HP Pavilion Core 2 Duo PC with 4 GB RAM and M-Audio firewire 1814 audio interface, running Cakewalk SONAR X1; Tapco S-5 nearfield monitors, MXL-100 mic.
Production Notes & Credits:
"All In" is a female vocal rock song. Kelly Nobles sang the lead vocal, Dave Dodart was on piano, and the drum tracks were provided by Jim Dooley in the form of loops (see jimdooley.net for details on this service; that's why there's no technical information on the miking or recording of the drums -- Dan didn't do that part). Dan played the guitars, sang the backing vocals, and recorded/mixed the track, with "No mastering really, to speak of!".
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: A great song with some excellent performances, "All In" unfortunately comes up a bit short on the recording end of things.
First the good stuff. Dan is a gifted player and has captured a really great Santana/ Warren Haynes tone on his electric lead guitar. (No word on how he did this; the last time he submitted a tune for Readers' Tapes, some years ago, he used a Line 6 PodXT for his guitar processing, but he was silent on the matter this time around.) Kelly is equally talented, with great chops that build in intensity as the song progresses.
Now for the flip side. Dan, we are not sure what your intent was in placing the lead vocal to the left side of the stereo field, but whatever it was, we strongly object! Additionally, we found that the "pumping" artifact (stemming from overcompression) on the drums really hijacked the energy of the rhythm section throughout the track. We can't tell if they came from Jim this way (we hope not!) or if they were compressed in the mixing process, but either way, it's way, way too much squashing!
Suggestions: We are very confused about the lead vocal, Dan! "Seating" a vocal as strong as Kelly's certainly shouldn't require panning, so we can only assume that it was a conscious decision made at mix time. We suggest that you think long and hard about that choice here. In our opinion the vocal absolutely belongs in the center and we urge you to place it there!
As for the overcompression, we have published volumes in these pages through the years regarding the topic, and yet folks still seem to be applying it like fresh coats of paint. Dynamics equal energy, and squashing those dynamics to this degree makes us wonder if there is a monitor/mix position problem with your setup. The "pumping" artifact is clear as day though our system and should be through yours as well.
In any event, we suggest that Dan revisit his mix and dedicate himself to the fine art of A/Bing his mixes. There are thousands of good examples of successful mixes in this genre, and studying them is an immensely cost effective learning tool.
Summary: "There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear..."
Contact: Dan Nobles, firstname.lastname@example.org