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I came very close to finishing this on Tuesday night, but by 1:30 I could see there was still an hour or so left, and didn’t want to be up till 4 again, so I left it for later.
Later being today.

I think I learnt a fair bit doing this one. I’m really trying to get to the point where the production work is pretty just a case of tweaking some volumes here and there, so I need lots of practice in figuring out how to get the overall sound right. To that end, I used some reference pieces to give me an idea of where my sound fit in the scheme of things. I then listened to those pieces through the speakers in the music room so I had something to compare with. The reference pieces I used were Iron Maiden: The Trooper, Fates Warning: Point of View and Queensryche: Anarchy-X. All three of them had quite different balances of sounds and very different uses of effects, but are from roughly the same period of time and genre. As a result I think I’ve finally managed to produce something that doesn’t sound way out of place compared to everything else in your playlist.
Other things I did differently this time are:
* The lead guitar sound had the delay applied by Sonar, rather than in the Pod before recording. Made tidying stuff up much easier.
* Used fader automation for the first time – so rather than a fixed volume per track they adapt to the rest of the sound.
* Used multiple outputs for the drums – 5 in fact, Kick drum, Snare, Toms, Cymbals and percussion (though only three of them actually got any use in this piece).
* Used track templates – I made a template for the drums, which has EQ and level settings for each of the instruments pre-set. So in future I won’t need to screw around with them too much.

The drum thing was actually probably the most significant change – the one thing I noticed with the pieces I listened to was just how much sizzle there was in the cymbals, and how much reverb on the snare, and how well the bass drum kicked through. With one track you can only achieve a medicore compromise between those things, but by separating them out I had much more control over the final sound.

The only thing that didn’t quite work, was that the whole thing came out rather quiet. I tried using Boost11 to deal with that, but it screwed up the sound so much that it wasn’t worth it. In the end I used the Leveller effect in Audacity, which was surprisingly gentle with the sound. It’s still not as loud as the reference tracks though – which were all produced before the current “compress it to death so that it sounds louder” era). More time to fiddle with the mix would probably have solved it, but I’ve spent way too much time on this one already. Time to move on and clear my head for the next one.
I won’t have one this Tuesday, as I have Caitlin, but I may make an attempt on Thursday.

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