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Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

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jsirt
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Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby jsirt » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:31 pm

So im 17 and I love making music. not very well at making beats but I love writing and have been my whole life practically. Im not looking to be famous but to make high quality music.
Here is everything I have:
-Blue yeti 16-Bit usb Mic
-Mixcraft 6 Pro Studio
- Laptop ( 64 Bit operating System. x64 Based Processer, intel core i3-3227U CPU @ 1.90 Ghz) Don't even know what that stuff is but I have the ASIO4ALL thing someone recommended I install.

I put my laptop to high performance so all the power is being exerted and set my recording to DVD Quality and Playback to studio quality.

I don't know if its my mic or the way im editing but I can never make it sound crisp you know? I don't have a pop filter or a mic stand but I don't think those are the only thing keeping it from sounding nice. maybe its because I use the YouTube to mp3 converter for my beats and they are not high quality?
Basically I use a transient vitalizer to place more emphasis on the beats highs and widen the speaker to give more of a stereo sound to the beat, but my voice isn't IN the beat, its either behind it, or in front of it? basically any advice or suggestions would help. Thank You (And if your advice involves using something like an EQ, please explain how I would use it in certain situations cause I do use Reverb , Eq, compressor and all that Im just not that well informed on how to even use em. I use a lot of presets basically) EDIT :Also any suggestions on what setting to make sure are placed on my laptop would be greatly appreciated as well as any outside plug ins or perks. Thank you :)

Tiasdad
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Tiasdad » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:21 am

To explain what you need to know from the ground up will take a while.
I would recommend you enrol on this course which starts on July 14th, lasts for six weeks and is FREE.

https://www.coursera.org/course/musicproduction

A few of the regulars here, have completed the course and it is very good :)
Gary
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gypsy101
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby gypsy101 » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:49 am


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Mark Bliss
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Mark Bliss » Thu Jul 03, 2014 9:56 am

Very hard to impossible to make even broad suggestions based on that description.

MP3 Beats ripped from You tube with added vocals with a load of randomly added plug-ins sounds like a recipe for disaster to me, but people surprise me all the time. I hesitate to recommend we need to hear a sample.... :shock:

I would suggest you start by removing all plug ins and focusing on making your basic tracks sound as good as possible. Learn to set your input levels and so forth until you have that conquered, then learn to add processing/filtering VST's AS NEEDED not randomly.

The Yeti is a USB condenser mic and should be capable of getting pretty good clean recordings, though I have not used one personally. I am not sure why you would need ASIO4All in this setup. I would recommend a stand or (taller) base of some sort. The table top legs are going to limit flexibility, perhaps it would be easier to get the correct mic distance and maintain that distance during a recording session. You will want to record with the mic set in a directional mode and maintain a pretty close distance. Also make sure your levels aren't too high, this is a common novice mistake. Recording in a space with much natural reflections and adding reverb plug ins can also create "muddy" results.

Aquiring and using "beats" as you describe may cause them to sound muddy or "spacy", I cant say. But your description isn't clear. What's not "crisp"? Vocals. beats, everything together?

The course Gary suggests is great for building a basic foundation. Gypsy's recommendation is also a great source of info. I also highly recommend the book *(Edit-title corrected) "Mixing tricks for the small studio" by Mike Senior. He takes you step by step from the start and explains logically just what to do and WHY. I keep it handy for reference.

Clean it up, see what you got!
Last edited by Mark Bliss on Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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trevlyns
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby trevlyns » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:16 am

further to Gypsy's recommendation, Graham's '5 minutes to a better mix' series is free and really helpful to a beginner.

93 concise video mixing tips :wink:
Keep on trackin'

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Starship Krupa
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Starship Krupa » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:24 pm

It sounds like you're having trouble getting your vocals to sit right in the mix.

Start with the quality of your vocal recording.

The Yeti should have its own ASIO driver; no need for ASIO4ALL.

Get a mic stand.

You mention the processing you are doing on your samples, but not on the vocals. Compression, EQ, and reverb can help vocals take their place in a mix. Do a Google search on "how to make vocals fit in a mix" or something like that, and you'll get lots of tutorials.

Sound On Sound magazine's website is my favorite resource for recording know-how.

If you can find some other higher quality source for samples, that would help your overall sound. YouTube audio is often compressed and EQ'd to make it sound very prominent. This could be making your vocals sound weird (by that I actually mean "natural") by comparison.

You don't mention what you're mixing and monitoring on. Laptop speakers? Headphones? Earbuds?

The hardware you are using is more than adequate to the task, and it's possible to get great results with only the plugins that come with Mixcraft, especially Pro.
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Anorax
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Anorax » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:20 pm

I do want to mention that the Yeti microphone does not have its own ASIO driver. The product website itself mentions downloading ASIO4ALL for ASIO uses (http://bluemic.com/yeti/#/support/, search for "asio" in the page)

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Mark Bliss » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:38 pm

I was hoping the OP would engage in some dialog and explain more about how he is using it as well as his "problem." I have some more thoughts but am not sure they are applicable.

There may be some rig configurations that might need to use ASIO, but being a USB mic with on board monitoring capability, if it works like other similar mics I have used, it shouldn't need it in most cases as far as I know. :?:
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Anorax
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Anorax » Sun Jul 06, 2014 9:46 pm

oh, there's absolutely zero need for ASIO when using this mic with Mixcraft (as long as the rest of your setup doesn't require ASIO, of course). This mic works beautifully with Wave RT mode.

jsirt
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby jsirt » Tue Jul 08, 2014 8:13 am

I use just standard stereo earphones to record with and they sound beautiful and I play back over some stereo speakers . The laptop speakers are just horrible lol but ill watch all those videos and mess around and see if the problem is fixed and I'll be back to let y'all know how it is . The beat is off YouTube and is being ripped from a YouTube to mp3 converter so there's no room for any vocals it seems like . That's why I widen it and use a transient vitalizer but I don't even know if that's the best solution , is there a place to get high quality beats that will sound well balanced when placed into a lane in mixcraft? Or should I put the beat to pan 100% left and right? And keeping one lane for mono?

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Mark Bliss » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:13 pm

jsirt, heres some additional things to consider:
jsirt wrote:I use just standard stereo earphones to record with and they sound beautiful and I play back over some stereo speakers . The laptop speakers are just horrible

Be aware that generally, "standard stereo earphones" color the sound considerably by accenting certain frequencies as well as being unable to accurately reproduce others. Be sure to "reference" your work on other sources. And yes, forget the laptop speakers...... Use multiple familiar systems to start out with. A car stereo, home stereo, etc can help suss out more honest results.

jsirt wrote:The beat is off YouTube and is being ripped from a YouTube to mp3 converter so there's no room for any vocals it seems like . That's why I widen it and use a transient vitalizer but I don't even know if that's the best solution

The term "beat" really can mean far too many things in this application. My interpretation is that you probably mean "drums and bass"
But even if i am wrong, keep in mind the source has already been processed, I am going to guess its a safe bet overly processed..... And then the host (Youtube) adds some more, now you are adding more...... Not exactly the way to go.
And full disclosure, I tried the "transient vitalizer" enhancements a few times in the distant past, but I didn't inhale....... Seriously, didn't care for the results and it doesn't fit into what I do, so I cant advise too much on it specifically.
You have part of the idea with "widening," but here's the problem. You are widening the whole track, and what you are working with is most likely a bass heavy track. You don't want to widen bass frequencies. This may be causing more problems than helping any.

jsirt wrote:is there a place to get high quality beats that will sound well balanced when placed into a lane in mixcraft? Or should I put the beat to pan 100% left and right? And keeping one lane for mono?

Honestly, using the term "balanced" isn't really helping me much here either......
As far as sources, I am sure there are many many far better sources than MP3's ripped off of Youtube, and of course I am going to suggest that perhaps it would be best if you learned to create your own. But even then, composing. arranging and producing your own is going to require some additional knowledge and skills in addition to learning to mix them for better results. Learning them is a big, long but worthwhile journey of continuing growth.
I am not up to snuff on the "beats" based music you are likely trying to create, I am assuming rap/hiphop or one of the many similar variants. But I can make some guesses and perhaps provide some food for thought. At best it may give clues on what to look for specifically in things like the previously mentioned mixing tutorial resources.

It seems that you are trying to create "room" in the stereo field for the vocal, when really that is a smaller part of the picture compared to making room in the frequency spectrum. This is one of the advantages of having the control of various instruments of a project on their own tracks. You can control so much more. Basic mixing has a LOT to do with EQing and carving out space for the desired sound to stand out, or blend in.
Advanced techniques often used, especially heavily in the genres I suspect you are into, include triggering processors in a way that essentially causes the desired track (In this case the vocal for example) to "push" other tracks, or even competing frequencies out of the way as the vocal sounds occur. (IE: "Ducking") But these techniques are too advanced for this discussion, and I suspect as well, too advanced for your skill level at this time. (Keep searching for knowledge and you will get there!)

For now, an experiment to try, using what you have been doing.
Make 2, maybe 3 exact duplicates of your "beatz" track. No added processing for now.
On the first one, add an EQ setting with a "low pass filter." In other words cutting everything above a certain frequency. I would try starting at about 250 to 400 and experiment. You want any kick drum, bass guitar or low frequency synth, whatever. But the rest rolled off.
Now do exactly the opposite with another copy (Rolling off the low frequencies so you only have whats left) and either experiment with widening, or simply create two copies like this, one panned hard left and the other hard right. (Both methods have advantages and disadvantages and I am only suggesting this experiment as an educational exercise, as this isn't really the desired way to do this)
Play around with this idea a while and see what you can do.
Now add your vocal. On the vocal track add a frequency analyzer and determine the dominant range of the vocal frequencies. The go to your other tracks and do the same. Noting the competing frequencies.
Try lowering those frequencies a bit in the other tracks to make room for the vocal track.
If this begins to give you ideas that are helping, then you can experiment with the next step, adding a little reverb/delay processing to the vocal track. But its going to be hard to get a good fit here, having no idea what was used on the beatz...... (It is generally desirable to make tracks sound like they were recorded together in the same "space")
When you have taken that exercise as far as it will go, (shouldn't take long) you can go back to learning to create your own.......

So, what are you looking to do exactly?
Stay in tune, Mark

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Tiasdad
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Tiasdad » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:06 am

I, personally, would listen intently to the YT beat, then have a go at reproducing it in the 'Piano Roll' feature of Mixcraft. Then do the same with the bass. It may be time consuming but if you make good use of copy & paste and looping functions, it can reduce the time drastically and be fun and much more rewarding.

At least this will give you a good, clean foundation on which to build :)
Gary
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dung_beetle
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby dung_beetle » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:43 am

trevlyns wrote:further to Gypsy's recommendation, Graham's '5 minutes to a better mix' series is free and really helpful to a beginner.

93 concise video mixing tips :wink:


Just watched two random videos, I don't think they are concise at all, a very repetitive guy, half a minute per video would be enough, would save a lot of bandwidth ;)

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat Jul 12, 2014 6:44 am

Another point I missed for jsirt, that mic has a stereo mode if I recall correctly. You don't want that for your vocal track..........
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Anorax
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Re: Sound quality tips and tricks for rookie?

Postby Anorax » Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:47 am

mbliss wrote:Another point I missed for jsirt, that mic has a stereo mode if I recall correctly. You don't want that for your vocal track..........

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YES. This!

From one Yeti owner to another, when you're recording vocals, make sure that you're in one of two modes: Cardioid or bidirectional (the upside-down heart-ish symbol and the infinity symbol, respectively). Bidirectional should only really be used for when you are recording two voices with one mic.

95% of the time, you want to record vocals with a mono input, and then you can adjust the stereo positioning later (although vocals are almost always panned to the center of a song anyway, an exception being double-tracked vocals)


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