Icsa 2017
Sep 7th to 10th, 2017
Graz, Austria


ICSA 2017 4th International Conferenceon Spatial Audio | September 7th to 10th, 2017, Graz, Austria #vdticsa

Fall / Finalist in Category 3: Music Recording

Fall is a contribution by Alexander Bäumler, Simon Kepper, Patrick Mischke Ramirez, and Max Saade (Germany, Hochschule Düsseldorf).


Original Documentation:

4. International Conference on Spatial Audio - Ambisonic student 3D audio production competition
Submission “Fall”

Virtual Reality - A concept that has already become firmly established in the film and gaming industry. The entertainment industry is striving for better ways to get the viewers in the middle of the action. Still closer, even more real, right in the middle.

What is possible in the playback, of course, must also be supported by the appropriate sound. Thus, the development of virtual reality is not only advanced in the image area, but also the audio area is moving forward. The development went from mono, over stereo, over 5.1 and 7.1 up to current systems like Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D. In order to get an insight into the 3D audio production technology, we have produced the song Fall within the context of the university project Music in 3D .

We are a four-headed team of media technology students from the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. The four of us were interested in the production of music, which encouraged us of applying for the Music in 3D sound project in the university. The task was to produce one or more pieces in 3D and submit one of the pieces or four minutes of a piece to the ISCA competition.

With the aim of producing a song for the ICSA competition, we began the writing process.


Description of the Song Fall

Fall is a combination of different styles. The song contains many electronic parts but also some elements from the genre of rock and alternative. The verses are a mix of Ambient and Trap. You can hear a lot of synths and electric drum sounds which are often used in modern Hip Hop. The chorus seems more like alternative or nu-metal with distorted guitars and an acoustic drum set. The vocals and the text are based on the genre Nu-Metal, comparable to bands like Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit.

The aim was to combine and integrate the "classical" instruments with modern electronic sounds. Alternating from quiet verses to the heavy choruses, we wanted to bring dynamics into the song. In the last passage, the song reaches its climax with a guitar solo.

The writing and recording process

Before the writing process began, we considered what is necessary to make a song three-dimensional interesting. Our decision was that we want to fill the additional space with ambient sounds, delays and reverbs. So that the room does not sound empty at any time, especially synths and effects should be spread over the room. The listener should have the feeling that everything around him is in the room.

The song Fall originated from a guitarlick, which entierely runs through the song and forms the main thread of the song. The lick was sampled in Bias FX and was further alienated with a delay to make it sound more electronic and better accommodate it in the mix. Around the guitar sample various synthesizers were placed and in the lower frequencies we worked with 808 subbasses. For the different lead synths, the Sylenth1 and Massive plugins were used. The bass utilized in the chorus was created in Omnisphere 2 . The contact plugin 808 Warfare was used for the subbass. The vocal samples in their raw form were taken from the Maschine 2 library by Native Instruments. These were then processed by reverb, EQ and time stretching. The electronic drums and percussions were taken from Battery 4 and various drum packs. This preliminary version served as a pre-production for further guitars, the acoustic drums and the vocals.

All our recordings have been produced in the recording studio of Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. The recording studio consists of a recording room with double room height and variable acoustics, as well as the control room with a 11.1 speaker system. First we used ProTools with the Avid S6 console. Later we switched to Reaper because of the ICSA plugin. The guitar sound comes from a Klangkraft Maschine , which was recorded by a Kemper amplifier . The Kemper amplifier was recorded directly into Pro Tools and further processed there. The drums were recorded in AB microphonic, combined with the direct microphones and two room microphones. For the AB microphones we used two Schoeps MK4 with CMC 6 amplifier. Two Neumann U87 portray the room sound. The toms were recorded by three Sennheiser E604. Snare and bassdrum were each double-microphoneed. Two SM57 are building the snare sound and the bassdrum is covered by a Shure Beta 52 and a Beta 91 . The Hi-Hat was recorded separately via a Sennheiser MKH800 P48 . The drum parts were written and recorded by a friend.
After the drum recording, all the instruments were played, but the song was missing the right voice. That is why we have invited a friend for the vocal recordings to the studio. The vocals were recorded with a Brauner Phantom Classic and a SPL Frontline preamp.

The Mixing Process

After all recordings were finished, we went on to the mixing. First we made a rough stereo mix of the song in Pro Tools. The majority of mixing took place in Reaper. Waves and Fabfilter plugins were used mainly for mixing. We bounced the premixed tracks and loaded them into Reaper. In Reaper the three dimensional mixing took place through the ambiX Plugin. For the 3D Mix, we used Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones with 250 Ohm. To create an interesting 3D mix, we started distributing the many different synthesizers in the room. Then we continued with the effects. The siren in the pre chorus alternates between the sides and brings some movement into the room. Our 3D highlight is the guitar solo, which changes sides and positions with the vocals in the last part of the song. Through the change
between the left and the right side in the upper part of the room, much movement is generated and makes the listening experience much more intense. The drums were mixed relatively far forward. The overheads are slightly elevated and in a 30 degree angle, left and right, from the listener. The room microphones lie a little farther back in the room at 60 degrees. The impression of the drums is therefore somewhat more compressed and direct.

Note of thanks

We are particularly grateful to Professor Dieter Leckschat, who has offered and supervised the project Music in 3D at Düsseldorf University of Applied Science. We would also like to thank Christian Epe, who helped us with questions and issues during the recording and mixing. We would also like to thank all the staff at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences who helped us with this project. Last but not least, we would like to thank the ICSA, who offers us such a platform to present our song. We would like to thank you for participating in this meeting.

Team: Alexander Bäumler, Simon Kepper, Patrick Mischke Ramirez, Max Saade