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Does Opeth use auto-tune in recordings?

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by nat0, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    Well, it is up to opinion weather you like the sound or not, triggers make drums sound like a drum machine in most situations, because every hit is the same. So yes, it will even out the sound, but normally to an extreme degree so the drums have basically no organic, natural sound left to them, most recent metal engineers seem to like that though, as I rarely hear anything that resembles acoustics drums on new metal albums. Some engineers, as mentioned earlier, will do a mix of triggers and the real drums, so this can sound a bit better, but I still just hate them in almost all situations.

    Personally, I think its a huge double standard anyway, if guitarists started using a similar technology to playback the perfectly hit guitar notes, they would likely be turned into a joke, and the technology relentlessly smeared. Of course the technology doesn't really exist as it stands now, so we shouldn't have to worry about it.
     
  2. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    This is the crucial point. I asked some drummers in the other place and ive been told that while triggers may lightly affect dynamics, especially on ghost notes, all in all it will just sound like a different (presumably better) kit, and actual performance with its idiosyncrasies will stay.

    In other words, if a drummer made 5 hits, it will sound like, A1, B1, C1, D1, E1; A, B, C, D, E being different hits and 1 being the sound coming from an instrument. Now if an engineer (lets say Sneap on Delieverance) triggered the played sounds, it will not - ive been told - turn all the hits into one, very same hit, id est turn A1, B1, C1, D1, E1 into X, X, X, X, X; but, it will just lend a different sound, while keeping the characteristics of the actual performance. Therefore, it will turn A1, B1, C1, D1, E1 simply into A2, B2, C2, D2, E2; A, B, C, D, E being the hits as played by the drummer, and 2 being the sound of a triggered sample (again, presumably better sounding than the original acoustic kit). In case of blending a sample and an instrument we will have A1-2, B1-2, C1-2, D1-2, E1-2. In both cases we wont get the rhythm-machine like all-the-same, no dynamics, no organic feel whatsoever, XXXXX kind of sound.

    Now, is this true, have i described what triggers do correctly?
     
  3. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    Yes, triggers can be used to trigger multiple samples, and can be used dynamically, it's just midi, an engineer could make the drum kit sound like a grand piano if he wanted to. The problem I have however, is they are almost always used to make a drum track sound "perfect", so the final objective is to remove all dynamics and variations, making it more similar to an E-Kit than an acoustic one.
     
  4. To rid you disease

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    isnt that why u usually let it be 50% real and 50% trigger in the mix?
     
  5. sotua

    sotua Member

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    I don't think I'd describe the drums on Deliverance as lacking in dynamics and variations. Just like with autotune in vocals, it can produce great results but it also can be grossly misused, just like any effect or technique.
     
  6. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    Yeah i would agree with sotua, but i still dont understand what is being replaced with what, when sound replacing. Is this variety and dynamics something that needs to be achieved by the engineer through clever editing, or is it something that comes with the original sound but can be ruined by engineer's misuse? I think it is the latter.

    Again i would be very happy if somebody could answer for good: when replacing, is it the sound that is being replaced by a new sound (often not as varied), or complete hit, with everything that characterizes the actual performance is being replaced by a sample of a new hit (or multiple samples for "variety"). "Sample", is it a sample of the sound, or sample of the hit (played by a different drummer in a different studio, and then processed and produced to great length) with all its parameters (intensity, velocity, dynamics, clarity...)

    I dont care for variety if its not a genuine representation of the player's work. If its "multiple samples" applied for the illusion of variety, and real hits completely removed from the mix, then its the same if its XXXXX or XYXYX, or whatever, its still fake.

    Anyway, i guess its definitely ABCDE kind of thing on Deliverance (and GR and W), just that the original "color", say white, has been turned into, well, blue, or red, or whatever, and perhaps this blue is not as varied and nuanced as the original shades of white, but i tend to agree with sotua that it still sounds human and not machine like, and that it does justice to Lopez performance. The problem is that i wish to believe that more than im competent to judge anything myself, thats why it would be cool to know what exactly has been replaced with what...

    Cyrosis, i would be glad to hear your opinion on Deliverance drums in particular...
     
  7. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    Most engineers don't however, if they did, I wouldn't be constantly hearing Rolandesqe drums in all the death metal my room mate listens to.

    I am not using Deliverance as an example here, it's just most engineers choose to abuse triggers, their use on Deliverance isn't too bad, it's only really noticeable on the kick drum.
     
  8. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    does anyone know if axe or lopez use/d triggers live, and if so, since when...
     
  9. L0bster

    L0bster OneTwo!

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    Wow, why the drama.

    They definately use a little bit of autotune, but thats not the interesting question. What is interesting is:

    A - Is it so obvious that the music takes damage? - NO
    B - Can Mike pull it off live without auto-tune - generally, YES

    There isnt much significance in wether its used or not having these questions answered.
     
  10. L0bster

    L0bster OneTwo!

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    The hit is always sampled when it comes to trigging. Tho some trigging is done dynamically (picking weaker samples for weaker hits) with varying results (doesnt always make it anymore real at all, might just ruin the sound)

    In many cases you hear the sample is from the same drumkit, done in the same studio with the same mic, but just basicly a perfect hit done seperately. In this case the triggin can be mixed 50/50 without getting a weird result.

    In many cheap-o productions, the hit will be from another studio, with another drummer and with another mic. This gives the programmed-feel for sure, and youll find the same samples on many albums, like for instance, the drumkit from hell sound or roland-drumsound.
     
  11. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    thanks lobster. i agree with your AT observations, no big deal indeed, i stand corrected.

    but could you say something which would make me see im taking drum triggering too much to heart? i still cant stuck the concept of hearing monotonous samples of the other drummer and not Lopez into my head (which is the case on Deliverance - kick replaced, snare blended with "unoriginal" samples). do you think it kills the feel, expression, accents and generally affects the flavor of Deliverance? what do you reckon: how much of the actual Lopez's performance is still there?

    dunno, still seems like "fast food" approach to drumming to me, dont know how else to call it, at least in regards to Opeth. it can be cool effect in music like Radiohead, electronic inclining music with relatively simple drumming, but imo it doesnt fit the virtuoso performance at all. everyone says it is necessary in DM for clarity and besides dynamics are not that important, but still, Lopez himself has been doing without it for years and years, and dynamics are not important in such music as Opeth? no way. and then when i think about possibility of using a triggered kick live; according to one poster here at least Axe might be using it...

    ive read like every possible pro-trigger argument, tried to stick it into my head, and still it doesnt make more sense to me than just getting a good sounding drums and simply taking your time to mic them nicely and tune them in - "old school" way for most rewarding and most artistic results.
     
  12. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    That argument can really only have any validity on stuff that is played at absolutely insane tempos, those of which Opeth never even come close to.
     
  13. DisappearingSun412

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    As a studio and live engineer, let me put OFFICIAL responses into this thread.

    As far as autotune, is it a method to mask a voice? To make it sound way better than actuality? Does it completely destroy the vocal dynamic to crate perfection?

    The answer here is no. What it does is take the vocal pattern and nudge it a few cents (1/1200th of a whole step) closer toward the base tone they were going for.

    The kicker here is that it can be used to completely mask a voice. This, however, is EXTREMELY time intensive and ungoldy expensive. IE: Britney Spears, and the worst offender Paris Hilton. They spend millions on pitch correction procedure. It takes hours per song, and engineers are charging by the hour.

    A side note, Autotune is a brand of voice modulator, and the most commonly used and famous one is actually called Melodyne Uno/Studio.


    Now we get to the issue of triggering. There are two methods of triggers, replacement sampling, and overenhancement. I'll give you some examples.

    In the studio, sometimes they will get some master clips of a bass drum, then they will slave those samples to a trigger controller. This smooths out the post production process. Drummers are inconsistent, which shows there human, not that they suck. It's very heard to master drums when they have minor inconsistencies. Tim Yeung from Divine Heresy uses this method. They cut master samples to tape, load the tape into digital, then trigger the samples

    The live application can mimic the studio method, BUT it is more commonly used to compliment the mics on the kick. It sounds complicated but it isn't.

    Bass tones and sub are important, but can overpower the ears at a show, so the most common use of triggers live is to provide the click, snap, and bite on each hit, and then a microphone is used to catch the natural tone. The click is the sound created by the batter hitting the drum head. They then blend these together at the mixing board. Why? Because the natural tones in a live setting are very intense on the low end, and you can't hear the speed or pattern without the emphasized clicks and snaps in the high range.

    Triggering is not ALWAYS cheating. Hardly ever, except for deathcore and all that faggoty shit.

    Autotune is just like putting sprinkles on a cake that already had a lot of icing. The talent and emotion was there, your just adding another piece of appeal.
     
  14. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    @DisappearingSun412

    as for pitch correction, i stand corrected, lol.

    as for triggers in live situation, you gave a great explanation, im ok if its being used that way, cause it gives the desired click but maintains variety and individuality of strikes, when used like that. that battering, biting click can be nicely heard on double bass runs in this recording (0:44-0:50 and 0:58-1:05 for instance), am i right?



    as for studio use of triggers, its ok that you say it is hardly ever cheating, but this thread has been more about whether or not cases of 100% sound replacement - as in the particular case of Deliverance where original kick has been 100% replaced - reveal downgraded taste in engineering and production, and whether it was the right choice artistically regarding Lopez's performance. i for one still feel it isnt right or too sophisticated a method but would still gladly be disproved.

    it is still hard for me to understand whether its safe to say that if triggering is tastefully applied, say 50-50, or maybe the way Bogren triggered drums on GR and Watershed, the nuances of original performance can be kept for real (i dont like if variety and "natural" sound are simulated by the engineer).
     
    #94 truhlo, Aug 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  15. DisappearingSun412

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    Drum replacement is a touchy subject, and I see where my post gets cloudy with that.

    What I said with triggers still stands, they aren't used for cheating, except in extreme underground and over the top speed/death/grind blah blah blah... Shitty fuckin' metal. Drum replacement isn't reliant on a trigger. Drum replacement actually requires an accurately recorded take of a REAL drummer. It isn't cut and paste.

    Here's how it works (this will be based on the kick):
    You mic up the kit and adjust everything properly (takes a couple days). Then once the perfect sounds are achieved, you record several, maybe 10 samples of the kick drum. Then you track all of the drums as if they are going to all be kept. A natural studio take. Now that all of the perfomances are solid and ready fro post-production, you open your replacement software. The industry standard for metal right now is called Drumagog. You load up those 10 master samples, then process the performance track of the kick. Drumagog creates a track with those 10 samples that follows the patterns and hits of the performace PRECISELY. Then you set the replacement as a master, and silence the performance take.

    There are several reasons this is done. No drummer, no matter how good, who is consistent enough to sound like those 10 samples with every hit. It's impossible. It makes engineering a session an absolute nightmare. A good drummer and a good engineer can avoid this, but its a rare occasion. Not everyone is Derek Roddy.

    Now I'll make my educated state on the matter. I'm a student and practicer of audio engineering, production and recording. I can see the workflow benefits to drum replacement, especially when a kick has 4 mics on it that all have to catch the same perfect performance. Over the course of a week, you'll spend a TON of time and $ working around this. It's easier to get your 10 samples in the first half hour, and not worry about it from there.

    The problem is when engineers ride the line between being efficient and being lazy. "Drum replacement is just how metal is done. Its just how it is now." Bullshit. I had to do it without replacement out of a small project studio for two years. I came up with lots of ways to deal with it. I have a great set-up now. I could easily demand $100+ an hour and do all the replacement shit. But I wouldn't feel right just being lazy, it just goes against how I feel and learned.

    I accept that drum replacement is a common method, but I am really bothered by how its become second nature. This being said, 90% of the records I've purchased in the last 5 years have replaced drums.

    It's unnerving.
     
  16. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    Drums can be programmed very realistically without a drum track, in the proper hands of course. Then again, it technically wouldn't be considered replacement if you were programming from scratch, as you wouldn't be replacing anything. :loco:
     
  17. Frosties

    Frosties Blind @ heart

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    Yeah, the When Day Descends drum tracks are great.
     
  18. Mikael Åkerfeldt

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    Basically we do 4-5 takes of every part and then pick the best one. The way we work with Jens has always been very musical, and that's the way I write too. If we can't play it we won't use it. To be honest I've never ever given up on a riff or a part because I or we haven't been able to perform it.

    Same with autotuners, if I wouldn't be able to sing I'd be terribly uncomfortable with having a machine have me sounding like I could. We do many takes and pick the best ones. What Jens does later I don't really know, but I can easily hear a autotuned part I believe and I'm allergic to them. But with that said I'm sure we've used it here and there, especially to "tighten" together multi tracked harmonies if they're too chorus-y sounding.

    Nowadays I don't track my vocals very often, like I did on say "Still life". Now we pick a single take of a single line so it'd better be good.

    Recording albums these days is ridiciously time-consuming and the technical devices out there are mind boggling, but Opeth have always taken pride in being a band who actually can play and perform everything we put on tape. There's nothing fake about us, I can tell you that, but sometimes we dive into the new technology as everyone else.

    Cheers
    Mike
     
  19. choppeth

    choppeth New Metal Member

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    This is just as I thought
    Thanks Mike,
    are you just going to play for one hour in Progressive nation?
    I'm looking forward seeing opeth for my first time,
    though I find it extremely short, considering that I must drive 600 km.
    anyway, why I cannot find opeth cds in Spain earlier from bwp??
    sorry for my English & offtopic
    hugs for everyone!!
     
  20. Frosties

    Frosties Blind @ heart

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    Thanks for the post.
    So, how involved are you and the rest of the band with the whole post-recording process? Do you just go home and let Jens (or whoever is producing) do his thing and then give remarks on the final product, or do you go over everything next to him step by step? Could there be a situation, for example, where Mendez can say "I want a big fat bass sound right up in front here", or do you guys just record and hope for the best?
     

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