Looking for general feedback……

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  • #21860 Reply

    On my music in general as it exists on my sound cloud pages. Any comments welcome, both positive and negative, although I ask if it is mostly negative , consider messaging me instead. Can comment here or directly on the sound cloud link. Trying to get a sense of where I’m at after going at this hard for a few years now . Thanks anyone who takes the time to do it.

    Here is the link….

    #21864 Reply

    Hey Chuck,

    I debated whether I should throw in my 2 cents – feedback can be so subjective! So I listened to your tracks (on soundcloud) and decided that if I had something that might be remotely helpful/insightful then I would share. But I accept that I might not be helpful at all 🙂

    What stood out most for me were two things: first, your compositional ideas are good and interesting – your overdubs, melodies and counter melodies are, I think, good choices.

    The second thing was your feel – specifically rock compared to non-rock. All of your tracks that are in and around the genre of rock – your feel is spot-on; all the instruments feel locked together all supporting the groove. However, the tracks that aren’t rock, feel as is if you’re playing the guitar (and a few other instruments) ahead of groove. I was thinking to myself if you sped-up those grooves for the non-rock tracks your guitar would fit/feel better in the pocket of the groove since it felt like it wanted to be in a quicker/more driving groove..

    Anyway, when I took a songwriting class that’s how they gave feedback – identify the thing(s) that is good and to keep; and also identify the thing that could improved to make the biggest difference. I hope I was able to do that.

    #21867 Reply

    I appreciate it. My areas for improvement as I see them are simultaneously what I think is starting to improve…my compositions are starting to sound more like what I have in my head before I sit down and write. My own objectivity , and it has been so since day one, is that my production lags behind my playing and/or writing skills. My edits sometimes still sound, uh, edited. Besides some folks I listen to here, I listen often to KT Top 50 and other “best sellers” on other sites. The best production music sounds as if it could be a major record label release. Besides the compositional stuff, the hardest part for me to be objective about is how my production is holding up. Thanks Paolo, appreciate the feedback.

    #21868 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    Hello Chuck, my comment would be to get away from the MIDI drums, it’s going to add so much more life to your projects! Record a real drummer or use one of the internet live drummer services. Failing that, try experimenting with loops for some tunes.

    I’m wondering if your electric guitar sounds are from an amp simulator plug-in like guitar rig?

    #21869 Reply

    Amp sim sounds: Mostly amplitude. I do have the option currently for recording live amp, have my own recording room. Fender Deluxe reverb. Have often considered also buying a marshall and just using those 2. Also own a tube screamer type of pedal and a full tone OCD. I gig also or they would probably be permanently set up downstairs in my studio. But laziness prevents from drag ging the stuff downstairs, setting up mice, etc. then packing it back up, gigging….That and the amp sims are really close these days.

    Addictive Drums for just about everything, including their loops. Have recently started doing more of my own programming, unless a drum loop or “song” fits perfectly, again going for what I hear rather then settling for loops I purchased. Thanks. Going to pay closer attention and look into those drum services.

    Thank you because the honest criticisms are what I am going to hone in on in the future . Which is why I of course posted.

    #21871 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    I thought it sounded like an amp sim, but wasn’t totally sure of my ears, because like you say sims are really close these days. There’s just a certain thinness or lack of “air” about amp sims. I think recording a real amp will add life. Back when I was gigging I used a Twin, so I know exactly what you are saying about tearing down and setting up, except for me it was lugging up the stairs. I think amp sims are good for minor parts, and use them for clean sounds that are blended into a track. For a track that has a feature guitar melody that stands out, it may be worth the effort of miking up the amp.

    I think paying closer attention to the drum parts will help a lot! Honing production skills is similar to learning to play an instrument. It’s something that needs to be practiced. Just like you practice scales outside of the context of a gig, work on production skills outside of actually creating a tune.

    Good luck!

    #21872 Reply
    Mark Lewis

    Hi Chuck-
    I agree with the comments above. Especially the drum sounds and the instruments not being in the pocket.
    To be honest the production, your final mixes, could use a lot of work.
    What I would suggest is to find music tracks that you like that are similar in style to what you are recording and then experiment with matching the production, match the EQ placement, the stereo spread, etc, as much as you can to get your mix as close as possible to an already great sounding mix.

    Creature Features
    For example, take a listen to this track by Chris Hodges here…
    Everything has its place, the guitars, the bass, the drums, all clearly have their place in the mix. You can hear everything individually and it comes together as a cohesive whole.

    Now listen to a similar track from your playlist

    A good goal for you might be to get your mix to match the one in the example posted above.
    If nothing else you will learn a lot in the process.

    Snow Day
    Another example is the whistling pop song, which is very good but the production is just not there. It could be a great track but is simply lacking in the recording quality.

    Here is your whistling pop track

    Now compare that mix to this similar track by Christian Rønn

    You might want to take your same track and try to match the sound quality to this example from Christian.

    Extreme Max
    Another mix comparison for you would be your track Extreme Max which again, the idea is good but the mix really needs help.


    Now compare that to one of my favorite composers Denis Woods.
    If you can get your track to sound even 30% closer to Denis’s mix quality you would really have something

    Or to this really popular pop rock track from Michele Vanni

    I hope I am not coming across as harsh, just trying to give an honest constructive critique.

    – Mark

    #21874 Reply

    Well, had long response typed up, but it disappeared! I think you are headed in the right direction. I agree with Michael N. about the drums. Learn how to make them sound more real, mess with them, throw some eq, distortion, etc on them, and make up some different patterns. Mix the individual tracks, not just a stereo drum track. Also, just my opinion, but the real instrument overdubs need to be locked in better with the drums, the timing is a little out of pocket. Overall, work on your production quality, mixes, real instrument tones. Amp sims can sound great, just get the most out of them. If you work on these areas (there’s a TON of great tutorials online for all of these issues), you will definitely up your game and hopefully get more placements. Just work on one thing at a time. I like your ideas and the feels you are going for. Kudos for being brave enough to put your tunes up here!

    #21877 Reply

    Thank you guys for all the feedback.

    Mark listening back to those mixes there is a clear difference. The acoustic track, for whatever reason, nails the airy sound I was going for, but despite sitting there working through a video on recording acoustic, was not able to get that sounds out of it. So, confirms my suspicions that I may want to go back to square one as far as production and at least spend a few hours a week working on the production end of things. Thanks for posting good reference tracks. Maybe I’ll practice on the tunes you mentioned specifically.

    I’m going to leave the tracks up for a few more days for more comments, and I think completely take down the soundcloud page. Appreciate it. Keep the comments coming , it’s all good.

    #21878 Reply

    I think all your ideas are very solid, the biggest problem is in some of the production. I think the low end of the mix might need the biggest tweaking. When I hear your music, it seems like you are a guitar player. What I mean by that is it seems like you laid the guitar down first, and then added the other elements and then mix around the guitar. I don’t know if that is true or not, but when I hear the music the guitar and mid range sounds great, but some of the lows and the hi’s are where you could really add some spice.

    I don’t know what your process is but you might think about after laying down the mids and once the arrangement is done, turn the faders down on that. Get that groove, bass, and low end sounding great. Balance the low in with the high end stuff before you go back to the guitar and mid elements. If you can get the low end and high end sounding awesome together before the guitar comes in, then it might help get your tracks to pop a little more.

    Like I said, you’re ideas are great. If you can get those lows and high’s to pop it would really help pump some more life and energy into the tracks. Low end can be a tough nut but it adds so much.

    When I heard that acoustic snow day track for example, I don’t really think you had a bad recording of it to be honest. I think you did a good job on recording it, but with a little bit of eq work, and processing I think it could definitely be improved to match fairly close with the reference track Mark showed. Especially if you added some processing to the whistling melody.

    Hope that helps!

    #21879 Reply

    First, I’ve got to say Mark Lewis’s input is incredibly generous. The A/B examples he provided made it very easy to get a handle on things.

    Second, I agree with everything Mark said. Mixing AND mastering are extremely important.

    In addition to stereo placement issues, my general impression is that your mixes sound dull, like something is missing from the high end. Without knowing what speakers you have, your room configuration and what, if any, acoustic treatments you’re using, I’d say that you may be hearing too much top end, and then overcompensating by cutting it in your mix.

    Try getting a bunch of tracks that you know are done well, and A/B them with your mixes, while you’re mixing. Dave Pensado featured a plug that lets you do this easily, a while back. I can’t remember what it’s called. Denis — do you remember?

    I’m not sure that I agree totally on the live drums suggestions — better drums might serve equally well. Something like BFD3 with tons of dynamic layers, modifiable midi loops from top players, many kit choices and multiple mic positions, will get you a long way toward real. Here’s a couple of good drum tutorials:

    For guitars, if you’re going to use amp sims, think in terms of quadruple tracking your parts. Here’s a great tutorial:

    Lastly, listen to your mixes on different speakers / headphones, if you can…even in the car.



    #21882 Reply

    Second listen..I agree with Mike Musco too…the low end needs help,as Bass and kick need definition.

    Definitely do some processing on the whistle, and maybe some pitch correction. I would not use as much reverb as on the example Mark posted. It sounds drenched and out of sonic context with the rest of the track…like the instruments are in a room and the whistler is in a concert hall. Just my opinion, which is totally subjective.


    #21886 Reply

    Thanks Michael for the tips and links. Really like the guitar vids. I think I am going to go back and do a remix on some of those other tracks. I may take some time and do some remixing on other tracks as well, with just a focus on working on production chops. And will definitely help not only reading back though some of the books I’ve collected. If anyone else want to chime in go ahead . I think I’ll be deletion that page by Friday though.

    Thanks for the tips from everyone actually . Those guitar vids are actually pretty good.

    It sounds like , if I’m not mistaken, that noone is really a fan of the stock drum kits as they sit in many of the programs, meaning the kits still need some tweaking ? How about the loops or do people in general here like to program your own?

    PS thanks for all the listens folk, 250 in the last 24 hours. Maybe I’ll post my stuff on Spotify the next time I ask for feedback :). Seriously really appreciate the attention the post has drawn and everyone’s willingness to lend a fellow composer your ear.

    #21887 Reply

    Hi Chuck…

    The way that I learned to mix was watching an engineer friend of mine. He always mixed from the bottom up…kick and bass, etc. The sparkle / ear candy up top went on last.

    Lots of great info here:

    Good nuts and bolts info, but not free, here:

    Same here:


    #21888 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    Over the years I’ve learned to work loops to get realistic drum parts. Fills, one shots and breakdown are issues, but nothing that can’t be resolved. I usually start by putting down a scratch guitar or other part by playing along with a click. Then I start auditioning loops by playing them along with the scratch part. Most of the time I don’t hear any loops working, and just when I’m about to give up, things start to fall into place and the drum part quickly builds itself. Here are a few examples I’ve posted here in the past.


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