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by Post Malone
feat. 21 Savage

Now, I often talk about the issue of mix translation in this column, in other words how well a production’s musical and sonic content carries over onto different playback systems. Usually the concern is whether any important musical elements suffer in one listening situation or another, but in this production what interests me most is how the core commercial aspects of the production (namely the beat and the vocals, along with the chordal pad that provides the harmonic context and general atmosphere) remain robustly audible in practically any playback situation, but that each listening situation nonetheless offers its own unique rewards too, almost like little Easter eggs for specific subsections of the fans.

Hi-fi or car-system listeners with enough hardware muscle to plumb the spectral abyss will doubtless appreciate the 27Hz depth-charge that drops in the middle of each hook section (0:30, 1:42, and 2:54), as well as in more restrained form elsewhere. Although that’s naturally lost on headphone listeners, they get much better value out of the ping-pong hi-hat pattern and cool stereo widening effects at 2:24-2:35 and 3:12-3:36, both of which make more of an impact without the inevitable interchannel crosstalk of stereo speakers. Mono small-speaker listeners don’t come away empty-handed either, though, despite missing out on the low-end physicality of the bass and losing some fullness of tone during those widened sections, because a centre-heavy mid-range focus highlights lots of interesting background effect tails and sound-design elements that otherwise rather fall into the shade of the bass and percussion. Furthermore, it feels quite natural to turn up the volume more when the bass is absent, and that only helps draws those elements further out of the listening environment’s background noise floor. So this is one track that’s definitely worth listening to on different systems if you’ve only experienced it one way so far.