What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

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jewishtomato
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What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by jewishtomato » Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:29 pm

Image


Image


Image

So here are 3 different waveforms. One is professionally(semi) mastered (Something my mate did who has a uni degree in this field so by no means is it abbey road material).

Another is one that I did myself, it just looks like a big square either because I peaked the clips too much (I was watching a how to master video, idk the name but he mentioned something about deliberately bringing the waveforms up, I'm pretty sure he called it peak clipping) or over compressed and then another is just some random one i found on soundcloud.

Do you think you can get a good idea of how the song will sound just by looking at the waveform, and how do you think it should look by the end?

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by zosomagik » Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:24 pm

The first one looks the best to me. It looks like it's loud but still dynamic, but I don't trust my eyes, I trust my ears. Also soundclouds newer player thing is whack.

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:38 pm

IMHO:

1. Only looking at a waveform tells you virtually nothing about it.

2. Only looking at a soundcloud waveform is deceptive at best.

What is ya'll's obsession with looking at an aural medium?! Visuals can be useful, don't get me wrong...but...
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by jewishtomato » Sat Dec 27, 2014 9:08 pm

ya, haven't really got any other way to get the waveforms up though

and I think when making mixing your sounds, looking at the waveforms can be quite useful. you could reference it to some similar loopmasters samples or something to see if you're on the right track. obviously, your ears should be your priority but i think it can be useful. same goes to comparing your own track to a commercial one etc etc

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by _ronzlo_ » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:46 am

Wasn't there some 'name' guy who did a Production Q&A here who said he mixed using cans and checked final levels visually? Ack. Wish I could remember.

I don't think there's an easy or black and white answer to this. It all depends on knowing what elements are happening in the tune (which only the producer or involved musical parties would know), the monitoring situation and its shortcomings (shit you don't hear until playback on other systems), other things... You can often tell if some of your fast transients are coming thru too hot and poking holes in the mix or sometimes if your low end has a lot more heft than you're hearing on your monitors, but it's most often just one hint among many sensory cues you should be keeping eyes and ears open for. It's also probably a good habit to learn to trust your ears more and use your eyes less. Appearances can fool you.

Conversely, how could one tell how good a drawing or painting is based on the sound of the scribbles or brushstrokes?

PS:
jewishtomato wrote:ya, haven't really got any other way to get the waveforms up though
Audacity + screenshot.

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by xtcvsmistycold » Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:02 pm

"healthy looking waveform" fuck
fragments wrote:IMHO:

1. Only looking at a waveform tells you virtually nothing about it.

2. Only looking at a soundcloud waveform is deceptive at best.

What is ya'll's obsession with looking at an aural medium?! Visuals can be useful, don't get me wrong...but...
x 1000000

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by _Agu_ » Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:10 pm

_ronzlo_ wrote:Wasn't there some 'name' guy who did a Production Q&A here who said he mixed using cans and checked final levels visually? Ack. Wish I could remember.
I wouldn't be surprised by this at all, I do this too. My mixes aren't amazing, mostly because I hardly finish anything ever, since i'm never satisfied with anything, but they are a lot better than what they used to be when I always trusted my ears when the spectrum still looked "wrong".

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:45 pm

Yea. Nothing here has convinced me that looking at a waveform is really giving anyone deep insight into their mix. I've had WIP mixes that *looked* like they'd been over compressed because the dynamics were so even and WIP mixes that *looked* like they had lots of dynamics when they were really quite squashed.

Really the only thing an image of the final waveform is going going to give you any clue about is dynamics and that clue, IMO, is inaccurate at best. I guess what I'm getting at is...what does looking at the waveform tell you when you turn the volume of your monitors to 0? Fuck all.

Occasionally I'll use Smexoscope to look at individual sounds while trying to "shape" them, but I'm also still using my ears. Again, you can't turn off the sound and just shape a waveform with visuals in silence. Unless you are some kind of audio god. Which I can safely say none of us here are ;p

Also, I think we need to differentiate between visual EQ and the just the peaks and troughs of a waveform. In an unideal monitoring environment visuals on an EQ can certainly help you find a problem you can't year.
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by _ronzlo_ » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:14 pm

^ yes - spectral analysis is a very different beast and can actually help figure it out, much more than just waveform view.
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by hubb » Mon Dec 29, 2014 2:57 pm

No

If you have soundforge or similar you can see the effect of squaring off.

It would be unfair to compression to just call that compression tbh.

And you can judge headroom better because most digital meter readouts are not that precise estimations at best.
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:27 pm

hubb wrote:No

If you have soundforge or similar you can see the effect of squaring off.

It would be unfair to compression to just call that compression tbh.

And you can judge headroom better because most digital meter readouts are not that precise estimations at best.
Alright. I'll play ball here. I'm not an expert by any means. But would you always see extreme compression? Like if somethings were bussed together and over compressed, but the master wasn't you wouldn't see that would you. For example if just the drum bus was extremely compressed would you see that or only if the master was over compressed?

I actually do use soundforge myself (and old, old version). But how is a visual waveform give you any more precise an idea about headroom than a digital meter making an estimation? Does soundforge or audacity have like some kind of decibel ruler/gauge/meter next to the image of the waveform? How do you know how many decibels are between a peak and a trough when looking at a waveform in soundforge or audacity or soundcloud? What kind of info do we get besides some kind of relative adjectival info like "there is a lot of headroom" or "there is a little headroom".

Still feels like one should be investing in a better metering tool and learning to hear things rather than trying to guess things about sound from a waveform. Not trying to be a dick here, but I feel like there is a lot of misleading information on the internet along with too much flat out wrong thinking. Don't want to fill our little neck of the woods up with that too.

Not trying to be hard to get along with
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by hubb » Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:29 pm

I'm at the same time a 100% behind what you are saying fragments tbf.

My post didn't mention that you have to have two versions - one unprocessed/ untreated and the opposite, to see the difference or to get a feel for when you end up .. well not just clipping but obscuring the peaks and thus at times (whoa..) convolute the whole sum of dynamics.
But what you will see is peaks squaring off. (You know, like zoomed in as much as possible where it turns into dots).
I guess people that really know, can judge if a transient (or the entire 'trajectory' of a dip and a trough) is natural or not. I feel like I 'can', but then again if that sounds the way you want it's obviously not a no no.

Ideally there'd be no compression and full dynamics and 'dynamic slope' in all sounds. We're used to compartementalized sound, where they not only have a frequency area they kind of belong to but also a box they are crammed into though.
You know how central dynamics can be and what role they play in like an understanding of artistic value, when you hear a field recording or a live classical orchestra in a proper room setting - - but it's hardly a general thing in most music and I believe we need to take electronic music to that spot where any sound can physically overpower the others because there's room for it.

All a bit hoyti toyti ofcourse
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:42 pm

hubb wrote:
My post didn't mention that you have to have two versions - one unprocessed/ untreated and the opposite, to see the difference or to get a feel for when you end up .. well not just clipping but obscuring the peaks and thus at times (whoa..) convolute the whole sum of dynamics.
But what you will see is peaks squaring off. (You know, like zoomed in as much as possible where it turns into dots).
I guess people that really know, can judge if a transient (or the entire 'trajectory' of a dip and a trough) is natural or not. I feel like I 'can', but then again if that sounds the way you want it's obviously not a no no.
Ok. That makes much more sense. : )
Ideally there'd be no compression and full dynamics and 'dynamic slope' in all sounds. We're used to compartementalized sound, where they not only have a frequency area they kind of belong to but also a box they are crammed into though.
You know how central dynamics can be and what role they play in like an understanding of artistic value, when you hear a field recording or a live classical orchestra in a proper room setting - - but it's hardly a general thing in most music and I believe we need to take electronic music to that spot where any sound can physically overpower the others because there's room for it.

All a bit hoyti toyti ofcourse
At this point in my listening/song writing career I'm far more in favor of things being a bit hoyti toyti.
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by hubb » Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:26 pm

:D :W:

oh and regarding digital meters

read that as much as up to 3 db discrepancy is common in all the big daws but more apparent in the individual channels than the master readout that is generally more calibrated and trust worthy because of the need to sum stuff

which means (to me) that you simply can't trust what they show, like at all.... so do as much headroom you can if you're up for a live gig (where the systems gain will sound better because it's physical) or if you want it mastered (because they will have gear that has a 'healthier' gain ability than a daw.

the positive bit about it, is that I've stopped worrying about loudness on for example sc ( and there's the benefit of the listeners having to decide what volume they want to listen to it at, which means they focus their listening a bit... at least i tell myself that) :corndance:
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:52 pm

hubb wrote::D :W:

oh and regarding digital meters

read that as much as up to 3 db discrepancy is common in all the big daws but more apparent in the individual channels than the master readout that is generally more calibrated and trust worthy because of the need to sum stuff

which means (to me) that you simply can't trust what they show, like at all.... so do as much headroom you can if you're up for a live gig (where the systems gain will sound better because it's physical) or if you want it mastered (because they will have gear that has a 'healthier' gain ability than a daw.

the positive bit about it, is that I've stopped worrying about loudness on for example sc ( and there's the benefit of the listeners having to decide what volume they want to listen to it at, which means they focus their listening a bit... at least i tell myself that) :corndance:
All the more reason to mix quiet and leave loudness to someone who knows what they are doing! Or at least until after you export a final .wav file to master yourself. I wonder if part of the inaccuracy is all the live instruments and FX running? I'm sure there have to be some accurate digital metering tools out there somewhere. I try to shoot for -12db these days.

And yea...if you can't be bothered to reach for the volume knob, I can't be bothered to have you has a potential listener. I am far more annoyed by tracks that blow out my ear drums even when I've got my system volume set at like 50%...
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by hubb » Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:25 pm

It's still down to processing power I think. All the individual channels don't have enough processing power to do it. I imagine they would have to be able to actually represent the sound going in, in like a mirroring sort of way. A sound trailing off is really a pretty complex physical component when you think about, right?
It's baflling though with 3d processing etc in mind.

I know Noisia and dBridge used to have physical amp meters but set to note the volume. But i think that is more about cramming in as much loud and quiet as possible and not really about being clean or whatever, so I dont know if its worth even thinking about tbh. More just competing in a live setting.
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by Banesy » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:01 am

fragments wrote:IMHO:

1. Only looking at a waveform tells you virtually nothing about it.

2. Only looking at a soundcloud waveform is deceptive at best.

What is ya'll's obsession with looking at an aural medium?! Visuals can be useful, don't get me wrong...but...
Analyzing a waveform actually tells you a lot about the track and how it was mixed and mastered. Track #2 for example is over compressed / limited. Very true though...I wouldn't rely in SC waveforms...open it up in your DAW or in Audacity. I sometimes get random waveforms assigned to my track for a few hours after uploading.

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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by fragments » Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:36 am

Like I said, prove me wrong, but I'm still convinced that one can get a waveform that looks like #2, outside of SC, that isn't over compressed or limited. Granted my memory is shitty and weed soaked at best. But I'm 80% certain I've produced waveforms that look like #2 that were WIPs that had no compression or limiting going on.

I'm also going to be a dick and get into semantics--knowing whether something is over compressed/limited doesn't constitute "tells you a lot" in my book. :U: If people can't hear over compressed/limited they need to up their game :?

Ok. Ok. I'm done. I'm done. I give in...looking at the waveform can be useful. Carry on. Fight the good fight. Etc. :Q:
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by hubb » Tue Dec 30, 2014 1:48 pm

:6:
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Re: What's a "healthy" looking waveform?

Post by test_recordings » Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:35 am

A healthy looking waveform (or mix level is what you might mean?) is one that isn't clipping but as high as possible to avoid digital lossiness at low levels. Everything else is only comprehensible to the ears.
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