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What does it take to make a track sound like this?
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kodebode
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#1
13th March 2013
Old 13th March 2013
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What does it take to make a track sound like this?

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13th March 2013
Old 13th March 2013
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a talented artist(s) and a talented producer working with a talented engineer in a good room with good equipment and mixed and mastered by talented mixing and mastering engineers and then smashed to pieces by youtube's compression algorithm. Simples.
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13th March 2013
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Originally Posted by Trev@Circle View Post
and then smashed to pieces by youtube's compression algorithm. Simples.
LOL
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13th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Morris View Post
LOL
I am not too technical, and aware of exactly how much Youtube affects the sound quality. You may be right.

But with that in mind, this is what made this recording stand out for me. In comparison with thousands of songs I have listened to on youtube, this is one that still stood out, and contrary to your comments, did NOT sound compressed.

For a music track produced in the 70's, to sound this good, spacious and enlivening, in spite of whatever youtube does to the sound, is noteworthy.

Could you point me to any other remarkable recordings, with a good dynamic range?
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13th March 2013
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the steeley dan album, aja is often referenced
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13th March 2013
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A time machine?
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13th March 2013
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Not just a reverb plugin there.
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14th March 2013
Old 14th March 2013
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Boy, I've lately been reading a bit about Quincy, his composing habits, general views on recording and so on.

He seems to have a savant type of mind when it comes to his work. By that, he almost seems like he doesn't really "compose", so much as write down, as quickly as he has to, the "PICTURE" he hears in his head. It's almost like the entire song or album is already in there and he can visualize it from the first note on paper all the way through to mastering and airplay. In so doing, he has incredible vision and intuition that simply adds up to everything he touches turning into gems.

Truly one of the masters. I think a lot of the sound on those records is due to this phenomenon.

So, to make it sound like that, just become Quincy Jones.

Simple
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14th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LFlood View Post
Boy, I've lately been reading a bit about Quincy, his composing habits, general views on recording and so on.

He seems to have a savant type of mind when it comes to his work. By that, he almost seems like he doesn't really "compose", so much as write down, as quickly as he has to, the "PICTURE" he hears in his head. It's almost like the entire song or album is already in there and he can visualize it from the first note on paper all the way through to mastering and airplay. In so doing, he has incredible vision and intuition that simply adds up to everything he touches turning into gems.

Truly one of the masters. I think a lot of the sound on those records is due to this phenomenon.

So, to make it sound like that, just become Quincy Jones.

Simple
Thanks for these comments. Good to hear what others think of this.

I've been on a similar journey studying the craft of recording, production and musical creativity, as a seed for my own creative ambitions.

I conclude that all great music and recordings are unique, a specific "one time only" junction of a unique set of ears, emotions, unity, hands, minds, equipment, finances, time, sponsors, intentions, that will never be created again.

Like a good book, if you ask the writer to do it again, the words will never come out exactly the same.

Like a portrait of the same face by the same painter, each one is a unique expression.

I feel the compulsion to simply create, and not compare.

Like nature, each flower, of even the same specie, could be similar yet each is slightly different in its own way.

I think I now understand it. In Quincy's time, music was a collaboration, of usually highly skilled artists, each bringing their own persona and life force, and we hear in the music these micro variations that make the music so interesting.

In our current world of quantised, sample accurate, soft synths, mostly all played by the same mind, it's no wonder that music no longer sounds quite as life like and engaging.

You are right, I have to become my own Quincy. Do my own thing. Express my unique self, and help others express themselves. That's music.
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14th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trev@Circle View Post
a talented artist(s) and a talented producer working with a talented engineer in a good room with good equipment and mixed and mastered by talented mixing and mastering engineers and then smashed to pieces by youtube's compression algorithm. Simples.
Yes, all of the above. Of course, if you take one element out of that mix, its not quite the same.

To the OP... YouTube adds some quirky sounds of its own but you can still hear the artistry and the talented individuals that make that sound. The one thing missing in most of todays records is the sense of space that you hear on these records. That sense of space started to disappear somewhere in the early 80s (just a rough date IMO). Artificial reverb took over and suddenly we lost the sound of an artist in a room and the sound of distance in a room.

I think thats the sound you`re asking about.

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14th March 2013
Old 14th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kodebode View Post
Please listen to this, This is Music. Open clear, distinct,

Quincy Jones "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" (1974) - YouTube

What would it take to make my tracks sound like this?

Well... first of all... you didn't post a reference track of your own... so I don't know what you have.

Second... Quincy didn't engineer this, so don't look to him for gear tips.... BUT.. what Quincy does intuitively is something you need to have a grasp on .. and that is..... as an Arranger, you MUST MUST MUST understand how to combine and use instruments in a track that DO NOT INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER IN THE FREQUENCY SPECTRUM.

Otherwise, you end up with a load of 2013 crap.... or a wall of sound thing due to TOO MANY overlapping instrument frequencies. Get an arranging book... peruse those frequency charts.....REALLY understand those for instruments.

It's all in the arranging for step one... air.. non-interfering frequencies... except of course for those wall-of-sound harmonies Quincy likes to do.. not my fav stuff though.

Anyway..then.. on to the engineering to get the sound... not hard to do if you have good players...(or are) a good player.

If you lived and recorded in 1974, it's a no brainer to recreate.... face it.. the gear and techniques aren't extinct... just start with the arrangement and the room... everything else will fall into place.. even if you have to bring in 824 players over the course of the next weeks to find the combination of guys who groove on your IDEAL ARRANGEMENT OF NON-INTEFERING FREQUENCIES FROM INSTRUMENTS THAT COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER....

.....and none of this triple tracking crap!!! If you're gonna triple track stuff, you're gonna start creating a wall... and "wall" is not what you want.. if you're gonna triple track.....you're gonna have to call it a Fleetwood Mac experiment rather than Quincy Jones.

Anyway.. it's the arrangement that happens first... in fact.. I think many of Quincy's "songs" are actually sorta... substandard... But he is a stellar ARRANGER. He can do stuff that is full of air and space... and.. usually with others in process... he does some pretty nice full spectrum stuff that is also very clear. That is a trick and an art.

Pull up some Arif Mardin stuff too while you're exploring arranging.
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14th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Well... first of all... you didn't post a reference track of your own... so I don't know what you have.

Second... Quincy didn't engineer this, so don't look to him for gear tips.... BUT.. what Quincy does intuitively is something you need to have a grasp on .. and that is..... as an Arranger, you MUST MUST MUST understand how to combine and use instruments in a track that DO NOT INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER IN THE FREQUENCY SPECTRUM.

Otherwise, you end up with a load of 2013 crap.... or a wall of sound thing due to TOO MANY overlapping instrument frequencies. Get an arranging book... peruse those frequency charts.....REALLY understand those for instruments.

It's all in the arranging for step one... air.. non-interfering frequencies... except of course for those wall-of-sound harmonies Quincy likes to do.. not my fav stuff though.

Anyway..then.. on to the engineering to get the sound... not hard to do if you have good players...(or are) a good player.

If you lived and recorded in 1974, it's a no brainer to recreate.... face it.. the gear and techniques aren't extinct... just start with the arrangement and the room... everything else will fall into place.. even if you have to bring in 824 players over the course of the next weeks to find the combination of guys who groove on your IDEAL ARRANGEMENT OF NON-INTEFERING FREQUENCIES FROM INSTRUMENTS THAT COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER....

.....and none of this triple tracking crap!!! If you're gonna triple track stuff, you're gonna start creating a wall... and "wall" is not what you want.. if you're gonna triple track.....you're gonna have to call it a Fleetwood Mac experiment rather than Quincy Jones.

Anyway.. it's the arrangement that happens first... in fact.. I think many of Quincy's "songs" are actually sorta... substandard... But he is a stellar ARRANGER. He can do stuff that is full of air and space... and.. usually with others in process... he does some pretty nice full spectrum stuff that is also very clear. That is a trick and an art.

Pull up some Arif Mardin stuff too while you're exploring arranging.
Yup, its understanding each instrument. Theres a great book for more on the subject: The Study of Orchestration by Samuel Adler.

Knowing how each instrument works: range, tone, techniques used, etc... when mastered allow arrangers/composers to create settings where instruments support each other and not work against each other. This approach of treating a rock record like an orchestra is put into use by great producers today as way. Just listen to Mutt Lange records, anything by Max Martin, Paul Simon records...
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14th March 2013
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Not enough focus on arrangement. It's a huge part of it all
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14th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
A time machine?
Ya - sad but true. You need 1974 and that's tough! A Time Modulator is cheaper (and more readily available), but that will only get you back as far as 1976...
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14th March 2013
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Considering the obvious factors about quality, talent, and arrangement as 'given', what I hear 'technically' on this track:

Lots of space. Both in the arrangement, and in the panning. Extreme hard left/right panning off the top, with reverb (an old plate or chamber, very little HF), in the middle.

Dynamics -- singers and percussion are soft, intimate, right up to the mics which when combined with the panning makes it seem as if they're whispering right out of the speakers at you

tone - lots of low end, very 'warm', and rolled off analog highs. Ray Brown being a featured player here, it's not surprising the bass is front and centre in the mix, till the trumpets come in at least.

Space and more Space -- it's an open, sparse arrangement AND an open production style that leaves plenty of room to hear everything. Nothing's crammed in your face with compression, or eq, or performance. Hence the laid back breezy, easy going feel.

Nice stuff- hadn't heard this track before. Thanks for sharing.
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15th March 2013
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It's true that the arrangement is the bedrock, everything builds up from there.

And the performers have to lay it down with the right groove, or it won't have the same magic. In particular, the drum sound is the biggest factor that cues your ears in to what time frame we're dealing with.

But there's a lot to the engineering as well. All that 'air' has to be captured in the right perspective, and in good proportion to the sound, or you'll either lose the intimacy, or lose the palpable sense of space.

Mixing, you gotta master transient shaping. Once you get your transients in the right form you combine them with faders as if they were pieces of a jigsaw; get it right and the various envelopes in the arrangement will merge and the speakers will tickle your ear drums in a way that replicates the groove that was in the room.

Shaping and mixing the transients like that gives a mix a tremendous amount of clarity because the attacks continuously cue your ears in to the sounds, which allows you to keep their decays lower in the mix without losing the energy or presence of the elements. At that point, you can roll off highs and still hear every nuance. THAT was one of the great tricks of the 70's, to have warmth/darkness that speaks with clarity, and a tight punch that doesn't explode, it stays soft, the way it was played.

Go easy on the subs too, filter them out, make the bass warm and round rather than heavy.

I think tape and a console are at the heart of the sound you're chasing; you can evoke the vibe without them, but to nail it everything has to be in place, even the gear.


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16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky Media View Post
Ya - sad but true. You need 1974 and that's tough! A Time Modulator is cheaper (and more readily available), but that will only get you back as far as 1976...
I'd probably go the tardis route
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16th March 2013
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And more importantly, where can I get the shirt hes wearing in the pic?

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16th March 2013
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starting at 1:53 there seems to be a lot of harshness with the bass guitar going on. Very hollow sound
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16th March 2013
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Song writing dictates arrangement, arrangement dictates playin and singin'.
Playin and singin' dictates recording and engineering.

If u try to arrange something that hasn't been written you'll sound so 2013.

In this case, hire the best guy there is.
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17th March 2013
Old 17th March 2013
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19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
It's true that the arrangement is the bedrock, everything builds up from there.

And the performers have to lay it down with the right groove, or it won't have the same magic. In particular, the drum sound is the biggest factor that cues your ears in to what time frame we're dealing with.

But there's a lot to the engineering as well. All that 'air' has to be captured in the right perspective, and in good proportion to the sound, or you'll either lose the intimacy, or lose the palpable sense of space.

Mixing, you gotta master transient shaping. Once you get your transients in the right form you combine them with faders as if they were pieces of a jigsaw; get it right and the various envelopes in the arrangement will merge and the speakers will tickle your ear drums in a way that replicates the groove that was in the room.

Shaping and mixing the transients like that gives a mix a tremendous amount of clarity because the attacks continuously cue your ears in to the sounds, which allows you to keep their decays lower in the mix without losing the energy or presence of the elements. At that point, you can roll off highs and still hear every nuance. THAT was one of the great tricks of the 70's, to have warmth/darkness that speaks with clarity, and a tight punch that doesn't explode, it stays soft, the way it was played.

Go easy on the subs too, filter them out, make the bass warm and round rather than heavy.

I think tape and a console are at the heart of the sound you're chasing; you can evoke the vibe without them, but to nail it everything has to be in place, even the gear.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Thanks Gregory, following on from the comment made by someone else I read through Bruce Swediens posts on gearslutz, and I think you've nailed it. The excitement we feel in good music is the "surprise", that makes you pay attention. One needs to preserve these transients.

I have learnt so much from gearsluzt, and its an honor to have you contribute. Much appreciated.
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#23
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
It's true that the arrangement is the bedrock, everything builds up from there.

And the performers have to lay it down with the right groove, or it won't have the same magic. In particular, the drum sound is the biggest factor that cues your ears in to what time frame we're dealing with.

But there's a lot to the engineering as well. All that 'air' has to be captured in the right perspective, and in good proportion to the sound, or you'll either lose the intimacy, or lose the palpable sense of space.

Mixing, you gotta master transient shaping. Once you get your transients in the right form you combine them with faders as if they were pieces of a jigsaw; get it right and the various envelopes in the arrangement will merge and the speakers will tickle your ear drums in a way that replicates the groove that was in the room.

Shaping and mixing the transients like that gives a mix a tremendous amount of clarity because the attacks continuously cue your ears in to the sounds, which allows you to keep their decays lower in the mix without losing the energy or presence of the elements. At that point, you can roll off highs and still hear every nuance. THAT was one of the great tricks of the 70's, to have warmth/darkness that speaks with clarity, and a tight punch that doesn't explode, it stays soft, the way it was played.

Go easy on the subs too, filter them out, make the bass warm and round rather than heavy.

I think tape and a console are at the heart of the sound you're chasing; you can evoke the vibe without them, but to nail it everything has to be in place, even the gear.


Gregory Scott - ubk
Quote:
Originally Posted by MC Daddy View Post
Thanks MC Daddy, I read many of Bruce's posts. Fascinating material. A few years ago Michaels albums were my "colleges of musical eduation". and I still hold them in high regard.
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Yes the use of little to no compression when mixing well recorded tracks which use little to no compression can and does create a dramatic sense of space and openness to a mix. I believe that the same way that certain overlapping frequencies can clutter and muddy up a mix by occupying the same frequencies, the same thing happens when you compress the tracks to "sit" in the mix. If you compress and limit everything, suddenly they all occupy the same "dynamic" space, making it difficult to impossible to hear them apart, or in other words they all get crowded into the same space. They lose their sonic and dynamic signature, and become boring and lifeless. I'm not saying compression is all bad of course, but it can suck the life and sense of space from tracks. Especially certain genres. It's amazing how open and real a decently recorded group of tight and talented players can sound. They will do the work for you, you just have to capture it. I'd trust their dynamic abilities over mine. There are some amazing open and dynamic sounding mono recordings that have every bit as open and lifelike qualities as stereo recordings. Even a sense of space. Keep that in mind as you work on a mix, if you can get that happening in mono, you're on the right track! If all else fails ... Time machine.
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Try LCR panning. None of this X percentage L/R....Nope...No sir...You're either Left. Right. Or Center.
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19th March 2013
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the referenced mix is not a lcr mix. youd have a pretty hard time coming up with lcr mixes in the early 70's.

when you have a good console and you plug a good mic into it, thats the sound that happens. if you leave it alone, you get records that sound like that.... less is more.
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#27
20th March 2013
Old 20th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Well... first of all... you didn't post a reference track of your own... so I don't know what you have.

Second... Quincy didn't engineer this, so don't look to him for gear tips.... BUT.. what Quincy does intuitively is something you need to have a grasp on .. and that is..... as an Arranger, you MUST MUST MUST understand how to combine and use instruments in a track that DO NOT INTERFERE WITH EACH OTHER IN THE FREQUENCY SPECTRUM.

Otherwise, you end up with a load of 2013 crap.... or a wall of sound thing due to TOO MANY overlapping instrument frequencies. Get an arranging book... peruse those frequency charts.....REALLY understand those for instruments.

It's all in the arranging for step one... air.. non-interfering frequencies... except of course for those wall-of-sound harmonies Quincy likes to do.. not my fav stuff though.

Anyway..then.. on to the engineering to get the sound... not hard to do if you have good players...(or are) a good player.

If you lived and recorded in 1974, it's a no brainer to recreate.... face it.. the gear and techniques aren't extinct... just start with the arrangement and the room... everything else will fall into place.. even if you have to bring in 824 players over the course of the next weeks to find the combination of guys who groove on your IDEAL ARRANGEMENT OF NON-INTEFERING FREQUENCIES FROM INSTRUMENTS THAT COMPLIMENT EACH OTHER....

.....and none of this triple tracking crap!!! If you're gonna triple track stuff, you're gonna start creating a wall... and "wall" is not what you want.. if you're gonna triple track.....you're gonna have to call it a Fleetwood Mac experiment rather than Quincy Jones.

Anyway.. it's the arrangement that happens first... in fact.. I think many of Quincy's "songs" are actually sorta... substandard... But he is a stellar ARRANGER. He can do stuff that is full of air and space... and.. usually with others in process... he does some pretty nice full spectrum stuff that is also very clear. That is a trick and an art.

Pull up some Arif Mardin stuff too while you're exploring arranging.
Hey you are so absolutely right. There's a song "He lives in you" which I love so much from Lion King 2, with a truly uplifting violin solo. When I found a good recording of this on Youtube, while searching for the violin player on google, I discover that the song was produced by Arif Mardin! Wow. I only found out today that there were other versions of this song, and having listened to all, the Arif version blows the others out of the water sonically, and the sheer aural pleasure and emotion it conveys is just phenomenal. What more can I say

Diana Ross - He Lives In You [HD] - YouTube


http://www.discogs.com/Diana-Ross-Ev...elease/1065883

And yes this song has dynamics and is well arranged.

What's so amazing is that these good songs, which are well recorded and well produced, you want to listen to them over and over and your ear does not get tired of listening to them, you just want more.

In contrast when I hear some of the new stuff, e.g this by Coldplay & Rihanna, while I do appreciate that the excessive use of compression/clipping is an effect. I really do not want to listen to this, too many times. Guess though this will sound really nice in a club! Each to his own.

Coldplay - Princess Of China ft. Rihanna - YouTube

Thanks so much. I have learnt so much in only a few days.

One plug for Gearslutz, its an amazing place to learn. Thanks everyone.

In todays world, how do we transform gearslutz so that as much as possible, we can hear and see references to topics discussed here. This would make gearslutz truly epic.
#28
20th March 2013
Old 20th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trev@Circle View Post
a talented artist(s) and a talented producer working with a talented engineer in a good room with good equipment and mixed and mastered by talented mixing and mastering engineers and then smashed to pieces by youtube's compression algorithm. Simples.
.



.
#29
20th March 2013
Old 20th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timesaver800W View Post
Song writing dictates arrangement, arrangement dictates playin and singin'.
Playin and singin' dictates recording and engineering.

If u try to arrange something that hasn't been written you'll sound so 2013.

In this case, hire the best guy there is.
.

word.

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