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Doug Young 05-18-2019 11:34 PM

Mix Match Experiment
 
I like to occasionally see how close I can come to the sound of some recording I like. I usually fail miserably, but it's educational. Last night I tried something a little different for me. I happened across Calum Graham's tune "Grace" and was struck by how "cinematic" it sounded. Calum has a tutorial on playing it, and there, his guitar just sounds pretty normal, like someone playing guitar on a webcam :-) So it seems like there's some interesting stuff going on in Antoine Dufour's recording and mix. We had a thread about Antoine and Calum a while back, so I thought I'd give this a shot.

Calum's track can be heard here:

https://calumgraham.com/grace

I used the album recording (down in the list of tunes), not the video, which may be the same mix, but is a lot quieter.

So right off the bat, the obvious stuff is the pad that comes in during the opening, and seems to keep going right thru the tune. Also, lots of reverb... And a nice warm sound with a big bottom end. This is very different than the sound I usually go for, but it was interesting to try.

The pad is an Em chord, and I created it by just playing GBE at the 12th fret, and then putting on a *long* shimmer reverb, fading it in. My shimmer verb doesn't seem to accentuate the same notes as what's on the recording. I'm not even sure this is a shimmer, maybe it's a synth pad...

For reverb, I used a Lexicon Hall reverb, about 3 seconds, with an 80 ms pre-delay, and laid it on heavy :-)

Calum seems to get a pretty big bass sound on the recording that's not at all there on his instructional video. It may be from a pickup to add some solid end. But I've also seen that Antoine uses the MaxBass plugin. I don't have that, but I have the UAD VoiceOfGod plugin, which is similar, so I used that. A bit of EQ to try to match somewhat, a little compression, and I'm as close as I'm going to get, I think.

Calum's recording is pretty hot. For a quiet, gentle ballad, it measures -12LKFS. I level matched mine in Audition, tho it's not perfectly matched.

As usual, I find that non-recording aspects are usually a limiting factor. I don't have Calum's guitar, the same mics, room, etc, and more importantly, even on a simple little thing like this, Calum has his own phrasing and dynamics that I might never match exactly. I use nails, and Calum seems to use only flesh, so I get a more distinct attack.

Anyway, here's what I came up with, for better or worse. Not exact for sure, maybe not even close, but it was fun to try. This was recorded on my Tom Doerr guitar. Standard tuning, 1/2 step down. I used both Schoeps and Brauner mics.



If anyone has any thoughts, suggestions, or tries this themselves, it'd be great to hear what you think.

TBman 05-18-2019 11:53 PM

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rick-slo 05-19-2019 12:27 AM

In Graham's recording the guitar is much more forward in the soundscape with the notes clearer and not so buried in whatever those other sounds are. Get that and you would be closer.

Doug Young 05-19-2019 12:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6065279)
In Graham's recording the guitar is much more forward in the soundscape with the notes clearer and not so buried in whatever those other sounds are. Get that and you would be closer.

I may have too much reverb...

Doug Young 05-19-2019 12:58 AM

I pulled back a bit on everything, dropped the pad to nothing faster, less reverb. Not sure it's radically different, but maybe the guitar is more upfront.


rick-slo 05-19-2019 01:18 AM

Closer. Punch up the bass end on the guitar more to get closer to Graham's recording.

TBman 05-19-2019 10:35 AM

deleted....

TBman 05-19-2019 08:43 PM

**deleted****

GTR1960 05-19-2019 08:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doug Young (Post 6065287)
I pulled back a bit on everything, dropped the pad to nothing faster, less reverb. Not sure it's radically different, but maybe the guitar is more upfront.


To much low mid, maybe some subtractive Eq 200-600hz about 3-4 db gentle slope. it'll let the low end of the guitar through, and give it a bit more punch. Sounds like there might be a bit of mild compression also, on the original track.

RGWelch 05-19-2019 09:56 PM

This is a really cool exercise. What really jumps out at me is the finger squeaking on the cover track you are doing, Doug. Is there a way to minimize that? I guess you could change to coated strings, but would you get the sound you'd want? Is there a way to bring that down in recording technique?

In the Calum Graham video, I'm hearing very little squeaking from the strings in the recording. Is that something to do with the recording technique?

TBman 05-19-2019 10:46 PM

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RGWelch 05-20-2019 12:30 AM

Thanks TBman,

I didn't know what to do about squeaking myself, and the clue about moist fingers was very informative to me. I do understand it's part of playing, there is no eliminating it always. I was just curious what would be the techniques to do so, as it comes up and it's good to know more about how to deal with it, as I really didn't have a clue. I understand too that with more produced recordings, there will be a focus on dealing with this (and other issues I'm sure) as a more dedicated effort by a paid specialist, something we as home recording enthusiast won't have as much access to in terms of tools and skills maybe. I guess that's the upside of being a big star, you have other people to worry about this stuff for you, to make you seem less faliable that you really might be...the perks of stardom I'm sure.

Doug Young 05-20-2019 01:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rick-slo (Post 6065295)
Closer. Punch up the bass end on the guitar more to get closer to Graham's recording.

Yeah, that's proving hard. That's partly what I pulled back based on your previous comments. My suspicion is that he's got a pickup in the mix for that big bass. When I try to add bass with EQ or the bass enhancement plugin, it just gets muddy and less distinct.

Doug Young 05-20-2019 01:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RGWelch (Post 6065983)
This is a really cool exercise. What really jumps out at me is the finger squeaking on the cover track you are doing, Doug. Is there a way to minimize that? I guess you could change to coated strings, but would you get the sound you'd want? Is there a way to bring that down in recording technique?

In the Calum Graham video, I'm hearing very little squeaking from the strings in the recording. Is that something to do with the recording technique?

Yeah, coated strings would help, and I could certainly kill them with RX. I notice a very "fundamental" sound in Calum's guitar, even on his unprocessed tutorial video. The guitar I'm using has lots of overtones, which may contribute (plus I just learned these few bars a few minutes before recording them, so I've not got it down smoothly...)

Doug Young 05-20-2019 01:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GTR1960 (Post 6065948)
To much low mid, maybe some subtractive Eq 200-600hz about 3-4 db gentle slope. it'll let the low end of the guitar through, and give it a bit more punch. Sounds like there might be a bit of mild compression also, on the original track.


I've got quite a lot of compression on mine, as I think Calum's does. I'll have to try the low mid cut, maybe that will address Rick's "more bass" suggestion without being muddy.

To a certain extent matching EQ gets hopeless on things like this. Different guitars, etc. I was mostly trying to capture the "cinematic" vibe of the mix, I know of lots of past efforts, I'll never exactly match the sound of another recording.


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