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Calf Studio Gear: New Plugin Multi Spread

Calf_Multi_SpreadMore stereo tools ftw! This one spreads your mono signal into stereo without any additional delay line – just by distributing the frequency spectrum equally between left and right. Choose the amount of filters per band and the direction of the distribution.

  1. 11 comments on “Calf Studio Gear: New Plugin Multi Spread”

  2. ikhider

    I am a recent graduate in the multimedia design development program at Humber College in Toronto, Canada. In our school we were trained to use Adobe products. Part of our education was video/audio editing where we use Adobe Premiere Pro and Audition. However, I am interested in using Libre software to achieve tasks. I try to use Blender for video editing and Ardour for audio. Part of my task requirements when recording video is noise reduction for audio. For example, when I record an interview, I need to filter out ambient noise (such as ‚mains hum‘), use a parametric equalizer to adjust voice in interviews, apply compression, normalization, gating, etc.. What Calf plugins/tools would you specifically suggest to adjust voice/voice-overs for interviews and background music?

  3. Markus Schmidt

    Hey ikhider,

    „In our school we were trained to use Adobe products. Part of our education was video/audio editing where we use Adobe Premiere Pro and Audition.“

    Hilarious .) So you learned where to click in one of the most fucking expensive programs to achieve a specific task but don’t know what really happens in the background? That’s what they call „school“, „college“ and „university“ these days. Freaky.

    „For example, when I record an interview…“

    I’ll explain it for Calf exclusively but it will work with any other programs as well.

    Mains Hum

    If you have problems with mains hum you should filter it out first with parametric filters. This one is a bit hard to counter.

    You need to know the frequencies of the humming, so open Calf Analyzer and loop a short piece of audio containing the hum exclusively. Zoom in (with the fader to the right) to see all the spikes produced by the hum. Click once into the display to activate the cross hair in order to find the exact frequencies of the spikes. Reduce them with very high Q parametric filters (EQ5/EQ8/EQ12). The Q depends on the spikes but I think everything between 15 and 50 should work well. Raise the frequency first with Level and make fine tuning with Frequency while holding down SHIFT. If you found it, reduce the level until the specific frequency is gone. Don’t overdo it. Afterwards use the bypass button of the EQ in order to see if the changes affect the voices too much. Play with the levels of the filters to get a good compromise.

    Noise Reduction

    Counter with Calf Gate. A Gate (or Expander which Calf in fact is) reduces levels below a given threshold.

    Use Max Gain Reduction to keep a natural feeling – cutting off *all* environmental noise would lead to a quite dead sound. Probably the default value fits. Set Threshold above the noise and below quiet parts of the voices. Turn up Knee a bit for smoother operation. Use Attack, Release and Ratio to get smooth transitions between gated and non-gated behavior (Ratio) without cutting off sibilants or first few milliseconds of words (Attack) and without leaving a tail of noise after the spokesman has ended (Release). Probably the default values fit.

    Leveling

    If the volume of both spokesmen don’t fit well, roughly automate the level of the strip in Ardour with more general corrections. Try to not get in the way of the Calf Gate.

    Equalising

    Now it’s time to set the general sound of the spokesmen. Impossible to make any useful advises apart from cutting off everything below ~ 80-100 Hz with a steep High Pass and everything above ~ 12-16 kHz with a steep Low Pass filter. The result should sound clearly understandable (~3kHz) without too much mud (~200-400Hz) and not too much „tin“ (~1kHz). At best you’ve got some good studio monitors. Take some very high quality recordings of spokesmen to have something to work along.

    Enhancement

    If your microphone/recording situation missed brilliance or lower end you could enhance them with Calf Bass Enhancer or Calf Exciter. They add new frequencies instead of just raising them like an EQ does. Don’t overdo the effects and always double-check with Bypass button. Use the Listen button in order to get the frequency range (Scope) you are missing some power in your recordings. Leave alone
    Ceiling, Floor, Harmonics and Blend Harmonics. Use Amount in order to mix in the new freequencies. Again: don’t overdo the effect.

    Compression

    Depending on (mainly) the spokesmen and the microphone your material may vary in loudness even after leveling. Use Calf Compressor to even it out. A compressor reduces levels above a given threshold. Afterwards one can raise (make-up) the overall level which in fact means to raise quiet parts of the signal.

    Start by setting the level of operation (Threshold). It should be above quiet parts and below the loudest parts. Use Ratio in order to set the main compression level, it only depends on the jumps in loudness. Start with default Attack and Release. If there are jumps sounding unusual raise Release a bit first, Attack afterwards. Don’t raise Attack too much to prevent from loud initiation of voice getting noticeably regulated afterwards. Use Knee to smooth out the operation afterwards. Raise Makeup to set the level of the loudest parts to their initial volume.

    Now quiet parts should be much more audible than before. Double-check with Calf Gate if you raised noise floor too much!

    De-Essing

    It *might* happen that Sibilants got raised by the compression. There‘ much less energy in these high frequencies so they usually slip through the compressor which bites in the ears. Counter with Calf Deesser.

    Switch on S/C-Listen. Use Split and Peak to the right to get the most annoying high frequencies. Turn off S/C-Listen afterwards. Play with Threshold and Ratio until the Sibilants are „in place“. Don’t overdo it to prevent from getting a dull or dead sound.

    Limiting

    Use Calf Multiband Limiter in order to raise the overall loudness without distortion. Set Oversampling to 4 to prevent from inter sample clipping. Reduce Release to ~8ms and use the big knob to raise the volume. Watch the level meters at the bottom – they shouldn’t do too much since it’s not a heavy metal recording but some voices. Lower Output to -0.1dB to prevent from inter sample clipping even more.

    These are the basic steps to enhance an interview. If you have some further questions feel free to ask.

    Cheers, Markus.

  4. ikhider

    Wowee! Thank you so much!!!! This is gold! Perhaps I could construct this into some kind of tutorial series so I can learn and understand better. You mentioned in interviews that Calf is lacking in documentation. As I go over your steps, I could keep a manual/diary and post it as a video series or an e-book.

    School was more like, „welcome to the Adobe Creative Cloud, it has Premiere Pro, Audition, Muse, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, After Effects and more!“ It was more about software and less about underlying theories. The teacher brushed on EQing and effects (time constraints) , but I learned more from asking around and reading. The real nightmare was web coding class; teacher types on his laptop (connected to a projector) at lightning speed and we are trying to copy his code using Dreamweaver while he talks about PHP, Javascript/Jquery, HTML5, CSS, MySQL. Knowledge retention in his class was not good. Not all the students could afford Adobe CC, even at discount rates, which is why using Libre software and focusing on underlying theories might be a better idea. Learn the basics and then use more refined/expensive tools when needed. I would rather hire or work with someone who understands design/audio/video/web dev than a software monkey who apes the teacher. That drives me bananas.

  5. Markus Schmidt

    Wowee! Thank you so much!!!! This is gold! Perhaps I could construct this into some kind of tutorial series so I can learn and understand better. You mentioned in interviews that Calf is lacking in documentation. As I go over your steps, I could keep a manual/diary and post it as a video series or an e-book.

    Would be awesome! And I guess lots of people would benefit from it.

    You stories from school are creepy. I’m so happy that I left school as soon as possible once to start learning things.

  6. ikhider

    I started with your tutorial to work through the plugins in Ardour and I was looking for the ‚Calf Analyzer‘ in the plugin manager and could not find it. I thought my distro did not include it and was looking around to see where the heck it went. Then eventually I went back and noticed the sub category filters that show ‚instruments‘ and ‚analyzers‘ and then found all those extra tools. When I clicked ‚analyzers‘, I realized the manager does not show all the plugins by default. I thought I already had a lot of plugins, but then I realize there is so much more. I am awed at the amount of work that went into Calf. The other things that blows me away is the design of the pugins, which is quite impressive. Even the ‚Calf Studio Gear‘ website is a work of art. One thing we did cover at Humber was the importance of UI/UX design and our professor, George Paravantes, is a master at his craft (He designed for Volkwagen in Germany at one point). He brushed on the surface of UI/UX design in class and the process of design. That is one realm where Libre/Opensource (and sometimes even proprietary) programs sometimes lack and often we are so used to ghetto looking software that when something properly designed comes along, I get confused. It is like a cat used to eating canned food and when you show real salmon to him, he gets nervous and has no idea what it is.

  7. Markus Schmidt

    hey Ikhider,

    wow thank you very much!

    Cheers, Markus.

  8. ikhider

    Hello Markus,

    A couple of things. I am (currently) using Debian (stable, Jessie). When I try to use the 30 band Calf EQ, I cannot seem to manipulate the assorted bands. The knobs just stay in place. Perhaps there is a key combination required to manipulate them?

    I (also) have several old interview cassette tapes that I am trying to digitize and there will be the inevitable hiss. One route is to use Audacity and get rid of hiss via noise removal. But because I want to grow up to be a pro, perhaps one can handle this in Calf. Re: noise removal plugins, one teacher advised that these are nothing more than fancy eq presets. True?

    The status report for your earlier post on how to handle voice overs, still an uphill battle. I am screwing up the audio mostly, but I try, try again. : – D

  9. Markus Schmidt

    Hey Ikhinder,

    EQ30 is fixed but still unreleased – so only available if you build Calf manually as described in detail on the website. This will bring even more effects and updates but might be problematic when it comes to downward compatibility.

    „noise removal plugins, one teacher advised that these are nothing more than fancy eq presets. True?“

    Nope, wrong. E.g. Audacity uses a broadband noise gate which is set by a sample to measure the noise floor which is in turn used as the threshold the gate opens. To make it more sophisticated one could analyze the frequency range of the noise and use Calf Sidechain Gate with the filter set according to the range in split mode so only the frequency range with noise gets gated out. If the noise is spread over a broader range one could use Calf Multiband Gate to have more control over the timings for the different ranges. This is quite a hard task but offers the best results. Using an EQ is more or less useful only for narrow noise peaks like humming and the like cause it would affect the signal way too much if one lowers the whole frequency range the noise appears in. This always results in dull and muffled sound.

    „still an uphill battle“

    We could negotiate a Calf version to use (I would vote for the unreleased Calf build) and you send me the audio file. Then I would create a Calf Rack setup which I could send back (a simple XML file). This would offer a good way to show you some of the settings to use.

    Cheers, markus.

  10. ikhider

    Hello Markus.

    Because I am starting out in general, I will obviously make errors and my work may sound crude. I just keep practicing.

    I tried to find easy ways to upgrade Calf Studio Plugins. I enabled KX Studio repositories and updated, but still have the same glitches you described. I then looked at the ‚compile from source‘ option and I think you may be referring to the ‚Development Repository‘, but am not sure. One of my favorite distros is Slackware and I hope 14.2 has the newer version of Calf when it finally comes out.

    Meanwhile, I do work with Calf Studio Gear for dialog parts. Examples of my work are here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsPnaYMTixHC_TikGgJYd1g
    For Frank Trotz, I used a lav mic. It was suggested I use a shotgun mic as the client has a low, warbly voice. A shotgun mic would get the higher ranges of his voice while the lav captures the lower. Right now I can only use the lav until I get enough business to afford the shotgun mic. The room was not ideal with lots of mains hum and distortion. I got an interview in a better room, this was the most natural sounding speech. After he was too ‚rehearsed‘.

    For Sunflower Camera Repair, at the end I recorded the clients voice in a different room and the result is disjointed sound, inconsistent with the original narrative. I think overall (all videos), the audio gets slightly distorted when I raise the volume after playback on youtube.

    Logas Corner has a lot of noise because his shop is busy, but he has a good, strong voice that carries.

    A friend would try to show me how to use the Parametric Equalizer on Adobe Audition to filter out the higher and lower end ranges before applying compression and the like. He would sweep the range with a narrow q band, but he is an expert and I am still a novice. With a powerful tool like that, I often butcher the audio. However, his net results sounded great. He suggested that your ears trick you when you get louder playback or more bass, as the end result is distorted. That is why women generally tend to sound better than men on playback.

    I could send you examples of the original audio if you think it will help.

    I am working on more videos. Top videographer Philip Bloom advised that audio is at least as important as video if not more important. He says that great footage is ruined by bad audio, but medicore footage can be elevated by great audio.

  11. Dsp

    Does the Calf plugins support 64 bit floating point processing.

  12. Markus Schmidt

    Internally it mostly uses floats, double here and there when needed.

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