Audio Recording Issues – It Sounds GREAT On Its Own, but... Part FourMaybe the room was part of the issue in our track that won't work quite right in context. Maybe there are other timing issues as well. What if we are looking at the way we interpret timing as it relates to dynamics. What I mean here, is that there is the natural flow of the song, and there is the rate of expression that comes from each track in the song. You may have punch from drums and melody from bass and vocals, or you may have sustain on drums and cymbals and more rhythmic elements from percussion or busy bass and guitar. There are numerous things in the musical arrangement that affect our interpretation of sound. When we put it all together, there may be the wrong punch or sustain in Frequencies that otherwise sound wonderful. For example, a great vocal is intentionally recorded up close with a cardioid pattern large diaphragm condenser microphone.
The presence of the recording fills out the low Frequencies of an amazing vocal performance, we also have this incredible sustaining bass guitar with energetic sub-bass Frequencies that sit beautifully on top of a clean, clear, punchy kick drum. But now, the smooth low end of the vocal makes you reinterpret the perfect blend of sustain and punch that was there before. Should we reduce some of the bass on the bass guitar? Should we take a little out of the vocal and bass? Or maybe, a little compression on the vocal would serve well? Maybe the vocal compression should be grouped with the bass and kick? Perhaps this group compression could lock the timing together and re-orient our listening to hear these elements as a unified process?
This works sometimes, but usually we have more do deal with. I've found that often the simplest solution is also the best solution. I have developed a process that I will write about with more detail at a later time (would anyone read a full book if I wrote one?). I will mention it briefly here. Using a little low shelf EQ in this instance may be the perfect solution. You can use the same wide slope, like something found on the “Cooltec EQP-1A3S” or the “ARQ,” or you can try a combination of two different slopes, like the “115HD” for one instrument and the “AMK9098” for another.
The idea is to reduce a very small amount of a very wide Frequency range down to its lowest point so that we still feel the energy that is there, but it reduces the focus and allows us to concentrate on the other instruments in that range. What I add to this, is to listen to other mid and upper mid Frequencies on the same tracks and see if there is something that has a similar quality that impresses you the same way as the lows. For instance, the low may emphasize an incredible “pluck” of a pick on the bass guitar or the moody sustain of a vocal. Is there another place in the different Frequency registers that are complementing this trait? If so, there is a good chance that you can reduce the lows slightly for one instrument and boost a tiny amount somewhere else that gives the same energy but from a different range. A “pluck” may sound great in a fast attack at low Frequencies, but it may also give precise information in the upper mids, and we might re-orient the conflict from an offending Frequency to one that doesn't clash, and now we can have everything that sounded so nice without conflict.