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joscuzz
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Gain Staging - Best Practice?

Postby joscuzz » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:41 pm

I'm an avid user of Geist and have challenged myself to produce a few tracks (miniatures) using Geist in standalone - no DAW - just Geist 'In-The-Box'. Everything is going great but I'm hitting a niggle; Everytime when I go to bounce a stereo mixdown of a sketch I'm having to 'normalise' the track to avoid digital overs. In the absence of a Brickwall Limiter in Geist - what advice could you offer up regarding Gain Staging when mixing in Geist - I'm curious for your feedback and all advice will be gratefully received.

Thanks.
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alien_brain
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Postby alien_brain » Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:17 pm

turn it dooown :wink:

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Postby joscuzz » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:00 am

Well Alien Brain if that is the quality of reply over here then I do believe I should. Only curious to see how other users are working during the different stages of mixing - Do you place a Bus Comp on the Master channel - if so, what setings? - that kind of thing would be good to read about...but you carry on with your trend I'm sure someone will view it as insightful. Cheers mate.
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Postby alien_brain » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:04 am

what sound do you make?

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Postby joscuzz » Thu Aug 23, 2012 6:57 am

I'm kinda centred around Ambient Dubstep influenced by Phaelah with Gabriel and Lusine in the mix too.
Since making this post I have set up a template which: Lowers all the Pad Levels Per Engine to -8dB placing a Stereo Width and Bus Compressor (default settings) on each Engine Mixer and a Bus Comp on the Master channel using a custom setting derived from the 'Limit' preset.

Making slight adjustments to levels in the Pad Mixers with tweaks to the Bus Comps on the Engine Mixers I can now produce a Stereo Mixdown without digital overs that averages around -6dB with dynamic peaks intact. I could load the tracks into TRackS3 to make up the headroom but would prefer to stay true to my task of producing everything in Geist.
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setvice
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Postby setvice » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:56 am

I think you are being a little hard on yourself! It sounds to me like you've set out to do what you acheived. It sounds to me like you have done everything right. The production is finished and I would say it's much better to look at T-racks as the mastering stage. Geist isn't really set up for accurate metering, proper limiting/Loudness maximising etc. I would personally use gentle bus compression on the master in Geist, then master properly in T-racks.

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Postby joscuzz » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:00 pm

Thank you for the vote of confidence SetVice . You're right, I'll produce them to a finish in TRacks - I do wish the metering was up to the job but, hey, I'm a fan of what Geist can do already. It's amazing how close you get to Geist when working exclusively within it, I'm so glad I took to task myself this way, you learn so much. It's a fast track learning curve for sure. I've been through the manual must be a hundred times - geeky but true. Cheers.
:)
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Postby Drew_fx » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:38 am

When you mix, pay attention to the output of your master bus. You ideally want to be peaking between -12db to -6db. That may seem very quiet, but that's what mastering is for!!

So turn it down applies to absolutely everything in your mix I'd say. For drums, I first try to get every channel peaking at -12db, without effects. Then when I add effects, I try to always make sure I've got unity gain - the level coming out matches the level going in.

If you do this across all instruments in your mix, and do it as you build up the track, you'll get a fairly clear mix to start off with, and you'll have plenty of dynamic range left to take advantage of.

I also mix into a BusComp on the master channel with fairly loose settings; threshold to taste.. ratio of 2... attack at .3 and release set to auto. This helps tame some peaks that can sometimes get through.

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Postby alien_brain » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:09 pm

that by the way is good advice: turn it down. if you want presence there are ways to get it without clipping the mix.

i say parallel processing is my favorite method of mixing. try it out!

i always like to build outward to a mix's requirements if possible. subtractive eq is a good helper in that vane.

i only use dynamics processes if i think the element needs it. which is almost always for transient rich plosive elements... the name of the game is 'saturation'...

if you need presence in a melodic element, add a sinewave reinforcement an octave or 2 lower than the root note. heck, add 2 at different pitches. play with the levels until the sinewaves simply appear to be a part of the tone.

if you can find a studio, take your tracks there and let them mix it. if you dont know what youre doing then let a pro do it for a little money. stand in and watch and learn. take a mixing class at your local community college. hands on is the best way to learn if you ask me.

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Postby joscuzz » Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:17 pm

Thank you Drew for sharing your mixing methods, and to Alien Brain for your insightful suggestions. Your posts are gratefully received and I can honestly say that I have learned something from this whole process :) As I am discovering - the mixing options in Geist are deep and varied. I have a workflow together now, which includes Parallel processing :wink: that is serving me well - and with your valuable tips already in the bag - I'm all the richer knowing them. Great stuff!
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Postby joscuzz » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:28 pm

I have a question for Alien Brain, if I may:
the name of the game is 'saturation'...
I appreciate that using an effect is subjective and not to suggest there is a given formula, but when and where would you use Saturation and by how much?
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Postby alien_brain » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:55 pm

ill use a saturation style effect on the drum buss if the sound isnt already saturated enough. sometimes ill pair the saturated signal with the dry signal (parallel style) in order to get the desired saturation characteristics while maintaining the clarity of the dry signal. to be honest, im not sure you can do this inside geist. but the idea is you can process the same signal in multiple ways so when they are added back together they exhibit a good balance of all desired elements like punch and clarity and pumping etc. im looking for a 'thick' sound generally. this is what i like in my own mixes, so its subjective. what sound are you going for? thats the question.

saturation can often take the place of strict compression in my mixes, as long as it lends a compressed sound to the output. at this point, adding a compressor that saturates the signal could be seen more like an effect than a utility, but i will certainly use a compressor for the utility aspect as well when i think its necessary.

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Postby joscuzz » Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:54 pm

saturation can often take the place of strict compression in my mixes, as long as it lends a compressed sound to the output.

I never thought of it this way and I like the idea a lot! I need to experiment with this for sure.

I love the solid sound the 'Drive' stage of the DCAM filter in the Pads&Layers editing page produces and find myself reaching for it more and more. But, with 'Saturation' applied across a Drum Bus too your tip about balance and parallel processing certainly hits home. Does the DCAM Drive feature strong in your productions?

Thanks for the speedy reply :D
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Postby alien_brain » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:16 pm

i havent owned geist for that long, and so far i have used it for standard amen cutting up duties, so to me that sound doesnt really need saturation so no, i would say im not using it as much as other plugins i have owned for a while. saturation is relatively similar across the board so its as good (or better? :wink: ) as any.

edit: some saturation is more equal than others for any task of course. i think its all about your knowledge of the processes you use.


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