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Messages - Argle

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Congrats to the winner and runners up. Thanx much for the contest.  Let's have another one, ok?

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I did however feel that the arrangement was hugely lacking. No multi tracked guitars, nothing to build the sense of epicness that I sensed the guys wanting. And that lead part in the chorus robbed the song of the opportunity for a really strong hook. Plus some of the ideas clashed. The clean rhythm part in the chorus distracted from the bass, it would've been better just to layer some chords in and leave the bass it's own rhythmic space.

I agree completely.  If I was mixing the bands track for real, I would have urged them to go back and record more parts and get a better arrangement.

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Yea thanks for the contest.  Enjoyed throwing together a mix.

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http://www.box.net/shared/95votqk69f

This is another mix with a lot going for it. There's generally a very good sense of balance, and the mix tone is also pretty well-judged, albeit with an overall tilt towards the low end -- the high end feels roughly 3-4dB down by comparison, I'd say.

I like the stringiness of the bass guitar tone, which keeps the instrument well up front in the verses, and makes sure it doesn't get lost in the thicker chorus/mid-section textures. The bass is also pretty well balanced throughout too. Perhaps I might not ride it up as much you have in the second half of the first mid-section, but it certainly draws the ear that way. The guitars are well controlled and not over-harsh when you hit the mid-sections, which is good, but I do hanker for a bit more 'poke' at around 900Hz for many of then, particularly the main chorus riff. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far with the vibrato-style effect on the main verse guitar, not because I don't like the widening effect in principle, but just because it makes the tuning appear to droop for me.

The drums are all nicely balanced, I think, and there's enough overheads in there to give it a bit of excitement and splash. The kick's particularly good, coming through well in stripped-back and full-on sections alike, although I wouldn't mind a little more mid-range cut-through for the small speakers when things really get going. The snare is the part I'd be most inclined to adjust, because it seems like you're adding something like distortion around 4-5kHz which makes it quite abrasive, especially during the verses. I'm not against distortion for snare processing in rock mixes (it's quite a common recourse of mine, in fact), but I'd personally suggest EQ'ing the resultant spectrum to tuck this area into the balance a bit more. That being said, this sound does have a great ability to cut through the texture in the choruses, and mid-sections because of its thick sustain, so try not to remove that ingredient of the recipe at the same time. Maybe automating the level of those frequencies for different sections might have some merit?

The vocals maintain a respectable level in the mix most of the time, but I wonder whether they could just come forward wholesale throughout the mix -- maybe up a decibel, with a couple of decibels less reverb. At the moment they seem a bit too blended into the mix, which means they're being sucked back into the texture more than I'd hope. Your tuning work helps a great deal with the chorus blend, but I'd probably still get the editing tools out and try to deal with the consonant flams there too if you can, because intelligibility is getting a bit blurred, and I'd like to be clearer about the words if possible. Again, a little more overall level may help here, although I imagine that some careful automation may be required as well.

I like how you've contrasted the LVs and BVs here, and the tone of the BVs stays well out of the way too, which is great. The jury's still out on whether the extra harmonies are in keeping with the track as a whole -- I kind of like them myself, but they do seem to add a hint of euphoria that doesn't appear to sit that well with the lyric. The little vocal fly-ins in the outro are nicely restrained -- great little production touch, that, without being too flashy.

You've already made some attempts to support the long-term dynamics, but I reckon you could probably go significantly further with this, particularly in terms of being a little more sparing with the verse effects, so that you have more subjective room for manoeuvre when you want to increase the scale of things later. The final chorus entry does seem to take quite a big step down in energy too, as has been an issue with many of the mixes we've heard so far.

Mono compatibility is good on this mix overall, although at the expense of some stereo width in the guitars which is a little bit of a shame, especially because the greater width of the overheads and toms then feels a little strange by comparison.

All in all, this is a great effort -- a nice combination of solid balancing with tastefully creative sound-design and editing. Good job!

Thanks.  :)  This was a strange song for me to mix, I felt it needed additional things but I didn't want to add them cuz I felt that was more a role for a producer than a mix engineer.  Wasn't familiar with your column before this (don't read SoS), but I enjoy very much doing what you're doing, rescuing mixes.  Thanks for putting in all the work, I bet you'll never want to hear this song again after the contest.  ;D

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