Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

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Lord Reith
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by Lord Reith »

We've got to remember though that even with MAL they only ended up with about 6 or 7 tracks, and some of those tracks like bass guitar are never going to be placed discreetly in a surround mix. So the surround mixes these days tend to be mixed like a movie soundtrack, as opposed to circa 2005 when it seems they were going for a more discreet, separated sound.

I had hoped that the atmos mixes might be more useful than the regular 5.1 but I think they are pretty much the same. As skynet says, they're made up of audio objects and funneling them into channels at best produces something which sounds like a 5.1 but with some extra ambient channels.
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millerTEK
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by millerTEK »

Hi everyone -

So I finally extracted all of the 6 channels from the m4a files and must say I was a little disappointed with the results. I found there was not a lot of discreet separation and attempts to present (by remixing) separations that may have existed or were created by AI. HOWEVER, before continuing to complain, I first want to try and understand why this was the case with the surround mixes and determine if this was the reason the surround mixes were not released on an included DVD/BD.

Am I correct in concluding that even though 4 track existed during the Revolver sessions....did the ability and understanding how to record overdubs, store them individually, and correctly mix them into base recorded channels DEVELOP LATER? Clearly the Sgt Pepper sessions, while also on 4 track equipment utilized MUCH MORE overdubbing needs, those overdub recordings items still existed in their original isolated form, and provided Giles material to not only remix an improved stereo and mono master, BUT provided material that would be useful in producing surround mixes with some very advanced separations...

I always thought Giles intentions when mixing these latest stereo presentations was to STILL learn and use the original mixing characteristics presented in the original mixes to avoid "changing" (or as an analogy - colorizing - these recordings)...if that makes sense. Therefore, I would have thought Giles MIXING surround mixes would have been the perfect opportunity and reward for him to not have any limitations and create something new and unique for himself and Beatles fans! But clearly if Giles utilized Peter Jackson AI for Revolver - that tells me he must have made that decision due to limitations of the type of material he was used to having in previous SDE's.

I remember Giles responding in interviews after the SDE's of Pepper to Let It Be - stating that working on SDE's of the remaining albums before Pepper could present some complex issues that could affect the ability to present the same quality of restoration in presenting not just superior mixes of those albums, but also creating surround mixes and including session materials. With Revolver, I think I now understand this...

So what do the rest of you all think about what was presented in Revolver and how it possibly shows us what to expect in the remaining albums?
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Lord Reith
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by Lord Reith »

millerTEK wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:22 am
So what do the rest of you all think about what was presented in Revolver and how it possibly shows us what to expect in the remaining albums?
He will 100% do all the subsequent albums (going backwards). Every year since 2017 we've had this little ritual where Giles says he's not working on any more or that the technology isn't good enough, or he's going on holiday, and then a year later the album is unexpectedly announced! It's mainly a matter of rumour control I would guess. I don't doubt that he has some doubts and reservations about the whole business (after all, it is taking up basically six months a year out of his life for ten years) but I think he knows in his heart of hearts that he will do them all. There isn't really any choice now. The fans and Apple fully want the series to be completed, right down to Past Masters and Magical Mystery Tour and if he doesn't want to do them they'll probably just use Sam Okell on his own. If they'd just done Pepper and left it at that, that would have been okay. But we're way too far down the track now to halt the locomotive.

People keep saying that the earliest albums will be the toughest challenge, but as someone who is heavily versed in demixing I can say that this is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE. The earliest albums are the easiest. Demixing algorithms work best on simple recordings. The effects-laden instruments present on the later albums present a much harder challenge than the cleanly recorded instruments on the first six albums.

For example, the A Hard Day's Night album: all that is required is to separate the drums and bass from John's guitar so that they can be panned away from the side. This is something that even the most basic demixing algorithm can easily accomplish, let alone something like MAL. The only reason it presented more difficulty to someone like myself is that I only have the stereo mix to work from. Giles has the 4 track. It is the simplest job imaginable. Likewise, Rubber Soul is highly suitable for remixing now that the instruments can be unlocked. With RS I myself encountered what I believe is the real reason why it was mixed so oddly in both 1965 and 1986: it's because nearly all the tape tracks are used up with vocals. They might have stuck a bass or a tambourine on a track with a vocal, but there is very little in the way of useful instruments to pan in stereo without the aid of demixing. But that can be done now without much difficulty.

Even the first two albums do not present that much of a problem. They are already recorded in "twin track" format which basically means that they are two-track multitrack rather than normal stereo mixes. So the fact that the session tapes are gone is largely irrelevant. Granted, if the session tapes for WTB still existed then it would be possible to isolate the overdubs on the double tracked songs, but that in itself is not essential to do a good remix.

The only area where he may have his work cut out are the mono recordings, but out of those I think only She Loves You/I'll Get You pose any serious challenges. And by the time they get to those there will be much better software available surely. Demucs4 has already been released, and while only a beta version it shows serious potential. This technology has only just gotten off the ground, and it is going to totally revolutionise the way music is recorded and mixed. Anyone who grew up with the "old" technology will now need to go back to school and learn this stuff, because it's going to impact every aspect of recording, not just demixing. I think the industry at large has not realised yet... they are still stuck in the Protools mentality of using all their old plugins and filters and not thinking outside the box about what this stuff can actually do. Peter Jackson and his MAL guys deserve credit for giving people a wake-up call, but it's still a little bit like when the internet first appeared. It took a long, long time for people to realise what you could actually do with it.
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by BDJ »

millerTEK wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:22 am But clearly if Giles utilized Peter Jackson AI for Revolver - that tells me he must have made that decision due to limitations of the type of material he was used to having in previous SDE's.
There is interesting info in the book of the SDE if you want to know more about this. For instance, they indeed recorded using 4-track tape recorders. But for some songs, like Taxman, they recorded the backing track 'live' unto just one track (bass, drums, guitar). That means there never was a session tape with separate instruments, for Giles to remix.

However, for Eleanor Rigby, they recorded just the string quartet on 4 tracks. George Martin reduced this to a single (mono) track, in order to record voices, but Giles must have been able to use the original 4-track string quartet to create his mixes (like he did in Sgt Pepper).

Would be interesting to have a list for which songs on Revolver Giles used AI/MAL, and which songs use session tapes.. ;)
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Kwai Chang
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by Kwai Chang »

millerTEK wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:22 am So what do the rest of you all think about what was presented in Revolver and how it possibly shows us what to expect in the remaining albums?
Hi Steve!
You made me realize that the magic that seems to be inherent in all Beatles music might just be a symptom of their timing. It seems that their own artistic aptitude and vision always exceeded the technological capabilities that actually existed. They were obviously not willing to let such trivialities affect their objectives. So, EVER ONWARD was their charge and we have plenty of evidence that proves it did not always go smoothly. They had hectic schedules and there wasn't always time to remove, replace, remake, repeat, reheat, repair, etc. But, they seemed to have a rational logic about their thought process. Their ideas were bigger than their machines...and that's what may have resulted in the nuance that abounds in their music. So, this is the arithmetic progression that we can generalize to follow their development musically. I reckon this is why REVOLVER hit the skids for Giles. Too much creativity has resulted in compromised discipline and that means too much bouncing/ponging for a four track machine. Hence, some of the prized components are locked on a single track with 2, 3, 4...other elements. Ironically, this parallels Giles' situation in that AI is still in its infancy and cannot hope to disassemble such tracks. REVOLVER taught them plenty in this regard. Sgt. Pepper was yet more complex ideas and so, they used three 4-track machines and that is probably why Giles had much more freedom. There should be a bunch of reels with pre-ponged music that might separate easily or doesn't need to be extracted at all. I am not a technician in any regard. I am working from memory about things I read 30 years ago. But, if I'm correct that puts Rubber Soul into quarantine...MMT is wide open...HELP should be easy...etc. Of course, many other variables will need to be factored in, but as I have said many times, the wizards here on this forum are probably the brightest lights shining on the remainder of the catalog. Giles tried, but despite the advantages he had, he doesn't have Beatles instincts like our in-house talent. THAT is something that isn't genetic or locked in a vault, etc. That's why I am proud to be included in this fine membership. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for reading this!
Speaking of...Happy Thanksgiving to all forum members and especially, WilliamShears!!!
KC
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ruedabeat
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by ruedabeat »

Kwai Chang wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 12:10 pm
millerTEK wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:22 am So what do the rest of you all think about what was presented in Revolver and how it possibly shows us what to expect in the remaining albums?
Hi Steve!
You made me realize that the magic that seems to be inherent in all Beatles music might just be a symptom of their timing.... he doesn't have Beatles instincts like our in-house talent. THAT is something that isn't genetic or locked in a vault, etc. That's why I am proud to be included in this fine membership. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for reading this!
Speaking of...Happy Thanksgiving to all forum members and especially, WilliamShears!!!
KC
Reading your comments makes me feel fine, makes me feel we are doing a good work in the community walking by the masters. ;)
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Lord Reith
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by Lord Reith »

I think it would be technically feasible to do a Revolver surround mix where everything was discreet, but it would be way too radical for commercial use. That would basically place you in the middle of the studio floor, so you'd have drums in one spot, bass in another, guitar in another etc. While that would be pretty cool it would be artistically suspect, because instruments are meant to blend together. That's why in an orchestra they're all sitting so close together. If you spread the orchestra players out on a stage five times the normal size it would just sound silly and lose all its impact.
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Kwai Chang
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Re: Converting and/or Extracting MULTITRACK .M4A files

Post by Kwai Chang »

ruedabeat wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 4:07 pm Reading your comments makes me feel fine, makes me feel we are doing a good work in the community walking by the masters. ;)
This community is the best Beatles platform I've ever experienced. As long as we maintain our composure...
we can gather and assemble with consistency. It is rare that all those involved seem to have a function. So, we are all included and we can all be proud of the efforts/results/progress!
Hanging with the Lord Reith wigs? THAT's just gravy!
Peace, friends!
KC
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