Layering tracks without clipping

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FireAlarmPoet
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Layering tracks without clipping

Post by FireAlarmPoet » Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:48 pm

This is a constant menace in my creative process, but I hope its one that has a tangible fix: I come so close to completion on a track, knowing full well the ideal mix I hear is technically clipping, then I have to backtrack to try to balance the levels of each individual layer in a futile attempt to get to the magic -dB zone, ultimately resulting in a completely neutered mix.

For example, let's say I have a track where the first half is -12dB softer than the last half; that last half has several more layers of audio than the first, which adds more decibels and makes the track uneven. I could go back and lower the levels of each layer in the second half, maybe bring up the levels of the first, but that then changes the mix I heard. This mix is what I want, but it's clipping so if I export it as a finalized track, it won't sound ideal anymore. Moreover, I can't simply turn the master volume down, because now everything is too quiet; I really wish I could scale volume linearly, like I could bring everything down to avoid clipping then bering it back up later, but it simply doesn't work that way.

I'm aware compressors exist, but rarely have they worked the way I want them to. They just make everything sound fucked up. It'll sound like it's trying to even everything out, but not smoothly,as if it's making it up on the go.

The only other thing I can think of to try is recording a mix that I like onto my handheld recorder then using that recording as the final track, essentially recording my ideal mix reasonably under the -0dB threshold without having to change anything through software. I feel like I've tried this without success before but I'm running out of options here.

Any advice?

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jliat
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by jliat » Sat Jul 07, 2018 10:56 pm

I don't understand. Noise is not a creative process, (looks at board name) and clipping is a really good way of getting noise. Maybe you are on the wrong forum?

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WhiteWarlock
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by WhiteWarlock » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:23 am

try recording/mixing everything way super low on levels while boosting signals for your monitors
it's always tempting driving signal regardless
yet avoid it like the plague on digital(digi clipping/distortion sounds like shit)
also investigate research good compressor/limiter
that won't cost you and arm leg and your reproductive organs
and or learn modification methods on "cheap compressor/limiter"
THAT VCA chip Brown Burr Opamp Audiograde cap replacements
from my research the best sounding/most affordable/transparent option on the market currently is:
FMR Rnc 1773 Really Nice Compressor
Image
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R ... _odkw=nice
(BTW that is consensus on some other forums yet personally don't own FMR1773 because found another way)
there are other options yet that is good intro suggestion
plus compression can be total bitch
have been there
Mix in "safe zone"
"normalize" 2 track
then give yourself some drive headroom
bouncing the 2 track mix back into FX with comp/limit at end of chain
plus you can "drive" into tape saturation headroom
if don't mind a little motor noise
then re-digitize at safe zone levels
"normalize"
there are some other options also yet figured this is good introductory response
such as using tape multitrack then digitize in "safe zone"
Esoteric options on Comp/limiter suggestions
anyways it can be war on levels when stacking tracks in DAW/multitrack
that's part of the game
pull them all for safe zone so you can make 2 good track mix
then proceed from there for "Mastering"

+2-4db Tape signal clipping can sound warm/distorted/heavy/extreme with good order harmonix
+2-4db Digi signal clipping has tendency to sound like dog shit

these are some simple suggestions for avoiding using DAW "brickwall" limiters
learn compression settings for limiting rather than "squahing"
it can all be tricky yet at least you comprehend something is sounding fuct
suspect most people using HNW method don't give a fuck as long as it sounds LOUD

killing raven sun
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by killing raven sun » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:45 am

learn to live with it and compose your tracks in advance to fit together well

compression ruins dynamic expression, avoid at all costs, wild volume swings are ok

tape compression sounds best but can be tricky to get right

depending on how many events you have clipping you could zoom in to each one and level the spike, an excellent timekiller

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WhiteWarlock
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by WhiteWarlock » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:12 am

Image
it really matters what you are recording/composing
as far as "dynamics"
there's not much dynamic variance in HNW
versus say for instance cello or human vox
how much comprehension/experience you have with compressors/limiters
can make big difference
most people usually fail at using hardware compressors "correctly"
beyond selecting some presets & guessing... use your ears
(plus it depends on the compressor make/model & "Transparency")
attempt mixing everything low "safe zone"in your DAW
you can increase mix overall volume on the 2 track master
using multiple methods
including pushing it into compressor/limiter 'headroom'
or even onto tape
whatever works for you
(you can also use something like the old WAVES L1 UltraMaximizer on your 2track mix for post makeup gain/brickwall)

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¼ dead
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by ¼ dead » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:56 am

If you want to preserve dynamics, you just have to work with what you have. Otherwise, you can manually shape the volume in a wave editor to lower the peaks in problem tracks. Beyond that, I'd recommend that you embrace having a broader dynamic range and turn up the volume.

FWIW, I try to keep all my tracks' max peak level at an average level of 6dB or lower prior to mixing them, or turn loud tracks down very low at the start of mixing and edge them up as needed, both of which help me to avoid unexpected clipping due to volume spikes. Average maximum dB is sort of irrelevant, just so long as it's consistent, at least for how I do things.

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xdugef
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by xdugef » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:32 pm


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xdugef
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by xdugef » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:37 pm

I read an account by Steven Stapleton about mixing The 150 Murderous Passions with William Bennett and how Bennett kept slamming all the volume controls and how Steven hated the results. Apparently SS went back, edited and remixed one side of the record without WB permission because he hated it so much.

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xdugef
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by xdugef » Sun Jul 08, 2018 4:43 pm

Yeah anyway real advice.. Well you can either lower the volume of all your tracks so you don't peak or in some cases you can just lower the volume on the master track depending on which DAW you are using and it will accomplish the same thing. You can also use compression on the tracks or on the master channel again depending on the DAW this should be lossless. You can also adjust the EQ. I find many times certain sounds have low end that's blowing out in the mix because of other tracks but all I care about for that sound is the mid range so I low cut that channel. Also you can put keyframes on the volume of a track to either raise a sound you want a particular time or lower other ones that are obscuring a sound you want more pronounced.. this is called "ducking".

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¼ dead
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by ¼ dead » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:53 am

Equalization is a good suggestion.... You can open up loads of headroom with EQ alone, especially when cutting extreme low-end frequencies.

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WhiteWarlock
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by WhiteWarlock » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:02 am

These are all valid suggestions for "Layering tracks without clipping"
Manual Wave Redraws, EQ, & volume "Ducking" transitional gain changes before final Compression/Limiting
is the method learned for "Mastering" in early 90s using SDII(recently rebuilt Sound Designer 2 v2.8.2 TDM machine)
all are applicable
comprehend the process can be very time consuming for getting optimal results
plus be happy it doesn't take 60 minutes for normalizing 4 minute track anymore
there is no instant "preset" option for every track
when in doubt use the old manual methods
BTW thanks
this topic made me redesign dithering "Brick Wall" compressor/limiter

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timdrage
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by timdrage » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:05 am

spend some time on http://www.airwindows.com/ to discover some very interesting and free mastering plugins and ideas plus other unique effects - some pretty extreme and noise friendly ones too so don't be put off by the near-audiophile-subtle ideas behind a lot of them


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Fletcher
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Re: Layering tracks without clipping

Post by Fletcher » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:09 am

Thanks for this, will have a nose through this later.

"mastering" my noise projects is a completely different beast to how I used to produce IDM / techno stuff about 10 years ago.

Firstly I am recording "live" with hardware rather than using a DAW
Secondly at present I am recording one track straight into my sound recorder
Thirdly it is a completely different sound

I may look into using FLStudio "live" at some point and recording multi-track into the DAW but no ready for that yet.
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