Time in a Bottle, updated

Okay, so @Lophophora and I have been collaborating on this one. THANK YOU, Lopho, for adding strings and harpsichord.

I did a lot of remixing of this from when it was in the collab forum. One of the biggest changes I made was to the vocals: in addition to de-essing and some editing, I worked on the reverb, trying to implement the “166 ms tape delay trick” that @ColdRoomStudio talked about in this post (#12). Andrew, please critique my attempt at integrating what you were describing. I “think” I captured it, but would love your feedback.

Nice guys! The playing is really tasteful and well done. The vocal is very nice too.

I have 2 critiques however:

  1. LESS reverb on the vocal please. It feels like you’re trying to hide your vocal with reverb which you don’t need to do. Regardless, the instrumentation is all very well done and intimate and the vocal should be too. IMHO.
  2. The 2nd thing is that the chorus is missing a “lift”. It seems like the bass needs to come up or some of the instrumentation to really give it more emphasis.

Well done guys!

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I’m only listening on crud speakers at work, but the performances sound excellent.

FWIW on these speakers, the processing on the vocal sounds a little “overcooked” - there is some saturation that is causing the sibilants to sound “crunchy”, and the vocal itself sounds like it could might have had a little too much of the “warmth” frequencies pulled out of it.

RE: the slap delay. I’m not certain it’s the best choice for this type of music. If it was me mixing it, I would back it way down and just use it as “glue” behind the vocal, rather than outright delay. I also would probably go for a fairly lush plate or hall reverb on a track like this, but pre-delay it by 80-150ms to keep the vocal up front.

I’ll check it out tonight on my studio speakers when I get home from work.

Nice work on the song - it sounds lovely!

Thanks @Tesgin for inviting me to contribute to your very nice cover. I really didn’t do much, the harpsichord and synth pads are very basic and the credit goes to him for his very nice vocals and guitar parts.

@miked I was the one suggesting him to add reverb because we were after a cover that would be close to the original, and the original has the vocals drenched in a warm plate reverb, as do a lot of records of this era. The reverb is so rich it creates some kind of overtones that we mistakenly took for horn pads at first (hence the strings, that are not in the original I believe). Obviously this a lot by today’s standards.

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Ok, I had a bit of a play around with this, and referenced the remastered version of the original track…

Here’s what I hear: In the original, Jim’s vocal has quite a “midrange forward” tonality, but it is balanced by a nice richness in the 100-200hz “warmth” range. Tesgin, your voice has a similar quality, although I think you have a couple of things working against getting the same balance of forwardness and richness:

  1. The mids in the reverb are competing with the mids in your voice, so there is a buildup in the mids that causes your voice to sound nasally, and that tonality overpowers the low end richness. Try soloing the reverb and sweep around for the nasally tone with an eq and pull it out of the reverb. This will cause your voice to come forward in the mix without having to boost the mids with eq.

  2. The instrumental backing in the original has a very rolled off high end, due to tape/analogue equipment absorbing all the highs. Again, this allows the vocal to come forward, because the highs don’t compete with the crisp highs of the vocal, and it gives the original mix more depth of field, because the rolled off highs cause the instruments to feel “further away” than the vocal.

  3. The ambiance on your vocal sounds quite mono, so it competes for space with the vocal in the middle of the mix. On the original, the reverb is quite spacious in the stereo field.

  4. The highs in the reverb are causing the sibilants to really sustain. Rolling off the high end in the reverb savagely (& I’m talking as low passing as low as 3 to even 1.5k) can really help get rid of that sizzle and can (again) help the vocal to come forward.

As I said, I had a bit of a play with your stereo mix. I used some mid-side manipulation to help separate the processing of the vocal from the instruments, and some tape/preamp emulation as well as eq to smooth things out.

Of course, I’m limited in what I can do with a stereo mix, but I think it gets it closer to the smooth vibe of the original. To really get the reverb close though, you really have to work on the multitracks at the source. It’s not radically different, but FWIW, here it is:

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Wow, I was going to come back and try to make some useful suggestions, but nevermind. You’ve got Mr. Golden Ears taking care of that! (I’m taking notes too!)

BTW, really nice job recording those guitars @Tesgin ! What did you use and how did you do it?

Excellent. I could hear that strange sound on the “esses” but I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I edited and slammed the de-esser which helped but wasn’t getting all of it. Removed most of the saturation on the vocals. I didn’t know saturation could do that.

Cool. Done.

Wow. How can you hear the mids in the reverb? That’s crazy! Makes absolute sense. Did the reverb cut as you suggested, to tackle the mids.

Yup. I especially hear that in the left guitar. So, question: I rolled off a bit of that with a low shelf starting around 5K. Would I better fix that with a multiband sidechained to the vocal? Did I roll off too much? I think it sounds closer to Croce’s original.

How DO you hear that? You are correct: I used the mono version of H-Reverb for the vocals. I thought I should use the mono cuz the vocals were in mono. I swapped it for a stereo version and it definitely sounds better.

Very helpful. Thanks. Fixed.

So, how’s this? Moving in right direction?

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Sounds great - you nailed it! :+1:

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Oh yes this last mix is really good. Last small detail for me would be to tame the guitar on the left, that has too much presence and draws my attention a little too much.

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By that are you thinking just volume, or is it an eq thing?

Thanks, Mike. Much appreciated.

Both guitars were recorded a while back with a Studio Projects C1 condenser, in an untreated room, on a MOTU MkIII (firewire) interface.

FX on guitar 1 (left guitar): ReaEQ for some sculpting, followed by Rennaissance Axe and then CLA Guitar (only for some tonal EQ and compression).

FX on guitar 2: only ReaEQ for some sculpting, followed by Rennaissance Axe.

Both guitars were in a folder with only RComp sidechained to the vocal, and on the last mix I added the teeniest little touch of RBass to add some low end harmonics.

I also used Sonimus Britson console imitation on all guitar tracks and busses.

Both guitars had sends to H-Reverb, and the tiniest touch of H-Delay. They were also sent to a PBuss that had a smidge of tape saturation and Waves ADT dialed in.

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Listened to it again. Nice call. I brought it down a bit and added some automation.