2K Club - QQ Super Nova
- Mar 30, 2009
- London, England
I would like to hear this!In my never ending quest to fix the surround universe, I have taken on Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" and specifically the song "Paradise By the Dashboard Light". I've read the story about the fire that supposedly destroyed some of the master multitracks (how does one destroy some of the tracks?) for the song. Rather than get Ellen Foley back to re-record the missing vocal parts they got singer Karla DeVito instead...Close but no cigar.
Unfortunately, there were other things wrong with the song, too. These problems as Phil Rizzuto's ("The Scooter" and Hall of Fame Shortstop) vocal was just not right and I couldn't figure out why. Also important pieces of the multitrack were completely missing. The pitch also seemed off as well. So, this song became a good mystery to tackle.
The first item I worked was the pitch. I compared the 5.1-channel SACD version to the 2-channel SACD version and sure enough the pitch is off by about 1%. Correcting the time (and therefore the pitch) on the multichannel version corrected the problem and then the editing begin.
PBTDL is an interesting song in that it is not only logically divided into three sections (as the album lyrics show), it appears to have been recorded in three sections. However, the recordings are divided into three different sections than the lyrics. The types of corrections needed to fix the song are different in each section.
Section I (Paradise) :
Lucky the only "wrong" thing with this section is the female vocal lead. Further luck was that the female lead vocal only heard in the center channel. I thought it would be a piece of cake to take the other channels and remove the instrumentation. I planned to do this by taking a mono version of the 2-channel tracks (with Ellen Foley) and then subtract out each of the corner channels using the 5.1-channel mix. That should have left me with just the lead vocals. But, this is where my luck ran out.
It turns out that the 5.1-channel has enough differences in cymbal timing and bass timing (very slight) that it made kind-of in-and-out phasing sound throughout. Also the 5.1-channel is much much sharper (as in higher peaks) than than the 2-channel version. So subtracting again left unlistenable artifacts.
Plan B was to take the original 2-channel version, make a mono mix and then spread the original 2-channel left to the front left, the mono mix to the center and then the original 2-channel right to the front right. The surround channels from the 5.1-mix as well as the LFE channel remained. This also solved the problem of the solo lead vocals (even Mr. Loaf) being somewhat lost coming only from the center channel. By spreading the vocals through the three front channels, the lead vocals stood out more.
However, the result wasn't quite good enough (too much stereo loss) so I then subtracted out the surround left and surround right from my newly created mono mix. I subtracted judiciously rather than attempting to eliminate the reverb (etc) completely. I also compressed and raised the vocal levels. This produced an acceptable center channel.
Section IA (Radio Broadcast):
This was the worst section. It has the feel of a Silverline disc - as if they just gave up after not finding the right parts.
The Scooter's vocals were apparently a different length than on the original disc. It may be the exact same take of the play-by-play but the play-by-play is slower on the 5.1-channel mix.
You and I would probably have taken that vocal and sped it up to be the same speed and time as the original record. The folks who did the 5.1-channel mix decided that they would instead just start Rizzuto's play-by-play a few beats early. It ends at the same time as the original. The rest of the background music is, however, the correct time. Comparing the 2-channel and the 5.1-channel mix was interesting in that at the start of the play-by-play the two Rizzuto's were almost a second apart and then throughout the rest of the vocals they kept getting closer and closer. By the time the "batter" almost reaches home, the two vocals are sync'd. However, the background music is sync'd the entire time.
The biggest problem that I thought I would have was that the "moaning and groaning" was missing. How could this key part be missing?? Luckily it turns out an OOPS of the original 2-channel mix provides basically just the moaning and a little bit of background but no Scooter. That helped!
So, for this section, the newly created left, right and center was used from Section I but the surrounds had to be thrown away (just for this section) since they wouldn't match. Throwing away the surrounds really didn't bother me since I always thought Scooter's vocals should sound like an AM radio broadcast and that would be in the center channel only. By throwing away the 5.1-channel surrounds, which had Scooter's vocals in them too (!) it moved the play-by-play squarely to the front. It wasn't quite the center only I wanted, but it worked.
New surround channels were created which contained the mono OOPS of the 2-channel mix for just this section. Since the fronts also used this mix, the effect is the moaning and groaning coming throughout the 5.1-channel soundstage with the play-by-play front and center. Just the way it should be for this song.
Section II and III (Let Me Sleep On It & Praying For the End of Time):
This section was done very similar to Section I (Paradise). The only difference is that I had to make a new reverb track for the surround when Ms. Foley says, "What's It Gonna Be Boy...Yes or No". The vocals of the doppleganger were sufficiently different at that point that the different reverb is distracting. Otherwise having Ellen Foley sing in the front with the reverb from the doppleganger in the rears sounds OK.
Bottom line to all this, is that if I could do this why didn't the 5.1-channel engineers do this instead of the mess they made. The song really can be salvaged and sound good (just like "Heaven Can Wait"). Even if they felt a need to rerecord, the least they could have done is to get it right and make sure the timings were correct and *all* the parts were included in the new mix. No excuse...
One more thing I almost forgot. The surround channels can still overpower the fronts with the current mix. I brought the newly created Front Left and Front Right to within 1.5dB of the Center and then dropped the Surrounds down 2dB.
So, can anyone confirm that all the multichannel tracks were found? Any chance of a correct mix being released on a DVD-V? Any chance that Ms. Foley and Mr. Loaf are not good friends and that is why she didn't record the overdubs?
Back to fixing the rest of the surround universe...
I tried to improve the sound by boosting the bass a little but I think I don't have enough experience with Audacity to make it sound better, the bass guitar is to loud now and I still don't hear the kickdrum well enough. Could you make a short description of what you did and pm that to me?After listening to this more, I realize what a mess it is. The vocals have a weird echo after them, which I only just noticed. If I had the PCM files I could improve the album via Audacity. I feel the vocals in the center need bringing up and maybe adding a bit of treble would help.
That's exactly what I did :yikes I'll try the web for more detailed info, sometimes it can be useful if someone can push you in the right direction thoughThere's lots of guides online with useful EQ tips and info on things like where the most musical energy is to be found in the audio frequency spectrum among a host of different instruments and how to improve your mixes.. even if you boost say 150hz to boost a kick drum, 1khz to give vocals more presence, or 16khz to add brilliance to a mix, you can and will alter other instruments in so doing with a stereo mixdown or Quad/5.1 mix but even with individual multitrack stems (surprisingly lots floating about online) there's often more than one instrument or element recorded on each multi you're tinkering with.. but it can be a lot of fun experimenting and no harm when you can just reset everything as it was I guess.. just my layman's two pennuth
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Spooky! Yet a bump @150 didn't help.. the kick could I suppose need boosting anywhere from say 50 to 500hz to bring out the best in it..?That's exactly what I did :yikes I'll try the web for more detailed info, sometimes it can be useful if someone can push you in the right direction though