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Don't Call Me Angel

by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey

Seldom has a Serban Ghenea mix been squandered on such a lame song. (To be fair, though, the video’s even worse, with Ariana and Miley chewing up the scenery in ridiculous wing costumes and Lana looking like she’s praying for the ground to swallow her up.) If you ask me, your best tactic would be to put mental blinkers on and concentrate exclusively on the main bass patch. If you hear it on any system with a subwoofer, it masquerades as one of those urban sub-bass patches, immediately making the production sound more grown-up and edgy. However, if you filter out the subs with a steep high-pass filter around 70Hz, it becomes apparent that it also pushes masses of characterful distortion products into the lower mid-range, which means that the notes actually survive surprisingly well on smaller speakers too.

Raise the high-pass filter up to 300Hz, though, and the bass effectively vanishes, and I think it’s this rapid roll-off in frequency content that’s responsible for the subterfuge. You see, powerful bass fundamentals mask not only their own frequency, but also frequencies above them to a certain extent. (This is one reason why it can be easier to judge a mix’s mid-range balance on smaller speakers at lower listening volumes.) In this case, I suspect that the masking is making the bass synth’s low-mid-range energy less audible, so that the timbre sounds more like a simple sine wave under full-range playback conditions.