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This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

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pilgrim_heart
KVRist
 
148 posts since 20 Jul, 2004

Postby pilgrim_heart; Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:00 am This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

I've recently gotten started making music again. At first I thought I'd wait until I had a few tracks finished before I posted anything but then I decided that I might as well post stuff as it comes along (at the moment I have one more song up, the styles are rather different so I'll post that separately a bit later).

So here's a very 80's sounding track that to me sounds somewhere in between The Sisters of Mercy and Depeche Mode (an uncle of mine thought that it sounded a bit like Bowie, I haven't listened enough to the stuff he did in the 80's so I'm not sure). I finished it pretty quickly so a lot of stuff is "good enough", in hindsight I feel that it may be a bit lacking in high frequencies but then again I don't have access to any good monitoring setup at present (and in my current situation it might be a bad idea to spend the money to get something reasonable) so it's a bit hard for me to say for sure. Right now I feel that it's more important for me to get some tunes out there though so I can live with a production/mix that's not quite what it could be.

The vocals have a bit of sibilance/plosive problems. In part this is probably due to recording technique (due to recently moving I'm on a very bare-bones setup at the moment so no external pop shield, no mic stand etc.) and in part due to going a bit overboard with dynamics processing (guess I should have done more reference listening).

(Also: the song is now in .wav format if anyone downloads it because I was a fool and expected soundcloud to do it's own compression when I uploaded it, since I don't have a paid account I can't change the file without reposting the whole thing and losing stats etc. Sorry for that.)

https://soundcloud.com/gunboat_diplomat ... ntine-game
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layzer
KVRAF
 
1561 posts since 11 Jun, 2006

Postby layzer; Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:32 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

great song, your vocals are good too. seems like you know whats not up to par, but thats ok.....
the missing sizzle made me feel like i was listening to some authentic 80's song off of a cassette tape! :hihi:

good job! :tu:
HW SYNTHS [KORG T2EX - AKAI AX80 - YAMAHA SY77 - ENSONIQ VFX]
HW MODULES [OBi M1000 - ROLAND MKS-50 - YAMAHA TX802]
SW [DIM PRO - RAPTURE - Z3TA+ - CRONOX3 - KLC - RMiV]
DAW [ENERGY XT2/1U RACK XPSP3 PC/MAUDIO 1010LT PCI]
pilgrim_heart
KVRist
 
148 posts since 20 Jul, 2004

Postby pilgrim_heart; Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:54 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

@layzer: Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you liked it.

Since this is KVR I guess it might be nice to post some details about what I've used, right? Here a quick list:
* All synths are ImpOscar2 (I liked the original version but the unison features in the new one was a gigantic leap in terms of usability IMO).
* Bootsie's plugins have been used a lot, in particular Density is used as drum bus and main bus glue compressor and Tesla SE has been used in a lot of places as I find it provides a bit of grit without messing a lot with the dynamics (very useful for vocals which I otherwise often find hard to get to glue in tracks with lots of synths and/or distorted guitars as they tend to sound too clean).
* If one uses Reaper an emulation of the 1176 (called JS: SStillwell/1175) is available in the stock plugs, the four-button mode has been used for further dirtying of the vocals (probably pressed it a bit too hard though, I think that might be the cause of those pop/sibilance problems).
* I've used Reverberate LE for impulse reverbs. This allows one to apply an envelope to the impulses, by restricting the hold time one can get something that behaves a lot like gated reverb. I've used this for the kick and snare sounds (with two different impulses since ones that sound good on snares usually get too boomy on the kick).
* I found that a bit of maximiser clipping on the master bus was a good way to get some further glue effect after applying the bus compressor (I found this by accident, I had mixed everything too hot at first so the master bus was clipping and after fixing this things sounded worse to my ears so I looked for some way to apply controlled clipping and found that LoudMax worked well for this).
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bluedad
something special
 
7915 posts since 15 Mar, 2002, from Birmingham, Alabama

Postby bluedad; Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:15 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Good song, vocals and arrangement; I really enjoyed it.
I want to thank IK for the trip to Hawaii and for letting me play with ST3 since January.
nasenmann
KVRian
 
575 posts since 24 Oct, 2005

Postby nasenmann; Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:44 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Hey, i kinda like this! The vocals have character.
I'm not someone to easily embrace anything 80's pop sounding, so take it as a big compliment.
The depeche mode connection is obvious enough even to an 80's layman like me, and that's one of the bands i enjoy a decent number of tunes of.

Ending is meant to stay? Bit abrupt..
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
925 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:11 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Really like the song :) If I was mixing this I would take quite a chunk of the low end out of your vocal and probably do more work on the low end generally as it's a bit muddy down there. Yes, it could definitely do with more high frequency content although not too much as it would work against the 80's vibe. Good track.

Edit - Try a multi band comp to lower the plosives (I'm guessing anywhere from 100 - 400 Hz region)
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pilgrim_heart
KVRist
 
148 posts since 20 Jul, 2004

Postby pilgrim_heart; Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:19 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Thanks a lot for the comments everyone. :)

Some more specific stuff:
@nasenmann: Nice to hear that you enjoyed despite not being into the style as that hopefully means that the song itself is fairly solid (I've tried doing it with an acoustic guitar and that seems to work fairly well). The ending was pretty much intended but listening again after reading your comment gets me thinking that maybe I should have added a bit of an extra reverb/delay tail or something to make it drag out just a little longer. Thanks for the input on that

@do_androids_dream: Thanks for the input. About the bass muddiness I suspect that I haven't picked up on it due to my listening setup, I have good headphones but my speakers are cheap multimedia stuff (with a terribly exagerrated bass response, probably a lot of peaking at some frequency) and bass frequency problems seems to be a common issue when relying too much on cans. I suppose that you are listening on a "proper" setup with studio monitors and possibly room treatment? I should get at least a couple of decent monitors at some point so I would be very interested in hearing what kind of monitors you use (I can't do much about my current room unfortunately) to get some ideas for what I might want to look at.

Also, thanks for the tip on using a multiband comp for plosive killing, hadn't thought of that. I suppose you would compress (limit?) the offending frequency band quite a bit (and maybe with a fast attack to squash as much of the pop as possible?) to make sure that all pops are suppressed?
nasenmann
KVRian
 
575 posts since 24 Oct, 2005

Postby nasenmann; Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:33 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Righto, thats what i was thinking. No further ending section needed but maybe some sort of fadeaway sound.
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
925 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:51 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

pilgrim_heart wrote:@do_androids_dream: Thanks for the input. About the bass muddiness I suspect that I haven't picked up on it due to my listening setup, I have good headphones but my speakers are cheap multimedia stuff (with a terribly exagerrated bass response, probably a lot of peaking at some frequency) and bass frequency problems seems to be a common issue when relying too much on cans. I suppose that you are listening on a "proper" setup with studio monitors and possibly room treatment? I should get at least a couple of decent monitors at some point so I would be very interested in hearing what kind of monitors you use (I can't do much about my current room unfortunately) to get some ideas for what I might want to look at.


I have Fostex PM1 MkII's in a well sounded treated studio - bass traps in the corners behind my set-up and acoustic foam at various reflection points around the room. It's difficult recommending monitors as A) I only have a good amount of experience with my own and B) It's such a subjective subject across music forums. I've also used Tannoy Reveals and Mackie HR824's and I would say that the sound I get from the Fostex's are very 'dry' and 'tight' compared (Mackie's are definitely a little warmer sounding) - Could be too tight sounding for some folks but I'm so used to them now (had them for 8 years) so it's become my reference point. I find bass extremely difficult to judge in cans - that's why I don't use them at all. I think they're fine for composing but when it comes to mixdown I just can't make reliable decisions with them.

pilgrim_heart wrote:Also, thanks for the tip on using a multiband comp for plosive killing, hadn't thought of that. I suppose you would compress (limit?) the offending frequency band quite a bit (and maybe with a fast attack to squash as much of the pop as possible?) to make sure that all pops are suppressed?


Yes, find the frequency area that's problematic (probably faster to use an eq to find it) - once you've found it set up a narrow band in the comp in that frequency area (100 - 200 Hz wide) and experiment with ratio and attack/release. I usually end using a reasonably high ratio - perhaps 6:1 with a short attack. I use grancomp3 for the task as it has nice meters that allow you visualise what you're doing.
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Robmobius
KVRian
 
1040 posts since 9 Sep, 2010

Postby Robmobius; Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:33 am Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Overall I like the tune and I like it's tone. It's definitely 80's!

Funny, I didn't really notice the sibilance or plosives until you mentioned them. I don't think it matters too much for that style. Lots of 80's stuff was sparse and you could often hear those artifacts.

The one thing I'd say, and this is just my personal taste, I think the vox are a bit loud in comparison to the rest of the mix.

I think there's also room for some saturation or gentle overdrive, on the drums and synth. More to bring them out and add some of that warm midrange.

Good tune tho'!
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pilgrim_heart
KVRist
 
148 posts since 20 Jul, 2004

Postby pilgrim_heart; Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:52 pm Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

@nasenmann:
Come to think of it I think it actually was longer in some old version. I've moved and switched computers and DAW etc. so I recreated the whole thing and I think there was a bit more delay on the synth riffs in the old version that made the ending a bit longer. In any case thanks for the input, I appreciate it a lot.

@do_androids_dream:
Yeah, I definitely agree that monitor recommendations seems to be hard to get right. From all I've heard and read my impression in the end is that as long the monitors are just reasonably good (as in large enough frequency range without too much weirdness in the frequency response) it's more a question of getting used to them than about one set truly being better to mix on than another one. Although I guess that sounding subjectively good could be a thing as it might make mixing feel more fun which is usually good. I've been considering the ESI Near05 as they seems to be about the cheapest thing one can get that is still a fairly good monitor, those have 5" elements so I'm guessing that it might be a bit harder to get a good grip on the bass than with the Fostex ones you use. Then again there's little I can do about my room at present so it's possible that the difference would be negligible for me. Thanks for taking the time to write a bit about it.

Also thanks for the additional tips about compressor setup. I should download grancomp3 and try it. Come to think of it I wonder if there might be a multiband compressor with some kind of lookahead so that one could suppress everything fully, I should probably look into that as well.

@robmobius:
Interesting to hear. I notice that with a lot of music I listen to that I really like all the imperfections (early Sisters of Mercy stuff or pretty much anything by Joy Division is probably a good example) as they've become part of the character of the music to me, still I find it so hard to accept stuff like that in things I make myself so it's really helpful to get some outside input about such things so big thanks for that.

I remember that I used to mix vocals to low many years ago, I guess I could have overcompensated in the other direction. Thanks for that input too, it's probably something I might want to think about the next time I do a mix.

About the saturation there actually is quite a bit of TesslaSE saturation on at least all synthesisers and I think I also had TesslaSE on the drum bus but that saturation sounds a bit more bass heavy to me than what I guess you had in my mind. Do you have any go-to saturation plugins that you'd recommend?
Robmobius
KVRian
 
1040 posts since 9 Sep, 2010

Postby Robmobius; Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:37 pm Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

pilgrim_heart wrote:
@robmobius:
Interesting to hear. I notice that with a lot of music I listen to that I really like all the imperfections (early Sisters of Mercy stuff or pretty much anything by Joy Division is probably a good example) as they've become part of the character of the music to me, still I find it so hard to accept stuff like that in things I make myself so it's really helpful to get some outside input about such things so big thanks for that.

I remember that I used to mix vocals to low many years ago, I guess I could have overcompensated in the other direction. Thanks for that input too, it's probably something I might want to think about the next time I do a mix.

About the saturation there actually is quite a bit of TesslaSE saturation on at least all synthesisers and I think I also had TesslaSE on the drum bus but that saturation sounds a bit more bass heavy to me than what I guess you had in my mind. Do you have any go-to saturation plugins that you'd recommend?


I think your vox are excellent btw, and you’ve got that style down to a tee.

I’m a big Joy Division fan, so I know what you mean. For a more modern production those factors might stand out more, but because its kinda’ sparse it works well imo (adds that good old 80's flavor). I think some natural elements actually bring the vox closer to the listener.

Ah… I remember now, that you said that you already added some saturation. But I think a bit more would really bring the elements out. Then the Vox would not feel so present against the other instruments. I’m vocalist too, but I tend to like my voice at the same level, as the other instruments (or just a touch louder). This is all artistic taste, so don’t take my opinion too literally. ;)

There’s lots of cool plugins, but I’d really recommend something like U-he Satin. Absolutely lovely vst and warms up synth/drums very nicely, and it also does fantastic old school tape delay, flange, etc. So you get more than just another saturator, plus there’s lots of great presets to get you going. :)

Some other good ones are:
Camelphat
Sound Toys radiator.
Wavearts Tubes saturator (but is a total cpu killer).
PSP Vintage Warmer II.
Fab Filter Saturn.

Cheers!

R.
Last edited by Robmobius on Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AstralExistence
KVRAF
 
1932 posts since 19 Sep, 2011

Postby AstralExistence; Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:34 pm Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

vocals are great. i mean that.
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Frantz
KVRAF
 
2608 posts since 18 Jul, 2008, from New York

Postby Frantz; Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:35 pm Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Welcome. It's a very good song with strong vocals and interesting, literate lyrics. I enjoyed it. :tu:

As others pointed out, there are some mix issues - not enough high end and the vocals do sound bassy. I also thought the synth and drum backing could have been more varied.
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nasenmann
KVRian
 
575 posts since 24 Oct, 2005

Postby nasenmann; Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:56 pm Re: This Byzantine Game (80's-style moody/gothy synthpop)

Frantz wrote:As others pointed out, there are some mix issues - not enough high end and the vocals do sound bassy. I also thought the synth and drum backing could have been more varied.

it's weird - your last tune posted here (the 80's sounding one with the many paged thread) was definitely more varied than this in the instrumental backing, yet i felt it could've benefited from more variation.
with this one, i didn't mind the monotony at all - i think it has to do with how much the vocal style carries the tune.
i really like the vocals you do as well, but they're not in a style and mix position that fills out the song as much.
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