This is an NGADM Round 1 Review.
Your Score Breakdown:
Total: 86/100 or 8.6/10 or 4.5 stars (rounded).
As a trombone player, I can certify that I would be playing on this track without question. :3
The composition of this track is quite incredible tbh. It has a nice Nimble sound, but unlike a lot of your previous works, voicings and levels are considerably better so there's a lot less harmonic confusion and a lot more clarity overall, giving me more reason to enjoy the composition and instrumentation going on. You do a lot to make sure that the track never becomes boring or stale, with nice contrasting parts, the solo section, and the nice ensemble sections. I really enjoyed how each instrument got to do its part in the harmonic and melodic construct of the piece- the voicings and lines were especially nice.
Something I feel you might want to consider is touching up on transitionary stages, such as 0:18 (drum fill? windchimes? pick-up?). The drums are doing a lot of grooving, but I feel some more fill-type stuff could help in places (and don't forget, guitar, bass, and piano, can all do awesome fills too). Aux percussion can also come in very handy here. I might suggest adding something like a tambourine or shaker during some parts just to add that extra feel.
Speaking of drums, your drum set is REALLY WEAK and QUIET. If you listen to someone like Trombone Shorty and his band (which this reminded me a lot of), they can be a very good example of a good mix for the acoustic elements you are working with (ex. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLfsLx04GjE, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRb3nM6q1Vg). Notice particularly how powerful the drums sit in the mix and where the engineers placed the instruments aurally to keep the parts from conflicting. Also notice what techniques are used to keep the melody on top of the mid-ground and background elements in the mix and the orchestration.
For some reason, I REALLY enjoyed the sound and feel of the brass/saxes. They just felt really good to me, I guess you worked really hard to get them to sound good, which is great. Also remember to explore instrumentation and voicing techniques and options that can also assist with realism when dealing with limited samples.
I think the next step for you is to take some time and try applying things like EQ and compression to channels, and just experiment around and see what they do. A word of caution- try to keep the reverb light, especially for this kind of close-mic'd sounding stuff, which is generally produced relatively dry, so be VERY CAUTIOUS with reverb. It's very tempting to just drown everything in reverb, but in the end you'll just end up with mud, especially with freeware or basic reverbs. With EQ, try playing around with increasing and decreasing certain parts of the instrument to get the tone you desire- more punch? Increase mid-highs. More roundness? Increase low-mids. etc.
Some things to watch out for:
- Mud: At 3:58 it's a little too busy, so things tend to blend and get stuck together in a not-good way.
- Crackles: 4:05 is one point where we have some crackleitis. Be careful with the gain knob- remember, compression can do a lot to bring in more of that punchiness without having to worry about crackles.
- Unclear Melody: At some points in the song, there are a lot of ideas and lines going on at once, which can be a great thing if mixed well or terrible if not mixed. This was not mixed well. Always make sure your melody is clear and is the most INTERESTING thing to the listener. If someone is playing a more interesting phrase at the same time as the melody that is louder, the ear will go there and not to the melody.
Keep up the good work!