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Wall of Sound

Music production effect developed by Phil Spector

This article is about Phil Spector's music production formula. It is not to be confused with the generic term "wall of sound", used to describe high volume, saturation, or distortion in music. For more details on that topic, see Noise music or Noise in music. For other uses, see Wall of Sound (disambiguation).

The Wall of Sound (also called the Spector Sound)[2] is a music production formula developed by American record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios, in the 1960s, with assistance from engineer Larry Levine and the conglomerate of session musicians later known as "the Wrecking Crew". The intention was to exploit the possibilities of studio recording to create an unusually dense orchestral aesthetic that came across well through radios and jukeboxes of the era. Spector explained in 1964: "I was looking for a sound, a sound so strong that if the material was not the greatest, the sound would carry the record. It was a case of augmenting, augmenting. It all fit together like a jigsaw."[3]

A popular misconception holds that the Wall of Sound was created simply through a maximum of noise and distortion, but the method was actually more nuanced.[4][3] To attain the Wall of Sound, Spector's arrangements called for large ensembles (including some instruments not generally used for ensemble playing, such as electric and acoustic guitars), with multiple instruments doubling or tripling many of the parts to create a fuller, richer tone. For example, Spector often duplicated a part played by an acoustic piano with an electric piano and a harpsichord. Mixed well enough, the three instruments would then be indistinguishable to the listener.[7]

Among other features of the sound, Spector incorporated an array of orchestral instruments (strings, woodwind, brass and percussion) not previously associated with youth-oriented pop music. Reverb from an echo chamber was also highlighted for additional texture. He characterized his methods as "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids". The combination of large ensembles with reverberation effects also increased the average audio power in a way that resembles compression. By 1979, the use of compression had become common on the radio, marking the trend that led to the loudness war in the 1980s.[9]

The intricacies of the technique were unprecedented in the field of sound production for popular music.[3] According to Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, who used the formula extensively: "In the '40s and '50s, arrangements were considered 'OK here, listen to that French horn' or 'listen to this string section now.' It was all a definite sound. There weren't combinations of sound and, with the advent of Phil Spector, we find sound combinations, which—scientifically speaking—is a brilliant aspect of sound production."[7]

Origins[edit]

We were working on the transparency of music; that was the Teddy Bears sound: you had a lot of air moving around, notes being played in the air but not directly into the mics. Then, when we sent it all into the chamber, this air effect is what was heard—all the notes jumbled and fuzzy. This is what we recorded—not the notes. The chamber.

—Marshall Leib

During the late 1950s, Spector worked with Brill Building songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller during a period when they sought a fuller sound by the use of excessive instrumentation, using up to five electric guitars and four percussionists. Later this evolved into Spector's Wall of Sound, which Leiber and Stoller considered to be very distinct from what they were doing, stating: "Phil was the first one to use multiple drum kits, three pianos and so on. We went for much more clarity in terms of instrumental colors, and he deliberately blended everything into a kind of mulch. He definitely had a different point of view."

Spector's first production was the self-penned 1958 song "Don't You Worry My Little Pet", performed with his group the Teddy Bears. The recording was achieved by taking a demo tape of the song and playing it back over the studio's speaker system to overdub another performance over it. The end product was a cacophony, with stacked harmony vocals that could not be heard clearly. Spector spent the next several years further developing this unorthodox method of recording.

In the 1960s, Spector usually worked at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles because of its exceptional echo chambers. He also typically worked with such audio engineers as Larry Levine and the conglomerate of session musicians who later became known as The Wrecking Crew.

The sum of his efforts was named "Phil Spector's Wall of Sound" by Andrew Loog Oldham, who coined the term within advertisements for the Righteous Brothers 1964 single "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'".

Process[edit]

Layering[edit]

The Ronettes, one of the several girl groups Spector produced in the early to mid-1960s

The process was almost the same for most of Spector's recordings, with Spector starting by rehearsing the assembled musicians for several hours before recording. The backing track was performed live and recorded monaurally; a bass drum overdub on "Da Doo Ron Ron" was the exception to the rule.[3]

Songwriter Jeff Barry, who worked extensively with Spector, described the Wall of Sound as "by and large ... a formula arrangement" with "four or five guitars ... two basses in fifths, with the same type of line ... strings ... six or seven horns adding the little punches ... [and] percussion instruments—the little bells, the shakers, the tambourines".[14]

Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans' version of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" formed the basis of Spector and Levine's future mixing practices, almost never straying from the formula it established.[3] For the recording of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", engineer Larry Levine described the process thus: they started by recording four acoustic guitars, playing eight bars over and over again, changing the figure if necessary until Spector thought it ready. They then added the pianos, of which there were three, and if they didn't work together, Spector started again with the guitars. This is followed by three basses, the horns (two trumpets, two trombones, and three saxophones), then finally the drums. The vocals were then added with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield singing into separate microphones and backing vocals supplied by the Blossoms and other singers.[3][15]

Daniel Lanois recounted a situation during the recording of the track "Goodbye" from Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball: "We put a huge amount of compression on the piano and the mandoguitar, and it turned into this fantastic, chimey harmonic instrument. We almost got the old Spector '60s sound, not by layering, but by really compressing what was already there between the melodic events happening between these two instruments." Nonetheless, layering identical instrumental parts remained an integral component of many of Spector's productions, as session musician Barney Kessel recalled:

There was a lot of weight on each part... The three pianos were different, one electric, one not, one harpsichord, and they would all play the same thing and it would all be swimming around like it was all down a well. Musically, it was terribly simple, but the way he recorded and miked it, they’d diffuse it so that you couldn't pick any one instrument out. Techniques like distortion and echo were not new, but Phil came along and took these to make sounds that had not been used in the past. I thought it was ingenious.

All early Wall of Sound recordings were made with a three-track Ampex 350 tape recorder.[3] Levine explained that during mixing, "I [would] record the same thing on two of the [Ampex machine's] three tracks just to reinforce the sound, and then I would erase one of those and replace it with the voice. The console had a very limited equalizer for each input ... That was basically it in terms of effects, aside from the two echo chambers that were also there, of course, directly behind the control room."[3]

Echo[edit]

Microphones in the recording studio captured the musicians' performance, which was then transmitted to an echo chamber—a basement room fitted with speakers and microphones. The signal from the studio was played through the speakers and reverberated throughout the room before being picked up by the microphones. The echo-laden sound was then channeled back to the control room, where it was recorded on tape. The natural reverberation and echo from the hard walls of the echo chamber gave Spector's productions their distinctive quality and resulted in a rich, complex sound that, when played on AM radio, had a texture rarely heard in musical recordings. Jeff Barry said: "Phil used his own formula for echo, and some overtone arrangements with the strings."

Spill[edit]

Main article: Spill (audio)

During the mixing for "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", Spector turned off the track designated for electric guitar (played on this occasion by Billy Strange). However, the sound of the guitar could still be heard spilling onto other microphones in the room, creating a ghostly ambiance that obscured the instrument. In reference to this nuance of the song's recording, music professor Albin Zak has written:

It was at this moment that the complex of relationships among all the layers and aspects of the sonic texture came together to bring the desired image into focus. As long as Strange's unmiked guitar plugs away as one of the layered timbral characters that make up the track's rhythmic groove, it is simply one strand among many in a texture whose timbres sound more like impressionistic allusions to instruments than representations. But the guitar has a latency about it, a potential. Because it has no microphone of its own, it effectively inhabits a different ambient space from the rest of the track. As it chugs along in its accompanying role, it forms a connection with a parallel sound world of which we are, for the moment, unaware. Indeed, we would never know of the secondary ambient layer were it not for the fact that this guitar is the one that takes the solo. As it steps out of the groove texture and asserts its individuality, a doorway opens to an entirely other place in the track. It becomes quite clear that this guitar inhabits a world all its own, which has been before us from the beginning yet has somehow gone unnoticed.

Levine disliked Spector's penchant for mic bleeding, accordingly: "I never wanted all the bleed between instruments – I had it, but I never wanted it – and since I had to live with it, that meant manipulating other things to lessen the effect; bringing the guitars up just a hair and the drums down just a hair so that it didn't sound like it was bleeding."[3] In order to offset the mixing problems percussion leakage caused, he applied a minimal number of microphones to the drum kits, using Neumann U67s overhead and RCA 77s on the kick to establish a feeling of presence.[3]

Mono[edit]

Main article: Monaural

According to Zak: "Aside from the issues of retail and radio exposure, mono recordings represented an aesthetic frame for musicians and producers, who had grown up with them." Despite the trend towards multi-channel recording, Spector was vehemently opposed to stereo releases, claiming that it took control of the record's sound away from the producer in favor of the listener, resulting in an infringement of the Wall of Sound's carefully balanced combination of sonic textures as they were meant to be heard.[18] Brian Wilson agreed, stating: "I look at sound like a painting, you have a balance and the balance is conceived in your mind. You finish the sound, dub it down, and you’ve stamped out a picture of your balance with the mono dubdown. But in stereo, you leave that dubdown to the listener—to his speaker placement and speaker balance. It just doesn't seem complete to me."[19]

Genres[edit]

It has been inaccurately suggested in critical shorthand that Spector's "wall of sound" filled every second with a maximum of noise. Biographer David Hinckley wrote that the Wall of Sound was flexible, more complex, and more subtle, elaborating:

Its components included an R&B-derived rhythm section, generous echo and prominent choruses blending percussion, strings, saxophones and human voices. But equally important were its open spaces, some achieved by physical breaks (the pauses between the thunder in "Be My Baby" or "Baby, I Love You") and some by simply letting the music breathe in the studio. He also knew when to clear a path, as he does for the sax interlude and [Darlene] Love's vocal in "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry".[4]

The Wall of Sound has been contrasted with "the standard pop mix of foregrounded solo vocal and balanced, blended backing" as well as the airy mixes typical of reggae and funk. Jeff Barry said: "[Spector] buried the lead and he cannot stop himself from doing that ... if you listen to his records in sequence, the lead goes further and further in and to me what he is saying is, 'It is not the song... just listen to those strings. I want more musicians, it's me.'" Musicologist Richard Middleton wrote: "This can be contrasted with the open spaces and more equal lines of typical funk and reggae textures [for example], which seem to invite [listeners] to insert [themselves] in those spaces and actively participate." Closer reflection reveals that the Wall of Sound was compatible with, even supportive of, vocal protagonism. Such virtuosity was ultimately serving of Spector's own agenda—The Righteous Brothers' vocal prowess provided him a "secure and prosperous headrest", such as in Bobby Hatfield's rendering of "Unchained Melody".

Wagnerian rock derives its characterization from a merge between Spector's Wall of Sound and the operas of Richard Wagner.[23][24]

Legacy and popularity[edit]

Phil Spector[edit]

See also: Phil Spector § Musicianship

The Wall of Sound forms the foundation of Phil Spector's recordings. Certain records are considered to have epitomized its use.[3] Spector himself is quoted as believing his production of Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" to be the summit of his Wall of Sound productions, and this sentiment has been echoed by George Harrison, who called it "a perfect record from start to finish".

Brian Wilson[edit]

See also: Musicianship of Brian Wilson

Outside of Spector's own songs, the most recognizable example of the "Wall of Sound" is heard on many classic hits recorded by The Beach Boys (e.g., "God Only Knows", "Wouldn't It Be Nice"—and especially, the psychedelic "pocket symphony" of "Good Vibrations"), for which Brian Wilson used a similar recording technique, especially during the Pet Sounds and Smile eras of the band. Wilson considers Pet Sounds to be a concept album centered around interpretations of Phil Spector's recording methods.[7] Author Domenic Priore observed, "The Ronettes had sung a dynamic version of The Students' 1961 hit 'I'm So Young', and Wilson went right for it, but took the Wall of Sound in a different direction. Where Phil would go for total effect by bringing the music to the edge of cacophony – and therefore rocking to the tenth power – Brian seemed to prefer audio clarity. His production method was to spread out the sound and arrangement, giving the music a more lush, comfortable feel."

According to Larry Levine, "Brian was one of the few people in the music business Phil respected. There was a mutual respect. Brian might say that he learned how to produce from watching Phil, but the truth is, he was already producing records before he observed Phil. He just wasn't getting credit for it, something that in the early days, I remember really used to make Phil angry. Phil would tell anybody who listened that Brian was one of the great producers."[29]

Others[edit]

See also: Category:Song recordings with Wall of Sound arrangements

After Sonny Bono was fired from Philles Records, he signed up with Atlantic Records and recruited some of Spector's colleagues to create "I Got You Babe" (which went to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100) and "Baby Don't Go" (No. 8), both of which featured elements of the Wall of Sound, among other songs.[31] Similarly, when the Righteous Brothers ended their relationship with Spector and signed with Verve/MGM Records in 1966, they released "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration", which Medley produced using this approach[32][33] and also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and stayed at the top for three weeks.[34]

One of the earliest groups outside of Spector's talent pool to adopt the Wall of Sound approach was The Walker Brothers, who worked with British producer Johnny Franz in the mid-1960s to record grandly arranged ballads such as "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)", both of which were No. 1 hits in the United Kingdom. Franz also produced songs through the Wall of Sound method with Dusty Springfield in "I Only Want to Be with You" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me".

Another example is the Forum, a studio project of Les Baxter, which produced a minor hit in 1967 with "The River Is Wide".[35]

Another prominent example that reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 was Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water", which utilized the Wall of Sound with great effect towards the end. The production was modeled on the Righteous Brothers' version of "Old Man River",[36] and Art Garfunkel has explicitly compared it to the Spector-produced "Let It Be".[37]

In 1973, British band Wizzard revived the Wall of Sound in three of their hits "See My Baby Jive", "Angel Fingers" and "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday". "See My Baby Jive" later influenced ABBA's song "Waterloo".

ABBA also utilized the technique for songs starting with "People Need Love" and fully realized with "Ring Ring", "Waterloo", and "Dancing Queen"; prior to recording "Ring Ring", engineer Michael B. Tretow had read Richard Williams' book Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, which inspired him to layer multiple instrumental overdubs on the band's recordings to simulate an orchestra, becoming an integral part of ABBA's sound.[39]Bruce Springsteen also emulated the Wall of Sound in his recording of "Born to Run".

Jim Steinman[40] and Todd Rundgren,[41] composer and producer of Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell, respectively, utilized the Wall of Sound for the album, and would similarly utilize it for other songs, such as Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart".

The Wall of Sound was also utilized by The Jesus and Mary Chain ("Just Like Honey"), Mark Wirtz ("Excerpt from A Teenage Opera"), The Kursaal Flyers ("Little Does She Know"), The Alan Parsons Project ("Don't Answer Me"), Spiritualized (Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Let It Come Down) and Eiichi Ohtaki (Niagara Calendar).

Spector's Wall of Sound is distinct from what's typically characterized as a "wall of sound", according to author Matthew Bannister. During the 1980s, "Jangle and drone plus reverberation create[d] a contemporary equivalent of Spector's 'Wall of Sound' – a massive, ringing, cavernous noise and a device used by many indie groups: Flying Nun, from Sneaky Feelings' Send You to Straitjacket Fits and the JPS Experience". He cites 1960s psychedelic and garage rock such as the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" (1966) as a primary musical influence on the movement.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^Hoffman, Frank (2003). Birkline, Robert (ed.). "Survey of American Popular Music". Sam Houston State University. Archived from the original on September 18, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  2. ^ abcdefghijkBuskin, Richard (April 2007). "CLASSIC TRACKS: The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'". Sound on Sound. Archived from the original on September 24, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  3. ^ abDavid Hinckley; Back to Mono (1958–1969); 1991; ABKCO music, Inc.
  4. ^ abc"INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN WILSON OF THE BEACH BOYS IN EARLY 1980'S". Global Image Works. 1976. Archived from the original on July 26, 2014. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  5. ^Vickers, Earl (November 4, 2010). "A Brief History of the Loudness War". The Loudness War: Background, Speculation, and Recommendations(PDF). 129th Audio Engineering Society Convention. San Francisco: Audio Engineering Society. 8175. Archived(PDF) from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  6. ^"Featured Content on Myspace". Myspace. Archived from the original on July 15, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2009.[non-primary source needed]
  7. ^Dan Daley (March 1, 2002). "Classic Tracks: The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"". Mix. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  8. ^"Entertainment | Phil Spector's Wall of Sound". BBC News. April 14, 2009. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  9. ^Leaf, David (1993). Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys(Liner notes) (Booklet). Capitol.
  10. ^Crawford, Jeff (March 3, 2004). "'Old Ham' using his loaf". Messenger – Guardian.
  11. ^Brearley, David; Waldren, Murray; Butler, Mark; Shedden, Iain (August 9, 2003). "25 classic albums that never get played ... and the 25 good reasons why not – ROCK monuments". Weekend Australian.
  12. ^"Musician Comments: Larry Levine". The Pet Sounds Sessions (Booklet). The Beach Boys. Capitol Records. 1997. Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  13. ^Dennis, Jon (March 5, 2014). "10 of the best: Scott Walker". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  14. ^Mark Ribowsky (May 2, 2000). He's a Rebel: Phil Spector--Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer. Cooper Square Press. p. 179. ISBN .
  15. ^Mark Ribowsky (May 2, 2000). He's a Rebel: Phil Spector--Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer. Cooper Square Press. pp. 211–213. ISBN .
  16. ^Richard Williams (November 17, 2009). Phil Spector: Out Of His Head (Revised ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN .
  17. ^Mark Ribowsky (May 2, 2000). He's a Rebel: Phil Spector--Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer. Cooper Square Press. pp. 213. ISBN .
  18. ^"The Forum - The River Is Wide gullbuy music review". www.gullbuy.com. March 25, 2003. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  19. ^"Across America Promotional CD Interview With Art". Art Garfunkel Official Website. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  20. ^Browne, David (2012). Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970. Da Capo Press. ISBN .
  21. ^Vincentelli, Elisabeth (March 31, 2018). "The Year Abba channeled Phil Spector and conquered the world". Salon. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  22. ^Browne, David; Greene, Andy; Hudak, Joseph; Martoccio, Angie; Sheffield, Rob; Shteamer, Hank; Spanos, Brittany (April 20, 2021). "From Meat Loaf to Celine Dion: 10 Essential Jim Steinman Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  23. ^Siwek, Daniel (April 27, 2020). "Q&A with Todd Rundgren". Music Connection Magazine. Retrieved September 18, 2021.

General bibliography[edit]

  • Bannister, Matthew (2007). White Boys, White Noise: Masculinities and 1980s Indie Guitar Rock. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN . Archived from the original on July 23, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Guthrie, Robin (November 6, 1993), "Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins Talks about the Records That Changed His Life", Melody Maker
  • Howard, David N. (2004). Sonic Alchemy: Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN . Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Moorefield, Virgil (2010). The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music. MIT Press. ISBN . Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Middleton, Richard (1989). Studying Popular Music (Reprint ed.). Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN .
  • Priore, Domenic (2005). Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece. London: Sanctuary. ISBN . Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Ribowsky, Mark (1989). He's a Rebel. Dutton. ISBN .
  • Smith, Carlton (2007). Reckless: Millionaire Record Producer Phil Spector and the Violent Death of Lana Clarkson. St. Martin's Press. ISBN . Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Williams, Richard (2003). Phil Spector: Out of His Head. Music Sales Group. ISBN . Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  • Zak, Albin (2001). Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records. University of California Press. ISBN . Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_of_Sound
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WallPops: Peel-and-stick wall art makes it possible to decorate walls without ruining finish

Create the realistic look of built-in bookshelves without ruining walls.

When you rent or own a home where you want visual impact but don't want to mar wall finishes, WallPops can help you achieve a distinct decorator look.

Here's how, courtesy a company news release:

"The simplest and least expensive way to enhance your rental's architecture (or lack of) is by revamping the walls," says Hennesey.

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Choose transitional items

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To create architectural interest and to seemingly double the size of the room and welcome more light, add a large leaning mirror to one wall. Find a mirror that's nearly half the size of the wall or place a few medium-sized mirrors side-by-side to visually enlarge the space. Try positioning it or them across from a window that receives natural light so it can be reflected back into the room.

If, like some apartments, you don't have a window in a room, Olsen advises to, "Add a large-scale oil painting, even in a small space. The painting will bring light and vibrancy into the room. People are often too cautious when it comes to scale, but I'm a big proponent of creating impactful decorating by maximizing it. When you love the artwork, you shouldn't have a half of it or two-thirds, measure the walls, add a large fitting piece and see how it wakes up the room."

Position a large mirror in a space that receives natural light to reflect it back into the room.

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A large oil-painting adds vibrancy to a room without windows designed by Nick Olsen.

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Sours: https://www.dailypress.com/life/home-garden/dp-wall-pops-20130326-story.html
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Amazon's Fall Sale: The Best Deals on Cute Fall Decor

Now that fall is here, we're enjoying all things pumpkin spice, but the new season also means it's time to add cozy fall decor to add to our homes before the chilly weather blows in. 

For those who just can't wait to get in on the fall shopping, Amazon's fall sale has a great selection of home decor, including warm blankets, pumpkin-themed decorations and more. ET Style has rounded up the best of those items to give you fall decorating ideas to make this autumn is your coziest one yet. 

The Rivet Modern Hand-Woven Stripe Fringe Throw will get you there in no time. Use your throw blanket to keep warm while spending time with friends and family around the TIKI Brand 25 Inch Stainless Steel Low Smoke Fire Pit, or opt for some Yinuo Mirror LED Flameless Candles to bring some soft light indoors. 

And for those looking to add a little extra sparkle outdoors, the XMCOSY+ Patio Lights are a great option for fall decorations. They're waterproof, snowproof and easy to install -- all for the price of $60 (regularly $70). 

Check out more of our picks for best fall decor at Amazon below. 






















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Sours: https://www.etonline.com/amazons-fall-sale-the-best-deals-on-cute-fall-decor-170628

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