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Turtle

wip Daylight Moon - A Super Metroid Soundfont Experiment

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Lately I've really been intrigued by SNES sounds. Super Metroid being one of my favorite styles of this category, I find myself using its Soundfont for compositions.

This one, though, is the first that makes exclusive use of Super Metroid instruments, and nothing else.

Any thoughts? Still shaping up, but I'd say it's turning out fairly well so far. Still needs a bassline. I do feel that I have yet to grasp that "true SNES" feel - e.g., William Kage - but I'm not entirely sure what I need to do still to capture it.

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It currently sounds like you picked sounds to pan and went with it. There's always a way to decide how to pan certain instruments.

There's a bass and timpani panned right, but they should be panned center. Leads should be panned center 95% of the time.

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The timpani is actually panned center already. The bass is where it is mostly so it's more audible. Which I suppose speaks to the mixing suffering in other areas if I should be able to hear it in the center... but then, mixing is by far where I need to improve.

On a related note, did you think the high frequencies were a bit too emphasized? I didn't even realize they were until I toned down the higher range on a whim...

Edited by Turtle

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The timpani is actually panned center already. The bass is where it is mostly so it's more audible. Which I suppose speaks to the mixing suffering in other areas if I should be able to hear it in the center... but then, mixing is by far where I need to improve.

On a related note, did you think the high frequencies were a bit too emphasized? I didn't even realize they were until I toned down the higher range on a whim...

The treble isn't too terribly high, but just slightly too high.

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Right now, it sounds like a pad is panned right, when typically, pads are simply wide (stereo enhancer and/or stereo shaper). The strings are panned right, when typically, violins and violas are left and cellos and double basses are right. These are usually 16~30% pan left and 16~40% pan right.

The brass being panned left is kind of awkward, especially because it's hard-panned. It should be closer to 40~60% pan.

I'm not asking you to pan for the sake of making room, but for making a reasonable or realistic stereo image, depending on the instruments used. For example, don't just pan some things left and some things right just to make the song wider, and don't pan every single thing wide with stereo enhancement or stereo shaping because someone asks you to make a mix less narrow.

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Gah, where do you learn this stuff? This is mostly the first I've heard regarding theory on where to pan stuff, other than a few tips on percussion...

In any case, either I don't have "strings" in the conventional sense or I don't have "pads" because whichever they are, both are labeled as "Synth Strings." How should those be panned, then?

The brass actually isn't even as high as 40% left, let alone hard-panned.

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Gah, where do you learn this stuff? This is mostly the first I've heard regarding theory on where to pan stuff, other than a few tips on percussion...

In any case, either I don't have "strings" in the conventional sense or I don't have "pads" because whichever they are, both are labeled as "Synth Strings." How should those be panned, then?

The brass actually isn't even as high as 40% left, let alone hard-panned.

Regarding the brass, it just feels hard-panned to me, even though it visually doesn't look like it on your side. Since the first few seconds had primarily the left speaker playing, that was probably why I felt like it was hard panning.

The pad in the first few seconds panned right is what the synth strings sound like. The strings are what appear to be leading, and they're also panned right. The strings come when the playing marker reaches the left side of the "d" in "Aaaand again. Still working...".

Some of this I learned by looking up an orchestral diagram when I started to learn how to use an orchestral library, and the rest was intuition after producing music for this length of time.

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Out of curiosity, for what length of time have you been producing music? I've been at it in one form or another (albeit only the most basic of General MIDI early on) for at least four years and should probably know more than I do. >_>

What is actually meant to be the lead is the piano/pan flute you hear coming in during the next iteration... which may be too late, looking at the tracking bar, but then I do have a habit of introducing leads later rather than sooner. The thing about the brass does make sense, but I'm wondering if unpanning it alongside changing up the first pad might be overdoing it in the other direction.

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Out of curiosity, for what length of time have you been producing music? I've been at it in one form or another (albeit only the most basic of General MIDI early on) for at least four years and should probably know more than I do. >_>

What is actually meant to be the lead is the piano/pan flute you hear coming in during the next iteration... which may be too late, looking at the tracking bar, but then I do have a habit of introducing leads later rather than sooner. The thing about the brass does make sense, but I'm wondering if unpanning it alongside changing up the first pad might be overdoing it in the other direction.

A little over two years, but I'm just a fast, super dedicated learner, and people can learn at completely different speeds, of course.

Unpanning the brass could be a good idea if it was supposed to be leading, but a brass section type of sound generally is panned so that the higher frequency brass is left and the lower frequency brass is right (trumpets and trombones go left, french horns go right, tuba goes somewhat center but slightly right). In a sense it should be wide in the traditional situation, but with what you have, where it is right now is fine. What you could do to help that is to have something else on the right speaker to balance things out, since it feels awkward to play on only one speaker for too long.

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At this point I think I might just be too afraid to spring for better quality samples that may be easier to mix. I mean, here I am using SNES soundfonts for pity's sake. That said, I want to train myself more. It's tricky, is all.

More panning stuff re:suggestions, volume levels changed. Little less widened, maybe too much so the other way again...

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It's fine if you're using a soundfont like that. You just gotta polish your production skills, and that can justify your usage of free low quality material.

I'd say the stereo image issues are solved now. At this point, it's down to meticulous attention to detail to polish up the song, so here are my thoughts. I recorded what played onscreen and so I have timestamps, too:

The main issue right now is the muddiness of the low mids and bass frequencies and the secondary issue is the dryness of the instruments.

Something that would benefit this would be to reflect the ADSR envelope you would expect or want from what you have. For example, what I had called the pad seems like it would work well in the role of a pad sound, so you could, since you're using a soundfont player in FL, just take the time to adjust that.

Something else you could do is EQ a little more carefully. This is especially an issue at 0:24. For the most part I can hear instruments rather well, but the bass is the main offender. Since you have FL Studio, you can actually see the frequencies, unlike non-FL users. Use that to your advantage and dip down on the frequencies that you feel are too obtrusive. Think about what you're hearing, what's bothering you, and as you create a notching filter, sweep through the frequency spectrum until you hear the problem fixed, and track down the precise range.

One of the easiest things you can do to enhance free samples is the usage of reverb. There's an idea where you use reverb to reflect the "atmosphere" of a real sample when recorded on a professional mic (also called the "air"), and that could be the primary reverb representing the airiness of an actual room. Depending on the role of the instrument, that might be all you need.

If the instrument is meant to be backup, think about how far away you want it. The farther away, the longer the reverb decay should be. For example, a typical decay for a snare is 0.4~1.0 seconds (depending on the style of music), a typical decay for a church is ~3 seconds, and for a cathedral it is ~8 seconds (yep, 8!).

The longer the decay, the more muddy the mix can get, which can be remedied with how high the Low Cut is. The most common practice is to cut out low end ambience from the reverb as much as you can, and use only as low of a Low Cut as you feel you need to achieve the right sound. If the instrument doesn't ever reach as low a frequency as the low cut currently is, raise it up. For example, if the lowest frequency achieved is 400Hz, it doesn't make sense to have a Low Cut at 20Hz. Bump it up to 320~360Hz or so.

The rest of the reverb idea focuses on tonality, accomplished with Damping techniques. There's three main ideas I've drawn from it: low end ambience, midrange early reflections, and high end hiss. The low end ambience is a good way to mud up the mix if it's used on an already low end instrument, but it's primarily applicable to extremely large spaces like churches and cathedrals. The early reflections are the result of too much midrange ambience, which may or may not be a knob in your reverb. The high end hiss is not a huge issue most of the time, but it can create or ruin a "perfect" reverb. Too much and it sounds washy. Too little, and it sounds low quality. If you can't hear it, it's because you have too much treble on your other instruments, or your reverb isn't doing the trick. The High Damping knob is what does this.

Edited by timaeus222

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When you say that the bass is the main offender, do you mean that you can't hear it, or it's too overpowering? From context and from my own struggles with it, I'd guess the former.

I don't actually have ASDR envelope controls on my soundfont player (sfz)... or did you not necessarily mean the controls on the player itself?

And oh my I can hear that low/mid muddiness now, looking back. Amazing what stepping away for just a few hours can sometimes do if you've been "in the midst" for too long.

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When you say that the bass is the main offender, do you mean that you can't hear it, or it's too overpowering? From context and from my own struggles with it, I'd guess the former.

I don't actually have ASDR envelope controls on my soundfont player (sfz)... or did you not necessarily mean the controls on the player itself?

And oh my I can hear that low/mid muddiness now, looking back. Amazing what stepping away for just a few hours can sometimes do if you've been "in the midst" for too long.

Wait, you have Fruity Soundfont Player and you didn't know? :P Yeah, you can just drag soundfonts into FL from the browser as they are. :D

I mean that this bass is the instrument that muds up the frequencies the most. I also edited that post I made earlier about the reverb.

Edited by timaeus222

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I have the demo version of Fruity Soundfont Player, which actually led me to find sfz in the first place. Unless I'm really missing something, it's gonna go the way of all demo software in this DAW as soon as I close the project.

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I have the demo version of Fruity Soundfont Player, which actually led me to find sfz in the first place. Unless I'm really missing something, it's gonna go the way of all demo software in this DAW as soon as I close the project.

In that case, you could automate the volume multiplier knob and clone some automation clips (MISC tab in the plugin wrapper). It has the smoothest automation curve of all the volume options, from what I've tested. The mixer sliders, knobs, and the volume knobs in the Pattern window have somewhat of a "1/x" slope rather than a "-x" slope.

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If you can hear every instrument clearly note-for-note, or at least the harmonies, then it's not too much. There's just a little bit too much low end ambience on the really low end strings. Try raising the Low Cut on it just for that instrument.

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Hm, that might just be a doubled octave where the bottom pitch is too low, rather than the reverb. Or I'm just not hearing the difference when I raise the low cut.

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