Apple MacBook Pro with Universal Audio Apollo interface running Apple Logic Pro 9, Native Instruments Guitar Rig plug-in, and Toontrack Superior Drummer. PRS 24 Custom guitar, Ibanez SR500 bass.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: My mother-in-law (forget the jokes, the woman is awesome) likes ice cream. A LOT. Matthew seems to feel the same way about compression. Fortunately for Mom, that sugar buzz wears off by and by, and she can go on about her business. Recordings, on the other hand, have a considerably longer shelf life...
From the intro acoustic guitar to the squashed snare drum to the square wave nature of the overall mastering, everything here is being effected by overcompression. So is all lost? Not by a long shot! Matthew and Armando have a damn good track under all that leveling, we just have to excavate it!
Suggestions: Historically, the primary goal of compression was the leveling of volume and the taming of out-of-control transients. Ah, but then came the loudness wars, which placed the compressor/limiter into the vanguard of the "my track's louder than your track" insanity. (Read this month's Recording Fundamentals for more on this topic.)
Did Matthew need compression on his sound sources? You bet he did, especially in the last minute of the track, when Armando cuts loose with some killer vocals and the bass guitar starts to "bring the beef" as the saying goes. But why the overcompression on the lightly strummed acoustic guitar, not to mention the delicate vocals at the intro?
Timestamping your recording with the latest fad effect or method du jour (in this case, overcompression) is a slippery slope, and unless you are damn sure you can live with the results down the road, we advise caution. Our suggestion to Matthew is to go back to his mix and learn to apply other skills in order to control his sound sources... such as fader riding, automation and mic placement.
Also, since there is no label honcho barking at you regarding the mastered volume here, letting the dynamic range back into the mix, particularly on the acoustic guitar and snare drum, would bring life to the song in ways that may surprise you.
Summary: There's gold under there... start digging, boys!
Contact: Matthew Mather / Simber, firstname.lastname@example.org