Advice on orchestral mixing (audio files and current mix included)

Discussion in 'Acoustic' started by C7, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. C7

    C7 Member

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    I have been tinkering around with my CineSamples libraries trying to create a mockup of the orchestra part of one of Mozart's piano concertos so that I can use it as a backing track to play against. I included a short (~1 minute) segment of it below, as well as the raw audio files for you all to experiment with if you are so inclined.

    Current Mix
    I wasn't satisfied at all with using the default “Dennis Sands Full Mix” samples so I instead used the “Dry and Close” presets which were a mix of spot and close samples for all the instruments. I also disabled the built in reverb and turned the stereo width all the way counter-clockwise to essentially make the tracks mono.

    I then used Parallax-Audio's Virtual Sound Stage Pro to position all the instruments using the Vienna Symphonic Library presets for each of the instruments. The following audio is the result of that:


    I then used Altiverb 7 and the included “Mozart Hall 10.9m” impulse response, which I disabled the early reflections on, for the tail. I set that up on a bus and sent -9.0db of the output of the previous step to the reverb. The result of that, and where my current mix stands is the following audio:


    Advice?
    Is this how you all mix orchestral works? Should I be doing any equalization or compression to blend the instruments together more? I really only adjusted the track levels on a few of the instruments and did a couple fades in the middle when the french horns, bassoons, and oboes were coming in over the strings. If any of you can create a more convincing mockup using my recordings please share your method, as well as an audio file of your mix, below.

    Audio Files
    Here are the dry stereo recordings of all the parts. There is a bit of blank space at the beginning where a piano solo, which I haven't played yet, will eventually be.
    Code:
    http://www60.zippyshare.com/v/tT5d1ZMA/file.html
     
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  3. 23322332

    23322332 Platinum Record

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    Man, this sounds like organ, not strings... I suggest listening to real orchestral recordings and trying to copy them.
    (And CInestrings are not good for this - they are made to emulate the big and dumb JW sound, not for classical music.)
    Also, these sample libraries are just a simulacrum for the idiots that have never heard real orchestra, they can't make authentic orchestral music (it is possible, but it takes layering different libraries and too much tweaking - are you going to spend a month editing CC and mixing a piece?)
    Generally most classical music doesn't use any compression and people will use manual volume automation instead of compressing. If you are after hybrid/trailer/cinematic music, you can use whatever effect you want.
     
  4. Matt777

    Matt777 Rock Star

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    It will be difficult to get artificially "the sound" of a Mozart #20 concerto - because ppl that deal with such music probably heard it a 100s times performed by a real orchestra (my nephew was performing this one /w orchestra when he was 12.. 2 years ago - and the only way to train is with your prof. on the second piano.. and then /w real orchestra).
    I mean, it is still difficult, but you'll get more convincing results if you present your compositions (many times composers will adapt their work to the capabilities of the library nowdays).
    I listened to the stems, but would be more interested in MIDI. Did you get it somewhere or is it your work? I think you must first solve problems /w basic orchestra performance/ interpretation, and not with mixing (yet). I miss the delicate but haunting basses and cellos.
    If you can you post the midi file, I can give it a try for a couple of bars - just to see how far we can get. ;)

    And as 23322332 said, listen to real orchestra. You can even conduct/ play piano /w this one (but don't try that with Grieg, lol ;))

     
  5. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    I know what's wrong. You are missing the applause at the beginning!

    I know, i know it wasn't helpful. I'm Sorry (Slaps wrist!)
     
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  6. MrLyannMusic

    MrLyannMusic Rock Star

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    https://clyp.it/1ruprubv?token=93c673e4608a440da66395cfdbabaf7e

    it's a start, i make mostly orchestre and epic stuff nowadays, so i have an idea or two how to work with them, your files seemed to be very dry, wish in someway was useful, i had almost full control.

    if you don't like something or some of my choice, please tell me what they are, if you don't like it at all, then at least i tried friend lol

    have a nice day!
     
  7. Bill Vkerchi?

    Bill Vkerchi? Kapellmeister

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    Oh god yes. This is really muddy. I would approach orchestral like i would approach anything. I know how it should sound, and it's the matter of getting there. If i need eq i'll use eq, the same with compression. Of course, I would probably use less compression than i would on a rock pop rap whatever mix because that's what it should sound like. My advice is - get it mixed by someone else unless you want to spend a lot of time studying mixing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  8. C7

    C7 Member

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    I created the midi myself. I used Smartscore to create a musicXML file from the sheetmusic, which took forever editing and correcting all the errors. Then I imported that into Cubase and synced the tempo track up to a recording I had of the piece. Then I had to figure out the correct transposition for the classical era "natural" horns and trumpets which was a bit annoying.

    The volume automation was a rough pass which I did manually with the mod wheel on my controller for some instruments and manually drawing the controller curves for others. I just did the Cellos and the Violins 1 first then based all the other instruments around the foundation I created with the strings. I wasn't really listening to the sample recording I had when I was doing this, which I probably should have, just sort of winging it.

    I was basically just experimenting with creating orchestral mockups with CineSamples here to see if I could get any use out of their libraries. I use to use Vienna Symphonic Library for gigastudio many years ago but this is my first attempt at using CineSamples.

    And I agree that CineSamples sort of sucks! They have a rather limited set of articulations compared to what I am used to with VSL. Even something so simple like detache playing was extremely difficult to mockup. I guess all the creators of CineSamples thinks you need are basic legato or staccato articulations. That and their samples frankly don't sound that good, sort of lifeless in my opinion. I would be sort of pissed off if I actually spent money on their product, especially with how expensive they are...

    @Bill Vkerchi? I am actually quite knowledgeable in mixing, I just didn't know if composers actually do that for orchestral writing. And yes this mix is a bit muddy. But should it be less muddy? I probably could high pass everything but the Double Basses, and maybe do cuts and boosts in the strings to get them all to blend more. I think probably too much is occupying the 200-600 Hz range which is probably causing the muddiness, which is probably mostly the string sections fault.

    @MrLyannMusic Thanks for the mix! I really like the way you went with it. I would love to see more people create one. You really seemed to emphasize the Violins 1, and I like what you did with the woodwinds, I just wish my samples sounded better. It sounds like you compressed the whole mix on the master buss as well. You seemed to have a lot more reverb than mine as well but it fit well and wasn't obtrusive.

    How did you position the instruments? Panning? Early Reflections? or a combination? Did you do any equalization to blend the instruments?

    @Matt777 Probably heard this piece a hundred times, both live and in recordings. That doesn't mean it is easy to recreate with sample libraries. Especially the string part where they are doing the detache playing. I could not get that part to sound like up and down bowing in CineSamples maybe you will have more luck. Here is the midi file:
    Code:
    http://www33.zippyshare.com/v/0JUrFsAH/file.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  9. MrLyannMusic

    MrLyannMusic Rock Star

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    well first of all it was somehow basic, didn't really take my time as i was just trying things and stuff, was not a project after all...

    yes indeed i did some light compression on each and every element, then also lightly mastered the whole thing...

    about the positioning i followed these two photos,

    http://themusicinternational.com/images/orchestra.jpg

    https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-5f7d3135782062bc7f4479738b914a13

    i used my mind and tried to create the 3D positioning using both the above pictures, as for the rest, i used multiple type of reverb not types but rooms and places, and send each of the tracks a pourcentage, trying to give the whole mix its own place...

    i usually do this in my mixes, about the EQ i used some basic EQ, didn't go crazy.



    i would love to have the main project with the used Banks, not just the midi.
     
  10. C7

    C7 Member

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    @MrLyannMusic i would love to have the main project with the used Banks, not just the midi.

    I used all CineSamples instruments and believe I used the Articulation patches for all of the instruments. I mentioned the parameters I adjusted in my original post. On the strings I believe I disabled the short release layer, which was an option at the bottom of one of the tabs, as well so I could get a more seamless detached kind of sound. Since I have all my samples on a USB 3.0 hard drive I could only do a few instruments at a time. I would then mix down those instruments to an audio file and use those as references when writing the automation for the other instruments. I really wish I had a nice rig set up where I could load all the sections of the orchestra and be able to adjust the different instruments simultaneously.

    A note about the midi. I left all the key switches in the file, they are all in the A0-G1 range. I also tweaked this midi file (which I didn't save) a bit and reduced some of the dynamics in the strings so the bowing wasn't so abrupt. I originally didn't have the basses playing at all because the score I had was a bit vague. The bottom end was too weak though so I just copied the cellos and transposed them down an octave. I erased a the legato runs up to the held notes also because I believe Mozart intended only the cellos to play that part.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  11. MrLyannMusic

    MrLyannMusic Rock Star

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    not sure what's the relation-ship between an USB 3.0 and not being able to load it all in one project, the only relation i see is RAM, if you don't have enough that would be understandable...
     
  12. C7

    C7 Member

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    Theoretically you should have enough bandwidth with USB 3.0 to do so. I have had difficulty loading more than three instruments at once though without having issues. I believe Kontakt only loads part of the sample into RAM and streams the rest of it. I only have 8.00 GB of ram on my computer though so perhaps that is the problem.

    Kontakt doesn't seem to like loading instruments off my external hard drive. It always wants to rebuild some cache or lags when I double click on one of the instruments for several minutes before even showing the loading progress bar.
     
  13. sham69

    sham69 Ultrasonic

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    Maybe the problem of loading multiple instruments isn't related of the USB3 interface, but rather the hard drive, maybe it's time for you to invest in a SSD,

    but it could also be the CPU and/or RAM

    you can easily see how much RAM each instrument uses in Kontakt GUI, just do the math,

    for the CPU, try different settings in Kontakt for using multiple cores or NOT using multiple cores, I don't know what's best with Cubase as a DAW.

    "Monitor" / "Engine" will give some infos about the CPU % used.

    Also for speeding up the process of loading instruments, you have to re-save each one of them (backup the original one first or save them with other names, "Files" then "save as").
     
  14. elias2tife

    elias2tife Ultrasonic

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    Someone give this man a round of applause :D top comment.
     
  15. C7

    C7 Member

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    That would be ideal but I don't have ~$800 lying around to invest in a 2.0 TB solid state drive.

    Would like to hear someone else's attempt to mix the audio files, or mock up my MIDI file...
     
  16. junh1024

    junh1024 Rock Star

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    It sounds dry

    It STILL sounds dry, but also blurry too. The problem is that you used 2 different reverbs, and the settings don't really complement each other to make a cohesive mix. So you have the really early verb, and the really late verb (which gives it the blur) , and nothing in between. You need to make a cohesive, perhaps by decresing the verb time of the 2nd verb.'

    ALSO, it seems like your setup is somewhat complex. Instead of relying on multiple specific settings on specific proprietary products to accomplish everything, just try this simple setup I do:

    Have ONE reverb with ONE setting (medium tail). And use varying levels of sends, and different pans to create space.
     
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  17. Bunford

    Bunford Audiosexual

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    I'd disagree with this. In the main, a lot are targetted towards the epic Hans Zimmer style of orchestra for scoring, but there are libraries like Spitfire's BML Sable, Mural and Chamber Strings that have a much more authentic and intimate sound to them. And in terms of editing, all you need to do is map dynamics and velocity to two separate faders or knobs and you can easily automate in one pass to sound very real.
     
  18. Bunford

    Bunford Audiosexual

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    In my opinion, the first version with just the early reflections sound better than with the reverb tails. However, the one thing they seem to expose to me is that you need to improve EQing. What I do with my orchestral stuff is to run all tracks into bus groups and only use compression and the like on the bus groups. On the individual tracks I will only use an EQ pretty much,and maybe an utility tool for a gain boost or cut if I need it. I think you may be over-VSTing the individual tracks maybe and causing clutter in your mix and it just feels like instead of there being room for each instrument to breath they are clashing at certain frequencies, which is what causes the muddying. Have you checked your instrument channels and EQ'd with n orchestral reference chartat all? I find these particularly useful to de-muddy a mix.

    And for the reverb, what I tend to do is to have one send channel with my room reverb on it (Altiverb 7's Teldex) and then once my separate channels are fed through to my bus groups, Isend my bus groups to the reverb send to have them all 'live' in the same space.

    Something like these may help you:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Also, panning to a traditional orchestra setup may help to achieve a more 'authentic' sound and though you've said you have already used VSS/VEPro, this illustration may be useful to double check:

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. C7

    C7 Member

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    @Bunford Thanks for the informative post with the pretty pictures.

    This is my first time using Parallax-Audio's Virtual Sound Stage Pro and I am not really sure if I like the results or using two separate reverbs either. I may just try using Altiverb and its built in stage positioning along with some panning and general level adjustments to position the instruments instead.

    Frankly I didn't really put much effort at all into the mixing of this, most of the work went into the midi mockup. I will likely try some gentle EQ cuts and boosts and, at least for the strings, try to give each instrument its own space in the frequency spectrum. This should help clean up the muddiness and make the top end clearer.
     
  20. Matt777

    Matt777 Rock Star

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    Hey mate, I'm sorry but seems I wasn't clear enough.. I meant OTHER people (not you) that deal with classical music heard this one a hundred times. So they can compare.. and by that you made your job very difficult. If you've chosen a less known (or your own) composition it would be easier.
    I always think about this when I go to some sample library producer site to listen to examples. Always put up their own compositions (I know a couple of composers that do those 3 min. demos). They rarely reproduce a well known composition - because that would show, how shitty the libraries really are. And I'm talking about 1000$ and up for the whole orchestra.
    So I totally agree with you on this subject. Like I said, I'll try to put something together - just to experiment - when I'll have some time (thanks for midi). Meanwhile, keep up the good work! :wink:
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  21. C7

    C7 Member

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    @Matt777 Yes, Vienna Symphonic Library is the only one I know of that really creates classical mockups for their demos. Every sample library creator should be required to do Beethoven's 5th Symphony for one of their demos. There is only so much you can learn about a library from the cliche film score demos they all love to mockup.

    Here is a mockup I did using just Altiverb and its stage positioning. I EQed the tracks a bit to clean up the low-mid muddiness and did a little mastering on it as well.

     
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