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Preparing old songs for release: How does this sound?

Here's the first of two songs. I've remixed these and remastered them for release - I'm living with them for about a week or so before I pull the trigger. Any feedback would be awesome. One handicap is that my reference headphones I usually use to check how they sound in headphones have broken and I'm waiting parts to fix them. So far in my listening environment everything sounds pretty balanced with the vocals pretty upfront. Just need a few more pairs of ears on these. Thanks for your time guys. Any obvious issues?

Many thanks
Rob

Lonely Road: V2

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V2.mp3 (14.8 MB) 

Comments

Link555 Tue, 03/23/2021 - 22:41

DogsoverLava, post: 468259, member: 48175 wrote:
Here's the first of two songs. I've remixed these and remastered them for release - I'm living with them for about a week or so before I pull the trigger. Any feedback would be awesome. One handicap is that my reference headphones I usually use to check how they sound in headphones have broken and I'm waiting parts to fix them. So far in my listening environment everything sounds pretty balanced with the vocals pretty upfront. Just need a few more pairs of ears on these. Thanks for your time guys. Any obvious issues?

Many thanks
Rob

Lonely Road: V2

 

Like the tune! I feel like it needs more volume on the drums.

DogsoverLava Wed, 03/24/2021 - 11:35

Kick and snare up, while taming the cymbal wash a bit, Nashville lead breaks slightly tamed in volume - they were just slightly too out-front. I'm getting pretty good balance here on my systems and listening environments. Song's a bit long but it was a narrative so the story had to be told. The vocals are slightly pulled into the mix by design at this point. Any further out front and they are too naked for me. (might just be me hearing this vocal performance and getting weird in my head about it).

Lonely Road Master V4

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V4.mp3 (14.8 MB) 

bouldersound Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:03

I also feel like the vocal get a little lost in places. The bridge was one of those places.

The vocal seems a bit edgy in the 4.7k range. Maybe the cymbals are also prominent in that range as well. Everything seems to roll off above that. It also seems a bit strong between 150 and 300. To give you an idea of how it sounded to me, here's a screen shot of an eq curve made it sound better to me. The problem with the curve is that the 4.7k cut really only applies to the vocal and perhaps the cymbals.

 

Attached files

DogsoverLava Thu, 03/25/2021 - 15:26

bouldersound, post: 468300, member: 38959 wrote:
I also feel like the vocal get a little lost in places. The bridge was one of those places.

The vocal seems a bit edgy in the 4.7k range. Maybe the cymbals are also prominent in that range as well. Everything seems to roll off above that. It also seems a bit strong between 150 and 300. To give you an idea of how it sounded to me, here's a screen shot of an eq curve made it sound better to me. The problem with the curve is that the 4.7k cut really only applies to the vocal and perhaps the cymbals.

 

This is great feedback boulder.... enough so that I am drilling back into the whole project and remixing the vocals from the ground up. One of the challenges with this track are that the various vocal takes were tracked on different days and there's slight variations in timbre and room sound so that presents some challenges to get them all fitting together nicely.

I'm reworking the configurations with better buses and routing so I can apply fx and or manage them in smarter ways.... I'll post again when complete. Because this is an older project it's a good lab for me to do some problem solving...

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 00:47

Here's V7 - Vocals have been cleaned up with some editing and tightening - got rid of some pops, smaks, and FFffsss.... Got everything in clean buses feeding to master buses by grouping that hosted most of the FX - Vocals are "clearer" and a bit more uniformly forward. Tried to EQ them and the cymbal wash per @bouldersound suggestion - also took some of the bottom end energy off - it was dragging the track down - tried to "lift" the mix in general. Drums are also more succinct - and a bit more crack, snapple, pop with less wash. Also tried to blend the 3 rhythm guitar tracks with some EQ sculpting so they didn't mud each other up..... So I did a lot and at the very least I have cleaner tracks to work with here.

Lonely Road V7

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V7.mp3 (14.8 MB) 

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 08:57

paulears, post: 468308, member: 47782 wrote:
I played this in the office and the cymbals are really cutting on the speakers in the imac. The cymbal eq and the ride bell really pop out. I often listen to music on it and it's 'friendly'. The vocals reminded me of the effect the steve miller band used on their vocals but a bit more?

Thanks Paul - I know I need to deal with those further. Is it just that the OH’s are too loud? These were recorded Glyn Johns style.

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 12:04

Thanks @paulears so Took down the vocals by 1 db exactly across the board, applied a fabfilter compressor to the OH's with a setting called "subtle splash control" which took out a lot of the harshness (plus I dropped the volume on the OH's by about 2.5 db.... I then applied a slightly different EQ on the Master that also helped with the vocal and cymbal wash I think. Appreciate your feedback Paul -- the track is already "a lot" cleaner and tighter with better cohesion so I thank you.... trying to get my ass over that next learning curve plateau.

Lonely Road Master V8

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V8.mp3 (14.8 MB) 

Davedog Fri, 03/26/2021 - 12:38

Nice song. The tones are all really good. I like the vocal thing thats going on it's pretty old school in how all the parts are working to making one vocal identity. I thought the vocal was a bit better on v7. And it still is getting buried in the arrangement. After listening to the various inceptions it occurs to me that it's the arrangement behind the vocals that is burying it's impact. It seems you really want that rhythmic figure emphasized and your vocal/melody line is also in where those hits are happening but it just isn't strong enough to compete.

I get where you're coming from arrangement-wise and it's good. Melding everything into a clear picture is the issue. Or the goal!

I can use more drums doing the punches rather than the guitars.

Since you're experimenting....I have a suggestion.......Start this mix from the ground up. Mix the song with ONLY the drums, bass, and vocal. If there is a single other instrument that is simply supplying chords and harmonic inversions then slip that in also. Mix ONLY these elements until it stands on its own as a complete song. Use all the effects you already have. This is a fader thing. When you have it cooking along and you can clearly hear everything ...drums/bass/rhythm inst/vocals...then slowly apply the guitars. As they are. No added eq/compression etc...just faders up and down. The minute that any part of the original mix of drums/bass/vocals starts to become diminished then back that fader you are applying off.

This is where you become a producer rather than a recordist/artist. It's important to not be married to any one part at any time in a production. It's absolutely the hardest thing to do. Absolutely.

I want to emphasize that you dont need to change anything as far as compression/tone/section balance etc...Faders only

bouldersound Fri, 03/26/2021 - 12:56

It's to the point where each time I think something could change, I have second thoughts. There's still a hint of edge to the vocal, but now it's more of a stylistic choice than a problem I think needs fixing. I might nudge the guitars down half a dB and the drums up half a dB. Maybe the upper ends of the bass is competing with the vocal. In any case, it's close to good.

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 12:58

Davedog, post: 468317, member: 4495 wrote:
Nice song. The tones are all really good. I like the vocal thing thats going on it's pretty old school in how all the parts are working to making one vocal identity. I thought the vocal was a bit better on v7. And it still is getting buried in the arrangement. After listening to the various inceptions it occurs to me that it's the arrangement behind the vocals that is burying it's impact. It seems you really want that rhythmic figure emphasized and your vocal/melody line is also in where those hits are happening but it just isn't strong enough to compete.

I get where you're coming from arrangement-wise and it's good. Melding everything into a clear picture is the issue. Or the goal!

I can use more drums doing the punches rather than the guitars.

Since you're experimenting....I have a suggestion.......Start this mix from the ground up. Mix the song with ONLY the drums, bass, and vocal. If there is a single other instrument that is simply supplying chords and harmonic inversions then slip that in also. Mix ONLY these elements until it stands on its own as a complete song. Use all the effects you already have. This is a fader thing. When you have it cooking along and you can clearly hear everything ...drums/bass/rhythm inst/vocals...then slowly apply the guitars. As they are. No added eq/compression etc...just faders up and down. The minute that any part of the original mix of drums/bass/vocals starts to become diminished then back that fader you are applying off.

This is where you become a producer rather than a recordist/artist. It's important to not be married to any one part at any time in a production. It's absolutely the hardest thing to do. Absolutely.

I want to emphasize that you dont need to change anything as far as compression/tone/section balance etc...Faders only

I'll try that for sure @Davedog - as far as process goes, I recorded the original to a click and sent the tracks to a drummer so it was a case of the guitars leading the way initially so all the punches were handled by the guitars in the absence of the drums. - I totally agree with the idea you are suggesting - I'll do it for sure and post updates - I appreciate you guys hanging in there with me - this is a great lab style exercise..

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 13:00

bouldersound, post: 468319, member: 38959 wrote:
It's to the point where each time I think something could change, I have second thoughts. There's still a hint of edge to the vocal, but now it's more of a stylistic choice than a problem I think needs fixing. I might nudge the guitars down half a dB and the drums up half a dB. Maybe the upper ends of the bass is competing with the vocal. In any case, it's close to good.

Thanks boulder. I think you and Davedog are zeroing in on the same thing... it's close (for what it is and what I'm working with) but there's just a tiny bit more to squeeze out if I can find my way to it.

paulears Fri, 03/26/2021 - 13:42

I think opening yourself up for comment is always worth it when you're just not sure. Lots of things will have been stylistic choices but we all get kind of blindfolded into thinking everyone will understand them. Sometimes we get hung up on trying to please others though - then you have to get brave. I tend to be the coward!

DogsoverLava Fri, 03/26/2021 - 14:02

paulears, post: 468324, member: 47782 wrote:
I think opening yourself up for comment is always worth it when you're just not sure. Lots of things will have been stylistic choices but we all get kind of blindfolded into thinking everyone will understand them. Sometimes we get hung up on trying to please others though - then you have to get brave. I tend to be the coward!

I’m feeling pretty good about the last version and the process to get there — what’s nice is having cause/effect feedback loops so no matter what, it’s the process that is rewarding.... so if there’s more to be had/learned then I’m game. I think the next little tweak addressing those last criticisms and suggestions will make it better. I’m happy with the help.

DogsoverLava Sat, 03/27/2021 - 12:46

Well this was a pretty amazing result. So I balanced between Vocals, Drums and Keyboards per @Davedog --- with the only sonic tweak being to the bass where I pulled back a nice inverse bell curve between 700-1500K with the inverse4 peak around 980.... and boosted a bit beyond 2K.... Drums and bass were both clear and punchy without the wash from the cymbals smearing things - then I brought up the faders on the guitars. The net result -- the vocals have never felt or sounded more clear, but equally integrated into the mix. The guitars sound great but don't dominate or compete with the vocal -- and the drums have such room/with the bass to really drive those syncopated rhythms... I'm loving the mix. Now the drums hit and snap pretty forward so there might be an argument for rolling those back a half db or db..... The bass is bold -- is it too bold or just confident in what it's role in the track is? An argument could be made for it to roll back a db or so --- but I'm still really loving it. The only criticism is I might need to slightly dip the volume slope on the bass in the intro - it peaks a bit early... but otherwise I'm getting no cringe when I listen. Very curious in how you guys hear this one.

Lonely Road V9 - post DaveDog mix

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V9.mp3 (14.8 MB) 

bouldersound Sat, 03/27/2021 - 13:21

Yep, it's pretty similar to how I've been building mixes lately. I start with kick, snare (including overheads if they are a big part of the snare sound) and vocal. Once those are balanced, I work the bass in. Guitars etc. come in later. I do end up tweaking the foundation tracks, but it still works better for me to start that way.

The two things I'm noticing in this mix are the bass and vocals. The bass seems a bit strong on the E notes (fretted D string, 167Hz). The vocals sound thin, as if they're high passed at 500Hz.

Otherwise I think you're onto something good.

Davedog Sat, 03/27/2021 - 16:49

Mucho Better. Bass is a bit 'present' but not 'wrong' ..I would HPF one or both of the grinding rhythm gits. Somewhere around 94-120hz. It will free a little air for the bass and really show whether its' too loud.

The thing is with mixing with this method, is you really have to get the basics completely done and leave them there. So the drum/bass/vocal relationship has to be established to the point that nothing else is "needed" to carry the song and it's lyric. I will sometimes add the first instrument that the song was likely written from.....

In a lot of cases I don't know what that is since I'm cooking with tracks I didnt make. But I can usually tell.

I don't know if you are mixing to buses?? You have enough guitars doing enough different kinds of things to separate these into a couple of buses. I bus all my drums into three sections with a master on them to the main master. I put snare/kick on a bus. Overheads and percussion on a bus. Toms on a bus. Then I process these all separately and then bring them together as a mix through a stereo 2 bus with the final set of outboard. This way I can get all my clarity and impact as well as any effects I might want on the drums. I want this sub/aux/2bus to sound like a complete drum kit in a space relevant to the mood and feel of the song.

In doing this I establish the lowest note I'm going to want in the overall mix. And it;'s either going to be the kik or the bass. It cannot be both.

When the drum mix is done...and yes I will mix it with vocals up vocals down....In doing this I can hear the collisions of the rhythmic nuances between the two. Getting the vocal to lay in the pocket is the secret of every famous mixer out there. This a great place to start. I edit this in real time by moving words/phrases/sometimes dividing words....At the same time I balance the vocal itself to an even output throughout and I do this in real time. It causes your compression and effects to get hit with a steadier input and makes adding these outboard effects more of a taste choice rather than a repair choice. Now you may think this will flatten the performance but this is now where your automation will be so effective when you duck or push up the track in times you want to emphasize or to reach for some emotional peak or valley.

Build your bass to the perfect tonal envelope for the mood and drive of the song. In this case since you have some rhythmic hits and some syncopation, you will have to be certain of the note clarity and tone. Bass can cover nearly everything in a mix. Compression is NOT always the solution. Its also another instrument I will level by hand if the playing isn't even in it's attack. Being a bass player for 50 years I'm kinda picky about it.

This is an overview about how to get to your base mix before you apply the rest of the method. I just thought I'd throw this out in more detail if you should want to to pursue the methodology. It works for me.

DogsoverLava Sat, 03/27/2021 - 21:12

Here's my latest - did the tiniest adjustment to the low end on the vocals now that there's more room in the mix for them (after both bass and guitar EQ changes done previously including on the right channel rhythm guitar) . Also looked at that Frequency boulder was talking about in the bass - a tiny roll back there. So this one is basically the same mix as V10 - with those tiny changes. Drums still pop - bass really drives (with drums) and vocals nest pretty well. I'll test at volume on my two reference systems but I'm feeling pretty good ----- only worry is are the drums going to be too loud? too dramatic? -- I don't mind dramatic --- just not too dramatic! Thanks again for all your help and feedback guys.

Lonely Road Master V12

 

Attached files

Master Lonely Road 2021 V12.mp3 (14.9 MB)