Power Mac G5 dual-core with Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 audio interface running Apple Logic Pro 8, Waves Gold Bundle and GTR3, IK Multimedia T-RackS, and Toontrack EZdrummer processors; Audi-Technica AT4047, Event 20/20 monitors. Fender Stratocaster, Ibanez bass, Roland XP-30 keyboard synthesizer and TD-8 V-Drums kit.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Mark has delivered a fairly well realized track here, and while it is clear that he is primarily a guitarist, he definitely has brought some arranging chops to the table. The elements of the song are presented with care and in reasonable balance with one another that serves the song well.
As for the sound sources themselves, some are better than others. The electric guitars are dominant in the mix and work well within the genre, and the lead and backing vocals are presented without any noticeable artifacts. On the down side, the rhythm section suffers in several places from frequency masking, where the low midrange of the 6-string guitars "invades" the upper end of the bass guitar's normal frequency range.
We also heard some significant and unpleasant compression "pumping" on the drums and felt that the tone of the toms was rather boxy in general; this is unfortunate as we have heard more than one submission to Readers' Tapes in recent months that uses EZdrummer and which doesn't have these issues at all. We are left to wonder if the problem is bad effects-setup choices on the plug-in, or if the Roland V-Drums were used to supply the tom sounds, or if they were just used to play the EZdrummer sounds live...? Lots of questions, no clear answers.
One last thing on the drums: on our monitors (and also through our Grado Labs SR325 headphones) it sounded as if the snare drum was panned to the right of center in the mix, thereby messing with the overall track balance. Again, that's not something that's usually a problem in EZdrummer, which implies a player's deliberate choice... in this case, not a wise one.
Suggestions: Frequency masking is not uncommon in recordings that feature low-mid-heavy tones, even in some "commercial" releases. Whether this is acceptable probably has a good deal to do with the relationship between the bassist and the guitarist! In our opinion, a successful mix should leave sonic space for each sound source, period. That said, we would encourage Mark to become friendly with the highpass filter in his Waves Gold Bundle eq plug-in. Starting at approximately 200 Hz, "sweep" the electric guitar tracks until the bass can be heard with the authority it deserves without robbing the guitars themselves of "guts". This will take some trial and error, but your mix will benefit, and you will learn a great deal about competing frequencies to boot!
As for the drums, Mark has some powerful tools at his disposal; we urge him to take his time and study drum sounds from recordings that he admires and try to match them. Regarding the compression, squashing the drums that hard is only going to make them sound smaller, thereby robbing the mix of it drive... so back away from the compressor, Mark.
Lastly, while we are unsure as to why the snare drum is right panned in the mix, our guess is that it has something to do with an effect placed on it being panned in that direction on its return. We suggest Mark recheck the panning on all of his effect, in particular any delays. As we said before, EZdrummer makes this sort of thing a no-brainer, you have to work a little bit to get something like this to happen. So, whatever it is: find it and stop it!
Summary: A great learning platform, with a solid arrangement that will yield a great song once the engineering gets up to scratch.
Contact: Mark W. Harvey, firstname.lastname@example.org