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Mixing newbie questions: dry-wet-ratio and EQ settings
Last post Fri, Mar 03 2017 by LuCsa, 12 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Feb 27 2017 20:22
by Xander S.
Joined on Sat, Nov 27 2004, Posts 79

Hey there! I've been around for years as a composer using VSL samples, but when it comes to EQ, reverb and stuff, I'm an absolute beginner. Perhaps someone can help me with these two questions:

Question 1: I've noticed that using different reverbs and reverb engines creates not only different reverbs, but changes the sound as a whole, for example bringing some instruments to the front and losing others in the mix. Is this the reason why there is obviously no recommended EQ settings for different instruments? I had originally expected to find something on the web that says, "Trombones: 3 KHz +2 DB", "Cellos: 80 Hz -1 DB" or whatever. There is nothing or at least I haven't found it. My assumption now would be that this may be useless because of the change of sound that happens when the signal goes through the reverb. Is that so or what's the reason there is no "EQ settings for dummies"?

Question 2: There's often talk of dry-wet-ratio, like 80:20, particularly to bring some instruments to the front and others to the back. If I use a convolution reverb as a send effect, how do I calculate this ratio from the decibel settings for different channels (in Cubase)? For example, my Violins channel has -3 DB Send Level and SIR2 convolution reverb as used in the Effect Channel says Wet Signal is at (around) DB 0. So what's my ratio? (Please forgive me if the question is totally silly. I'm still trying to cover some basics but it's hard.)

Uh yes, I played around with the EQ and reverb settings within Cubase to achieve something like a John Barry sound. (I'm considering using Vienna Studio in the future, but until then I'm trying out all kind of stuff). If anyone of you would like to listen in and tell me what's exactly wrong/right with the mix, I'd be very happy! The hastily crafted sound snippets are here: http://www.creartistic.com/projects/?p=165

Thanks in advance!

Web: www.xanderscores.com
DAW: Dell XPS One, Win 8.1, Cubase 7.5, VE Pro, VI Sp.Ed.Compl. Vienna Suite
Posted on Tue, Feb 28 2017 09:19
by Xander S.
Joined on Sat, Nov 27 2004, Posts 79

Uh yes, I forgot another question regarding the dry-wet-ratio (Question 3): I read somewhere on the web, that instruments in the front need less reverb (let's say dry:wet 80:20) than instruments in the back of the orchestra (20:80). Is this really true, because when I listen to orchestral music, strings always seem to a nice, particularly long reverb tail, much more anyway than let's say xylophone which as part of the percussion section in the back would have more reverb according to this rule. Why is this, or is the truth more complicated than that? Thanks in advance!

Web: www.xanderscores.com
DAW: Dell XPS One, Win 8.1, Cubase 7.5, VE Pro, VI Sp.Ed.Compl. Vienna Suite
Posted on Tue, Feb 28 2017 11:44
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7434

Welcome Quioloy,

you pose some very interesting questions - but honestly, everything else than the most basic answers would fill a book (or two). :-) I'll try to give you some pointers nonetheless.

ad 1. Everything you do with a single track will change the overall impression of your mix, to some extent. Mixing is about relations between all involved elements (... actually, the old term "balancing" describes the process much better than the uninspired word "mixing"). Assuming that there is not one piece of music like the other, there are no absolute rules how to achieve a good mix, and likewise no "one-size-fits-all"-solution for single instruments. - As the guy who created about 80% of all Vienna Suite presets and 100% of all MIR Pro and MIRx settings I think I'm allowed to say that even the most elaborate ones can be just "educated guesses" to support your quest for a good mix. It's more or less impossible to make any final settings without hearing the results in their musical and acoustic context.

ad 2. All the talk about dry/wet ratios of reverberation mean nothing without knowing the original "dry" signal,  without knowing the way the reverb engine technically works, and without knowing how these techniques are actually implemented*). Ideally these values you quoted can give you a rough idea what the they are meant to achieve ("more reverb", "less reverb"), but they are meaningless without context.

*) ... just to give you an example: MIR Pro indeed "thinks" in dry/wet ratios, as it is meant to be used on individual signals. OTOH, Vienna Suite Convolution Reverb "thinks" in independent dry and wet levels, as it is meant to be mainly used in an Aux-send scheme rather than as an insert in a single channel. Both approaches make perfectly sense, but you can't compare them by means of "ratios" easily.

ad 3. What you read is a nice example of possible misunderstandings due to (certainly well-meant) information on the web without context. :-) It is most likely that closer instruments will seem to sound "drier" than those further away - but that's not necessarily just a function of reverb level (i.e. "dry/wet ratio"). The shape and sound of the so-called "early reflections" as well as the initial delay between the signal and the appearance of the first reflections are at least as important as the actual reverb level.

What's more, different acoustic environments will interact differently with different sources: The string section you wrote about will create a different acoustic reaction than the xylophone in the same room, simply because the sharp, high-frequency-rich transients of the latter will provoke other reflection patterns than a soft, floating cello-theme. - Oh, and of course the results will be different in another room. :-)

(... one of my pet-topics during a mix is to put those d*mned triangles in the back of the orchestra. Without the use of some dirty tricks a triangle will always seem to sit right in front of your nose. ;-) ...)

Kind regards,

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Tue, Feb 28 2017 12:30
by Xander S.
Joined on Sat, Nov 27 2004, Posts 79

Thanks a lot, Dietz, for your basic yet insightful pointers, for that was exactly what I was looking for. Btw: Which 1-2 book(s) on the subject would you recommend?

btw, I'm almost decided about buying Vienna Studio (not pro) in order to have a comfortable tool to learn how different settings change the sound. Hope it's also for beginners. (Right now I'm fiddling with the tiny track EQ in Cubase and that's probably not the way to do it).

Web: www.xanderscores.com
DAW: Dell XPS One, Win 8.1, Cubase 7.5, VE Pro, VI Sp.Ed.Compl. Vienna Suite
Posted on Tue, Feb 28 2017 12:43
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7434

-> "Mixing Audio" by Roey Izhaki, for example. This is a book the attendees of my sporadic seminars seem to like a lot (... I have neither relationship to the author nor to the publisher).

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Wed, Mar 01 2017 07:55
by Xander S.
Joined on Sat, Nov 27 2004, Posts 79

Thanks! I'll try to get my hands on this one.

Web: www.xanderscores.com
DAW: Dell XPS One, Win 8.1, Cubase 7.5, VE Pro, VI Sp.Ed.Compl. Vienna Suite
Posted on Wed, Mar 01 2017 11:03
by LuCsa
Joined on Sat, Dec 19 2015, Vienna, Posts 123

I love these kind of posts - thank you - they lead forward on one's own tracks of research!

About literature: Following the link some Amazon reviews stated that it doesn't really cover the orchestral side of music/mixing - can you verify this? Skimming through the list, I stumbled over these two books which have formidable reviews by the same author (who has taken his time to explain why he thinks so highly of them). I haven't read them, since I found them right now, but maybe you wanna look into them (review author "sylva").

Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio

Acoustic and MIDI Orchestration for the Contemporary Composer: A Practical Guide to Writing and Sequencing for the Studio Orchestra (take care to read the edit of his review as well).

Kind regards,
Lukas

i7-6700K (4 @ 4.0GHz w/ HT) - 16GB RAM
Windows 10 Home 64bit - Reaper - Finale 2012 - Dorico
---
VI Pro 2 - VEP7 - MIRx Sage
SE1 bundle - SE2 bundle - SE1 synch.
CSS - CSSSS
Posted on Thu, Mar 02 2017 00:20
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7434

Originally Posted by: LuCsa Go to Quoted Post

[...] it doesn't really cover the orchestral side of music/mixing - can you verify this? [...]

Well - the physical principles and techncial approaches don't differentiate between the type of music you mix. ;-)

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Thu, Mar 02 2017 00:41
by Nitrox 32
Joined on Sun, Mar 15 2009, Posts 140

I agree about Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior.  The most helpful book I've bought (and I bought plenty!)

Aric

Posted on Thu, Mar 02 2017 19:39
by mschmitt
Joined on Mon, Jan 01 2007, Posts 149

One more vote for Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio! It contains the same info you would get in 2 - 3 semesters of classes that would easily cost thousands of dollars. Plus the author recommends lots of free plug ins to use, and has tons of audio examples you can download and then use them in your DAW to work through what you learned in each chapter.

 

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to get great reverb with VSL instruments, (without being an audio engineer) MIRx and MIR are amazing! And, MIRx is very inexpensive, just be aware that it is not a plug in, it can only be used on VSL instruments inside of VIP (not sure if it works in VI or not).

 

Vienna Suite is great in that there are presets for every VSL instrument. It's a fantastic set of plug ins, but you still need to understand how to use them. You may want to try the Suite out after you read Mixing Secrets.

 

Michael

Full Cube and lots of other stuff
Posted on Thu, Mar 02 2017 19:46
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7434

Originally Posted by: mschmitt Go to Quoted Post
[...] MIRx is very inexpensive, just be aware that it is not a plug in, it can only be used on VSL instruments inside of VIP (not sure if it works in VI or not).[...]

It does! :-)

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Fri, Mar 03 2017 10:06
by LuCsa
Joined on Sat, Dec 19 2015, Vienna, Posts 123

Oh, thank you guys for your input. :)

I also got recommended the books by Bob Katz...

Cheers!

i7-6700K (4 @ 4.0GHz w/ HT) - 16GB RAM
Windows 10 Home 64bit - Reaper - Finale 2012 - Dorico
---
VI Pro 2 - VEP7 - MIRx Sage
SE1 bundle - SE2 bundle - SE1 synch.
CSS - CSSSS
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