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Louder Than Words

by Pink Floyd

There’s definitely a taste of the ’70s to the drum sound here, in that each drum and cymbal feels very exposed, there’s little in the way of overall room sound to bind everything together, and a long, low–level tail of reverb has then been added at mixdown. Getting a sound like this is actually quite tricky in small studios, usually involving a good deal of DIY acoustic absorption (taking care not to absorb high frequencies inordinately) and some high–pass filtering of the overhead mics. The placement of the other mics often becomes more critical too, because you’ll be trying to find satisfying tones without being able to rely nearly as much on spill contributions from the (usually more natural–sounding) overheads. Once you’ve achieved a suitably dry raw recording, however, the reverb shouldn’t present too many challenges. Anything with a long tail, a healthy pre-delay, and not too many early reflections should do the trick, without submerging the kit in the mix — give or take a bit of EQ in the reverb return.

The vocal tonality is interesting too, with a slightly hollow mid-range that manages to lend a certain etherealness to the singing, despite a respectable overall vocal level in the mix. I’d normally expect more energy around 1.5kHz for modern rock vocals, to keep them solid–sounding and upfront on cheap mass–market playback devices, but those concerns become a lot less relevant when the singer wants to be more enveloped in the band texture and you’re targeting Floyd fans who likely care a lot more about hi–fi than your average punter! However, I’m less crazy about the way the spectral emphasis above 5kHz makes some of the high–frequency consonants wince–inducing on occasion (check out “these times” at 1:17 or “this thing” at both 1:24 and 3:27, for instance). A shame, because I’d have thought a bit of extra automation at the mix (or even in mastering) could easily have removed those unnecessary distractions.