Gushousekai195

3. completed SoulCalibur IV - Tempered Soul - Synthwave

8 posts in this topic

Production:

A little bit of midrange mud at some points, and a lot of the synths sound a bit bland. Perhaps a touch too much reverb (and it sounds like you used pretty much the same reverb settings on every element). The orchestra hits sound kind of weak; I'd use a bit less reverb on them, and probably use them less in the mix in general.

These are all fairly minor complaints; the mix is definitely listenable and enjoyable, and you really nailed that 80's feel.

 

Arrangement:

I dig it. Kind of mellow and cool, and definitely captures that 80's vibe. Vocal samples are used a bit too much imo; I think less is more here. But there's some odd dissonance at some points that I'm not sure if it was intentional or not. The intro seems dark and brooding, and then you go straight into a much mellower and more cheerful-sounding section, and it feels a bit disconcerting. It gets dissonant again at 2:48, and I can't tell whether or not its on purpose. After the breakdown, things come back in at 3:04 with a really different feel, suddenly much more cheerful than the earlier part of the track, and again its a bit jarring; it feels almost like a different track. However, the transition back to a more minor tonality at 3:51 feels a bit more natural.

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On 10/26/2017 at 3:07 AM, Geoffrey Taucer said:

Production:

A little bit of midrange mud at some points, and a lot of the synths sound a bit bland. Perhaps a touch too much reverb (and it sounds like you used pretty much the same reverb settings on every element). The orchestra hits sound kind of weak; I'd use a bit less reverb on them, and probably use them less in the mix in general.

These are all fairly minor complaints; the mix is definitely listenable and enjoyable, and you really nailed that 80's feel.

 

Arrangement:

I dig it. Kind of mellow and cool, and definitely captures that 80's vibe. Vocal samples are used a bit too much imo; I think less is more here. But there's some odd dissonance at some points that I'm not sure if it was intentional or not. The intro seems dark and brooding, and then you go straight into a much mellower and more cheerful-sounding section, and it feels a bit disconcerting. It gets dissonant again at 2:48, and I can't tell whether or not its on purpose. After the breakdown, things come back in at 3:04 with a really different feel, suddenly much more cheerful than the earlier part of the track, and again its a bit jarring; it feels almost like a different track. However, the transition back to a more minor tonality at 3:51 feels a bit more natural.

I tried very hard to make my mix sound clean and not so muddy, but it appears I have not succeeded.  Any tips for me?  I'd be grateful.

For some reason, I think instruments sound more epic when there is reverb on them.  I suppose there is another way that doesn't use reverb?

I thought I would make things more interesting by doing variations on the theme (i.e.: changing tonality).  The original tune is very short and just repeating the same stuff over and over gets old fast.

 

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PRODUCTION

I agree about the reverb. It's not that having reverb is a bad thing, but you seem to have gone a bit overboard with the amount you actually have. I would suggest lowering the wet mix maybe 10% and slightly lowering the decay time (by around 0.2-0.5 seconds) so that the soundscape as a whole doesn't sound so washed out. I do recognize that this sounds like synthwave as it is, though, so I think you've accomplished what you wanted.

STRUCTURE/ARRANGEMENT

I don't listen to much synthwave, so just personally, I felt this was pretty long. The section at 1:47 - 2:48 sounded pretty similar to what you had at 0:30 - 1:47, so it may be worth considering simply cutting out 1:47 - 2:48 and focusing on what's left. Also, the tonality shift at 2:48 for me was fairly jarring, as I thought it could have come earlier in the arrangement.  

I did like the shift at 3:04, but I do agree that given the dissonant section that came before, the major-key tonality could have been foreshadowed more effectively. 

At 4:05 - 5:07, it's another similar rehash of 0:30 - 1:47 with a few changed notes, so it doesn't really sound new. It could use some more significant note variation to distinguish this from what was at 0:30 - 1:47. This part at 4:05 - 5:07 could be further justified if you did cut out 1:47 - 2:48.

SUMMARY

Overall, my main concerns are that (i) the major sections (0:30 - 1:47, 1:47 - 2:48, 4:05 - 5:07) are too similar, (ii) the transitions could be more clear (most importantly, 2:48 and 3:04), and (iii) the reverb could have slightly less decay time and wet mix so that the mix sounds more upfront despite the synthwave aesthetic.

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20 hours ago, Gushousekai195 said:

I tried very hard to make my mix sound clean and not so muddy, but it appears I have not succeeded.  Any tips for me?  I'd be grateful.

For some reason, I think instruments sound more epic when there is reverb on them.  I suppose there is another way that doesn't use reverb?

I thought I would make things more interesting by doing variations on the theme (i.e.: changing tonality).  The original tune is very short and just repeating the same stuff over and over gets old fast.

 

It's not that you SHOULDN'T use reverb; it's that you should maybe go a little lighter on it, and not use the same reverb settings on every instrument. Reverb is usually best when it's subtle (though admittedly there are many exceptions to this, especially when deliberately going for an 80's vibe).

Variations in tonality can definitely work to vary things up; again, this issue isn't THAT you changed the tonality, it's that the changes sometimes feel a bit awkward in execution.

As for cleaning up the mud, just decreasing reverb will probably do part of the job, but not all of it, and the rest could probably be done with EQ and possibly compression dynamics. I confess I have zero experience with production in this style, and there are probably other people who could give you more specific advice with regards to EQ and compression than I could.

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I'm going to have to disagree with Taucer. You DO want the same reverb on everything unless the reverb is an effect. That being said, I do agree that the reverb seems a bit too huge.

You want everything to sound as if it exists in the same room. So, create a track with just the reverb on it, find a medium-size room with a moderate decay and use it as a send track and not an insert. This way, you will get 100% dry signal on all of your tracks and the amount of reverb you get is determined by how much volume the send is set to per track.

The exception is the snare and toms; in the 80s, what they did is they sent these drums into an absolutely MASSIVE reverb setting and then after the reverb, they put a noise gate with fairly-harsh settings. The idea being that after the drum hits, you get this huge reverb hit which is almost immediately cut off. It gives you arguably the defining sound of 80s music production:

 

Next up is that the low end really has no punch in your track. I'd find a kick with more low-end to it and maybe backoff the cutoff on the bass synth a tad.

As for the midrange mud, it sounds like you have a lot of overlapping notes. Like, I think I hear this big synth pad, but then other stuff plays over top of it. Whenever two sounds play at the same pitch (frequency), they will sound like one new thing (the idea behind orchestral doublings), but if they aren't continuously so, then you get mud because as the one line plays through a bunch of others (such as a sustained chord), it bounces back and forth between being a unison and a divisi and so it is difficult to discern them as individual parts at all.

This is something you can only fix with the arrangement — no amount of EQ or other "mixing" tools will fix it.

 

 

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I suppose I should clarify ehat I mean by using the same reverb on everything:

Each individual sound should have it's own space, it's own feel, it's own "distance," if that makes sense. While you're doing your general arrangement, you're choosing sounds for each part. Choosing each synth, getting your settings dialed in, etc. Picking the right reverb is part of this process, and it's individual to each instrument. This reverb might be really in your face and noticable, or it might be subtle, or anything in between, depending on what fits.

Now, after all this is finished, it's common to also use a more subtle reverb on the whole thing, which means it's the same on each instrument. However, this master reverb should generally be subtle, and not change the feel of anything too much other than to make it sound like it all belongs together in the same room.

 

Hopefully that all makes sense

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Yep. In short, I would suggest a reverb layer for the basic reflections that the instrument would physically cause in a mostly "dry" room (like if you were to record with a room mic, i.e. the upfront signal), and a reverb layer for the characteristic tones you want to come out of the "actual" constructed room that the instruments are all "in" (like if you record with a stage mic and a bit of hall mic, i.e. based on the impulse of the surroundings---the ambience signal). The former layer just sets up the "dry" stereo space you want, while the latter layer provides the proper decay time and the smoothness of the diffusion.

[We really don't mean simply tacking on a reverb on the master track and calling it a day. Nope, don't do that.]

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