Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

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NMN
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Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by NMN » Wed Jun 16, 2021 5:36 pm

Hi there, thanks for viewing! Please have a listen to this Indie/Alternative Rock track and tell me what you think:

Beauty (Remastered)

I am working on remastering some of the songs from my last full album and need any feedback that you can provide. I wasn't happy with the overall energy, loudness, and clarity of the original mix and master that I made. I have since gained some more experience and purchased better equipment and software, and so I am hoping that the new Master recordings of these songs are an improvement. The original version of the track is here:

Beauty (Original)

Thanks for your feedback!

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by AlanHall » Thu Jun 17, 2021 9:19 am

Hi NMN,
Take my feedback as from a novice, especially in this style.

From a non-critical listening on a laptop, I certainly hear a difference between the two mixes. Whether one is better than the other might be a matter of taste (as I said, not an expert in this style). And BTW I'm guessing you have more than a passing familiarity with the work of Adrian Belew ;)

Overall, I'm intrigued by what I heard. Nice work! Right now I can't address mixing or mastering issues, because of the reason stated above. I'll definitely listen again at home, though! A couple things that stuck out at me was the slow attack/fast decay on the string samples, and the 'swooping' pad sound. Made the track sound a bit chill-hop to me. Maybe that's the direction you were going? I was wanting the string part to be emphasized at some point - maybe by :20, certainly by :40 sec - to "justify" the articulation used. Otherwise, it leaves me wondering why; and that kind of takes away from all the other intricate stuff going on.

Alan

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by Peterg » Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:54 am

Hi NMN,
I really like the track, interesting rhythms, sounds and melody. I actually prefer the original version, it seems to have more depth and the instruments all have their place. The remastered one sounds a bit over compressed to me, but it would probably sound good on the radio.
Anyway, mastering is not my strong point, but the music sounds great, I just think the original one is more organic somehow

Cheers

Peter

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by NMN » Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:57 pm

AlanHall wrote:
Thu Jun 17, 2021 9:19 am
Hi NMN,
Take my feedback as from a novice, especially in this style.

From a non-critical listening on a laptop, I certainly hear a difference between the two mixes. Whether one is better than the other might be a matter of taste (as I said, not an expert in this style). And BTW I'm guessing you have more than a passing familiarity with the work of Adrian Belew ;)

Overall, I'm intrigued by what I heard. Nice work! Right now I can't address mixing or mastering issues, because of the reason stated above. I'll definitely listen again at home, though! A couple things that stuck out at me was the slow attack/fast decay on the string samples, and the 'swooping' pad sound. Made the track sound a bit chill-hop to me. Maybe that's the direction you were going? I was wanting the string part to be emphasized at some point - maybe by :20, certainly by :40 sec - to "justify" the articulation used. Otherwise, it leaves me wondering why; and that kind of takes away from all the other intricate stuff going on.

Alan
Hi Alan, no, I don't think so - I didn't recognize the name Adrian Belew but I found a recent (within five years) concert of his on Youtube. I realized that his music was definitely a good portion of the background music playing during my youth though. Effortless, expressive, prog guitar like that is still a work in progress for me but I definitely enjoy listening to it! Thanks for the listening suggestion.

Thank you for your comments and for listening to the track. I looked at the string samples and noticed that there's no track level compression on them. It's really a stock synth patch and I don't see that I made any tweaks to it at all. It's supposed to have kind of "backwards-tape" string sound. I had to think back a year or so about what my logic was behind the way I composed the strings. I think that I was actually listening to some chill-hop at the time that I was writing this song and so I think that's where it came from. I have other songs with full strings but this was meant more as a sound effect or supplement rather than being about real strings. I think that there's a gap in the string track because the hi-hats come in at that point, and then there's another synth that's layered in that same channel, followed by two more string synth notes that are supposed to blend with and act as an extension of the other texture synth.

I'll say this - I really enjoy finding music that I can't quite wrap my mind around with everything that's going on during the first listen, and not even being sure whether I like it or not. (Thom Yorke comes to mind) Then I listen to it a few times in the car and then I can't stop listening to it. So if that's the impression that you are getting with this track then I am happy about that. Using that same line of thought, the string usage I think is unique but never sounded out of place to my ears. I can play with the Attack/Decay knobs a bit and add some reverb if it you think it would help with the blending.

So far I am liking the clarity and energy of the mids and top end of the re-master, but I can't quite get the impact and definition that I want from the bass and kick. I made some tweaks and I'll write another post when I upload a new version of the re-master. I also realized that I had some plugins in the wrong order on my master channel so I think that will improve things. Thanks again!
Last edited by NMN on Sat Jun 19, 2021 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by NMN » Sat Jun 19, 2021 11:18 pm

Peterg wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:54 am
Hi NMN,
I really like the track, interesting rhythms, sounds and melody. I actually prefer the original version, it seems to have more depth and the instruments all have their place. The remastered one sounds a bit over compressed to me, but it would probably sound good on the radio.
Anyway, mastering is not my strong point, but the music sounds great, I just think the original one is more organic somehow

Cheers

Peter
Thanks for taking the time to listen to the track Peter, and I appreciate the feedback. I've purchased a more modern limiter that limits based on True Peak value rather than digital peak and so I am able to crank up the loudness a bit with it without having to worry about clipping. I'll re-check the gain reduction to see if I'm going much over -4db. I keep having to tweak the bass and kick so this might be causing some of the over compressed sound. It still isn't as pushed to the max as some of the reference tracks that I'm comparing this to. It's amazing to me, when I study the waveforms of commercial tracks, how many of them have True-Peak clipping and are pushed to the max. So I definitely want to avoid that, yet have it be comparably loud and clear at the same time. Thanks again!

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by OwenGrech » Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:10 pm

Nice track!

I also think that the remaster has been slightly over compressed for this style of music but if you tame the limiting a little bit you will bring back some of the air that was in the original. Having said that, I think it is still an improvement and once you bring that air back it will sound great!

PS. Just curious, is the piano sound a little distorted on purpose? I thought it was because of the limiting (cause I heard the remastered version first) but then I realized it was also present in the original. I would have preferred that to be clean and then maybe put some distorted airy synth in the spaces for effect (if you wanted that kind of distorted quality). If it was an artistic choice however ignore my suggestion as we all have different tastes after all :)

I had to strike the paragraph above - my apologies as thanks to this post I discovered that there is something wrong with my headphone output on my interface - I was listening to this track early morning on my headphones and noticed the distortion. After breakfast, I turned on my studio monitors and started working on a track. After a while I went to check my mix on headphones and lo and behold my piano suddenly sounded distorted too!! There is nothing wrong with your piano but something suddenly wrong with my audio interface :)

Having said all of that I think that the most important thing is that the songwriting and vocals are good, and a pleasure to listen too:)

take care
owen
Slowly but surely ;)

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by Zaychi » Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:16 pm

I'm sorry, but I also feel the old version is more cohesive and to the point than the new one.

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by Zaychi » Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:18 pm

OwenGrech wrote:
Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:10 pm


I had to strike the paragraph above - my apologies as thanks to this post I discovered that there is something wrong with my headphone output on my interface - I was listening to this track early morning on my headphones and noticed the distortion. After breakfast, I turned on my studio monitors and started working on a track. After a while I went to check my mix on headphones and lo and behold my piano suddenly sounded distorted too!! There is nothing wrong with your piano but something suddenly wrong with my audio interface :)
I had this problem before as well, it had to do with Bluetooth... not seriously listening without a cable anymore.

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by OwenGrech » Wed Jun 23, 2021 10:23 pm

Zaychi wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 3:18 pm
OwenGrech wrote:
Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:10 pm


I had to strike the paragraph above - my apologies as thanks to this post I discovered that there is something wrong with my headphone output on my interface - I was listening to this track early morning on my headphones and noticed the distortion. After breakfast, I turned on my studio monitors and started working on a track. After a while I went to check my mix on headphones and lo and behold my piano suddenly sounded distorted too!! There is nothing wrong with your piano but something suddenly wrong with my audio interface :)
I had this problem before as well, it had to do with Bluetooth... not seriously listening without a cable anymore.
I'm not on bluetooth so it must be something else! Still haven't figured it out though - maybe it's time to retire my eleven rack :(
Slowly but surely ;)

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Re: Mix/Master Critique Requested: Beauty

Post by NMN » Sun Jun 27, 2021 7:57 pm

Thank you very much for the responses! I appreciate you all taking the time to listen to these two mixes. I THINK that I have found the source of the over-compressed sound. Thanks Peterg, Zachyi and Owengrech for pointing that out. I am trying out a mid-side mastering technique and I don't fully know what I'm doing yet. However, I was able to lower the compression significantly before everything gets to the Limiter, and now it sounds to me like it has much more width and clarity to it.

I just listened to the original mix of Beauty on a radio broadcast and it just doesn't quite match the loudness and energy of the songs around it and so I am frustrated by that. Hence the re-master.

Please have a listen to the new version here:

Beauty (Remaster)

Link to the original:
Beauty (Original)

Thanks again!

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