It feels like it could be a decent song, but as usual I’m at a point where I’m just moving sliders back and forth without knowing what I’m trying to achieve and what the problem is that I’m trying to solve. There are some nice parts but overall it just doesn’t sound right.

One problem is that it sounds too harsh and lacks “body”. Probably because I put a highpass filter on most instruments somewhere at 300hz, but without that it sounds messy and really wrong. Could also be due to the choice of instruments. All the thinner sounds are Arturia and UVI emulations while the fuller sounding parts use Diva instances. It’s two different worlds.

Then, the space is weird. Sounds like parts of the song are playing inside a metal can. It should be wider and more spacious and more consistent. Increasing reverb levels or length makes things worse because it fills the background with a lot of random sounds.

And the kick or the low end in general. It’s too hard. Lowering or eq-ing it even further and the song has no energy at all. Sounds a bit like those party samplers where they’d play old Fancy songs but with a modern beat. Well, it would sound much nicer if it was more like a Fancy song with a bit more oomph (not the band).

The snare I like.


Yes it definitely starts with sounds choice in this one I believe, that’s probably what’s giving you problem with mixing and might bring frequencies masking/dueling issues. For the space/reverb issues, it’s sometime good to have a look at the effects used within the synth plugin itself and either disable some internal processing or adjust the dry/wet or amount of the effect. Using more “raw” sounds from synths presets often allows you to retain more clarity and you can then add your own reverb or whatever processing to sculpt that space.

It gets much more musical during the break between 2:20 & 2:50 for me, in the other parts you also have elements that sounds out of tune, especially the bass to my listening. You should try to either play different midi notes or change the bass. That will help with the drums and the other synths sounds.

Melody & rhythm are interesting in the arrangement, it’s just missing that fuller sound and depth to be catchy and emotive, like you mentioned it’s sounding quite thin at the moment.

So yep, more a sound choice & processing issues matter with this one IMO, I would start by changing the bass and take a look at the effects inside the synths.

Cheers !

Thanks. Maybe I should let it sit for a while, let my ears forget the song, and then strip out all effects and rewire it step by step from scratch.

The song is indeed out of tune. I started in D minor, but later thought I was in G minor, and I also saw some B notes. I found it interesting. A lot of things make sense to your ears when you listen to a song in an endless loop for hours. Thanks for confirming that it doesn’t make sense.

The reverbs are all valhalla vintage and plate reverbs. But every track has it’s own reverb, sometimes insert, sometimes send. Thinking about it, everything playing in it’s own space probably doesn’t help with achieving a coherent sound. I’ll try how it sounds with having a few global reverb effects.

I also was thinking about changing the plugin itself. To me the Valhalla reverbs (except for shimmer) always have a “metal” sound to them and I dislike it. I don’t think I have any other reverb effects except for the Ableton convolution reverbs. Any suggestions?

Yeah, I know what you mean, that’s the classic trap we all fall into when we spend too much time on a song :wink:

Now using elements slightly out of tune in a mix can sometime lead to interesting & great results, in this case since it’s the bass which is a fundamental element, I think it’s just too obvious, so that didn’t work for me. The technique can be creative, but something to use carefully IMO.

About reverb, well… This could be a topic on its own I believe and there are so many good plugins on the market these days ! In the end, the way we feel about how a reverb plugin sounds has a lot to do with our own taste I think. Valhalla plugins are really good ones IMO, that said they definitely belong to the digital reverb category and therefore are much appreciated by electronic music producers. If you’re after something sounding more “natural”, Exponential Audio could be something to take a look at. The company is now part of iZotope but the engineer behind Exponential Audio DSPs is no one else than Michael Carnes, a former principal engineer for Lexicon during many years before developing his own brand. So the guy knows 1 thing or 2 about reverb, right :smile:

Now Exponential Audio reverb(s) are not very user friendly & nice looking TBH, the GUI(s) look very vintage computer like and it takes quite a learning curve to get around all features & settings that are available, but yes, reverb(s) like R2, R4 or PhoenixVerb sound really great IMO. I’m not sure if you can demo them, they aren’t cheap either.

But again there are so many options available and it will often come back to individual taste and usage scenario as well.

Next to that and back to Valhalla DSP having a “metal” sound to your ears, there’s also the way we set the reverb to take into account. Next to tweaking the settings, it all start with what you are sending to the reverb. So depending of the scenario you might want to stick a high pass or low pass filter before the reverb and EQ your source sound to tame certain peaks. Then placing another EQ after the reverb can also help to sculpt the sound. The classic side-chain reverb trick is also a good method to get some control on the reverb and to give some “life” to it. In this case you need to use the reverb on a return channel and stick a compressor after the reverb and side-chain the compressor to the source sound you send to the reverb. The compressor will duck the reverb each time your audio source come through and then release it again to full depending of your side-chain amount & compression settings. Interesting technique as well, but still, it’s important to control what’s going through the reverb in terms of frequencies and peaks.

Hope this helps :wink:

Cheers !

Thanks. I was looking around and did some shopping. One thing I realized is that using more mono reverbs, mono delays and panning seems to help to some extent. E.g. doubling a background arpeggio, panning it hard left and right, adding mono reverbs to each side and pan them to the opposite side, suddenly it sounds big and spacious but still leaves plenty of room for other instruments.

And usually I add a filter and use lfo tools to fake a sidechain compressor. Changing that lazy approach to one that uses real sidechain compression with the actual instrument being the trigger for the compressor also improves the sound. I have the impression that this also allows you to be more liberal with the effects. I can add a heavy reverb or delay without turning the instrument into a muddy “space soup”. Very interesting. Downside is that things start to sound old-ish and less like modern day electronic music.

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