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Steev

All Bandlab all the Way. 😎

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Posted (edited)

 This was actually published about 2 years ago to Bandlab.com, and due to file size restrictions is only about 1/2 of Zappa's Inca Roads, and as expected, not being a pop tune, bombed out. 😆 So if you're not progressive, are easily offended, or a Zappa fan, ya might want do yourself a favor and STOP right here & TURN AWAY. đŸš«

Since then, the good baker's @ Bandlab have made some SERIOUS PROGRESS in improving & refining their Mix Editor as did the bakers of Cakewalk by Bandlab the DAW. đŸ™đŸŒ

To demonstrate how far it's come, I went back into my Bandlab archives and create a new remix/revision to field test it to see & hear the differences, and not only notice extreme improvements in Mix Editor's automation writing, Mix Editor now has a very comprehensive menu multi-FX presets which are not only completely editable, they can be SAVED & SHARED as well as renamed as customized presets with any and all other Bandlab friends & collaborators. Adding the ability of chaining FX Presets, is very much like adding CbB's ProChannel to the Mix Editor. 👍

I've also noticed, even though Bandlab's free Mastering only has 4 fixed mastering choices, the end results compare favorably for end results to what I would normally achieve with Sound Forge Pro 15 and Ozone 9. I can honesty say, although it may or may not give my all too often ***** mastering ***** what I want, I must grudgingly concede to admit it's like comparing Apples to Oranges.Â đŸ˜”

All instruments except my Fender Strarocater plugging into a Line 6 Spider V-120 & T Bucket acoustic bass plugged into an Ampeg SCR-DI preamp, an Alesis Sample Pad Pro MIDi drum pads/controller used to trigger XLN's Addictive Drums (which previously cam bundled with SONAR Platinum, are still bundled with Cakewalk by Bandlab. And a Novation Impulse 61 MIDI keyboard controller use to perform with Cakewalk TTS-1 & Studio Instruments elec. piano..

 🛾Inca Roads 🛾 by Steev | BandLab

Edited by Steev
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That was a lot of fun.  You definitely captured the Zappa vibe, which is no small feat.

I agree about pushing the vocals up.  They seemed kind of buried, and I had a hard time understanding the lyrics.

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Thanks VERY much guys for invaluable critiques &  input Tom @ DeeringAmps and Jeff @ jwnicholson78  👍👍

And THIS is a prime example of exactly WHY, as a standard practice in the industry there recording engineers, mixing engineers, and mastering engineers and why we shouldn't be mixing or mastering our own work, ESPPECIALLY after performing, sequencing, & recording all tracks ourselves by multi-tracking. Simply because... "WE ARE TOO CLOSE TO IT"  Of course, knowing that is one thing but that's all moot points if you lack the resources of funds and or skilled cooperation.  And besides, how will we ever improve our skills if we don't at least try. 😆

To my ears the vocals sounded maybe a tad too loud or maybe just confused trying to avoid killing the dynamics with over compression which can have the same effect or illusion.

I always make a point of never trying to record and mix on the same day or even week. Two different processes, one requiring monitoring with closed back headphones to hear everything getting pumped clearly @ 20 Hz- 22k/Hz directly into my brain pan with minimal leakage in tracks/channels and cross talk is great for recording but does cause ear fatigue that increases after a couple of hours we can't really trust our ears to do anymore more a rough mix balance.

 And mixing tracks together moving some air thru near field monitors is a completely different listening environment, that really require wearing two different hats' &  frames of mind. 

As does the 3rd process of "Mastering" which I don't even like to do in the same room as recording and mixing sessions, and try to avoid the nasty habit of cutting corners by simply applying Ozone to the master buss of the DAW, and the easy and ability to tweak channels in the mix while mastering is too irresistible for us mere mortals, and typically causes subtle train wrecks that we don't even notice right away, or maybe too late as in....  Not even until someone points them out to us. đŸ˜”

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9 hours ago, Steev said:

To my ears the vocals sounded maybe a tad too loud or maybe just confused trying to avoid killing the dynamics with over compression which can have the same effect or illusion.

I would say that the vocals on the first minute or so are to far back, but then they seem to be more forward.  So maybe revisit the first part of the vocals in the mix, maybe it was a different take you mixed in for the first part.

This is an in you face mix, full on, the playing is good, the

9 hours ago, Steev said:

And THIS is a prime example of exactly WHY, as a standard practice in the industry there recording engineers, mixing engineers, and mastering engineers and why we shouldn't be mixing or mastering our own work,

maybe, or just be cool with it.  In these modern times everyone is a critic, film maker, artist, musician, influencer, blah blah blah.  Opinions are like bungholes, but being popular is to be in the sausage grinder.  We all know they use the best ingredients in sausage, right?

I loved it, it was great, and for the amount of coin you had to expend to  present it: I consider it a gem.  Nice work, and thanks for that

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Definitely a Zappa vibe, loved it! Agree re the vocals, apart for that really enjoyed it

Cool

Nigel

 

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One of my favorite Zappa songs, good job making it your own. Trying to do anything Zappa is not easy!

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On 7/5/2022 at 6:33 PM, Jesse Screed said:

I would say that the vocals on the first minute or so are to far back, but then they seem to be more forward.  So maybe revisit the first part of the vocals in the mix, maybe it was a different take you mixed in for the first part.

This is an in you face mix, full on, the playing is good, the

maybe, or just be cool with it.  In these modern times everyone is a critic, film maker, artist, musician, influencer, blah blah blah.  Opinions are like bungholes, but being popular is to be in the sausage grinder.  We all know they use the best ingredients in sausage, right?

I loved it, it was great, and for the amount of coin you had to expend to  present it: I consider it a gem.  Nice work, and thanks for that

Yep, it's ALL in the Sausage! đŸ€ŁđŸ‘đŸ‘ My sentiments exactly. Please keep in mind this particular revision is being remixed in Bandlab's Mix Editor, and it only 1/2 of the original Cakewalk project due to a really liberal 128 MB file size restriction per track on Bandlab, I couldn't fit the entire song project in 24 bit .wav files. Besides 9 out of 10 listeners won't listen thru to the end, it at all.  Many will hit the like button in he hopes I will like them back, and it's not uncommon on the same day I publish a song I'll notice I get a LOT MORE LIKES than listens from peeps asking me to give their tune a listen. I published a song collaboration with 8 different artist/friends about that practice, originally released on the now defunct ACIDplanet.com about 20+ years ago. It's entitled "Chart Whores" and it's pretty funny in a very Zappa like sort of way and stayed at the top of the AP's "All Genres Charts" for quite a while getting 1000's of hits and 100's of reviews. I remastered it and published it Bandlab.com, and it BOMBED. I believe it holds the record of my most ignored published songs not only on Bandlab, but of all times. 😆 But for the 10 or 12 Bandlaber's who actually listened, they noticed we weren't pointing fingers, they got a chuckle out of us picking on "ourselves". đŸ€Ł

I COULD have uploaded the entire length had I uploaded each track in .MP3, but that would be missing the point of my Bandlab Mix Editor sound quality field test by using compressed files to begin with, sacrificing sound quality before the tracks even get into Mix Editor.đŸš«Â 

Although I can't access takes in the original Cakewalk project to bring out/up the vocals in the beginning, They can be fully edited & automated, & tweaked to your hearts content directly in Mix Editor, as all gain, pan, and FX parameters envelopes can be automated by either adding & adjusting nodes with a mouse, or using a standard MIDI controller. As to date, Mix Editor does not support MCU or HUI MIDI control protocols.

This project can be "Forked", meaning it can opened in a multi-track Stem mix, remixed and revised in the Mix Editor, and even REPUBLISHED by ANYBODY who want to join in & collaborate with a Bandlab account. I know that my sound a tad disturbing but Bandlab keeps a pretty good "history" record of who does what and sends notifications of who's forking and publishing. And I also find it quite FUN when some overly opinionated & competitive folks like to show off by taking control of the narrative, & bullying leaving stupid to nasty criticisms.  That makes me chuckle & comment; "I'm not sure I follow your logic... đŸ€” Why don't you just "fork" the project & SHOW ME! " 😍

I myself love & appreciate honest constructive criticism, but I've grown immune &  utterly bored with flagrant critiques & praise.

And yes this entire piece has literally 100's of lanes of takes that have all been comped together with Cakewalk's "Comping Tools" one performance, one section/movement at a time. In fact, although a gave my best at trying to play & perform each part myself, I'd be lying to say that I didn't nudge or add a couple notes in certain phrases to the proper place with Piano Roll Editing instead of completely redoing a "close but no cigar" take. I'm also a big fan of using Melodyne Editor to correct "small problem areas" and create harmonies here and there as a time saver as opposed to wasting too much time redoing an otherwise good take. And ever since Melodyne started to support ARA & VST3, I frequently also use it to convert audio tracks to MIDI as a quick work around for using my stock Fender Strat or Les Paul as a MIDI controller for MIDI synths to perform parts I literally CAN'T physically play/perform on keyboards.

  I also used a MIDI pattern sequencer on certain sections of the drums that, um, try and try as I might, I'm starting to believe that I will NEVER be able to play drums as well as Chester Thompson, but I'm not in the least ashamed to admit that. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I played/sequenced the entire drums on an Alesis Sample Pad Pro with nylon drum sticks, a Novation Impulse 61 MIDI keyboard controller using my fingers on the keys, and using the Impulse's handy 8 Trigger Pads preset to trigger MIDI "groove clips" I composed in the Cakewalk pattern sequencer and or the Sample Pad Pro to compose my MIDI tracks in GM to play "Drums" in Addictive Drums 2 using my personally custom tuned Gretch drum shell, Ludwig snare samples, and Cakewalk TTS-1 for playing Roland GM/GS v1 percussion instruments.

 As a guitarist, my native instrument, I'm quite proficient and have been playing & studying music theory on guitar long enough I can pull off anything I can see written on staff paper, and just about instantly figure out anything I listen to. BUT... If I can't figure it out instantly, I can figure out where to buy the sheet music for it. 

I guess I'm an OK intermediate novice grade keyboardist as a second instrument, and with my collected knowledge of started learning MIDI sequencing on a Roland MC-500 around 1985 to editing MIDI in Cakewalk DOS way before Cakewalk was capable of even thinking about recording audio, by the time Cakewalk introduced the TTS-1 DXI with SONAR 4 (If memory serves me correctly) from that point on I could play any MIDI instrument I wanted to on keyboards, AND reliably record audio tracks in Cakewalk without having to rely on my aging pre Intel "Power Mac" running Pro Tools.

ALL the horn parts on "Inca Roads" were performed using either the Cakewalk TTS-1 or Dimension Pro. These are my oldest & most trusted softsynths of all times. Just as long as you don't exceed the natural octave ranges of any instrument patch, you can achieve the instruments "natural sound" and with a bit of tweaking with ProChannel, I can not only achieve the natural sounds with bone chilling accuracy that equals and or rivals ANY other synths at any price point, and any other synth sounds just as MIDI-fied or wanky when you rely too heavily on quantization or record/sequence tracks out of an instrument's natural octave range. The only advantage of using Samplers is, samplers use audio files of natural instruments so they typically CAN'T exceed an instruments octave range unless you know how to modify & shape them into something else

  I also used a MIDI pattern sequencer on certain sections of the drums that, um, try and try as I might, I'm starting to believe that I will NEVER be able to play drums as well as Chester Thompson, but I'm not in the least ashamed to admit that. Nor am I ashamed to admit that I played/sequenced the entire drums on an Alesis Sample Pad Pro with nylon drumsticks, a Novation Impulse 61 MIDI keyboard controller using my fingers on the keys, and using the Impulse's handy 8 Trigger Pads preset to trigger MIDI "groove clips" I composed in the Cakewalk pattern sequencer and or the Sample Pad Pro.

Now some may argue that that is cheating and that there is nothing better sounding then real instruments and real drums. đŸ€”

Well I gotta say after 40 years of earnestly trying to get a band together to play Zappa tunes on real instruments I have FAILED MISERABLY at even trying to get 3 people to decide what toppings should get on a pizza that will make everyone happy. 😆

 And besides, 99.9% of the listeners couldn't tell the difference, or even care to compare the end results. And if you do, then PLEASE let me hear whatcha got!

But as far as I'm concerned, once it's recorded and being played back on even the finest stereo system ever made, no matter to made it, when and or how, it is NOT A REAL PERFORMANCE anymore. It is a digital replication of a real performance which can be replicated any time, anywhere, which, even whilst listening with cheap earbuds and cheap cellphone almost ALWAYS sounds better than a band can do it live in any room or venue. 

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