Our Soundalike project has been completed and this here is the result -
In comparing the original track of In The Summertime with that which we have created for the Soundalike, I am somewhat pleased with the result, but there are definitely areas I would fix!
I hear quite a lot of variance between our version and the original - especially in the electric guitar and the vocals. The rhythm section I think is spot on - the drums sound like the original, and have the right groove to them. The bass is also a very great sound in reference to what we needed to achieve, and is a perfect feel for the track. These aspects serve well to the entire vibe of the song as they are what drive it, so we thankfully got a great foundation laid out!
I think the most difficult aspect was having to mix the entire song on the desk, in a limited amount of time. There were parts we could have resolved given the opportunity to sit and do some in-the-box meddling, but that wasn't the point of the assignment!
Mixing down on the desk was also the best part of it though for me - I hadn't previously done a mixdown entirely on the console so I found it very informative and an interesting challenge.
Especially using the Patchbay with all the outboard gear!
What I think it really boils down to though were the performances - there are a few parts that diverge too much from the original, that should have been brought up and resolved in the recording process, such as the rhythm of the riffs - some upbeats are missing. The guitar sound is also not very akin to the original - it is grungier and dirtier - but it still drives the song well and is, separately, a cool sound. The sound was improved greatly through the desk though, and the resulting guitar sounds much better than the recorded stem. Mostly with EQ taking out the muddiness of parts (at about 350 Hz - with the bass and kick drum too). And boosting the mid-highs helped with the guitar timbre too. Plus compression did wonders for the entire mix!
However, there were meant to be two electric guitars recorded (that play simultaneously in the song) but only one was - so the overall sound is more hollow - there’s not the thickness of the mix that the original has.
The vocals also don’t follow certain parts of the original vocalist’s - especially within the chorus (the verse's are performed much more like the original), the intonation goes on and off. Vocally he sounds good though, and he does nail it at some points... Nice tone too. I also think the vocals should have been sitting lower in the mix, as to blend in better.
The harmony was another problem altogether! They weren’t recorded for all the parts they should have been, and where they were, they did not pitch-match the original!
The biggest reason these aspects were an issue was that the vocals and guitar were attempted in only one session - this was not a great idea, and proved itself to not have been.
I’m pleased with the product in and of itself, but I would say it doesn't sound as close to the original as we could have gotten it (if the situations were ideal). Overall though, the mix sits quite well, and the track aligns nicely with the original clip so that's a good sign of the timing! It’s also a lively, fun vibe, so definitely some things to be happy with there.
For our drum recording session I had the role of Engineer.
Studio engineers operate the audio console, and basically take care of the technical-side of recording. They also alter the sound signal as it passes through the desk using EQ, for example.
Well-known audio engineers would be folks such as:
Glyn Johns (The Who, Eric Clapton, The Faces), Andy Johns (The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull), Bill Porter (Elvis, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers), Bill Putnam (Count Basie, Duke Ellington), Steve Albini (just too many to mention), Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Traffic), Alan Parsons (Pink Floyd, The Hollies, The Beatles), Geoff Emerick (The Beatles), James Guthrie (Pink Floyd), Bob Clearmountain (David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones), Tom Dowd (Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Dusty Springfield), Phil Ramone (Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan), and I'd say one of the best known, and personal favourite, George Martin.
Glyn Johns (looking stressed)
Wear a tie to work George Martin.
For the drum-tracking session, I was to be in charge of the processes of the console (not including headphone sends, as that was another team member’s role), as seperate to the DAW operation (again, another student's role).
My job mainly included setting the gain for each channel (12 used in all) - both through the console and through pre-amps - and adjusting them throughout the session as required.
This was my first time using the Audient ASP8024, but I had previously learnt on and used the 16 channel Audient ASP4816, so (basically being just a larger version) it was mostly just a matter of transferring that knowledge to the 8024 (which was thankfully not too complicated a task).
I was confident in all fronts bar the use of the preamps, as I hadn’t used them before, but that was simple enough to pick up.
Anyway, I was glad that the area I was in charge of for the day I knew how to do, so I could assuredly take part in the session.
I also had organisational responsibilities for the day; making a list of the microphone Inputs and Outputs (to ensure consistency and smooth-sailing throughout the session) and helping to choose mics and mic positioning for the kit.
For the kit micing, we had a Rode NT5 on the hit-hats, and one on the ride cymbal, two AKG C414s as overhead mics as well as -
There was a lot of communication necessary between myself and other team members, especially the Pro Tools operator and the 'Runners' - in needing to keep communication with our drummer (where and what to play to set the levels, and in discussion about microphone placement), and setting channel gains.
I aimed to have clear and helpful communication on my part at all times - and communicate openly and constantly with my group. I think this helped the session run smoother and more effectively, as open communication always provides greater awareness of processes and work necessary to focus on.
I also was there as an extra hand for whatever needed doing at any given time - we were running short on time, so if help was necessary I made sure to jump in.
For the round-up of the session I was in charge of closing down the console, turning phantom power off before any microphone unplugging, and making sure the console was normalised for the next user.
I also helped pack up the microphones and do a general clean-up of the space.
In terms of production, I was to revise the editing (only timing as of yet) of the drums (started by another student) and finish the Elastic Audio editing.
In general there are a few aspects of the recording process I know I need to work on - the main one being to become more competent in using patch bays! I also want to have better understanding of the frequency spectrum, and be able to more knowingly apply EQ parameters.
Overall I really enjoyed being the engineer for the session - I like using analogue desks and manoeuvring through them!
Engineering is the area in audio I want to pursue (as well as producing and DAW operation) so I like having opportunities to partake in the processes involved, under the helpful guidance of my teachers and collaboration of peers.
Here is the recorded drum track (after being edited in time with the original track) -