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Tag: r2

Plugin purchase #2

The second choice is one of favourite. Not only because of the quality of the plugins, although that’s important, but the hero behind the products. I’m talking about Michael Carnes, the man behind some of the most successful Lexicon products, and lately, one of the most pristine sounding plugins on the market.

Exponential audio reverbs and effect bundle

Because of the quality of the plugins, the decision is, we need all of his plugins. The reverbs definitely feels like the highest quality hardware units. Only without the hassle of using an external unit. Just a quick overview.

Phoenixverb

The pure, natural sound. Most of the time it’s much better than an IR reverb. It creates real space around the source, without any artefacts. The GUI is not about eye-candy graphics, instead it offers clear and logical controls organised so you can find and operate the plugin quickly.

Phoenix surround

Formats goes from simple mono to 7.1, and with the link function you can use it in the immersive surround environments.

Another great thing is the presets are not only there to give you some starting point, they’re stellar sounding settings, usable without further tweaks.

R2

Well, the R2 is the reverb that gives you that somewhat coloured larger than life sound. Sonically it’s more noticeable than the Phoenix but once you find the the right balance between the the direct and wet, it’s just unbelievable. When you try the presets, the same goes for the R2. Without any tweaking it is absolutely great with the basic presets.

The GUI is almost the same, you’ll find all the controls easily.

R2 surround

The additional functions like the chorus and gate can really change and colour the sound.

Another big thing for me is how easy to adjust these reverbs in the surround field. Level, delay, metering is all right at the perfect place when you need it.

Excalibur

What can I say? Is there anything delay based special effect that it can’t do? I don’t think so. This is a beast you have to treat with respect. This is a plugin you’ll spend long days figuring out what it can do. This is a delay you’ve dreamed of. This is a multi-effect that can be subtle, but able to transform your sound into very special things.

Excalibur

These are the reasons why we need it.

Stay tuned for the next part.

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New year’s very early discoveries

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone!

Well, it’s not about any new year’s resolution, I’m not that type, sorry. Rather, it’s about some perspective. Amidst the big mixing sessions I seldom have time to really experiment with different plugins, try absolutely new things, so I thought as the start of the new year is a bit more calm, I make some tests.

Reverb

My lovely reverbs for post production and for music. Many fellow engineer recommended me different reverbs for certain tasks and as I’m admittedly a reverb fan, well, downloaded most of it to hear what they can do for me. After many hours of testing and tweaking things in Pro Tools I came to this very succinct conclusion:
If you need very high quality, really stellar sounding verbs with reliable automation, use Exponential Audio’s Phoenix and R2 and Avid’s Revibe.
Probably many of you just raised your eyebrows, but I must say that Revibe is still a exceptionally good reverb, I would go as far as to say if you’re in post production, it’s a must have. From time to time I love to experiment and test new things, but for a reason I always use this trusty old friend. I think the difference lies in the thought process that went into designing and updating this reverb. The original idea was to make a great and versatile room modelling plugin that suits for post production. At least that’s what I think and that’s what I feel when I use it. Very well made presets gives you direction, but if you want, tweak the parameters until you hear what you want.

reverbs

I know it’s probably strange that I don’t mention any convolution verbs. I have my reasons for it. Because I hardly use any. First, the most popular one cannot be automated properly, there are many issues with its automation, if you’re more interested in it, dive into some real user forums or test it yourself. The second, and this is the biggest one for me, is that for some reason many times they sound flat, lifeless and not really convincing. I’m not an expert so I don’t know the reason behind this, but it seems to me that algorithmic reverbs tend to sit better in the mix. They sound more organic and frankly, many times more realistic.

Upmix

I started to test the few remaining upmix plugins. Two things:

  • they are expensive
  • all require magicians and witches to code one

Right now, I’m testing the Auromatic Pro 2D up-mixer which seem to be preferred by many excellent mixer. I think the reason why many of these up-mixers failed to convince me is that I need them for multiple things. One day for music, the other day for complete mixed material, and after that for some special effects things. I’ve found that most up-mixer is good maybe only for one thing, but fail when it comes to multi-faceted work, not to mention that it must downmix perfectly. I have high hopes in this Auro up-mixer simply because the engineers who recommended it I trust.

auromatic 2d

The next few days going to be very interesting ones for me during these tests.

Plugins

It is only a small discovery, but for me, a very enlightening one. I checked my recent templates and discovered the fact that I’m using only a few different ones. If you’d take a look at my iLok list, I have many different types of EQ and Dynamics, etc. but it seems I only use a very small percentage of it.
From EQ I usually use 2 types, 3 types of dynamics and as you might have guessed, the aforementioned reverbs, that is all. And the real discovery is that I don’t even miss the rest!
This, again, proves the point for me that we don’t need a hundred different compressors or EQs for a mix.

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Plugin upgrade plans

I’m very picky when it comes to purchase and use plugins. I only use a handful of them, but those are – without a doubt – amongst the best in the World. Why is that? Because in my opinion no one needs 30 different type of vintage emulations to properly mix, or 128 slightly different compressors or 200 different types of EQ. I think it’s utterly unnecessary, even more so it can easily be detrimental, but that’s a whole other issue.

Plans for the summer

After careful consideration and extremely diligent testing process I made a list which I would like to buy. Not many, but again, a few that can make a real difference.

Note that this list is about my own personal collection.

Exponential audio

This upgrade has already happened. I owned the R2 stereo version but I needed more. Both in channels (surround) and in verb type so now I own the Exponential Audio all bundle:

  • R2 stereo
  • Phoenix stereo
  • R2 surround
  • Phoenix surround

These are the most spectacular verbs I’ve ever used so I really highly recommend them.
There’s a Midsummer Sale going on there, I highly recommend to check out these amazing plugins.

exponential audio reverbs

Magott software

I would never say that it’s impossible to work with the Pro Tools built-in surround panner, but last time when I was mixing a feature film’s score in 5.1, I got frustrated by it many times. Hence I looked around, found and tested Spanner, which proved itself to be a spectacular solution for surround panning and even more. So, during the summer, Spanner is going to be purchased.

spanner

For the time being, this is it. Not much, but as I told you before, I only own the plugins I use daily. This minimalist approach proved to be a great success for me. It made me work harder on mixes, made me really dig into things and learn the tools, and finally, made me realise that many plugin out there is not worth the money for various reasons.

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Planning is important

I’ve been snowed under, still trying to find my way out of the turmoil. During these periods, planning is even more important, it can be the ticket for success or the lack of it can be the recipe for disaster.

Symphonic live

Recently I was asked to mix a huge live show which had a pop band, a symphonic orchestra, a huge choir and 22 lead singers. I was responsible for the symphonic orchestra and the choir. With a show like this, it is mandatory to plan everything ahead, improvisation here can easily be disastrous.

The whole things starts with rehearsals and a pen and a clean sheet of paper. Yes, even in this modern computerised age, the early stage of planning is still easier and faster on paper. Sketching up the proper sitting positions in the orchestra, the number of players, the different instruments and their corresponding microphones, preliminary channel lists all done on paper. Later on obviously this whole thing will end up in Excel, but for the start when you sit there at the rehearsal, good old paper is much more convenient.

This is also the best time to make some notes on the different arrangements. Later on I’ll have the score, but it is a good idea to make general notes on the different songs. It can personalise the information and in my experience these early notes can trigger your memory later on so you’ll remember much more minute detail while you’ll mix the show. These notes don’t have to be really detailed professional remarks about the song or the arrangement but they must have meaning to the note taker. Write down anything comes to mind, even different moods or feelings. Later it can really help you to remember.

After numerous rehearsals I could make a final channel list:
(V=violin, VA=viola)

  1. V1
  2. V2
  3. V3
  4. V4
  5. V5
  6. V6
  7. V7
  8. V8
  9. V9
  10. V10
  11. V11
  12. V12
  13. V13
  14. V14
  15. V2/1
  16. V2/2
  17. V2/3
  18. V2/4
  19. V2/5
  20. V2/6
  21. V2/7
  22. V2/8
  23. V2/9
  24. V2/10
  25. V2/11
  26. V2/12
  27. V2/13
  28. V2/14
  29. VA1
  30. VA2
  31. VA3
  32. VA4
  33. VA5
  34. VA6
  35. VA7
  36. VA8
  37. VA9
  38. VA10
  39. CELLO1
  40. CELLO2
  41. CELLO3
  42. CELLO4
  43. DBASS1
  44. DBASS2
  45. FLUTE1
  46. FLUTE2
  47. OBOE1
  48. OBOE2
  49. CLARINET1
  50. CLARINET2
  51. BASSOON1
  52. BASSOON2
  53. TRUMPET1
  54. TRUMPET2
  55. TROMBONE1
  56. TROMBONE2
  57. HORN1
  58. HORN2
  59. TUBA
  60. TIMPANI1
  61. TIMPANI2
  62. MARIMBA L
  63. MARIMBA R
  64. XYLOPHONE L
  65. XYLOPHONE R
  66. VIBRAPHONE L
  67. VIBRAPHONE R
  68. PERCUSSION 1
  69. PERCUSSION 2
  70. PERCUSSION 3

Microphones

In a live situation like this, gain before feedback is the priority. Of course we want good sound quality too, but as we need to produce concert volume with a pop band and singers in front of the orchestra, somehow we must have pop SPL from a symphonic orchestra. I know it may sound strange but believe me that without this “rock volume” type preparation the live sound would fail miserably.

So, all strings miced with DPA4099, woodwinds were Rode NT5s, brass had Sennheiser md421s, and all the timpanis and other percussions had Rode NT5s. That’s it. No big secrets, no special magic. We had very short time to do everything and in a situation like this, in my experience, the simpler is the better. I agree that with more time maybe I could select different mics for certain positions, but as with any live production I had to make some compromises as not all kind and type of microphone is available everytime.

We had two consoles at FOH, an analogue Soundcraft and a digital DiGiCo. The DiGiCo handled the symphonic orchestra and the choir, the analogue side had the pop part and the lead singers. Although I generally don’t have any problem with digital consoles, frankly I hate the built-in effects in DiGiCo. Because of this I used external reverbs on the orchestra, two R2 (Exponential audio) provided the beautiful, lush effect connected through Pro Tools.

The outcome

Considering that we didn’t have enough rehearsal, the show was very successful both technically and artistically. The short time frame urged everyone in the production to really pay attention, focus and do as good job as he/she can.

On the monitoring side we had an interesting solution which worked remarkably well. We didn’t have enough budget and engineer for a completely separate monitor mix, so the whole symphonic orchestra received the monitor mix from my FOH console through matrix. At first I thought it is more than optimistic to think that it will work, but it was perfect. The musicians heard themselves well, and they loved the full mix with reverbs on it. Because I was skeptical at first, I sent a few submixes to the monitor mixer in case he need to add more from a certain group, but this time he only used the main mix.

The experience

The process was a brilliant learning experience too. I constantly compared the methods, sounds and necessary mix tricks needed to make full but loud mix, which is not the original nature of a symphonic orchestra. The final mix was an interesting blend of some well known pop/rock method with a good amount of classical treatment. It is a real challenge to make everything sound like a big classical orchestra while still providing enough volume and power. Compensate the extremely close micing but only for a degree because in the next minute I needed a more modern sound. All in all it was great fun.

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