A departure for me in genre

I released the following version of my, indie alternative country rock song, HOLDING HANDS which was written and recorded back in October of 2015, which is not this mix nor master from then, unto a separate unsuspecting community I fellowship in. It hasn’t been raved about but it has had the most applause out of everything I’ve uploaded there and the favourable comments are trickling in.

When I uploaded this version, I requested a formal review, which I just got this morning. And, it is coincidental that I had already been working on a new mix and master and finished this afternoon. This version also passed the criteria portion for an artist’s song to be streamed outside our community to the world.

This was the review:

Bass: 7/10
Guitar: 7/10
Drums: 7/10
Vocals: 9/10
Production: 6/10

A love song could go two ways – sound cheesy or not sound cheesy and touch you right in the feels. This one is not cheesy. It tells a real story that many of us can relate to.

The bass in this one is not that noticeable compared to other songs from Devyn. Maybe because it’s an older song? The acoustic guitars are awesome, but once again we would prefer different tone for the electric guitars.

Devyn’s voice takes us on a journey of his own past and it does it great! We enjoy his singing in every one of his songs and this is no different.

We would suggest working on the production (maybe pickup a mixing course online?), the electric guitar tone. From arrangement standpoint we can only say good things – the catchy parts come exactly when they should come.

I also sent this version through a Penalty Loudness Meter:
YouTube: -7.0
Spotify: -8.5
TIDAL: -7.8
Pandora: -8.0
iTunes: -8

This second version is my master of today.

It took a Loudness Penalty score of:
YouTube: -2.2
Spotify: -3.7
TIDAL: -3.0
Pandora: -3.2
iTunes: -4

This third and final version came from sending each, flat and centered, individual instrument track to a fellow artist overseas. He did a mix and a master and sent me this.

Scored:YouTube: –
Spotify: +1.9
Pandora: +2.4
iTunes: +1

This fellow gave me a ton of great advice, I need some more if you are willing to share!

And, btw, in my own just now listen to each of these uploads, they sound richer like in the mastering program than any other device as well as the Soundcloud platform that I’ve already testes on.

wow that last one is pretty butchered in my opinion. Is it just me or is there no low end. yes the second one could use some judicial eq but not what you have in the third version that is too much.

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It was what I felt about the 3rd master. The artist’s own stuff sounds great but his take on mine has no punch.

This whole mastering business is so confusing! The material sounds different everywhere. If I go for loudness and punch, I usually over do it like I feel I did on my first example, but it is more comparable to what is out in the mainstream for loudness. The 2nd example, I am much more pleased in the definition of the pieces but not with having to turn my device up. The last one, well, it gave me ideas on direction.

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The third one is terrible in my opinion…its almost like I’m listening through my phone speaker; so tinny and narrow and the relative volume of the instruments is way off.

In your second version you had made great improvements from the first, keep going along this track!
My opinion:

  • There is some mudness in the low-mid/low end to tidy up still. In particular there was one bass note which seemed to resonant much louder than the rest - the C. If you put it through a freq. analyser, I would be surprised if the ~260Hz range (and/or ~520Hz) stood out.

  • relative volumes - I would turn down the bass a tad in general. The drums are a bit low compared to everything else.

  • The vocal track has a weird boxy reverb. If this is from the recording conditions I would spend a little time with some sharp EQ to remove the worst resonances and perhaps making use of something like ‘Proximity’

  • The acoustic is carrying too much bass and is too ‘forward’ compared to the electric guitar. You would want the electric guitar to sound the more ‘powerful’ of the two instruments but that doesn’t come across.

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Your second version of the master sounds by far the best of all of these. You’ve improved the guitar sound a bit, and the panning helps somewhat in alleviating the fact that the distorted guitar was competing with the lead vocal.

Here are some ideas I had as suggestions that might improve it further:

  • Simplify the drum patterns - While I like the feel of the groove, the busy tom parts that keep recurring sound overly busy and distract from, rather than enhance the story of the vocal
  • Use a less distorted, more organic-sounding tone for the electric guitar. A good reference for this style might be the guitar tones on Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View” album. Yeah, I know it’s far from “cool”, but it has similar instrumentation, and it sounds pretty amazing from a production standpoint. The electric guitar is a fairly saturated tone, but it’s not buzzy or thin. Often just pulling down the preamp gain and using more power-amp-style overdrive will give you a thicker sound.
  • I really like how you have “uncovered” your vocals in this track in comparison to the previous posts you’ve made. You’ve got quite an appealing vocal tone, and it deserves to be front and centre. I would also suggest that you explore the “pre-delay” parameter on your reverb plugin, as setting a longer pre-delay can further help bring your vocal forward in the mix. When you use longer pre-delay settings on your vocals (80-150ms), you can also get away with using more reverb without making it sound as obvious. IMO, this track could use a nice bit of lusher sounding vocal reverb to flesh it out.
  • At the beginning of the song, I would suggest trying a more subtle approach with the electric guitar arrangement. The “power chords on the downbeat” thing makes an impression, but it gets quite relentless as the song progresses. Again, if you check the Hootie album, it’s a good example of how the lead guitarist builds single note arpeggio figures and lead lines that compliment the vocal early in the song and then build to bigger, bolder power chords in the choruses. It sounds to me like he’s simply using the volume control on the guitar and variations in his picking to create cleaner and dirtier tones that inject appropriate dynamics into the performance.
  • Arrangement wise, try some vocal harmonies in the chorus. They just work to underline the hook of a song.

I too, was really unimpressed by the mix the other guy did. Apart from the things already mentioned, it sounds like he used some sort of HAAS widening effect on the vocal which has resulted in it sounding off-centre in the mix (left-leaning) - not good.

All in all, I like the song - a few strategic tweaks of the arrangement/production/mix would really be the icing on the cake.


Awesome review! Thank you.
I’ve gotten so blasted for my electric guitar sounds that I’ve shied away from making it dominate.

Another awesome review. Thank you too!
When I recorded the drums, I thought I was on crack, lol. It seemed to be in direct contrast of the general mood to the song but it made me laugh so I kept it as is.
I am just starting to get into the understanding of my plug ins and your explanation is very helpful.

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