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A bit of weird question, I don't even know how to ask it but I love listening to the cinematic for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria not only is the work done on it great but I love the sonic quality it has, I don't have studio monitors but with my 7506's it has this nice tight lowend and crisp but still round sounding mids, I'd like to think its a plugin or something but it probably isn't, even sound designer Tapio Liukkonen was able to get that sound in his little making of video for the game Overgrowth (Intro foley fx). How would you go about getting that sound, is it gear or technique when post processing?. I think its pleasurable to listen to and the kind of sound I'd like to get with my work.

[EDIT] It must be some sort of sonic characteristic or a piece of gear or plugin cause they even got the same quality in these BlizzCast Interviews haha http://youtu.be/Ku0oEryTX7o.

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It's just the way it's mixed and how good the recordings themselves are. The mixer has a good taste and uses dynamics and equalization in a pleasant/non-irritating and contrasting way. The sound selection has been made to support the mix, because often you can't polish a turd. And all recordings have been made with the right intention to minimize "fixing" equalization and turd polishing. Of course one's listening (one's ears, one's monitors and one's listening room) usually has to be pretty top notch to create really good mixes.

One good plug-in suggestion for corrective EQ are dynamic EQs aka split-band or multi-band compressors (they usually do expansion as well). By using a dynamic EQ you can fine tune the frequency response of sounds much more naturally, because the EQ responds to the material, than with static EQ, which although has it's own place as well. Another call would be "magic plug-ins" such as mastering plug-ins (limiters, exciters and other "sound goodizers") that can sweeten already good sounds almost "magically" to be slightly more better. But if the recordings are crystal, then the plug-ins may not do or need to do anything.

Handling/using the bottom end is really crucial in smoothness and roundness. There are many ways to go on how to control it (a general idea is to only allow one bass sound/part at a time and that should be preferably almost pure sine wave to get maximum energy and no phasing), but you usually need a good listening first (the flatter the bass frequencies the better). Subharmonic generators and synthesizers can be used to fill in or modify that low end for sounds that need it.

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Hi Stephen,

A soundtrack is like a salad (final mix).

You choose the ingredients (individual SFX, dialogue tracks, music stems, etc.) that you want to put in that salad.

The salad quality and it's taste (how it sounds) is dependent on the ingredients you put in it,

For example, if you go to the store and buy GMO (genetically modified organisms) tomatoes, under-ripened pears or out-of-season pears, lettuce that's been mass produced, etc., your salad isn't going to taste very good. (read: if you use wonky mass-produced library sound effects that are over-compressed, up/down-converted, processed, harsh, and horrible-sounding [Disclaimer: don't get me wrong - there are many sound effects libraries you can buy that are boutique and sound amazing and are tailored that way for high fidelity and truer sound, and are provided as an alternative to the larger, more bland and "commercial" libraries you buy out there, e.g. "KEWL HOLLYWOOD FX 500000000000".])

If you use your own home-grown ingredients from your backyard like fresh vegetables picked off the plant, fresh organic tomatoes and lettuce, etc. (SFX that you yourself record at the proper sample rate and miced properly with high quality equipment), the end product is going to be a very nice tasting salad (nice-sounding final mix).

The way to get a good, full sounding soundtrack is to use the full spectrum wisely. Don't put 12 low-end rumbles and whooshes in there all piled up on each-other. Spread your sounds around the spectrum wisely. I think expert choice and management of your tracks is important to keep in mind while putting together the soundtrack. If done correctly, the mixer has an easy job putting emphasis on certain things and really creating an organic track that captivates the listener and puts him in a 360 degree environment that sounds real and convincing. Otherwise, if something is out of place or it's messy in the lows or highs or mids, it just doesn't have the same impact. It doesn't take a lot of experience to achieve this, I don't think. It's just building it correctly in the first place so you don't have to spend a bunch of time processing things and mucking it up later.

One thing I noticed while watching that cinematic you linked, is that the mixer made "space" for everything. I.e., there wasn't 20 things all playing at once, but rather, he played up specific sounds here and there and made sure the mast crack and crash wasn't on the dialogue (which is also important to get coordinated with the video editor so you make yourself space for that type of thing). Just an observation..

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Agreed, it's really tight and pleasurable to listen to. To attain it you've got to have decent gear (from mics to workstation), great ears and a lot of experience.

You're able to cut corners by purchasing high quality sound effects libraries and/or music, but the mix is still something that you need to take care of.

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