Happy birthday Infinite

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Pancio
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Happy birthday Infinite

Post by Pancio » Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:35 pm

As some of you may know, I'm a musician too but I've never managed to record something by my own because, well, I'm a little bit shy and I prefer live shows.

This time, thanks to quarantine, I decided to record my tribute to "INFINITE" 20th Anniversary and so here's my instrumental cover of Hunting High and Low:



Of course the result is far from being acceptable so you can destroy my work but any suggestion will be deeply accepted and appreciated.

About my rig: Boss Katana Mark I with my patches recorded straight into Logic Pro X via USB witch a Sterling Majesty.
Everything else is tracked down with both pianoroll or MIDI recording with every instrument patched via Logic (damit, harpsichord is very difficult to patch, and the sound is not even good).
Drums patches made with Norther Artillery Drums by Ugritone.

P.S.: Leveling is bad if played with a Smartphone but good with my Mac Retina and even with my mixing reference headphones (AudioTechnica ATH-M40X with Sonarworks engaged).

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ZenithMC
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by ZenithMC » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:53 am

I won't be able to provide in-depth analysis of your mix because I need to recalibrate my studio monitors, and I'm too lazy to do that for now. :oops: Something that immediately jumped out at me, besides the difference in key signature, was @ 23 seconds in, that chord is diminished in the original version but you played it as a regular power chord. Also, the guitar intro in the original version is played as a mixture of power chords and 8th note palm mutes.

I can't say I was a huge fan of the guitar tone. The lead guitar tone sounds very harsh and raspy/nasally to me. I can't pinpoint what exactly is causing it to sound that way. My guess is that it's much too bright. The tone might also benefit from the introduction of some reverb.

I cannot accurately comment on levels because my speakers aren't the best at the moment. Also because of this, I cannot comment on the bass guitar. Some basic generic advice I can offer is that when an instrument is too quiet in the mix relative to all other instruments, it is best to lower the levels of all the instruments except for the one that is too quiet rather than raising the level of the quiet instrument. This technique prevents fader creep from occurring.

In an ideal world, the inputs would all be properly gain staged so that they are very similar in amplitude from the get go. It's safest to use RMS metering for that measurement, but it's not completely ideal due to certain frequencies being more sensitive than others. I tend to aim for -18dB RMS. If what you are trying to record is something like a drum set, where the sound is highly transient, sudden, and abrupt, then it's best to just use the peak meter instead and try to keep the input around -12dBFS.

Now, from what I can hear with my subpar speakers, the keyboard sound in the intro is super loud compared to everything else. The drums sound kind of decent, but they are lacking some "oomph", whatever I mean by that. :lol:

Pancio
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by Pancio » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:03 pm

Your analysis is what I was searching for: straight to the point.
Accurate analysis are appreciated but, of course, I prefer something not too deep 'cause a "perfect mix" is almost unreachable (you can optimize your mix for your main device but not for every single device out there and the best way is to mix it to search an average point between the vast majority of hardware, from a crappy smartphones to high-end Hi-Fi).
So yes, calibrated monitors are good while in studio but in "real" situations a too clinical analysis can be a problem and that's why I asked a lot of people how to improve it via feedback (and I'm working with closed back headphone, which is not the best way to listen to a mix even if calibrated).

Anyway, back on topic, the song is in E-flat on purpose cause all my guitars are in E-flat and I'm too lazy to drop them half a tone or playing the songs in another fretboard position :lol:
About the lead distorted harpsi you're right, the patch is way too high in the mix, I will fix it as soon as possible (and I don't like it, too "smooth" while the original tone is "acid", I will try with compressor and EQ).
Lead guitar tone is crap, I know, it's too raw and dry (straight out of the amp without any effect): I tried something that can actually cut through the mix but in the wrong direction and the result is an awful nasal tone. Hope some EQ, reverb and delay can fix it along with a noise suppressor (I noticed the noise suppressor wasn't engaged during bouncing).
Rythmic tone is better but too dry, once again, compressed and thin even if doubled (USB recording with Katana is not the best since the input level is way too low).
The mix also lacks of bass frequencies because of the closed back, I tend to prefer a brighter sound since I'm scared of muddy tone bass can cause and I cut lower spectrum a lot (strange enough the meter looks unbalanced and full of bass even of cutted).
And here the worst thing: levels are fucked up.
I don't know why drums sounds quite okay (it lacks some punch tho) but the rest not: harpsi is too high, yes, but I cannot find the right balance between everything else.
Today I'll try to improve the mix with all the advices, so thank you so much :oops:

On a side note yes, I slightly changed the song on purpose, but damn, I always played the muted intro with fifth chords and never "cared" for the diminished interval until today: I transcribed the song during a guitar lesson back in 2010 and I fucked up there. Pretty bad student if you ask me :lol:

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ZenithMC
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by ZenithMC » Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:04 am

Pancio wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:03 pm
Accurate analysis are appreciated but, of course, I prefer something not too deep 'cause a "perfect mix" is almost unreachable (you can optimize your mix for your main device but not for every single device out there and the best way is to mix it to search an average point between the vast majority of hardware, from a crappy smartphones to high-end Hi-Fi).
So yes, calibrated monitors are good while in studio but in "real" situations a too clinical analysis can be a problem and that's why I asked a lot of people how to improve it via feedback (and I'm working with closed back headphone, which is not the best way to listen to a mix even if calibrated).
Yes, it is always optimal to test your mix on a variety of sound systems, however, any system that can faithfully reproduce the range of frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz with a flat frequency response should reliably allow one to create a mix that sounds great across a wide range of audio devices.

I find it difficult to create a balanced mix using consumer-grade speakers or headphones (especially the mids). Headphones can be very useful to tell if your stereo image is too wide or too narrow.
Pancio wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:03 pm
About the lead distorted harpsi you're right, the patch is way too high in the mix, I will fix it as soon as possible (and I don't like it, too "smooth" while the original tone is "acid", I will try with compressor and EQ).
Is that what that's supposed to be in the original song? I hear Tolkki's lead guitar and an incredibly high pitched metallic breathy synth patch. I have no idea what that patch could be, as I'm not the most well versed in the synth sounds department.
Pancio wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:03 pm
The mix also lacks of bass frequencies because of the closed back, I tend to prefer a brighter sound since I'm scared of muddy tone bass can cause and I cut lower spectrum a lot (strange enough the meter looks unbalanced and full of bass even of cutted).
Hmmm... What part of the meter looked unbalanced? RMS metering is very sensitive to bass frequencies but the peak meter is usually less affected. Did you look at your mix with a frequency analyzer?

Here's an excerpt from Hunting High and Low's frequency analysis which I generated from Audacity:
hhal_fa.png
See how the frequencies below 20Hz are very quiet and how frequencies below around 50Hz are rapidly attenuated? This is done to eliminate DC offset. Those subsonic frequencies should always be very quiet, otherwise they will cause problems with metering and levels.

Some generic advice regarding the bass frequencies would be to make cuts in certain bass instruments' frequencies and boosts in other bass instruments' frequencies. For instance, if my recording had a bass drum and bass guitar occupying the same frequencies, it might become difficult to discern them individually. To remedy this, I would boost at 50Hz for the bass drum and cut at 50Hz for the bass guitar. I would also boost around 125Hz for the bass guitar and but around 125Hz for the bass drum. This allows these two bass instruments to have their own dedicated frequencies to occupy and helps to clarify the mix.

There are even more advanced techniques, such as ducking the bass guitar behind the bass drum during bass drum notes with a compressor, but this technique isn't very applicable to power metal, in my opinion. It works better for electronic music.
Pancio wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:03 pm
I don't know why drums sounds quite okay (it lacks some punch tho) but the rest not: harpsi is too high, yes, but I cannot find the right balance between everything else.
Drums are very difficult to "get right". They are the most complex group of instruments to record, by far, and they are the most difficult to engineer, in my experience. It's difficult for me to give generic advice about mixing them, because they are so individual and require different solutions for each element of the drum kit. Not to mention, there are so many different ways to mic them, and each mic orientation requires different solutions to achieve a desired outcome. It's very complicated! :lol:

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robocop
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by robocop » Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:09 pm

Pancio, get FLAVIO to sing for that song!!!

Pancio
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by Pancio » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm

Exactly, I generally use a tuned pair of Yamaha HS7 as my neutral "speakers" but I cannot use them at the moment.
I'm in a very quiet flat and area and my "home studio" is booked until September and all my rig is there, hence I'm using backing stuff like AudioTechnica, my iMac and a Bose Soundlink but I'm a little bit uncomfortable working with headphones.
On top of that my brain works like that of a live musician and this is bad since live musician's approach is different from audio engineers and studio technicians too.
I'm studying to remove my uncertainties and lack of knowledge, tho :lol:

About the lead sound in Hunting High and Low yes, it is a distorted harpsichord with, I believe, a compressor and EQ in the mid-high range to "compensate" the palm-muted guitar, the bass and kick but my patch is way too bright and I corrected it yesterday.

Unbalanced within the highs while listening through average consumer speakers (kick is very loud in the mix but is barely "there") but sounds okay with flat headphones. The original is more consistent, compressed and "fat" even on shitty phone speaker (surely the different tuning from Eb to E standard could be definitely a reason).
I also know that lows spreads a lot more and they can cause big problems during mixing and mastering session and that's why I'm always cutting them a lot (guitars cutted under 120Hz), and aside from bass guitar and bass drums I usually cut every other instruments by 9dB under 50Hz to prevent muddiness.
Maybe this is the problem? Too deep cuts?
I will keep in mind your advices for bass and kick, pretty useful during live but I never applied them while recording (that's why my programmed bass guitar sucks).

Good to know I fear low frequencies :?

The other problems, for me, are guitar sound and how to get rid of the nasal tone.
Usually I try to gently cut mids but the results aren't that good and I always get a fuzzy Lo-Fi sound (like a distorted amp through an intercom) during recording but a good tone while playing live (this time I tried USB recording, I miss amp and cab).
I will re-record guitars, anyway, I don't like the result at all and the EQ is not the hand of Mida.

What I learned for drums is:

-Always tune your set.
-Record the drums in a big and rich room since overly treated environments eliminate and flatten the sound.
-Toms and cymbals are difficult to get right because of the frequency range.
-Always samples the kick.
-Ride should be miked alone.

I also have a sort of drum-vademecum Tolkki gave me years ago which I have rewritten recently and which I use to set-up things both live and in studio sessions.
I can share it, if you wish, it's pretty good in my opinion.

Anyway, I opened a bandcamp pages and uploaded a slightly better version of the song:
https://francescopanciroliambrosetti.ba ... m/releases
You can also download it for free.

Sorry for the lack of quotes and bad structure of the answers but my smartphone is dumb (or I'm dumb with my smartphone) and I'm not at home so no PC >=(

Pancio
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by Pancio » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:24 pm

robocop wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:09 pm
Pancio, get FLAVIO to sing for that song!!!
At least I can quote a single comment just to say: "No way, no Flavio allowed", I'm pretty bad but not that desperate :lol:

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ZenithMC
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Re: Happy birthday Infinite

Post by ZenithMC » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:32 am

Pancio wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm
The other problems, for me, are guitar sound and how to get rid of the nasal tone.
Usually I try to gently cut mids but the results aren't that good and I always get a fuzzy Lo-Fi sound (like a distorted amp through an intercom) during recording but a good tone while playing live (this time I tried USB recording, I miss amp and cab).
I will re-record guitars, anyway, I don't like the result at all and the EQ is not the hand of Mida.
This is another complex issue, but I'll try my best to think about and explain it. There are so many unknown variables at play here, but my basic approach is to accentuate the mids of the guitar tone. The mids are important for clarity in a full mix. I only gently accentuate them, though, because it is possible to over do it. Cutting the mids will quickly make the guitar difficult to hear clearly when other instruments are present, as most of the voice of the guitar lies in the mids.

It's complex because the pickups and amps themselves have a particular voicing that accentuate certain frequencies and attenuate others. The wood of the guitar itself can play a role, as well, and how it's constructed. Even the way you hold the pick and the angle that you strum at affects the tone and attack of the guitar's sound (and also the thickness of the pick, and the gauge of the strings, and the fret material, etc. etc. etc.). :lol:

I accentuate the highs a little bit for my rig because the pickups I use don't accentuate them at all; they actually attenuate them slightly. The bass is accentuated by my pickups, as well, so I tend to role them off a little on my amp. Having too much bass will clutter the mix and make the bass guitar fight to be heard.
Pancio wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm
I also know that lows spreads a lot more and they can cause big problems during mixing and mastering session and that's why I'm always cutting them a lot (guitars cutted under 120Hz), and aside from bass guitar and bass drums I usually cut every other instruments by 9dB under 50Hz to prevent muddiness.
Maybe this is the problem? Too deep cuts?
It's been a while since I've had to think about this. I believe it is safe to gradually cut 120Hz and below for the guitar, because the bass guitar will occupy that range. Sounds below 50Hz start to become more felt than heard, but it is safe to cut those frequencies when they are not part of an instruments primary frequency range. I don't think cutting the lows too deeply will cause any problems, unless the voice of an instrument relies on those frequencies (then you need to be more careful about the cuts).
Pancio wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm
What I learned for drums is:

-Always tune your set.
-Record the drums in a big and rich room since overly treated environments eliminate and flatten the sound.
-Toms and cymbals are difficult to get right because of the frequency range.
-Always samples the kick.
-Ride should be miked alone.

Yes, yes, yes!! Always tune the set, indeed! That's the most important part. I use a Tunebot nowadays and my drums have never sounded better. :D

Interesting approach with using a big rich room. I recorded my drums in a dry & neutral sounding room with 8 ft ceilings because I am paranoid about picking up reverb from larger rooms in my recordings. I won't be able to remove it in post and I'm not sure if the room-verb will jive well with the virtual reverb effects the I applied to the other instruments. I will mention that I did have difficulty at first picking up the cymbals with my overheads. I ended up having to move the overheads pretty close to the cymbals. Maybe this is a sign that the room is too muffled?

I found the toms to be pretty easy to get right. It was mostly the snare and somewhat the bass drum that gave be a run for my money. You wouldn't believe the amount of effects I had to apply to the snare and bass drums to get them to sound "cool". :lol: With the toms, I just slapped some EQ on them and they were pretty much good to go; didn't even need a compressor. Also, I use a noise gate on all of the drums' channels, but not on the overheads & ride and hi-hats channels (because of the decaying nature of the cymbals).

Yeah, I think I'm going to sample the bass and snare drum in the future. They are just too inconsistent sounding if you are trying to achieve a power metal drumset sound without samples. If you do anything fast with the bass drum, all of the power and attack goes away, so it is a necessity, really. If a snare isn't hit just right, and in the exact same location on the head, it will sound very different. The snare drum is such a temperamental instrument, I swear! :lol:

I mic both the hi-hats and the ride. Honestly, though, the overheads pick them both up pretty well, as they are quite loud. I also mic'd the china cymbal because the overhead were too close to the crash cymbals & splash cymbals and weren't picking up the china cymbal very well. :oops:

Here's a short audio excerpt of me playing drums on one of the slower songs for my album:
https://mega.nz/folder/hdxCwAhL#_slklqRyE0ngdUuEzZZpHg

EDIT: I included a file with the suffix "RAW" to put into perspective where I started from and where I ended up in my mix. "render9" is an older render with an arguable better snare sound, but everything else is more primitive. I think the only difference between those two snare sounds is how much brightness there is, but it sounds much more different than that. Maybe I thought it too bright? I don't know.

I think it sounds okay... sort of. No samples were used here, but a million* effects were. :lol: There are errors present too, like the drums getting suppressed by the noise gate accidentally, among other things. I rendered this a while ago just as a test. The toms, I didn't really tinker with too much, so they might sound a little rough. It's also a bit over bright and will probably have to be tinkered with once other instruments are introduced to the mix. Also, my pans might be too wide. This was recorded in my family room, hahaha! :rotflmao1:

*Okay, not a million, but extremely heavy EQ, liberal amounts of reverb (for the snare) and less for the other drums, some compression, noise gates, and multiband compression (for the snare, around the 1kHz range, and it made a huge difference in attack/thwack).
Pancio wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm
I also have a sort of drum-vademecum Tolkki gave me years ago which I have rewritten recently and which I use to set-up things both live and in studio sessions.
I can share it, if you wish, it's pretty good in my opinion.
I'd be interested in taking a look at that. :D
Pancio wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:21 pm
Anyway, I opened a bandcamp pages and uploaded a slightly better version of the song:
https://francescopanciroliambrosetti.ba ... m/releases
You can also download it for free.
I took a listen and it sounds better. The levels are more consistent now and the lead guitar tone is less annoying; a definite improvement! Something that I noticed from your older version and this version is that your rhythm guitar sounds like it is oscillating slightly... I forget what it's properly called! It's something that happens when the guitar isn't perfectly intonated. It's a minor thing, but I noticed it sometimes during the power chords. :oops:

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