Roland VS-1680 desktop recorder; ART SLA1 power amp and monitors; CAD E-200 mic (vocals), Audio-Technica AT2020 mics (instruments); ART mic preamps; Behringer Composer Pro compressor; Martin D-18 acoustic guitar, Fender Strat, Ibanez AF-125 guitar miked through Fender Princeton amp, Fender Precision bass direct, Ensoniq keyboard workstation.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: An excellent one-man-band effort and another fine showing for the Roland VS series of standalone DAWs. There is much to like in Bruce’s fine effort, from the writing on down. We were mighty tempted to have this one included in our SPOTLIGHT feature, but unfortunately there were some frequency issues that forced us ultimately to reconsider.
Before we get to that, however, let’s accentuate the positive, because there’s an awful lot to like here. Bruce is obviously a multitalented guy, the songwriting and (to an even larger extent) the arrangement here is first-rate. Given the amount of sonic information present, this track could have gone south rather quickly in lesser hands. To his credit, Bruce has done an excellent job keeping the mix uncluttered while maintaining energy and excitement. Well done!
It’s also clear that Bruce fulfills our mantra here at Recording in that he is a true recording musician. We love not only the tones, but also the performances on every single sound source here, including the drum and percussion programming. The vocals are present without overpowering the mix, the guitars are clean and free of harshness, and had it not been for the bass, you would have been reading this in SPOTLIGHT instead.
Ah the bass, the bass, or should we say the lack of bass! Sadly, the bass guitar and the overall low end of the entire mix come up short of the mark. Please understand that this is no slight on Bruce’s performance, but rather a lament that such a performance fails to provide the necessary low end punch that would really seal the deal for the rhythm section. In somewhat of a double whammy, we also found the entire track to be weak from about 250 Hz and below, resulting in a final mix that is thinner than necessary.
Suggestions: What we have here, friends, is a failure to translate, or in layman’s terms, Bruce’s monitors/room acoustics may be playing tricks on him. Why did we come to this conclusion? Well, given his obvious skill level, and the fact that both the bass guitar and the overall bass are under par, we can only surmise that through his monitors everything sounded full and balanced—that is, until his mix hit the outside world and (as any good mastering engineer would tell you) failed to translate.
So what can be done? Well, that’s a darn good question. Many fine articles have appeared in the pages of Recording over the years dealing with this critical topic, but for our purposes the short answer is always the same. A/Bing your mixes on various speaker systems using commercial releases as a reference is simply invaluable. It’s really no more complicated than that, and yet time and again we preach its value. When we A/Bed “That When Life Began” through our studio monitor and again through our car/boom box speakers, the low end issue was immediately clear, and it took all of five minutes—and no extra cash on fancy speakers or acoustic treatments—to confirm it.
Summary: Soo close!
Contact: Bruce Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org.