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Okay, I admit this one is Beatle-y. How is the balance? And is the bass too loud?

I realize most of my stuff is “pop-ish” and that so many composers here at Composers’ Forum read music and are more oriented to orchestral compositions, but my music is sort of anachronistic as far as popular music goes and I feel like they have nowhere to go other than a forum like this.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it.

And Paul McCartney if you’re reading this “yeah, I wanna be you”. There, I said it! hehehe...

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Hi Rick,

As someone who works on both kinds of compositions I can certainly appreciate this. Yes it sounds VERY Beatlish. That wasn't a real word. You know what I mean. 

Did you use a Beatles loops collection or the Beatles keyboard? I imagine you did no such thing and made this all from scratch. 

I listened on my ATH-M50x headphones using Reference 4 headphone correction the only thing that might be in question here is my hearing. No I didn't think the bass was too much. The composition itself is great! Just needs some British vocals or a really good American impersonator.

The only niggles I had were minor but apparent. I will cap my statements here with the comment that I know mp3 compression degrades a track, so maybe some of what I'm hearing here is the compression doing its nasty stuff to your music.I would have liked to hear a bit more space and liveliness in the track to make it sound as if it were played in a real live dance hall giving it that late 60's early 70's feel. Especially the drums could use a little something. Have you tried the Abbey Road plugins by Waves? They mimic the gear in Abbey Road Studios London.

Timothy Smith,

Thanks for your feedback. Your kind words are much appreciated.

Yes, it's all from scratch, one note at a time in the Sonar 8.5 piano roll. I started by transferring the piano notes from my real piano into Sonar. It's rather tedious, but I love doing it. No loops. BTW, I've never heard of a Beatles loops collection. Sounds cool, but I hate loops. I used "Piano in Blue", "Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass", "Abbey Road 60's Drums", "Real Strat" and a few other virtual instruments.

Glad to hear that you didn't think the bass was too loud.

I'm real dumb about effects. You said the drums need something, I agree (they need Ringo! hehehe)... but seriously, do you mean they need reverb or some other treatment?

Thanks again, I'm glad you like.


Yes that would be very tedious using the piano roll. Quite an achievement.

Sounds as if you used quality ingredients for a quality recipe.Those are the drums and bass in Kontakt and should be perfect for this. Maybe just a small amount of large room reverb or a plate and a small EQ bump in the 2-3K range with a tight Q. I would roll off the lows at 60hz on the reverb using an EQ on the reverb and send each track to a dedicated reverb master bus.If the drums were all on separate tracks in Sonar you would have more room to make adjustments.Those templates can be tricky to put together. That set has it's own mixer in Kontakt so you still have some room to play with it, maybe pan the cymbals to 20% L and snares to 20% R.The idea is to give it a more spacial feel like areal room would sound ;)

Timothy Smith,

Thank you for all the suggestions. The Abbey Road Drums mixer doesn’t have a cymbals pan, but it does have a hi-hat pan. There is no cymbals channel so I’m not quite sure how to isolate them for panning purposes. Anyway, I panned the snare and the hi-hat and I also set the room and overheads close to the full wide setting thinking maybe that would widen out the cymbals. I’m not sure it did. I also panned the snare to the opposite of the hi-hat, neither of them to the extreme ends but enough I think to separate them a bit.

All of this panning caused me to have to adjust velocities on a bunch of drum hits because certain drum parts stuck out like a sore thumb. Tedious work! But I think it’s sounding better.

As far as EQ goes, I’ve never been able to understand anything about all of those things that you mentioned. That stuff just makes my head spin. I’ve read up on EQ tips many times and I just can’t understand any of it. I wish I knew a recording engineer. Sonar just laughs at me.

Thanks again for all of your help. I’ve replaced the mp3 here with the new version so maybe if you get a chance you could give it another listen and tell me what you think. I’m thinking the rim snare in the opening might be a little loud. I’d be interested whether you agree.

With my lack of technical recording skills I’m lucky to get anything recorded. It’s taken me years to get familiar with Sonar. I think it will take many lifetimes to understand EQ... hehehe.


 This sounded much better! The rim snare isn't like terribly loud but it couldn't hurt to back it off a few db. This music REALLY does have that Beatles "sound".

Like so many other things EQ and mixing in general look intimidating to people sometimes and I get that. In the most basic explanation EQ in mixing is simply the  boosting or cutting of selected frequencies of the audio spectrum. 

EQ ranges as described across the bands would be-1). 60hz-100hz Bass 2.)100-200hz mid Bass3.) 200-500hz Upper Bass4.) 350-1Khz Lower Mids 5.) 1K-3K hz Mid Range 6.)3K- 5KHigh Bands7.) 8K-12K High ranges

When I mix I usually "roll off" or the lows and lower mids on any channel that isn't a bass channel. Bass can go 30hz and lower so I clip the very lows to about 60hz. In the case of the Rickenbacker it has an attack somewhere in the 300hz I might leave the 350hz range open on the EQ or slightly boosted to emphasize the personality of the Rick. In this case, the bass has probably two places of emphasis. 60-100 and 300-350. The rest can be cut in EQ. Many people get carried away with boosting too much in EQ. I look at it more like removing frequencies that offend or clash with other channels. If a boost is needed it's usually only 1 or 2 db.

The "Q" is simply the band a narrow Q would be a small slice of the spectrum. Narrow Q is more selective and wider Q cuts a wider swath from the chosen frequency. The best way to do it is to mute the other channels and move the Q and frequency until you hear the "sweet spot" or best place for that instrument.

Most all of the main program material you hear as detailed music is in the 1.5K - 3K range. The range where the human voice, and most instruments sit excluding bass. Upper  in the 5K-8K. Above that we hear usually only harmonics  in most material.

Almost always sound perceived as "muddy" is in the 300-500hz mid bass range or over hyped bass in the -100K ranges.These frequencies are often reduced because they interfere with hearing the rest of the material and the harmonics clash with higher frequencies. Ideas like "clear", "open",are descriptive of a good mix. The more channels you have the more the channels compete with one another for sonic space. There are intelligent EQ'a like Ozone Neutron that can compare to other channels and recommend where to make the cuts............or we can just use our ears. 

Reverb is simple. "Insert Bus" in Sonar. Name it "reverb". Add a reverb of your choosing. Now go to each channel in your mix and create a send except for bass. You don't ever need reverb on any bass. In the send you created add the "reverb" bus. Now you can send varied amounts of reverb to any channel. Maybe you want more on one channel than the others. Some sounds don't need as much reverb. Take the reverb bus control down to -6bd or less . The buss is just like all other tracks in that you can add an EQ. I always add an EQ to the reverb bus and roll off everything below 100hz. This also avoids the "muddy" sound that can happen if you add a reverb since mud tends to become cumulative. The more channels, the more possibility for mud.

If working with a Beatles kind of setup the bass drum and bass guitar usually will clash because they are on the same frequencies.This is avoided by using side chaining which is simply feeding the output as a send into the side chain feature of a compressor of the other, so every time the bass drum hits audio is sent  to a compressor using the side chain feature in the Bass guitar channel. The result is the bass guitar sound is slightly reduced when the compressor senses a bass drum hit. Side chaining has many more uses but I won't delve into all of that here.

Timothy Smith,

Wow! This is such a great explication of EQ. I only wish I could grasp all that frequency business. All the db stuff has always stumped me. I first need to comprehend the basic physics of sound, which to my pea brain might as well be calculus (which btw, I happen to love... but it hates me). At any rate, maybe something you explained here will sink in for the next time I delve into Sonar. I rarely use busses but I do like the idea of sending everything except the bass to a reverb buss.

I’m definitely more a composer/arranger than I am a sound engineer. I love arranging but I hate the tech stuff! You’ve given me a nutritious helping of vegetables here. I’ll try and eat them... I’ll even try and like them, but no guarantees!

Thanks again.


Rick, I'm certain that if you are this good at putting midi in the piano roll, you would have no issue with the other stuff. 

0 db is unity gain or the highest gain before clipping or the signal distorts. Most tracks are recorded at -12 to -6 db. It can be confusing when a person thinks of 0 as the lowest or minimal. In this case 0db is LOUD and the more desired ranges are -12 to -6. Decibels are simply a measurement of audio gain. Anything over 0db is too much. Gain staging is when you increase the gain in the signal chain in measured amounts to minimize electronic noise. If you turn your radio volume up loud with no program material you will hear the loud hiss of the electronic circuitry. To avoid this each stage is adjusted in the "comfort zone" of the gain stage. Using an example of an electric guitar plugging into the audio interface, the 1st stage which is coming into the DAW software from the guitar is  -12 db or less adjusted at the interface.2nd stage is the software faders in the DAW which might be set to -6db. Only at the master stage is the gain maximized to just under 0db using a limiter to prevent it from going too high and still get competitive volume. In adjusting EQ, moving a frequency band up or down is also measured in db. 

I am a beginning violinist and I recorded some of my shitty practice, but here is an example of how the EQ works using Fabfilter Pro Q...but any EQ will work. Notice I cut the violin in the 2-3K range and rolled off the bass of the violin to cut out any rumble noises....I know the violin isn't that good :) The violin still has a very apparent mid range even with the cuts I made.

Timothy Smith,

Thank you for explaining all of this db stuff, I really appreciate it. Still can’t grasp it, but I do appreciate it. Yes, the number “0” does seem to be logically the lowest you can go. The decibel scale reminds me of the magnitude scale in astronomy, yet another anti-intuitive concept that I’ve never fully grasped. I read somewhere that when negative numbers where first introduced in mathematics that the non-mathematically minded public couldn’t wrap their head around the concept. For example, how can an apple farmer sell -3 apples? It made no sense. It wasn’t until the advent of financial accounting and the concept of debt in the accounting ledgers that people started accepting the mysterious idea of negative numbers. Just as today, I guess it had to hit people in their pocket book.

I personally struggle with things that don’t appear logical and the decibel scale, although highly important in the physics of sound, just seems “mysterious” to me. Maybe once I can grasp how there can be less than zero sound (which, as you rightly point out is not what 0db is), maybe then I will finally stop freaking out every time I look at an EQ graph.

These scientific measuring scales aren’t going to be re-vamped anytime soon, in the meantime, now I’m hungry for an apple but unfortunately I only have -2 apples in my fridge. Many people have told me over the years; “Rick... you’re thinking too hard about these things!”, to which my only reply is “Yeah, it’s sort of what I do”.

Hurray for Asperger’s!


Rick, Please call me Tim and save some typing. You can call me most anything and I'm ok with it :)

You bring up something interesting about how we think. How some people think and comprehend differently. This subject relates well to music. There are various ways we attempt  to describe the phenomenon. Maybe you've read about people who are "left brained" and people who are "right brained" The more logical thinker and the more ambiguous creative thinker. We all have to be both at times, yet one favors over the other in most people.

I can relate to being stumped about some things that others get right away. Similar to the English language the db scale is confusing to anyone who doesn't speak it because it has so many rules that seemingly are opposed. There are roads where I live that were once goat paths that were expanded into roads. Never made sense to me why they paved along the same windy road when there were opportunities to make the road straight....lots of things don't make any sense lol. Why do they call Grape nuts cereal "Grape Nuts" it doesn't contain grapes or nuts :)


You asked: “Why do they call Grape nuts cereal "Grape Nuts" it doesn't contain grapes or nuts”


Yeah, and even to this day people rock babies to sleep with “When the bough breaks the cradle will fall and down will come baby cradle and all”. What sadistic joker came up with those lyrics?!!! Guess it’s a great argument for the power of melody being more important than lyrics in music. So many people sing that song and are absolutely oblivious to the poor doomed baby in the treetop. So next time someone tells you that lyrics are more important than the music, just start singing Rock-a-bye Baby. Case closed. hehehe...


You don't like cereal music? Schoenberg started cerealism and used to listen to it while eating his cornflakes at breakfast. The crunching probably added a percussive effect. 

Rick said:


You asked: “Why do they call Grape nuts cereal "Grape Nuts" it doesn't contain grapes or nuts”




I like my serial with coy milk!


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