Opinions on mobile recording setup upgrades?

Greetings All,
I will try to be brief. My setup is geared toward live recording which is what I do 90% of the time. Mostly in houses of worship, so it doesn't pay too good most of the time. My setup includes an older PC laptop. I7 Gen. 3; 256GB SSD: 16 GB ram; and a Glyph Studio, 2 TB external drive, as a recording drive. Reaper. A Midas M32r. I find the pres are just as good as my Focusrite 18i8 that I still have. Dozens of mainly Waves plugins, which I love, as well as many other, both free and purchased. Behringer K8 monitors and Alto Professional Black 10 powered speakers which I find very good for a 2nd reference even though they are not studio monitors. When I (rarely) get the chance to spend some money on my setup, I want to get the most bang for the buck.
My options include:
1. A new laptop. I find that my mixing begins to pop and click at around 90 plugins in use. Even though the performance meter rarely goes above 25%. I usually freeze tracks in Reaper to solve the problem.
2. A Waves Impact server with an X-WSG card, OR a waves Server One without an X-WSG card right now. They make a driver that allows most any ASIO interface to offload plugin processing to a waves server. Although you do not get the extremely low latencies you get with the card.
3. New better monitors. Although my budget tops at 1500. I find the K8's pretty descent. Not sure if a mid priced monitor is going to make a major difference.
4. Or other options not mentioned here.
Thanks in advance for any input.

Adam Greene
 

keith.rogers

Well-known member
90 plugins? Good grief. Maybe look at freezing tracks, or using less plugins. IOW, I don't see any reason to upgrade your setup from a performance POV - I think it's the way you're using it.

If anything, I'd throw all that money at some nicer monitors.
 
I subgroup all categories of instruments then take those to a master buss. By the time you have 8 to 10 drum channels, a couple of stereo keys. A couple of guitars and a bass. + in church you usually have at least 6 vocalist. Yea, you can get to 90 pretty quick.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Are you running unique sets of processing then? With 24(ish) tracks - I'd have a few common reverbs, but I'm struggling to think of a need to use 90 plug-ins. Most of my stuff is less than 30 tracks - I'd consider that excessive, and I've never counted but I think 20 or so would be pushing it for plugins? I'm not saying you're doing it wrong - but it just seems a bit processing heavy?
 
Are you running unique sets of processing then? With 24(ish) tracks - I'd have a few common reverbs, but I'm struggling to think of a need to use 90 plug-ins. Most of my stuff is less than 30 tracks - I'd consider that excessive, and I've never counted but I think 20 or so would be pushing it for plugins? I'm not saying you're doing it wrong - but it just seems a bit processing heavy?




I usually run a separate eq and compressor on the vox channels. Sometimes a volume adjustment plug first. Sometimes vocal rider. And sometimes a real time pitch correction. Even if the eq is just for low cut. Sometimes 2 compressors in series instead of vocal rider. All vox channels are routed into at least 2 sometimes 3 reverb channels. I like a lush verb like H reverb to be complemented by a plate and or a chamber like Abbey road chamber. Not a ton just a little - together sounds so much better to my ears. Then I use a very little stereo delay on the vocals along with a doubler. Again set up on separate tracks and the vox tracks routed to them. And I like different reverbs for guitars and keys along with a touch of delay and chorus. Just a little again. Di acoustic usually gets a tube emulation, eq, comp. many times I will duplicate guitars and parallel compress. Sometimes the lead gets a clean amp sim depending on the source material. I use a drum sample program - Addictive Trigger on at least the kick and snare. At least eq, comp and a transient shaper on the other drums. Etc., etc.
I am not a pro. I do this as a side business. I love the art and science of music production and mixing. I have tried several times in the past to start from scratch and I always seem to build up over time to a good bit of processing. I will take your advice and try to back off the processing.
Hopefully someone has some advice on upgrades. I'm curious if anyone here uses an X32 or M32 with the X-WSG card and a sound grid server. I also do a lot of live sound work and set ups. I would be interested in using it for live work also.
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
90 plugins :facepalm:

I don't think I have ever been anywhere near 90 plugins and I have done some large mixes.

Alan.
 
90 plugins :facepalm:

I don't think I have ever been anywhere near 90 plugins and I have done some large mixes.

Alan.

Okay I get it. I use a lot of plugins. But if you have 18 recorded tracks each with 3. Then 5 subgroups each with 3 or 4. Then a master buss with 4. Then 9 or so effects channels. Again different for vocal, guitars and keys. That's how you can get to 90. Thanks all for the advice.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
even more intriguing - You mention 9 or so effects channels - so your way of working is amazingly different to mine. In a big mix, I will have perhaps maybe similar numbers of effects channels on the go, but other than that, it will be a few compressors - rarely more than 4 or 5, perhaps a couple of limiters - on my master, and perhaps one or two troublesome channels. I might have the odd guitar processing plugin, but in Cubase, that is simply full of plugins, 95% of them are of no use at all for me. Most, and I have collected quite a few in packages over the years, have never even been used.

Please don't think I'm criticising your system, because I'm not, but I'm genuinely interested in what kind of music you produce, and what all these plugins are, and do?
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Adam, I know NOTHING compared to the chaps on this forum, just a lowly valve amp tech but..
1) That laptop should be well capable, you are torturing the poor thing.
2) Get some really good monitors. Yes, you are looking $2k+ a pair but the likes of PMC, Genelec and Neumann will give you a much better idea of what you are doing.

Dave.
 
even more intriguing - You mention 9 or so effects channels - so your way of working is amazingly different to mine. In a big mix, I will have perhaps maybe similar numbers of effects channels on the go, but other than that, it will be a few compressors - rarely more than 4 or 5, perhaps a couple of limiters - on my master, and perhaps one or two troublesome channels. I might have the odd guitar processing plugin, but in Cubase, that is simply full of plugins, 95% of them are of no use at all for me. Most, and I have collected quite a few in packages over the years, have never even been used.

Please don't think I'm criticising your system, because I'm not, but I'm genuinely interested in what kind of music you produce, and what all these plugins are, and do?



I hope I did this right. But I tried to take some pics and attach them of a small mix I'm working on. 14 recorded tracks and 27 total tracks.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0179.JPG
    IMG_0179.JPG
    4 MB · Views: 16
  • IMG_0180.JPG
    IMG_0180.JPG
    3.4 MB · Views: 16
  • IMG_0181.JPG
    IMG_0181.JPG
    4.3 MB · Views: 13

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Wow! Can you actually hear what some of those are doing? I've probably just lost touch with some styles that need this much processing.
 
I do 80% live Church service praise and worship. 2 of my sons write and record Christian and easy listening music - mostly sappy love songs. That's another 10%. The rest is the occasional studio client. If I can and when I have time, I will post a couple of my mixes for criticism. I mean critique.
 
Here is a couple of things my son and I did this week

Please criticize the mixes, but try to be constructive. Things like - terrible mix or - the worst mix I've ever heard don't help me to get better. I know many of you make your living in music. I do not and have no aspirations to. I'm almost 60 years old. Also, please stick to criticizing the mix. My son Nathan is a pro, only in the sense that he makes a 'living' as a worship pastor at a small Church. He is playing all the instruments and is self taught. I already know he is not a Nashville musician. I started this small studio so that me and my family could share our love of music with our family and friends. Nothing more. There are about 70 plugins in use on the love song. The soundtrack was put together for a friend and was recorded with a Motif.
Thanks,
Adam

PS I hope the mp3's attached. I told you I am technically challenged. My pics are upside down for crying out loud. LOL.
 

Attachments

  • Nathan on Keys.mp3
    9.1 MB · Views: 7
  • Nathan - There You Go Again.mp3
    10.5 MB · Views: 9

keith.rogers

Well-known member
It sounds nice.

The acoustic guitar, being so present, is one of the weaker parts, unfortunately, to my ear.

I have no idea why it requires so many plugins. I don't hear anything that requires anything more than the basics and some chorus on the guitar, a little delay. What is it that you need? (Is the vocal harmony real or generated?)

And, what you've made here is what is sometimes referred to as a sausage. The loudness wars are over, man. You've crushed some of the life out of the mix IMO.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.42.33 AM.png

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 9.41.13 AM.png

You should be finalizing that mix to about -14dB (LUFS) or even less if going to iTunes. When it gets normalized down on some folks phones/ipods it will lose a lot. It's even hot for CD (again IMO) for this type of content.

P.S. I might be a decade older than you. My wife reminds me occasionally that I'm an old man ("fool" I think is the word she uses...), but, you know it's [almost] all in your head ;)
 
Thanks for that. You are right. I try to get mixes loud. To -.2. I will remix it as you suggest. That is all real harmony by my son. Stacked and panned.
 

keith.rogers

Well-known member
Thanks for that. You are right. I try to get mixes loud. To -.2. I will remix it as you suggest. That is all real harmony by my son. Stacked and panned.
It's not just the peak, which you've exceeded quite a bit, but the compression that's overdone here.

I'd start by taking all FX off the master bus (ok, if you must, a little "glue" compression, no more than say 2:1 and maybe a dB makup), so you end up with a more dynamic mix. Then, get that so when you bounce it down to non-lossy stereo you've got at least 6dB left to play with before you crank it up to a finalized/pseudo-mastered version, doing that in a separate project, applying your limiter to raise the average loudness (use a loudness "meter" plugin - probably in every DAW by now) to your target. I set my hard/true peak limit at -0.5. When it's converted to lossy format, it almost always pushes it another .1, or you can normalize to 0 in that step if you must. (I don't think the vast majority can hear the difference in a mix that's limited at -0.5 vs. 0.0, but there probably are a few.) Anyway, the point is to finalize to a consistent loudness, and not a peak. If your loudness is achieved while your peaks are at -2.0dBFS, you've probably overcompressed everything from the gitgo, IMO.
 
It's not just the peak, which you've exceeded quite a bit, but the compression that's overdone here.

I'd start by taking all FX off the master bus (ok, if you must, a little "glue" compression, no more than say 2:1 and maybe a dB makup), so you end up with a more dynamic mix. Then, get that so when you bounce it down to non-lossy stereo you've got at least 6dB left to play with before you crank it up to a finalized/pseudo-mastered version, doing that in a separate project, applying your limiter to raise the average loudness (use a loudness "meter" plugin - probably in every DAW by now) to your target. I set my hard/true peak limit at -0.5. When it's converted to lossy format, it almost always pushes it another .1, or you can normalize to 0 in that step if you must. (I don't think the vast majority can hear the difference in a mix that's limited at -0.5 vs. 0.0, but there probably are a few.) Anyway, the point is to finalize to a consistent loudness, and not a peak. If your loudness is achieved while your peaks are at -2.0dBFS, you've probably overcompressed everything from the gitgo, IMO.



Other than the acoustic being too hot as far as balance. What else would you suggest?
 

keith.rogers

Well-known member
Other than the acoustic being too hot as far as balance. What else would you suggest?
It's not balance, just the tonality/quality of the track itself. It was just an impression that hit me - like why is this guitar track so noticeable? and the answer wasn't that it wasn't that it was really great *to my ears*. Could be exactly the way you and your son want it!

So, we're off on a tangent here, and what I'd suggest is that you go back to the *mix* and just do the usual kind of static mix with level, pan, eq, and then slowly add in just those fx you must have for the specific sound qualities you want in the mix/tracks. Go easy on the compression, again, except as needed for the sound you want. Every plugin should have a clear purpose for being there, and tested with in/out to confirm your decision. (Make notes on why you have each plugin on each track - might be clarifying!)

Leave the "mastering" steps out of your mixing and post up the mix on the MP3 Mixing Clinic sub-forum for comments from folks, i.e., before you get to the step where you're trying to make it as loud as possible.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
That wasn't remotely what I expected, and I like the recording quality and the recording content. I like the musicianship and I like the singing. It's pretty loud throughout. I've no idea what the plugins are doing - you sure they really are doing something, but apart from being a bit powerful, I thinks it's a great job.

In fact, it sounds a little like those 90s rack processors the Aphex expanders, the big bottom device and the things people slapped on already good mixes to make them loud. Not always a bad thing I guess.
 
Top