Critical Listening Blog

For this task I thought it best to break down each element of the song.

Bass – The bass that was used to record the bass line was a precision bass and its timbre doesn’t really suit the song, I would like to try mixing it with a smoother bass or EQing the bass a bit heavier to see if i can boost some smother less buzzy low frequencies. The initial attack of the bass on the first two notes of the loop does initially stick out a bit however I would hope to keep some if not all of this as it suits the rest of the riff. We compressed the bass using one of the TLA compressors in the TLA studio to try take some initial harshness out of the bass by having a compressor slowly bite down on the note as the overtones started to overpower the fundamental however we weren’t able to completely remove them. Thankfully in the mix this problem isn’t as bad as it is in isolation but it still needs to be addressed.

Rhodes – After initially being left out of the final mix, when I initially tried to put them in back over the top they sounded really out of place and so after a small re-balancing of the levels I applied a heavy reverb and tried to sit them in a more ‘pad’ like position in the mix to fill out some of the empty space. This was mixed on headphones and after hearing it in class on monitors they still don’t sound loud enough however this could be the other synth sitting too high.

Pauls Synth – Can be heard panning throughout the song with ambient sounds. The panning reminds me a lot of early panning experimentation in that it doesn’t seem very polished or have an apparent balanced movement motion. I have written down several ideas to create movement including an automated reverb send in the hopes of emulating movement forwards/backwards rather than side to side as forward/backwards is already balanced across the stereo field i.e. mirrored.

Vocals; Main – The main vocals consist of two tracks.

Track 1 – EQScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 5.59.47 pm can be seen to the right. It also featured a De-Esser which I would like another opinion on. The De-Esser has a carbon copy on track 2, and it seems that with both of these together the vocals have got a bit too lispy. Breaths were left in on this track – the idea was to have the vocals seem organic without having huge gasping breaths throughout the song.

Track 2 – EQ can be seen toScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 6.03.45 pm the right. These vocals were cut up to remove all breaths for the reason stated above. This track also featured an exact copy of the De-Esser on track 1. This track contained a Isotope reverb plugin, this is slightly different to how i usually deal with reverb on main vocals but it seemed to work.

Backup Vocals

Male – These were recorded ad lib at the end of the session by the vocalists cousin, he’s a very good singer but he wasn’t into the track and I don’t believe the vocals were intended to be used in the end product. They do however feature a really cool de-tune/chorus effect that Marcus showed me in Izotope. These are panned hard left and while it helps to accentuate the good bits of this element it makes them stick out and draws attention to the fact that they really don’t follow the direction of the track or just generally aren’t good takes i.e. there was only one take.

Female – These sit opposed to the male backup vocals hard right, They were only recorded for the beginning of the song and only a few takes were captured, the vocalist was losing her voice and the session lacked a clear sense of direction. The result was that in the ‘final’ mix not only do some vocals not seem to follow the right intervals for the style of song but there were whole sections with the backup vocals present and entire sections where you didn’t hear a single word. At the very least if I get to re mix this I would like to pull the male backup vocals out if not the female as well – depending on whether I can get a full vocal mix with the double (duplicate take) track.

Drums – All the drums I have worked with have been in a two track bounce from Eddy, so I don’t know too much of the processing however it seems obvious from listening to them that they have been created by layering multiple samples to create a slightly lazy or staggered beat. For example at the very start of the track you can hear the different elements of the snare being built up. This I would like to hear differently – with the snare not gaining the higher frequency hit until after the hi-hats come in. Also if the bass wasn’t to be changed the bass kick could have some fuzz or tube distortion applied to it to make it sit with the raw sound of the bass more.

Keys – They have been pushed to the very back of the mix and while I dislike that it felt that if i tried to bring them forwards any more it seemed to oppose the vocal melodies tonal characteristics and bring the track more out of focus. To counter this it was good to have the section played in both the introduction and the bridge near the end of the song to really give some light to the keys and make them more apparent in the section following.

In summary I would like the overall mix to be something closer to that after the bridge – all elements seems to gel together better in this section of the song particularly the Rhodes and keys. I still would like to remove the backup vocals and maybe try using the original bass line which was written in the box.


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