A question about the audio waveform

Hello, I wanted to ask a question about mixing, especially how much compression/limiting is appropriate for a mix....I've been noticing an interesting pattern lately : I get positive feedback from my friends on my mix that has some decent amount of visible peaks (they're mostly kicks and snares, among others, that are visible on the audio waveform) while they are not very excited about my mixes where I've squashed everything and the waveform visually looks like one big block with nothing poking out (that smooth waveform) I think maybe when we listen to music we like to have things "jump at us" (I think CLA said something similar in an interview relating to compression, or overcompression to be more precise) I'm fully aware though that songwriting/arrangement and production are obviously the most important thing when it comes to music quality, but I'm asking this question purely from a mixing standpoint...btw just wanted to share this track I completed yesterday (it's remix I completed yesterday for the Metapop DAHI SKETCHES Remix Challenge) on the visual waveform of this track, I can clearly see lots of sharp visible peaks (whereas before I would usually squash everything by LOTS of compression and 2 limiters in a row:)) Just want to hear what your thoughts are on this topic :) btw here's the remix link:

https://soundcloud.com/user-587838793-914182886%2Fdahi-sketches-remix-metapop-remix-challenge
 
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jimmys69

MOODerator
Dynamics are gone when you over compress and squash the life out of anything. It sounds un-natuaral and hurts my ears to hear the compressed version. Do you not hear that?
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
There are those of us who like to hear the dynamics. There are also those who just think that louder is better, and if you kill off all the peaks, you can push the overall level up. Certain forms of music seem to gravitate towards a compressed mass of sound, tho.

I am firmly in the "love dynamics" camp, for the most part. The only time having something highly compressed is when you are in an especially noisy environment, like riding in cars.
 

Slouching Raymond

Active member
Well, I just listened to the 'Remix'. I found the noisy artificial drum beat annoying. The programmed hi-hats too perfectly timed and boring.
The rest of it would make a good base to play a synth part over though.
As for the mix, I dunno.
 

dobro

Well-known member
Hello, I wanted to ask a question about mixing, especially how much compression/limiting is appropriate for a mix....I've been noticing an interesting pattern lately : I get positive feedback from my friends on my mix that has some decent amount of visible peaks (they're mostly kicks and snares, among others, that are visible on the audio waveform) while they are not very excited about my mixes where I've squashed everything and the waveform visually looks like one big block with nothing poking out (that smooth waveform) I think maybe when we listen to music we like to have things "jump at us" (I think CLA said something similar in an interview relating to compression, or overcompression to be more precise) I'm fully aware though that songwriting/arrangement and production are obviously the most important thing when it comes to music quality, but I'm asking this question purely from a mixing standpoint...btw just wanted to share this track I completed yesterday (it's remix I completed yesterday for the Metapop DAHI SKETCHES Remix Challenge) on the visual waveform of this track, I can clearly see lots of sharp visible peaks (whereas before I would usually squash everything by LOTS of compression and 2 limiters in a row:)) Just want to hear what your thoughts are on this topic :) btw here's the remix link:

https://soundcloud.com/user-587838793-914182886%2Fdahi-sketches-remix-metapop-remix-challenge
Let stuff breathe. Too much compression on a mix is like a police state - everything's clamped down. So let it breathe - it's as esthetic as it is political. For instance, on the mix you posted, the whole thing is a bed and a setting for that throbbing sound that comes in first at about 0.29, and the whole thing about the throb is how dynamic it is - that's what makes it so interesting against the regularity of the rest of the arrangement. That part breathes.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
It's just genre - if you look at this one it looks totally wrong, but is a piece of popular classical music - but if you look at electronic dance music - it's virtually a flat line from end to end. The only problem with compression is that people are told that you MUST use it and it MUST be loud, and if you have anything leaping out or needing bringing up that is WRONG. Those kinds of rules are made for breaking. Look at the famous dance hit people and you often see there are multiple version - some with quiet bits but the one for the clubs needs to be mixable with the next and previous tracks.

My compression needs are done usually by the need to reduce dynamics where they are just too much and you notice - so an inconsistent drummer, or maybe even an old keyboard that has very uneven velocity scaling, and of course voices where humans move and get it wrong. Some singers really understand hand mics and do physical compression by moving the mic in, out and off-axis. Then you see people mimicking them who wave the mic around assuming it was visual style, and they mess it up totally. Watch Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra for old-school mic technique. Then watch current Elton John for when their old technique no longer works because their voice is shot.
 

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Dynamics are gone when you over compress and squash the life out of anything. It sounds un-natuaral and hurts my ears to hear the compressed version. Do you not hear that?
Yes, I'm a big fan of dynamics in music as well...even most electronic dance music (EDM) has the "break" section that brings some dynamics back to the track as it is much quieter and also lack the punchy sub bass frequencies. Thanks so much for your reply I really appreciate it!
 
There are those of us who like to hear the dynamics. There are also those who just think that louder is better, and if you kill off all the peaks, you can push the overall level up. Certain forms of music seem to gravitate towards a compressed mass of sound, tho.

I am firmly in the "love dynamics" camp, for the most part. The only time having something highly compressed is when you are in an especially noisy environment, like riding in cars.
I totally agree with you there...there are lots of people out there who love that over-compressed wall of sound. Even rock music has those very busy sections/choruses that are like that....but the verses and bridges eventually brings life and dynamics back to the track...Thanks so much for your reply!
 
Well, I just listened to the 'Remix'. I found the noisy artificial drum beat annoying. The programmed hi-hats too perfectly timed and boring.
The rest of it would make a good base to play a synth part over though.
As for the mix, I dunno.
Hey Slouching Raymond, I'm really sorry that you didn't find this remix to your taste. I must say that I'm still learning electronic music production/beatmaking and still have a long way to go. I agree 100% with you on those perfectly programmed hihats as well (I noticed that when I later listened to this on my phone) should have definitely added some swing to those hats....but at the same time, I was challenging myself to complete this remix within a certain amount of time (this was basically produced, arranged, mixed and mastered in about a day :)) and some important things got left out.... I subscribe to the "quantity leads to quality" philosophy and view each one of my completed tracks as "practice." :) Thanks so much for your time and for your valuable feedback....I appreciate it :) btw I have 25 other tracks there on my Soundcloud profile. I hope there'll be a couple of tracks there that you'll perhaps like... Thanks again!
 
Let stuff breathe. Too much compression on a mix is like a police state - everything's clamped down. So let it breathe - it's as esthetic as it is political. For instance, on the mix you posted, the whole thing is a bed and a setting for that throbbing sound that comes in first at about 0.29, and the whole thing about the throb is how dynamic it is - that's what makes it so interesting against the regularity of the rest of the arrangement. That part breathes.
Thanks so much for your kind reply...I really appreciate it. Yes, I'm a fan of dynamics as well and over compressed sound just takes away all the vibe from a track!
 
It's just genre - if you look at this one it looks totally wrong, but is a piece of popular classical music - but if you look at electronic dance music - it's virtually a flat line from end to end. The only problem with compression is that people are told that you MUST use it and it MUST be loud, and if you have anything leaping out or needing bringing up that is WRONG. Those kinds of rules are made for breaking. Look at the famous dance hit people and you often see there are multiple version - some with quiet bits but the one for the clubs needs to be mixable with the next and previous tracks.

My compression needs are done usually by the need to reduce dynamics where they are just too much and you notice - so an inconsistent drummer, or maybe even an old keyboard that has very uneven velocity scaling, and of course voices where humans move and get it wrong. Some singers really understand hand mics and do physical compression by moving the mic in, out and off-axis. Then you see people mimicking them who wave the mic around assuming it was visual style, and they mess it up totally. Watch Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra for old-school mic technique. Then watch current Elton John for when their old technique no longer works because their voice is shot.
Thanks so much for your reply...I appreciate it. Yes, classical music is a perfect example of how dynamics is needed in music...I love those loud moments in classical music that add intensity and evoke different emotions in the listener and the quieter parts have an opposite soothing/relaxing effect. Thanks!
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
EDM should have peaks because that's the beat that the dancers key on. That "thump thump thump" is usually low frequency and quite strong. The various little riffs just fill in the time between beats.

I'm not personally a fan of EDM, or rap. I haven't been on a dance floor in at least 10 years. For the most part, I find EDM repetitive. The assembling of little snippets over a constant beat turns me off. But for fans of the genre, there's definitely a formula that is followed.

On the other hand, if you look at a lot of metal, it's generally compressed to the max. That's the desired sound, with the crunching guitars, a pretty steady barrage of bass, and usually a pretty constant drum beat as well. It will often look like this:

metal.gif

In the end, you have to go with what the person doing the music wants and likes, tho. If he wants compressed, hit it hard. If he want's an nice open dynamic sound, lay off the heavy compression. Put a limiter on it to keep peaks under control and move on.
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
EDM should have peaks because that's the beat that the dancers key on. That "thump thump thump" is usually low frequency and quite strong. The various little riffs just fill in the time between beats.

I'm not personally a fan of EDM, or rap. I haven't been on a dance floor in at least 10 years. For the most part, I find EDM repetitive. The assembling of little snippets over a constant beat turns me off. But for fans of the genre, there's definitely a formula that is followed.

On the other hand, if you look at a lot of metal, it's generally compressed to the max. That's the desired sound, with the crunching guitars, a pretty steady barrage of bass, and usually a pretty constant drum beat as well. It will often look like this:

View attachment 119205

In the end, you have to go with what the person doing the music wants and likes, tho. If he wants compressed, hit it hard. If he want's an nice open dynamic sound, lay off the heavy compression. Put a limiter on it to keep peaks under control and move on.
Right! And with EDM or any dance or most rap for clubs, it does not seem to be a flat waveform, because the kick/beat is what is prominent. If you tried to bring the rest of the instruments to that needed pulse, it would just be a squashed mess with that 'sucking out' feeling that any brain does not like. Limit for peaks and output level, compress during mix. Don't make it difficult for the brain to hear naturally. :)
 

dobro

Well-known member
A lot of opinions about compression here, and worth reading. In the end, you do what's required for the tune, like TmRich said. The thing I require it to do most often is parallel compression. The thing I still don't use is multiband compression. What's the deal with that? How many things can you use it for?
 

Bulls Hit

Well-known member
A lot of opinions about compression here, and worth reading. In the end, you do what's required for the tune, like TmRich said. The thing I require it to do most often is parallel compression. The thing I still don't use is multiband compression. What's the deal with that? How many things can you use it for?
I'd agree with this. Parallel compression of individual tracks, esp drums, gives you the loudness and intimacy without sacrificing the attack. Multiband is mainly useful when you're trying to fix something, but if it needs fixing why not just record it again. Sometimes radical hard compression/limiting can work really well on vocals, again depending on the situation. Compressing/limiting/maximising the final mix can add some excitement in small doses. Caveat emptor!
 
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