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My tracks sound too quiet/souless when I remove the pads
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
Author My tracks sound too quiet/souless when I remove the pads
deepr
I am a big fan of deep sounding pads.... I tend to go for the lower octaves when picking my chords as I think the low frequencies bring certain depth to my melodies and to the harmony of my tracks as whole.

However, whenever I get to the arrangement stage and I decide to remove the pad from a particular session I feel that my tracks becomes far too quiet and soulless.

Often times what I do is to bring a new element to the song in order to fill up the gap... but it doesn't always work, specially if this new instrument plays at higher octaves.

So I wonder if somebody here has ever had the same issue? Any tips on how to get over it?

Thanks smile
lisa
Interesting! You still have basslines, right? How do you mix the bassline and the lower frequencies of the pad? I guess you have some bass in the pad? How do you make them work together? Is there also a kick drum present?
deepr
lisa wrote:
Interesting! You still have basslines, right? How do you mix the bassline and the lower frequencies of the pad? I guess you have some bass in the pad? How do you make them work together? Is there also a kick drum present?


Yes, most of the times I keep the kick and the bass in place as I produce mostly 4x4 electronic music. As for mixing the bassline I usually add some distortion in the mids in order to make it stand out against the pads and other low frequency instruments.

In the past I used to add a lot of reverb in the background as a way of compensating for the sections where I would remove the pads. But I got a bit sick of using this technique over and over. Even though it works fine I feel that the reverb mask things quite a lot... and I am aiming for a cleaner, dryer sound at the moment.
decklyn
Have you tried applying multi-band compression or multiband distressing to your bass? If you don't have pads, you probably need something in the mids and upper range - If I'm just going to have bass and drums I'll usually hit multiband on the bass to give it more mid and upper range accent, or else layer higher frequency sounds over the bass to make the bass instrument fill the entire range (even though it might be 2 or 3 layers, you can make it sound like one big guy.)

Or ad some arps or maybe just some noise and ambience?

Post something up to let us hear smile

EQ is your friend so just think of your tune like a box, figure out where you're missing, and fill up the space. Some ambience can really help.

Eg i just put a drone in this
[s]https://soundcloud.com/decklyn/ode[/s]
Navs
I have run into this too.

I think the quick answer is to decide what role the pad plays: is it just padding, a comfort blanket, or is it the main attraction?

If it's the first, there are a few things you can do: leave it, cos you like it (!), mix it at a lower volume level or, be brave and ditch it. If it's important, then make it more prominent - there's nothing wrong with that either.

As to the the reason why your track might sound empty without it, maybe as you write, your track is "quiet and soulless" hmmm..... If so, maybe it's time to work on the other ideas before resorting to the 'comfort blanket'.

The other reason is maybe psychological: we get used to a pad or drone being there so when it is removed we notice its absence. This can be used to dramatic effect, but it's a gamble. Listen to examples of songs that feature a pad or drone or any persistent feature (even drum tracks or loops that hold things together, the four-to-the-floor kick drum) to see how well they cope or the mood survives when that element is dropped.

I feel that sometimes what we're describing when we discuss EQ or compression etc.etc. is actually related to arrangement, good or bad. Sparser tracks, where each voice has time and space to speak, can sound more punchy and louder than songs that consist of layers upon layers of sound. Is there an interaction between your pad and the other elements in the track?
calaveras
I like to use a subtle delay or reverb with a percussion element that is not in the rest of the mix.

Or sometimes I use the UAD reflection engine to do a sparse early reflection kind of thing. Then I automate the sends to that so it's only on when the mix breaks down to just a couple elements. It kind of calls attention to the spareness.
16osc
Have you tried added some ambient noise very low in the background. I've read this suggested many times and didn't like the idea. I finally gave in and started doing it because I had the same problem as you when removing pads, etc. in the arrangement.
StateAzure
I've definitely run into this problem many times, as I'm a sucker for pads and use them a ton in tracks. Often I've found my own problem is I start with the pads, and develop the track around it and that often makes it sound very empty and thin once it's not there. Adding extra layers of pads and/or background noise/field recordings can definitely help as mentioned above. So when you lose the main bulk of the pad, maybe a different layered part of that pad is still there but playing at a high octave or in a different chord inversion perhaps?
deepr
Wow! Thanks for the all the insights so far. A lot of good stuff has been shared! applause


Navs wrote:

I feel that sometimes what we're describing when we discuss EQ or compression etc.etc. is actually related to arrangement, good or bad. Sparser tracks, where each voice has time and space to speak, can sound more punchy and louder than songs that consist of layers upon layers of sound. Is there an interaction between your pad and the other elements in the track?


Nice one! What you say about layering makes total sense! That is actually something I am working hard at the moment to get right... I want a more "call and response" approach for my layering rather than the usual layer upon layer upon layer you mentioned. Its a hard task though!


StateAzure wrote:
Often I've found my own problem is I start with the pads, and develop the track around it and that often makes it sound very empty and thin once it's not there. Adding extra layers of pads and/or background noise/field recordings can definitely help as mentioned above.


Yes, most the the times I start composing my tracks with the pads! That is something I am trying to change coz it does get me stuck later down the road when I realize that there is not much going on in the track apart from the melody.
XAXAU
Separate the lower notes of the pads and side gain them from kick and maybe bassline! A few dB here and there!
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