Progress?... Maybe 🤷‍♂️

Progress?... Maybe 🤷‍♂️
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Yeah, I know :roll_eyes:… I’m a bit like a dog with a bone… You’re probably thoroughly sick to death of hearing this, but since nothing else seems to be happening, I’m posting it anyway :grimacing:. I’ve made a lot of tweaks to this, based on the stuff mentioned here and elsewhere… I think it’s an improvement, but I welcome your input. Cheers, Andrew

For comparison, here are the previously posted mixes:
Mix 1:

Mix 2:

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Hey Andrew,

I’ll have to go back and listen to the previous version to be able to tell if something is better or not, but by just listening to this one with fresh ears, here’s what I thought:

  • I didn’t notice there was a fretless bass on the previous version, not sure if you’ve changed anything or if I just paid closer attention. Anyway it sounds really cool!

  • The pitch issues that were pretty obvious to me in the previous version didn’t catch me this time. I wonder if you changed anything or if I was just in a different state of mind while listening, again I’d have to go back to the previous version to tell.

  • I wasn’t as wowed by the chorus as I was at the first listen, but I think it’s that kind of thing you can only get on first listen.

  • I can hear the compression working noticeably on the chorus vocals. You can tell by the voice tone that the first parts of the sentences were sung really loud (but I don’t/what do they…) while the end (…know) weren’t as much, yet this last bit is heard just as loud as the beginning and it doesn’t sound natural. I don’t think there is any practical solution to that though.

  • I was able to hear an acoustic guitar in the prechorus in this version, which I hadn’t in the previous one.

  • The lead guitars on the last chorus are really cool.

Overall it sounds quite accomplished, I don’t think you need to make any more changes!

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I shouldn’t have read Lophophora’s comments because he brought my attention to some things I heard in the song, that I may have missed had he not mentioned them. So I’m not sure if the power of suggestion is at work here.

It’s been awhile since I listened to the first version and second version of this song, so I can’t be certain of anything, but for some reason I’m really noticing the bass in this latest mix and I seem to remember that the other mixes had a much more understated bass. I really like the way I’m hearing the bass now. I don’t think I noticed those fretless bass slides in the other mixes. Also, this bass seems to cut more and harder than it did in the previous mixes. AND, I’m listening through my cheap laptop speakers!

Not sure if Lophophora’s comments about the the vocals made me view the vocals differently but the lower verse vocal seems to sound a bit better too, though I do remember you fixing it in your second mix …So, I’m not sure if there’s been another improvement or I’m just not remembering accurately.

I would like to see / hear the previous versions up at the top of this thread so that I could make a direct comparison. This song is sounding really good and I don’t know how much more it’s worth fiddling with. I mean, maybe you can improve it by .2 %, but who will ever notice? You might improve the mix to my ears but some other listener might think you’ve hurt the mix. When the mix is this good it’s not really worth tampering too much with it, unless it’s to satisfy yourself.

Having said all that, I’m happy to hear what I think is a noticeable improvement in the bass!

Oh, and Andrew, even if we think this is progress, it won’t be to you. You even tell us that in your song! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Hi Love when you keep posting. Each time I try to find something not so good. ha ha At 1:45, when it explodes, I lose the words, but only slightly. Maybe tame some of the background elements at the “sometimes” Lots of work went into this and it shows. Not much to pick on anymore Andrew. You are a true artist.

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Great to get some more input here, guys. This mix has been a struggle for me, to say the least! I’ve found I’ve been getting really impatient with myself, because I can mix other people’s stuff quite quickly now, but my own stuff is proving to be a HUGE mental hurdle!

No problem, I’ll put the previous versions in the OP for comparison.

Haha yeah, I think I probably made a bit of a meal of the bass on the first versions, so it is probably a lot more noticeable now…but the exact same fretless bass performance has been there from the beginning. That is my Yamaha fretless that I got for free from a friend! He picked it up free, as someone had removed the frets from it to make it fretless and then decided that playing fretless was too hard! I love playing it, though! It has a completely unique tone, and it sustains forever! (see if you can guess the “inspiration” for the fretless lick that happens at 48/49secs :wink:)

That’s good!

Possibly - that said, I have made some fairly significant changes, so that may factor in as well. Really hard for me to tell at this stage.

You really don’t like compression, do you? :grinning: I think you must imagine that I’m compressing the hell out of everything… but in actual fact, you might be surprised how little gain reduction is happening on each compressor. It’s fairly rare for me to use more than 2-3dB of compression.

I think what you’ll find you’re hearing is probably slightly clumsy volume automation on my part. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: I actually tend to clip-gain the vocals as I’m compiling them, so that they hit the compressors at a consistent level… So the vocals end up being so consistent in level that I have to automate them solely to sit above the different densities of the track, rather than automate them to come out at a consistent level. I noticed what you’re mentioning when I was listening back to the mix in the car. I automated the first chorus differently to the last ones, and I think I need to work more on that to fine tune it.

I don’t know why that would be, as I haven’t adjusted the acoustic guitars at all - Maybe it has something to do with the other adjustments I made unmasking it better.

Yeah, Bob @StylesBitchley is a beast! Hard to go wrong with tracks like that.

Ahh… but you know I will :grimacing:

Suggestion is very powerful!

That’s great to know, because I kind of scrapped the bass processing I was using and totally reconfigured it

It’s good to hear they are sitting better now.

Haha! Touche! Yes, I should have known it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Thanks for your patience, Paul! At least I can take comfort in knowing I am helping you develop your critical listening skills :wink:

Yeah, that is the part that I noticed in the car that I mentioned above - definitely have to improve that.

Thanks a lot guys - thanks for your patience with repeated listening and critiques - it is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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An interesting thought. I wonder if that may be because when the mixer is an outsider to the music he can easily make some decisions that might otherwise be difficult for the songwriter because it involves scarifying something (muting some part, chopping some frequencies, lowering stuff…).

Something that helped me a lot for my last song (Twisting the Knife): a friend of mine who is a very good mixer made a mix of the song. I hadn’t requested that but he had the stems because he was recording the bass for me. Anyway his mix was good but I wanted to make my own mix because I wanted to be able to include the song in my portfolio as a mixing engineer. But having his mix as a reference was tremendously helpful in the process.

I have no problem with compression at all. I use it quite liberally myself, usually in similar proportions as you and occasionally with agressive settings. What I don’t like is when something “sounds” noticeably compressed in a context where this is not necessarily tasteful. In this particular case it was my mistake to point out compression as the culprit but I’m sure you will agree with me that automating a vocal to make the quiet parts louder is a very similar process to compressing it.

However I’ll just point out one more thing about dynamics. Using less than 2-3 dB of compression doesn’t necessarily mean that you are using compression in a conservative way… 3 dB of gain reduction on a dynamic source is conservative alright but the same amount on a source that has a small dynamic range is a lot because you need to lower the threshold and/or increase the ratio more in order to achieve those 3 dB of gain reduction. Then if you have some other processing that also compresses the audio (like saturation for instance), or another compressor on the group bus, and maybe another compressor or limiter (or both) at the mastering stage… then yes, you are indeed compressing a LOT at the end of the day.

1 dB of gain reduction on a widely dynamic signal is a small level of compression indeed, but the same 1 dB on a signal that has previously been automated/compressed or whatever, and already has controlled dynamics can actually be a lot. I know you know that already, Andrew, but maybe not all members here are aware of this.

Anyway I just listened to the 3 versions carefully. I hadn’t listened to mix 1 before, and even though mix 3 has a lot of improvements there is one thing I liked in mix 1, which is that the whole instrumental (essentially the overheads, probably) is less bright and that was helping the vocals stand out and make the whole thing a little less harsh to listen to. Maybe taming down the overheads slightly on this last mix would be worth experimenting?

One thing (2 actually) that is way better in this last mix than the previous ones is the kick and the bass. This has been commented several times already, but listening to the three versions back to back makes it really obvious so that should tell you that you achieved something good here.

I still think that this mix is good for release… It’s a great song, the chorus is catchy and this mix works. You might be reaching the point where adjustments are made to alleviate self-doubting more than to address an actual issue. :smile:

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There is definitely some of that involved. That said, I mixed my last album entirely by myself, but I don’t remember experiencing the same trepidation. I think it’s a stage in my…er…progress… as an artist/producer/mixer - growing pains, if you will.

Another factor is that mixing styles have changed significantly since I started my last album… I must admit, I’m struggling a bit to adapt. My mixing style was heavily influenced by the tastes of say, late 90s to mid 2000s. Now, 10 years later, styles are quite different. As Mike Senior said on a critique of one of my early mixes of this song:

“feels a bit too 2000 and not 2020 enough, if you see what I mean”

Yes, this is a great exercise. As you know, literally hundreds of different mixers have mixed the songs off my last album, as I have made the multi-tracks available. Last month, over at audiomixclub.center , the entire mixing community there mixed “Outa Control” from my last album. There are some exceptional pro-level mixers there, who produced some absolutely killer mixes… maybe that accounts for some of the insecurity I’m currently experiencing!

In any case, I think if I could afford a top-level mixer to mix my album, I probably would. Unfortunately, that is just not an option at this point in time

No problem - I sometimes find I take issue with compression comments because I see so much disinformation on line, written by people who clearly don’t know what they are talking about (as their mixes usually attest to). They are often just parroting stuff they have heard, but don’t really understand in an attempt to sound knowledgeable.

Obviously, you’re not in that category. However, I often find that there is a tendency to demonise compression as a tool unfairly. Of course, its complex nature and the fact that experience is needed to actually hear its subtleties make it ripe for misunderstanding.

I mean, I even bristle when I hear the term “over-compression” bandied around! In reality, it is often not the case that too much gain reduction is happening, it is simply that the time constants on the compressor have been set incorrectly, and are making the action of the compression obvious and undesirable/unmusical.

Anyhow…rant over… I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. As @Chordwainer likes to say, I think we’re pretty much in “violent agreement” on this count.

Worth a try, I guess!

That’s good to know.

Cool - I think you’re right on that count, too :grimacing:

This latest mix is definitely a noticeable improvement with the clarity and volume of the bass. I also noticed something that Lophophora mentioned - the kick drum is more impactful and cutting. That’s progress!

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Cool, that’s great to hear!

BTW, has no one noticed the blatant fretless bass riff theft @ 48/49 secs? Here’s a big clue - 1983. :thinking:

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I don’t know about the fretless lick, but the arpeggiated chord and the bass line remind me of this one from about a decade later. Obscure, and I’m sure you’ve probably never heard it, but it’s one of my favorites. :slight_smile:

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Maybe some Paul Young song, with Pino Palladino on the fretless bass? Not sure which one though.

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Wow, that is pretty much note for note! No, I’ve never heard that one before. TTWS never made much of an impact here. I vaguely remember seeing them on TV at some American awards show, but it was a different, much more up-tempo song. I never heard any of their songs on the radio, though.

The arpeggio riff in this song was more influenced by this:

Nailed it! This one (not a Paul Young song, though - a Marvin Gaye cover, strictly speaking):

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If you’re emulating Pino Palladino you’re in tall cotton, as we say here in Covid Country.
Pino was playing with Jeff Beck the one chance I had to see him, and he was solid as a rock. It was at House of Blues in Orlando, and it was life changing.

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Haha, indeed - “inspiration” would be a more appropriate word than “emulation”. From the moment I heard Pino’s opening lick on “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, I absolutely fell in love with that sound. Another dude from the 80s who was an absolute monster fretless player was Mick Karn of Japan, who always played like he was wrestling Leviathan

Very cool. Lead bass player. I wish Andy Fraser played a fretless.

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Andy was awesome. Free was a study in minimalistic rock soul. Hard to imagine just how young those fellas were when they made such deeply soulful noises.

Cool! I was at child at that time. I remember Paul Young was big on the radio and I loved these weird bass sounds, although I had no idea it was a bass at that time, let alone a fretless one. But it left a lasting impression on me!

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When Paul Young’s version of WEILMH came out, and a totally one-eyed 14 year old guitar music snob with little tolerance for the fashionable synth-laden sound of the time… But something about the crazy fretless bass and the raw soulful vocals on that album just captivated me… Really unusual and adventurous backing vocal arrangements on that album too.

Cool! New one for me!

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Jaco Pastorius for fretless bass too, supposedly the originator.

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