this is what i have worried about for months, my worries fully justified by the offensive fucking trash vocal production that plagues hololive studio music as a whole. i am sorry to find myself in the position of saying i told you so.
whatever your view is on who's the best singer in hololive, you should be able to admit that both matsuri and gura are, at the very least, reasonably capable singers who can rehearse a song to the point that their intonation supports an approach to vocal mixing that corrects problems here and there, rather than coldly and mindlessly replacing their pitch from beginning to end with the unvarying tone of an electronic oscillator. but that's what we got here.
the problem that this song lays out before the mix engineer is mainly one of preserving the contrast in the sounds of the two voices, but without letting matsuri's softer tone be overshadowed by gura's sharper, more piercing timbre. he seems to have ignored this problem entirely and instead favored an approach of just flattening everything out with multiband compression, like he was running a rolling pin over it. someone unfamiliar with their voices would probably struggle to tell which one of them is singing at several points in the song. i guess he had some trouble setting up the multiband comp and had to put an aggressive highpass on them first though because all the low end got scraped off at some point. i'm not sure where the distortion is coming from but it might be youtube.
but it gets worse. instead of letting their voices even sound like voices, he seems to have reached for an off-the-shelf pitch correction preset that would sound more at home on a yasutaka nakata track. no, we're not quite at cher "believe" levels here, but even the most naïve listener should feel that there's something very fake and unnatural about the vocal sound. even if we assume one of the two really struggled with intonation for 20 takes in a row, and he was just trying to match them, that should still have just opened another door to preserving contrast in the duet instead.
shoko nakagawa's vocals on the original TTGL recording should have set the tone here. this isn't the type of song that asks for a heavy-handed, synthetic vocal treatment. it didn't get one when she sang it for the anime, and it shouldn't have gotten one here. despite the oppressive dynamic processing, the overall aesthetic of nakagawa's sorairo days is a celebration of humanity and hope. instead we get... this. it sounds more like a soulless victory march of the anti-spirals.
i can't listen to this. i can't enjoy it. all i can hear is completely needless vandalism of the voices of two singers who deserved better. certainly more than the bare minimum of getting it out the door, which is all they got. i've been able to listen to a better recording of gura singing "sorairo days" for four and a half months, one that she did live in a single take. i especially feel bad for matsuri for having so little to show for what i'm sure was a lot of effort on her part.
in this state it would have been better not to release it at all. but, hey, @john_neoneet is a busy guy and i'm sure he's already forgotten about it.