EQing orchestral instruments?

Discussion in 'Mixing, Post-Production, and Effects' started by vegetadbz, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Henu

    Henu Senior Member

    553
    617
    Nov 17, 2017
    Finland
    One thing which cannot be punctuated enough is that all these libraries are already pre-mixed to sound as good as they can when played standalone.

    When you start to mix your project where all these sample libraries are used, no matter the genre, you should be able to sound pretty good already out of the box without much EQ'ing. Don't do stuff just for the sake of it. I remember when I started to fiddle around seriously with sample libraries, I overEQ'd and tweaked the living shit out of them, only to realize later that they need a fraction of all that corrective stuff. Don't be like me!

    Also, what I've also noticed during my learning is that the better the orchestration, the less you actually need (corrective) mixing.
     
    MartinH. likes this.
  2. Blakus

    Blakus Midi Magician

    Mixing sample based compositions is quite difficult for a few reasons.

    1. Most libraries are just not recorded well in the first place. This is an uphill battle from the start. Many developers come from a technical perspective, and often record material with more detail, closer. When played in isolation, this can feel more satisfying, but in context, combined with other instruments, it falls apart. Libraries recorded in this way are also more friendly to program/script. You would be surprised to know how many developers place the Decca tree at lower than necessary heights for these reasons.

    2. The way samples blend is different from the way players sound when sitting next to each other on a scoring stage. For example, layering smaller sections or solos together does not accurately create the sound of a larger section, despite many who say otherwise. In the same way, playing violin and cello samples together does not quite combine in the same way they would if recorded together. Some frequency buildup also occurs that doesn’t happen in a live recording. Yes orchestration obviously helps, but it doesn’t solve the issue. Common midi tricks like layering articulations adds even more complexity to this issue.

    3. The nature of crossfades and other programming/scripting devices interferes with the integrity of the original recordings. Phasing issues, temporarily disappearing rooms, altered dynamics, noise reduction (shudder) etc. etc.

    It’s best to use your ears. Don’t assume the library comes in its finest form, it most likely doesn’t, and even if it does it will need some work to fit into your mix. Mock up existing works, match within reason to the recordings, train your ears to hear differences inside the mix, and good fricken luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019 at 2:16 AM
  3. Henu

    Henu Senior Member

    553
    617
    Nov 17, 2017
    Finland
    The feeling when someone you consider way more knowledgeable on sample libraries comes and contradicts your opinion. :D

    Anyway, I completely agree on what you wrote, but I'm talking about a bit different angle.
    While you speak of basically "advanced" stuff (which is 100% on the spot), my point was to give only the starting instructions for someone who needs to be struggling getting the basic things not to fall apart.
    When someone asks for a rule of thumb for EQ'ing sampled orchestral instruments in general, my first advice would definitely still be that don't EQ anything that doesn't need it. I'd say first that only take out the resonances you find unpleasant for starters and cut sub frequencies out from things where they are not needed.... and then advance to everything you wrote and take all those to consideration. And naturally, for all this, using your own ears is definitely the way to go. :)
     
    Blakus likes this.
  4. bengoss

    bengoss New Member

    8
    5
    Nov 15, 2018
    New York
    I feel like I have this muddy problem mostly with convolution reverbs... Anyone else? When I replace it to Lex or Valhalla, somehow the mix seems thinner but cleaner.

    B
     
    Serg Halen and markleake like this.
  5. markleake

    markleake Recovering sale addict

    1,417
    987
    Nov 8, 2015
    This is why I've moved away from using Spaces as my go-to reverb (that and the high CPU it uses). It sounds great by itself, but then I start fighting the build up of its own sound that it adds. I use Valhalla Room and send any instrument to that which needs more reverb. I only use convolution when I absolutely do need it. That way I find I have a cleaner sound, and don't have to start EQing the reverb.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019 at 3:39 AM
    bengoss likes this.
  6. markleake

    markleake Recovering sale addict

    1,417
    987
    Nov 8, 2015
    I completely agree with @AlexanderSchiborr on this one. When I first started I used some of the libraries you are using (especially the East West libraries), but really struggled with tone and muddy sound. I had versions of those libraries that didn't give me any mic positions, or it turns out didn't have a good out of box tone, and it was beyond my capabilies to mix them. That was bad for learning.

    I slowly moved over to different library vendors (mostly Spitfire, OT, and Cinematic series) where I could get more mics and better sounding rooms which I found easier to use. That helped me a lot, as I was able to learn how to mix using libraries which needed less treatment for tone and reverb. Plus it taught me the natural sounds of the instruments at their normal orchestral seating depth. I found their libraries so much less demanding to get a good tone when mixed, because I no longer needed to fake the room so much.

    Then I slowly learned orchestration by experimenting, watching heaps of YT, reading on here, listening to other works, etc. I learnt how to get a LOT better at making lush / wide / "crispy" sounds as needed. It helps a lot having libraries that give you flexibility with mics and articulations, or even just having many libraries that you can pick and choose sounds from.

    The main effort is really all the orchestration and mixing. You need to have all the instruments sounding like they are in the right spot in a similar sounding space/room, and you need to get them playing/sounding typical to how they naturally would play/sound. That orchestration and natural playing component takes a lot of time to learn. Without those components it will never sound right, whatever you do.

    Only the last 5% for me personally is EQing and such, in most situations anyway.

    I still have a huge amount to learn of couse. I tend to naturally not write anything that requires any heavy EQ or other processing, so that makes life easier.
     
    bengoss likes this.

Share This Page