Reach For the Stars (William F Rayer) - An Orchestral Recording via phones (before/after)

This is a learning project. This symphony was recorded remotely via cell phones and real instruments by several orchestra members from William F Rayer’s orchestra. The raw tracks seemed near impossible to put together at first, with clicks, pops, large skips, timing and tone issues, close mic peaks and cellphone quality. My goal was to get it to sound believable and cohesive as if it was a live performance.

End Results:
Mix 3 (Streaming version - a balance between Mix 2 and Mix 1 with a splash of wetness, mid high warmth and loudness management for streaming)

Mix 2 (brighter, more intense, a bit more digital polish)

Mix 1 (a bit softer, damper, more analog artifacts preserved)

Which Mix do you like? 1,2 or 3?

if anyone is curious, this is a “before” clip as if the orchestra was presented over zoom at the same time with the latencies (no pun intended). I just put the clips untreated together. Overall I think this was a great effort and a great undertaking to have the courage to do this remotely.


Sounds great, it certainly doesn’t sound like it was recorded on phones etc .Blimey girl you have some talent

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Michelle, it was educational to hear your approach to this project! These both sound fantastic, but I’ll have to reserve my opinion until I can listen in my studio. Very impressive!

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That’s wonderful @FluteCafe that you would undertake that challenge and I’m very pleased with your results. I think both tracks are believable and cohesive, you’ve certainly done that. Of course the recording quality is not great and it sounds a little unnaturally close miced but still it is believable. I do prefer mix 1 which is richer and fuller to my ear.

Can you tell us more about this piece, the composer, how it came to happen, how you became involved?

Thanks for your input. I became involved from a mix contest . I have @miked and @ColdRoomStudio to thank for that. It was a great learning experience.

More details here Ingo. AudioMixCLub is $10 a month. This one was one of the “monthly challenges”. There’s a $1000 Mix Contest on right now with one of Andrew’s songs until the end of December.

That sounds fantastic @FluteCafe Michelle!

For the average classical music philistine (such as myself), I don’t think we sense anything was amiss, just listening to your finished version… so mission accomplished! Then, when you hear where it came from, then it becomes somewhat of a miraculous feat!

I would think it surely only logical that William would probably want to use your mix to showcase the project?

I think I actually prefer the brighter, more polished version, btw. Awesome stuff!

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pfft… a good ear, is a good ear :upside_down_face: and yours is a certified one :innocent:
Pretty sure when I get back home to my cozy scoring room, I would likely overhaul this entire mix lol.
I like my trusty earbuds -

that produced this mix and a few others recently, but home is home.
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added a streaming version (a balance between mix 1 and 2, with managed loudness and a bit of warmth and wetness)

Its truly unbelievable to see an effort like this materialize into something beautiful.


I preferred v2. It felt lively and like listening in an auditorium. The reverb tail is more audible with this mix. Although, honestly, I was wanting even more verb to add an even more"grandiose" feeling to the song.

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It just keeps getting better! Definitely my favorite! In feels like a big lush concert hall now, and quite magnificent!

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I love how you helped us visualise the layout of the orchestra with the photo. Listening, I could hear how you panned the different instruments and sections to match the layout. Awesome!

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Thanks :slight_smile: I usually save the verbing to the last as I dont want the reverb to affect mixing decisions. Its pretty easy to make blunders in mixing an orchestral score when the verb is on. The verb used on this is a stock one that I customized for the lows and the highs. I am not entirely happy with this mix yet and there are many things I have not been able to address yet, like de-essing the air in the brass and woodwinds. Treating the cymbals and soft clipping the bassoons and adding harmonics to it because it was pretty much mono and had weak harmonics so the brass section is pretty thinned out, I still need to use non linear summing on the brass sections to get it to standard brass tones, they are sounding like giant clarinets right now thanks to my stock compressor :sweat_smile: and the double bass is sounding like an amplified violin. Mids had to be scooped out of a lot of the brass due to quality issues, they still need filling with some good quality sinewaves… the piano was originally written for a harp so it was played like one so it needs a lot of treatment still to sit right in the mix…uhhhh the list is endless and I have severe OCD.

Issue with adding reverb to close mic is that you have to do aggressive EQ before and after the reverb and its not all there yet.

I come back after thanksgiving and I will finish Andrew’s @ColdRoomStudio song in a proper setting, I have an idea on what to do. I dont care if I win or not, I just wanna mix it.

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Thanks for the education! Yes, Andrew’s mix will be challenging for sure! I’ve got some time off this week so can finally focus on getting it going.

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The composer is William F Rayer (composer/author)

here is a bit from his bio

“William F. Rayer is a retired music teacher having taught music for 28 years in the Mayfield School System. His undergraduate degree is a B.A. in Music Education from Kent State University. He has a Master of Arts degree in Music Composition from Cleveland State University. He is a member of the Cleveland Composer’s Guild. He has written many compositions which have been performed by area orchestras and bands including the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Lakeland Civic Band, Lakeland Civic Orchestra as well as local high schools and junior high schools. He is an active member of ASCAP. He performs regularly as the principle trumpet of the Lorain Community Orchestra and the Broadale Brass Sextet led by John Simna. He has completed a novel with an accompanying compact disc of original music written by him for the novel called The Reach Beyond Tomorrow which is currently published by Two Harbors Publishing Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is currently finishing his latest project, the sequel to The Reach Beyond Tomorrow called: The Legacy of Pnomos. The song came about after watching the SpaceX launch of Americans in space from American soil.”


Very very interesting work and result.
I am always amazed when listening to a piece of music, thinking it was really straight and then realize it’s just a bunch of separate audio elements that was meticulously prepared to create a song faking it was just one live take of everyone at once.

In the same idea, someone else faking orchestral recording and nail it really well.

and how he did this kind of work

What a huge amount of work tweaking hundreds of parameters…

By the way, your work sounds like this to me.
Very great job indeed!

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VST orchestra is a whole another beast. Thanks for the vids!
There is definitely good news in this department as the quality of vST instruments keep getting better and better. Today we have access to prepanned samples with proper micing. Stage, Close and hall. It takes the guessing game out or the equation and there arent too many parameters to tweak and composer can focus more on writing articulations and other finer nuances like staccato, legato portamento etc… in the vst than worrying about the geeky stuff that comes with VST world. Though there are still several things to understand for someone just starting out, things have become a lot easier. Focusing on music more is always going to be beneficial in the long run.

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