Digi 003 running Pro Tools 7 with Sony Oxford plug-ins, Overloud TH1 guitar amp plug-in, IK Multimedia Ampeg bass amp plug-in, and iZotope Ozone mastering suite; Avalon 737sp channel strip; M-Audio Sputnik tube mic; Schecter C-1 Elite electric guitar, Ibanez bass, Korg Karma (Drum Loops and synth parts).
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Oh compression, ye are an evil temptress! Despite all of our efforts, many of our submissions are still suffering from major issues involving compression, and sadly "Farther" is a prime example. The track intros with a fairly standard synth bed, followed by one of the more squashed and flattened mixes that we have heard. What was in all likelihood a fine recording of a creative, ambitious composition has been rendered as flat as a pancake by overzealous compression/limiting.
One listen to the pumping squashed snare drum should have been a big red flag here, and the fact that Donovan either didn't hear it or chose to ignore it is troublesome. As for the remaining sound sources, it's impossible to surmise the quality of their sound given the circumstances. We can say that the performances themselves all appear to be topnotch.
Suggestions: Compression/limiting mismanagement has reached epidemic proportions in modern recording, and that includes some very high profile commercial releases. The chase for the brass ring of volume has skewed the vision of recordists at every level, and dynamic range and tone have been kicked to the curb in far too many instances.
We would suggest that Donovan go back to the drawing board with "Farther" and re-examine just what and what doesn't need compression here. Was the snare performance so erratic that it required that level of squashing? If so, perhaps a new performance or some supplemental drum replacement would be a better choice.
Once he has revisited his individual sound sources, we would ask him to take the same honest look at his mastering. There is a huge difference between "want" and "need", folks. We have serious doubts that Donovan's mix was so out of whack that it needed this much mastering compression. If indeed it actually did, then we would advise him to go back and remix the track until it doesn't!
Summary: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
Contact: Donovan Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org.