Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

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MJLeeman
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Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Fri Jan 28, 2022 5:17 am

I have written a song where I am trying to improve my production skills. To date, I have received a loud and clear message from several sources to the effect that the music which I have written, though maybe okay composition-wise, is limited by poor production skills. This was reinforced in a mentoring session which I was involved in today. So the reason for my asking for comments on the music linked below is an attempt to start to get this aspect up to an acceptable standard generally.

The track is the backing music for a power ballad about loss. The backing includes piano, strings and a brief flute solo. Before the top line, which is ready to go, is added, I am seeking opinions on what I can do to get the backing track to an acceptable production/broadcast standard.

The sounds which I have used are a Waves Grand Rhapsody piano, (I tried doubling with other piano samples like LABS Soft Piano, but eventually gave up), strings mostly written in close position, which use sounds from the free BBC Symphonic Library, and a flute solo using a Presonus Studio One preset. I have used some standard signal processing presets in my DAW, such as EQ and compression, and in a couple of sections only, I have doubled the strings with a Vital synth (free preset) strings sound. I am in experimenting phase, and I would appreciate any and all suggestions.

https://www.taxi.com/members/nwRU7pygQr ... ing-track-

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Michael Leeman

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by jefflaplante » Fri Jan 28, 2022 4:28 pm

Get a sustain pedal for your midi-controller. That will definitely help you have a more professional piano sound. Right now, chords are cutting off suddenly in an awkward way. The midi will actually "capture" the sustain pedal actions as well as the chords and melodies you are playing. No amount of reverb can replace an actual sustain pedal. Just my opinion.

Jeff

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by irthlingz » Fri Jan 28, 2022 6:05 pm

Check this out to learn more about sustain on your Grand Rhapsody:
https://www.waves.com/1lib/pdf/plugins/ ... -piano.pdf

Also, I would consider emphasizing the bass a bit more in a power ballad about loss.

===
Michael

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by funsongs » Fri Jan 28, 2022 6:47 pm

Hi, Michael.
From old-guy ears in The Peanut Gallery.
The composition & melodies sounds good; and worthy of better instrument sounds/choices & production... per your seeking.

In addition to the other advice - there are annoying 'buzzing' notes in that piano (particularly an "A" that keeps popping out, like a broken string, in the beginning).
I'm not a piano/VST user - hopefully you can get something cleaner, smoother.

Good luck; looking forward to hearing it, whenever you get there.
Peter Rahill - aka "funsongs"
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https://peterrahill.bandcamp.com/


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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by cosmicdolphin » Tue Feb 01, 2022 1:45 pm

It doesn't sound very nice at all.

I've not got those particular instruments myself, but pretty much every halfway decent piano library I've ever heard sounds rather better than the sound you have here right out of the box without doing anything.

So my question would be what did you do to it , and have you tried taking whatever you did off ? ....like the hippocratic oath...first rule of mixing, do no harm ( to the audio )

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Tue Feb 01, 2022 9:46 pm

jefflaplante wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 4:28 pm
Get a sustain pedal for your midi-controller. That will definitely help you have a more professional piano sound. Right now, chords are cutting off suddenly in an awkward way. The midi will actually "capture" the sustain pedal actions as well as the chords and melodies you are playing. No amount of reverb can replace an actual sustain pedal. Just my opinion.

Jeff
Thanks Jeff, I appreciate the tip. I have contacted a supplier to get a sustain pedal for my midi keyboard.

Cheers
Michael

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Tue Feb 01, 2022 9:53 pm

funsongs wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 6:47 pm
Hi, Michael.
From old-guy ears in The Peanut Gallery.
The composition & melodies sounds good; and worthy of better instrument sounds/choices & production... per your seeking.

In addition to the other advice - there are annoying 'buzzing' notes in that piano (particularly an "A" that keeps popping out, like a broken string, in the beginning).
I'm not a piano/VST user - hopefully you can get something cleaner, smoother.

Good luck; looking forward to hearing it, whenever you get there.
Thanks Peter
That annoying buzzing sound seems to have something to do with the Waves piano preset which I used. So I am going to reset the preset, so to speak, and add my own effects from there, and see whether that solves the problem.

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Michael

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Tue Feb 01, 2022 10:03 pm

cosmicdolphin wrote:
Tue Feb 01, 2022 1:45 pm
It doesn't sound very nice at all.

I've not got those particular instruments myself, but pretty much every halfway decent piano library I've ever heard sounds rather better than the sound you have here right out of the box without doing anything.

So my question would be what did you do to it , and have you tried taking whatever you did off ? ....like the hippocratic oath...first rule of mixing, do no harm ( to the audio )

Mark
Thanks, Mark
Your observation, and that of Funsongs above, has prompted me to start again from the raw Waves sample, stripped of the editing which is already part of the preset sound. I originally added some eq, reverb and compression to the already processed sound, which appears to have diminished the original sound quality. I will also be looking around for a new piano vst.

Thanks for your comments.

Cheers
Michael

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Tue Feb 01, 2022 11:12 pm

irthlingz wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 6:05 pm
Check this out to learn more about sustain on your Grand Rhapsody:
https://www.waves.com/1lib/pdf/plugins/ ... -piano.pdf

Also, I would consider emphasizing the bass a bit more in a power ballad about loss.

===
Michael
Thanks for that suggestion, Michael. I have now made the cello part of the strings a bit more prominent in some sections.

Cheers
Michael Leeman

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Re: Seeking advice regarding the sounds/production in a backing track before adding top line vocal

Post by MJLeeman » Mon Feb 07, 2022 2:42 am

funsongs wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 6:47 pm
Hi, Michael.
From old-guy ears in The Peanut Gallery.
The composition & melodies sounds good; and worthy of better instrument sounds/choices & production... per your seeking.

In addition to the other advice - there are annoying 'buzzing' notes in that piano (particularly an "A" that keeps popping out, like a broken string, in the beginning).
I'm not a piano/VST user - hopefully you can get something cleaner, smoother.

Good luck; looking forward to hearing it, whenever you get there.
Thanks for your observation, old guy in the Peanut Gallery, particularly about the buzzing sound on a particular note. I have done some research on the Waves Grand Rhapsody plugin and I have come to the conclusion that they have sung the praises of the piano from which the samples were taken rather than the quality of the actual samples which they sell as their vst. I found it impossible to improve the sound sufficiently with various mixing plugins after many tries. This might have been due to a lack of skill or experience on my part, but my sense was that I was trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. So I decided to search for and I found new sounds (East West) and revised the original arrangement which I posted at the beginning of this thread. The updated arrangement I think is an improvement but it's not there yet, I believe, and I am having difficulty in reducing the muddiness evident in some sections.

Anyway, here an updated version. All comments would be gratefully received.

https://www.taxi.com/members/nwRU7pygQr ... k-revised-


Cheers
Michael Leeman

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