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Re: OT: Space

Great posts Rick !

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 24, 2016, at 8:36 PM, Rick Walker <looppool@cruzio.com> wrote:

To amplify what everyone is telling you about avoiding mud:

Human beings have a phenomenon called 'masking'  or 'timbral masking' where if we here something in the exact same frequency spectrum we will actually only
really 'hear' the loudest of the two sounds.       This phenomenon most notably  in two spectra:     bass and lo mid (which includes basses, bass drums, dark ambient pads, etc.)    
and in the intelligibity ranges (the ranges that perceive  the consonants in human speech which includes.

Here's an effective way to teach yourself how this works on a visceral level.    Whisper something that is barely but definitely audible to another person in a room
and then, while talking,  play a pair of hi hats quietly so that they 'mush' together to make a noise source.     Make sure the hi hats are slightly louder in volume than your listening.
The person listening to you, will probably still be able to tell that you are speaking (because there are deeper frequencies in the human voice than just the intelligibility frequencies
of the consonants) but they will be completely unable to hear what you are saying.     I love showing my drumming students this effect and
make it humorous by just saying truly absurd things when they are unable to hear because of the 'masking' frequencies of the hi hats and then repeating to them what I just
have said while their brains were unable to hear what I was saying.    Amazingly,  we don't even get what's being said subliminally, despite the claims of many subliminal
weight loss recordings that are out there.

These "masking' problems cause distinctly different kinds of problems in recording and mixing.

In the bass and lo midranges the sine waves of the fundamental pitch of your sounds are so large that we don't perceive them in stereo (are ears are just too close together
to delineate the deep waves.   Consequently,  'masking' in the bass and low bass is particularly difficult because you can't use stereoscopic positioning to eliminate the problem.

Back in the analog days of recording we used to use a trick called 'Zipper EQ' (as taught to me by Sandy Stone who engineered Hendrix)
when encountering bass 'mud' in a mix,   where we would put a bass guitar or bass synth
sound through one channel (mono) of a stereo graphic equalizer and the 'masked'  bass drum into the other channel (mono).
Then we would boost the frequencies like this up to about 500 hz.

30hz       60hz     120hz     250hz     500hz                       BASS GUITAR/SYNTH
+3db      -3db      +3db      -3db        +3db

and set the other side of the graphic to the exact opposite:

30hz       60hz     120hz     250hz     500hz                       BASS DRUM
-3db       +3db     - 3db       +3db        -3db

When you looked at the EQ  it looked like a zipper.

Interestingly,  if you solo-ed the channels,   each one would sound weird and rather wimpy,  but if you summed them in MONO
they sounded really full and you could hear each one really distinctly.    It's cool because it's entirely a psycho-acoustic effect.
No other creature would hear it this way.

With midrange frequencies which are highly directional and, hence,  wonderful for putting into a very strong stereo effect,
You can merely pan two offending tracks widely in the stereo field and be able to hear both simultaneously.

Now, of course this phenomenon of Masking can exist in both Dynamics,  Rhythm, Melody and Harmony
so you have to be careful that your tracks are not only not masking each other in the sonic spectrum but in these other ways as well.

I've found that a really good rule of thumb is to use only one, or perhaps two, levels of complexity in a mix:    Timbral complexity, Rhythmic complexity,
Dynamic complexity, Melodic and Harmonic complexity.

The simplicity of all the other categories will effectively 'frame' the complexity that you want people to pay attention to.

In this way, you call the listeners' attention to the parts of your piece that you really want them to listen to.

Anyway,  I hope this helps.

Rick Walker

Kevin Cheli-Colando <billowhead@gmail.com> wrote:

I was wondering if anyone had any tips on how to get more air/space in recordings happening in the computer.  I use headphone to play most times and the resultant recordings always sound claustrophobic and way too dense.  I've tried playing with EQ for each track and filters seem to help (though I can't spend that much time dialing those in while playing guitar) so I figured I'd ask if anyone had any tips or tricks to open things up.