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Removing harshness from old recordings
#3040485 04/25/20 02:20 AM
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Whoa! So this is where everybody went. So many familiar names I haven't seen in such a long time. Good to see you all again.

Anyway, I have some old punk/hardcore recordings I did in the early 90s. I'd like to remaster them, clean them up, and give them a more solid production. One of the things that is wrong with the recordings is that I used a BBE Maximizer during the mixdown, and they have a harshness in the highs. I've been playing around with EQ and compression trying to tame it, but I've only had limited success. Any tips on how I might smooth that out a little without losing the vocals in the process? These were recorded on an old Sansui 6-track (anyone remember those?), and I ripped them to CD probably in the early 2000s. I don't believe I have the master 6-track nor the original stereo master. It appears I lost them in my last move. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

~Pat Waara

Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040490 04/25/20 02:51 AM
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First post, welcome aboard Pat.

First, I am just a guy who found himself in a somewhat similar situation a couple years ago.
A band member wanted help with some irreplaceable recordings they had from long ago.
Like your situation, they just had a CD.

I copied the files, put them on my DAW and then I copied and pasted several instances of the same file, in sync.
I figured I'd try to seperate out the Bass, Low Mids, High Mids and the Highs with subtractive EQ.

I put a 31 band EQ on each copy of the track and started subtracting, focusing on what I wanted to keep.
When I felt I'd done the best I could, I mixed those parts back together. This allowed me to balance them a little better.

Honestly, it still sounded pretty crappy - Garbage In, Garbage Out. But it did sound way less worse than what I started with and my friend was happy enough so we called it good.

I'm sure people smarter and more experienced than myself will chime in with some great suggestions and I look forward to reading them too! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040518 04/25/20 06:19 AM
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Compression will do no good because the problem is how to remove the generated harmonics. As far as my old skool knowledge goes it's pretty impossible because the harmonics were generated over the whole audio spectrum - not just a single band.

First of all try a shelving EQ and cut the highs from 1kHz and up. Then gradually slide up the cutoff frequency until you hear the harshness return. If that gives you a more pleasant result than that's all you can do with an EQ.

Secondly, a deesser is a dynamic EQ that reacts (cuts) to certain frequencies. But it doesn't work on the complete spectrum. Try to set it between 3.5kHz - 11kHz. Reduction starting at 3dB. That will do something too, but again it's not taking away the harmonics the BBE generated.

One last resort could be Izotope RX. But other members have to respond on that. I know for some jobs Izotope did miracles but it's beyond my field of interest so only got it from hear-say.


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040597 04/25/20 07:26 PM
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This is a super tough thing to deal with. I run into it with a lot of mastering projects. Thankfully we have some modern tools that can really help with this. One of my favorites is the bx_refinement processor from brainworks. I also find that some of the tape emulation plugins can help with this, especially on the slower tape speed emulations. The Crane Song Peacock vinyl emulations can work as well, but it is kind of epensive. I usually find myself running through multiple options to see what works best for the music...sometimes using multiple on extreme cases.


Ronan Chris Murphy - Producer-Engineer
(King Crimson, GWAR, Ulver, Mafia III)
ronanchrismurphy.com
Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040645 04/25/20 10:51 PM
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I would look to Izotope RX-7 or SpectralLayers type of spectral editing to deal with this. You can likely find the harmonics and remove/attentuate them without touching anything else. There will be a learning curve, but its very powerful. You can literally edit audio by frequency. Once you learn how to do it, and where the harmonics are, you can circle them and just delete them. It is a bit of black magic for sure, thanks to smart DSP engineers and powerful algorithms.

Last edited by Nathanael_I; 04/25/20 10:53 PM.
Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pim #3040673 04/26/20 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Pim
One last resort could be Izotope RX. But other members have to respond on that. I know for some jobs Izotope did miracles but it's beyond my field of interest so only got it from hear-say.

hey Pat, until April 30th, iZotope Elements Suite Plug-in Bundle is on sale at a HUGE discount. Might not do what you want, but for the little bit of money it costs it should be worth a try. Not affiliated in any way, just trying to help a brother out

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...m=email&utm_campaign=20200413-t1t2-a


that was then and this is now
Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Doerfler #3040674 04/26/20 04:10 AM
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Originally Posted by davedoerfler
Originally Posted by Pim
One last resort could be Izotope RX. But other members have to respond on that. I know for some jobs Izotope did miracles but it's beyond my field of interest so only got it from hear-say.

hey Pat, until April 30th, iZotope Elements Suite Plug-in Bundle is on sale at a HUGE discount. Might not do what you want, but for the little bit of money it costs it should be worth a try. Not affiliated in any way, just trying to help a brother out

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...m=email&utm_campaign=20200413-t1t2-a

Nice!
For all 4 it's stupid cheap. I went for it, these are the latest versions of Elements. I already had Ozone and Nektar, these are updates for me.

Great bang for the buck!!!! Cheers, Kuru

Last edited by KuruPrionz; 04/27/20 04:52 AM. Reason: Fixed because wrong

There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040770 04/27/20 01:12 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I do own bx_refinement and RX7 Standard, so I think I will try those two routes first. RX7 is a little deep. I've used it to remove some background bleed from a track with some success. I have not used in this context, so I'm sure that will be a steep learning curve. I'm working a couple of other projects which will probably take priority, but once I get a chance to try these out, I'll post my results.

Re: Removing harshness from old recordings
Pat Waara #3040773 04/27/20 01:55 AM
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I just did a few quick experiments, and whoa, bx_refinement is working some serious magic on the track. I couldn't get RX7 to do what I wanted, so that will take a lot more experimenting and learning. I might be able to get away with bx_refinement, a little EQ, and some compressing, and these old tracks might just sound pretty decent.


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