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Mix / arrangement critique, please

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Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby lingyai » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:37 pm

Hi all,

I'd welcome comments, niggles etc on the mix, arrangement and overall "enjoyability" (or not!) of this cover of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"

https://soundcloud.com/st-josephs-socia ... imon-cover
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby blinddrew » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:14 pm

Overall I think that's pretty solid - though in general I prefer covers when there's a bigger change in style from the original - but that's just me. :)
Two things did bug me slightly on my couple of listens.
1) the tom is bit uncontrolled in couple of places (6 seconds in for example).
2) I can't work out if it's the singer's style or some processing you've done but I'm getting a lot of lisping in the vocals. Around 50 secs it's very clear but it's pretty much throughout the track.
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby lingyai » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:16 pm

Thanks for feeding back. May I ask, what were you listening to it on, and also, can you specify a couple of places where you hear lisping?

Anyone else?
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby Temp » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:20 pm

I'm a huge fan of the original version of this song. A such, I'm veering towards a more nit-picking type of appraisal. It's so very close to the original in terms of structure, style etc., that my comments are best regarded in a spot-the-difference context. To wit, if I'd never heard the original, I'd have no gripes at all :thumbup:

1. The bottom end is a bit thin to my ears - the original has got a certain warmth
2. The snare sounds slightly synthetic in comparison to the original
3. The tom has too much reverb
4. The vocal pitching is a little flakey in places; the repeated breathiness when you trail off at the end i slightly grating (the original sounds pretty dry and close mic'd)
5. There's a general lack of assuredness in the vocal performance at the start - this improves a fair bit towards the end
6. The original sounds more cohesive, immediate and up-front, with less reverb (or at least less top-end reflection)
7. The no-frills fade at the end is a surprisingly effective device in the original. To my ears, the vocal noodling at the end of yours tends to detract from this.

That said, it's still pretty impressive as an exercise in mimicry, and it certainly shows off your obvious skill. Oh, and I'm listening through Tannoys nearfields, with no EQ, via an Audiophile soundcard.

Cheers.
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby blinddrew » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:35 pm

lingyai wrote:Thanks for feeding back. May I ask, what were you listening to it on, and also, can you specify a couple of places where you hear lisping?

Anyone else?
Just listening on my laptop with a fairly cheap set of headphones. As as 50 seconds, it's fairly prominent to my ears at around 18 sec.
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby blinddrew » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:38 pm

2:40 as well - just leapt out at me.
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby CS70 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:42 pm

lingyai wrote:Thanks for feeding back. May I ask, what were you listening to it on, and also, can you specify a couple of places where you hear lisping?

Anyone else?

One of my all time fave songs! Marvelous composition and as often with Paul's, killer lyrics.

Listening quickly on AKG M50 as I'm tracking and reading the forum in a break.

Sang nicely, the delivery is much like Paul's (including a lot of the Queens accent :)
I would treat the vocals a little differently, your timbre is obviously not the same as Paul's (still good, just different), a little more upfront and less reverb.. Paul isn't dreamy in that song - just telling the story.

Lisps at (for example):

"At the ri_s_k of being rude"
"She said it grieve_s_ me to see you in such a pain"

My guess is simply too much correction (perhaps consequence of too much reverb).

The kick is (on the AKG) super-boomy! Went to listen to the Steve Gadd's original, and it has a quite short "thud". Same for toms. My guess is too long reverb queue and the kick's balance is to me a little too prominent in your version - almost a dance kick bolted on. :)

The entire kit level is a trifle too high to my ears - assuming you want to mimic the original tough.

Still, all the above (minus lisps) assuming you want get close to the feel of the original.

Thanks for the track, good inspiration.
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:30 am

I am not qualified to comment on the minutia of the production, but I quite liked the performance!
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby lingyai » Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:32 pm

I really appreciate these comments, pro and con. I'm still feeling my way as a mixer, so other ears help a lot. That makes this forum an important place for almost-there-but-still-penultimate mixes, so thanks everyone, big time.

I don't lisp in real life but perhaps some sibilance (used a bright mic) combined with other FX makes it sound that way here. This prompts me to go back and see if I might be able to redo my de-essing (move it earlier in the chain, among other things)

Re the drums -- fair enough. As tracked they sounded much like the original. Truth be told, at some point I was bored with working on other parts and had a case of "f***" so I amused myself by slapping a Waves Chris Lord-Alge specialist drum plugin -- hey, bought it, so have to use it, right? ;-) -- on the drum buss, browsed presets, landed somewhere and thought, "That's kind of cool, and it's Chris Lord-Alge, so..." and so left it at that. Another thing to revisit.

Thanks again, all. "But I repeat myself..."
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:11 pm

lingyai wrote:I don't lisp in real life but perhaps some sibilance (used a bright mic) combined with other FX makes it sound that way here. This prompts me to go back and see if I might be able to redo my de-essing (move it earlier in the chain, among other things)
It's a weird thing about de-essers that too much de-essing can introduce a lisping sound as a side-effect. It might be worth just backing off what you're currently using and see what that does?
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby lingyai » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:17 pm

blinddrew wrote:
lingyai wrote:I don't lisp in real life but perhaps some sibilance (used a bright mic) combined with other FX makes it sound that way here. This prompts me to go back and see if I might be able to redo my de-essing (move it earlier in the chain, among other things)
It's a weird thing about de-essers that too much de-essing can introduce a lisping sound as a side-effect. It might be worth just backing off what you're currently using and see what that does?

I've not had access to my music PC for a few days but yeah, I want to revisit, look under the hood. First I have to check the instances you mentioned (thanks again).

I suspect actually it just might be a bit of heavy-handed overprocessing, involving but not limted to the de-esser, because the dry track has no lisping. I.e. some interaction amongst
--insufficent de-essing (using a plug which I actually favor less than my usual go-to (Tonebooster's Barricade, it's quite clean);
--the placement of a 1-2 db, 0.9-ish Q, upper mids-boost I'd made;
--a small bit of Microshift (the Soundtoys plug) chorusy-thing;
--and some saturation at the end.

Dunno. There must be 50 ways...

I
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Re: Mix / arrangement critique, please

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:05 am

lingyai wrote:I suspect actually it just might be a bit of heavy-handed overprocessing

We all have been there! Definitely worth fixing and developing as it isn't bad at all and you sing well.

Yeah pretty sure there's no lisping in the original track - it did sounds like the classic de-essing mistake. The lisping is most likely due to the fact that the dollops of reverb (or the length of the tail) make the 's' sound very much 'shhhhhhhh', especially in places here it corresponds to the beat and so you stress it more, so it leads you to de-ess or lower them down till they sound funny.

If you have a de-esser on, a much better technique is to ditch it altogether and draw the automation curves by hand/mouse. Listen as a "listener", and when you feel a 's' is odd, stop the playback, zoom in and draw the curves (check google for the shape). Then start again. Takes five minutes more but it's way more controlled than even a well set up de-esser.

Shortening the reverb (or just lowering its level if you want to sound like you're performing in a large hall) would help. On the other side: lisping is never good, but when it comes to reverb, much goes to the style you want to have. There's plenty of hits songs with super-heavy "shhhhhs"... they tend to be of the dreamy or less rhythmic type tough. As the rest of your "50 ways" seem to be well on the mark of the original (i.e. plain, discourse-like delivery in a kinda of realistic and funky sonic environment, very much Paul Simon), the big reverb is probably out of place, especially if you did not do it on purpose. :)
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