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Little help with cleaning up mud..
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author Little help with cleaning up mud..
Hey guys,

Just wanted to ask a question about something i've generally been having a lot of problems with for over a year now..

Basically to cut it short, Im having a ja, things are sounding great, synths are pumping, reverb sounds spacious, delay sounds like its doing it's job.

Then I go to record it all into Ableton and listen back and everything seems so muddy. The reverb just seems slumped onto sounds with no space and delay sounds pretty much the same.

I realise everything should be recorded in dry and effects added after buy my desk doesn't allow me to multitrack back out the way from Ableton so recording things in wet seems to be my only option.

But pretty much my question is.. why does things like me reverb/delays sound great and exactly how I want them beforehand and then as soon as I record them in a playback through, its sounding muddy and really nothing like before?

Does anyone have any sort of solution I could maybe work on to improve this? Hope this makes sense!

If you listen to a lossless file exported from Ableton does it have the same problem?

What’s your recording format and which audio interface are you using with your computer? If you're directly plugging in then what's your computer?

Is the good sound being output by the computer or do you have a separate out? How are you listening to the computer recording?
Recording too hot?
Recording too hot?

It's probably that since the recording should otherwise sound exactly the same as when you were jamming.

Try adding a Utility device on each track and turn the gain down to -6db (also hit the "mono" switch for mono tracks) and then adjust track levels as needed. Also check the input gain on the FX. You don't want meters going red anywhere in the digital domain.

Unless you have good hardware FX that you want to use: Record tracks dry and use plugins for reverb and delay?
Cool, cheers for the reply guys.

I mean, everything is set properly i'd say. Normally unity gain, never more. Nothing is ever in the red.

Im using the Soundcraft 12MTK, using a 2014 Macbook i believe.

The thing that gets me, is that artists music that I listen too sounds great in terms of space/no mud, width and thats generally how my sounds sound before I record it in and listen back? I mean how does that even make sense...

I'd like to think I've got high end FX. I use the Strymon timeline and Empress reverb. Also compress with the Drawmer 1960.

Im not into using my DAW for anything other than recording really, seriously, i just don't get it

Does anyone have a scooby?

Cheers again guys,
Well I’ve experienced time compression, where my recording performance isn’t long but the time on the recording later isn’t short enough to efficiently convey the sound idea like I thought I had done. Do you think it could be your perception in the moment instead of what’s actually being played? Perhaps the act of playing changes how you perceive the sound.

Can you confirm by playing something you can repeat then listen to the recording, then try playing it again?

If the full range of frequencies is intact then maybe there’s EQ to add to make it sound better. Do you see anything missing with the spectrum analyzer?
When you record your mix into the computer from the mixer, is it possible that the phase of one side is being reversed? You really should be getting the same sounding mix on playback as you hear when you record. What set of mixer outputs are you recording from? Is it the same exact signal that you are monitoring from. Are you monitoring from the main, but using a buss to go into the computer? Are you using a current version of ableton like 9 or 10. Are you recording at a decent resolution. (At least 16 bit 44.1) If I were recording a full mix in at one time I would turn off warp in ableton to get the best fidelity. Have you tried testing using a different program to record your mix, or a hardware device like a standalone CD recorder or DAT? Have you tried a different pair of cables from the mixer to PC. These are just some thoughts on possibilities for trouble shooting. Best luck to you.
Well you just have to be logical then:
is the output from the mixer that you are listening to the same output that is going to the computer? if not then swap them round and see what difference it makes.
then try different cables and see if that makes a difference, maybe they are faulty.
re-install the drivers for the audio interface if it has them.
then try a different audio interface and see if that makes a difference, maybe it's faulty.
then try different software and see if that makes a difference....
then try a different computer and see if that makes a difference.....

make sure WARP is off in ableton.
perfect, cheers for the inputs guys, ill try them out.

How would you go about switching the phase from recording? It sounds to me like that could be the case, I'm learning about that at college at the moment.

I seem to have to EQ everything after I record in around the 60-120hz even though it sounds like it's all sitting nice before I record in. Could this just be something as simple as practise? Im always EQing them frequencies before I record in as well so it just seems like a little much to have to do it after I record too..

Cheers again for the inputs,
sillyquestions? wrote:

I realise everything should be recorded in dry and effects added after buy my desk doesn't allow me to multitrack back out the way from Ableton so recording things in wet seems to be my only option.

Using the Soundcrat 12MTK (I use the 22MTK) I don't quite understand what you mean by this.."doesn't allow me to multitrack back out the way from Ableton"

How are you recording the Reverb?

I suspect you are recording the reverb via one or more channels, and in mixdown/playback putting your channels of reverb through the reverb effects a second time - adding reverb/delay to your reverb channels....

Either that OR - whilst recording you get "caught up in the moment" piling on the huge sound in your "in the moment excitement" - and on sober playback you realise there is a load more reverb/delay than actually necessary - I do exactly this!
MarcelP wrote:
Whilst recording you get "caught up in the moment" piling on the huge sound in your "in the moment excitement" - and on sober playback you realise there is a load more reverb/delay than actually necessary - I do exactly this!

It's so easy to do this, and there's a lot of cognitive science around that proves that what you perceive when in the flow of creation can appear very different to what you perceive when more neutrally evaluating what you've created.

It can be really useful to use a frequency analyser on instruments in your mix. Not only will this help you see which ones are really contributing to the mud, but it's a fantastic way to train your ears to perceive specific frequency bands more accurately, so you can tell the difference between 100Hz rumble and 200Hz mud, for example
usually a lot of mud comes from the mid lows and lows for me (personally)

Depending on your daw you should be able to audition frequencies. In ableton I use the EQ 8 and click the headphone button. This will only play the frequencies you have highlighted on the eq8. Then I scan through the frequencies listening for sounds that are too muddy and remove them.
I record most everything with effects on the front end too. I am very selective when using reverb for this very reason, especially on the lower frequencies where things tend to get real muddy. So basically, try backing off the reverb to start. Synths carry so a broad range of frequencies sometimes, it can get messy when overdubbing real quick. I would suggest trying delays if you can, much easier to mix. Think about those frequencies when you are tracking. I have a feeling it is a perception of what you hear in the room vs. what is being recorded..
Quick questions - are you turning warp off during playback? And if you want to warp, are you using the optimal warp settings?
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