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How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come in?

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marc32123
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How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come in?

Postby marc32123 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:50 pm

Basically, I have a song that starts with one guitar for the first measure. When the third measures hits a new guitar part comes in on top, and at the fourth measure and the start of the 5th, probably like 6 or 7 new elements come in.

I am just wondering, what techniques do people use to keep the sound from getting to loud and overwhelming when all these new elements are added? I have an idea, but I just want to get a new perspective on this, as it is really important in my opinion and something I really am not to sure about...


marc32123
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby marc32123 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:22 pm

The technique I thought that was used was that of a master limiter. What I did before, and was going to do before I learned a new technique tonight, was to start at the beginning of the song, where the guitar and drums are playing alone together. I then tried to get them to sound right level wise in the beginning, and added the other elements on top without changing the volume of the guitar of drums when the other elements came in on top. To compensate for the rise in volume that happened when the other instruments etc. came in on top, I was just going to throw on a compressor or limiter on the whole song. Is this a common technique, or not really???

aj113
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby aj113 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:35 am

marc32123 wrote:Basically, I have a song that starts with one guitar for the first measure. When the third measures hits a new guitar part comes in on top, and at the fourth measure and the start of the 5th, probably like 6 or 7 new elements come in.

I am just wondering, what techniques do people use to keep the sound from getting to loud and overwhelming when all these new elements are added? I have an idea, but I just want to get a new perspective on this, as it is really important in my opinion and something I really am not to sure about...
If you start with one guitar part and add six more it will probably sound loud and overwhelming regardless of your efforts. Seven guitars are always going to sound like seven guitars. If you mean that your meters are hitting the red then back off the channel faders or reduce the individual clip gains

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aquataur
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby aquataur » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:27 am

This is the #1 winning question many books are written about.
With each additional track they start to combat for space and frequency, variable in time.

The best book that gives a step-by-step approch I have come across is #3.

There is no shortcut around getting acquainted with those subjects.

-helmut

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AHornsby
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby AHornsby » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:43 am

I'd like to hear what you are when you're making this assessment so perhaps you could post a bit of it?

In general terms you might hear that keeping it simple is a good rule of thumb and another is to have no more than 5 things going on at any one time. -h

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Mark Bliss
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby Mark Bliss » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:06 am

aquataur wrote:The best book that gives a step-by-step approach I have come across is #3.
There is no shortcut around getting acquainted with those subjects.

And yet, no matter how many times such resources are suggested, there will always still be those who fail to put the effort or due diligence into studying them.

AHornsby wrote:In general terms you might hear that keeping it simple is a good rule of thumb and another is to have no more than 5 things going on at any one time.

This is advise it would be wise to follow when first starting out IMO.

I am assuming the OP is talking about mixing, and not overwhelming the main bus with cumulative levels. I am still not clear on that.

The classic mistake here is to ignore that mixing at its core is something like 80% levels and EQ.
The tendency is all too often to skip step one and jump to step five and start applying a bunch of plug-ins before ever getting step one close to correct. This will never give good results.

My suggestion for speeding up the learning and improving your early mixing results:
1. Forget you have any plugins for mixing, except an EQ.
2. Pan everything to center, and if you are using any stereo recordings, loops etc, convert them to mono.
3. Work on getting the best mix possible with nothing but level and EQ.

Unless you are working on a simple song with only a couple of tracks and a "static" mix level throughout, You should expect to spend long fatiguing sessions working on a song, take multiple breaks from it to give your ears and brain a rest and come back later, again and again until you are certain there is nothing more you can improve at this point, only then are you ready to proceed past this crucial step.
Stay in tune, Mark

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msnickybee
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby msnickybee » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:31 am

I guess we all have our own opinion in trying to help, so here's my clumsy attempt! And there no substitute for your own experience, and working with the best recorded sounds you can...that way, you might find that you need less tracks to build something that sounds rich and full, and complete.

Simplify the song. Mix the first verse like The Beatles "Paperback Writer". Focus on EQ'ing each instrument where it should be (eg strumming guitars? Do you need below 500kHz?).
Think like your band are physically stood on a stage - where are they left and right? They're not all stood right in the centre, except the drummer? Depth of field through reverb and delay is also vital.
Mixing is fun. Be prepared to alter the volume of each and every track throughout the song. Relying on compressors and limiters (even "mid-side") to do your mixing for you will...only teach you that you can add a VST really.
There's some ace tips in this thread, and the books too.
I have bought piles of books over the years. Read a couple of chapters, because I'm lazy. Learnt with my ears a bit.
Mixing....subtracting things...adding only just enough elements, and using volume carefully to build a song is an art that no compressor can teach.
And listen to pro stuff. Old school stuff like McCartney's "Band on the run" where you can hear a busy mix that uses stereo and EQ well.
Good luck!
Nicky
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marc32123
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby marc32123 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:34 am

aj113 wrote:If you start with one guitar part and add six more it will probably sound loud and overwhelming regardless of your efforts. Seven guitars are always going to sound like seven guitars. If you mean that your meters are hitting the red then back off the channel faders or reduce the individual clip gains


The new elements are all guitars, there is a drumbeat, 2 or 3 synths and pads/ and the voice (with dubs)....

marc32123
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby marc32123 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:36 am

AHornsby wrote:I'd like to hear what you are when you're making this assessment so perhaps you could post a bit of it?

In general terms you might hear that keeping it simple is a good rule of thumb and another is to have no more than 5 things going on at any one time. -h


I am working on this project with someone else and he dooesn't really want most to post it online yet as it is not copyrighted.

marc32123
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby marc32123 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:41 am

Mark Bliss wrote:And yet, no matter how many times such resources are suggested, there will always still be those who fail to put the effort or due diligence into studying them.


I would put more time in my research but I have a lot of issues that kind of prevent me from doing so. Basically, I have something else I study every day and that is a lot more important than music (truthseeking 101)... And also, I do research just not hours up hours, and thanks to you guys on here and other forums I have been on you have made my journey a lot easier!

To the rest of what you said, first off yes I am talking about not overwhelming the master bus when cumulative elements are added to the songs. Also, I know what you were saying about 80 % of a mix being levels and eq. I agree there, and honestly, I probably devote about that much time to my levels and eq. Nothing else is quite as important, although compression, reverb, delays and other effects can give a track an added nice touch.

aj113
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby aj113 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 2:54 pm

Mark Bliss wrote:
aquataur wrote:...mixing at its core is something like 80% levels and EQ.
Not only do I agree, but you are correct. Most people on forums don't want to know about levels, they want to play with plugins and buy loads of gear.

It's all about the levels.

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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby Ianpb » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:29 pm

If I'm using a large number of tracks and the final level is too high, rather than reducing the levels and thereby risk spoiling the mix, I insert the (free) Blue Cat 'Gain 3' plugin at the end of the VST chain of every track, and then reduce them all by the same amount. This plugin comes in both stereo and mono versions.

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Mab098157
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby Mab098157 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:59 pm

Sub mix the onslaught of gtrs? Use master bus automation? I would be concerned about using too much compression on master bus, since it sounds like this peice has a wide dynamic range . . Master bus comp may raise the noise floor in quieter parts. I still think that it all starts with the track gains, eq and comp. if you get this right them a little limiter will control master clipping. If this piece has this type of dynamics, don't kill it with comp and limiter. Let it breathe.
Mark Bowie
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marc32123
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Re: How to keep sound from getting to overwhelming when all the elements come together in a song when vocals etc. come i

Postby marc32123 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:07 pm

I personally am wondering how common it is for sound engineers to use a limter/compressor on the master bus though, to control the levels from getting too loud in variation etc.?


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