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BrokenBString / Chris Matthews 1mo+22dy ago
How Dry Is Dry? So here's a hypothetical case. I record a guitar track with a bunch of effects; noise gate, compressor, eq, delay, reverb, Melodyne for the duff notes :-) and so on. I post an "Idea" and the project owner says can I please upload a "dry sep". What exactly IS that? Do I assume the mix engineer is going to want to recreate my guitar sound from scratch? Or do we have to have a conversation about what to leave in and out? I can understand a mix engineer wanting to have complete control over reverbs but what about the other stuff?


     

2 people like this: TheOther, Moonrunner

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sriracha   commented 1mo+22dy ago


Generally a "dry" track would be something with as little modulation and spatial effects as possible. No reverb - that is the worst thing you can do because if everyone chooses a different space (and given we are all remote from one and another that;s the most likely thing) then they are gonna sound like everyone is in a different room. Delays are tricky as they contribute to the space, but sometimes are a part of the sound, as are modulation effects like chorus, for example. But delays are usually easier to manage as long as they aren't overpowering. For me, my only ask is no verb, and can I get a track w/o delay plus an effected version so I can get your vision and then recreate it. I may even ask about the specific verb / delay settings so I can work with them in my mix.

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Moonrunner   commented 1mo+22dy ago


As far as I understand it, 'dry' means the totally clean and sry sound/signal which is sent to your DAW with no effects whatsoever. Of course, you want your own personal guitar sound really which would be loaded with your preferred sound with how you want to create that which is a bane in my own side at the moment, but the chances of somebody else creating your own personal 'sound' is going to be pretty low, but the mixing process should embellish or balance the sound in the mix. :) In my very limited experience, the mixer might ask for no reverb and might add that themselves. :)

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sriracha   commented 1mo+22dy ago


While this is technically "dry" alright, I would categorize this as "DI" versus "dry". I guess that could just be me. I look at it this way - if you are recording off an amp, you are using everything but reverb. Reverb is wet, The part off the amp is dry. If you want a split that is the out of guitar version, that is DI.

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Moonrunner   commented 1mo+22dy ago


See what you're saying there. So whatever comes in before it hits the DAW. I can see how this can get confusing! Haha!! :D In my head 'dry' is totally bare without anything, but now I have to rethink my life - Again!! Haha!! :D

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liljoe6string   commented 1mo+22dy ago


very interesting topic.. To Dry or Not to Dry that is the question... lolol To me theres WET Semi Dry & Dry Wet = all fx analog & digital Semi Dry = zero time effects but you might have added some EQ shaping and compression Dry = nothing added just as recorded> no nothing>

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DonnieAlan   commented 1mo+22dy ago


There's no one right answer to your question. However, there are some general guidelines that can help. When I do a mix for someone here, for example, and I ask for "dry" seps, I'm basically thinking of reverb, compression, delay, things like that. Now, if the player has a specific sound in mind on an instrument, such as guitar, and they use FX boxes to get that sound, I'm good with that, other than reverb, delay and compression, which I prefer to control in the mix so things blend right. But other fx like chorus, distortion, phasers, etc, to me that's part of the sound being created by the player. Or, to put it another way, it is literally part of the actual instrument part, whether its a VI or an acoustic instrument. Whoever owns the project determines whether or not the track as played by a player is what they want. I'm just the mix engineer whose job is to make it all blend together. If certain kinds of FX make that difficult, then I'll go back to the player and say, take out such and such effect. But usually that's little more than reverb, delay, and/or compression.

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Hotjams   commented 1mo+21dy ago


Clearly to dry is the answer to said question.

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BrokenBString   commented 1mo+22dy ago


Valuable stuff. Many thanks for your input chaps. I think my takeaway from this is that if I'm asked for a sep, I'll tell the engineer what's in the chain and ask him/her what they want. Everyone should be happy with that and will avoid disappointment.

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liljoe6string   commented 1mo+21dy ago


perfect! There are a few folks that think your sound is yours and ask for wet.. esp if the wet sound is bomb.. As a rule unless I know the whose mixin.. I will ship semi dry... pull verbs delays stereo spreads etc... but leave on my compression & EQ shaping as their always within reason. But if I know the mixer is tight.. I will ship bone dry.. having said that for years I only sent wet.. cause I ran wet in.. (no option) ps Best watch asking what they want though.. I hate gettin the almost standard "send me both wet and dry" yuk..

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dogbizkits   commented 1mo+21dy ago


Bill and Donnie have pretty much nailed it, and as Donnie says, there's no 'right' answers. I suppose the term 'dry' could be generally be put into two different categories: 1 - 'Digital Dry', and, 2 - 'Analog Dry'. ANALOG 'DRY': In the good old days of tape, the audio signal from a preamp would generally go direct to the multi-track tape machine where it could be manipulated during mixdown on the mixing console using EQ, compressors, FX to build the sonic sculpture of the band. Of course the preamp output signal would sometimes could go through a compressor for subtle dynamic control (without using any EQ) before reaching the multi-track tape recorder input. Even with slight dynamic modification, this kind of track was considered as 'dry' and was the convention prior to Digital Audio Workstations. DIGITAL DRY: Lets say (for example) the guitarist has a particular sound. That's good, we need different guitar sounds in a mix. If these guitar sounds are generated by plugging the guitar into an 'interface', VI, or by using a microphone on a cabinet , or a DI box, there's one thing that separates them in terms of 'dry' and how their sounds are integrated into a mix - and that is the application of reverb / time domain FX. The guitarist can achieve his/her sound using digital tone shaping - BUT as soon as reverb / delays are applied to that signal and recorded that way, that track can be considered as 'wet'. This is definitely not the best kind of track to send to a mix engineer, because, while it it may sound great in the guitarists DAW, it's highly likely it won't integrate properly in the mix engineer's mix. It's always a good idea to send the mix engineer a 'wet' track (to give him/her an idea of the sound the guitarist is going for) - but also send a 'dry' track too. What's said in the above guitar example equally applies to ANY track from a vocalist to a drummer - and everything in between. If you're using a mix engineer, 'dry' is king - and always send a MONO track for a mono instrument (instead of two-track stereo version of a truly mono sound source). Finally, while the musician has established his/her desired sound, it may not be the sound which suits the entire ensemble. For example, simply changing a snare drum can radically improve the whole band sound - as does using a different guitar, piano, synth --- and the most contentious of all.... the vocalist. If the mix doesn't 'gel' properly, it may be because some sounds just don't work with each other. Don't struggle with that and be prepared to be flexible to help the project along. If there's a sound that doesn't work, just change it rather than struggle with it. I hope these scribblings help.

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DonnieAlan   commented 1mo+21dy ago


Rab's last paragraph here is exactly right. Because we all work at a distance from one another, we tend to hear things we're doing in isolation rather than as a whole, as we would if we were all in the same studio at the same time. So, flexibility is required. It can easily be the case that the part itself, a bass let's say, is great from a performance and note perspective, but the bass sound isn't quite right for the song...doesn't gel, as Rab said. Then, we go back and do it again with a different sound. In the same room at the same time, we'd figure all that out pretty quickly. In the Kompoz process, it can take a wee bit longer!

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Astronut   commented 1mo+21dy ago


Something important to consider is if the person mixing is taking on the role of producer or just mixing what is provided. If they were your engineer for the session, their job would be to capture what you put out in the best way possible. If they are also helping produce the recording, they may be asked for creative input regarding choices made in the creation of the song. This may include suggesting different amps, mics, FX, arrangement, and so on. Here at Kompoz, more often than not, those who mix assert their artistic license without even asking. You don't have to like it, nor should you feel obligated to provide "dry" files. If you aren't worried about your musical babies and want to take a chance, go ahead and provide "wet" and "dry" files and see what happens. Once in awhile, something good may come of it. Most of the time, the results will be mixed (no pun intended). It's up to you and how comfortable you are with others taking liberties on your songs. Being a collaborative site, you can expect anything and everything. If you only want them to mix what is provided, establish that boundary and stick to it. If you are okay with them expressing their artistic license, go for it. Something I said a long time ago regarding this topic is that it's Kompoz, where everyone gets a mix. This allows the guitarist to turn his tracks up too loud and process the hell out of everything while soloing throughout the entire song. The vocalist can turn up the vocals so loud that you can't hear anything else while slathering on more reverb than the entire catalog of music released in the 80s. The drummer can crank the drums to the point of distortion, while "forgetting" to include the guitar tracks. The bass player can record in stereo and play a solo. The keyboardist can add a minimum of 20 tracks, each with different reverb. The mixer can reamp the guitars using open source software played through an Auratone cube into an elevator, use drum replacement software on every drum - all bongo samples, use at least 40 plugins on the vocal tracks with enough autotuning to make T-Pain cringe, forget to include the keys, and not sync up a single track while including a deafening sync tone on the head just to prove a point. :D

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dogbizkits   commented 1mo+21dy ago


I wouldn't go as far as saying a mix engineer would 'take liberties' to get a band sounding good in a mix - certainly not in a distance collaboration sense. This is because many 'artists' are working in less than ideal conditions + the band members are not in the mix engineer's studio and able to discuss ideas and test them out in real time. Distance collaboration mix engineers *probably* spend more hours and put in more effort FOR the band than they're perhaps recognised for. In that respect, I wouldn't identify that effort as 'taking liberties' - especially as a full mix takes a lot more time to do than recording a single-pass track to be used in the project. If the band are unable to work with a mix engineer who they feel is taking liberties, that's cool. They can move on and find someone else. Of course, these comments have nothing to do with 'wet' or 'dry' really - unless the conversation it's moving in the direction of reverb-saturated mixes. EDIT: Please note this post refers to 'taking liberties'. My comments were based on Astronut's original content (above) which has been since been modified to remove any reference to 'taking liberties'. I hope this update helps to avoid any confusion.

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DocDaFunk   commented 1mo+21dy ago


As i'm using amplitube and plug my geetar direct into the soundcard , i'm able to provide ''Extra dry'' sep Most of the time the result is deceiving For the reason , imo , that ur playing differ with the sound u use The good compromise would be: no time-space effects & compression , so the engineer can totally fit your track without denaturing the sound

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tbase2000   commented 1mo+21dy ago


It really depends on the way you recorded your guitar. If you have both a DI track and a mic on your amp then the mixer will be excited to know there are two dry options. A guitar tone is personal. What guitar you pick, the strings you choose, the amp and distortion you like. Recreating your ear and taste isn't practical. Be as natural to your tone as possible in the recording phase without adding verbs or delays. Even in the case of a custom tweaked VST amp. If that's what it takes to get your sound then that's what your sound is. If you have delay ideas and verb ideas then use these in your demo track to present to the collab. Basically everything you have added to the recording as effects in your DAW after you did it besides the amp sim if you use one, mute them for your export but include them for your demo. If your submitting your guitar to an existing collab then your only presenting these effects as options to the producer of the project. If the effects are custom important ideas to the song then I would send those effects as a separate channel mix. A guitar with a ping pong delay that doesn't match the BPM lost in a long Hall verb will piss a mixer off. Just sayin.

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tbase2000   commented 1mo+21dy ago


The meaning of dry also varies between instruments as well. RAW microphone wave form with no processing. Vocals for example might have lead, double, harmonies, spot harmonies....all get uploaded individually with no processing whatsoever. That's not what you want for your demo. Make it sound good so they will select your track to be used in the project. Produce/Pitch your vision. 2 more cents.

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GoYeah   commented 1mo+21dy ago


Just to add my 2 cents : I prefer my tracks to be dry, or as dry as, or driest, or even raw dry. The more options the merrier. I may repeat some of the things other artists of the console mentioned but hey, :) If I produce, give it to me raw ... if not, the effects better be spot on and superb! There are also several plugins that may help in dealing with recalcitrant tracks (i.e.: someone sent me a solo guitar track with delay in and the guitarist had died ... can't get it any other way...and the timing was horrendous. So with Melodyne, I did magic and timed the whole thing.) There are De-reverbs and such ... it helps... but nothing beats dry, DI or miced amp. You just cannot ask an artist (guitarist mostly) to give it to you dry so you can emulate/copy what his mind was set on when the demo was recorded ... So easy on EQ and compression, but no revs or delays or any time-based thingies. Cheers !

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insub   commented 1mo+20dy ago


Another option: Render (bounce) your FX as a separate stem (sep). In the DAW, this is very easy. Analog... not so much depending on the equipment that you have. I always prefer BOTH the wet and dry SEPS. I want to know what the artist envisioned before I go mucking about. Also, the request is always different, based on the player and especially the instrument! Sometimes people nail it, pro or amateur, you could always get it just right, you never know! Vocals: ALWAYS provide a DI version. That means absolutely NO processing at all! Along with the wet version. Vocalists are the most notorious for compressor, EQ, & Reverb ABUSE. Sorry.. it's true. All other instruments: Providing a DI sep is a prudent thing to do, even for your own use for archiving. Guitar: Rarely is the DI used, but it could be very handy in some circumstances. As described be GoYeah (rare, but case in point). Also, the mixer may have wanted two takes to opposite pan. Using the DI take, the mixer can reamp ITB and make it sound like a separate guitarist is doubling up. OTOH, your amp may have an analog spring reverb unit in it that sounds great and may be hard for some to emulate ITB. Having the DI could allow the mixer to reduce the "wetness" by adding in a reamped version to bring the guitar more forward without throwing your carefully chosen FX away altogether. Bass Guitar: If you don't already have a DI box, then you're not really a Bass player ;P. You'd BETTER upload a DI version. Just kidding, I've received some bass seps that were better than I could do ITB. I asked one guy what his rig was that got his tone... it was a $6000 setup that sounded way better than anything in my DAW. Even cheap DI boxes will do just fine for home recording. Some interfaces may already have provisions to route an input directly to an output that would be nearly the same thing. As always: there's no hard-fast rule in this. Generally: DI: direct from the instrument with NO FX whatsoever. Dry: without reverb, possibly delay, and minimal to NO compression. Wet: No holds barred. Reverb and the kitchen sink thrown in!