compare alternative mixdowns for Not A Second Time...

Here's something about the battle - a word introduced by Sam Rosenthal - to get the sound of this production right:

Quae Dementia (excerpt): #2_nachtschicht_kalinkaland_od.mp3 1.849 MB

compare mixdowns by Nachtschicht, Kalinkaland, Ophelia's Dream #2

Lady Magdalen (excerpt): #1_nachtschicht_kalinkaland_od.mp3 1.933 MB

compare mixdowns by Nachtschicht, Kalinkaland, Ophelia's Dream #1

Even in compressed mp3-format, dramatic differences between these three productions are evident.

Nachtschicht production:

Anything seems to be over the limit at this production with a rather shrill and aggressive sound,... this could be enough to make you run away with bleeding ears. Note that this is not the result of a failure of mastering but the actual mixdown I received from this studio. Audible distortion can be heard clearly in Susanne's voice, which doesn't sound comfortable at all. The droning resonance of the drums in #2 is quite unpleasant throughout the whole song.

Kalinkaland production:

The overall sound of this production is much more gentle and pleasant than the one supplied by the studio before. But to me, as someone being very familiar to all the voices involved, this production seems to say: "don't bother me with all your instruments and sounds!" Many details of the music get lost in an impenetrable pulp of sound that seems to be coming from behind a curtain... from the room next door... filled with cotton. These mixes appear as a sum of separate individually panned mono-signals rather than conveying a truly convincing stereo image. Voices of both Susanne and Ingo don't sound as pleasant as they're supposed to.
One of the most ridiculous things was to reject mixing in the percussion in #2, pointing out that this would be "impossible to mix". In fact, concerning production-capacities, this is sifting the chaff from the wheat.

Ophelia's Dream production:

Obviously, from my point of view, these mixes are the perfect representation of my musical intentions. Anything is how it's supposed to be. The treatment of the vocals is much better than at the Nachtschicht production and yet significantly better than at Kalinkaland. Guitar and percussion of #1 have just the right amount of punch. The overall sound image is transparent and clear but not intruding.

What is your opinion about these sound samples? Which of these productions matches your preferences best? Do you think the alternative mixes should have been used for the final release? Please let me know our opinion.