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  • A Test Mix - Opinions welcome

    I've recently been reworking my mix setup with Altiverb and I wanted to get some comments on this test piece. The composition is neither here nor there and incomplete but I'm looking for critque on the tone .. mix .. pan .. depth .. and overall believability.

    I think it sound like it actually belongs in the room, but I can't tell if I like it. And I think that the insturments are quite clear. You can tell where they are and what they are, but again .. need opinions.

    Let me know what you think.


  • Hello Hetoryn,

    Your mix is definitely going in the right direction.

    I liked the panning on every thing (is it Waves S1?) and the reverb ambiance for the strings. I think the winds got a little lost in all the reverb however. IMHO VSL strings are benefitted by a good deal of reverb but in most cases the woodwinds don't need quite as much.

    Perhaps you were trying to achieve depth on the winds by adding reverb. That doesn't always work. You might want to try taking a little high end presence off them, pull the level back just a hair and try a different reverb setting on them. Using less reverb on them will also help with stereo placement and instrument identity. Sometimes sampled winds can be hard to identify.

    Best regards and Merry Christmas!

  • Interesting. I used 3 depths and the reverb is equal on all of them to keep the whole orchestra "In the same room" so to speak.

    The only thing that differs is the Speaker placement .. which for each layer of depth they get moved back a little each time. I suppose I can reduce the Reverb tail a little for the further depths.

    I should perhaps reduce the stereo width of the flute a little bit more to better associate it's position, and perhaps also bring up the volume slightly.

    Good opinion thanks very much.

  • That's not really what I meant..

    The stereo positioning of the instruments seemed very good, including flute. But it got a little time-smeared, hence out of perspective with all the reverb.

    If you have something like Waves S1 you could create an Aux channel for the reverb send on the flute, add S1 to position the flute within the stereo input of the Altiverb. Then of course use the S1 on your main channel of the flute for the send out to the stereo bus. That way both the direct mono-ized (via S1) instrument on your main instrument channel and the stereo reverb on its return channel are in the same speaker position.

    I recommend that you try to use less reverb on the winds overall. Also the flute doesn't really need to be louder. In the context of a whole orchestra a solo flute should be back a little. (Unless you're trying to duplicate spot miking technique.) That's why I suggested rolling off some highs and pulling it back a bit.

    Still, I like the string articulations and reverb as it is.

    Hope that helps to explain what I meant.

  • Aye I tried that .. using less reverb .. it seems to work nicely. I also monoized that woodwinds a little more than they were.

    I didn't want to take off to much of the reverb because I want to try and make the orchestra sound like it's in the same room as I said. But I took of the reverb tail a little at it's much clearer now. I also did a little of that to the Brass section too which is now a little more with the rest of the instruments.

    I haven't got a version to show yet, but already I think it sounds better. You're right about the string section needing the most reverb though.

    Mind you this tune isn't all that nice .. quite depressing too .. so I shall try these admendments to another of my pieces in the morning and see how that turns out.

    Not sure I agree about taking off the high end on the woods .. I tried it and they sounded much more muddier. And in a real orchestra I find that the woods and brass have the punchiest high ends. Still I understand what you are saying .. just not happy with the outcome [:P] .. It'll perhaps be more clear when I upload me new version so you can hear the difference. IF after that you still think the highs need to be rolled off I'll have another go.

    Thanks again. This is all valuable advice.

  • Hetoreyn, i wouldn't be so harsh on the piece you're using. It seems to be an ideal testbed for evaluating and experimenting.
    Having listened to much of your stuff, i think this is a real improvement. I mean no critcism, but i remember you saying you liked generous reverb, and some of your earlier music reflects this. So i qualify what i say with my own preference for less reverb. (It's the reason why i ask so many dumb questions about placement, and put my energies into that.)
    This sounds less....muddy. There's an added clarity, and less confusion in verb resonance between sections. It sounds like you kept everything in the same room successfully, and although i would question the placement of the flute, (maybe a little further back?) i keep in mind the distinctive tone of that instrument, particularly at modest volume levels, and how penetrating it can be.
    The strings sound clearer too, and i get a better sense of distinction. With a few Cresc/Decresc thrown in here and there, to colour and vary the sound a little more, it may well be that which you seek is already there, and the length of reverb tail, for example, may in fact be ok.

    In terms of mix and reverb, this sounds......classier, for want of a better superlative. If that is your goal, it sounds to me as if you've got close.

    And thanks for posting this and all the observations you give, both here and on the podcast, about mix and use of verb, etc.
    With my very limited knowledge in this particular field, i get to learn something as well!



  • I thought the use of reverb was fine on this piece... could even be a tad wetter. I like the piece as well, but the strings holding footballs grow just a bit wearisome to my ear... good idea, but if they broke out in some hell bent run that wouldn't bother me either!

    Good work!

  • Hehe .. Well this piece is an end title to a short film that I'm doing. It's a depressing end .. you might have been able to tell that already [[:P]]

    But the mix is the important thing. I'm just trying to achieve the maximum realism in room, mix, pan and sound. (I suppose everything [:D]). I'm quite happy with the realism factor but now it's a case of finding out how to tailor the sound to suit my needs. In this case I would also prefer a little more wetness (bearing in mind that the wet/dry ratio is 100% wet [[:P]] ... so I would need to increase reverb tail or room size.

    But I need to avoid getting the "Bathroom" sound if I do that. So I have to chose an IR that suits my needs.

    I've recently attempted to mix on of my Elven Moods II pieces with this new technique in mind. It now sounds totally real .. but I'm not sure I like the room sound that it has .. a little to small perhaps .. I'm trying to achieve the sound of a scoring stage (Listen to Jerry Goldsmiths "Star Trek: Insurrection" score .. that's the sound I want.

    But I feel I'm getting close.

    I'm going to publish an article on my website on the reverb page about my ideas and mix techniques .. with templates etc. when I've got this done .. I'll also try to get a space designer version done as well, though that may not sound quite as nice as the altiverb version.

    Anywaysm the overall opinion thus far seems to be that everyone is fairly satisfied with the overall sound and general mix .. with exceptions to the woodwinds .. which I've altered anyways, so I'm pretty happy about that. It means I'm heading in the right direction.

    Please have a listen to this new version of "The Gathering". Though I'm not happy about the harp, it does seem to fit in well with the room sound again. Let me know what you think.

    Most of the insturments are very narrow in stereo width .. but the reverb itself really spreads 'em out.I can obviously take the wet/dry signal down but if I do that aren't I ruining the realism .. Or is this an EQ issue .. I've tried to EQ things as they should be but I don't know. Perhaps a different IR although you'd think seeing as I'm using the Wiener Konzerthaus IR for this, that it should sound excellent. Again I'm happy with the depth but it does sound a little bathroom in places .. any ideas.

  • h: you rock! so, whatever you do... on Xmas, in particular, is great with me!

    Gary Eskow

  • I like jack's comments. There is no brass/perc to speak of so its hard to judge as a mixing template.

    I would use the stage positioning to move the strings back about 1/2 an inch or less. I think that will take the edge off enough without losing clarity. with altiverb it is easy to bury things and the more you mess with it the more you realize most things sound best at about the same stage position with very little variations - because too close and gets too much clarity and presence (with vsl) and too far and it gets blurry and lost. Using careful EQ will give you 100% more control over the distancing of the instruments.

    so distance the strings with altiverb stage positioning - bring the ww's a bit closer with the stage positioning and if you feel you need more distance use eq (a touch off the top).

    be careful distancing affects volume - closer=louder.

    give us a mix with brass and perc for more feedback.

  • I fear EQ like the plague. I never manage to use them right. The most I use them for is to lower overall bass a little and raise overall treble a little.

    Everytime I get into the nitty-gritty of EQing I just end up making things sound crap .. so I leave it alone mostly. I just don't know enough about EQ to get things to sound they way I want them.

    Again good comments. I've already implemented a lot of these changes in my test piece and it is coming along nicely.

    Lately I've decided to try using a Space Designer reverb in the master channel cos I found that I'm happy with my room sound .. its sounding quite realistic .. but it's quite dry .. so by using SD with my "Hetoreyns Preset 2" from my site .. I've got this great depth and pan thanks to atliverb .. and now a nice reverb tail from SD.

    I've used a total of 6 altiverbs, (L and R) on 3 layers of depth which seems to work best for my ears.

    The percieved depth difference that I have us incredible when I compare my release version of "The Gathering" to the new one. Not that the old one sounds bad .. but the new one sounds so much more deeper.

    I'll be showing some comparison studies on my show later on.

  • I really enjoyed this piece. How are the instruments panned? In my speakers, they all seem to be placed in the same area (center) and that makes it hard to distinguish the sweet line that the violins play.

    Also, what libraries are you using? and what computer/DAW? I am patiently waiting for my Chamber Strings to arrive and I'm curious how other users make their music.

    Keep up the wonderful work


  • The Panning is made somewhat subtle from the reverbs. The panning is actually quite extreme in places but the Altiverb panns tend to even them out. I think the pann sounds quite natural.

    I'm now using Alesis M1 speakers to monitor through (bought these yesterday) and they've mae a helluva difference to monitoring. It seems my pieces are generally too bright .. although I could tell this a little from listening to various Hi-fi's I could never pin it down.

    So I'm currently remxing the Gathering Test piece again but with a different room sound and a different EQ range.

    I hate EQ it's so bloody finiky .. I find that after all the work I do with EQ'ing, most of the time everyting sounds much better when I take the EQ off again.

    As for my DAW .. look on my website under VSL and Tech ... you'll see a tab with Hetoreyns Studio .. that'll tell you all you want to know.

  • hetoreyn... your new mixing setup sounds beautiful altough the room soudns a bit cold and empty for me ... especially with your new version of the gathering i get the suggestion of an icy crystal palace from a beautiful fairytail or something
    have you tried adding some warmth while finalizing?

  • Well that's the sort of thing I'm trying to add now. It's all in the EQ and I just have no idea how to add EQ without screwing everything up. Everytime I add more bass .. the Bassi are resonating like crazy .. I add high end and the Violins are screeching and tinny. [:D]

    I'll get there in the end, but thus far I've been relying on the IR in AV to give me my room EQ. Which it does .. it's just that the room isn't all that great [:P].

    I've used a different IR for my next mixes .. I'm in the process of reviewing them so when I'm happy with the mix I'll post it to show you the difference.

    On the plus side I'm getting amaing dynamics now.

  • Mixing drives me crazy!!!

    I now think that most of my Altiverb mixes sound veiled and too distant. My current thinking is that the speaker placement feature doesn't always create enough of a dry signal even with the speakers all the way forward. Perhaps turning the speaker placement feature off and using the wet/dry knob instead will yield clearer results.

    Also several people have suggested turning off the color knob. For some reason I am resisting this suggestion. But perhaps I really should try turning it off.

    Also my mixes sound so different depending on the speakers, room, headphones, even my mood. But by some magic formula, the people who really know what they are doing seem to be able to create a mix that sounds good in almost all enviroments. I hope to be able to do this someday.

    Good luck with your quest for the perfect mix.


  • I hear you Mr Bacal .. Mixing is a serious pain in the ass [[:P]]

    I must admit that Altiverb has really stepped up the quality of my mixes. Before my pieces lacked proper depth .. cos I had nothing to add depth .. so at least that got sorted out.

    As for the room sounds. It's funny but for me the signal usually isn't distant enough. The opposite problem that you're having. Mind you .. as I've said before .. I'm modelling my room sound on "Star Trek - Insurrection" .. which had a very wet sound to it anyways.

    But I have solved my problem by using AV to get the various depths right, and then using Space Designer to add another reverb tail. I'm not after the perfect room sound so much as just a nice scoring stage room with which I like the sound. It's my impression that I shouldn't have to adjust individual reverb levels for the different instruments as they are supposed to be in the same room. So I want the Reverb to take care of the correct sound.

    I know .. it doesn't always work that way .. but the math says it should. There should be no difference in mixing VSL samples or recorded orchestra in a real room if the reverb is good enough and the relative depth layers correct. Although it's also down to the IR .. and some of the scoring stage rooms on AV are not quite as good as one would hope .. at least in the default form.

    That's my hope anyways [[:P]]

    I'm nearly there though. Once I get this piece finished in a satisfying way I'll be making the next podcast. Some of you may have wondered where the xmas show was .. well I intended to make one .. then I got AV .. and VOTA .. and a sample rate converter and I've been working ever since. But the next show should be interesting to here the difference in the dynamic quality of the two versions of "The Gathering".

    It's coming soon. [:D]

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on