‘New For U’

As a final example, let’s consider the fact that one of the most loved underground house hits of the last few years perfectly demonstrates the way that dynamics still have a place in modern music:

We have to take into account the fact that Andrés’s ‘New For U’ wasn’t released digitally, so any analysis will be influenced to some small extent by the turntable, stylus, pre-amp and other elements of the signal chain used to capture the recording.

Regardless of the minor colouration induced during that stage, we can immediately see a clear contrast when we look at the waveform. This is the most dynamic of all of our case studies:

Pic 15

‘New For U’ embraces a more rough-and-ready underground house approach, with a much wider range between the peak and average level (over 15 dB).

This helps the track work with its main sample (taken from Dexter Wansel’s ‘Time Is The Teacher’ from 1978), and proves that it isn’t necessary to squeeze everything in track to make it work. We might be accustomed to loud, heavily compressed mixes by now, but ‘New For U’ categorically proves that there’s still a place for dynamics in club music.

Conclusions?

Taking all these tracks together it’s easy to see how confusing it can be when looking to put the finishing touches to a track (especially in the compression department). The most obvious conclusion is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to mixing dance music.

Ultimately, it becomes apparent that composition and choice of instrumentation must be right before you do anything else, but that the mix and master will then shape the sound of the track quite dramatically. In the right context, ultra-loud brickwall-limited masters can be effective, but equally so can open, dynamic mixes. Likewise, sparse arrangements can work well in some cases, but busier mixes shouldn’t necessarily be written off.

If we can take a single lesson from these case studies, it’s precisely that: context is everything. Not convinced? Imagine ‘New For U’ with the mix and production values of ‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’, or vice versa…

13th April, 2015

Comments

  • Damn, what an article. Great stuff Attack.

    And now I really want to hear New for U mixed like a Skirllex track. I’ll whack it through Pro L later with +30 on the gain.

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  • I would just like to say that Big Fun has greater floor impact than Look Right Through :p (played at same subjective volume of course..)

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  • Excellent Article … useful.

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  • I just want a spectrogram.

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  • i think “scary monsters and nice sprites” would sound way better as a more dynamic mix, personally. *Shrugs

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  • useful indepth article, well done to the author.

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  • Two points –

    1) One thing that bugs me about the mix of the more synthetic side of dance music is how hot the highs are. Spend an afternoon with 70s vinyl: pop, rock, jazz…
    I know this is media-influenced but all the mixes roll the high ends off a lot – then you come to any more modern (90s+) techno or whatnot, and the closed hats are relatively screaming at you in the mix. Sometimes I wonder if this is because everyone’s lost their hearing.

    2) As a DJ primarily I’ve noticed that over the past 5 years or so, more and more dancefloor music is mastered just to be loud. This plays havoc when metering and mixing older and newer tunes, especially if you like to mix cross-genre – imagine mixing that skrillex track into Andres (just ignore the cognitive dissonance about that one). The house track’s fader will be at say 80-90% max and the other track will be at 20%. Visual metering as an aid fails. You can make it work by ear, but even then if you’re mixing kind of loud, when you relisten in a better environment, the disparity is huge.


    I’m very pro-mp3/digital audio, but at least when you’re vinyl only, the mastering variation among songs, wrt loudness is pretty constrained.

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  • Great article!

    I remember New For U was released digitally on Derrick Mays cd of the We Love Detroit compilation. If I got a copy I’d like to compare the vinyl rip with the (probably processed) digital version like the author did with Good Life

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  • Want to mix better and be able to pinpoint problem frequencies by heart? Then Train Your Ears! https://www.trainyourears.com/mixlikeapro

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