Mac G5 with MOTU 828 MkII running MOTU Digital Performer and various plug-ins, Pentium PC with Cool Edit Pro and BBE Sonic Maximizer plug-in for mastering, M-Audio Octane 8-channel pre, Behringer UltraGain Pro, dbx 266XL, Behringer B-2 Pro and MXL V67 mics, Tannoy Reveal Active monitors, Korg Triton Le76, OLP 5-string bass, Ibanez acoustic guitar, BOSS DR-5 drum machine, really nice 100-year-old violin.
Production Notes & Credits:
Music: "It Never Crossed My Mind" is a female vocal country ballad. Paul Bordenkircher engineered and mixed the track in addition to programming the drums and playing bass. CJ Borden wrote the tune and sang lead and backing vocals. Sam Morris provided additional backing vocals, Brett Gambino played the guitars, and Nina DiGreggorio played the violin. The mastering was done by Chris Minkema.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: "It Never Crossed My Mind" is a fairly successful recording that is being dragged down by two major issues—more on those in a minute. First the good stuff: the performances in generalare first rate. We were particularly impressed with the guitar and violin tones. Nicely done, Paul!
On the flip side: while we appreciate the bass’s big round tone, in spots it threatens to overwhelm the track. Perhaps adding to the bass issue is the fact that the drum track is simply not holding its own here. While the rest of the sound sources have an organic feel, the drum machine is harsh and brittle, with an overabundance of what appears to be the dreaded ’80s-era "Gold Foil Plate" reverb on board for good measure. We hear an overly present sidestick on the verses, followed by a cavernous distant snare on the chorus. In essence, the drums sound like a guide track for a demo, and certainly not of the quality that the track deserves.
Issue number two is the excessive compressor/limiter derived sssssssibilence that we hear on the lead vocal. Someone please explain the virtues of over-compressed/limited vocals! Are we the only ones who find this growing epidemic disturbing? How about some microphone technique? Can it be that the idea of riding the faders is so arcane that it has simply passed into folklore? In an age where computer editing is available to almost all recordists, how is it that the managing and redrawing of waveforms has become too much work? Compressors and limiters are tools, folks, to be used discretely and correctly. They are not—we repeat—not a mandatory part of the signal chain for vocals or any other sound source!
Suggestions: Paul is listed as the drummer on the project, so we assume that he plays some form of actual physical kit. We strongly suggest that he uses it to replace the Boss DR-5 drum machine on the track. Once the drums are replaced, the bass may just fall in line.
As for the sibilance, we are by no means singling out Paul here. Well over 50% of the submissions to this column are suffering from the same problem. Earlier we called it an epidemic, but it is rapidly becoming a “style” among home recordists. And that, my friends, is where the buck needs to stop! Therefore and with all sincerity we implore you who have fallen victim... "Back away from the compressor, and tell the limiter to come out with its hands up!” There are time-tested techniques for managing volume inconsistencies; please seek them out and be a part of the solution.
Summary: R.A.E.S. (Recordists Against Excessive Sibilance). Join today!
Contact: Paul Bordenkircher, firstname.lastname@example.org.