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Mike Senior
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Rihanna: 'What's My Name?'
      #909455 - 20/04/11 09:33 AM
It took me several listens before I could put my finger on what bugged me about this mix. In the end, though, I worked out what it was: the harmony is being undermined by the kick drum. The basic harmonies throughout the track are a bar of F‑sharp minor, a bar of A‑major, and two bars of D‑major. Against this, there’s very little in the arrangement that qualifies as a traditional melodic bass‑line, so the 808‑style kick‑drum’s pronounced pitched components at 37Hz and 74Hz fill that void with a ‘D’ note. The problem is that this only really supports the D‑major chord, destabilising the home chord of F# minor (by implying that it’s actually part of a D‑major 7th chord) and clashing nastily with the A‑major. Of course, on small speakers this might not be as apparent, but it definitely weakens most of the song for me. Don’t take my word for it, though, because you can make up your own mind. The section beginning at 3:12 has four bars without the kick, and four bars with it. Is the music more appealing to listen to at 3:12?

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Mike Senior
SOS Mix Specialist

Joined: 08/08/03
Posts: 1439
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Rihanna: 'What's My Name?' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #909457 - 20/04/11 09:38 AM
I reviewed this production from the version on Rihanna's album 'Loud'. Here are some credits from the CD sleeve:

Written by M.S. Eriksen, T.E. Hermansen, E. Dean, T. Hale, A. Graham.
Music recorded by Mikkel S. Eriksen & Miles Walker.
Vocals recorded by Kuk Harrell, Josh Gudwin, Marcus Tovar and Noah '40' Shabib.
Mixed by Phil Tan.
Additional engineering by Damien Lewis.
Mastered by Chris Gehringer.

There's one slightly puzzling thing about this mix, which is that there's some kind of vocal distortion component going on in the stereo Sides signal for Drake's rap (in addition to the suspicion of springy reverb tail). I've noticed this kind of thing going on in a number of mixes recently, and I've been speculating as to what's causing it. My best guess at the moment is that it's the result of driving the vocal through a stereo analogue unit and then returning the signal in stereo to the mix buss -- both channels of an analogue unit will of course add slightly different amounts of additional harmonics and other analogue artefacts, creating a low-level Sides component even for an apparently mono signal. (Incidentally, I think it's stereo-mismatched low-level distortion characteristics that account for some of the extra width people hear from analogue mastering/summing in general, and they aren't recreated too well in some of the digital emulations of analogue gear I've heard.)

Anyone have any other explanations to account for what's causing that vocal Sides signal distortion?

For more critiques of commercial productions, browse The Mix Review Index

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Edited by Jennifer Jones (25/07/11 10:24 AM)

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Re: Rihanna: 'What's My Name?' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #910537 - 26/04/11 08:23 AM
People seem to be mastering more and more tracks using mid/side, compressing the hell out of the sides, so its horribly distorted, but the centre is left intact so you have the greatest fidelity left on the vocal, kick and snare.

Something i've noticed anyway.

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Tomás Mulcahy
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Joined: 25/04/01
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Re: Rihanna: 'What's My Name?' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #910580 - 26/04/11 11:12 AM
I think MS has been used since the beginning of stereo, it's essential for disc cutting. Eqing mid and side differently is very useful at times. However having different dynamics on the sides always sounds bizarre to me.

So what we have here are several reasons why this song is dreadful...

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Garry McKee

Joined: 04/04/09
Posts: 63
Loc: Clare, Ireland
Re: Rihanna: 'What's My Name?' new [Re: Mike Senior]
      #911789 - 02/05/11 03:07 AM
There's a bit of unpleasant Distortion on the rapping bit I found... I really find that bass drum is muddling something up though, I usually hear it when I DJ in the local nightclub and the subs go a bit apeshit and try to rattle my pint off to spite me for pure....dissonance of the mix

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