My Previous Mixes

Probably the best example of my music to compare against the reference tracks is ‘You’. Released earlier this year on Bristol’s Durkle Disco (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/retrospect-you-single/id591207500), this collaboration has been professionally mastered and has a similar sonic flavour.

Blunt & Wimperis – You

  • Working Line on SPAN: -21 (lots of areas not hitting, bass too quiet, extreme high percussion 3 dB over). Could be read as -24 with kick and high perc too loud.
  • 130 BPM
  • All In phase
  • High Cut: extreme at 15 kHz, starting around 11 kHz
  • Low Cut: very gentle roll off from 35 Hz
  • Track RMS: -14 dB
  • Kick Fundamental: 125 Hz
  • Sub-Bass Region: 40-56 Hz
  • Extreme High Percussion: 5-14 kHz
  • Max Crest Factor in A/B Section: 6.6
  • Max Crest Factor in C Section: 16.3
  • Additional: Really lacking from 220 Hz-5 kHz

Another comparative example is ‘Tindream’. This track is similar to Sbtrkt’s style because it is minimal and features a female vocal. It has a typical pop verse/chorus/break structure. The track never got a proper final mix and hasn’t been mastered, so this is also a good opportunity to find out what it needs to compete with other, similar tracks.

Autumn Music & Blunt – Tindream

  • Working Line on SPAN: -21 to -24
  • All In phase
  • High Cut: Steep from 14 kHz
  • Low Cut: steep from 38 Hz
  • Track RMS: -17.2
  • Kick Fundamental: 112 Hz
  • Sub-Bass Region: 38-66 Hz
  • Extreme High Percussion: 7.3-14 kHz
  • Max Crest Factor in A/B Section: 5
  • Max Crest Factor in C Section: 15
  • Additional: quite a well balanced mix with a reasonably flat frequency response from 40 Hz-14 kHz, apart from the vocals seem to be slightly too loud and the kick seems a bit quiet compared to the bass.
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Reference Track Analysis: Some Conclusions

  • All tracks have typical pop/dance arrangements with sections in multiples of 8 bars.
  • They conform to traditional A/B/C style structures.
  • Kick fundamentals are around 100 Hz.
  • Bass varies, but all true sub-bass is around 40-110 Hz.
  • Final working line on SPAN is around -21/-24 dB.
  • Track RMS should be around -13 dB.
  • Bass roll off around 40 Hz.
  • High frequencies cut from around 13 kHz, more extreme at 16 kHz.
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Arrangement Templates

This is a great way to learn about how tracks work.

Using blank MIDI tracks in Cubase, I created 4 arrangements that mirrored the elements in each reference track. I colour-coded the parts:

RED – BASS

BLUE – DRUMS

GREEN – MUSIC (Synths/Instruments)

PINK – VOCALS

ORANGE – TEXTURES/FX

I also used a marker track to create markers at the start of each new section. I either labelled them A/B/C section or verse/hook/bridge etc.

Arkist – Only If You Mean It:

Kromestar – Family Apart: 16 bar changes all the way through apart from the c section which is 32 bars. Vocals, Bass and Drums just do the same thing all the way through, incidental synth lines change every 16 bars. Pretty straight forward arrangement.

Sbtrkt – Pharaohs: 8 bar intro, 8-bar hook, 16-bar verse and 8-bar hook (x2), then two 8-bar C sections and 2 8-bar hook sections before the outro.

Slugabed – Mountains Come Out of the Sky (ARP 101 Mix) – All the sections are at multiples of 8 bars, but they get longer towards the end f the track. As more automation is introduced, the themes and motifs are drawn out. The first few sections are 8 bars long, but the last two are 32 bars long.

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Loudness Reference

In addition to my other references, ‘Cry Flames’ by Rustie will be my reference for absolute minimum acceptable dynamic range and maximum perceived loudness.

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SPAN Analysis: Slugabed – Mountains Come Out Of The Sky (ARP101 Remix)

Slugabed – Mountains Come Out Of The Sky:

· Working Line on SPAN: -24
· 160 BPM
· Some out of phase
· High Cut: extreme at 16 kHz, starting around 15 kHz
Low Cut: gentle roll off around 40 Hz
· Track RMS: -13
· Kick Fundamentals: 130 Hz
· Sub-Bass Region: 40-100 Hz (not that powerful)
· Extreme High Perc Region: 11-15 kHz
· Max Crest Factor in A/B Section: 4.8
· Crest Factor in C Section: 17.3
· Additional: 808 snare fundamentals 175 Hz + 350 Hz, Other snare 260 Hz.

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SPAN Analysis: Sbtrkt – Pharaohs

Sbtrkt – Pharaohs feat. Roses Gabor:

· Working Line on SPAN: -24
· 127 BPM
· All in positive phase correlation
· High Cut:- extreme at 18 kHz, starting around 15.8 kHz
Low Cut: gentle roll off around 40 Hz
· Track RMS: -13.8
· Kick Fundamental: 104 Hz
· Sub-Bass Region: no real sub, but 100-175 Hz
· Extreme High Perc Region: 16 kHz
· Max Crest Factor in A/B Section: 7
· Max Crest Factor in C Section: 16.7
· Additional: Snare top 3-9 kHz, snare energy around 1 kHz. Lot of energy around 4.5-14 kHz.

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SPAN Analysis: Kromestar – Family Apart

Kromestar – Family Apart:

· Working Line on SPAN: -24 (but bass considerably above that line)
· 143 BPM
· All in positive phase correlation
· High Cut: gentle roll off starting around 16-17 kHz, nothing past 22 kHz.
Low Cut: very gentle roll off around 40 Hz
· Track RMS: -13.8
· Kick Fundamental: 90-100 Hz
· Sub-Bass Region: 49 Hz (G1) – 200 Hz
· Extreme High Perc Region: 17.5 kHz
· Max Crest Factor in A/B Section: 7
· Max Crest Factor in C Section: 16.8
· Additional: two kick drums, each with different pitch

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