April 11th, 2002



Computers suck. Or at least sometimes some of them do. I made a computer for Tim Tack, AKA Tack Fu with a motherboard from an earlier incarnation of my 'live' machine, and even though it had the same sound card in it when I was using it, it does this awful crackle thing in Acid. Tack just grins and bears it and burns off a CD to play to test mixes.

The reason I mention this is that I was over to his place mastering tracks today -- usually he comes here where I have no crackle, but Melissa was sick ... anyway the crackle shit was bugging me to no end, though I got two tracks mastered. Tack always gets pretty good mixes together independent of any book learning on the subject . It's fun to do tracks with him because he really does a lot of things 'wrong' audio wise and it still turns out sounding good.

One thing that blew me away is that when he remixes tracks, he sucks them into Acid without
guessing at the tempo or aligning the downbeats or anything. The tempo stays at 120 no matter what the track's tempo is. Then he loads individual hits, or whole drum loops, and with quantize off, he lines up drum hits by ear all the way through the track. It's as if the measure marks just aren't there.

This makes it hard for me to come in and drop in my stuff, but again, he's doing things 'wrong' and getting good results. He also has about 300 tracks stored in c:\program files\acid 3.0 -- I guess things like hierarchical directories can be a lesson another day.

Out of all that I have a new favorite mastering chain setup:

Waves Q1 ->Waves De-Esser->Waves Linear Multiband Compressor->Waves L2 Ultramaximizer

The De-Esser seems to be an all purpose sweetener. Not only can it fix the more annoying vocal sibilances, but it can tame hi hats and crash cymbals if they're too splashy sounding.
The Linear Multiband thing is nice because it can really pump the mix up transparently, and you can do some frequency band balancing without loading another EQ. The L2 is of course the normalizer that gives you loads more average level very transparently.

The Q1 I just set to high pass with a center frequency of 16 -- as low as it can go. This clears up any DC bias, turntable rumble, and odd rumbly subharmonics.

The Multiband has kind of odd controls, not unlike the Steinberg Multiband compressor, where I end up doing wierd stuff because it doesn't have classic compressor controls. The 'Adaptive' threshold thing reacts to the adjacent frequency band, so that when the next lower band is loud, it raises the threshold of the current band. If everything I just wrote makes no sense, it doesn't make that much sense to me actually, but when I mess with it, it doesn't change things much except at extreme settings. The 'Range' setting seems even more baffling -- I've looked through the docs and it still doesn't make much sense to me. So I tend not to mess with it too much, though I think I get that if the 'range' is positive, you get some upward expansion -- i.e. below the threshold, the gain is increased by a constant amount, and around and above the threshold it's gradually reduced.

That's my audio geekery for the day....

(no subject)

Optic is the most prolific of my LJ friends. He's got a wide range of interests. Not the least of which is Live Journal.

Atomly is old school midwest techno hacker and he played for my OFF SEAMUS party. He rules because he's taller than me. I get tired of being the tallest, and Atomly takes that load off my shoulders. he makes great tracks too.

Not to take away from Optic, whose tracks are tight. I put one on the first Cornwarning record.