Mix Challenge - Gossip and Discussion

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?
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Dean Aka Nekro
KVRAF
6179 posts since 4 Oct, 2007 from Escaped At Last

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:20 pm

Uncle E wrote:
MaxSynths wrote:Mmmm yep it could be some sort of... cowbell!? :hihi:
I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more metronome!
well flashing or as you perverts refer to it "sharing" your widget publically whilst running a fever is not advisable...Oh hell that was bad but I giggled like a naughty child whilst typing it out :oops:

Cheers for the pick me up as I've not been having many good days lately, So the from out of nowhere fit of giggles has put a smile on my miserable face, Much thanks for that guys :tu:

Go forth and show the whole world your glorious widgets, Not sharing them publically would be CRIMINAL

Sorry for going a bit OT, I am keeping up with everything discussion wise

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nineofkings
KVRAF
1769 posts since 9 Apr, 2011

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:23 pm

Technically it was supposed to be part of the song... :oops: I wanted it to sound like something out of a garage, and the Beatles did it with "Blackbird," so I figured it was ok.

MaxSynths
KVRAF
4592 posts since 2 Nov, 2006

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:43 pm

nineofkings wrote:Technically it was supposed to be part of the song... :oops: I wanted it to sound like something out of a garage, and the Beatles did it with "Blackbird," so I figured it was ok.
Cutted! :D (next time label it as "additional percussions" :hihi:)
BTW, congratulations for the song, I like it, especially the vocal parts ;)
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camsr
KVRAF
6931 posts since 17 Feb, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:45 pm

MaxSynths your DSP-2 sounds awfully fine on the vocal! I like this vocal cut best :)
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Compyfox
KVRAF
14289 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:52 pm

camsr wrote:Well, I know what I mean by normalizing based on integrated LUFS, it's just adjusting the gain to some predetermined amount to correspond with the reading on the meter. There's nothing non-linear about LUFS, so it should measure according to it's curves at any gain. We could use MLoudnessAnalyzer, a free Melda plugin which works great with the DAW. How far off could an integrated reading be?
Have you read my K-System v2 concept thread and how different the results actually were?

I can create a consistent loudness over a certain program (15minutes) with a LUFS (Integrated) of +/-1LUFS, 2LUFS at max. But individual tracks can vary drastically in terms of the ILk (integrated loudness in LUFS) value.

Why? Because this meter has a similar disadvantage like a plain VU meter. The VU meter takes the low frequency content into consideration. The EBU R-128 / ITU-R BS.1770 meter uses a pre-filter to trim the lowend frequency and has an emphasis on frequencies above 1kHz. So depending on the so called "program material", chances are that the analysis responds stronger to those streams that have more high frequency content compared to those that have a focus on low frequency.

Hard to describe really - but let the MLk (400ms ballistics) meter of the EBU R-128 metering standard and a regular VU at 400ms ballistics run side by side. Use the same reference level (if you have an EBU R-128 meter that can be setup, else use -23dBFS = 0VU on the VU meter). Then you see what i mean.

There is no ultimate measurement of a signal strength other than the digital meter maybe. And this one doesn't measure the average signal strength. Or rather what we call "loudness" these days.


camsr wrote:But this is a mix competition, most people I know mix by ear. That's subjective loudness. And on that point, I would also like to say that using limiters on the master bus should be prohibited, as it's really not beneficial. Maybe the only reason they are being used is because they want to conform to this level you have prescribed to us, which really doesn't connect well with how we hear. LUFS is much better at that, but not perfect.
What is there to conform? As with the other thread where you were looking for a digital meter, I think you are greatly misunderstanding something here.



Let me be clear once more:

The Mix Challenge average signal strength (what we commonly call "loudness") shall NOT exceed -15dBFS (on a RMS meter) or +3 VU (on a VU meter). The reference level of both the VU and the RMS meter would be -18dBFS in this case. So you can overdrive the "virtual console" by about 3dB if you feel like it.

This in turn can result in in a digital maximum peak of up to -6dBFS. Actually, if we assume that the dynamic range from average signal strength to maximum signal strength can be 12dB instead of "mere" 9dB (which can happen)... then in theory, an audio stream that has an average signal strength of -15dBFS (RMS) can peak up until -3dBFS digital peak!

There you have it - the values I was constantly talking about.



The same rule applies to a Quasi PPM btw - if we want to go technical, let's go all the way.

For example the PPM IEC 268-10 IIb EBU one has a reference level of -18dBFS (marked as "test") and a range up until 9 until the meters go into the red. See here. These PPM's are called "Quasi Peak Program Meter", and here is why: they are using ballistics (5ms in this case), and they are setup so that a certain voltage (0,775V) results in 0dBu, or showing "test" at the meter markings. Depending on the country, the "0 reference point" can even be +4dBu (1,228V) or +6dBu (1,55V) - which is interesting if we take a look at an analog console (read below)

This was later ported into the digital realm. And I've yet to find out who came up with this, but funny enough this is now considered and widely accepted as -18dBFS digital peak. The level that is used up and down by software developers these days as well.

Depending on how well your ADC/DAC is set up - some show -20dBFS, some -15dBFS, some even -12dBFS if you connect a proper test device to your +4dBu set up ADC (use a voltage meter to check the output level of your test device, then compare with your digital meter readout! This results int the "theoretical" digital reference level). Else there is absolutely no connection to dBu in any form whatsoever.

Please also take note of this excellent homepage:
http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-db-volt.htm
Then use the browser search function with this code: "dBFS - Digital recording level" - read from there which also show various "rough guides".


Anyway - if we would in theory up the voltage to 9dBu (the most maximum ideal limit until an analog device starts to distort too much, read: usually the headroom for signal peaks!) and measure the signal strength with a digital meter, we theoretically get -9dBFS (one signal source, not a sum!). And what do you know... meters with ballistics do not(!) recognize these peaks. So if you use, for example, a VU with the same reference level, you won't see peaks because it's responding too slow (300ms integration time, or 300ms rise/300ms fall of the needle). It's measuring the average signal strength.

Transients can however shoot way higher. Old QPPM's had the 9dB headroom just for this case (even 5ms show an offset!), VU's were calibrated lower right from the start to take this into consideration. And this is where these levels come from that I constantly mention. And how they (in theory) relate with each other.



Again, in short form (which also works for proper gain staging both ITB and OTB), and taking into account that there really is no relation between dBu / VU / dBFS (again , a "guideline"):
- Mix with a VU and a digital meter
- level in your signal so that the average signal strength doesn't exceed -18dBFS / 0VU or...
- level in your signal so that the maximum signal strength (transients) don't exceed 9dBFS (or if you feel like it, then -6dBFS)
- mix your tracks so that you won't exceed -15dBFS / +3VU (Reference Level -18dBFS)

If you stick to that, your peaks will barely ever touch -3dBFS digital peak!


Now look at your typical consumer analog mixing console, or whatever analog console might rest on your desk. Take a look at the meters - they go into a positive range, do they not? What does that tell us? It must use a certain reference level - which in turn tells us "this is the 'unity level' ". What do the specs say about this one piece of gear? Ooooh... a headroom of +20dBU?! Good for you, but what is the reference level? What is the maximum level that you can run through?

The reference level is usually still 0,775V = 0dBu = 0 on the meter. Sometimes 1,228V = +4dBu = 0 on the meter (Behringer for example is very vague on this!), and the ideal "upper limit" can be +12dB (if it's a really clean console, and if we only talk about transients!). If it is a console that has a headroom of +20dBu and the reference level resides at +4dBu (0 point on the meter) - there you have your 12dB headroom. So how do you level in stuff there? The same way as before: Average signal (bass intensive material) around 0dB on the meter, transient heavy signal up to +9dB on the meter.

Heck, years ago I was basically harassed by my teacher not to even GO into the amber tone (yellow LEDs) of the mix console with either signal, because it is wrong. What they never told me however (and they couldn't even properly describe it), was the relation between an average meter, a quasi peak program meter and a digital meter. And why going up to the red LED (read: full yellow/amber zone) is okay. Yet they insisted on leveling in a signal as high as possible in the digital realm - but scolded us if the signal clipped because there were unexpected transients.

This is missing knowledge that I had to scratch together myself - and I just summed it up in a couple of paragraphs again.



Was that clear enough now?
Because those that follow my posts for years now, shouldn't know why I insist on mentioning the reference level, and the type of metering.



So again:
The mix challenge shall not exceed an average signal strength of:
-15dBFS (RMS meter) or +3 VU (VU meter with a reference level of -18dBFS)
The maximum peak can automatically be -3dBFS if we consider a dynamic range for transients of up to 12dB.

I do not see where this is confusing in any way.

Neither do I see why people might think they need to use a limiter. In this scenario, you don't need one. The VU meter and the RMS meter are both meters that measure the "average signal strength". There doesn't need to be a standard - it can't get any simpler than that.

And if we talk about -14LUFS avg (EBU R-128) or even -16LUFS avg (EBU R-128, or K-System v2 concept) during mastering at a later state, you barely even touch a brickwall limiter off the signal peaks! Which is why this metering standard/recommendation is considered a holy grail for mastering music.

If you know and understand how to handle all these meters. And I do emphasize on that!


do_androids_dream wrote:Yes exactly and I can't help but think things are getting a bit over complicated. I have my own reference points and they work for me.

But at the same time I know I can learn a lot from Compy :wink:
Again nothing at all complicated:

I use a digital reference level of -18dBFS = 0VU in my DAW. I barely use outboard FX, so I'm not running into that much trouble. But I will re-measure my gear in the next weeks. Just to be sure (last time I did that, I got a level of -15dBFS to -12dBFS)

I do not allow myself to have transient heavy material peak higher than -6dBFS digital peak (12dB dynamic range!), and bass intensive material won't reach higher than +1 VU.

I then mix as I'm used to and try to not overshoot +3 VU (master bus) on very busy parts. I barely ever reach -3dBFS digital peak on the master bus. The same rules would apply, if I'd work with -20dBFS = 0VU in the digital realm.

My main advantages:
- no need for a savety brickwall limiter
- plenty of headroom for digital peaks
- I do not touch the master fader at all
- way better fader resolution, since mine are not constantly glued to the lower third section


And yes, I also do mix by ear. I'm used to these levels now.
And no, I don't care about he negative vibes with not using the so called "forbidden zone" in the digital realm. My material will never clip - unless I want it to.



Sorry for the lengthy post.
But I hope it was educational in any way and clears why I went for these values.




EDIT:
Reading about the metronome track, I also thought it wasn't part of the song. But well... I'll play around with it for a while. The only track I didn't level in properly. :hihi:
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hibidy
KVRAF
42539 posts since 21 Dec, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:59 pm

Compyfox wrote: Sorry for the lengthy post.
It's cool mr fox, it's part of what makes you you.

MaxSynths
KVRAF
4592 posts since 2 Nov, 2006

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:02 pm

camsr wrote:MaxSynths your DSP-2 sounds awfully fine on the vocal! I like this vocal cut best :)
Thanks! ;)
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do_androids_dream
KVRAF
2871 posts since 26 Oct, 2007 from Kent, UK

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:23 pm

Compyfox wrote: My main advantages:
- no need for a savety brickwall limiter
- plenty of headroom for digital peaks
- I do not touch the master fader at all
- way better fader resolution, since mine are not constantly glued to the lower third section
I'm going to read your posts slowly and carefully tomorrow... I did pick up on the above quote though. All your points are true of my mixes. I have no need for a limiter as the reference point I've set up always leaves me way enough headroom for nice dynamic mixes. Rarely it might hit -3 dBFS on the master and I NEVER touch the master fader. In fact a theme I was using for Reaper for a long time had the fader removed from the master as an aside point. Anyhoo, I will digest your posts properly tomorrow hopefully :)

camsr
KVRAF
6931 posts since 17 Feb, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:23 pm

I never use VU meters. They are rubbish when the source material is, how should I say this, coincident with the ear or the listening environment or something that amplifies the sound from the speakers. It's no gauge of loudness when your room may have a big modal null frequency, and trying to meter a note that falls on that frequency. You won't hear it, the meter does, and the averaging of the VU only serves to provide a false 'visual' dynamic that really won't exist when the recording is played on a variety of listening systems. Of course what meter doesn't! If you can't hear the sound because of some monitoring problems, no meter in the world is going to help, except maybe a spectrum analyzer. Before room problems there is also the soundwave itself. A pure sine tone will have an RMS level -3dB below it's peak level. If you add another sine tone at a non-harmonic frequency (say, 50hz and 70hz), and gain them at equal amplitude and sum at the peak level of the first single tone, the new RMS of the two combined tones is now -6dB RMS below the peak value. The RMS level keeps lowering as more tones are added and summed to the base peak level of the first tone. VU meters don't do jack about this, and it makes an incredible difference to how loud something is.

Maybe as long as you always meter program material only with a VU, it is okay, but false readings are always gonna be there. At least LUFS attempts to make some kind of correction for most listening situations, where our ears are less sensitive to bass, and more sensitive to laterally arriving sound above 1khz. A quick way to hear this lateral sound amplification effect is to play some treble-ish material out of only one speaker, turn your head directly to it, and turn it away, and unless you have wide ears, you won't hear as much treble while facing the speaker.
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do_androids_dream
KVRAF
2871 posts since 26 Oct, 2007 from Kent, UK

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:51 pm

camsr wrote:I never use VU meters. They are rubbish when the source material is, how should I say this, coincident with the ear or the listening environment or something that amplifies the sound from the speakers. It's no gauge of loudness when your room may have a big modal null frequency, and trying to meter a note that falls on that frequency. You won't hear it, the meter does, and the averaging of the VU only serves to provide a false 'visual' dynamic that really won't exist when the recording is played on a variety of listening systems. Of course what meter doesn't! If you can't hear the sound because of some monitoring problems, no meter in the world is going to help, except maybe a spectrum analyzer.
Yes but the meters are still giving you an accurate picture of what the music actually contains. As long as you know your rooms deficiencies you can use the meters as a reference and make judgements about the mix. My room has an 8 dB peak at exactly 150 Hz. Go to 148 or 152 and it lowers significantly. Of course, my meters are not going to tell me this but because I already know I can make accurate judgements about that frequency.

hibidy
KVRAF
42539 posts since 21 Dec, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:54 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with VU meters. I find hosts meters to be perfectly adequate. But, recently certain plugs with VU's are making sense. The sominus stuff for example.

Mileage may vary........

Compyfox
KVRAF
14289 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:26 am

Man, a lot(!) of things being mixed up and IMO a real understanding problem going on here.

camsr wrote:I never use VU meters. They are rubbish when the source material is, how should I say this, coincident with the ear or the listening environment or something that amplifies the sound from the speakers. It's no gauge of loudness when your room may have a big modal null frequency, and trying to meter a note that falls on that frequency. You won't hear it, the meter does, and the averaging of the VU only serves to provide a false 'visual' dynamic that really won't exist when the recording is played on a variety of listening systems. Of course what meter doesn't! If you can't hear the sound because of some monitoring problems, no meter in the world is going to help, except maybe a spectrum analyzer.
We do not talking about measuring a room with this technique. Measuring the signal strength in a room with a VU meter uses a certain filter curve, known as "Weighting Filter", measurements are done at 1m distance from the speakers, at either A or C weighting.

Furthermore...

This has nothing to with using a VU meter built into a mixing console or built into a host!
This is a a VU that basically measures the voltage (average signal strength) of a signal - to be precise.
Not a VU that measure the Sound Pressure Level within a room!


You only unnecessarily confuse other readers.


camsr wrote: Before room problems there is also the soundwave itself. A pure sine tone will have an RMS level -3dB below it's peak level. If you add another sine tone at a non-harmonic frequency (say, 50hz and 70hz), and gain them at equal amplitude and sum at the peak level of the first single tone, the new RMS of the two combined tones is now -6dB RMS below the peak value. The RMS level keeps lowering as more tones are added and summed to the base peak level of the first tone. VU meters don't do jack about this, and it makes an incredible difference to how loud something is.
Of course this is the main problem, or actually the main benefit.

VU meters, just as digital meters (or all other meters on that behalf) respond to the whole frequency spectrum. A signal that is 1kHz in tone and has a signal strength of -3dBFS will result in -3dBFS on the meter. So far so good.

If you use a 500Hz (or even 250Hz) tone at the same value, modulated alongside to it, will result in a "mixed frequency spectrum". In turn the VU responds stronger to the bass intensive material and then shows you a lower value. Cut that away with a HP prior to the VU, and you get higher readouts again. Use high frequency content that is peaking rather than a steady level, and you get a lower readout.

It's how this meter is working.
We talk about voltages here: different frequencies have a different strong voltage readout - this is how the meter responds to, depending on it's ballistics (inertia)

And this is the very reason why I say use both(!) a VU and a Digital meter. :!: :!: :!:


Very basic spoken - and to sum it up:
A VU meter is an average signal strength meter (everything >1ms in terms of ballistics is doing that), a digital meter measures the maximum signal strength due to it's <1ms ballistics.


camsr wrote: aybe as long as you always meter program material only with a VU, it is okay, but false readings are always gonna be there.
It is not false, it's how the meter works/responds.
Run unweighted VU meters side by side with 5ms (DIN), 50ms, 300ms and 600ms (K-System). Take note of the different results.

Which one of them is right?
What do you want to measure with them?


camsr wrote:At least LUFS attempts to make some kind of correction for most listening situations, where our ears are less sensitive to bass, and more sensitive to laterally arriving sound above 1khz.
No it does not. It "compensates" for what the classic VU and the K-System meter does: respond too strong to bass intensive material. It is in no way superior. It only a different type of measurement for a different task (broadcast, that has a focus on voice rather than music).

camsr wrote:A quick way to hear this lateral sound amplification effect is to play some treble-ish material out of only one speaker, turn your head directly to it, and turn it away, and unless you have wide ears, you won't hear as much treble while facing the speaker.
And why is that? Because treble and high frequency material is directed. And again, this has nothing to do with measuring signals in the box, out the box (outboard) or metering tools in general.




camsr - nothing against you, but you seem to misunderstand A LOT OF THINGS in terms of metering and try to throw in stuff from other topics to prove that you're right and all others are wrong. If you would be German, I could recommend you an excellent book on this topic. Everything else is just scratched together knowledge that you mash together and think that it is a "fact".

This clearly shows the more you post and try to convince me otherwise. And metering is kind of my speciality. :shrug:

I have to give up on you, since I have a feeling that you're not willing to learn/understand what these tools do, in which context they are used, and why they are used. I'm sorry to say that, but not I overcomplicate things - you do it.
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camsr
KVRAF
6931 posts since 17 Feb, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:35 am

Ask yourself this compyfox, WHY do you use a VU meter? What purpose does it serve? Do meter ballistics convey something that nothing else does?

This started as a suggestion to use LUFS to normalize the submissions for the contest. We can use VU or RMS, I have no problem with ANY gain staging OR metering, simply because I am working all digital. I am not concerned with noise or "mojo". Let's just keep it simple so we can enjoy this.
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do_androids_dream
KVRAF
2871 posts since 26 Oct, 2007 from Kent, UK

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:44 am

camsr wrote:Ask yourself this compyfox, WHY do you use a VU meter? What purpose does it serve? Do meter ballistics convey something that nothing else does?

This started as a suggestion to use LUFS to normalize the submissions for the contest. We can use VU or RMS, I have no problem with ANY gain staging OR metering, simply because I am working all digital. I am not concerned with noise or "mojo". Let's just keep it simple so we can enjoy this.
I think Compy is concerned that folks have a clear understanding of the 'why' we use certain metering standards - the thinking and rationale behind it. Of course, this is certainly not required to turn out a good mix but I, for one, am learning new things from his posts.

camsr
KVRAF
6931 posts since 17 Feb, 2005

Re: KVR Mix Challenge

Post Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:50 am

do_androids_dream wrote:
camsr wrote:Ask yourself this compyfox, WHY do you use a VU meter? What purpose does it serve? Do meter ballistics convey something that nothing else does?

This started as a suggestion to use LUFS to normalize the submissions for the contest. We can use VU or RMS, I have no problem with ANY gain staging OR metering, simply because I am working all digital. I am not concerned with noise or "mojo". Let's just keep it simple so we can enjoy this.
I think Compy is concerned that folks have a clear understanding of the 'why' we use certain metering standards - the thinking and rationale behind it. Of course, this is certainly not required to turn out a good mix but I, for one, am learning new things from his posts.
Maybe Why Not is just as important.
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