Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Naw, On Second Thought...

I decided I wasn't quite satisfied with the overall sound of my latest homegrown CD, Blue Taxi. Acting on the advice of a couple of friends of mine who are also home recording artists, I invested in some good mastering software and went over all the tunes again. There were a few that I thought sounded pretty good as they were, so I just boosted their volume level a bit. Most of the tunes, however, got re-equalized in various ways and were given a bit of compressor/limiter treatment to shave off some of the more anomalous peaks before having their level boosted.

I think the album sounds a lot better overall, but as always I'm hoping to get some feedback (as in comments from listeners!). I replaced the mp3 samples I have posted online with new ones ripped from the remastered CD. Details of the tunes are still on my Minstrel's Muse site, but here are quick links:

Herald of the Dawn (the song that got a good score and excellent comments at the recording contest)
Blue Taxi
Secret Identity
Quite Enough (the song that got a so-so score and a polite ripping apart at the recording contest)
Intelligent Evolution

(No, these mp3s don't sound quite as good as the original files, but they're close enough. Please tell me what you think.)


  • Well whatever you have done certainly gives a nice smooth sound quality!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 11:08 PM  

  • Moody,
    Some of the tracks were ok, but felt like they needed a more agressive volume curve IE more attack on the dynamic compressor.
    Other wise, there is a certain signature Minstrel sound which you use that may be a little repetitive.

    On a completely different note, I have been listening to OINGO BOINGO Dead Man's Party. Try and play along with that just once:)

    By Anonymous Dave, at 2:42 AM  

  • Chief Rock Chef-
    The mastering software certainly made a difference, didn't it? I'm still in the learning process, but I'd call it a step up.

    Thanks for the comments.

    You'll need to explain a bit better what you mean by a "more agressive(sic) volume curve". I used different curves on the graphic equalizer depending on the mood of the song in question and the sound palette. Which songs need to be more "aggressive", and what sort of curve are you referring to? I'd also like some clarification as to what you mean by "more attack on the dynamic compressor".

    "Other wise, there is a certain signature Minstrel sound which you use that may be a little repetitive."

    Considering that not so long ago you were complaining that I wasn't sticking to my guns as far as sound and style are concerned (and were also urging me to stop experimenting and stick to a more cliche guitar sound), I find this remark kind of confusing. Actually, other people have urged me to be more consistent, so I guess I can't please everyone.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:06 AM  

  • Ok, I will try to clarify

    Attack and decay. The attack seems to be a little slow making some of your sounds kinda mushy. Since I can't pin it to any particular voice or instrument, I am assuming it is a global patch issue.

    The repetitive rift seems to be associated more with the guitar, and I would guess it is likely that as many tunes as you have put out, there is a comfortable rhythm that you fall back on. This comment may seem contradictory if I said focus your style. But I think when I made that comment I was suggesting you nail down an over all sound. Can't remember what I said precisely.

    Sometimes, one must indulge in immersion therapy. That is, instead of playing your own music, pick a pile of CD's and play along. Get those fingers in different positions and chord patterns. Experience different rhythms. That is why I made the Oingo Boingo comment. I haven't listened to the group for years and all of the sudden I decided to download some songs. Even Oingo Boingo didn't settle for the first rendition of this tune Dead Man's Party, changing it at least three times before the most known version came out on a best of album. In fact the first version was weak and awful. In the final version, you can tell that the band has merged with the song. Little effort is required by the musicians to play it, and by extension it is easy to listen to.

    Ninety nine percent of the character of a song comes from the heart, the remaining one percent comes from everything else.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 12:17 PM  

  • Dave-
    I keep the attack on the compressor/limiter set for instant response as a basic rule when mastering (i.e. shaving off isolated, excessive peaks), so I don't know the cause of that. It might have something to do with the synth sounds I'm using or the fact that I usually run the guitar through a compressor/sustainer, but I dunno.

    My wife has made similar comments regarding my tendency to fall back on certain rhythms. I guess it's just instinct. I hear and feel things a certain way, and that reflects itself in my playing.

    As for your "immersion therapy" advice, I have to say "been there, done that". Don't ask how many CDs my wife and I have at the moment. I could probably play a couple of them a day for a year and not come anywhere near the bottom of the pile. Listening to (and sometimes playing along with) genres such as acid rock, shoegazer, grunge, and the like has had an enormous influence on my own playing, though the Priest/Rush/Tull/ZZ Top roots are still strong and probably will remain so.

    I used to play along with OINGO BOINGO in my high school and early college days, remember? We used to play hooks from the "Only a Lad" album in stage band.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:16 PM  

  • Of course, with regard to the sound quality of these tracks, part of the problem could be the mp3 files themselves. After all, I used the mastering software itself to dub the original wav files into mp3 format, and it warned me that there would be a "significant reduction in sound quality" by doing so.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:01 PM  

  • Possibly. Every time you change a sound file from one form to another there will be some sort of loss. But it beats analog.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 4:02 AM  

  • Blue Taxi is nice. It kinda reminds me of Herbie Hancock. No?

    Erweina is nice too - sort of sci-fi-ish.

    My two cents.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 3:00 PM  

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