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Controlling Transients?
Old 22nd February 2008
  #1
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Controlling Transients?

Is there a better way to tame transients in a digital mix so as to be able to raise the overall volume? I don't like using limiters or compressing, but it seems like there should be a way to simulate what tape does to transients in a digital system...
Old 22nd February 2008
  #2
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🎧 10 years
You mean tape compression?
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #3
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larry b's Avatar
 
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you mean...tape saturation?

there are a number of plug-ins available...

or record to tape heh

compressors arent that bad at controlling transients either thumbsup

Digidesign Reel Tape Saturation | Sweetwater.com
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #4
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I dont know what that is... is tape compression what happens when a sound is recorded to tape and the transient peaks, but gets truncated, instead of in digital where a limiter shoved the level down?


When you REALLY compress something and play with the attack and get that SUPER click preceeding the sound, that is a horrible transient, no? I am new to this, just trying to connect terms with things im hearing,...
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho ➑️
I dont know what that is... is tape compression what happens when a sound is recorded to tape and the transient peaks, but gets truncated, instead of in digital where a limiter shoved the level down?


When you REALLY compress something and play with the attack and get that SUPER click preceeding the sound, that is a horrible transient, no? I am new to this, just trying to connect terms with things im hearing,...
Digital clipping is a hard wall . when you clip ... things get pretty harsh pretty
fast.

Tape is not a hard wall ... it follows what's known as the ferro-magnetic hysteresis
saturation curve .. which looks like this ...



Rather than a "brick wall", tape has a slope that "softens" the effect of saturation ..
sometimes in pleasing ways.

There are several plug-ins which emulate this curve ... even amongst various
types of tape and tape machines (where there are two ferro-magnetic
systems .... the tape head .. and the tape itself).

The newest ( and I think most accurate ) is the Digi Reel Tape ... it's pretty
darn accurate...

jeff
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #6
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You may actually want to try using some light compression with as fast an attack setting as possible. The key here is LIGHT compression. 2:1 ratio. Compression/Limiting in general would be how most folks in the business probably go about controlling an untoward transient, rather than leaving it up to the tape machine to deal with.

That said, you can play around with the saturation curve of analog tape in a similar fashion that you would be using compression.

It's actually kind of ironic in and of itself that your aim is to control transients, yet you don't want to use compression. If the compressors you've tried all make your signal sound bad to you then you just haven't tried the right compressor yet, i think.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #7
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tINY's Avatar
 
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In the digital world of bits, we can use "look ahead" limiting and really really fast release times....




-tINY

Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #8
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My advice is to learn to LOVE compression and limiting.

Next to your basic balance mix (where the faders are at), how and when you utilize automatic gain control (AGC) is going to be the next biggest factor for how your stuff sounds.

Provided you tracked solid stuff, good performances and sounds, etc....

For some types of music (rock/metal/hip hop/pop) AGC is mandatory. In fact, squashing dynamics is pretty much mandatory!

If you're just looking at controlling transient bursts, set a fast limiter just above the meat of the signal so that it only jumps on the stuff you want it to jump on. Your transients will be made to obey.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #9
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Try using a good multiband comp - target those nasty level party poopers.

~Lerxst

PS: The title of your thread should be "Trolling Transients" just what comes to mind when I have to deal with those boogers.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #10
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UnDeFiNeD's Avatar
 
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Quote:
The newest ( and I think most accurate ) is the Digi Reel Tape ... it's pretty
darn accurate...
Anyone know a good VST equivalent for this? I still use magneto from time to time, but it's not really all that if u know what I mean...

pzz
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #11
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Sigma's Avatar
 
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transients give "life" embrace them
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #12
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Yes but transients help to overload digital systems to the point of clipping whereas analogue seems to lob off that part and keep the rest intact..

James, would you mind explaining more on this AGC? I've never heard of it..
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho ➑️
James, would you mind explaining more on this AGC? I've never heard of it..
AGC is just an acronym for "automatic gain control." It's any device like a compressor or limiter that modifies the level of a signal for you. The best way to understand compression, limiting, expansion, gating and so forth is from the standpoint of what it does to the overall volume of a signal.

With a mastery of AGC techniques you can do a LOT--shorten/lengthen the duration of sounds, change the tonal balance, modify the shape of a sound, enhance or de-enhance transients, lengthen transients, shorten transients, even out a sound's dynamics, enhance and expand a sound's dynamics, remove extraneous noise, achieve weird audio FX, and a whole lot more.

That's why I always say that compression/limiting and so on is the most critical--and seemingly difficult to develop--skill when it comes to mixing audio.

Generally speaking, if something sounds botched on a recording it usually has more to do with compression than anything else. I know if I'm unhappy with something in my work it usually comes down to how I AGC'd something. EQ is pretty simple and easy to understand in comparison.

So yeah, master your compressor and limiters, learn gates and expanders, and your audio will rise to new levels. You will make the transients do what you want 'em to do.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #14
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i see you're using Logic - try the Enveloper plug, i use it to keep the compressor(inserted after enveloper) from making that horrid pop artifact works a treat.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho ➑️
Yes but transients help to overload digital systems to the point of clipping whereas analogue seems to lob off that part and keep the rest intact..
Technically you are overloading tape if you purposefully hit it hard enough to 'tame' your transients. It just sounds better in most cases than clipping your converters.

If you are clipping your inputs just turn down the send. The beauty of digital recording is that the noise floor is so low that you can capture the whole signal without having to resort to dynamically narrowing it before recording.
Plus recording through plugin compressors is really hit and miss.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #16
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you are talking about headroom with digital right?

I thought that the lower the level you record at, the less bits are used to represent the audio, and thus you end up with a lower quality sound?
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho ➑️
you are talking about headroom with digital right?

I thought that the lower the level you record at, the less bits are used to represent the audio, and thus you end up with a lower quality sound?
If you give yourself between 6 to 12dB's worth of headroom rather than 30 or so you will never hear those missing bits.
I don't fully understand how the 24 bits are used across the dynamic range but I do know you shouldn't aim to use them all up by overloading your converters.

The standard is 0vu at the desk (or pre/whatever) = -18dB (sometimes -16) at the computer. That means even the most transient of sounds won't go over -5.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #18
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Personally I think that a well-balanced mix with a good arrangement and playing is where you should be seeking your volume from, not from limiting, compression, tape sims and so forth. Transients will make your mix punch. Enough space for every element and the proper frequency balance will make it sound loud.

Yeah, you can make your mix louder by lopping off transients and making the whole mix a big wash, but it won't sound nearly as good as getting the volume by actually working hard to get it the right way. And from there if you insist on having your mix brickwalled to get it louder, by all means let a mastering engineer do it.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #19
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so once you record the audio at a comfortable level... what is the goal in the mixing stage as far as getting the volumes the loudest? go as loud as you can without hitting the clip light on any one track or the master?
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Meeker ➑️
My advice is to learn to LOVE compression and limiting.

Next to your basic balance mix (where the faders are at), how and when you utilize automatic gain control (AGC) is going to be the next biggest factor for how your stuff sounds.

Provided you tracked solid stuff, good performances and sounds, etc....

For some types of music (rock/metal/hip hop/pop) AGC is mandatory. In fact, squashing dynamics is pretty much mandatory!

If you're just looking at controlling transient bursts, set a fast limiter just above the meat of the signal so that it only jumps on the stuff you want it to jump on. Your transients will be made to obey.

AGC is all about averages and has little effect on transients. It primary usage is to compensate for the amplitude variations on the output of radio circuits so a weak radio signal will have the same audio strength as a strong signal. Personally, I think AGC is a good idea for processing audio masters, but not for handing transients.

There are devices and plugins out there specifically designed to emulate tape saturation for digital recording.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #21
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Sigma's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante ➑️
Personally I think that a well-balanced mix with a good arrangement and playing is where you should be seeking your volume from, not from limiting, compression, tape sims and so forth. Transients will make your mix punch. Enough space for every element and the proper frequency balance will make it sound loud.

Yeah, you can make your mix louder by lopping off transients and making the whole mix a big wash, but it won't sound nearly as good as getting the volume by actually working hard to get it the right way. And from there if you insist on having your mix brickwalled to get it louder, by all means let a mastering engineer do it.
thanks for elaborating.! well put!thumbsup...i def over simplify things sometimes..it's funny that the same things that people complain about ..they propagate...why buy a great mic and pre that can capture transients and then lop them off?..err don makeamha no cents ta meyah mister master recording engine 'neer do right

i use compressor/limiters VERY often to try to bring BACK transients [really trying to simulate what wasn't captured] from session files i get that have rounded attacks..yer 110% on point dude! that edge is what cutzzz thru [this goes back to the root of the punch thread]
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma ➑️
thanks...i over simplify things sometime..it's funny that the same things that people complain about ..they propagate...why buy a great mic and pre that can capture transients and then lop them off..err don makeamha no cents ta meyah
Cause sometime you have musicians who lack a good sense of dynamics an you get they awful peaks where some random snare hit is sucking up 6db of headroom! Also, the transients you are trying to capture in delicate vocal performance are generally not the ones you are trying to get rid of in the final track. In fact you want to kill those wasteful transients so the good once can come through and be appreciated.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho ➑️
so once you record the audio at a comfortable level... what is the goal in the mixing stage as far as getting the volumes the loudest? go as loud as you can without hitting the clip light on any one track or the master?
I see this as a curse of being able to see sounds really.
Yeah, that is pretty much the goal. Get it to sound as good as you can without clipping then give it to the mastering engineers to make loud/ruin.

I suggest you read a few other threads about compression. Just do a search here. Compression is quite possibly the best thing ever when it comes to making stuff 'apparently loud' but it is very easy to abuse and all go wrong.
Just try a few things, make some mistakes, have fun.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #24
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Sigma's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith ➑️
Cause sometime you have musicians who lack a good sense of dynamics an you get they awful peaks where some random snare hit is sucking up 6db of headroom! Also, the transients you are trying to capture in delicate vocal performance are generally not the ones you are trying to get rid of in the final track. In fact you want to kill those wasteful transients so the good once can come through and be appreciated.
thats not transients it is DYNAMICS the transient is there in every hit[hopefully] if captured correctly..the problem is uneven DYNAMICS

err explain that one to me in more depth i am a little dense sometimes
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma ➑️
thats not transients it is DYNAMICS the transient is there in every hit[hopefully] if captured correctly..the problem is uneven DYNAMICS

err explain that one to me in more depth i am a little dense sometimes
But they are related. The transient can be considered the leading of the dynamics. When the guy hit the snare hard, its the transient portion that is going to suck up the head room. When I am limiting, I am often just trying to tame that transient and still let the dynamics of the drummer come through. Of then transient portion of the hit is of too short a duration to even register with your ear, that is why taming them is not always a bad thing.

True, but in digital, they all compete for the 0db dead stop. Analog gear did worked so much better for dealing with these issues. And of course that is why you use a dynamic mike on the snare to control the transients when someone is dynamic.
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #26
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Sigma's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith ➑️
But they are related. The transient can be considered the leading of the dynamics. When the guy hit the snare hard, its the transient portion that is going to suck up the head room. When I am limiting, I am often just trying to tame that transient and still let the dynamics of the drummer come through. Of then transient portion of the hit is of too short a duration to even register with your ear, that is why taming them is not always a bad thing.

True, but in digital, they all compete for the 0db dead stop. Analog gear did worked so much better for dealing with these issues. And of course that is why you use a dynamic mike on the snare to control the transients when someone is dynamic.
that's where i do a ride rather than let a limiter "over" work..remember ..i post a lot about riding the input to a compressor/limiter
Old 22nd February 2008 | Show parent
  #27
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Interesting stuff, nice graph about the tape thingy. Limiting/compressing ain't that bad, you have to find your own way of dealing with it. Then you'll like it.
Old 23rd February 2008 | Show parent
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma ➑️
that's where i do a ride rather than let a limiter "over" work..remember ..i post a lot about riding the input to a compressor/limiter
Yep, yep.

Jamsmith, that is what rides/automation are for. With a vocal take you can ride it on the way in when tracking if you know what you're doing.
Old 23rd February 2008 | Show parent
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robot gigante ➑️
Yep, yep.

Jamsmith, that is what rides/automation are for. With a vocal take you can ride it on the way in when tracking if you know what you're doing.
You automate your tracking faders? Hardcore.

Maybe that's what compressors are really for. To fix those dodgy rides you did while tracking.
Old 23rd February 2008 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkRB ➑️
You automate your tracking faders? Hardcore.

Maybe that's what compressors are really for. To fix those dodgy rides you did while tracking.
If you say so. A lot of people still ride vocals on the way in. It's not that big of a deal.
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