What are your favorite features?

mjbphotos

What?!?
It's improving mine. Playing live, I put more emotion into my strumming and just bang away sometimes.
Sounds good live:listeningmusic: Sounds like crap recording :eek:

Yeah, definitely. Turning the gain up on a sensitive mic can get ugly. Last night I actually had an idea to take a patch of flannel or denim and affix it somehow to the pickguard, with a bit tucked into the edge of the soundhole.

Just hold the pick closer to the tip.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
I hold it that way when playing bass because I use a very light grip which causes the pick to flip out when held otherwise. I've tried this playing acoustic and my forefinger takes the hit with the nail to the knuckle scraping the strings. I have a "normal" grip for acoustic strumming, and staying aware of the situation while playing seems to be the answer, but if I drift off for a second the problem can return. It's not a habit yet.

Normal Grip

pick.jpg
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Gain staging and clipping

The topic of gain staging has been popping up here lately and I've been reading through some older threads and other material and Kenny's videos - these are interesting. The second one on Gain Staging actually comes before the Clipping video and helps explain what's going on.


 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
So I appreciate and agree with what Kenny’s saying there, but...

In that gain staging video he keeps saying things like “it’s distorting here, but we’re fixing it over here.” That’s not actually true. If it was actually distorting at one stage, then turning it down further down the line wouldn’t fix anything, it would just turn down the distorted signal. The real point that he’s making is that it’s NOT distorting at the track, FX, or bus. It’s going over 0dbFS at that point, but the internal processing can handle that. It won’t actually distort at all until you try to push it out your DAC or render it to a fixed point file format. 0dbFS is literally defined to be as loud as a fixed point file (and your DAC) can get, but until you actually try to do that, it can get a hell of a lot louder without distorting.

If you were to look under the hood of that JS Volume plugin, you’d find that the individual samples are not really “talking” in dB. The actual sample values are represented on a linear scale pretty much like a voltage. In fact, they are exactly a ratio of the voltage that would be generated by the DAC to the maximum voltage that DAC can produce. A sample which would make the meter show 0dbFS will be either -1 or 1, and most normal signals exist between those two extremes. If you add 100db of gain, what the plugin actually does is multiply each sample by 100,000. That’s A LOT, and obviously the result is a heck of a lot more that +-1. But the 64 bit floating point environment can handle numbers that are like millions of billions. 10^15 or so (in both directions from 0) which is like 300dbFS. Fixed point files and your DAC only go up to 1, but Reaper has no problem handling numbers way bigger.

BUT he chose plugins which do not artificially impose their own limits. Many popular plugins do, though. Real analog hardware has hard limits on how much voltage it can pass, and anything emulating such hardware will also emulate those limits. If you try to push a 100dbFS signal through one of those, it’s going to distort, and trying to turn it down after will definitely not “fix” that distortion.

It’s perhaps worth mentioning that this works in the other direction, too. That is, fixed point files (and DACs) have a limit on the smallest number (think like absolute value - how close to 0 we can get, not how far negative) they can represent. If a signal is too quiet, the area around the zero crossing starts to kind of get chopped out and we get crossover distortion, sometimes called “quantization” distortion. With 24 or even 16 bit fixed point, that’s still so quiet that it’ll be lost in the analog noise floor and you’ll never hear it. But if you were say to render a very quiet file to 16bit and then try to amplify back up, you’ll definitely start to hear it. In the floating point engine, that’s not a thing either. You can turn down your signal by 100db and then turn it back up and (again as long as no plugins are imposing artificial limits) you won’t have lost any information near those zero crossings. There will be no crossover distortion, and it will null perfectly with the original.

Now we’ve pretty much been talking about “real-time” playback, but what happens if we do something like Glue items, Apply Track FX, or Render stems? All of these actions create new audio files, and what happens there depends on the format of those files. If those files are going to be fixed point, then they will have limits in both directions. Render too hot, it clips. Render too quiet, and you get crossover distortion. Either way, you’ve completely lost information and there’s nothing you can do to get it back. That distortion is baked in and can’t really be fixed.

If those files are floating point, though, then it’s again just not an issue, almost as though you never left the floating point mix engine to begin with. You can render a floating point file that peaks at +100dbFS, bring it back in and turn it down 100db, and there will be no distortion. Now for some stupid reason, the default for these kinds of renders is “automatic” which I think uses the (fixed point) resolution of your interface, but it almost seems arbitrary and is never actually ideal. I strongly suggest that you go find that setting (in Project Settings) and change it to a floating point format instead and then save that as your default project settings. (Note that this won’t help any previously saved projects). I personally think 32bit is plenty. This way you don’t have to worry if whatever you render is a little too hot or too quiet. You can just render and know that all the information you need will be there.

In fact, ANYtime you’re rendering ANything other than your final distribution file it should go to floating point. Well, OK, like test mixes or whatever will have to be fixed point if you’re going to play them on other devices, but the mix file that you’re going to bring back into a mastering session should be floating.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
That's a lot for me to digest. I'll start off slow..

So.. Kenny's saying "distortion.. or overloading" is not really distortion, as far as the examples in this video go. Just hot.

I have a question. So we see the track fader going into the red. And Kenny using this JS:Volume/Pan Smooth plugin to reduce output gain. My question.. is the original signal that's showing red in the track fader still hot at it's point in the chain? Or has the plugin actually lowered it's output gain at that point but the fader meter still shows red (doesn't make sense, I know). From your previous statements I would presume the original signal is still hot - just as you say if it was actual distortion it couldn't be corrected further up the chain by that plugin.

One more.. you're saying the track's hot, un-distorted signal will not distort until it's rendered. When I render to stereo .wav I frequently see the meter in the render window go into the red, even though the original track and master faders are well below. Is that the rendered distortion? My hearing fails me there - I can't detect distortion at those lower levels (in the render window) where it just slides over the line by 1-3 dB.

I hope I didn't mangle that too badly.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
I have a question. So we see the track fader going into the red. And Kenny using this JS:Volume/Pan Smooth plugin to reduce output gain. My question.. is the original signal that's showing red in the track fader still hot at it's point in the chain? Or has the plugin actually lowered it's output gain at that point but the fader meter still shows red (doesn't make sense, I know). From your previous statements I would presume the original signal is still hot - just as you say if it was actual distortion it couldn't be corrected further up the chain by that plugin.
He uses ReaEQ to amplify the signal coming from the audio item itself by 100db, multiplying it by 100,000, which causes it to go way over 0dbFS. It is that hot going into the JS Volume, but he sets that plugin to attenuate 100db, dividing by 100,000. Since 100,000/100,000 = 1, this puts it right back to the same level that's coming out of the item. If the fader is still showing red, it's only because he didn't clear the clip indicator. Or else I'm misunderstanding your question. It is really hot between ReaEQ and JS Volume, but is normal before ReaEQ and after JS Volume.

One more.. you're saying the track's hot, un-distorted signal will not distort until it's rendered. When I render to stereo .wav I frequently see the meter in the render window go into the red, even though the original track and master faders are well below. Is that the rendered distortion? My hearing fails me there - I can't detect distortion at those lower levels (in the render window) where it just slides over the line by 1-3 dB.
I guess I'd have to see what you're doing, but the render should peak at the same point as the master. Anyway, if that render meter does show red from going over 0dbFS, AND you're rendering to fixed point format, then yes, there is distortion/clipping. Anything above 0dbFS just gets lopped off and lost - just becomes 0dbFS period - and cannot be replaced or fixed.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Today I figured out how to extend a MIDI item to full song length without Time Selection copy/paste repeats. I've familiarized myself with Kenny's video on Time Selection editing, and that all works fine, I just wanted a faster way to create full looped tracks as I was beginning to put a song together.

Step entering drum parts in the piano roll editor until I got a section that could be repeated to the end of the song, I then wanted to extend that sequence from, say, measure 4 to measure 140. So for me, the fastest way I found is to select the MIDI item in the track screen and Glue it. Then in Item Properties, enter the desired length and Apply/OK - voila!

If you don't Glue the item it will still extend to the desired length but will not repeat the sequence as a loop. You'll wind up with a lot of empty space after the initial sequence.

I looked for this feature because I was dragging grooves from my drum kit into the track screen where that automatically created a track with the groove as a MIDI item. I can drag the end of that item to the right and it loops the groove as far as I want it to go - as far as I drag it - with no gluing required. Adjusting the length in Properties does the same - as above. I saw that I couldn't do this with parts I was step entering in the MIDI piano roll editor, so I began the search for a way to do so.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
'Glue' is to combine multiple items into one on a track - makes it easier to do something to all the pieces rather to 'select all' first.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Yeah.. and it seemed counterintuitive to glue a single item, but it does.. whatever it does. It converts a step-entered MIDI sequence into a loop that can be extended indefinitely.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
'Glue' is to combine multiple items into one on a track...
Well, that’s one of the things you can do with glue. You can also use it to make new items out of ones that you have split or slip edited or dragged out to loop. I‘m not super clear on what spantini was doing, but it sounds like there was a longer item which was slip edited or split down shorter. If you drag it out from that point, you’re just revealing the rest of the item that was there before the edit because that exit really just hid part of the item. If you want the new edited shorter part to be the whole item, so that dragging it out loops just that part, glue is the way to do it.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
I was starting from scratch, trying to create the loop from nothing using my step-entered MIDI notes.

__________________

Add a new MIDI item. Open it's editor. Step-enter 8 notes.

Drag the item out and it will be empty except for those 8 notes.

Drag it back. Glue that item, then drag it out again.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
But you were entering those notes into an existing item that was too long to begin with! Didn’t you say you made it the entire length of the project? So then you decided you didn’t want the item to be that long. Two easy ways to fix that: split or slip. Both accomplish the same thing. They hide the part of the item that you don’t want to see. But that part is there, and you can just slip it back out again to reveal the hidden contents. If you want to actually remove that hidden part so that the item is actually only as long as what you’ve split/slipped it to, kind of the quickest way to do that is to glue it. Now it’s a new item that is only as long as what was visible from the original and you can loop it all you’d like.

Now, with MDI items there actually is another way, but it kind of sucks. Dont slip/split it shorter, but rather slip it out longer, so that it starts to loop the whole long item. You don’t have to go too far with that, just far enough to see the loop point. In the midi editor, this will show up as a dark grey vertical line. You can now drag that line anywhere you want. If you pull it all the way to wherever you were going to split it, it will now be a full length item that loops over and over again. This can’t be done with audio items. Those you really do have to Glue, which both creates a new item which references a new .wav file which is exactly as that long.

I’m pretty sure there’s a way to do a similar thing via item properties, but I never use it ain’t looking at it right now.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
If you want to actually remove that hidden part so that the item is actually only as long as what you’ve split/slipped it to, kind of the quickest way to do that is to glue it. Now it’s a new item that is only as long as what was visible from the original and you can loop it all you’d like.
Yeah.. that's basically what I'm doing only I begin with the shortened item (default item as added initially).

Here's my process :

add new.jpgstep enter.jpgextend.jpgglue.jpgloop.jpg
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
Oh that actually is a little weird. Does that original item have “loop source” checked in item properties? That should do it without having to glue, but again only if that item is actually that long. I can’t imagine how it could be longer if it was created that long, but I also can’t figure out why “loop source” would be off when it’s first created but then on after glue. There are default settings for that, but I’d think it would apply to all newly created items no matter how they are created. Unless something in the step record process turns that off?!?
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
...but I also can’t figure out why “loop source” would be off when it’s first created but then on after glue. There are default settings for that...
Loop was on in Item Properties, but..

I went into Project Settings and discovered "Loop Source" was off there. Turning that on did the trick, as you say, it now automatically loops when first added to the track - no gluing required.

I would have sworn that was on previously. Perhaps the Reaper 6 update flipped it off.

Thanks, man! 8-)
 
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