Progressing with Friends

Progressing with Friends
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Wow! You’ve been working on this! Great energy and vibe.

The new intro is way cool! LOVE the distant soloing! The waves could fade more as the music swells, but I know you’re just throwing ideas out there. Works great!

I can tell you’re struggling to hit those lower register notes in the first verse. They are kind of grabbing my attention… Sorry. The big gritty loud parts sound great, BTW.

Lots going on with the arrangement and guitars and everything seems to be fitting pretty well. The drums sound magnificent!!

The added soloing at the end sounds good too and adds interest and energy there towards the end of the song. But I’m not sure the panning is working for me though. Maybe if it were 2 different guitars doing an answer back thing or if it were more subtle panning and kind of weaving around back there rather than jumping back and forth? I’m sure Bob could come up with something in a heartbeat. :slightly_smiling_face:

Oh, my guess on the “Esteemed IRD Monster guest” is Bob - Mr. @StylesBitchley:beerbanger:

This is really coming together nicely!

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And how! :sweat:

Cool - I like energy!

I’t probably not as noticeable now, but city sounds, cars, roadworks and building site sounds swell up underneath the as it approaches the song entry proper.

Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t, but I’m happy with how that sounds now. I know I’ll never sound like Barry White, so I’m working with what I have… I re-sang it, gave it my best shot, and I think it sounds good for what it is. I’m movin’ on :grinning:

Yes, there is definitely more than probably meets the ear happening, but it’s not just guitars either - its everything. :flushed:

Cool - that’s good. The nerdy engineer-audio guy-type in me wants every one of mixes to have drums that are ground-breaking, cutting edge, pillars of destruction. The producer-songwriter-arranger in me knows that isn’t possible or practical, so I’m always thinking: “Meh! I could probably do better, but they work as-is” (Besides, no-one takes any notice of your drum sounds except other nerdy audio engineer types! :rofl:)

Cool, thanks for your input there - the panning scheme is a kind of solution in a way.

Indeed! You win the prize!!! It is indeed the marvelously talented and very amenable Mr Robert Cameron (aka @StylesBitchley ) Thank you Bob - you are AWESOME! :beerbanger: :beerbanger: :beerbanger:

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This mix is progress!

The vocals sound more balanced throughout the song. The lower vocals near the start of the song are a good improvement and the addition guitars add a little more shine to the song. I like this intro better too. The little licks are a nice touch there. Not sure if you’ve done some EQ adjustments since your first mix but there some good improvement that I can’t quite identify…The mix just shines more.

BTW, this song keeps me engaged throughout, from beginning to end. Every time I’ve listened to it, I feel it went by so quick for a 4 & a half minute song. That tells you that the arrangements are very on target!

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Cool, glad you’re hearing progress!

Yeah I did a massive amount of changes all across the mix… they all add up, I guess.

Fantastic! That is awesome to hear! Thanks for listening and commenting, W! Much appreciated! :beerbanger:

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Mixing is one of your skills, fur sure!
I really like the intro this time, the reverberated guitar solo really catches the attention and then leads to the first verse, it’s way more interesting now.

I’m still not sure about lonely guitar chords before the chorus, it lets room for drums and main vocal but I would hear some muted chords to sustain the rhythm while drums can play fills… I really don’t know what to say to enhance this part.

I also notice the lead vocalist (you I think) reaches some low notes that seems out of your range… it’s now be more obvious because of the mixing process.
But moving everything up one half-step or two could lead the same problem (with high notes) during the chorus…

And I also found the bass guitar a bit light in the mix, maybe to let room for the lead vocal reaching lowest notes :confused:

By the way, nice writing skills, again!

Great!

From your other comment on the other thread, I think you’re referring to the pre-chorus? I guess it’s just a taste thing. I really like the space there from an arrangement POV. It creates more contrast when the first chorus hits. That first chorus wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the sparsity of the prechorus. I also like the fact that it is just one guitar and the mix leans to the left… again contrast: asymmetry vs symmetry. The second pre-chorus is much fuller, with some fingerpicked acoustic arpeggios happening also… but that progression and variety wouldn’t happen if the first prechorus wasn’t as sparse as it is.

I thought about changing the key. I experimented with a different melody. I have tried just about every different permutation your could imagine (and then some), but I kept coming back to this key, this melody and this range as the best for the song overall.

I like my bass full, and I pushed this as far as I dared. This is one of the things I’ve struggled a bit with. If I push the bass levels any more than they are currently, the mix gets too boomy and muddy.

Thanks, and thanks for your thoughtful comments - much appreciated!

This is something I thought you did in purpose. I wish some variations but you’re the driver of the song and if you think it should be this way, then it is.

Very interesting: I found it a bit absent from the mix and it’s not so easy to distinguish.
And my mixes are too boomy and muddy, I should try to get that feeling in my mixes instead.

Nice job anymay, I wouldn’t be able to do only a quarter of that!

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O Yes! Love the changes and that new guitar just fits in so very well, the descriptor ‘bleeds in’ came to mind, it seeps effortlessly into the mix, such an accomplishment with a musical collaboration!

Love the extra layers in the entry, a moodier vibe with the guitar integrating things really nicely. Feels to me, like a great concept for an opening track. Cool changes to the entry vox, sounding great to me, very natural smooth low and intimate with a hint of edge that works well… the key sounds great to me too and I’m enjoying your vocal tone. Love the contrast between low and intimate then fierce and raging, the indignant expostulation. :sunglasses:

Cool lyrics and underbelly to this, and the new mix feels much richer with a sense of expansiveness.
I was interrupted while writing this and found myself singing the chorus line, very catchy.
Great stuff!

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Quoting this before I read the rest of the thread, because Bob is immediately who I thought of too… I’ll see if we’re right! By the way, this tune fuggin ROCKS Andrew!!!

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It was, as always, a blast working with Andrew. I immediately heard a lot of energy in the song, and a little bit of sorrow and frustration in the message of the song. I tried to use that to help shape what I was playing, along with his input on what he was looking for.
When it is someone else’s baby, you just try to find a way to enhance what’s already there, and I hope I was able to help.

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@StylesBitchley You did Great!!! Sensitively done, rather than ‘simply’ adding another layer, your playing seems to come from a place within the song… well done!

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Yes indeed! You enhanced an already great production and added some new and tasteful ideas and made it even better. You gave Andrew more colors to paint with. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks CW! Glad you’re diggin’ it! Bob is the MAN! :beerbanger:

Whatever you did, it was awesome - thanks man!

Good call!

:+1: :+1: :+1:

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Hi there! I’m back after a few weeks off due to being swamped with various things. Got a lot to catch up with!

I haven’t read the other comments, apologies if I’m not bringing anything new to the table here.

I like how the song sounds overall “deeper” than what I heard on your previous album, both from a sonic/arrangement perspective and lyrics-wise too, while still retaining your unique personality and sound.

The first thing that strikes me as being the weak link (weak being highly relative in an overall great sounding production) is the lead vocal. It sounds a bit undefined sometimes, which makes it difficult to make out the notes: the vocal tends to float between two pitches at times. This is especially true on the long held notes when they are in the lower range.
I believe the vocals could be made clearer in the mix with a different EQ treatment too. sometimes (especially in the lower notes) even though the volume itself doesn’t really seem to be too soft, it is still difficult to make out the exact words and the vocal sound a bit muddy. An example of this is around 1:18 on the last word of the sentence “anew” as well as “and the…” starting the next section (prechorus I guess?) This only happens in a few specific places, it’s not at all a major issue that keeps bugging me throughout the song.

The layered vocal harmony is slightly out of tune in some places, like on “calling it their …” around 1:37 (sorry can’t make out the last word but in this case it’s probably more my foreign English ear that’s the culprit). Also later on “so be careful what you whisper cause it may just come about”.

I’m impressed by the chorus, the rise in energy is huge and still everything stays balanced, there probably are a lot of skilled moves involved to achieve this. There is just one little detail that doesn’t seem to fit perfectly in place on the last seconds of the chorus. I believe it is a ride bell or something similar, playing on the off beats, and it is just soft enough to leave me wondering what it is exactly but not loud enough to come through as something outright/intentional. Then again, this is typically the kind of issues caused by mp3 compression so it might sound just right in the lossless version.

At the beginning of the second verse there is a vocal FX that sounds a bit like a flange-y doubler. I get what it is meant to achieve but I have the feeling that it could do it even better, although I fail to tell exactly how… maybe by being a bit more obvious, I’m not sure.

I like how the panned guitars bring something new and different during the bridge, but they tend to bury the vocals. I think they could simply be softer, and maybe the arrangement could be stripped (further, since it already is) of some of the things in the background that we can’t really hear clearly anyway, just to help with that and to create even more contrast with the previous and following sections. I love the last chord on the bridge, it is unexpected (in a nice way).

In the denser parts of the arrangement I believe the bass drum could use just a bit more click , although it sounds fine in the rest of the song.

Love the short section after the bridge too, very efficient in moving the song forward, as is the extra half-bar added before the last chorus!

One last comment: this audio file is too loud for me. During the chorus everything is very compressed and there’s barely any dynamics going on anymore, which I find tiring to listen to. I believe this level of loudness is detrimental to the music: the bass guitar for instance is not very audible in the arrangement, and in this case I bet the reason is that it is hitting the limiter first, so whatever transients or dynamic content it had has been entirely flattened. The low frequencies are still very much here (the tonal balance is great) but it is just difficult to clearly hear a bass guitar playing.

There are a lot of other things I didn’t comment, like the guitar tones, the songwriting etc. and it is all because it’s just great. :+1:

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Hi Jean-Marc - Wow, this is a very detailed critique . Thanks for taking the time to really listen and outline your thoughts here… There is a LOT to take in!

That’s good to know… I guess I’m trying to…er… progress :roll_eyes:… forward from the last album! :grin:

I think I’ve outlined in my replies above where I’m at with the vocals. I think I could go on forever re-singing and tweaking the vocals, but it would never please everyone who listens to it. I think I mentioned in a post a while ago when discussing Dave’s (Chordwainer’s) vocals that he has the type of pleasing vocal tone where listeners tend not to look for pitch discrepancies, simply because his tone is so pleasing.

I believe the opposite is true of my voice. Some people seem to like it, but to many it doesn’t appeal, and I have no doubt that some here possibly really dislike it. Nevertheless, I often wonder if that may be the reason some use vague terms like “pitchy”.

When people talk about pitch, the impression I get is that many assume that no work has been done to correct pitch in the vocals. The fact is, every syllable of every vocal part in this mix has been examined and hand-tuned. I can assure you that, (at least as I perceive it pitch), nothing here is “out of tune” unless it has intentionally been left that way in the interests of more emotional impact and to more accurately represent my singing style.

I do nevertheless acknowledge that everyone perceives pitch slightly differently. Some are more tolerant of pitch discrepancies than others. For me, sliding into and out of a note, and throwing the occasional “blue” note in are all part and parcel of a natural, emotive, human and vulnerable sounding delivery. For others those things are unacceptable, and probably perceived as “pitchyness”.

Regardless, I am done with re-singing this tune. I’m happy that the vocal performance represents me and my intention.

Good point - I noticed that too, and I may revisit those issues at some stage in the future before the album is released.

Cool, that definitely was the aim. Most of it comes down to the arrangement, rather than anything special done in the mixing.

Hmmm… not really hearing that. If it’s in the drums, then it is there to stay, because they are live drums, and there is so much cymbal wash in that section of the song, that I think any edits would stand out like a sore thumb.

That is all part of the gradual arrangement build. I’ve tried the “whisper” test on the vocals there, and they seem to be fine as far as level goes. I’m not of the belief that everything recorded should be heard clearly and distinctly in the mix. The way I produce and mix is that some things are designed more to be “felt” or “perceived” than clearly “heard” as a separate, distinct mix element. There are TONNES of layers in this mix. Do they all need to be there? No, the song will make perfect sense without them. However, they add a sense of depth and complexity that (I believe) really elevates the song on a subconscious level.

Thanks, I may look at adjusting that too. In the first mix I posted, I got lots of comments about an overly clicky kick (and it was), so I went for a very different approach here, but you’re right, it could possibly use a little more attack to cut through the dense chorus.

Well, you’re entitled to that opinion. :slightly_smiling_face: I know I won’t change your mind on this, but I have a different viewpoint…

This mix comes in at -10dB LUFs. The modern (post 2015) mixes of this genre that I’m using for reference are coming in at -9 to -8 LUFs. So while my mix is in no way soft, it is not outrageously loud either. Yes the chorus is very loud and dense (some might even say fatiguing), but that is by design, and not a result of tonnes of limiting on the mixbuss. It still retains good short term dynamics (ie transients), and the verses and bridge provide good long term dynamic variation to my ear.

No, that is not the reason the bass is less present. It is simply because I have mixed it differently and little lower than I normally would. It was a bit of an experiment, and I’m not completely satisfied where the bass is at. Again, I may look at this further, once I get a bit of distance from the mix process.

Thanks. I appreciate the detailed and comprehensive critique - very helpful! :+1:

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Hey Andrew,

About the vocals, sorry for leading you to repeat things you already mentioned. I understand where you’re at. I’ll just say that my general feeling about the vocals is that your tone is great and the grit and flaws (both deliberate and unintended) fit your genre very well, but for some reason on this particular song there are a few small things that are throwing me off, which I had never experienced before on your songs.

About the loudness, clearly there is no point in trying to change each other’s minds and I totally respect your taste, which many seasoned professionals share as well. However I’m curious about this. I’m sure you are well acquainted with the way normalisation algorithms work on the streaming platforms, so what benefit do you find in mastering at -10 LUFS when you know for a fact that your song’s loudness is going to be turned down (and not just a little)?

I’m not trying to fuel an old debate here, I’m just genuinely interested in understanding what drives people to master way above the thresholds when they know their songs will be turned down significantly anyway. Maybe I’m just missing something.

“Good” is debatable here. :grin: But did you mean momentary loudness? Because transients are not in the realm of short term loudness since the latter is measured over several seconds.

That being said, I’m starting a BandCamp page soon and will do louder masters than what I usually do for BandCamp and SoundCloud since they are the only ones who don’t normalise (yet), and I see the benefit in being at least in the ballpark of the majority of the music there.

Again sorry for missing the news if this has already been mentioned but have you uploaded other tracks? What is the album current status?

I think you just answered your own question here. I want to do one master, and one master only. I don’t want to have to master for every different streaming platform’s peculiar quirks. One master that sounds good across all formats - that’s what I’m aiming at.

I’m not talking about short term loudness at all… I said:

… and by that I was referring to what is sometimes termed “micro-dynamics” - the retention of significant transient information in the mix.

Oh I see, I never heard that term “short-term dynamics” before, I always just say “transients”.

Ok fair enough, thanks for clarifying. And keep on making great, loud rock songs! :metal:

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I just learned something interesting related to this “mastering loudness” topic today: the album Fear Inoculum by Tool (which I would personally consider an excellent reference for sound quality in the rock or heavy music genre in general) has been mastered at -14 LUFS by Bob Ludwig.

Thank you, Bob Ludwig. Maybe someone is realizing that loudness isn’t a sales tool like it used to be. Make it sound good, and rely on your fan base to turn the volume up to their taste, preserving a tiny bit of dynamic range.
Maybe we’ve reached the point where producers realize that acts like Tool don’t need to compete with Katy Perry, or whoever the soup du jour is on pop radio.
I firmly believe music should be engineered, produced, and mastered for the true followers of the artist; the select few who will actually invest in a proper recording, whatever the format. If you really like an artist’s music you should be willing to pay for the best version of it. If it’s just background music to you, who cares about loudness?