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Sparingly-used saturation in classical, preferences?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Wavefront's Avatar
 
Sparingly-used saturation in classical, preferences?

I searched a bit but did not find much addressing this exact topic, but apologies if I somehow did miss earlier discussions.

For those regularly using some form of saturation or harmonic distortion in a specifically classical recording context, what's your taste in this area? -- both in the sense of tools (whether soft- or hardware), and techniques.

I have become more interested than I used to be in the potential for this kind of treatment to offer some of the results I was more habitually using EQ and/or compression to achieve. To be clear, I'm not at all talking about heavy-handed tape simulation on the stereo bus, but things like applying a small amount of saturation to a spot microphone, or applying it at low level only to a reverb send, etc.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefront ➡️
I searched a bit but did not find much addressing this exact topic...
I'm not surprised.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That's a brilliant idea, especially if it's applied in small amounts.

IMHO, if it sounds good, (and there are no audible artifacts) it is good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefront ➡️
I searched a bit but did not find much addressing this exact topic, but apologies if I somehow did miss earlier discussions.

For those regularly using some form of saturation or harmonic distortion in a specifically classical recording context, what's your taste in this area? -- both in the sense of tools (whether soft- or hardware), and techniques.

I have become more interested than I used to be in the potential for this kind of treatment to offer some of the results I was more habitually using EQ and/or compression to achieve. To be clear, I'm not at all talking about heavy-handed tape simulation on the stereo bus, but things like applying a small amount of saturation to a spot microphone, or applying it at low level only to a reverb send, etc.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Sorry. What?

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Sometimes, when things are sounding a little flat, I have a few vintage-style master bus plugins I might try across my stereo bus, to see if they can liven things up or fatten up the sound a bit. For some virtual and socially-distant multimic’d projects this year they’ve been useful.

I know they aren’t specifically “saturators” but they do emulate harmonic distortion and still have a noticeable impact on the sound even when all parts are disengaged, so they always bring an element of character, even when used sparingly. I’m almost never hitting hard or at all with compression when doing this for classical music, usually just shaping with EQ and the character of the plug-in.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king2070lplaya ➡️
... I have a few vintage-style master bus plugins... <><> For some virtual and socially-distant multimic’d projects this year they’ve been useful.
Is the OP talking about Quarantine/Dropbox projects, or does he propose doing this stuff to "legit" classical recordings?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Is the OP talking about Quarantine/Dropbox projects, or does he propose doing this stuff to "legit" classical recordings?
I mean.... Decca had a Neve at the Sofiensaal for years, the console there before that was tubes. Nothing wrong with a little color on our recordings, sometimes it can be just the thing!
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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JCBigler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I like to throw a wah effect on the French horns. They're usually laying eggs in the back of the orchestra anyway, so no one ever really notices the difference.

Kidding aside, I usually use Avid HEAT on my tracks to warm them up and give a bit of presence.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #9
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James Lehmann's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCBigler ➡️
I like to throw a wah effect on the French horns. They're usually laying eggs in the back of the orchestra anyway, so no one ever really notices the difference.
Trombones are the kings of natural wah - they can produce that sound already with no external FX.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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On the Harrison Mixbus forum I've seen a few instances of people using Mixbus or Mixbus 32c for mixing or mastering classical music. Mixbus is a console emulation built on the open-source DAW Ardour, and it includes subtle (and adjustable) tape saturation on the mixbuses and master bus. It has built-in EQ, leveler, compressor, limiter, and tape saturation, all modeled closely to emulate Harrison consoles. If you're used to working with analogue gear, no plugins, the workflow in Mixbus will be very familiar; the console modeling does influence the sound. Lots of albums on the ECM label were recorded and mixed on Harrison consoles, not sure if that includes any of their classical albums though.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #11
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Wavefront's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
Is the OP talking about Quarantine/Dropbox projects, or does he propose doing this stuff to "legit" classical recordings?
Yes, I was referring to "serious" recording practice, and again, "sparingly" being the operative word.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh ➡️
On the Harrison Mixbus forum I've seen a few instances of people using Mixbus or Mixbus 32c for mixing or mastering classical music. Mixbus is a console emulation built on the open-source DAW Ardour, and it includes subtle (and adjustable) tape saturation on the mixbuses and master bus. It has built-in EQ, leveler, compressor, limiter, and tape saturation, all modeled closely to emulate Harrison consoles. If you're used to working with analogue gear, no plugins, the workflow in Mixbus will be very familiar; the console modeling does influence the sound. Lots of albums on the ECM label were recorded and mixed on Harrison consoles, not sure if that includes any of their classical albums though.
Thanks for the suggestion -- applying this kind of emulation (however accurate) to all tracks/buses in a "virtual console" paradigm is a bit more extreme than what I had in mind, but perhaps it is worth exploring a bit.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefront ➡️
Thanks for the suggestion -- applying this kind of emulation (however accurate) to all tracks/buses in a "virtual console" paradigm is a bit more extreme than what I had in mind, but perhaps it is worth exploring a bit.
There's no saturation on individual tracks; if you engage the EQ or leveler/compressor the console emulation kicks in but if you don't there will be no "Harrison sound" added. The saturation is only on mixbuses and the master bus, and it can be dialed down to zero. You could route selected tracks to a mixbus and apply saturation only (no other effects) on that bus. Or set up different mixbuses with different levels of saturation and choose which tracks to send to each mixbus. I actually do this in my (non-classical) recordings: I have some buses for reverbs and other buses that only add saturation, no other effects or EQ. It's pretty flexible. I could, with some hours of tweaking, reproduce this sound in any DAW using tape/tube saturation and other plugins but it's so quick and straightforward in Mixbus that I prefer it.
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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🎧 10 years
With multimiked classical, if it's not mixed down to stereo on site, then you're by definition taking away a bunch of main pair, outflankers, section and spot mics....and then trying to recreate a coherent ensemble sound in your DAW, probably with reverbs, maybe some eq and delay, and hoping like hell that any intended or accidental 'creative leakage' works in your favour.

In the pop/rock realm, at the same juncture, you'll see mixing folk call on analog desks or summing boards, and vintage compressors on the mix buss to act as "glueing agents", to benignly meld the separate tracks or stems together, as if they were coming off a desk or tape system with some inherent degreee of smoothing, crosstalk and levelling (perhaps with some serious iron ie transformers present in the chain)

In this context, maybe some (small, controlled) saturation could emulate the desired effect of 'glueing together' the discrete elements of an orchestral mix...so give it a try. Personally I'd rather that the same outcome was derived closer to the source, from the miking choices and placement...rather than added later in the chain.

However, when you look at the cumulative effect of tube desks, fader riding, mixing direct to 2 track as well as occasional use of live chambers and plate echo by the Decca team in the 60's and 70's for their location recordings....it's hard to take a purist line on any of this mojo...if applied tastefully and sparingly ?

Note though that whether it be Decca, Mercury, RCA or BIS ....or any number of esteemed labels...they never used their tape recorders, mixers or outboard gear as tone-colouring or effects generators/saturators: their gear was lined up, calibrated and used within the most linear, conservative and recommended parameters...never overdriven like current rock studio "heroes", trying to make a reputation for themselves.....rather, 'straight wire with gain' was their aim.

This helps explain why the advent of digital recording was so warmly embraced by many of them, from the outset...it held out the promise of a much cleaner, more transparent window on the sound capture.

Bottom line...the mix should probably still sound damn fine, even without it....and look upon it as a lens filter on a camera, for creative effect. At the end of the day, it's reaching for something other than 'clinical, accurate audio purity'....which for others is the holy grail of recording, and as such informs location venue, mic, preamp and converter/recorder choice.

Be careful and cognisant about which path you commit to.....

Last edited by studer58; 6 days ago at 02:46 PM..
Old 6 days ago
  #14
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Sounds like the OP is bored with his sound. Otherwise what would be the motivation to saturate certain sounds? Because he has a new plug-in??
Let the OP investigate the Kerwax Replica vacuum tube saturation / compressor. It offers some interesting thickening capabilities. Can add girth too.

These pursuits can quickly head into the harebrained idea territory. It may be different but is it better??

Last edited by Plush; 6 days ago at 04:28 PM..
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
In this context, maybe some (small, controlled) saturation could emulate the desired effect of 'glueing together' the discrete elements of an orchestral mix...so give it a try. Personally I'd rather than the same outcome was derived closer to the source, from the miking choices and placement...rather than added later in the chain.
In the case of Harrison Mixbus, the saturation in the mixbuses aims to emulate the effect of recording to tape, which introduces some distortion and affects detail in transients (and thus reduces dynamic range). Would I want that on a classical recording where preserving detail and dynamic range are typically important goals? Probably not, but if it costs little to experiment and use your ears to judge, it's worth a try. I like the tape sound on the music I do (which is traditional music, often recorded with classical techniques), but that's probably because most of what I listen to is old field recordings made on tape from the 1960s and 1970s.
Old 6 days ago
  #16
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🎧 5 years
I’ll leave classical recordings to others. But for live recordings of jazz, saturation absolutely has its place. Certainly during the 1940-70s (roughly), the music was typically recorded with highly saturating devices: tube mics, tape, tube outboard and consoles. To me, it seems a reasonable sound to emulate ITB. On individual tracks, I often use Kazrog True Iron on the 111C RCA-style setting, or moderately overdriving the input of an IK Neve 73, or maxing out the output (correctly gainstaged) of a tube-emulated compressor such as BLA VLA-2A or IK 670. For buses and master bus, the IK Tape plugs can handle “glue” and soft-clipping, if set correctly (love the way these sound...but the are so absurdly slow, a complete workflow-killer. Yet, I keep coming back for the sound.)
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
Certainly during the 1940-70s (roughly), the music was typically recorded with highly saturating devices: tube mics, tape, tube outboard and consoles.
With that gear and that kind of highly dynamic, improvised and unpredictable playing, it was impossible to make recordings without making mistakes.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
Certainly during the 1940-70s (roughly), the music was typically recorded with highly saturating devices: tube mics, tape, tube outboard and consoles.
I doubt this was achieved intentionally...by pushing gear outside of recommended, clearly documented operating parameters. Since the advent of tape recording, given gear of sufficiently evolved design (and well maintained within guidelines) the aim was usually to get as faithful a reproduction of the performance as possible....when operated by professional, experienced engineers.
The additive effect of a chain of tube gear and tape can certainly produce sounds incorporating saturation...but mostly when abused or overdriven, and poorly maintained.

There's probably less pure 'saturation' per se than you're suggesting. Plenty of distortion however, with cylinder and wax recording and replay devices, prior to the tape era.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #19
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️

There's probably less pure 'saturation' per se than you're suggesting. Plenty of distortion however, with cylinder and wax recording and replay devices, prior to the tape era.
Columbia, when they first opened their “remote” studio in the 30th street district of Manhattan, sent audio up to the headquarters at 52nd street - this was audio over telephone wires in those days. They didn’t have tape at the new room until 1952 or so.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #20
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
I’ll leave classical recordings to others. But for live recordings of jazz, saturation absolutely has its place.
The OP was talking about classical. Whatever needs to be done to jazz, pop, rock, c&w, whatever else, I am all for the tricks that make that music sound good. And I listen to a lot of other music than classical. Actually mostly rock and jazz.

But I record classical. And that is why we talk about "neutral" mics, preamps, recorders. A touch of Altiverb in the mix, if the room didn't cooperate.

I'll leave the distortion for all my favorite BOC albums.

D.

PS. I did just purchase a tape emulator for my DAW. Maybe I'll try it on my next choir recording. I might be come a convert.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
Sounds like the OP is bored with his sound. Otherwise what would be the motivation to saturate certain sounds. Because he has a new plug-in??
Let the OP investigate the Kerwax Replica vacuum tube saturation / compressor. It offers some interesting thickening capabilities. Can add girth too.

These pursuits can quickly head into the harebrained idea territory. It may be different but is it better??
As I stated initially, my interest is pragmatic (if baffling to some) and is about general process, not trigger-happy enthusiasm for a new plugin, or a new piece of outboard, for that matter.

It seems to be an unpopular position on this forum, but my attitude is that open-minded experimentation in the pursuit of better results (however these may be subjectively defined) is a prerequisite of all worthwhile artistic and technical endeavors.

To me, this also implies knowing when a "harebrained idea" may have outstayed its welcome, and moving on to more fruitful avenues.

The recording engineers, painters, directors, writers, scientists, etc. who I most admire have more or less followed this philosophy and I am content to live and work in the shadow of their example. I know it's the internet, but for those who strongly disagree, there's always the option of not participating

Thank you, Plush, for your recommendation of the Kerwax product.
Old 6 days ago
  #22
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Wavefront's Avatar
 
Quickly, to re-emphasize:

My initial question was about subtle and targeted use of saturation/harmonic distortion in areas of limited scope within classical music production.
  • Not limiting the program's overall dynamic range with tape emulation.
  • Not imitating the effect of using tube mics into a tube desk into a tape machine, driving each stage to distortion.
  • Not trying to create a final product at odds with a generally neutral, balanced, refined classical production philosophy.

Apologies if that was unclear, but hopefully we can avoid descending into a discussion of the relative merits of recording Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune as though it were AC/DC.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefront ➡️
I know it's the internet, but for those who strongly disagree, there's always the option of not participating.
You come on here knowing you're going to encounter skeptics, and then suggest to the skeptics that they go away? I'm actually only a half-skeptic; I'd like to hear what you come up with. But still... this forum has a moderator and it ain't you.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #24
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Wavefront's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn ➡️
You come on here knowing you're going to encounter skeptics, and then suggest to the skeptics that they go away? I'm actually only a half-skeptic; I'd like to hear what you come up with. But still... this forum has a moderator and it ain't you.
Well, in that case, thanks for your half-support

I look forward to hopefully hearing some more thoughts and suggestions from people who find this an interesting question, and to eventually sharing some experiments for collective review and discussion. Not trying to be combative here at all! Just hoping to foster an interesting discussion with people genuinely interested in the question.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #25
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann ➡️
I’ll leave classical recordings to others. But for live recordings of jazz, saturation absolutely has its place. Certainly during the 1940-70s (roughly), the music was typically recorded with highly saturating devices: tube mics, tape, tube outboard and consoles. To me, it seems a reasonable sound to emulate ITB. On individual tracks, I often use Kazrog True Iron on the 111C RCA-style setting, or moderately overdriving the input of an IK Neve 73, or maxing out the output (correctly gainstaged) of a tube-emulated compressor such as BLA VLA-2A or IK 670. For buses and master bus, the IK Tape plugs can handle “glue” and soft-clipping, if set correctly (love the way these sound...but the are so absurdly slow, a complete workflow-killer. Yet, I keep coming back for the sound.)
No, your contention is not the case. The tube mics, tube consoles were operated within the super clean range. Not overloaded, not distorting, not saturating anything. In fact, a tube circuit can be among the cleanest, highest headroom, most high fidelity sounds available, even still today.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #26
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Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm with you on this one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavefront ➡️
As I stated initially, my interest is pragmatic (if baffling to some) and is about general process, not trigger-happy enthusiasm for a new plugin, or a new piece of outboard, for that matter.

It seems to be an unpopular position on this forum, but my attitude is that open-minded experimentation in the pursuit of better results (however these may be subjectively defined) is a prerequisite of all worthwhile artistic and technical endeavors.

To me, this also implies knowing when a "harebrained idea" may have outstayed its welcome, and moving on to more fruitful avenues.

The recording engineers, painters, directors, writers, scientists, etc. who I most admire have more or less followed this philosophy and I am content to live and work in the shadow of their example. I know it's the internet, but for those who strongly disagree, there's always the option of not participating

Thank you, Plush, for your recommendation of the Kerwax product.
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
if not already selecting specific gear for tracking, i can dial in any amount of saturation during mixing - i do NOT clip converters for this purpose though.
Old 5 days ago
  #28
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Except for some gentle EQ I don't add "anything" to my recordings. I certainly would not want to "add" any saturation. I guess I am a "purist" in that regard. I want my microphones and my setup to capture the ensemble or solo artist in their purest form and don't want to "mess" with that sound by using some plugin to add saturation. I have however noticed over the past five years that classical artist seem to want "LOUDER" recordings to match up with what their contemporaries are doing. FWIW
Old 5 days ago
  #29
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joelpatterson's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Every one of us is "crafting a final product that sounds amazing" and it's a pretty illusion to say that there's any kind of "direct" transmission between what happened in the music hall and what you're going to experience when you hit the playback button.

Every step of the process is the result of choices made and not-- hopefully the intention is to tickle the fancy of the pool of listeners that will be exposed to the final mix.

That's the way I see it, anyway-- there's the "content," being whatever piece by whatever composer performed by the talent-- and then there's the "sum total of the impression that is conveyed subliminally," which is all about manipulating the capture with the way you emphasize certain frequencies, restrain others, heighten or suppress key aspects-- all with an eye to creating something that resonates with people and is ideally timeless.

The word for this is "fraud," however uncomfortable the term may be-- so what it takes to get you there... I say go for it!

Last edited by joelpatterson; 5 days ago at 02:12 PM.. Reason: toned it down
Old 5 days ago | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson ➡️
The word for this is "fraud," however uncomfortable the term may be-- so what it takes to get you there... I say go for it!
How about 'artifice' or 'silicon enhancement', 'aural viagra'...or something like that ?
All's fair....if the customer likes and buys it
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