Layering sounds

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keehar
KVRer
2 posts since 25 Jun, 2018

Post Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:35 pm

Hi, I don't know if this has been discussed but anyway here goes:

I'm working on a song that has kind of an 80's vibe to it (think any john hughes movie starring molly ringwald ever) and also I like my stuff to have an "organic" sound to it as well.

Basically my question how do you go about layering sounds?

For example I have a live bass layered with a synth bass for some extra punch as well as another deeper synth bass for more subs but also a few crackly highs. (Live bass is mono and deep synth bass is wide af) (i.e. Live bass has all its power around 100-250hz, synth bass 1 has its power around 300-500 and synth bass 2 has the subs and goes well into 10k for the texture more than anything.

That's probably too much? OR you just really have to know how to handle it?

Another example I have a synth lead (mids/high-mids) playing the melody layered with a really high bell type synth (highs), a piano (low mids/mids), and probably some guitars (low mids-high mids)
Again, I'm sure if you really put time into it you could blend them all really well.

Same for layering live drums and programmed drums.

I just wanted to know before I get to the mixing stage and jump out of a window in despair.

THANKS!

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Mister Natural
KVRAF
2290 posts since 28 Oct, 2007 from michigan

Re: Layering sounds

Post Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:56 am

keehar wrote:...Basically my question how do you go about layering sounds?...THANKS!
practice, practice, practice

just like everything else related to music : there are no shortcuts around practice
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DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
2892 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Re: Layering sounds

Post Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:24 pm

For example I have a live bass layered with a synth bass for some extra punch as well as another deeper synth bass for more subs but also a few crackly highs. (Live bass is mono and deep synth bass is wide af) (i.e. Live bass has all its power around 100-250hz, synth bass 1 has its power around 300-500 and synth bass 2 has the subs and goes well into 10k for the texture more than anything.
Two basses is no layering, in fact it's the very basic composition. 8 basslines is something :hihi:
Another example I have a synth lead (mids/high-mids) playing the melody layered with a really high bell type synth (highs), a piano (low mids/mids), and probably some guitars (low mids-high mids)
Again, many people use 5-10 layers for synth alone. What you're asking about is mix basics, not 'layering'.
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stillshaded
KVRian
673 posts since 18 Apr, 2011

Re: Layering sounds

Post Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:50 pm

DJ Warmonger wrote:
For example I have a live bass layered with a synth bass for some extra punch as well as another deeper synth bass for more subs but also a few crackly highs. (Live bass is mono and deep synth bass is wide af) (i.e. Live bass has all its power around 100-250hz, synth bass 1 has its power around 300-500 and synth bass 2 has the subs and goes well into 10k for the texture more than anything.
Two basses is no layering, in fact it's the very basic composition. 8 basslines is something :hihi:
Another example I have a synth lead (mids/high-mids) playing the melody layered with a really high bell type synth (highs), a piano (low mids/mids), and probably some guitars (low mids-high mids)
Again, many people use 5-10 layers for synth alone. What you're asking about is mix basics, not 'layering'.
8 bass lines? what kind of nonsense are you on about? Seems pretty clear dude is talking about layering. sheesh.


@OP:

If it sounds good after simply layering the instruments, theoretically you could be finished. Often times it's not the case. The first thing I would do, it look for places in the frequency spectrum where these two sound are masking. If one is prominent in the high mids, then cut that from the other. Also doing gentle, high and low passing can be good. Also, a lot of times I'll have one be the main instrument and the other considerably further in the background. But don't get carried away doing too much equing and all.. if it sounds good it is good. So the most important thing is to train your ear to recognize when it gets to "good" so you can stop before you mess it up.

imrae
KVRist
467 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: Layering sounds

Post Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:09 pm

Remember to change back and forth between monitoring in mono and in stereo. Get the mono sounding good and then the stereo should be easy.

Hanley
KVRist
121 posts since 21 Apr, 2011 from Alexandria, VA

Re: Layering sounds

Post Fri Jul 06, 2018 5:50 am

1. Make sure you're not layering for the sake of layering. Layering has big benefits and can be used to design some great sounds, which is why it's often touted as the way to get great sounds. But that doesn't mean you need to always layer everything. If you have a single sound, and you love it, then you're done. Move on.

2. If your single sound is missing something, then it's time to layer. Some common examples:
  • EQ substituion: For example, a bass that has the tone you like, but is missing bottom end. Rather than try to EQ up the bottom end (which may not really exist in the sound in the first place) you layer in some kind of sub underneath, (which is what you've done with your bass).

    A sound that has a solid feel, but needs some extra sauce to make it more interesting. Like taking a milquetoast lead and layering in some shimmery/bright/goosebump top end

    Attack transients: needing some punch on the front of the sound. Maybe layer in something percussive and short, or a bell-like tone, or whatever

    Filling frequencies: having an axe to grind with the general public you decide to rape their ears by blasting their entire face with lows mids and highs thereby obliterating all other tracks and melting minds.
3. If you do decide to layer
  • Don't solo the new layered sound. Keep the main sound going as you try out other sounds on top of it. There's always some frequency masking going on between sounds, so two sounds solo'd will always sound different than when they are together.

    Try to find a second (or third, fourth, one-hundredth..) sound that blends well from the start. The less EQing and manipulating you have to do, the better the end result.

    Don't wait for the mixing stage to make the layers work. This is a job for sound design, not mixing. You want the sound completed, as if it's one cohesive sound. One exception might be a a sub bass layer. That you may want to treat separately during the mixing stage, since the low end is often a major point of focus when mixing.
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VELLTONE MUSIC
KVRian
515 posts since 19 Sep, 2017 from Bulgaria

Re: Layering sounds

Post Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:42 pm

Not a mixing engineer but dealing with sound design over 5 years(almost every day) could give some tips about it from designer's point :
1.In 99% of cases if it done right will be better with 2-3-4 layers.
Personally i prefer and use 3 layers for 3D sound,but sometimes you can use 5-6-7 or more...it entirely depends of what you are trying to achieve.If don't know what you are doing better find nice single preset suitable for the project.
2.Simple idea behind layering is to have fuller sound picture - switch added presets until combination sound like one ...
not sure this sound logical but some presets just glue together other not - if you are designer it's easy to 'tune' or make needed new one,if don't have time for learning design just combine until sound satisfy.
3.Some of newest synth allow to make complex layered preset but still nothing beats good old track layering inside your DAW,so take your time and make each of the instruments shine with or without layering :)Cheerz :)
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nate.protoculture
KVRer
15 posts since 31 May, 2015

Re: Layering sounds

Post Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:38 pm

Layer with intent... just piling stuff on top cause someone told you to layer just creates more problems. If a sound is not snappy enough, consider adding a pluck or something with lots of attack, if a sound is to thin, add something with more frequencies that compliment it. Its not really rocket science, just a case of identifying where the holes are in your sound and plugging them... kinda like putting a puzzle together.

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VELLTONE MUSIC
KVRian
515 posts since 19 Sep, 2017 from Bulgaria

Re: Layering sounds

Post Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:28 am

Yes it's like a science experiment ,but always easiest way is just to try how 2 or 3 presets sound together,if it sounds good,it's good,no need reason hihihihih :)

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Mathematics
KVRist
275 posts since 10 Sep, 2015 from You haven't unlocked this character yet

Re: Layering sounds

Post Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:12 pm

There is a type of layering called Spectral Layering. It's considered...an "advanced" technique. Personally, I don't think so but I use that to actually fuse sounds together that occupy the same frequency band. A tool you could use with a prescribed sidechain feature would be MSpectralDynamics.

You have audio 1 which you like...a saw lead. It occupies 500Hz-13kHz. You have audio 2, a sampled Indy 500 racecar passing. It occupies 40Hz-16kHz. You want to create a crazy sounding lead with those two sounds together in a sampler.

You put that spectral processor on audio 1.
Route audio 2 into the sidechain of the processor.

For the record, this is no different than setting up sidechain compression.

Now, just tweak the spectral attenuation, play the audio, and bounce to a track.

What's different about Spectral Layering is that the harmonics and inharmonics of an audio source are ducked to impose a second audio source to occupy the same space where the two sounds otherwise, don't really sound clearly due to the phase inversions that occur throughout the frequency band from the harmonic and inharmonic content.

Just remember, try to layer sounds that complement each other by using your ears if you want to keep it simple.
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low_low
KVRist
362 posts since 20 Jul, 2018

Re: Layering sounds

Post Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:08 pm

two things sound like one thing if they change tone together from time to time, imho.

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