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Oswlek

Endless Sky - Mix update (removed, now forthcoming)

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Oswlek    83

Hi everyone, been a while.  This song has always been one of my favorites, but I've known for some time that I didn't nail the mix (regrettably, not before uploading this terrible version to Youtube.)

 

I'm confident I've finally got the thing moving in the right direction, but have some lingering questions I was hoping to get some feedback on.

 

  • There was way too much reverb on the earlier percussion, so I blended in some dry samples to bring it more into the room.  Have I sufficiently done so?
  • The bass had to come way up, is it on target now?  Any missing notes?
  • Did I thin out the opening acoustic too much?
  • Both vocals were way too up front and have been pushed back with reverb/eq.  Do they sit right in the mix now?

 

Any other feedback is welcome. :)

 

Some of you may recognize Janice Ho's lovely vocals, which carry the song.  I can't thank her enough.

 

EDIT:  A mix update [has been removed].

 

A starlit veranda

A table for two

It's easy to pretend

I'm still here with you

 

Now it's long days

And empty chairs

But I don't care

 

I sit each night

Beneath an endless sky

Watching memories replay

I stay every night

Beneath this endless sky

Till the stars.... fade away

 

I remember falling

And you pulling, pulling me to the grass

We got lost in the heavens

As eternity passed

 

Now the stars don't change

The way we did

So I sit....

 

Sit each night

Beneath an endless sky

Watching memories replay

I stay every night

Beneath this endless sky

Till the stars.... fade..... away

Edited by Oswlek
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Ricky Layne    33

Oswelek,

 

Sounds great to me. Bass seems right and the percussion is good too. (I didn't hear it before)

 

I think the vocals are just a touch loud still. Not very much at all and it could just be a preference thing but I would like to hear the instruments just a touch more surrounding the vocals. 

 

Really good though. I wouldn't change anything except vocal volume.

 

Beautiful singing too!

Ricky

 

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Rob Ash    477

 

For my part, I have to say that the vocal levels is truly a matter of taste. I think they are perfect as are.

 

When listening to a tune for the very first time, you get an impression of professionalism, or radio readiness... after just a few seconds. If this had been presented to me in any other venue besides a song critique forum, I would have instantly accepted it as a professionally engineered master. Voice rules, bottom line. And the music is still perfectly present in this piece, in any case.

 

The harmony is delicious. You and Janice sound brilliant. This is a slow song that proves that slow music can be totally captivating and mesmerizing.

 

You should be very, very proud of this.

 

 

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Simon Darveau    133

Wow ... Great duo and great song. I love the way your vocal sound ! What mic did you use to record this ? I've always been a fan of your music and this is my new fav of yours. I have a feeling I have listened to it in the car a few weeks ago ?

 

The mix is pretty good imo. Vocals sit right where they should. My small nit is with the low end. The bass drum and bass are fighting for the same frequencies ... and the bass wins ... as it always almost does when that happens. The snare is also very thin. I'm pretty sure you have the knowledge to fix these small problems. Let me know if I can be of any help anyway.

 

Great song ... thanks for sharing.

 

Cheers

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Oswlek    83

@Ricky Layne - Thanks, Ricky!  I wondered if the vocals were a touch loud, but it seems to be line with a few reference tracks and Rob and Simon approve, so I guess it stays for now. :)

 

@RobAsh15 - Wow, Rob.  You are much too kind.  I don't post for kudos, but it still feels nice to get them. B)

 

@Simon Darveau - Thanks Simon, coming from you that is a great compliment.  The bass dominance is actually based on a few Weepies tracks I referenced where the the kick was clearly in second place.  I'll try an offsetting EQ trick and/or a mild side chain to see if I can have both.  

 

Is the thin snare just a matter of EQ?  If so, what frequencies are usually best to boost/notch?  Or should I tweak the samples so that the attack is more present?  

 

Thanks again, guys.  Glad to hear it is mostly there after a couple years of struggle. :)

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JH Michaels    70

For myself, the mix seems quite well done......vocals are lovely and it seems you two are a perfect match harmonizing.  As a matter of taste, I would prefer the percussion and bass just a tad higher in the mix, but you know....this song is really, really good as is.  The lyrics and melody paint a very vivid picture of the feelings you are putting forward.  Nice work!

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Rob Ash    477
6 hours ago, Oswlek said:

Wow, Rob.  You are much too kind.  I don't post for kudos, but it still feels nice to get them. B)

 

Bro. This is me.

 

Do you think I would have been shy if I had had nits to pick???

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Simon Darveau    133

About the snare, there are three frequencies you can try to boost to enhance the sound:

A boost around 5K will give it more definition, a boost around 10K will give it more snap and boosting somewhere between 120hz and 240hz should fatten the sound.

Fixing the attack and release on the compressor can help too. In some cases, adding a very very subtle amount of delay on the snare can also give some good results. 

 

For the clashing bass and base drum, you could try boosting the bd between 50 and 100hz and the bass around 200hz making sure you cut the bass and BD at the same frequencies ... 

 

Hope this isn't too confusing and hope it can help ... it's fun trying anyway right ?

 

Cheers

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Mahesh    478

I like it! Beautiful song and very tasty harmonies. :)

 

In terms of the mix, I like how the vocals are upfront. I'd prefer it to stay that way. As mentioned by Simon, the snare sounds thin and to my preference, it maybe even be pushed up a notch(given that the right tone on it is achieved). The other thing that did catch my ear was the acoustic guitar layer that comes in towards the bridge(?) at 3:20 and carries on till the end. The sound of that guitar just doesn't sit well with me. Quite thin and tinny. Maybe it's just me.

 

Regardless, great job on the song.

Cheers,

Mahesh

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ImKeN    258

Beautiful vocals and arrangement, @Oswlek. I like where the main vocals are but I thought your backing vocal panned left(0:40, 2:12 etc) could have been pushed back further. May I ask what song you used as a mix reference, if any? Just would like to know for my own studies on mixing :)

 

All the best with it,

 

Ken

 

 

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M57    247

Hey, Justin - Most are focusing on the performance(s), mix and stuff, which btw I think is great. I have no major nits. Honestly, I was too interested in the music to care, and  that's meant as a complement.  So anyway, I'll take a stab at the composition..

 

To be sure, you are a very talented composer and you have a lot of tricks up your sleeve. I identify with you personally in many ways. You have a distinctive writing style that blends a number of harmonic devices.  Some things are stunning and wonderful. For instance, I love it when you have those direct modulations to major 7th chords with long suspensions in harmony.  On the other hand, I find that sometimes things ramble (like I should be one to talk, huh?) but for the most part, even that doesn't bother me - it's more when the rambling includes chords that I identify with different idioms/styles.  The closest 'in the box' description I have for it might be "prog folk."  And to be honest about my feeling about the whole 'prog' approach - I feel It can easily come across as inconsistent.  It's the rare prog composition that maintains integrity all the way through for me.  Those 'stunning and wonderful' moments are sometimes quickly followed by ..well, less than stunning moments where I find myself asking, why did he all of a sudden use a diminished chord with a beatles/barbershop voicing? ..or something like that.  As composers, I think we view those decisions as calculated risks.  There's no question - you know you're going to lose a certain percentage of your audience when you do certain things.  We write with both our hearts and our guts.

 

Anyway, there's a certain degree to which I end up expecting to hear you take your music in the directions you do, and I think that can go toward building a certain 'comfort level' with your audience, which in turn promotes a 'following.'  ..so I'm back to where I started.  You're distinctive writing style..   Great to see you back on the boards! -Mark

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HoboSage    1,915

I get why you'd want Janice to sing on one of your tunes - she's terrific.   But, for me, having a female vocal come in out of nowhere to sing harmonies to the male lead in this tune doesn't "fit" with the lyric of the song.  As structured lyrically, this song is one person's very personal expression.  Maybe if you sang a verse and Janice sang a verse so that the song expressed the separate point of view of two people it would work as a "duet," or maybe if Janice's harmony was just one harmony in a mix of backing vocals, her vocal contribution would work well as a  backing vocal.  But, that's not how this is structured, and the solo male verses followed by choruses with one male lead + one female harmony lead is a vocal arrangement that doesn't make any sense to me given the lyric. 

 

Just my perspective.

 

P.S.  I also think the tempo could be a wee bit quicker.

 

 

Edited by HoboSage

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bakerusc    8

Wow, just WOW!!! I love this song! Everything about the song and the production is top notch! As soon as I heard the initial picking at the beginning and then that key change when you start singing, my heart soared! Unreal, you have serious talent!

 

I'd love to know some of your production secrets, but mainly how you mic'd the guitars. They sound so clear with fantastic tone!

 

Sorry for not having anything to critique, it's just too good. Your style and voice both remind me of one of my favorite artists "Bleu".

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outss    11

the guitar chord progression is unique.. wasn't what i was expecting i.e the first chord when you start singing. Weird transition from the intro.. Not bad though! Turn down the vocals a bit when the female voice is singing too. I like the reverb used on the guitar.. in the intro it sounded nice and clean, could hear the strings being plucked very nice. I am not a fan of the percussion that much, I am not sure if its too lost in the mix.. Turn vocals down though this might be the problem. Keep it up! Good songwriting :)

Outss.

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Richard Tracey    252

Hi Justin - this is absolutely lovely and the two vocals go so well together. It had a kind of 60's feel to it and the Beetles in particular. I can't really find anything to nit on this one.

 

well done.

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Oswlek    83

Sorry for the delay in responding, I didn't want to bump the thread until I had a new mix to offer.  Pretty much all feedback has been implemented, I removed the low pass filter and added a low velocity stick snare sample to thicken that up, I did some EQ to the bass/kick to give each their own space (and raised the bass quite a bit in some lost low notes), I lowered the vocals some (both lead and backing) which in turn forced me to lower the lead at the end.

 

Is this mix finally done? :)

 

Rob is right - redacted for now

 

@JH Michaels - Thanks for the kind words, both issues you raised have hopefully been addressed.

 

@RobAsh15 - :)  Hopefully I didn't kill what you liked about the earlier version.

 

@Simon Darveau - Lots adjusted per your advice, Simon.  I'd love to see if you think this mix is more on track.

 

@Mahesh - Thanks for the kind words and detailed feedback, Mahesh. The lead at the end was initially electric, but I didn't like it, so I recorded it again on acoustic.  The switch didn't hit the spot, so I finally blended the two and I liked that much better.  I wasn't able to change the tone there, but hopefully the volume change rubs off the tinniness you don't like.

 

@ImKeN - Thanks Ken, I don't have the files handy now, but I'll pass along youtube links later.  FWIW, I heeded your advice about the backing vox levels which were definitely too loud prior to the first chorus.  

 

@M57 - Thanks, Mark.  I always look forward to your detailed thoughts.  I must confess to being mildly disappointed because I thought that, of all my songs, this was the one that traversed some unexpected paths while still sounding cohesive and simple.  As much as I completely understand the gist of your comment, I struggle to tell where you thought my chord choice stood out poorly.  I presume that it is either the verse opener or the first chord of the PC, since those are the two maj7s.  Would you mind elaborating some?

 

Thanks. :)

 

@HoboSage - Thanks for your feedback, Dave.  I'll let you in on a secret:  Janice's vocals weren't me selfishly accepting an act of generosity on her part, it was desperation.  For much the same reasons you pointed out, my initial idea for this song was to be a 1+1 with very little layering, but my melody alone couldn't make the chorus pop.  Changing it to a higher range was totally out of character.  Janice really liked the song, so she offered to send me some harmonies to see if it would give the chorus the sparkle it lacked, and it was a total home run.  Trust me when I tell that the piece leans a LOT more on her contributions than the final appears to indicate.

 

Also, I've been listening to a lot of songs from "Live From Darryl's House" and they trade vocals between Hall and whoever the feature artist is, usually with no lyric or song reason for doing so.  I've yet to hear one that I thought detracted from the piece overall, even in more intimate numbers like this.  

 

Long story short (too late!), I no longer share the concern about Janice entering a chorus about a lonely guy, but even if I did her vocals add far too much to consider changing anything now.  

 

Hopefully that makes sense. :)

 

@bakerusc - Thanks!  I love that opening key change as well, it gives me chills every time and it was the moment I knew the I was onto something.  I'll add more later that details my unimpressive studio techniques. :)

 

@outss - Thanks, the perc is clearer now and the vocals have come down.  Thanks for the feedback.

 

@Richard Tracey - Much appreciated, Richard.  I still have to send you those drum samples, don't I?  

Edited by Oswlek
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Richard Tracey    252
3 minutes ago, Oswlek said:

Much appreciated, Richard.  I still have to send you those drum samples, don't I?  

 

It's okay Justin, I've started using Battery 4 which I got ages ago with Native Instruments Komplete. It has some nice drum sounds.

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Rob Ash    477

Justin,

 

It is hard for me to decide if the second version is better or worse. The vocals sound compressed now. They sound "the same" as the music bed. Not in a good way, I think. The vocals "ring" in the first version... the clarity of tone in your singing and in Janice's wonderful work shines like diamonds. It is so clear it feels "cool" in color. The vocal compliments, but stands apart from the bed in the first version, Justin. In my humble opinion, that is what makes the first version magical.

 

I have been studying sound a lot lately, from a layman's point of view. I hope you will accept the notion that, despite my layman's perspective, my studies have been purposeful and intense. Among other ideas I find I believe in is this: good mixing, through the decades, has often been a matter of... well, perhaps not outright chance, but of serendipity, to be sure. The end result was often special NOT because of the decisions the engineer/producer made intentionally, but because of one's he or she made that they gave little or no conscious thought to at all.

 

Something you did, or left unchanged, on that first mix made it stand out and sparkle. Whatever it was that you did is missing from the second version.

 

Others may argue for the second version... saying it has a certain homogeneous quality. It does. The second version has an all over sameness... a "blended" sound that at first blush may speak to it's being a "better" mix over all... but not for me.

 

When I listened to the first version, even multiple times, there was magic. There is no magic in the second version, for me.

 

Lastly, of all the comments on other aspects of the song besides the mix, the one that struck me the most was David's remark concerning the presence of a harmony in a song that seems to be the expression of the thoughts and feelings of a single man. On the level of the absolute, I am forced to agree with Dave. However, I find that I do not care a whit.

 

One of the things I did today was go back and just listen to the first version... I find that I am able to parse the song fully. The harmony does not interfere with the message. And my mind is able to create a number of scenarios that would account for the presence of a female voice in the thoughts of the man singing lead. Is it, after all, not just so in real life, my friend? I readily admit that the thoughts and feelings of my wife (representing, in this instance, a female counterpart in my world) are ever present in my own thinking.

 

My sincere apologies if this is not what you wanted to hear. Irregardless of which version you go with, the song is special.

 

 

Edited by RobAsh15
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Oswlek    83

Thanks for your candor, Rob.  I had a similar impression, that I had "fixed" all the problems while paradoxically diminishing the experience of the song, but wasn't sure if that was just because I was so used to the earlier version.  

 

There are a couple ideas I'll keep about the new version (the bass/kick separation and bringing in a bit more attack on the snare) but I'll push reset and try to implement them without polishing any magic away. :)

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ImKeN    258

Hey @Oswlek, I think it's all coming together nicely. And just for the record, I don't find it strange/weird that a female vocalist is closely harmonizing with you, but that's maybe because I don't focus much on lyrical content? But I also hold the view point that vocals are instruments too, so I don't see any reason to take it out.

 

Good luck with it, man. I'm sure it'll turn out really great!

 

Ken

 

 

Edited by ImKeN

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Simon Darveau    133

Hi,

Not quite sure if the version that's available now is the final want you wanted me listen to or if you are still working on the mix. 

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crystalsuzy    83

Hi Justin, I absolutely love this song...beautiful vocals, lovely guitar, and really sweet lyrics [smiley=heartpump.gif] I've listen to the youtube version, and the one on here, and I love them both. I don't know if your final mix is available, because it says "ERROR...a mix update had been removed" :unsure:

I think this is a stellar bit of song writing, and I think the female vocals fit perfectly in the chorus, because it seems to me, he's remembering when she was there, and the haunting female vocals, add to that memory...IMHO anyway ;)

This is a song that I will listen to often. Thanks for sharing [smiley=hippy.gif]

Edited by crystalsuzy

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