Anyone up for a challenge?

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(Please accept my apologies if this had been tried and failed before)

A recent thread about recording by @TTony had me thinking...

What about a production challenge? 

It could work along the lines of one person makes a short track. Their processed track would be posted and the stems (either fully  dry or as unprocessed as possible recordings) are made available to all for editing. We can discuss what we did from a technical point of view. There could be a vote if the admins wanted to organise it. 

After that anything goes. It could be an option for people to use their own tones, have different instruments more or less prominent in the mix, or even remix things by altering the existing structure.

We could keep it to only the existing tracks. Or we could allow additional tracks (E.g. different drums... or vocals to an instrumental)

It could be an interesting opportunity for us to see what people do with our work, whether it's tweak the EQ to vastly improve the clarity or turn it into some awesome bastard that bears little resemblance to what we originally had in mind. 

What are people's thoughts? Could it be a worthwhile exercise? Or is it a step too far? 
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 15136
    I like the idea of that.

    Probably not a recurring challenge along the lines of the "otm" competitions, but as a one-off.

    I certainly be interested in the *how* explanations - ie how those taking part did whatever they did to achieve the sound they achieved.


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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    I would be up for this! Sound like fun.
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    Ive just submitted a multi track piece for the composition challenge, Id be happy to post the individual wav files for you to play with !


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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    I’d be up for this... also have raw tracks from the old line up available. Individual drums, bass, two guitar tracks and vocals...

    let me know if anyone’s interested and I’ll find a way to get the individual tracks over!.
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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    Maybe post the contenders and participants can vote on which one to use?
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  • BezzerBezzer Frets: 213
    spark240 said:
    Ive just submitted a multi track piece for the composition challenge, Id be happy to post the individual wav files for you to play with !

    Likewise ... or I have many other weird ass tracks too ... be interesting to see if someone could make them sound good :)
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    IMC1980 said:
    Maybe post the contenders and participants can vote on which one to use?
    You want instrumental pieces or full blown songs?


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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    I am happy with full songs or instrumentals, I like to try out stuff I wouldn't necessarily record myself so either would be cool!
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 434
    Glad to see people are up for it. I guess we can try it once and see how we get on. If it works then we could do more with people volunteering. Probably best to allow loads of time. 

    Should we restrict it to a tiny bit of editing or allowing anything from a bit of EQ to full on Fatboy Slim/Utah Saints treatment with all manner of overdubs being fair game? The latter would definitely be more interesting. Or we could do a mixing/mastering challenge and a remix challenge separately. 
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    Well I do this a bit with Produce Like a Pro, they post the tracks and you just remix to however you feel, adding whatever you like, you can stick to the base mix using your own FX Plugins etc, or you can completely remix .


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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    spark240 said:
    Well I do this a bit with Produce Like a Pro, they post the tracks and you just remix to however you feel, adding whatever you like, you can stick to the base mix using your own FX Plugins etc, or you can completely remix .
    No limits on what you use to achieve the finished product sounds like a good starting point; specific challenges like only using a certain amount/type of plugs for a mix or turning thrash metal stems into a funky disco house banger could feature in later challenges.
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    Seeing as Snowmageddon has ruined my working day today... Ive been with laptop, headphones and coffee.
    If anyone fancies a start on this I have dug out an old cover we did a few years back of "let me entertain you".
    There are 9 individual drum tracks, a bass track, main guitar, solo guitar, a few filler guitar parts and a "guide" vocal track (never went back to do the proper vocs). all as WAV Files, all straight up the middle, levels are all over the place and are "as recorded".

    Dont want to step on @flying_pie's toes as it was his excellent idea. But if anyone is interested, send me a dm and ill provide the link to the files.
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 434
    poopot said:

    Dont want to step on @flying_pie's toes as it was his excellent idea. But if anyone is interested, send me a dm and ill provide the link to the files 
    Not toe trading at all @poopot ;

    There's nothing stopping any of us submitting tracks at any point if there's an appetite for it.
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    edited February 28
    flying_pie said:

    Not toe trading at all @poopot ;;;

    There's nothing stopping any of us submitting tracks at any point if there's an appetite for it.
    Cool,

    A couple of folk have got the files now...
    Just as a rough example, a short cut of the drums... "drums raw" is as recorded-no eq, everything up the middle... "drums basic" has a small amount of eq on each track, has been panned so each drum sits in its own space...
    Big difference from such a basic edit!...


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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    poopot said:
    flying_pie said:

    Not toe trading at all @poopot ;;;

    There's nothing stopping any of us submitting tracks at any point if there's an appetite for it.
    Cool,

    A couple of folk have got the files now...
    Just as a rough example, a short cut of the drums... "drums raw" is as recorded-no eq, everything up the middle... "drums basic" has a small amount of eq on each track, has been panned so each drum sits in its own space...
    Big difference from such a basic edit!...


    Nice and punchy!
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    Ok, so Ive loaded it all into Studio One and done a first mix....work in progress


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  • I like the idea but I won't be able to take part because I'm moving house next week, so I can only (just about) keep up with organising the other challenges. I'll try to listen and comment if I get time.

    It's not a competition.
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    Ok... first rough mix done... playlist below has the raw tracks as recorded up first then a rough mix second.
    https://soundcloud.com/user-296617142/sets/lmey-test-mixes

    Nothing fancy for the mix, just panned so everything sits in its own space, basic eq on each track... the vocal track has been duplicated and placed slightly behind the original to give it a short delay.

    sounds best either with headphones or with Robbie Williams singing :)
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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    Got the files on my PC, did the drums and bass and i'll work on the guitars/vox over the weekend, here a small clip of the drums and bass followed by 4 minutes of silence for some reason....


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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    I think this idea sounds fascinating. I'm totally new to producing tracks, so even the basics are a mystery to me. I'd love to hear comparisons of raw and produced tracks, but most importantly, find out what was done to change the sound. I think that bit would be essential, rather than just a vote on who's was best.

    Perhaps I should talk about this in a different thread for beginners, but I really need to find out about the absolute basics. For example, I've no idea how to use a high pass filter effectively. Nor what @poopot means by 'panned so everything sits in its own space, basic eq'...


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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    ijonty said:

    Nor what @poopot means by 'panned so everything sits in its own space, basic eq'...
    You have the stereo spectrum to play with when you mix multiple mono tracks. If you have 1 mono track you can leave it  so an equal amount of sound comes out of both left and right speakers (up the middle). If you have 2 mono tracks, putting both "up the middle" means that both tracks are occupying the same "space" on the stereo spectrum and can (and probably will) sound lifeless and lack punch/definition.

    put some headphones on and have a listen to the raw drum track here:

    Although some drums are slightly left or slightly right of middle, that is more to do with the positioning of the overhead mics when we recorded.

    Now have a listen to the "basic mixed" track

    In this case each track has been panned so it has its own "space" on the stereo spectrum, Even just this basic panning improves the sound. Some tracks have also has an EQ plugin added just to remove "boomyness" or add "highs" etc but its mainly the panning that has achieved this clarity to the recording. If you look at the screen grab of the mixer window you can see how they have been panned:



    So the aim is to have ALL tracks sitting in their own spot on the stereo spectrum, this way nothing is competing to be heard or masking out other tracks.

    Once you get the basic "stereo" mix right you then can start EQ'ing the various tracks so that certain frequencies dont cross over and sound lifeless and lack punch/definition.
    Have a look at the below pic, will give you a rough idea where instruments sit over the frequency range.




    Once you get this idea into your head you will start to notice it in every commercially produced song you listen to :)
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 434
    @ijonty a high pass filter is used to cut off low frequencies (i know... It sounds like it should be the other way round). A common use is to take away the low end from guitars (a good start is around 100). It makes the guitars sound a bit strange on their own but makes the bass much clearer and helps both stand clear of each other in the mix. Without it the top end of the bass and bottom end of guitars merge onto a mush.

    Panning drums into their own space means having some of the cymbals/toms slightly l left or right, like you would see on a real drum kit. It makes use of stereo to make the sound more natural feeling and helps them stay separate from each other in the mix 
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    Thanks both @flying_pie and @poopot, really helpful. Not sure I fully understand that frequency spectrum/instrument range pic, but will give it a proper look.

    I'm sure a lot of what I need to learn is covered in other threads so I won't chuck loads of questions in here. But if there are particular threads about basic producing, let me know.

    Currently, all I'm doing is recording by micing up amps to a Zoom H5n, then sticking them into Garageband, where I randomly mess with volume levels before giving up...


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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    ijonty said:
    Thanks both @flying_pie and @poopot, really helpful. Not sure I fully understand that frequency spectrum/instrument range pic, but will give it a proper look.
    If you look at the pic (and it is just a rough guide) there are points along the frequency range that instruments “share”. The idea is to eq your recordings to let each instrument punch through.

    Say you have tracks recorded and the bass player has boosted his high mids, and the guitarist has scooped his mids out leaving just the low and high end, there will be certain frequencies that the bass and guitar are both prominently sitting on... it’ll sound muddy/flat... so you cut some of the basses high mids, cut some low from the guitar and boost the mids... 

    itll probably mean that in isolation the bass sound horrible as does the guitar... but together it works and sounds good!...

    of course I may be talking nonsense, but it works well for me with the very little I do!.

    ijonty said:

    Currently, all I'm doing is recording by micing up amps to a Zoom H5n, then sticking them into Garageband, where I randomly mess with volume levels before giving up...

    See if you can get hold of an sm57 and a decent mic pre, will make the world of difference.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 28
    poopot said:
    See if you can get hold of an sm57 and a decent mic pre, will make the world of difference.
    Sorry, I wasn’t clear, I’ve got a decent mic going via XLR into the Zoom. Don’t know what a mic pre is though (starts Googling...)


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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    edited March 2


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  • IMC1980IMC1980 Frets: 22
    edited March 2
    spark240 said:
    Get ready....

    The track hasn't embedded, I had to copy the link into a browser to listen. Nice job! I like the sound on the snare and the main guitar sounds pretty sweet in the centre of the mix. Only listened on cheap ear buds, so take my comments with a pinch of consumer grade salt.... vocals had a bit of sibilance in places and guitars sounded meaty! 

    I noticed some backing vox in the chorus, thinking air adding some to the mix myself tomorrow. Was also considering adding another guitar and doing a left right pan for the rhythm parts.
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  • poopotpoopot Frets: 1639
    edited March 2
    spark240 said:
    Sounds great!... spill the beans... what did you do to it?
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    edited March 2
    Not sure what’s up with the link?...I can’t play it at all now...tried posting a link.




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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 988
    poopot said:
    spark240 said:
    Sounds great!... spill the beans... what did you do to it?
    I’ll try and do some screen video or something soon...but for now...

    started with drums, edited out an noisy bits, gated the kick and snare, EQ on all drum parts, Abbey Rd plates on snare, also stuck a very small bit of Waves Lo Air on kick.

    Ampire on main guitars, can’t recall the setting.

    Abbey Rd plates and delay on Wah and lead guitars, both panned.

    Bass , EQ, compression.

    vocal, tricky.....I kept a main vocal central , then decided to Copy the track 4 times.

    Panned 2 tracks L/R, I delayed Left -25ms and advanced Right 25ms, added reverb and delay and EQ.

    The next 2 tracks, edited down to just the choruses, them the magic Melodyne to create the harmony pitch, it was a bit tricky actually, panned L/R again, very low in the mix.

    All Vocla have quite a bit of FX, EQ, Comp. Rev, delay.

    Main bus - slight EQ and Limiter .

    Nice challenge !



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