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July 1, 2014

He won't go - Adele

It's incredibly important for all of us who are interested in continued growth of our mixing and recording skills to critically listen to recordings that intrigue and inspire us. I'm constantly trying my best to figure out what it is about a mix/production/songwriting/etc. that makes it a song great.

Great thing about this forum is that everyone is here to learn so we may as well do it together!

I'll get us started off :

Adele - He Won't Go
Written by Adele and Paul Epworth
Produced by Rick Rubin
Mixed by Andrew Scheps

If you don't already have this here's the links to check it out:
Spotify :
iTunes :

Instrumentation (in order of appearance) :
Drums, hitting a tambourine
Percussion, Tambo and Shaker
Background Vocals

The sparseness of this song is one of my favorite things about it, it says so much without saying too much. You can hear that each musician is focusing solely on serving the song and the arrangement has a beautiful build to it.

Panning (imagine 9:00 - 3:00 on a clock)
Drums are between 11:30-1:30 except floor tom which is almost hard left
Piano is around 1:30
Guitar is like 9:30
Percussion 1:00
Vocal is down the middle, 12:00
Bass is at 12:00
Strings are 11:00
BGVs are around 2:00

Notice that everything stays static panning wise throughout the tune.

Reverb :
Everything sounds recorded with a little distance but nothing crazy roomy, just realistic. Sounds like a little bit of dark verb on the voice, sounds like a spring, more apparent on the chorus. This is definitely a contrast to the heavily verbed songs on the album such as Rolling in the Deep.

EQ :
Compared to the Rolling in the Deep and a few other cuts on 21, this has a more natural and full midrange overall, everything feels full and present without sounding unnatural.

Dynamics :
Openness is the word that comes to mind when listening for the dynamics of this track, any compression done was very transparent and served to bring out the exact amount of presence each element of the mix needed. Just like the reverb, the compression isn't super apparent, it's there for sure but it isn't a major component in establishing "the sound" of the song.

Overall :
This is a great example to demonstrate the importance of letting the song guide all of your decisions. You can hear that at every point along the way, from the songwriting, to the arrangement, to the musicians, to the recording, to the mixing, that all the decisions were made with "what best represents this song" on everyone's mind. It's in that spirit that they created such a careful but confident recording. I use this song as a reference for a lot of mixes because of how well balanced I feel it it.

So now it's your guys's turn to chime in, what do you hear in this song that interests you? I'd love you guys to dig even deeper into this and share your observations.

Mix Analysis by Ben Lindell