A Refresher on the Elements of the Mix
It's there are questions as to how much the mix engineer can rescue your stuff. It's, you gotta be realistic about it. You've got to understand that yes, there are improvements that can be made, via noise reduction, via EQ, via compression, but you do well to understand all of that stuff as incremental, right? Every one of those things is a chance to make it a little bit better, but be wedded to the idea that it's a chance to make it a little bit better. You're not going to save something that's unintelligible. You're not going to fix bad edits (laughs) with good sound design or with any kind of good editing for voice material. I'm gonna put these on 'cause work on headphones is kinda the only way to work with kind of intimately with voice material. Again, person's inviting you into their ears, so respect that. You want them to be wowed by the story, not kind of dragged along by rough audio quality. And you can't make a clean edit certainly not on speakers like this. But even on decent...
studio monitors, I feel like I still wanna go to the headphones, just to hear how it sounds in there, because that's gonna be the closest anyone is going to be to your sound. So give it that listen on phones, and you're doing some dialogue editing, or voice over editing, or field tape editing on headphones is really gonna do a lot for you. Conversely, ear fatigue is real, okay? So work for an hour or two at a time. Get up walk around. It's good for your legs. It's good for everything. But headphones, especially a lot of people are using the Sony 7506 headphones. They're kind of like a standard reporter kit headphone. And they're very present, they're very bright, but they're not one to one to your material. They do kind of boost your high mid frequencies a little bit. They can appear a little harsh. They can kinda lie to you over time. And then if you're getting tired out, you might've kind of dulled that frequency range for yourself in your ears. So you just, you take a ear break, take a walk. I also if I'm in the middle of a mix, I like to have headphones and just take the mix for a walk. (laughing) Just have it on my phone, and do a little listen, see how it holds up, giving yourself these different perspectives on the mix. We talked about noise and noise reduction, maybe we'll look at a little bit more about that. If you've got intelligibility issues, it's usually a problem related to the high mid frequencies, something obscuring it, a noise that's louder than it. We call this masking. So other stuff is causin' a problem. Or they're just too far away from the microphone, so it sounds kind of like they're in that other room. High frequencies are really helped when you're getting right in front of the mic with them. Distortion clipping, we know that's inexcusable. Alright, most of these issues could've been addressed at the recording stage. And I think after today you'd kinda get the message that that is an ideal place to resolve those issues. On the other hand, making audio that's rough a little bit better does win you some opportunities. And I wanna go to iZotope RX now. We'll take a quick look at some of the material, and that that we've already taken some time to look at. So this is the detective and victim audio that we had earlier.
They model good behavior.
Yeah, this is Jay, who is this?
Huh, what the fuck? Who?
This is somebody that ain't funny.
K, so just kind of revisiting what we did a little bit last time. Voice Denoise, great tool. We select an area where there's just not much going on besides that noise. We hit this Learn button. It takes a snapshot of that noise in time. You wanna grab a significant amount enough of the noise so a little bit longer is better. It'll kind of understand the changes that are happening over time in the noise. However, if you have somebody, a recordist who has got that heavy hand on the Gain knob, and is boosting and cutting things, this noise floor is really only useful for this moment in time. Or as long as this level stays static, right? So if someone's turning up and down, you are, you're confusing the tool, and you'll start to hear the effects of that. So that's another argument for kind of separately processing problem areas. Or maybe this one is really a problem area. This one is adequate. I just wanna get it as good as that. And then you kind of help yourself by listening to A versus B, and just really getting some context on the changes you're making. It is so easy to go down the plug-in rabbit hole of okay, I'm gonna adjust this, and I can adjust this, and this is helping. So give yourself a fresh listen to it by bypassing whatever processing that you're doing, and then coming back to it. K, so, select all. Process it here.
This is somebody named Bunny. I don't no know who that is.
K, and then just revisiting EQ a little bit, because iZotope RX has it. They've got their own equalizer here. Now you can see this has got a old setting on it where... Looks like we've got a brick wall filter above this frequency. Let's just hear that.
I don't no know who that is. (clicking mouse)
Hey, who's this?
So what we've actually found out here is there is nothing in this recording that's below this frequency here, 248 hertz. So we know there are already some real limitations to this. And one thing we can also do is just make ourselves a little filter.
Hey, is this Jay?
Yeah, this is Jay, who is this?
Huh, what the fuck? Who?
So you just kind of figure out what's the acceptable range here and with this tape even so, we still really ended up relying on the narration to kinda help set the context. Who are these people? What's going on here? And just get to the phone call and the exchange between the two women. So the restoration helps, but it's worth knowing what your limitations are. There's some other kinda interesting tools that you can look at in iZotope. The Mouth De-Click is one that's really great. I don't know that I have audio here where I can really kinda show you that as well, but it's just, it's one of those things where, okay, I'm willing to concede that there's magic involved in this one. (laughing) And it's just, it's so helpful in eliminating some of that mouth noise that we produce. K, and then I think just a real kind of one way just to think about this alternatively is to not do any harm to the material, right? You don't wanna make it worse than it was before we started, so the A B listening is really important, and it just gives you that chance to focus on making it really good as opposed to going down the compressor, or going down the plug-in rabbit hole.