Steps for cleaning audio stems and mixing

HarmonyCore

Active Member
Hey Everyone,

When I finish recording my MIDI tracks, clean, and edit them, I started to bounce each track to audio. At this point, I don't know what are the exact steps to do with these audio stems. After collecting various information about the topic from different sources, I learned that the first thing to do with them is to clean any background noise. The second step is to apply crossfades (still learning this) to add smooth transitions. However, I even don't know if my audio whether need crossfades or not and when. But I just want to point out that I have the habit of carefully recording each track from the beginning as clean as possible and I gained the skill to record my performance with very few mistakes. The tracks, as a result, sound pretty nice without the need to apply any technique or effect (other than mixing of course). But that's just my view.

After applying all the techniques possible on audio, mixing and mastering phases come.

So, my questions are:

1) What are other steps to take with the audio stems other than noise cleanup and adding crossfades?
2) When to tell if the audio stems need certain type of technique?

Thx :)
 
I would not necessarily apply noise reduction as a matter of course. There’s always a trade off in sound quality. Also, room noise is a part of sound— it can be part of what makes it feel real.

My advice would be: if it sounds good, leave it alone. Don’t do anything just because you think you “should”. Trust your own ears and your own opinion.

Compare your sounds against references you love and if you notice one is better than the other, try to ascertain why.
 
OP
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HarmonyCore

Active Member
Yes, I usually do leave things if they sound good. But I always have this urge of perfecting things and hate skipping steps since steps must be executed in order in the audio realm. More importantly, I just want to point out that I will be making music for a living so it's very critical to learn the craft correctly and in order.
 

FlyingAndi

New Member
If you're working with MIDI and some synth or samples behind that, you shouldn't to clean background noises at all. The samples or VST should be clean by themselves. If they are not, then it's probably on purpose or because you are using very noisy samples (like some of the pianobook libs).

Maybe you should start by watching and working through some tutorials.
This channel has some very good tutorials for beginners:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCESNxzJHzDnCIuRO0RhQLeA/playlists
 
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HarmonyCore

Active Member
If you're working with MIDI and some synth or samples behind that, you shouldn't to clean background noises at all. The samples or VST should be clean by themselves.
Good point and yes this makes more sense. Probably the video that I watched was talking about cleaning background noises when recording live instruments, not VST as he covered audio tweaking in general. I will certainly come across recording my real guitar in the future so it's a bonus to know about the background noise thing. And because I turn on my AC all the time in my studio in summer, the signal will definitely pick up a noise. Honestly, I still can't understand how to hear it and it isn't noticeable but sound engineers got ears that smell not hear. :)
 

FlyingAndi

New Member
Honestly, I still can't understand how to hear it and it isn't noticeable but sound engineers got ears that smell not hear.
As crandallwarren said, you shouldn't overdo it. If your mic is close to the guitar and the AC is in the other corner of the room, then the mic shouldn't pick up too much noise (relative to the volume of the guitar). So you might be OK with no noise reduction at all or a simple gate to eliminate the noise while the guitar isn't playing at all.
If you are recording the guitar with additional room mics (which only makes sense if your room sounds good) then these will pick up more of the noise and noise reduction could be necessary.