Doubled rhythms - wide splits & levels?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Tim Bowen, Jul 4, 2005.


  1. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I'm a big fan of doubling rhythm guitar tracks... okay, strike that, I'm an addict! A fave is the old technique of combining a slightly dirty, crunchy track, with a more pristine, sparkling clean track, and I often use different chord voicings for each, to fatten things up a bit. Sometimes at mixdown, I find that I want one or the other of the two basic sounds to be dominant...

    ...and my question is this: what ways are available to achieve this, and still have a relatively equal (actual or 'perceived') balance between the left and right stereo images?

    Say for example that the 'dirty' track is desired to be dominant - can that track be compressed, while the 'clean' track retains the dynamics that were printed, such that the combined effect is that the timbre of the dirty track is 'heard' more distinctly, but perceived left and right balance is mostly equal? How about creative use of panning?

    I know that there is the approach of effectively achieving desired balance by combining tones onto one sandwich track - but my aim is to keep the stereo split somewhat intact. I'm mostly interested in approaches that apply to the use of two tracks, but I'm open to suggestions regarding use of additional tracks as well. Also, 'clean & dirty' is just one example; others, such as 'wet & dry', would also be applicable.

    This is probably old hat for some of you guys...

    Thanks in advance for any insight!
     
  2. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    If you're only compressing one side, you'll (virtually) never get equal L/R balance throughout. That said, equal L/R balance is not necessarily all that, in most mixes.

    Now, if you're dealing with 2 heavily distorted tracks (which are inherently compressed), the equation is easier to reach, IF you want to (see above). I'm usually more interested in a dynamic soundstage where dominance is a dynamic, shifting thing, or where one track (the stronger) is clearly dominant throughout, with the double tucked under (level-wise).
     
  3. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Thanks for your thoughts, Bassomatic.
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Obviously, with unequal levels you can't have an equal left-right balance if they're panned symetrically. You can try panning the stronger track closer to the center, but that moves the center of the combined image. Try panning other tracks in the mix accordingly to even things up.

    As Basso said, if it leans one way then another for a few seconds, that's not so bad as long as the mix doesn't feel lopsided overall. I find that frequencies also make a big difference in perception of the stereo field. Too much high end or low end to one side feels wobbly.

    I listen with headphones to see what feels right in that respect. If one ear consistently feels more "tingly" than the other I move things around till they're equally excited.

    I have a song I just mixed with a combined rhythm sound like this... I'll post a clip soon.
     
  5. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    You might try panning the dirty track just a tiny bit to the other side.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    This reminds me - if you have an effect on the track, try panning it to the other side.
     
  7. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    Or you could do what I'm doing. Setting in Tampa Bay sipping on a Margeritta.
     
  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    You've already gotten great advice, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

    I wouldn't make any decisions about what needs to be done with the guitar parts until I heard the dirty part with bass, drums, keys and vocals (if any). You may not need to fuss around as much as you think.

    If I did want a bigger dirty sound, I'd leave the dynamics intact, and then maybe play along with the track dirty again instead of cloning it, for a fatter sound with more movement. I'd pan these hard left and right, and eq the second track so that you hear a roar, but so that it doesn't interfere with the clean part's important frequencies.

    I'd add the clean part to the mix panned near the part that got EQ'd to make room for the clean part, at a fairly low level.

    I'd only use compression if the tracks truly needed it. If I did decide to use compression, I'd compress all the tracks except for any solos, so that the dynamics would be consistent among the various guitars. I'd decide about compressing the solo after mixing the vocal in...I like to have the solo guitar have a similar dynamic "feel" in the mix to the vocal, including dynamics processing.
     
  9. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    FWIW, I rarely compress rhythm guitar tracks. They are pretty flat as is. Either I compress to tape if that's the effect I want, or the tubes do the job.

    Ariel Pozzo has said that he never uses compression on his side of the glass.
     
  10. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Thanks for the great advice. Agreed with several points here...

    First up, yes, mixing is a moot point until all the parts are down! After that point, I usually start with bass and drums, and then will address the lead vocal... beyond that, it's totally dependent on the song itself. I'll choose whatever melodic instrument(s) I feel best portray the intended vibe, and will subsequently build that, and then will work with additional instrumental and vocal tracks. I'll say that editing is usually more advantageous than addition.

    Compression is a useful, yet tricky, tool. If, with regard to electric guitars, the amp is sufficiently pushing tubes and air, I find it to be more of a detriment. I generally find it to be more useful with pristine, clean 6 string tracks, baritone guitar parts, things of that nature. I like the use of limiting on bass guitars, to tame the transients, particularly if an old school, round tone and vibe, is desired. If execution of the part itself benefits from compression (such as with E-bow or slide, for example), I'm a fan of printing compression to the track.

    Speaking of which, I guess I go against the grain with regard to ambience on electric guitar tracks. For pure tone, I like the sound of a great delay washing with the amp's front end, or amp 'verb, as printed. With regard to options as to placement within the audio field, ambience after-the-fact is likely more useful, but I utilize such very sparingly. It's possible to combine a bit of both in a musical way, without yielding a cartoonish, over-the-top vibe (unless such is desired).

    Creative use of panning is something I need to learn more about, as such is the thing that most often fools my ear when relying on flat EQ reference monitors. EQ, compression, and ambience are things that my ear mostly has a handle on.
     
  11. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    +1.

    About the only rhythm sound i ever use compression for is that super squashed, clean single coil funk comping sound. That and maybe a countryish tele sound.
     
  12. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    I triple track all of my crunch guitar tracks(Hard L/C/Hard R). Going for that 100 foot Cello thing. Same sound.
     

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