TASCAM 2488 24-bit desktop hard disk recorder, Steinberg Cubase for mix; CAD GXL 220 condenser mic on vocals, Shure SM57 microphone on snare drum, Sennheiser microphone on kick drum; Behringer TRUTH monitors; Gibson Les Paul Custom, Martin 6 string acoustic guitar, Rickenbacker bass guitar, Roland electronic drums.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Robert seems to be aiming for a Pink Floyd type of vibe here. The intro features "found" sounds ala rain and emergency sirens, which rather quickly give way to the actual instrumental sound sources. When executed correctly, this can be an effective (albeit clichéd) tactic. Unfortunately, the volume disparity between the two parts as presented leads to a rather underwhelming entrance for the music in our opinion.
As for said music track, we found some balance and sibilance issues causing problems throughout. While Robert has done a fine job with the performances, the volume of the kick drum is distracting, particularly during the verses. We also felt that the snare drum had an overly metallic tone, at least through our monitors. As for the sibilance, to our ears it does not seem to be compressor/limiter related, but rather an eq or microphone issue.
Suggestions: Sadly, Robert has failed to include any monitors in his gear list. Sadder still, loyal readers, is the fact that the majority of submissions we receive these days are guilty of the same ommision. Imagine calling your auto mechanic with an engine problem in your car, but failing to mention its make or model. Did Tim and Robert hear the concerns we addressed at their mix station? Was the mix position in a treated or untreated space? These considerations play a pivotal role in the outcome of any mix, and yet seem sooo 20th century to many. Well, guess what? They're not. They're timeless... as long as we are listening to music on speakers or headphones, we need to really know the speakers or headphones we use to create that music!
[We were contacted after this review ran in the magazine by Robert, who informed us that Behringer TRUTH monitors were used. Robert also corrected the equipment list that ran in the print article; the above list is now correct. Double check your facts before submitting your songs, folks!--Ed.]
Right, then -- end of rant. We suggest that Robert and Tim revisit their mix, and closely examine the energy drop at the song's intro. Reversing the volume order so that the music comes in a tad louder than the ambient sounds would give the track a sorely needed boost at this critical point. Next, we would urge the guys to rework the drums. In our opinion the kick drum should be set back several dB and the snare re-eq'd for a rounder tone.
As for the sibilance, we would advise that Tim try out a dynamic mic on Robert's lead vocal. The inherent high frequency bump in many of today's modern condenser microphone does not play well with all voices, and Robert's may be one of them.
Summary: Monitors, monitors, monitors...!
Contact: Robert Michaels/EXPEN$E, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.expenserocks.com