Feedback on my first track


I got Ableton about 4-5 months ago and would be very grateful for some feedback on my first track! The learning progress has been slow but steady, I started with the track quite early and have watched tons of tutorials and come back to this track and tried to apply what I’ve learned.

Didn’t have a specific genre in mind when I started, just wanted to do some dance music/ EDM type stuff, so not really sure of the exact genre either…Still a beginner, so definitely don’t have every aspect of producing covered, but I thought starting with an actual project as soon as possible would be the best way to learn.

All in all any feedback (especially the mix and whether anything sticks out as something that I should adjust / change, or any other general or more specific feedback on the track) that comes to mind.

EDIT: Latest version of the track SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds

Many thanks in advance!

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I like overall where this track is going. :sunglasses: I think the main areas you can improve here are mixing related.

Try listening you your elements and EQing out frequency ranges that seem too loud. To me for example the kick seems slightly ‘boxy’ and could do with some EQ reducing the low mids. The piano chord stabs may have a bit too much energy somewhere in the mids. Try to think about the volume of each element and balance them. The piano chord stabs are probably too loud for example.

I think your kick and bass could use some tightening up. The bass notes seem to merge together into a long sustain of bass. Some ideas…

Check the volume release envelope of the bass and shorten it so each note has stopped playing before the next one.
To better define the bass notes, try adding more pluckiness to them. You can do this by shaping the amp and filter envelopes and/or applying an EQ boost to the treble. A compressor can also help.
Try taking the bass out of every down beat where the kick plays or reduce the volume of the bass notes that play when your kick is playing.
If you have your bass synths amp set to respond to velocity level, you can decrease the velocity of each bass note playing on every down beat where the kick plays.
Look at sidechaining the bass to your kick so that the bass ducks out of the way when the kick is playing. The traditional way of sidechaining was with a compressor on the bass channel taking its sidechain input from your kick or from a separate click track but you can use a volume shaper tool such as LFO tool, Duck by DeviousMachines, or Evade by Soundspot or many others.
You could also bounce the bass down to audio and shape the volume yourself with automation in your DAW arranger page.
Make sure your kick isn’t too long, playing on into the next bass notes and muddying up the bass.

To help combat muddiness I recommend you high pass filter the low bass out of everything except the elements such as your kick and bass that you definitely want to be playing in the bass register.

I think the drop at 2:26 would be more powerful if the bass would modulate at least by playing the root notes of the piano chords. This would release some tension for a more uplifting drop.

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Thanks so much @big_phil for taking the time to listen to the track and write all this feedback, really appreciate the help. Will work on the points you raised and come back!

Mixing / EQ’ing are the points I feel like I lack the most knowledge atm as well so very solid points raised. I will also adjust the bass.

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Your welcome. It’s a pretty great first track. :slight_smile:

Perhaps you already know but just a tip for bass. If your using a synth bass, try setting oscillator retrigger on. This will start the oscillators at the same point in the waveform for each note. In many synths you can then also adjust the phase of the oscillators to get a more plucky sound depending on what waveform you have loaded.

I looked at your track with a visual EQ and can see some big resonances poking out from the piano chords. You can really hear them once you notice them. The most obvious one being note E5 at 659.3 hz. There are EQ and compression methods to help with resonant frequencies but specifically a dynamic EQ (which can reduce a frequency when it becomes too loud) could work really well.

I’d also look at the stereo width aspects of your track. It sounds like even though your actual bass synth and kick is mono, which is a good idea, there is a lot of stereo width in the low mids from a wide stereo pad which is also spilling down into the bass. I’d look at high pass filtering the bass out of that some more and perhaps have that pad pumping to the kick to help the groove in the lower end. A wide low mid pad can work fine but I would look into adding more stereo interest in the high frequencies to balance it out. Perhaps with some more panned percussion playing on either side.

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Hahah! Thanks really appreciate it! I have a day job so takes some time before I have time to come back and do the adjustments but I have EQ’ed the piano stabs the way you explained and was able to find a lot of frequencies that were way too loud. Thanks for the elaboration with the specific frequency, that really helped me to identifty the problem!!

Moreover, I have actually taken out the bass, I felt like it was taking way too much space in the track, now I feel like the lead piano and other elements have the space that they deserve and I also filtered the low end on all tracks (expect kick and sub bass at the end) and I think it sounds better now, what do you think? Maybe another question would be should I add more low end bass somewhere with the leads just to fill the low end? Don’t think that harmony/composing side needs more but if the track feels hollow without it not sure…

One more question considering the panned percussion, I’ve panned the existing percussion more to the sides, but would that do the job or do you mean adding more percussion overall?

All in all your tips have cleared a lot of the muddiness! I also removed excess layers I had in the lead chords at the end and left just the piano stabs and the “plucks”

Here’s the new version: SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds

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Definitely can tell you cleaned some things up a bit, especially resonances out of the piano stabs. I meant to add a little more additional panned percussion. Your percussion is very quiet for your piano chord stabs. I think it needs a bassline though. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Good work & great first track.

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I will add some more percussion and I have came up with a bassline that should work ;). Will post the finalised track here. Thanks again for all the feedback dude!

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Sorry for the delayed reply, and unfortunately it looks like I’m late to the show… The link is now broken, you probably removed the track to make modifications.

Feel free to update your link when done, you can EDIT your post :wink:

Cheers !

Thanks @Tekalight! You’re definitely not late to the party hahah! I have not had time to finalise the track, here is the latest version with some adjustments made according to the earlier feedback. I have added a bass layer and brought down the piano stabs by one octave at one point to add some variation.

Any further feedback is more than welcome! I still need to add some more percussion probably at least… I linked the new version to the original post at the top!

Not sure which track is which ( latest version or original ) since link is broken in post 5, but still, listening to the track in 1st post I find the musical idea and song structure interesting. There’s a nice musical idea development over time, placement of transitions & use of Fx which is great for a 1st track.

Big_Phil already covered a lot about mixing issues and things that could be improved, but it’s just a normal thing when you start. There’s a lot that come into play for sure, I would recommend to aim for simplicity and clarity at first and to mix at very low levels to start. There’s always room to add more elements and push the levels later on but lowering levels and readjusting channels balance in the all mix can reveal a lot.

The version you listened was the edited one. Took your advice and have now tried to finalise the track.

The latest version can be found in the original post and here. SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds

Some notes

  1. I have added more percussion to make it more interesting
  2. Cut out all the “unnecessary” leads leaving only some light padding, lead stabs and the voice chops
  3. added a new bass at the drop in the end (and a short teaser in the middle), also changed the last piano stab rhythm at the end to make it more interesting
  4. have tried to EQ all the unnecessary stuff out to make it sound more clear, also have EQed some of the percussion as well
  5. have not changed much about the kick but if it sounds boxy I can still modify that…

Let me know what you think and if there is something I should change or leave out completely before publishing :slight_smile:

It sounds more cohesive but those are the areas I would definitely try to work on :

  1. Change your Kick.
  2. Drastically reduce the level and EQ everything riser noises, high frequency range. There’s a lot of harsh frequencies in there, it’s piercing and take a lot of energy in the mix.
  3. More control / reduce the reverb spread, especially on the vocals and low atmosphere sounds, don’t put all sounds through reverb, chorus or those type of effects, while it can help with widening the track it creates a lot of muddiness as well. Next to that our ears & brain need centered, almost mono sounding elements to make the difference with what’s putted into stereo and “space”.

Thanks for the feedback! Will adjust these next.

Can you just elaborate a bit on what you mean by “level”? Everything else seems pretty clear

I just mean “volume” :wink: , reduce the output level of those elements per track before they reach your master channel and any processing you may have there.

Right hahah! got it.

thanks again for the input. When referencing to other tracks I have noticed the same thing that most elements seem a bit wide and far away but couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was…thanks for pointing it out :smiley:

So I guess the way to do this is to reduce the reverb and adjust the level / volume on individual tracks

Well, there’s a lot more to it but in general it’s a good habit to adjust the level and EQ your sound before it goes into the reverb, low frequencies often make a reverb sound muddy and it will also take too much space in the spectrum, masking other frequencies and sounds. Then the type of reverb you use and it’s settings ( pre-delay, size and timing is important ). You can also EQ after the reverb to fine tune what’s coming out and also automate some reverb settings or the dry/wet of the reverb to follow the track.

Putting a compressor with side-chain to your kick ( or something else ) after your EQ and before the reverb can also give interesting results.

And in general there’s 2 different reverb scenarios usage : when it’s just about sound design and putting a sound in a space ( so let’s say you have a very dry Snare sample and you just want it to sound more as if it was recorded in a room ) then you can use a reverb on the snare channel itself and set the dry/wet knob accordingly ( 1st technique ) but then, when it comes to get the all drum kit sounding more alive and organic, you will put your reverb on a return channel, set the dry/wet knob to 100% wet and adjust the sends levels of your drum bus or individual drums channels to control what’s being passed to the reverb.

Always good to think IN & OUT, before & after the effect, doesn’t only apply to reverb but all effects in general.

But yes, the levels ( volume ) and frequencies being passed to reverb & other effects is important, especially if you’re using effects modeled after their vintage hardware counterparts, those devices were/are designed to work well at some input levels, often -18 dB, and except if you want to get extreme saturation and distortion for sound design purpose, it’s usually not good to send too much volume into those effects.

It’s different for everyone, but try the following : keep your master at 0 dB but set all your instrument channels at -14 dB instead of 0 dB ( I mean the max output reference here, you don’t want to exceed -14 dB ).

So you will need to gain stage all tracks again, i.e your Kick will be -14.5, your Bass -16.3 , your synth lead - 17.1 and your noises fx and risers maybe as low as -24 dB or even more ) … Just random sound examples and values here of course, but you get the picture.

It’s another way of monitoring and mixing, at low levels, the benefits are clarity and plenty of headroom left to use compressors, limiters on your master.

There’s no secret, it takes time, a lot of time, you need to experiment with things and techniques, the learning curve is a never ending one, but just try to keep it fun and make music you like. This 1st track here is certainly not perfect but there’s something catchy in it’s musicality and arrangement and it’s the pillar of music : it needs to be attractive and pleasant for the ears :wink:

And that’s enough talk from me I believe… :smile: :wink:

Cheers & have a great weekend and keep it up and do not worry if some things I wrote are non sense right now, it will come in time with the other parts of the puzzle.

Think about getting a subscription with S.A, not trying to promote anything here, simply best advice I can give, there’s invaluable learning content on the site and excellent tutors :sunglasses:

Cheers !

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