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Kingdom Hearts - Dearly Beloved Trance Remix


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Hi again!

A few years ago, I submitted an older version of this track to the judges, which didn't got accepted. However, they asked for a resubmission and I never actually did.

Here's the judges' review from back then:


Source material:


First judged version:


After this remix got rejected, two years passed. In the meantime I did some minor edits and tweaks to the remix and thanks to some great feedback from Timaeus222 I've polished it up to what it is now.

See my latest post for the last revision.


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The levels and production are a mess. Let's see what's up. It's an essay btw.

---Good Things---

- The kick is pretty standard, and it's good enough as it is with this level of clarity.

- Flute and piano are a great combination in the breakdowns.

- The plucky sound at 0:44 is great, but it's not clear enough. Bring it out.

- The bongos match the atmosphere in spots where they're used.

- Strings are sufficient quality for the way in which they were sequenced.

- You have some good low end CRASHHHHHes. They do need some EQ work, but those are fun when used right.

- Snare isn't hard to fix. Easiest thing to fix in this song.

---Work On These---

Production Issues or Suggestions

0:01 - The cymbal is pretty low quality. See if you can find one with more treble, and do a mild notch filter at 623Hz to soften the transient just a little. The delay is also too much in that it's standard narrow delay, rather than stereo ping pong delay. It's very obvious at 0:56.

I'm assuming that arp in the beginning is source. If so, by lowering the volume of the bass instrument, you could potentially have room for a little stereo ping pong delay on it. Don't put too much feedback on it.

0:15 - the low-ish supersaw arp is bland and static. Try playing around with some envelopes on the filter, and maybe a little waveshaping and distortion while you're at it. Try applying an idea similar to how https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAGBUEvQkBg was processed.

0:17 - The bass is a simple envelope-on-a-filter plucky saw bass. See if you can find or synthesize a better bass. Maybe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXrsvC25GH8. Something more dynamic. (*1)

0:27 - The white noise sweep is generic, but almost passable. It could stand for some high passing of the bass and lower mid frequencies, and it needs more treble. There's too much delay on it, just like the cymbal. Route everything to its own mixer track; that's entirely possible.

0:56 has a really rough transition with that same cymbal from the first two seconds. See if you can think of something better. (*2)

At 0:56, you could also change the supersaw arp to a new instrument, preferably something more tame, like a plucky low passed saw wave or something. If you reduce the reverb here, you can add in a rich pad if you have one. I would consider rich pads to sound similar to these in quality (not tonal aspects, but tonal feel. Chorus-y for sound coloration, full, but tame):

http://zirconstudios.bandcamp.com/track/the-end at 0:00 and 3:21

http://zirconstudios.bandcamp.com/track/augment at 2:02

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szc7HiS5rqQ at 0:00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fnvArZlHtQ at 0:34

You can also change the lead arp in this section (1:04). Maybe bells or something more ethereal. The piano delay is also narrow, and the sample is low quality. It needs a brighter tone.

1:23 is another weak transition. The energy is lost there. (*3) The reverse cymbal at 1:25 is too slow or too soft. The end of it doesn't match the volume of the cymbal at 1:27.

1:27 is a great section that needs more TLC. There also needs to be better stereo separation here to make this more 3D. (*4) Try panning that nature noise to the back center, pan the strings to the back and make them wider, reduce the reverb on the piano, and pan the bongos front and make them wider (but not as wide as the strings). 1:30 has a strange note. It sounds like a bass, but it could actually be the piano. I think the piano has too much low end, particularly 60Hz-ish.

1:55 gets muddy beyond the scope of what can be done with EQ alone. Try automating the low end of the strings up with a high-pass-type band token to make room for the bass, then remember to automate it back down after the section is over or the bass leaves to ensure the strings retain the low end when there's no bass. Do still watch the clashing EQ.

The white noise panning at 2:24 is a bit obnoxious. It's not delay... right? If it is, that's way too much. It should be fading out much faster than that, more inverted logarithmic than linear.

2:34 - You gotta shorten that buildup. (*5) Listen more objectively. If you still want that section to be a buildup, try just making them distinct sections with subtle progression, rather than explicitly building up with obnoxiously loud kick and snare mayhem (you know, like pop music :D).

3:20~4:05 is kind of aimless. The CRASHHHHHHH at 3:20 has an extremely messy low end. You need to be extremely confident in your headphones/speakers if you're going to do that. You seem to have ideas beyond your abilities so far. :) As far as I'm concerned, you could just scrap that section and proceed straight to 4:05 from 3:20, and adjust the song at 2:53~3:20 to build up. (*3) 3:48 is unbelievably messy and cheesy.

5:55 is dat ambient section. Get going with the rich pads and better flute articulations! =D

Sequencing/Articulation Issues or Suggestions

0:29 - The song hasn't really developed much at this point. It would be more interesting if you added a new lead here that played more of a variation on the current supersaw arpeggio. Maybe you don't realize it, but 56 seconds is a long time in music land. Try reminding yourself that 15~30 seconds is a long enough time without any variation whatsoever.

To be honest, I approve of 2:34~3:20 as an entirely separate, non-buildup section. The flute at 2:53 is a nice addition. It just needs to be more expressive and less plucky (it sounds plucky to me). Increase the attack a little, or get some more blowing noise into it. White noise just sounds fake though, so don't try that. Try finding real articulations, like blowing intensity and vibrato.

4:05 is very packed and the clarity is not really there. Tone down the reverb and separate your sounds some more here. It gets pretty directionless too. Try taking out some sections and making your lead writing here, specifically, more progressive and less... "bland and boring" (said Liontamer, who, while very blunt and direct, is entirely correct). Try crossing over to another genre, or slowly building down (take off instruments little by little without fades). 4:05~5:00 is the same as 5:00~5:55, except 5:00 is more interesting than 4:05. Considering 4:05~5:00 as section A and 5:00~5:55 as section B, try taking the first half of section A and the second half of section B and keeping those. Then make their combination more cohesive by fixing the arrangement and instrument choice accordingly.

----Specific Advice or Notes---

(*1) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXrsvC25GH8

is like a modified 3o3 arp with some automation on the resonance. It couldn't hurt to change up the bass sometimes too, like bLiNd did at 0:38. That's a somewhat simple detuned saw bass, but it has a really smooth filter that works well on low notes.

(*2) - From what you have there and judging by your skill level, I would suggest any of these as bleeded transitions (ones that involve a sound that occurs right at the start of the section that is connected to a previous section):

- Any type of very simple white/pink noise filter sweep from highs to lows

- A smooth cymbal with a softer transient combined with a relatively quiet sub bass drop (quieter than the cymbal).

- A resonant FM-like filter sweep with a medium volume (quieter than the sweep) smooth cymbal with a soft transient

(*3) - You need leadin transitions too. Some possible ones:

- Phaser effect

- Regular white noise filter sweep

- Slow pitch bend (like on sine waves)

- Resonant white noise filter sweeps... in this case it''s suggested to be syncopated, and it's very resonant, so be careful.

- Snare rolls

- Reverses (drones, atonal stuff, cymbals, kicks, etc.)

(*4) - You need stereo separation for things to be clearer with how you're writing. You can try experimenting with these:

- Pan to the back (creative delay, like with FL Studio's Stereo Enhancer)

- Pan to the left or right

- Pan widely (creative delay, like with FL Studio's Stereo Shaper)

- Automated pan

- Combine any of these. For example, pan to the back AND left or pan to the back AND right for two backup instruments.

(*5) - One and a half minutes spent on building hype is much too long. Limit yourself to maybe 20~40 seconds as a rule of thumb. I've seen a few comments people had about buildups being too long on other songs (some have exaggerated 2~4 minutes), so keep that in mind.


tl;dr: You are definitely close to getting this above the bar. I agree, you are about halfway there.

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Thank you Timmaeus22! Now that's some constructive criticism. :)

I have to agree with almost all of your comments, especially with the mastering. My DAW i used to work on crapped on me, so now I'm working on a laptop with headphones. :/ Not ideal, but it works. I'll plug my laptop on my amp and start working from there.

To be honest, I never ever got any project to sound clear and dynamic, since my mastering skills suck. Perhaps I should really work on those.

Funny you're saying I should add snare rolls, as I was trying to avoid them. I find them cheesy and overused mostly. However, one or two could add more energy to the track, especially with the buildups.

About the lead arpeggio, it's too much huh? That's probably also because of the cluttered sounding tracks, and it could be toned down a little. (less reverb and filter it a bit)

I'm really happy with your review, since it really points me to the things that bothered me from the beginning, but I never could put my finger on it.

I'll take your advice and see if I can fit it into a new version. :)

p.s. You seem to know an awful lot by pointing me to examples by Zircon and bLiNd. These guys are great and push FL Studio to the max.

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  • 2 years later...

No, I did not abandon this project. It took a whole lot of TLC (and a complete new DAW setup) but I've edited and mostly rebalanced the whole. I hope it's a much cleaner experience now. I have to admit, my mastering skills suck, but I tried my hardest at getting this thing cleaned up. At least the volume levels are in check and it doesn't clip anymore.

I guess this is pretty much it. If this track gets enough positive feedback, I'll send it in for review. (wow, took me almost 5 years)

Almost forgot:

Thanks in advance!

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Wow, haha, I was pretty picky back then. So I'm probably going to have completely different comments now, but let's see.

With the 2013 version:

I don't really mind the white noise sweep at 0:27 anymore. There is no weird note at 1:30. The buildup at 2:34 is fine, length-wise (what you did during that length of time is another story). And my 2013 comments were more harsh than I intended. :P However, I do still think that: 

  • The cymbal has quite a bit of delay, and the "feedback" (or the extent of echo, in other words) can be decreased on it to clean up the stereo space.
  • The stuttered saw lead at 0:56 doesn't seem to fit the atmospheric vibe you're going with here.
  • The transition at 1:23 can use a bit more work, but isn't "weak"; it just stops the flow of the track for a bit. Something like an ascending piano arpeggio could help, for example.
  • The transition at 2:24 felt a bit long before tonal elements came in. I don't think the white noise sweep is "a bit obnoxious" anymore, but yeah, I think you should bring tonal elements in more quickly.
  • 3:20 ~ 4:06 is not THAT aimless, but the transition at 3:48 - 4:06 was super cheesy (like, pop cheesy). If you're going to do that, I would at least vary the velocities on the kick more to keep it from getting too machine-gun-like.
  • It would be interesting to try scrapping 4:32 - 5:27 to see how it sounds.

Hm... sort of similar. But anyways, that's just me updating my old thoughts, and that only applies to the 2013 version. :lol: Now, with your updated, 2015 version, here are my thoughts:

Nice, the production is much less cluttered. Oddly enough, your stuttered, phasered saw wave (from 0:16) was clearer two years ago, and now it's pretty buried (until about 0:55). The amount of delay on the cymbal I mentioned before is just fine now though! I'm still hesitant to say that 1:23 isn't stopping the flow of the track for a bit; like I mentioned right above, some sort of tonal arpeggio leading in can help keep the pacing going (though it's not a big deal anymore).

The dynamics are much better here, honestly. The buildup starting at 1:55 isn't overdoing it, although 2:25 is pretty underwhelming after the impact at 2:22. Maybe a more nuanced cymbal-like sound can help. Basically, something that signals an increase in the forward drive. Anything else you can think of to raise the energy of that transition can help.

The outtro being slightly drier than two years ago actually also helped make it more intimate by exposing the flute and piano a bit more.

Great job so far! This is a huge improvement over the 2013 version. The master track is much less squashed, the soundscape is less muddy, and is cleaner overall. The arrangement is also well-paced now. To be honest, this is going to turn some heads. I still think it can be improved further, though, and it's almost there! At this point, the major stuff I would be concerned about are the transition at 2:22 - 2:25 and just working on the overall clarity of the production a bit more.

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Thanks Timmaeus22! You have no idea how much your comments picks me up. I recently bought a pair of studio monitors and wow, does that help identifying clutter in your mix!

I'll see if I can do something about those transitions (as you probably guessed, transitioning isn't what I'm good at) and maybe a bit more polishing around the edges. I think 2016 might be the year this sucker gets submitted to the judges.


I've upped a new version for you to review. I've tried to clean it up as much as possible, added a sub kick at the 2:22 drop to give it that extra kick. Found out that a few synths were linked to the wrong FX channels which made the mix extremely muddy. Had a hard time getting the dynamics right while adding compression to the whole, but hey... That's the learning process.

Hope this is what you were looking for Timmaeus22. And to all other people listening to this: please comment! I really need ALL and ANY feedback. Thank you.


Edited by NeoS
Added new (mastered) version of remix
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Hm, a few more issues arose since last time, some small, some that probably won't be too hard to fix. There's a strange hiss at 1:28 - 2:22 coming from one instrument (a supersaw? It's hard to tell because soundcloud encodes at 128 kbps); it can be low-passed to clean up the upper treble, because I'm finding it to distract me a bit from the piano. Also, the flute at 4:18 - 4:43 is somehow louder and more compressed than the previous version; you could just lower the volume, but varying the velocity magnitudes some more can also help.

At this point I think it would help to get a Mod Review (and perhaps post your 2009 version, to see if the Judges' comments still apply?).

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23 hours ago, timaeus222 said:

Hm, a few more issues arose since last time, some small, some that probably won't be too hard to fix. There's a strange hiss at 1:28 - 2:22 coming from one instrument (a supersaw? It's hard to tell because soundcloud encodes at 128 kbps); it can be low-passed to clean up the upper treble, because I'm finding it to distract me a bit from the piano. Also, the flute at 4:18 - 4:43 is somehow louder and more compressed than the previous version; you could just lower the volume, but varying the velocity magnitudes some more can also help.

At this point I think it would help to get a Mod Review (and perhaps post your 2009 version, to see if the Judges' comments still apply?).

As usual, you're right. The 'strange hiss' is the saw pad I'm using to sidechain with the kick. I somehow messed up my automation on that and it's totally out of control. However, adding a slow lowpass fadeout and cutting the 18Khz range off with an EQ makes it less evil on the ears until we're near the 2:00 ~ 2:22 mark when the drop hits. I'm replacing the last upload I made with this newer version, so no comparison this time. :P

Oh and I'm not sure if I still have that '09 version. It's basically the same as the '13 version anyway.

Edited by NeoS
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Okay, so it looks like the Judges' main criticisms had to do with the need for (1) more creativity in the interpretation on the arrangement (most important), (2) the lack of overall punch on the production (second most important), and probably (3) the arrangement's pacing.

Now, this is just how I'm interpreting what's going on, so if someone else thinks differently, feel free to chime in. And @NeoS, I think PMing a mod can help you get that Mod Review.

  1. What that could entail is altering the rhythm or "contour" on the melody (possibly hinted at by Liontamer), or perhaps altering the chords underneath the melody (like anosou and Palpable explicitly suggested). This can still use more, since the piano in your track is pretty much verbatim when comparing to the piano in the original track (especially because it's a piano; listen closely to the original). If you want to keep using the piano, but still make it sound different, try changing the notes a little.
  2. That had something to do with the amount of reverb you had (that Palpable mentioned), which seems to be better now (though still a little high). No one called the kick drum a problem, though, so that's good.
  3. This is improved, since you shortened the track by about 1:40.

Other relevant improvements since 2013 that I hear:

  • The piano is less distant, so it feels a little less muffled (as anosou had mentioned), though it can be just a tad more upfront. You could accomplish that by lowering the "wet mix" a little (if it displays in dB, try decreasing it by around 2~5 dB). You might also see it called a "Dry/Wet" ratio. If so, maybe 10~20% less on the "wet".
  • Your mixing is clearer overall, if not less distant enough. Some might say that there's some clutter in the treble, but I can't tell while it's on soundcloud if it's really the case (again, because of the low encode streaming, which distorts the treble from its true fidelity), so I would expect it to be only a minor issue if it were to be the only issue for the entire track as a whole. It's better than being lower fidelity, IMO.

Personally, I don't think there's much you could do with the melody itself other than changing some chords or adding countermelodies. You already had an original melody that you incorporated, but maybe a little more of an original undertone can help.

Some things that can help:

  1. You could work more on the notes on the background strings at 1:54 - 2:22 and have them change more often to support the lead writing. For example, at 1:54 - 2:02, a C is held out, but in the original, the chords change within half that time. I get that you may have wanted to stretch out the chords over the entire 28 seconds so that the notes don't change too fast, but I've constructed an example set of notes that you could take a look at.

    Since they would clash with the bass you already have, if you temporarily disable your strings AND bass, and layer this on top, I think it might help you get some ideas (or maybe you want to use these notes, I dunno). Strings, Bass
  2. You could alter the melodic "contour" and/or rhythm at 2:25 - 3:20 (since Liontamer called it "bland and boring") to make it more interesting. For example, the F-D-D triplet you used a few times helped (like at 2:31 - 2:32), but it may be too subtle to really call substantial.

    Maybe you could chop up the rhythm even more or add filler notes at the "changing" points, like at 2:38 - 2:39 (since afterwards you add another drum layer; sounds like a ride or a tambourine), 2:52 - 2:53 (since you already meant to go up an octave on the melody to differentiate the second half) and 3:05 - 3:06 (since it's similar to 2:38 - 2:39).
  3. Sidechaining the kick with the bass to help make the bass "duck" whenever the kick plays, if you haven't done that already (sometimes it's hard to tell).
  4. Whenever I mix other people's tracks, I keep seeing that they have more layers than I originally anticipated, some of which weren't necessary. So, consider muting certain melodic or harmonic patterns to see if they contribute to the soundscape at all. If you can't hear a substantial difference within the context of the track as a whole, you might as well not have those notes there (because you can't hear them).
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Thanks again Timaeus222 for your excellent feedback. Here's some things I could do:

  • I'm going to delve deeper into my "blurriness" to see if I can make it even crispier.
  • I could also try to change the piano part to a synth ore something, I don't know how that turns out, so I'll experiment.
  • The strings at 1:54 and up might need some TLC, especially timing-wise.
  • The lead arpeggio might be a little boring, I agree. I'll experiment a bit with variations to see how that pans out.
  • I'm trying to get a better grip at mastering my track with FL Studio's Maximus. So far, I'm only getting more clipping instead of less :p.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks @timaeus222 (hurhurhur I didn't know we could do that in the new forums.)


Alright, cool.  Huge improvements over the original version of this without a doubt. Lots of clarity in this, not as much mud at all. I like the interpretation of the source. and the breakdown at 1:39. Very chill. The snare coming in at 2:00 sounds like it needs some EQ adjusting (it has too much low end to my ear). The swell at 2:20 ish gets a bit noisy, in that there's just so much going on that it feels like it's slapping me all in the face. That could be fixed easily with just some level adjusting, but be careful you don't overcompress that section (I feel like I heard some pumping in there that wasn't supposed to come out). 

I'm sorry I don't have anything dramatic for you, but, hey, Mod Review is supposed to be when it's good enough for judges. Overall, I gotta say I really like the take on the source and what you did with it. It's a nice driving arrangement. Dance music is absolutely not my forte, but I enjoyed this. I think it's leaps and bounds better than your original crack at it just by virtue of mixing. The mixing was the real problem in the first one, and now that you've clearly improved your ears it might be a good time to give this a second pass with the judges.


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Thanks! I'll do a quick mop-up on the suggestions made by @timaeus222 earlier, since I think I know what to fix. I'll leave the piano, since it's been the backbone of the remix from version 1 till now and I have no idea on what should be replacing it. 

Again, thanks again guys, for your feedback. Much appreciated.

Edit: Submitted.

Edited by NeoS
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