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Gario

*NO* Castlevania 2 "The Trail of Tears" *RESUB*

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Previous Decision

Hi! 

This is a resub of a remix that didn't pass the judges panel the first time. It's been a year and a half since and I hope my mixing skills have improved enough that this time it's up to par with OCR standards :) I have just released an album of 10 remixes and I would very much like to have it on OCR if possible. You can find it here  please let me know if if there's a way to have it fully available!
 
Contact:
My ReMixer name: Sinfinian
Real name: Mikki Rousi
Email:
User ID: 34122
 
Submission:
Game: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest - Bloody Tears
Name of arrangement: The Trail Of Tears
Name of the song: Bloody Tears
 
Thank you,
Mikki Rousi / Sinfinian
 
Edited by Liontamer
closed decision

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Why is this so quiet?  It peaks at -3.87dB

Unfortunately, it's still problematic.  The leads are easier to hear, but at the expense of everything else.  It's very busy, and many of the backing elements churn together into a wall of white noise.  You have multiple synths, orchestral elements, and the cymbals all fighting for a heavily overlapping sound spectrum.  I can hear distinct parts only by focusing on them very closely, and even then not very well.  Usually only the lead, the snare and one pad are clearly audible.  Everything else is mush.

The arrangement is also relentless.  High energy is good, but energy that's consistent at the same high level is exhausting.  You have a bridge, where the melody takes a break and the percussion slows down, but everything else is still going full-bore.

When you have that much going on, it's really difficult to clean things up and make every part shine.  You may have to cut parts.  I would consider first cutting half or more of the parts, then adding them back in one at a time and playing with the levels and EQ to make sure you can still hear everything distinctly; if you can't, stop.

I like the part writing, and I'm excited about the arrangement in general.  But I'm afraid it's still a

NO (resubmit)

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Agree with MindWanderer - your mix has a crowded feeling to it, which makes things overly chaotic for the listener. This is a shame because the arrangement has many good ideas, which (mixing aside) are executed quite well. There are some sections with too many simultaneous parts though, especially when we hit 1:54 - there is too much going on. The solo that follows at 2:15 however feels a bit better in comparison. Things end off ok.

I like this mix, but the mixing needs a complete revisit. I recommend dialling the volume in from scratch for each channel in order of importance and using high and low pass filters to taper off frequencies on individual parts that don't need it, to open up your soundscape. Silencing some parts that aren't required wouldn't hurt either. I firmly believe if these tweaks were made to give each of these parts the breathing room they deserve, a more solid presentation would result.

NO

Edited by Jivemaster

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Hmm, I think y'all are being a tad harsh on this one. The track is certainly on the quiet side, but the balance of tracks isn't off, save for the lead guitar from time to time,and outside of a little ducking with the kick the production is quite good. The mix isn't perfect, but I don't think the bar is THAT high, here; the theme is easy to hear (which corrects the issue that this had last time), and nothing gets completely lost in the mix.

The arrangement does leave roughly -4dBs of headroom, but that's a really easy fix - put the WAV through Audacity and amplify it, not something to reject it over, IMO.

Honestly, the arrangement is great, the soundscape is really rich and varied, and while the mixing isn't perfect it's certainly serviceable. I think it'd be a great track to post, as long as the levels were corrected (and I don't think that should be done without a WAV of the track - that'll be up to him).

YES (Conditional on the Levels)

Edited by Gario

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I won't be talking much about the arrangement here, because last time around, that part of the equation was an easy pass.

This still sounds very muddy and lo-fi. It's not super scientific, but just listen to this in Winamp and look how the high-end frequencies barely register; it's like the highs got severely cut. In a vacuum, it might not necessarily sound deficient, but when putting it up against a more balanced, properly mixed track and then listening to this, the lack of highs is really apparent.

At 1:39, where you first have some sort of part drop out (1:40) and back in (1:42) and again gone (1:44), it sounds as if you randomly muted an indistinct guitar that freed up a lot of low end space; because it's so muddy and unclear, the effect you're going for with the drop off and return of that part gets completely lost and initially sounds more like a mistake than what's clearly to me a purposeful compositional choice as it goes on until 2:08.

Nice original section at 2:15; again, the original material was seamlessly transitioned to from the source usage.

There's some minor part at 2:42 that almost sounds like fuzz, like some brush kit or even cymbal part that got extremely muddled; that's another example where the crowded soundscape is messing up the sound of supporting parts; it's a nicely written accent part that might as well not be there the way that it's mixed.

Being honest and transparent, I agree that production-wise, this is below the bar, but I'm in Gario's camp that I want to encourage rather than discourage Mikki here; once again, the arrangement remains on point and the production is too muddy and lo-fi. In this case, it's more salvageable in this form than in the last one, and I'd like to see us TLC this with him in order to get it where it needs to be. If any J is willing to correspond with Sinfinian on this -- like Palpable has done in the past with others, for example -- I think there's a lot Mikki can take away from more precise EQ guidance.

I agree that conditional YES'es shouldn't be overused and this is obviously a case where a 5-minute quick fix isn't possible, but this needs some extra attention to push it over the line, and it really deserves a place here in terms of the arrangement. Let's see if there's a way our community can help lift this up.

YES (conditional on mixing improvements)

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I wasn't part of the last decision, so coming in fresh on this one.

There's a really good arrangement here that kept me interested for the most part, with some great parts such as 2:10/2:15, and great transitions between the source and new arrangement ideas.  What's holding this back is the mix.  It's just unbalanced to the detriment of the whole track, sadly.  I feel like the guitars are too far back and they tend to fuse with the string backgrounds.  Drums get a lot of priority in the soundfield as well, and some sections like around 1:45-2:08 feel super messy and like a big ball of sound where there's no separation between the parts.

I really like this arrangement, but the mix needs some re-balancing and cleanup.  If it was only a balance issue I might be more lenient but the very busy sections are just too messy and i can't let it through as-is.  If you can manage to clear it up, and reorder the priorities on your parts (drums don't need to be that upfront, i.e.), I think you'll have a super good track here.

NO (resubmit)

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I wasn't part of the last decision either, but I still got blown away by the arrangement!  You got the appropriate framework down for symphonic metal, the solos especially at 2:16 are pleasing to listen to, and you got neat segments like 0:53 and 1:38 where you took parts of the melody and played with them under different chord sequences.  I've got absolutely nothing to fault here.

As for the production, the instruments sound decently balanced for the most part.  I can hear the melody, drums and rhythm guitars well; but the strings and organ sound like they're dominating the rest of the backing soundscape - and in parts like 1:53, they had also pushed the rest of the synth parts too far back.  This problem is something that revising their levels can fix.

I also am in favor of this track getting normalized in a wave editor.  Seeing the track peak at -3.9 dB is questionable for a metal arrangement, so a quick fix there can make it fit among other similar tracks.

The way I see this track, it's a fantastic arrangement with minor mixing problems that can get resolved with one-to-one guidance.  It'll all be up to Mikki if he is to co-operate with this - and if so, it'll be a powerful addition to the OCR front page.

YES (conditional on mixing)

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what a hard-driving, exciting mix this is! you continually focus on bringing the original into every part of the mix, and i love the ways you play with a really well-remixed source in new ways. the section from about 1:38 through the solo is such a great feel - really hard-hitting and meaty. i definitely was bobbing my head along with the guitar hits from 2:08 onward. the arrangement is spangling, nothing's needed there. i really appreciate the solos, too - there's a lot of nuance going on in there and it's not just melody plus embellishment. great work.

the mix, overall, is so subpar as to really hold it back. there's just no high end whatsoever, and as a result, my ears get really tired by the end of the song. the constant sustained string pads speak much louder than the guitar backing rather than filling in the soundscape. the range of the pads hurts it too - you've got them ranging several octaves on a keyboard most of the song, and as a result there's little to differentiate the beginning with the end of the track. no sonic direction outside of the (really great) exploration of the melody.

i believe at this time that the mixing isn't up to OCR standards, despite the arrangement being excellent in style and substance. i know i've had people help out with complex mixes before to assist with setting the soundscape and fixing mastering - i think if you utilize some help to get more highs in the mix, better balance your background and foreground focus, and scale back some of those pads to allow for dynamic progression, you'll end up with a far superior track overall.

NO (resub!)

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Late to the party on this one.  I have to say, I love the writing on here and the energy is fantastic.  It builds excitement very well up until the very end.  I really love this track.

I definitely agree with the concerns on the mixing.  This is pretty imbalanced in the EQ ranges (heavier in the mid/mid-low range, lacking in highs), has muddiness from parts bleeding together and becoming indistinct (listen from 2:58 on, with everything going at the same time), as well as general instrument levels.

Normally, I try to give specific tips on how to improve things, but with something as complex as the mixing and mastering process, that's really difficult to do here without being hands-on with the song and showing you.  Here's the best I can say at a distance:

1. Take a well-mixed/mastered track in a similar genre and listen side-by-side with your track to get a general idea of levels, balance, etc. you should be trying to attain.  Listen to how leads cut through, but don't dominate the mix.  How backing instruments fill up space, but don't overcrowd, things like that.

2. Practice doing a proper mixdown, lowering all the faders for your instruments and then raising them up to listening levels one by one.  Personally, I'd set the track to loop on a problematic section like the last :45 or so and listen for when you hit the point where instruments start getting cluttered together and do some tasteful (light) EQ, panning, and/or compression to try to tame the worst offenders.

I want to reiterate that this is a really fantastic track and can only get better with some improved production, so don't be discouraged!!

NO please resubmit!

 

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I like this arrangement a lot, but I think the issues are still holding it back.  This is a high energy mix and starts out with every instrument blaring, which is a lost opportunity to build excitement starting from a tamer soundscape and writing.  You are using many instruments that play primarily in the same frequency range, and they sound very crammed together and the mix is fatiguing as a result.  You have so many elements playing at all points in the track which is also fatiguing.  I recommend you take each part of your track and decide where elements should play and where they should be silent.  For example you have a choir pad that never takes a break, what about dropping that out for a section or two, that will add some nice contrast and dynamic range, and the choir pad will be more interesting later on when it returns.  A lower-energy (possibly drumless) breakdown would also help expand the dynamic range of the track (not necessary, just a suggestion).  As for the mixing, you'll need to address EQ and stereo placement so the instruments aren't all bunched together and competing like this.  There's still some more work to be done here, but I think it will be well worth the effort on this track and future tracks as well.

NO (resubmit)

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