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You Know Better Mix
Here's my last second submission. I had a lot of trouble with the vocals. I put a lot of delays on the percussion and re-amped the bass for a little more low end. I like the song it has a dub feel with a singer songwriter vibe. I also went a little crazy on the slide guitar and Hammond. I tried to place everything as far back as I could. Please leave feedback so I can make adjustment after the competition. Thanks!

So after listening in a different environment I realize alot of things are off.....I lowered the kick especially in the 50 hz range, I took a little mud out of the bass, I lowered the rhythm guitar track by 4db, I also took a little 500 hz and 5khz out of the vocal. Its a shame its after the competition but I did have a lot of great mixes to compare mine to.

.mp3    youknowbettermaster.mp3 --  (Download: 8.49 MB)

.mp3    youknowbettermasterb.mp3 --  (Download: 8.49 MB)

Hi CWidener7 -- lots of really creative effects treatments here, which is always fun to hear!

In common with many other competition entrants, your overall mix tonality feels a bit underpowered sub-80Hz, with a bit too much 130Hz into the bargain. The bass in particular could do with more real low-end information to support the harmonic instruments in general, given that this is singer-songwriter material where the harmonic progressions are important to the musical momentum. You've got decent small-speaker translation on that bass part, though, which is good in terms of bringing through the melodic interest of the part for mainstream listeners. The stereo picture has a decent width to it as well, so no complaints there.

What strikes me most immediately about your mix is that the groove seems to be 'swimming' a bit, rather than propelling the track forward as I'd hope. There are a variety of reasons for this, I reckon. Firstly, there's a general issue that if you mix tracks that have lots of off-beat information loud in the mix, it'll usually tend to make the groove as a whole drag psychologically, so I'd question your choice in making the electric rhythm guitar and hi-hat as prominent as you have. Perhaps you could just thin out that guitar and take a bit of the edge off the hi-hat to shift more focus onto the on-beat elements such as the kick and snare. The fairly ambient sound of the kit as a whole exacerbates things slightly, as do the kick/snare/hat flams when they occur, of course. But in addition, the delay effects, while stylistically appropriate in abstract terms, feel like they're taking a bit too much of a front-seat role. To an extent you've clearly tried to mitigate this by choosing some tempo-related delay times, but given the live-band nature of the recordings even these don't always synchronise that tightly with the dry sounds. I'd suggest just being a bit more judicious with these effects: choosing which parts really justify them most, and perhaps using them only sporadically, rather than in such a blanket manner.

Another concern I have with the effects is that they're already densely packed for the opening verses, which leaves the choruses and Reintro/Outro with nowhere to go. Again, backing them off earlier in the song could therefore potentially improve your long-term mix dynamics. I'm in two minds about the effects spins after the Mid-section. Again, in principle I like the creativity of them, but I do question their purpose: fundamentally, does that gap actually need any embellishing? As a gap following the thickly-textured Mid-section, it's already a dramatic arrangement move, and the delays actually detract from that, as nice as they are. Effectively, you're obscuring the band's original mix dynamics, rather than enhancing them, which instinctively feels like a risky move to me. I do love the spacey effects on your Chorus 3 guitar part, which give it a tremendous sense of depth, although I do wonder whether the impact of this would have been increased had the mix as a whole otherwise been drier at this point.

The Hammond's a bit of a question mark for me too, because I reckon it's perhaps a little thin-sounding in context, which again contributes to my impression that the choruses and Reintro/Outro don't really arrive strongly enough. Of course, the problem with filling out the low midrange of the Hammond is that there's a danger of wooliness in the mix as a whole, so I might take some of this energy out of the bass guitar and rhythm guitars, perhaps, and maybe even the lead vocal too -- or at least control the singer's low end a little more assertively.

Speaking of the lead vocal, the timbre has a slightly crusty/lo-fi element to it. I don't have any problem with that within the context of a Reggae/Dub stylistic reference, but in this instance I'd query it a little given the artist's mainstream and singer-songwriter leanings, which would seem to me to point to a slightly more natural and intimate tone. You could still have crusty-sounding effects to keep the stylistic influences, but I think it would play more to Hannes's stated preferences if the dry vocal sound felt a bit more natural. Beyond this, the stability of the vocal level does suffer at times on account of Hannes varying his vocal delivery -- the switches between the falsetto and chest-voice moments in the chorus stuck out for me, for instance. That said, the vocal tone as it stands does seem to mitigate some of the low-frequency variation elsewhere, which is no bad thing. One further small thing as regards the vocal balance: the final "therefore own my heart" feels like it's very distant. I imagine it's because you've balanced the vocal for that section based on its ad-libbing function, but that doesn't mean you can't fade it up for the final phrase to refocus the spotlight on the star for the final frames of the film, so to speak.

Hope some of that feedback's useful -- and thanks for posting!