My newest song "drops"

Discussion in 'Song Mixes: Tracks for review and critique' started by WILLIAM PITT, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    Hi!
    I have recorded this song, DROPS, on my TASCAM DP-24SD. I utilize no DAW tools whatsoever, so the mixes are live, one-of-a-kind events. The tools I do use are a Martin electro-acoustic guitar, an AKG Solid Tube microphone for the vocals, a Shure SM 81LC microphone for the guitar and the bansuri (Indian flute), A KORG KROME Workstation and a BOSS Dr Rhythm for the beats. I would like to have more dimension, more space, more depth in the mix . Can anybody suggest how to accomplish these desires and, of course, improve the overall sound quality of this very much DIY production? I would love to be able to get this song on the radio, even the local radio.

    Thanks for your all your ideas.

    William
  2. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    OK, so here's the link to my song DROPS (amongst others).
    https://mx3.ch/williamfrederickpate

    I would really like to upload it so that you, my camarades, can hear it and provide me with your ideas as to how to make the "production" better. What's good and what's less good in the mix, for example, etc.

    Thank you for your precious assistance.
  3. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the Forums, William.
    You've done a nice job with DROPS.

    Production comments (after downloading and listening on my reference system):
    • There's very minor distortion throughout the stereo master. You have a very good average to peak ratio, so you could back off the overall mix level when mastering by about -3 dBFS. That will still yield a very good volume level overall.
    • You might consider running your stereo master through the DP-24SD Dynamic Exciter tool. There's a post explaining how to do that in the DP-24/32/SD Production Tips sticky (Post#64), in that sub-forum.
    • It sounds to my ears like your vocal is a bit too forward. You can address by rolling the stereo master off about -2dB at around 300-400 Hz, and adding about +2 dB at 1kHz.
    • You might also want to add a touch of reverb to the overall mix. Try the Plate, set the pre-delay to about 180 ms, adjust the other parameters to taste (you don't need much). More on that too in the stickies.
    Each of the stickies has an index in the first post, so you may spot some other ideas to try out.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  4. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    @Mark Richards , I gave my comments to William in private but in all the talk about the spectrum I neglected to mention that the track it too hot. I wonder if the streaming site is responsible for that?

    Overall, I really like the tune and it's a fantastic effort for a DYI recording, @WILLIAM PITT. Nice singing and playing. Keep writing and recording!
  5. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    Hello Mark

    Thank you for reacting to my call for help, and responding to my questions with such precise and probably very useful suggestions - and with all the solutions remaining within the realm of the DP24.

    I am, at this time, working on a new song but I will give a go at applying what you have suggested on DROPS and, if it works, I’ll post it again as a remix and then repost it on the TASCAM FORUM so you can hear what it may have become. If I’m not able to utilise the technical modifications you have provided to my satisfaction, well, maybe I will be able to put them to use in the above-mentioned song-in-the-making.

    In any case, I think it’s just fabulous to have access to earthly intelligences considerably more advance than I am in the world of these new musical technologies, and I am most grateful.

    Thank you heartily,
    William
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  6. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    Hi William. I've been listening again to DROPS, and I'm curious about the environment you're in when monitoring and mastering (type of speakers; speaker location vis a vis your listening position; acoustic treatment of the room, etc.).

    Would you mind sharing that information?

    Knowing that may help us give you some pointers on how to get more dimension, space and depth into your mix without altering your definitive "sound".
  7. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    Hello Mark,

    By any and all home recording studio standards, mine would be considered as theoretically “impossible”.

    The size of a walk-in closet, my studio is, in fact, a storage space among fifty others in the basement of my apartment building. It is not an enclosed space (three of its sides are made of vertical lattices which I have covered with diverse textiles) and cannot be, as I’m not permitted to make any structural modifications. Without going into any noise details, suffice it to say that:
    Today is a quiet day, no movement in the other storage spaces, no particular movement in the adjacent parking garage, just the ever-present ventilation system - which registers at -48dB with the NOISE SUPPRESSOR DYNAMIC function OFF… Impossible to record the voice without the NOISE SUPPRESSOR. I put the THRESHOLD @ -29dB SUPPRESSION @ 37 dB ATTACK @ 50 ms RELEASE @ 320 ms and that works. Unfortunately I’m quite sure that this effect deforms even ever-so slightly the color and texture of the voice.
    For mixing purposes, I have two KRK Rokit 5 monitors. When I lower my stool they are aimed at my respective ears - not very far away, ’cause nothing can be - far away in my studio. In fact, when I record the guitar I have to be very careful not to bang it on either the keyboard at my left or the set of drawers on my right.
    When there is too much human activity around me, I mix with my Beyer DT 770 Pro phones.

    These are among the reasons for which I do not aspire to “perfection” in my “production” work, and it’s true that I don’t always feel really free to let myself go with the thought of possible passersby haunting me.

    What I wish to accomplish is the realisation of listenable versions (all dressed-up in the costumes of their choosing :) of a certain number of songs that I have chosen from my life’s work, that I can then offer to the world. I am about to add the ninth song to my Swiss song-streaming gallery.

    There you go.

    Thank you for being interested, at least in the song DROPS, and for your very educated suggestions as to how I might improve my technical approach to all this. I will, in time, try to put to use some of your ideas.

    Cheers,
    William
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  8. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the detailed post, William.

    Yup. And some of the best work has been done be people who didn't know it couldn't be done that way. I admire you for not allowing the "impossibility" to stop you.

    This issue can be a real vocal killer. At Fleetwood (which was built in the 60s) the central AC system wasn't sufficiently isolated so it would have to be turned off for critical recording such as vocals. However, sometimes I would forget. This was especially frustrating when listening back to tracks that had been punched in where some of the punches were done after we had turned the AC back on to do a first-pass listen to the tracks, but then forgot to turn it back off for the punches.

    On your mix, I noticed a considerable level of energy in the lower end of the spectrum, right down to 20Hz. I would suggest using a high-pass filter to remove as much of that ventilation system rumble as possible, and then boosting the bottom end on the vocal track in the mix (presuming that the vocal track was sufficiently cleaned up by the high pass in the recording process). Otherwise, cleaning up the bottom end on the overall mix makes the vocals sound too thin which is undesirable. Alternatively, working with stems could make it easy to add air to the mix and not kill the richness of the vocal tracks.

    Are you going to do a remix of that tune?

    Thanks William.
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  9. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    William, under those circumstances, I'm really impressed with your recording of DROPS.

    I agree with mj re using a high pass filter. It shouldn't impact the fullness of your vocal, but if it does, adding a bit of EQ (somewhere between 175 and 250 Hz) if necessary when mixing down to your stereo master will put the fullness back.

    To go back to your original question:
    You may want to be pay attention to those lower mid frequencies where the vocal and the guitar overlap. Careful adjustment of EQ can delineate the two in the mix-down to the stereo master without having a negative impact on either. The frequency chart in this Equipment Tips Sticky post in the DP-24/32/SD forum may help inform you.

    In general, space, dimension, and depth are referred to as "the sound stage".
    • Space (or air) is achieved through judicious application of EQ or an exciter tool (either to individual tracks or the entire stereo mix) in the mix-down to the stereo master.
    • Depth is achieved through judicious use of reverb in combination with faders to bring sounds to the front, or to send them further back, in the mix-down to the stereo master.
    • Dimension (or width/separation) is achieved through panning in combination with judicious use of EQ in the mix-down to the stereo master.
    How to combine these and to what degree are artistic decisions and so, are highly subjective.

    It's best to save these kinds of decision for the stereo mix-down process, when you're able to hear the whole production at the same time.

    Hope this is helpful.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
  10. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    Dear Sirs (mjk & Mark)

    As much as I appreciate your kind and generous efforts to lead me onto the path of advanced technical understanding and its application to my work, the more I try to grasp your terms and their usage, the more a sentiment of frustration builds up in my solar plexus. This is always the sign that I am straying from my true direction and is absolutely no good for my creative expression. I am, as I have already said, a singer songwriter, and my heart is the book from which I draw the “stem” data for what I do.

    Just a small note: the idea to put a “high-pass/low-pass” filter here or there comes up often in such technical dialogues as ours. As much as I may look, I found no such thing in either my TASCAM users’ manual or in the DP24 itself. UPDATE: I just saw that it was something I had to buy, to go along with my INPUTS. I'll think about that :)

    If you have really understood my last communication, then you will understand now that I must simply continue to do my best with what I’ve got. I’m not making music to make money - it’s my humble offering to any and all who might wish to receive it. And as Mr. Bob Dylan once said, “What’s the big deal? They’re only songs.”

    Wishing you all my best,


    William
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  11. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    And... to answer your question mjk, no, I am not going to do a remix of DROPS. I'm just now finishing another song, and I have twelve more to do that are in various states of production, and I really don't know how much time is left for me to accomplish my mission of twenty-one songs (chosen from more than a hundred).
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  12. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    One last question, please:
    Which of the two sound modifiers, a high-pass filter, or the TASCAM NOISE SUPPRESSOR, is going to provide the better result for my vocal recordings? Before I invest in a SHURE high-pass filter and in the time to learn how to use it, it's very important for me to know if it will bring augmented happiness to my work.

    Thank you once again for your patience and generosity.

    Cheers,
    William
  13. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't buy anything William. The DP machine has a parametric EQ that can do what you need. For the time being, just record normally.
  14. WILLIAM PITT

    WILLIAM PITT New Member

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    You're a good man, mjk.
    Bless you.
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  15. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Just doing my duty to my fellow man, William. I'll be in touch (I'm on the road presently).