass the saturation on all the tracks but the bass and solo it.

Peaks read on the bus master
Bass track soloed without saturation : -9,8dB
Bass track soloed with saturation: -11,4dB

Full mix no saturation on bass : 1,1db (yeah I know it clips, that's not the issue here :D )
Full mix with saturation on bass only : 1,7db

Yes I tried with a meter plugin, sae thing happens. What is going on? I really can't make sense out of this.

Thanks guys!
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Re: Saturation in mixing problem

Postby desmond » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:34 pm

hardminder wrote:All the tracks peak lower with the saturation on and they all sound louder and richer to the ear. They all read higher on the LUFS too.

So the overall energy ("loudness") for each of the tracks is higher (even if the peaks aren't as loud as before). It looks like there is some kind of compression effect going on (the peaks are lowered, but the average levels are up).

hardminder wrote:The problem is that when I play those four tracks with the rest of my piece, the bus master will peak higher. It doesn't make any sense.

You're adding four tracks that are all louder than they were before. The result of adding those tracks gives a louder mix. It makes perfect sense! ;)
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Re: Saturation in mixing problem

Postby hardminder » Fri Mar 20, 2020 2:41 am

Desmond, thanks for your reply

desmond wrote:You're adding four tracks that are all louder than they were before. The result of adding those tracks gives a louder mix. It makes perfect sense! ;)

Yeah ok but how do you explain that then?


desmond wrote:Peaks read on the bus master
Bass track soloed without saturation : -9,8dB
Bass track soloed with saturation: -11,4dB

Full mix no saturation on bass : 1,1db (yeah I know it clips, that's not the issue here :D )
Full mix with saturation on bass only : 1,7db

That's what's not making sense...

Thanks for your time
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Re: Saturation in mixing problem

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:08 am

Soemthing else in your mix is making the peak.

The peaks of each track are rarely lined right up.

Say a drum hits on one of these peaks that you see on the master bus.

When the rythm guitar/bass do not have the saturation plugin, at that moment, they are a certain level that generates the lower dB peak.

Turn on the saturation and now those instruments are higher and more in phase with the drum hit, even though their own peak is lower. The peaks aren't lined up.

So the drum is hitting when the bass is now louder than it was before at that moment even though the actual peak of the bass is lower. The odds are good that will happen because you have lifting the bass up most of the time (except the peak).

That's mixing! When the peaks actually line up in time and are in phase across tracks, you can get some huge coherent peaks that make for huge spikes. Everything can just add up sometimes for a huge peak. That is actually what you need your master buss limiter for - the occasional huge spike where everything just adds up.
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Re: Saturation in mixing problem

Postby Zukan » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:28 am

Which saturator are you using and how are you using it?

I'm wondering if the generated harmonics are summing.
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