Sometimes you have to let things go with flaws; there isn’t time to try and perfect every detail if there are deadlines to meet. However, when there is a glaring issue, it is worth considering if it is possible to improve matters.
That happened this week as I worked on a version of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” for Sunday’s online service (which will be in this playlist once it finishes compiling and is uploaded). I originally released this at the end of March last year, when I was attempting to put out a new worship video every day. Listening back, it was the song I wanted but, equipped with the new mic I wrote about recently, I decided to see if I could do something to improve the lead vocal. The original was a single part with a few off notes; I’ve now double tracked it and both parts are sung better. I dropped the new version into the old video, made a couple of tweaks to that well and put the whole lot into the service.
Fortunately, I’ve had a bit of time to give my ears a rest between finishing that part and reviewing the overall service. It struck me that the whole piece sounded offensively loud and distorted. Logic showed that it wasn’t peaking but it was compressed within an inch of its life! I decided to invest half an hour in going back and improving things.
I started by turning off the output plugins, muting all the vocals and soloing each instrumental track. I stuck fairly much with the plugins and mix for each one but made few adjustments, like a gentler EQ on the acoustic guitar and running the output electric guitar amp sim (on a bus, blended with the original) into my reverb buses so it wasn’t too dry. I then focused on vocals. Nothing needed changing about the mix but I did apply a bit of pitch correction to the low harmony (recorded a year ago); that also prompted me to pitch correct a few elements of the electric guitar part too.
Finally, I brought back the output bus plugins one by one. The ‘tube EQ’ worked well, the adaptive limiter was okay (although I knocked down the gain boost by about half) and the final compressor… well, that turned out not to be required at all.
Back to redoing the song video and then reinserting that in the service video. It was a bit more work but the result fits better in the overall service and, when I decide I want to use it again, will be in a much better state.