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Hannes Keseberg - You Know Better - Anto mix - R2 is the version for judging
** Update **
I've provided an updated mix (R2) based on the excellent feedback I've received from Mike and others.

Hi all,
Here is my mix. I've tried to keep the vibe of the original performance, preserve the dynamics and not mess (too much) with the tonality of the guitars and other elements.
I've also tried to make the vocal sound upfront, full and mostly dry with a combination of automation, light parallel compression and short delays. This was done to make it sound more similar to a Jack Johnson track.
I've also played with the backing vocals and whistle in places to add some ear candy.

All comments and feedback welcome.

.mp3    HannesKeseberg-YouKnowBetter-anto-R1.mp3 --  (Download: 8.46 MB)

.mp3    HannesKeseberg-YouKnowBetter-anto-R2.mp3 --  (Download: 8.58 MB)

I think you have achieved your objectives here Anto. I like the vocal sound you have worked, very tasteful and solid. Drums and vocal could be a little too forward in the mix for my ears but it does lend to a relaxed sound overall. Well done.
Some very creative ideas in your arrangement and your voicings are very good, yet there is something I can't quite put my finger on that keeps me from being a fan. It may be a lack of cohesiveness across the song or maybe it's the vocals being so dry and out front. Mostly good but something feels off.
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To echo another comment... Perhaps the percussive elements could come forward a bit in the mix, as otherwise the vibe tends to get buried under the lead vocal and other guitars?
All sound is a distortion of silence /
Thanks to Dave, mixinthecloud and Jeffd42 for your feedback. Very much appreciated!

It seems that my attempts to bring the vocal forward might have been a little bit overdone. Not sure Jack Johnson would agree but I'm happy that you have identified a pain point in my mix that I also had trouble with getting right.
I found in this track that even after pre-fx volume and normal fader volume automation of the vocal and light parallel compression, small volume changes would make the vocal sound dull or feel too far forward.
It's definitely a sweet spot that can be hard to find and can vary greatly between vocalists.

I do note that Dave said the drums felt a bit too forward but I also found that pushing the drums a bit further back made the snare turn a bit '80s in style which wasn't the sound I was after. I do admit that in getting the other parts to sound right, the drums became more of a secondary priority so thanks for pointing it out.

Jeff, I found that the percussion (congas and timbales) became a bit intrusive if I brought it forward which is why it ended up the way it is. I'm not sure I would necessarily change the mix to make them more prominent unless it was to accent parts of the song that needed it.
Hi anto! Here are some thoughts on the mix for you:
  • A very vocal-led vision here, which is no bad thing, but that does make the rest of the arrangement sound small. It especially causes a problem for the outro, for instance, which doesn't deliver the climax you'd hope once the vocal "heart" line trails off.
  • I like the "you know" BV fly-in during Reintro -- that's a nice creative touch that works really well, I think!
  • The vocal levels need more automation as well. In Chorus 2, for instance, compare "the clothes" with "my body", or "food and drink" with "should soothe my soul".
  • The drums backbeat generally feels underpowered, and the kick in particular lacks low-end punch. It feels almost like the kick mic's muted, in fact. As a result the mix sounds a bit too 'polite' and lacks rhythmic momentum.
  • The bass lines get lost on small speakers, so could do with a bit more midrange energy.
  • Hammond could be more of a feature, especially as it serves a structural purpose in terms of differentiating the sections.
  • The effects use could be improved: the vocal, whistle, and snare seem very dry and don't glue well with the rest of the tracks, and there doesn't seem to be any adjustment of effects to adapt to the demands of different sections of the song.

Thanks for posting, and glad to hear you giving the vocal the spotlight here -- in general I think your heart is definitely in the right place there.
I've seen Mike already commented on your mix, but in case you would like even more feedback, here are some more points to consider (I am only a hobbyist, so please take my feedback with a sizable pinch of salt):

* I like how you filled space with whistles, guitars, and bg vocal addons are just gold!
* To make the intro more inviting, I would edit the bass away from straight stream of F notes.
* I would try to find some more things to differentiate the 3rd verse from the rest.
* Small vocal edits can go a long way, for example at 1:37-1:39 both the disappearing voice and the separate 't' from 'heart' do not put the singer in a flattering light.
* While the phrase at 2:37 lacks a bit of weight, it didn't loose tempo or "initiative" which is important (which is a part I struggled a lot with).
* To make the guitar on the 3rd chorus fights with the vocal less, you could use for example sidechain dynamic eq like (free) TDR Nova.
* Once again, your background vocals are just great!
* I would make the final guitar strums a tad louder, it gives a nice closure to the song.
* To me the Hammond sounds really artificial, and I completely agree with not featuring it prominently! (Although Mike things differently, so don't mind me.)

I like your mix a lot, my main takeaway is your creative use of bg vocals!
Hi all,
Thanks very much for the feedback Mike and for hosting this great competition!
It's been very enjoyable and certainly helpful.
Your feedback regarding the bass-line and kick was certainly helpful as was the dryness of the snare, vocal and whistle. I've hopefully fixed those elements now!

Thanks also to dtldarek for your feedback, particularly regarding the vocal edits.

In my version for judging (R2), I've beefed up the bass, added more ambience and reverb to the vocal, snare and percussion instruments to make them blend better.

I've also made the Hammond more prominent in places but I still don't really like the Leslie speed that's applied to it, particularly as it doesn't seem to be time-synced.

I've also redone some of the vocal automation to make it fit better with the track, mostly fixing some of the wild level changes with chopping up the audio, increasing the level of the section and fine-tuning with pre-FX automation.