J.Scott Tip: Clipping
January 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm
For those that don’t know, I am a certified audio engineer, with a B.A. in it as well. So I want you to know that I truly know what I’m about to talk to you about.
More and more these days I find myself commenting on the distortion level of songs being submitted to us. It’s one thing when distortion is done artistically. There is a big trend going on with people running their vocals through different amp processors to get a more gritty sound. That’s perfectly fine; and not what I’m writing about. But then there are those who are just aiming to get the “loudest sound possible,” and have no idea what they’re doing.
Here are a few professional tips to help you out…
First off… Your vocals should never be clipping your VU meters. I repeat, your vocals should never be clipping your VU meters! (This goes for your instrumental and overall mix as well.) That is what causes your sound to go from clear to crammed. If your vocals are being tracked in that hot, then turn down your input levels. (You should never have to reduce your raw vocal level. If you do, you’re recording it in too loud.)
Second… Compression is your friend. A good friend, but not your only friend. Beware of over-compression. But remember, compression is used to level out your audio. Learn it; love it.
Finally… Test your mix. Try out your mix in different audio environments. Listen to your mix with computer speakers, monitors, car speakers, in mono and stereo. You need to know what kinds of biases your systems have. If you know that your car emphasizes the bass, then don’t mix your bass for your car. Because that will make it too low on other systems.
Test out these tools. Spend more time mixing. So many of you are going out of your way to just release song after song after song without any regard for the quality. You’re getting lazy, and you’re losing fans. Keep Rising.
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