Question: Pink Noise usage during Mix Engineering

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RobC
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Post 24 Dec 2018

When it comes to mixing, I listen to sound as a whole. So if for example there's a loud click in a kick, then if I reach a specific level, I automatically stop and 'can't go further', cause it bugs my ears (in other words, I don't just focus on the sub, and raise the whole level until it's strong enough). That's when I grab an EQ, search for that click, and start reducing it. Then I can push further, but may notice that the sub bass is weak, yet again can't go on, since the rest of it is in place. That's when I choose that sweet spot in the low end, set it all up and add as much as needed. Think an electro kick, which is pretty much the same throughout the whole song.
See, with EQing, I sort of "mix" parts of the given sound itself, as if I had access to the kick's click, sub, body, etc (which I normally have, but EQ can access more specific parts, which you can't, not even if you made your own kick). Also, I really-really love shaping sound and flavoring it, or deforming with EQ anyway, so that's no problem for me.

My main question is, when setting up any sound, is Pink Noise an acceptable loudness reference? I'd constantly do an A/B match between Pink Noise and my given sound (such as a kick, so say Pink Noise / Kick). In other words, I'd set a loudness, and when something makes me stop the fader, even if I feel I should push it further, I'd start doing the EQ kind of "mixing" I mentioned earlier.

RobC
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Post 25 Dec 2018

I guess it probably is, then! : )

Pink Noise is also said to be an optimal loudness reference (not EQ / coloring reference!), considering human hearing. So I guess I'm good.

tibah
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Post 25 Dec 2018

Pink noise is helpful, because of how it fills the spectrum / can be used for reference. A lot of AI mixing helpers (iZotope / Toneboosters / Whoknows) use it as well.

I guess you already given yourself an answer too, so as long as you're good with that method - go on! ;) Only if you feel you're nailed to that kind of working (as in I *need* to fill the spectrum like that), I would take a step back and think about what actually works within the content of the song.

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minilog
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Post 25 Dec 2018

tibah wrote:
25 Dec 2018
Pink noise is helpful, because of how it fills the spectrum / can be used for reference. A lot of AI mixing helpers (iZotope / Toneboosters / Whoknows) use it as well.

I guess you already given yourself an answer too, so as long as you're good with that method - go on! ;) Only if you feel you're nailed to that kind of working (as in I *need* to fill the spectrum like that), I would take a step back and think about what actually works within the content of the song.
I use it for making cuts because my mixes always end up being too much. It helps identify problematic areas of the mix that are overbearing. I only use it for the midrange and follow it roughly.

To answer the question - I'm not sure why one would make a correlation to loudness. That's what loudness meters and reference tracks are for.

tibah
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Post 25 Dec 2018

Ah yea. Answering the question. Haha!

Pink Noise is great for tonal / frequency balance. Not loudness. Hurray!

RobC
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Post 25 Dec 2018

tibah wrote:
25 Dec 2018
Ah yea. Answering the question. Haha!

Pink Noise is great for tonal / frequency balance. Not loudness. Hurray!
That's what I meant by loudness (not the loudness war kind of loudness). Both your answers are useful.
I'm pretty open, so not nailed to anything, just felt this one is still good to ask so I don't do something silly.

RobC
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Post 25 Dec 2018

minilog wrote:
25 Dec 2018
tibah wrote:
25 Dec 2018
Pink noise is helpful, because of how it fills the spectrum / can be used for reference. A lot of AI mixing helpers (iZotope / Toneboosters / Whoknows) use it as well.

I guess you already given yourself an answer too, so as long as you're good with that method - go on! ;) Only if you feel you're nailed to that kind of working (as in I *need* to fill the spectrum like that), I would take a step back and think about what actually works within the content of the song.
I use it for making cuts because my mixes always end up being too much. It helps identify problematic areas of the mix that are overbearing. I only use it for the midrange and follow it roughly.

To answer the question - I'm not sure why one would make a correlation to loudness. That's what loudness meters and reference tracks are for.
Maybe my wording is a bit confusing. I rather meant, doing a bit of balancing when it comes to problem frequencies. See, last time I did a bit of a test in an old song of mine. I had a kick, that was really punchy, but the sub was pretty much dead, and the click was way too strong.
I realized, balancing that kick to the song, is not really the best idea, cause other sounds had issues, too, and it could easily turn into a never-ending balancing game.

A Pink Noise could help me realize if something is weak, or too much in the compared sound.
Example, I set a kick to the same level. Now, the Pink Noise has it's own characteristics, so it's not its "equalization" that I'd try to copy, but I'd check that kick, that at that level, does it have a satisfying sound, etc.

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minilog
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Post 25 Dec 2018

RobC wrote:
25 Dec 2018
Maybe my wording is a bit confusing. I rather meant, doing a bit of balancing when it comes to problem frequencies. See, last time I did a bit of a test in an old song of mine. I had a kick, that was really punchy, but the sub was pretty much dead, and the click was way too strong.
I realized, balancing that kick to the song, is not really the best idea, cause other sounds had issues, too, and it could easily turn into a never-ending balancing game.
That is tonal balance. iZotope has a plugin in their advanced suite called Tonal Balance Control. It is very helpful especially since you can create your own tonal balance curves taken from your personal reference tracks.

RobC
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Post 25 Dec 2018

minilog wrote:
25 Dec 2018
RobC wrote:
25 Dec 2018
Maybe my wording is a bit confusing. I rather meant, doing a bit of balancing when it comes to problem frequencies. See, last time I did a bit of a test in an old song of mine. I had a kick, that was really punchy, but the sub was pretty much dead, and the click was way too strong.
I realized, balancing that kick to the song, is not really the best idea, cause other sounds had issues, too, and it could easily turn into a never-ending balancing game.
That is tonal balance. iZotope has a plugin in their advanced suite called Tonal Balance Control. It is very helpful especially since you can create your own tonal balance curves taken from your personal reference tracks.
At the moment, I was only looking for something that is a bit of a guide, so I don't drift too off while designing sounds. In the end, every person who works on a mix, or sounds, will in some way add the flavor of their own hearing ~ mostly if there's total freedom, such as in electro sounds. And since every person has a unique hearing curve, Pink Noise seems to be an average, which even if crudely, but still gives a guide for a bit of optimization.

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minilog
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Post 26 Dec 2018

RobC wrote:
25 Dec 2018
At the moment, I was only looking for something that is a bit of a guide, so I don't drift too off while designing sounds. In the end, every person who works on a mix, or sounds, will in some way add the flavor of their own hearing ~ mostly if there's total freedom, such as in electro sounds. And since every person has a unique hearing curve, Pink Noise seems to be an average, which even if crudely, but still gives a guide for a bit of optimization.
I think of pink noise as a guide for an entire mix rather than designing individual elements. The kick drum is a rabbit hole in itself and you'd be better off looking at the spectrum of a reference track.

RobC
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Post 26 Dec 2018

minilog wrote:
26 Dec 2018
RobC wrote:
25 Dec 2018
At the moment, I was only looking for something that is a bit of a guide, so I don't drift too off while designing sounds. In the end, every person who works on a mix, or sounds, will in some way add the flavor of their own hearing ~ mostly if there's total freedom, such as in electro sounds. And since every person has a unique hearing curve, Pink Noise seems to be an average, which even if crudely, but still gives a guide for a bit of optimization.
I think of pink noise as a guide for an entire mix rather than designing individual elements. The kick drum is a rabbit hole in itself and you'd be better off looking at the spectrum of a reference track.
I'll be careful with it. Here is a quick EQing of an old kick drum of mine.

Old one



And the new one EQd with the help of the Pink Noise.



Right away, it's not that bad, definitely helped improve, though of course I'd need to spend a bit more time with it.

RobC
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Post 27 Dec 2018

Well, we can say, it is indeed very useful then.

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minilog
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Post 27 Dec 2018

RobC wrote:
27 Dec 2018
Well, we can say, it is indeed very useful then.
I briefly listened to your kick earlier today and remember the second one being more subby. Sometimes that is not what somebody wants. I think pink noise should be more of a premaster reference for an entire mix but to each their own.

RobC
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Post 28 Dec 2018

minilog wrote:
27 Dec 2018
RobC wrote:
27 Dec 2018
Well, we can say, it is indeed very useful then.
I briefly listened to your kick earlier today and remember the second one being more subby. Sometimes that is not what somebody wants. I think pink noise should be more of a premaster reference for an entire mix but to each their own.
Yes, that's the most apparent change. It helped me bring out exactly what I was missing, and the result is quite similar to reference kicks, that I liked. It seems, it can be used in many ways.

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Marco Raaphorst
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Post 28 Dec 2018

you EQ-ed the bassdrum by comparing it to pink noise?

I don't think you need to compare it to anything simply listen how it sounds and make it fit the other instruments.

Imo mixing is making stuff blend together. And I don't want to much smooth blend even, because it makes the mix to soft, to smooth sounding. I don't want that. Music on the computer is already extremely polished, I rather try to make it sound dirtier, more raw, more saturated, less balanced. But that might be me :D
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RobC
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Post 29 Dec 2018

Marco Raaphorst wrote:
28 Dec 2018
you EQ-ed the bassdrum by comparing it to pink noise?

I don't think you need to compare it to anything simply listen how it sounds and make it fit the other instruments.

Imo mixing is making stuff blend together. And I don't want to much smooth blend even, because it makes the mix to soft, to smooth sounding. I don't want that. Music on the computer is already extremely polished, I rather try to make it sound dirtier, more raw, more saturated, less balanced. But that might be me :D
I first took the old one, and set to a close level to the noise with an A/B switching listening. Then with the EQ, I searched for nice transient spots, adjusted until it sounded transparent enough, then I continued the A/B test. That was the part where I set the gain for each EQ point. The click could tolerate a bit of boost; the sub way more; and there was an upper bass, and lower mid which got a bit reduced.

I see pink noise like listening to a "mix". Only, it's a super crowded, totally randomized sound. During work, my ears get used to my 'phones unique curve, and probably a bit to the noise, too, thus I can get somewhat closer to a standard sound.

Personally, I want to level sounds (at least for a test) to a pink noise, and when I get to the mix, I'd only touch things like offsetting, inversion, stretching, etc. (regarding canceling issues), and mostly mess around with the master fader for any micro (ex. you know when no matter what you do, a snare hit just sounds flat at some point -> a momentary master ~3 dB boost can make it jump out) and macro dynamics. And as for individual faders, those would tops just be used for making some sounds quieter, when I want others to be more in the foreground.

I'm into variation, too. Not much of a fan of a "static" or "steril" sound.

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Zac
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Post 29 Dec 2018

Sorry to butt in but if i want to view the spectrum of my device over/against pink noise, how do i do that in Reason?

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