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Current Tape Reviews

Clean Slate
 
Artist Name:
Randy Martin/PopSentry (featuring Whitney Kelly & the Quayzars)
  Title:
Clean Slate
 
Date Posted:
September 2016
 
Genre:
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

Windows 7 PC (64-bit) with Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 interface running Steinberg Cubase 7.5 and plug-ins by Waves, Slate Digital, Eiosis, Focusrite, Lexicon, IK Multimedia, and brainworx. Mics: M-Audio Pulsars (overheads), Shure SM57 (snare), GLS (bottom snare and rear kick), homemade speaker-in-reverse (front kick head), CAD mics (toms), microphoneparts.com modded MXL 990 (lead vocal), Avantone CV-12 (backing vocals). PreSonus Studio Channel (bass DI) and Eureka (guitar DI and vocals), ART Pro MPA II (toms), Focusrite Octopre (snare/kick/overheads). ADAM Audio F5 monitors, PreSonus Temblor T10 sub, beyerdynamic DT770 headphones. Carvin bass, Tama Rockstar Custom drums, Roland JV-1080 and Yamaha Motif Rack, E-Mu and M-Audio controllers.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Clean Slate" is a male vocal rock song. George Robson IV provided the drums, bass, keyboards, handclaps, and lead vocals. Whitney Kelly sang the backing vocals and added additional handclaps. David Robson handled the electric guitar and added handclaps. The track was recorded/engineered by Randy Martin with engineering assistance from George Robson.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 0
"Clean Slate" is unfortunately a perfect example of a quality effort being torpedoed by the dreaded overcompression monster. While the music bed features a plethora of well played and recorded sounds, the vocals are completely smeared over with compression. From the production notes it's obvious that a lot of time, effort, and detail went into the creation of this track. Given that, the compression faux pas is even more baffling.

Suggestions: One look at the gear list supplied here would seem to indicate that Randy is no stranger to the recording world. There’s lots of quality firepower, on both the instrument list and the recording end of things. So what the heck happened to cause such drastic vocal compression?

Traditionally compression was used as a volume averaging tool in both studio and live settings. Back in the day, even the most tricked-out studios would ration their limited number of pricey hardware boxes, saving them for "essential" sounds sources like drums, loud/inconsistent vocals, and to a lesser degree bass and guitars. In other words, they were used on a strictly as-needed basis. In today's DAW environment, limits are purely CPU-based. Over the years this has led to a "let's put one on everything" mentality, quite often to the detriment of many projects!

Part two of this equation centers around our seemingly endless quest for more volume. In many minds “louder” means “better and more exciting”, essential for the competitive edge. Whatever the reasoning, we are hard pressed to understand the need for such obvious processing on the vocals here.

Neither George nor Whitney comes across as a "screamer", and the other sounds seemed to have escaped the compressor's wrath. We know Randy's ADAM F5 monitors to be quality units, so it would appear that the "smear" was intentional...?

We suggest that Randy revisit his mix and explore other methods to "seat" his vocals, leaving the remaining instruments intact. This is one case where you absolutely can have too much of a good thing.

Summary: Easy to fix, so fix it!

Contact: Randy Martin/PopSentry, crmartin151@yahoo.com; watch a video for the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwAA3NqZ51E
About: Marty Peters

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