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Where to work on resonance and masking

ptram

Senior Member
Hi,

I'm trying to do some corrective work on resonance and masking on virtual orchestra mixes. I plan to use something like iZotope Neutron to help analyze what's happening, and then whichever EQ I find good for the task.

The finest way to do it would be working on each track. But I know master engineers usually work on stems. So, maybe it would be enough to do this type of editing on each family buss (woodwinds, brass, percussion, keyboards, strings, maybe high strings separated from low strings)?

I guess professional mixing is already producing stems with no issues, so I wonder if the mix has already to be faultless right from the beginning.

Paolo
 

Beat Kaufmann

Senior Member
Hello Ptram

If there are such maskings to be patched, it would of course be great to be able to activate corresponding filters only when maskings actually occur. I therefore recommend that these maskings be repaired dynamically in the same way as, for example, such problems are solved with bass and bass drum. But:

Ideally, there would be no masking at all, which would require a lot of effort to patch up. This means that you might place instruments in the mix in a slightly different way than you might see them in classical set-ups (for concerts). From a mixing point of view, it is complete nonsense to place flutes, trumpets, oboes and other melody instruments behind the first violins. That way you risk "maskings" without end. From the mixer's point of view, it is equally unreasonable to place all other low instruments behind the cellos and bassi on the right. If you did this, you would not only have a lot of masking, but also an unattractive gradient of mainly high frequencies in the left stereo channel and low frequencies in the right stereo channel.
The latter is already bad because you only have one channel (the right one) to transmit the big power (bass). What might make sense in a concert hall is actually quite problematic in a mix, as long as you want to reproduce reality 1:1. So once more:
This means that you might place instruments in the mix in a slightly different way than you might see them in classical set-ups.


Since I often record live concerts and almost always encounter situations there that sometimes deviate considerably from theory, I personally have no trouble arranging my sample orchestra instruments so that as little masking as possible takes place. In any case, I am of the opinion that one should create good illusions of a concert atmosphere when mixing and that it is less about recreating real "sitting plans". If you listen to the original film music of Jurassic Park, for example, the strings as a whole tend to be on the left, the woodwinds in the center and the brass instruments on the right. So even with expensive productions, you don't necessarily stick totally to the classical set-ups. Of course, it's not possible if the positions are predefined by the library and therefore cannot be changed.

Here you can see a possibility of arranging the instruments in such a way that the instruments in the back are not hidden by the instruments in the front. At the same time, it is taken into account that instrument groups sound nicely stereo (strings, brass, woodwinds).
Furthermore, the bass instruments are arranged more in the middle. Good in terms of speaker performance. Both can participate in reproducing the high-energy bass instruments.

orchestra_setups6.jpg

Nevertheless, one perceives the mix as an orchestra and not as some incoherent instrumental performance. It is therefore always worthwhile before mixing to think about where to place instruments (if you have the possibility). These thoughts also show the disadvantages of fixed positions or fixed mixing presets.

Although it's not a unmasking guide, maybe my text will still be of some help. Ideally, there would be no masking at all... more Info you'll find here.
Beat

BTW: With such mixed stems you have no problem if someone else is to master them.
 
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ptram

ptram

Senior Member
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This means that you might place instruments in the mix in a slightly different way than you might see them in classical set-ups.

Thank you very much, Beat. Very enlightening indeed! We so often forget that working with audio is working with an aural illusion.

Paolo
 

Mike T

"Retired" Member
If you listen to the original film music of Jurassic Park, for example, the strings as a whole tend to be on the left, the woodwinds in the center and the brass instruments on the right.
I am not totally sure what you mean by this, Beat!

The setup for Jurassic Park is absolutely the typical symphonic arrangement, with strings from high to low across the left-right panorama, winds centered of course, and the brass split a bit wider than might be usual in typical classical context with the horns further left and the trumpets/low brass further right.

In that example, you can clearly hear the horns off to the left, the other brass on the right, the celli on the right doubling the melody in the second half in the lower octave....
 

labornvain

Active Member
Deal with it in your mix on individual tracks. Agreat tool for dealing with masking issues is Wavesfactory Trackspacer.

 

Beat Kaufmann

Senior Member
I am not totally sure what you mean by this, Beat!

The setup for Jurassic Park is absolutely the typical symphonic arrangement, with strings from high to low across the left-right panorama, winds centered of course, and the brass split a bit wider than might be usual in typical classical context with the horns further left and the trumpets/low brass further right.

In that example, you can clearly hear the horns off to the left, the other brass on the right, the celli on the right doubling the melody in the second half in the lower octave....
Hello Mike
That is exactly what I was trying to say. In some setups you tend to find all the low instruments on the right and the high melody instruments on the left.
orchesteraufbau-grafik.jpg

A common classic instrument placement. From a mix-technical point of view, not an ideal example.

Not so in Jurassic Park... OK the basses are on the right, so far no problem, but behind them are the trumpets - both groups of instruments do not cover each other. The violins are on the left, but there are also the horns. Again, both do not mask each other. That is what one should pay attention to when placing instruments.
That I am a friend of the arrangement - viol1 on the left and viol2 on the right, basses in the middle - has to do with the beautiful stereo image that results.
Beat
 
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