A great opening synth sound here — at a guess, a high-pass-filtered pair of sawtooths
pitched two octaves apart — but whatever its make-up it’s brutally buzzy and with
razor-sharp HF peaks at 4.8kHz and 8.6kHz. The gravelly texture makes me suspect that some
inharmonic components have also been mixed in for good measure (perhaps from some kind of
digital grungifier plug-in), not least because Calvin Harris has had his paws on this
production, and he made great use of digital distortion on his recent single ‘Bounce’.
(Here's my critique of
from the December 2011 column.) The potential pitfall with a sound as
aggressive as this, though, is that it can easily cause mixdown problems by combining
harshly with the lead vocal’s presence region, which is so often boosted by engineers to
bring the lyrics forward in the mix. Fortunately, in this case Tinchy’s verse tone
side-steps this hazard by taking its solidity from the 200Hz-2kHz region and its tonal
clarity primarily from the top octave, while the sibilance, in particular, seems pretty
Notice also that the low-frequency foundations of that synth
line only appear when the drums and vocals arrive at 0:07. The implication is that the low
frequencies are being supplied by a separate sub-bass synth, and that approach would make
a lot of sense technically in this scenario, because of the need to carefully control the
way the powerful note fundamentals combine with the kick’s 46Hz low-frequency peak —
perhaps by sending both the kick and sub-bass synth to a common compressor. Were the
sub-bass component locked into the main synth sound, trying a bussing dodge like that
would compromise the subjective evenness of the whole musical line.
synths, the sudden switch to sustained notes for four bars at 1:46 is a very simple and
effective arrangement trick, especially in current dance styles which trade on the
interplay of various complex syncopations and cross-rhythms. The cherry on the top is the
way it cuts off abruptly on the final beat of the fourth bar, creating a vacuum which
sucks the simple snare/’oh!’ fill forward for extra emphasis.
--------------------Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio
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