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(Posting again, sorry) More tips please!
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author (Posting again, sorry) More tips please!
sillyquestions?
Hey,

Basically this is something ive wondered since my days of making music... Never thought un till to ask though!

Im gonna try explain this as well as I can - excuse me if it's not explained well.. Dead Banana

So im making sounds, lets say a kickdrum. It's clipping my monitors (Adam A3X) but not even close too clipping the desk im using. Now if im to compare on headphones (HD650'S) the drum sounds pretty good. Should I be worried that my speakers are clipping or is it just a case of turning them down and getting on with it? Hope that makes sense...

If im to listen to other peoples music and turn it up my speakers start to clip too - I can usually get them a little louder with a mastered track but it still starts to clip.

Should I be concentrating more on the signal of my desk rather than what my speakers are saying? hmmm....... d'oh!
dubonaire
sillyquestions? wrote:
Hey,

Basically this is something ive wondered since my days of making music... Never thought un till to ask though!

Im gonna try explain this as well as I can - excuse me if it's not explained well.. Dead Banana

So im making sounds, lets say a kickdrum. It's clipping my monitors (Adam A3X) but not even close too clipping the desk im using. Now if im to compare on headphones (HD650'S) the drum sounds pretty good. Should I be worried that my speakers are clipping or is it just a case of turning them down and getting on with it? Hope that makes sense...

If im to listen to other peoples music and turn it up my speakers start to clip too - I can usually get them a little louder with a mastered track but it still starts to clip.

Should I be concentrating more on the signal of my desk rather than what my speakers are saying? hmmm....... d'oh!


Yes it's simple turn your monitors down or the desk down so they don't clip. These are small speakers, so don't expect them to sound loud.
sillyquestions?
Thanks for the reply, hmmm, dont think i explained this well enough.
dubonaire
sillyquestions? wrote:
Thanks for the reply, hmmm, dont think i explained this well enough.


Why? Unless I'm mistaken, only your speakers are clipping, which means the signal going to your speakers is too hot for the speaker amps to handle. You should not let your speakers clip because you can damage the speaker. If you want to maintain the signal level on your desk you either turn the speakers down or put a limiter between the desk and the speakers.
sillyquestions?
Yeah I understand that part but what im asking is if I should worry that my speakers are clipping in terms of there being too much bass? If they clip does that mean theres too much bass? I cant get my head around it! sad banana
Carrousel
No it doesn’t mean there’s too much bass. If you’re describing the situation accurately it’s exactly what Dubonaire is saying: the signal going to your speakers is too hot and is clipping the built in amps. This may be damaging the speaker but it’s certainly distorting the signal, so you aren’t hearing things accurately. Rather than too much bass it will typically result in extra higher harmonics (think signals being squared off as they clip). Like Dubonaire said, just turn the signal down before it gets to the speakers. If this answer isn’t satisfactory then there’s something you’re not explaining right.

Edit: essentially your gain staging is all wrong. Turn everything down and then start turning things up from the sound sources in order of the signal path towards the speakers. Get nice ‘green’ levels at every stage and then set the amps on the speakers last thing so they don’t clip. You should still manage a reasonable signal strength out of your desk without the monitors clipping I would have thought.
Joe.
This article from Mackie explains what clipping is with diagrams.
sillyquestions?
Carrousel wrote:
No it doesn’t mean there’s too much bass. If you’re describing the situation accurately it’s exactly what Dubonaire is saying: the signal going to your speakers is too hot and is clipping the built in amps. This may be damaging the speaker but it’s certainly distorting the signal, so you aren’t hearing things accurately. Rather than too much bass it will typically result in extra higher harmonics (think signals being squared off as they clip). Like Dubonaire said, just turn the signal down before it gets to the speakers. If this answer isn’t satisfactory then there’s something you’re not explaining right.

Edit: essentially your gain staging is all wrong. Turn everything down and then start turning things up from the sound sources in order of the signal path towards the speakers. Get nice ‘green’ levels at every stage and then set the amps on the speakers last thing so they don’t clip. You should still manage a reasonable signal strength out of your desk without the monitors clipping I would have thought.



Yeah thats making a bit more sense now! One thing im not sure about gain staging is what if at first you have gain stage with a really low end sound but then half way through jamming you find out doesnt work and high-pass it a little, taking alot of that green signal away. Do you boost it again untill it's at the same position as the bassy sound was or do you just leave it and let your ears tell you it's right?
dubonaire
sillyquestions? wrote:
Carrousel wrote:
No it doesn’t mean there’s too much bass. If you’re describing the situation accurately it’s exactly what Dubonaire is saying: the signal going to your speakers is too hot and is clipping the built in amps. This may be damaging the speaker but it’s certainly distorting the signal, so you aren’t hearing things accurately. Rather than too much bass it will typically result in extra higher harmonics (think signals being squared off as they clip). Like Dubonaire said, just turn the signal down before it gets to the speakers. If this answer isn’t satisfactory then there’s something you’re not explaining right.

Edit: essentially your gain staging is all wrong. Turn everything down and then start turning things up from the sound sources in order of the signal path towards the speakers. Get nice ‘green’ levels at every stage and then set the amps on the speakers last thing so they don’t clip. You should still manage a reasonable signal strength out of your desk without the monitors clipping I would have thought.



Yeah thats making a bit more sense now! One thing im not sure about gain staging is what if at first you have gain stage with a really low end sound but then half way through jamming you find out doesnt work and high-pass it a little, taking alot of that green signal away. Do you boost it again untill it's at the same position as the bassy sound was or do you just leave it and let your ears tell you it's right?


You must really have a lot of low end energy for the amplitude to drop that much, but if so, effectively yes, you can adjust your gain. You haven't actually described your signal path in detail, but it doesn't hurt to leave yourself a decent amount of headroom. The main reason to limit headroom is to reduce the noise floor, because the noise floor becomes a smaller percentage of the signal, but if the noise floor is low, it's good to leave yourself with plenty of headroom.

This thread is about DAWs, but there is some good experience to learn from in the thread: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=210346
BailyDread
sillyquestions? wrote:



Yeah thats making a bit more sense now! One thing im not sure about gain staging is what if at first you have gain stage with a really low end sound but then half way through jamming you find out doesnt work and high-pass it a little, taking alot of that green signal away. Do you boost it again untill it's at the same position as the bassy sound was or do you just leave it and let your ears tell you it's right?


bass takes up more headroom. I don't know the specifics of how this works or whether or not that's the technically correct way to phrase it, but as a basic heuristic, anticipate that gain cuts and boosts to low freqs will eat up more headroom than the same dB boost or cut to a high freq. quite often, when the volume drop happens upon high passing, it's because there was a lot of low freq content that you weren't necessarily paying attention to, but it was still there eating up headroom. when you high pass, don't notice that much of a change, but there was a big drop in volume, imagine you are arriving at the actual volume of the part you were paying attention to, and the volume that cut was the "dead weight" of the lower freqs. whether or not you raise the level overall after this depends on how you are intending to mix this element. it's generally good to have a bit of headroom on each channel and then use the faders for setting the levels of each element, but there are exceptions to this, such as overdriving the preamp stage and backing down on the fader. this is using the preamp as a saturator. think of the fader as acting as the "ceiling" and the preamp knob is bringing the floor up to meet the ceiling. headroom is the space between them. when a spike from the floor hits the ceiling, it flattens out. this is what is happening when low freqs distort and acquire higher harmonics. but then these flattened bits can be lowered in the overall mix before they are sent to the master bus. so it can flatten out on the channel's ceiling, but then come nowhere near the master bus' ceiling. hopefully this makes sense, it took me years to figure this out on my own lol

in regards to your original question, if I'm understanding correctly... the desk is outputting the "true" mix, and if you put a d/a converter or tape machine to it and set the gain properly, what would play back would be identical (or close to) what was coming out of the desk. the distortion isn't in the signal itself, but in the reproduction stage at your monitors. if you try other monitors, do you still get distortion? it could be something like an impedance mismatch, or using the wrong outputs or something. could you please say what mixer you are using and how exactly you are connecting it?

it could be that the small drivers are just farting out while attempting to reproduce freqs lower than they are capable of at high SPL levels. this can be useful knowledge for mixing. I deliberately check my mix on small speakers (iLoud micro monitors) to see if the bass rattles, and if it does, that indeed means the ratio of bass freqs to overall level in my mix is screwy. I would work to find a ratio of input gain to monitor level that makes mastered material sound good and distortion free at the loudness level you want, and then when you are working on your own material, you know if it starts to rattle that you've overcooked the bass in comparison to the material you referenced. you may need to compromise about volume and bass response. use reference mixes to set the levels, though. most of mixing is knowing your monitors and listening environment, imo.
sillyquestions?
Brilliant man. It will take a few reads to get my head around that but thanks very much for your time here.

Im using the 12MTK soundcraft and im taking the XLR from A3'X into desk. L/R.

Good idea about setting the monitor levels. Ive always had them at zero before. Take it thats not a great idea? Forever having problems with my bass but I shall get there one day. I hear in every track what it is I need to do but when I try it theres either not enough or far too much...
sillyquestions?
Oh and just a question while the ideas popped into my head.. if you dont mind.

I have a drawmer 1960 which has sidechain. Do you know a way of setting this up so my bass would duck everytime my drum hits? Do I need inserts on my desk? Im sure this would really help my bass situation, it's normally both drums and bass that clash..

Its not untill I do some post sidechaining in ableton that I start to see better effects but I ask myself why when I have an outboard compressor that has sidechain.. hmmm.....
BailyDread
re: sidechain...

bass signal from synth or DI or whatever -> compressor input-> compressor output-> channel B of mixer

kick signal -> channel A of mixer -> aux send 1

aux send 1 -> sidechain in of mixer

pretty sure this will get you what you're looking for.

your monitors have amplifiers in them, this is what makes them active monitors. the level setting on the monitors controls these amplifiers; they are there to compensate for the input signal's level. if your input signal is very healthy already, it may be overdriving the amplifier in the monitor. what I think is more likely is that the amplifier isn't overdriving, but the speaker is farting out because you are trying to get SPL levels above what the driver can produce @ that freq range. you simply won't get much bass reproduced below like 90 hz on those monitors no matter how loud you feel you need to turn them up to hear the bass. consider getting a subwoofer.

as far as sjidechaining as an effect goes, I would suggest you don't rely on it to make bass and kick work together. it's totally possible to do w/ out sjidechaining, it just takes technique. once you manage to do it, it kinda comes second nature after a while. use your EQ to locate the fundamental frequency of your kick drum. use the mid band, which has variable frequency on your mixer. crank the gain and tweak the freq knob until it's really boomy and sounds like it is ringing out. this is the fundamental note of your kick drum, where the energy and volume is coming from. turn the gain back down to the middle and make note of the frequency that caused this effect. then, on your bass channel, set the mid EQ frequency knob to the frequency you just found with your kick drum EQ experiment. turn the gain of this mid band eq down, "notching" it out of the signal. this is now a space for your kick drum to do its thing, while the bass does it's thing. very often you can bring the actual bass band EQ up a bit after this, since the higher bass elements are no longer clashing. this gives you a nice deep sound! Rockin' Banana!

hope this helps SlayerBadger!
sillyquestions?
Yeah you helped a lot man, cant thank you enough really. Not sure I understand the EQ thing though. May take a couple of reads. Guinness ftw! . Are you referring to the EQ on my mixer itself? It's assymetric and no matter where I search on the internet I cant find a description of how it works... lol.

Would you recommend a woofer for a small bedroom like mine? (I know you dont know my bedroom.. atleast I hope you dont) Just talking in general terms. Its small and is basically just a bed, drawers and a desk for my gear.
Is there a specific place they have to sit or are they pretty forgiven?

Would a woofer just take the low end away from my monitors and let them deal with what they're meant too?

Cheers again man!



This is fun!
BailyDread
I think Adam makes a small subwoofer or else they have made a small sub in the past to go with it. a sub would tell you what was in the lower freqs and stop the speakers from straining to produce the bass, I'm pretty sure. because your monitors are so small, a small sub would probably work well. there's lots of info about monitor positioning and listening position etc, so I'll leave that to you. but yeah, there's generally a preferable way to set up your listening position even if you only have a bedroom. ex: have your mattress flush with the back wall that the speakers are firing at to act as a natural bass trap due to its mass and material, have the speakers positioned symmetrically width wise in the room... stuff like this can make a bedroom more workable. check on gearslutz for that stuff

as for the eq: your mixer has fixed high and low shelving EQs, the low one is at 60 hz and the high one is at 12 kHz. there is a middle band with an adjustable frequency between 120 hz and 3 khz. the Q of this is probably set up to scale, so that big boosts and cuts are tight Q and small boosts are wide Q. it's a very standard 3 band EQ for a mixer. there is also a high pass filter at some frequency I can't read from these pics haha. the high shelving EQ will raise or lower everything from 12khz and above. the low shelving EQ will raise or lower everything below 60 hz. the middle band will raise or lower the volume of whatever frequency you have dialed in. the technique I described is: finding the main boom of the kick drum by using the EQ on the kick drum channel, turning that EQ off, removing that freq with the EQ on the bass channel so that the kick drum can take up those frequencies. when you have two elements with low frequency content that is the same, they mask each other. side chaining gets them to work together by ducking the volume. EQing gets them to work together by stopping them from having the same frequency response. just a different way to cut the cake.
naturligfunktion
BailyDread wrote:


as far as sjidechaining as an effect goes, I would suggest you don't rely on it to make bass and kick work together. it's totally possible to do w/ out sjidechaining, it just takes technique. once you manage to do it, it kinda comes second nature after a while. use your EQ to locate the fundamental frequency of your kick drum. use the mid band, which has variable frequency on your mixer. crank the gain and tweak the freq knob until it's really boomy and sounds like it is ringing out. this is the fundamental note of your kick drum, where the energy and volume is coming from. turn the gain back down to the middle and make note of the frequency that caused this effect. then, on your bass channel, set the mid EQ frequency knob to the frequency you just found with your kick drum EQ experiment. turn the gain of this mid band eq down, "notching" it out of the signal. this is now a space for your kick drum to do its thing, while the bass does it's thing. very often you can bring the actual bass band EQ up a bit after this, since the higher bass elements are no longer clashing. this gives you a nice deep sound!


I just wanna say that I approve of this post grin
dubonaire
BailyDread wrote:
I think Adam makes a small subwoofer or else they have made a small sub in the past to go with it. a sub would tell you what was in the lower freqs and stop the speakers from straining to produce the bass, I'm pretty sure. because your monitors are so small, a small sub would probably work well. there's lots of info about monitor positioning and listening position etc, so I'll leave that to you. but yeah, there's generally a preferable way to set up your listening position even if you only have a bedroom. ex: have your mattress flush with the back wall that the speakers are firing at to act as a natural bass trap due to its mass and material, have the speakers positioned symmetrically width wise in the room... stuff like this can make a bedroom more workable. check on gearslutz for that stuff

as for the eq: your mixer has fixed high and low shelving EQs, the low one is at 60 hz and the high one is at 12 kHz. there is a middle band with an adjustable frequency between 120 hz and 3 khz. the Q of this is probably set up to scale, so that big boosts and cuts are tight Q and small boosts are wide Q. it's a very standard 3 band EQ for a mixer. there is also a high pass filter at some frequency I can't read from these pics haha. the high shelving EQ will raise or lower everything from 12khz and above. the low shelving EQ will raise or lower everything below 60 hz. the middle band will raise or lower the volume of whatever frequency you have dialed in. the technique I described is: finding the main boom of the kick drum by using the EQ on the kick drum channel, turning that EQ off, removing that freq with the EQ on the bass channel so that the kick drum can take up those frequencies. when you have two elements with low frequency content that is the same, they mask each other. side chaining gets them to work together by ducking the volume. EQing gets them to work together by stopping them from having the same frequency response. just a different way to cut the cake.


The Soundcraft Signature series mid EQ has a wide Q for boost and a narrow Q for cut. The high pass filter is 100Hz (OP this is intended for mike rumble).
sillyquestions?
Im gonna need to learn this EQ.. Its bugging me that I don't know how to use it properly. Most of my sounds, sound better when the white EQ section is boosted. Is that normal?
BailyDread
favoring EQ when boosting is probably a placebo effect due to the perceived increase in loudness. the ear favors loud material, and often confounds the processing with the increase in loudness. this is why it's very important to match the output gain of your compressors and EQ so the level remains the same post-processing. only then you can truly evaluate whether or not the processing is improving the sound.

based on what dubonaire said, the mid band of your EQ is very well suited for the technique I described above, since narrow Q cuts sound more natural to the ear. I would use the low band to reduce the bass on non-bass material. ex: your hi hats, snare and lead synth lines. then on your actual bass element, you can turn the bass up a bit. the whole idea behind EQing is to shave off in one place and add in other places to make everything fit together and work as a coherent whole. approach the EQ moves with an idea... like "I want the high hats to be bright, but I already have a bright synth element playing... if I reduce some high frequency content in that synth, the high hat will sound brighter in comparison". things like that. don't just grab EQ to make individual elements "sound better" on their own. imo that's kind of a rabbit hole for newer recording artists and it can put you into bad habits that you'll later have to un-learn.
sillyquestions?
Cool, thanks for the reply. Quite interesting stuff you say. It's not so much that it's louder with the EQ though, it's more that it sound rounded and warmer rather than all empty and not gelling... I reckon one day ill figure out EQ'ing...


Im still so unsure about what you mean about the EQ though but I think you've helped me enough! we're not worthy help SlayerBadger!
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