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OCR03420 - *YES* Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia 'Somniatis' *RESUB*

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Link (version 1) - not panned as widely, attempting to address Larry's concerns

Link (version 2) - tweaked version with wide panning initially meant as the RESUB; this is actually Tim's preferred version for resubmission

Previous Decision

Here's a mixdown which should address your panning concerns. It's far too dense for my taste, but perhaps it'll suit your needs.

 

 

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The artist provided 2 alternate mixdowns based on Larry's feedback - I have linked them both above. For my money, the 2nd "alt" mix sounds more full, but either one is a pass. I would personally leave it to the artist's discretion which mixdown they would like to use.

I can't get enough DS Castlevania action. Love these games so much. This mix is very solidly conceived, I'm digging the juxtaposition between the gothic-style bells and strings that have become a trademark of Castlevania soundtracks, and the grungy, distorted garage rock instrumentation. It's an unconventional blend on paper, but actually feels quite natural the way you executed it. The string sequencing was a highlight, it's actually pretty tricky to sequence orchestral lead instruments in with live instrumentation and still maintain the illusion of realism, but I think you struck a nice balance here. Nice work.

(I liked this before and I like it still. Just going to copy/paste my vote from last time because it all still applies.)

YES

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Perhaps it's just my opinion because I judge on headphones rather than monitors, but to me the panning is simply too wide, particularly the electric guitar & strings on the right side) and it makes the whole listen imbalanced. I didn't have any issue with the bass levels at all, and I thought the arrangement was a solid, smoove rock arrangement. Some of the string samples felt exposed (e.g. 1:56-2:03), but moments like that were brief, and I really dug the instrumentation overall. Some might poo on the finish being abrupt, but it wasn't a big deal, IMO. Tweak the panning so it's more stereo, and I'm cool with this and would just change the vote. Awesome piece and strong instrumentation choices, Tim.

I also liked this before, and like it still, so I'm also doing a copy/paste of my vote from last time because it all still applies. But the revision didn't meaningfully address the wide panning, which is Tim's choice. That said, he did include a more centered version to potentially address my issues and have an alternate version in case; however, I thought the soundscape was cluttered with that version, so it's not where it would need to be for that version either. It's tough, and I'm not trying to antagonize Tim; he thinks the wide panning works, and I'd argue strongly that on headphones, it doesn't work at all and is a legitimate dealbreaker despite the arrangement itself being all sorts of awesome.

NO (refine/resubmit)

EDIT (6/2): I'm taking many more listens to version 1 (the one without the ultra-wide panning), and I'm not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good. I thought the levels were a touch too low and that created a feeling that the various parts didn't stand out enough from one another. Raising the volume in WinAmp from 25% to 35% allowed me to parse more of the detail work, and that's what made me switch my decision. I would have liked more volume and clarity, but the arrangement is too strong. And though it sounds like some highs got completely cut, the lack of clarity isn't a dealbreaker vs. the strength of the rest of the arrangement. Small thing, but one aspect that stands out nicely in version 1 (because the panning isn't wide) is the accent writing of the guitar from 2:10-2:24. This version is definitely enough of an improvement where I'm not going to hold this back.

YES (borderline)

Edited by Liontamer
changed vote to YES

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Listening to both versions I can definitely say that Version 1 is the clear superior.  I think it solves many of the problems found in the first one.  Panning is much more sensible, and the track isn't overcompressed and has more room to breathe.  However this version still suffers from some issues.  The bottom end feels crowded and the overall mix lacks clarity, feels muddy.  The guitar chugs panned to the right have some kind of distortion that makes it sound more like white noise than actual overdrive.

The arrangement is definitely the better aspect of this song.  The interpretation is full of personality yet it retains the feel of a castlevania song.  It never gets lost, it has no filler and it no section overstays its welcome nor feels like it doesn't belong.  There is dynamic between the different melodies, there's plenty of detail and even though there original has been transformed by Tim's reinterpretation, it feels very natural.

The production is flawed, and I would like to see Tim give this another try (on the one labeled Version 1).  It's very close and I was about to give this a borderline pass, but after comparing it to other similar remixes of this genre on the site, it's a notch behind.  I'd like a resubmit, it's very close in my opinion.

NO (Resubmit)

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Also listening on headphones, I agree that Version 1 is much better. My main problem with the panning in Version 2 is that all the leads are always to the far right (guitar and violin), and the backing which is much more mid-heavy focused on the left side. I think this makes things feel very unbalanced very quickly between both sides.

Although I agree that Version 1 has some mixing issues (especially with the low-mids being particularly crowded) I feel like the arrangement very much makes up for that. The writing is excellent, the guitar playing is spot on, the flourishes are all awesome, the sequencing is great. The structure is very nice, the direction is clear and works definitely well for the source, which is still very recognizable even with all the personalizing touches.

Bottom line, I agree that the panning in Version 2 is deal-breaking, but Version 1 is enough of an improvement to make this very acceptable to me, along with the awesome arrangement.

YES

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This sounds very well arranged - the source is clear, and the direction is well defined. Really, I love this arrangement. The production is not too bad, but I understand where you're coming from on the instruments being too "dense" in the non-panned version. The panning that you have on the initial version does technically solve that, but it brings the issue of extreme and intolerable panning, which I agree is a dealbreaker.

The non-panned version is very close to passing, if it isn't just over the bar already (I don't think the lower end crowding is a dealbreaker in and of itself, due to the excellence of the arrangement and performance), but seeing that you prefer the freedom of space that the panned version provides, I would love to hear a revision that incorporated the panning more. However, the issue with your pan'd version isn't necessarily the panning itself, but both the degree of panning and the choice of instruments that you decide to pan - panning the leads is almost universally a bad idea, as it will create an imbalance overall. Lead instruments ideally use a different range than the accompaniment in order to stand out, so when they're hard panned they become distracting.

If you center the lead instruments and pan your accompaniment in a way that balances both sides instead that should give you the best of both worlds - a greater deal of control of your soundscape, and a more balanced feel with the panning. Also, panning less hard on the instruments will give you some room for error, if you need it (at the cost of cluttering the sound a little bit), so it's also possible that the best mix is somewhere in between the two versions you presented here, as far as panning goes.

I'm going to give this a NO/RESUB - utilize some panning to give you the space you need to clean up the mixing, but don't pan the leads. Moderate panning using instruments that roughly share the same range (like the accompaniment) should give the space you need without throwing the balance out of wack. When this track is balanced properly it'll be amazing - I look forward to it.

EDIT: Upon re-listening to it, I don't think the issues I presented for the non-panned version are enough to give this a NO, so I'm going to pass that version. It doesn't change my opinion that a combination of the two versions would be the ideal, but I believe version 1 is good enough for a front page post.

YES (version 1)

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I'm listening to version 1 and baffling at my comments from last time. Did Tim fix the strings and drums as well, or just the panning? Either I had an off day back in December or Tim fixed a lot. Every issue I had was addressed here - it sounds great. I didn't even think the crowding was enough of an issue to reject it. Unfortunately, I must agree that the panning in Version 2 is too drastic. If the leads were centered, and everything brought in a little, I think it could work (and potentially sound better). Anyway--

YES (on version 1)

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Oh man, this is a tough call.  I've listened to both versions now, and the wide-panned version #2 sounds SO MUCH BETTER to my ears... except for the LEADS being on the right, and the whole mix is overcompressed.  Version #1 does indeed have crowding issues caused by everything being center panned, and on this version I'd need to ask for a ton of mixing fixes.  In version #2 however, everything is so nice and wide, making version #1 sound like the mix was recorded in mono by comparison.  

If I could ask for perfection here, I'd ask for version #3 to sound exactly like the wide-panned version #2, with the following changes:

1. Center leads, but give them a bit of stereo separation so they sound full.  Not so much separation that it sounds super-panned, but full while still being center-panned (being careful to check the entire mix in mono for phase cancellation).

2. Keep every other instrument nice and wide, no panning changes from version #2.  Keep drums where they are, too.

3. Bring up the volume of the kick, I can barely hear that.

4. Lower the overall compression.  The current version #2 is clearly overcompressed, as the rhythm chugs, strings, and especially the snare sound distorted to smithereens.  Just lower that final limiter.

I'm going to be picky on this one, since the artist seems willing to make changes for the better.  With the above changes, this track will go in my favorites folder.

NO (borderline, please fix up and resubmit)

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Been a while since I heard this. My thoughts:

  • Mastering is tons better than before.
  • Guitar lead panning is weird to me, it should be dead centre for something like this, especially when the centre of the stereo field isn't busy. This for me is the single biggest issue.
  • Guitar tones are a mixed bag
    • Rhythm guitar tone is a bit fizzy and lacking some character.
    • Lead guitar tone is nice.
  • Choice of sounds is good, no major problems and the mix of instruments compliment each other.
  • After listening to this again, I'm less a fan of the arrangement here than I was previously. The first and second halves felt quite similar to me and could've been more varied, but not a major problem.
  • Levels seem quite good, the parts feel more audible than I recall from the previous version.
    • Drums begin to become lost occasionally during the busy sections,
    • There is also residual bass rumble in the harder sections which verges on muddy at times. 

This is a close one. I don't deny there are niggling bits that need changing, like some further low end clean up, centring the leads. This has travelled a long way from the original iteration - would it benefit from more refinement? I'm not sure, it's already come a long way. I have no problems if this passes, but if it does, version 1 is my pick.

NO (borderline)

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Production-wise, I don't hate v2. It's kinda awkward on the panning and probably sounds a lot better on speakers than headphones, but it's not like there's some sort of piercing sound that's throwing the entire thing off balance. I do agree that leads should almost always be centered, though. That might help the entire thing feel a lot better in any case. It's compressed to heck but I don't think it detracts from the song's listenability, so that's a pass for me as well.

 

YES (borderline)

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 V1

Yeah, I can see the hang-ups people are having on this track.  The mix does feel like it's lacking a certain degree of clarity (especially when the orchestra joins in).  Still, the elements are each still reasonably clear to the listener. The arrangement sounds solid.  Drums feel slightly forward in the mix to me and could be a bit stronger.  Volume boost would help and it feels a touch quiet.  I'm a YES for this one.

V2

This version both fixes some issues and introduces more.  The volume has been pushed up at the expense of overcompression on the louder drum hits and additional clutter.  I'd be a NO on this one based on mixing issues alone.  I'm not a fan of the widely panned leads in this either.

Sorry for the confusing vote.  Ideally, we'd get something in the middle that gets a nice wide stereo space at decent volume without the overcompression and wide-panned leads.  That said, I'm ok rolling with V1 regardless of whether or not that happens.

YES (V1)

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