Sean Donnelly - Japan On Fire (Original Mix) [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Listens and feedback are greatly appreciated!


Hi there Sean,

Noticeable improvement in your mixing balance in this one indeed :slight_smile:

I did not reply and comment to your previous version in the other topic on purpose, you did that one too fast and it was going nowhere IMHO.

This one is much better, it’s a bit too “hot” ( I’ve got levels in the red here ) and still perfectible in terms of mixing & arrangement of course, but this is a serious improvement comparing to some other tracks you posted before.

I’m not the one to tell you it’s easy to get there, it really takes time and practice to get your producing skills to a “comfort & confidence zone” where you will find it more easy and get better results faster. The important thing is to keep the fun doing it, keep on learning and trying out techniques, but do it step by step.

Your first tracks where really missing clarity & balance, gain stage & taking care of levels is really the core of it, before messing out with plugins & effects. So in this one there"s a serious progress in this crucial area IMO, keep it on ! Again it comes with time & practice and establishing a good workflow with rules of thumb about levels first.

Cheers !

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You’re right. My head is full of ideas but I really need to be more careful with my mixing and mastering. The arrangment could also do with work I agree.

I’m having tremendous fun each time I open my DAW and I intend to keep it that way! I’ll work to improve all areas of my production game.

Thanks for the listen and indepth and invaluble feedback. I always take your feedback very seriously and I hope I use your feedback to improve my next tracks.

Till next time!

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What’s your DAW of choice BTW ? Maybe I asked already, but just can’t recall right now.

If you haven"t try it yet, download “span” plugin from Voxengo, it’s totally free and really helps with levels & frequencies monitoring, it’s really a great tool.

Span : Free Spectrum Analyzer Plugin, FFT, Real-Time [VST, AU, AAX] - SPAN - Voxengo

Also Google for “Using K metering” or “K-14 Monitoring” and you’ll find a bunch of videos that explains what it is about.

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Ableton. Downloading that now and taking a look at some k metering videos on YouTube.

In case you’re wondering, for years I used to always be focused on the mixdown at the extent of creativity. I found when I was working that way my tracks never got out of the loop stage and always felt stale. I was way too hard on myself and always wanted the perfect mixdown without realsing I had to build a track that had soul in it firstly. My new way of working certainly isn’t standard but I find it to be more inspiring and the sounds I’m getting are a lot more unique comparitively.

I now need to take a step back and combine the two ways of producing so I can make tracks that are perfectly balanced while also having that creative edge. I know quite a bit of mixing theory which I’ve gathered over the years, some from this website (think I first subscribed here on another account back in 09/10!) as well as various other outlets. It’s now time to put all of that knowledge into my new tracks!

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Ableton is a good DAW, very flexible for the workflow and nice to experience things with the session view.

Hope you’ll find Voxengo Span very useful, next to levels & metering it’s also a great tool to get precise frequencies information. In the latest version 3.4 they have now implemented LU & LUFS loudness metering too, which is an extra bonus for a free plugin. LUFS is more of a new standard for perceived loudness measurement, but loudness is different than levels, therefore the good old K metering is still a reliable approach IMO. VuMeters can also help to correctly Gain Stage your audio/midi source before hitting effects plugins, especially if using analog gears emulations plugins that are designed after analog equipment that are supposed to receive input signal matching VuMeters ( where 0 dBvu is in fact around -18 or -20 dBFS in the digital domain ). Using K -14 Metering can really help to avoid to drive those plugins too hot.

What many people do not realize is that in most DAW, your tracks fader is the very last “post-fader” in the singnal flow chain, but your source ( audio/midi clip, sample, soft-synth…etc ) is always “pre-fader”. So you could get away with balancing a full mix just using the tracks faders and it will sounds right, but in fact if your source material was already too hot ( and many soft-synths presets are ! ), pulling the track fader down will perhaps help to balance your mix, but it won’t solve the real issue and might lead to much more difficult mixing & mastering as the tracks count grows. And the last mistake to do is to reach for your master fader and to pull it down : this one should always stays at 0 and never be touched !

This is not gain staging, the simple & first thing to do was to actually reduce the output level of Massive, Sylenth, Ana…etc or your audio sample level inside the audio clip. You can also use Live’s Utility as the first plugin on your track and put the level down before any other compressor or whatever effect or plugin you use. For Midi notes, reducing the velocity is also something good to do. A full kick at Max 127 velocity followed by a plucky bass also played at full velocity is not especially doing good for your mix and next to that playing nicely with velocity gives also a “human” feel to your tracks. So yes plenty of tricks to take care of it, but always think about the source, like if you where an audio engineer recording a musician & taking care of your levels not being too hot to hit the pre-amp, compressor and so on before ending inside the console with faders for sure, but hey, you got what you recorded in right ? So that’s the concept and this is proper gain staging for me, getting the right level at your source output. The tracks faders should be used to balanced tracks within the mix, but after having taking care of the source level. And that’s were K Metering really helps.

Check the concept reading this article and watch an old but good illustration video with Live to illustrate this better. It’s a bit cumbersome at the beginning because our ears are always fooling us with the “louder is better” effect and perceived loudness, but it really change the game when you start to be careful about it.

Yes, I know what you mean with the creative VS technical aspect of Music Production, could generate a long talk :slight_smile: Will drop a message instead of a long reply here.

Cheers & keep it on, passion + time & work could be only beneficial :wink:

You are extremely knowlegable and helpful! I thank you for using your time to help me. There’s a wealth of information for me to apply in my future productions:) Thanks for all your contineued help:)

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