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Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

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Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:17 pm
by mikefloutier
Hi,

Ok, probably a dumb question but here goes.

We had a mix, that I thought was, properly gain-staged. Plenty of volume with no clipping. I’m advising remotely btw.

I suggested slightly boosting the acoustic guitarist’s lows (as the keys player who usually provided them was absent).

We then went live on Facebook and it quickly became clear that there was a serious clipping issue that affected both the guitar and the vocal.

Because I was remote and there was no sound guy at the streaming location no changes were then possible.

My feeling is that, once live, all levels far exceeded those during the sound check.

Anyway, MY QUESTION is: “All else being equal (ie performers efforts) would a simple slight boost to the acoustic guitar’s lows induce clipping across the entire soundstage, ie both guitar AND vocal?”

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:27 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
Potentially, yes, very easily.

And there may also have been a general rise in levels from 'red light' syndrome, where the real performance is played with much more gusto than the rehearsal.

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:49 pm
by mikefloutier
Hugh Robjohns wrote:Potentially, yes, very easily.

And there may also have been a general rise in levels from 'red light' syndrome, where the real performance is played with much more gusto than the rehearsal.

Thanks so much for the quick reply Hugh, much appreciated.

My feeling was that it was “red light” syndrome.

Just to be clear, are you also saying that any mix component that is loud enough to induce clipping will affect the ENTIRE mix?

Thanks again!

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:54 pm
by CS70
mikefloutier wrote:Anyway, MY QUESTION is: “All else being equal (ie performers efforts) would a simple slight boost to the acoustic guitar’s lows induce clipping across the entire soundstage, ie both guitar AND vocal?”

Oh yeah - it also depends on how the guitar is handled afterwards. If you have for example reverb and delays, as it's common, the effect will likely propagate up to the rest of the frequency spectrum as well unless they're properly hipassed.

However, you need to be quite near the range ceiling: what was your headroom at soundcheck? I concur it's probably a matter of playing louder when it's for real as opposite to soundcheck. Practically every band does that!

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:27 pm
by mikefloutier
CS70 wrote:
mikefloutier wrote:Anyway, MY QUESTION is: “All else being equal (ie performers efforts) would a simple slight boost to the acoustic guitar’s lows induce clipping across the entire soundstage, ie both guitar AND vocal?”

Oh yeah - it also depends on how the guitar is handled afterwards. If you have for example reverb and delays, as it's common, the effect will likely propagate up to the rest of the frequency spectrum as well unless they're properly hipassed.

However, you need to be quite near the range ceiling: what was your headroom at soundcheck? I concur it's probably a matter of playing louder when it's for real as opposite to soundcheck. Practically every band does that!


Many thanks CS70 that really useful.

And don’t worry about replying again Hugh, I guess I was desperate to avoid the blame :)

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:38 pm
by blinddrew
The other thing to consider is that if you've mixed the track very close to 0dB then the compression process to Facebook might be introducing artefacts as well. Always best to leave yourself some headroom on the master if you're going to be bouncing down to compressed formats.

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:19 pm
by Mike Stranks
Not directly related to live-streaming, but pertinent to live sound...

Through experience - especially when working with musos who I hadn't worked with before/often - I always spent far longer on balancing/EQing the various monitor feeds than I did on FoH. It's a bit of an exaggeration to say I was basically line-checking FoH, but you get the gist.

Reason was that the FoH mix ALWAYS changes when it's 'for real'... red-light syndrome, audience present, etc etc. First song always saw me very very busy getting FoH more roadworthy.

I also noticed this at a few venues when I was a paying punter. In the first song I'd sometimes be thinking, "I've paid good money for this duff sound!" and then listen as the various elements came into focus and balance.

... and just a tip on broadcast/livestream sound... headroom - at least initially - is your friend... and so's a brickwall limiter! :lol:

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 9:52 pm
by AlecSp
mikefloutier wrote:We had a mix, that I thought was, properly gain-staged. Plenty of volume with no clipping. I’m advising remotely btw.

I suggested slightly boosting the acoustic guitarist’s lows (as the keys player who usually provided them was absent).

If your mix was so hot that a "slight boost" on one signal (or performers giving more when live) was enough to cause clipping, then I'd suggest you were not properly gain staged.

Mike Stranks wrote:... and just a tip on broadcast/livestream sound... headroom - at least initially - is your friend... and so's a brickwall limiter! :lol:

This - completely!

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:03 am
by CS70
Mike Stranks wrote:Not directly related to live-streaming, but pertinent to live sound...

Oh, I wish there were more live sound engineers like you! :thumbup:

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:59 am
by mikefloutier
Thanks so much guys, this is all really helpful.

To be honest, in our living room situations, we’d probably be better off just going straight into an iPhone with video and audio.

I guess we’re paying the price for the various bits of gear we’ve bought.

At least we can use them better now.

Thanks again!

Re: Clipping - does one instrument affect the whole output?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:57 am
by CS70
Just a note - most phones have a fast limiter built-in that cannot be disabled.

That makes them surprisingly good at recording, say, an acoustic guitar, but add a drum kit and the whole thing will become a mess!!

Unless you put the phone into a sock. It actually works quite well! :D