AUD210 Week 8 - Soundalike Project
To listen to our mix, check HERE.
To listen to the original song, go to:
For this Soundalike Project, we have recreated “Who’s gonna save us” by Australian punk rock band - The Living End. As mentioned in the previous blog (check it out here!), this song is a fairly standard rock song by various means. I think we have done a pretty good job matching the sound of the original mix given the tight time frame. However, there are definitely parts that we did not plan well enough and mistakes that could have been avoided. Here under I am going to review about what we have done for this project and what improvements we could have make.
As this is a fairly simple rock song, we have, to a large degree, recreated the exact instrumentation of the original. The hardest part and the main part that varied is the guitar since the tracks are layered over and over with different takes and small fill-ins. We managed to pick up most of the small bits in the s
ong, but during the recording session we still manage to pick up more and more which have taken us an unnecessary amount of time. There are also some small excerpts of bass fill-ins that we have missed, largely due to the guitars in the song overpowering the attack of the bass guitar and us recording in a studio (Tascam East) which are not very well acoustically treated with problematic bass frequency responses. These mistakes could have been avoided by analysing the song more throughly with maybe more different listening set-ups, and also plan the sessions better so we can book better studios.
We have managed to get good musicians to join us in this project and so the recording process was fairly smooth. Overall, all of the players have no problem dwelling in the punk-rocky vibe of the song. Only minor issues have happened and we managed to resolve that during editing and mixing stages. A common problem is that the players are going too far on the aggressive tone in terms of performance since we have asked for it. For drums, our drummer may have hit the cymbals too aggressively and for guitars, some strumming and picking are quite too hard, though both of them are very minor issues. The most important issue is in the vocal, but he had done a great job considering he is not trained. Since this is a genre the singer is not familiar with and his voice having a different character, he had a hard time impersonating the original singer. The result of most of the takes he did are too aggressive, with too much raspy throat noise as well as nasal tones. In terms of pitch, he is also singing a bit flat with too much vibration. We have managed to sort out the pitch problem with Melodyne, but we ended up compromising for less aggressive vocal takes even though they may not be the best of his performance. The easy improvement would be having practice sessions with the singer beforehand, which we have actually planned to do but failed to due to schedule constraints of the singer.
For the low end frequency of the song, we have recreated quite exactly of the original song. The main differences lie in the high ends. For guitars, tones in the song are also fairly unique. By research, we know that the guitarist’s go to set-up is a Grestch Falcon with vintage Marshall amps. We managed to source cheaper versions of similar gears and they turned out sounding nicely. However in the mixing stage, we struggle a lot to reach the exact guitar tone. I would describe the overall original tone as a bright, crispy and thin overdriven sound which is not too tinny. What we have done is bright and crispy enough, but maybe too thick and too tinny that they ended up overpowering other elements of the song. For drums, since we have not much of a choice for equipments, both us and the drummer are not sure whether the choruses of the original feature a ride or a crash. We ended up going for crashes but we later found out the sound is too splashy and is clashing with the guitars. With more time, options, planning and freedom, these problems could have been avoided.
The effects used in the song is very simple and the song is very dry overall. The few prominent effects are the phone effect on the vocal doubles and some reverbs (plate on vocal and lead guitars; room on gang vocals and rhythm guitars) which we have easily recreated.
Mixing and Dynamics
The mixing session has gone well and we have not encounter too many problems except what mentioned above. The dynamics and balance is very similar to the song except for the guitars being slightly too overpowering. The low end of the song is also almost exactly the same as mentioned. We have also done some automation of levels to match the differences in verses and choruses. Problems that we have encountered are majorly due to insufficient planning and our lack of experience. On one hand, as there are a lot of tracks in the session while we only have 32 channels and a limited collection of outboard gears, we spent some extra time allocating the channels and gears as well as going back and forth further into the mixing process. A better session planning would have smoothen up the process. On the other hand, given the tight time frame of 8 hours, we have been too picky and have spent unnecessary amount of time fine tuning the tones of individual tracks instead of focusing on the big picture. With more practice and time in the studio we could be more comfortable and confident which would smoothen the process.
Overall, I think we nailed it! It sounded like a punk song in that era and could easily trick audience that have not heard the original song.