Proper way to handle bleed in general?

I’ve come across an issue; Perhaps this is a engineering matter and should be adressed somewhere else, but let’s give it a go.

-Multiple instruments were recorded in one ensemble room, and some recordings suffer from a delayed bleed.

The goal is to clean up or disguise us much of the bleed as possible, so that the indivual instruments may have different types of acoustics.

I imagine that one could mask the spill with a bit of delay on the source track, simulating the delay of the bleed? How to achieve this without facing a messy picture towards the end?

All creative solutions are more than welcome and much appreciated.

Hello. It would be necessary to listen to how it sounds as a whole. In this type of case I would not recommend eliminating the bleeding, since when several posts come in to sound, it will be very evident.
many times you want to get that “atmosphere”. if it’s too obvious, try not to go overboard with Eq and compression.

Could you put here a small sample of the whole set?

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I don’t think delaying the source track will help here - you’ll probably end up in a vicious circle chasing elimination of time-alignment and phasing/ghosting issues, further on in the production process. Bleed of this nature really needs, as you say, engineering out/controlling at the recording stage - if that’s the aim of the session…

Firstly, maybe you could investigate applying some ‘ambience reduction’ techniques from each of the source mics/material. There are plugins designed to help with that specifically. This may help to cut down on all the combined ‘mush’ the room may be creating, causing lack of focus/instrument definition. Failing that, you could also achieve similar by giving individual tracks very careful EQ adjustment to reduce/control the most strong neighbouring instrument/ambience bleed, without ‘ruining’ the source too much. Even basic hi/lo cuts can have quite dramatic/useful results.

Lastly, depending on your aims, be careful where the times the performer isn’t actually playing, you don’t eliminate bleed from their mic so much, as to create sound ‘holes’ of zero ambience in the overall soundscape. It might be desired, but I’ve found can also be unsettling for the listening experience.

Anyway, a few thoughts - good luck.!

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Do the bleed instruments differ much in frequency vs the target instruments?

i.e. would a multipressor work to tame the unwanted frequency ranges? Tracks may sound worse when solo’d, but as a whole in the mix it may be ok - just remember that your aim is the final production.

I think, as someone else mentioned, adding simulated delays would lead you into chasing ghosts and introducing phase issues.

There may be a creative way of taking the ‘spiller’ track, offsetting it to match where it appears as a spill in the target track and then use it as a sidechain source to cuts frequencies out of the target track based on it’s peaks… maybe? lol :slight_smile:

How does the mix as a whole sound currently? Is the bleed really that evident when everything is playing? Or have you been focusing on solo sounds only?

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Thank you for your thoughts. The goal so far is to make each individual instrument sound as clear as possible, emphasizing the characteristics of each instrument. After that, the next step will be to combine them together. I’m aware that this might be a longer way than necessary, but I’m learning through the process and hoping that I might discover and draw out the subtle details.

I’ll give your creative idea a try. Perhaps that could lead to a bit more definition. Thank you.

Thank you for the answer. Regarding «holes» of zero ambience; I’ve had the idea to strip all the silence, then replace that with a different type of recorded ambience thats more prefferable or in this case more spacious. If done well, could it result to a natural sounding, «clean» environment? The aim is to eliminate every element that’s un-musical, or at least enchance all the musical aspects of the recording, especially the ambience. I’ve so far not encountered with any «ambience reduction» software and will do some research. Thank you.

Thank you for the advise. It’s sometimes good to have some boundries and limitations. The bleed is certainly an obstacle when it comes to sculpting and positioning instruments freely in the mix. The main issue is that the delayed bleed causes minor-phase issues when the instruments are being panned hard. Suddenly you have multiple sources of one instrument. It’s not that evident when all are playing together, but I was hoping to get a bit more creative freedom if I was able to reduce some of the bleed. Thank you.

Glad its got you thinking… and of course, before doing anything, do a complete backup of the original project and put it away somewhere safe. !

Sure, go for it - sounds like an interesting exercise with maybe some, err, interesting results… :wink:

Maybe try looking for ‘reverb reduction’ plugins/processing…? I’m sure I’ve seen something of these somewhere…

Just noticing you’ve tagged this thread with ‘Cubase 8’ - is that correct.? May affect future advice/responses from other users…

Yes, will certainly do some reseach regarding reverb removal tools. Thank you. - Current version is Cubase 8.5. Am I missing out big time?

You might also try using an Expander (maybe even a multi-band) to reduce the level of the already quieter bleed signal.

Also if this is a one-off fix, you could get a trial version of Melodyne which should let you mute or delete the bleed audio lines directly.

I don’t know how newer software with spectral editing can deal with these kind of tasks, but Spectralayers (Full version) and particuarly Izotope RX are supposedly tools that allow you to edit out/isolate what you need.


Costs money though, but you could use something like RX on a free trial, or even do their subscription for a month if it appeals.

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Thank you, once again. I’ve never really applied an expander, but I assume that it’s a great tool to use in suble amounts?

When would it be most critical to use one?

@LAO ,
How big was the room? I’ve done many recordings over the years, some in substantially large spaces. I’ve never perceived the bleed to have a perceptible “delay.”

Are you sure there isn’t a problem at the file management level?
Were these recordings done on your system in Cubase or were they recorded on another system?

My experience is that unless you’re trying to do a mix where you want to remove one of the instruments, “bleed” has always contributed positively to the character of the recording.

Any chance you can upload examples of the artifact you’re hearing?

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Basically it is the inverse of a Compressor, which reduces the dynamic range. An Expander increases the dynamic range so the difference in dB between the softest & loudest sounds gets larger. So if you keep your peaks the same, as you increase the Expansion the soft sounds will get even softer.

For comparison try putting a Compressor on one of your Tracks and notice what happens to your bleed as you increase the Compression - it will get louder & more noticeable.

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Thank you, that’s helpful and interesting. In most cases I will agree with you that the bleed which creates atmosphere and space, when all instruments are recorded i one room, adds something positive to the whole soundscape. It also serves as a natural glue since the same room is present in all recordings. In this recording, the piano microphones pick up more of the brass than one would wish for. It gives the brass an perceptible extra layer when turning up the volume of the piano. Though not completely necessary, it would be nice to seperate as much of the source and the bleed so that the piano comes throught bright and clear.

I’ll see if I can’t upload a short clip when I pick it up again.

Thank you for the explanation. That might do some good! I’ll experiment with it.

Thank you! I’ve seen those tools being used with varying results. It looks like a serious surgical procedure. I wonder how many would vouch for it and when the RX would be a complete must in a regular mixing situation?

Ahhhhh, I see. Yeah. The piano is acting like a reverb chamber for the brass.
It happens with drums sometimes too.
Brass sections really need their own room. They’re often louder than drums.

That’s a tough one. The brass is rattling all the piano strings and bouncing around inside the piano. Now I see why you called it a delay.
You can’t get rid of that.
Too bad you didn’t catch it while you were still recording.

You can always tell them that it was an intentional “artistic” choice. (tongue in cheek)

Good luck.

This might be the official lament of audio engineers.

I still think you should check out a Melodyne demo, which is the full program without any constraints beyond only working for a month or whatever their demo length is. Load your piano into it and have its detection set to poly. The brass on the piano Track should appear as separate distinct blobs that you can delete. You likely can’t clean it all away, but good chance you can get it under reasonable control.

If this is going to be a common recording setup for you, take a look at getting some gobos.

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If you decide to experiment with Melodyne or any other surgical solutions I’d love to hear a before and after example.
It still seems like a tall order considering the complexity of the sympathetic sounds inside that piano relative to the extremely nuanced character of the piano performance itself.
But I would love to hear that this works out for you.

To raino’s point, here’s a YT video which describes that functionality in Melodyne he refers to.