Looking for merciless critiques on mixing/mastering

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    Hi there!

    One of my latest soundtrack is this video I was asked to score by Ducati (more than 430’000 views on Youtube).


    Let me know what you think in terms of mixing and mastering. I need critiques to keep my self and my technique going forward.

    Thank you


    It sounds pretty good, not much to say about it… Maybe a link to a ‘clean’ version with no voiceover would be even better for a proper mastering evaluation. I feel it could have been ‘louder’, heavier in some parts but I don’t know what they asked you to do and dialog and engine sounds are distracting and ‘eating’ frequencies’ and dynamics… On a side note, Ducati is located in my home town, a few miles from where I used to live… Never rode one, though…


    Thanks Mike,

    yes, they asked me to have the sound of the engine very loud (and I believe they are right, it’s a bike advert).


    Sounds great, perfect for the spot, the whole point about music for picture (especially in advertising) is that it plays a totally supportive role to the product. In this case a very expensive bike!!!! Nothing jars or sticks out well done


    Thanks woodsdenis! 😉

    M. J. Harding

    hello mate, congratulations first of all – on the gig, and also it’s fundamentally a successful score, as others have said. The emotion works well and even though I am cynical about adverts, it did kind of get to me.

    You ask for merciless, and so I will try to write unselfconsciously my thoughts.

    My critical thoughts regarding the mixing and mastering are:
    that the strings, especially near the start, sound a little thin.
    the bass is not punchy or warm (kicks especially, but most of the bass).
    during the climax, there are too many frequencies layered on top of each other that are clashing / distorting, especially in the mid-range and upper-mids.

    There is a chance this is due to the compression applied during the upload to YouTube – it can make things sound kind of glitchy, lossy, compressed. Perhaps the studio .wav sounds really nice. I am going to risk being wrong with the following assumption: that you have a bit too much going on sonically, and / or did not create this with YouTube compression in mind, and / or were wary of making the bass kick too hard.

    I downloaded the mp3 and put it in Ableton to have a look at your frequencies on the spectrum analyser. The climax in particular is quite ‘noisy’ looking. The EQ has a lot of raggedy spikes across a lot of different frequencies, although I can see the high end is a little quieter.

    You’ve got a lot of 808 trap hi hats AND loads of reverb on your snare AND a whistling noise added to / coming from the motorbike AND the motorbike engine shredding around AND ear candy sounds – you may even have added some kind of reverb to the kick, I can’t quite tell with all the other stuff going on. There’s a lot of noise, transients, harmonics, even phasing. This in my view sacrifices the impact of the kicks and rhythm, and generally makes it all sound a bit washed out and cheap.

    It’s possible when mastering to turn down the high hats etc, but in my view it’s a decision before getting to that stage. Once there are too many things happening, you sacrifice punchiness, it becomes more of a wash. Add to that the YouTube compression and it starts to sound almost unpleasant, harsh.

    I notice a similar thing with the way you’ve orchestrated and mastered the strings in the first half – a lot of held notes, building up, which have quite a few harmonic resonant frequencies and mid-high noise which may not be quite under control. Partly this is mastering stuff, but might also be the way you’ve orchestrated and processed the strings (assuming they’re MIDI?). As a side note, did you do a frequency sweep of all your instruments to remove unwanted harmonics and noise?

    Although dance music is loud, it tends to be produced and mastered with a lot of space in key frequencies. The frequencies that matter – bass, snare, hats – are tuned carefully, and the other Hz areas are either EQ’d out, or sounds chosen in the first place are those which do not stray too far into other frequencies. This is the case without any motorbike sounds! Because you have the roaring Ducatti as well, I think it’s even more important to be more restrained and surgical with the frequency spectrum.

    If you want an example of what I mean, have a quick listen to this:
    https://youtu.be/b9R93v6_an8 -> this has a similar frequency range to the 2nd half of your Ducatti piece. However there is a LOT more space, certain sounds are ‘further away’, and as a result the kick and snare cut through a lot more powerfully. It also doesn’t sound too glitchy on YouTube. In a club, this tune really bangs hard. I understand that this isn’t the vibe you’re going for, but perhaps you can see through comparison how the impact/punch/bass response of this track is greater than yours. I would say the main reason is because you have too much going on, not enough space.

    https://youtu.be/lEWr5UJMqUA -> this has some interesting discussion and EQ visuals for the kind of electronic music you’ve included in the climax of the score.

    So if you want things to look at, I would say:
    -> Look into ways of making things sound ‘big and epic’ without layering loads of similar frequencies on top of each other. Find ways to be more precise / minimal with your mids and highs. If you know you’re going to have voice and engine or whatever added to your score, then even more so.
    -> make sure your bass kicks and low frequency is cutting through nice and warm.
    -> maybe listen to some kinds of dance music that you’re not that familiar with, more niche stuff. If there’s tracks you like, or even adverts / film scenes that sound good, convert the YouTube video to MP3 (easy to do) and run it through an EQ analyser on your DAW. Use the ‘isolate sound’ to really listen closely to what’s going on, where the power comes from, and crucially what has been LEFT OUT to give the other parts their strength.

    I probably was wrong about loads of these things, but I did my best in the circumstances, sorry if it’s all off and irritating for you. And sorry for being patronising and condescending.


    Hi M.J.,

    I was following your critique and looking forward to hearing your example, but the youtube link is gone.. could you update it please? Thanks!

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