I’ve been having trouble listening to a lot of recent recordings. You may have had the same problem: The recordings initially sound loud and exciting, but gradually, you start feeling tired of the music as lots of the songs sound the same with no build ups, the vocals sound thin, the drums lack punch and on air, the music sounds crackly etc. etc. Welcome to the loudness race. In a nutshell, (as I don’t want to make this technical (I may post a more technical article on the studios forum)), CDs have been getting louder for the past 15 years, and there’s a simple explanation for this: The ear is easily fooled in the short term into thinking that a louder CD sounds better. Since many CDs are bought with only a 2 minute listen using headphones at a shop, this makes sense. Record companies have seized on this and put pressure on mastering houses (the last creative step in recording) to make their CD louder than everyone else’s. The problem with this is that it can only go so far before the music suffers, but since the music suffers in a gradual way, it’s hard to know when too much is too much.
One of the worst recent culprits of this has been “Vertigo” by U2. Firstly, this isn’t a dig at the music in any way. Irrespective of whether you like the band or not, you might want to listen to this CD to understand the issues here: As soon as the guitars come in, the drums virtually disappear. The song is virtually the same volume throughout, and that to me isn’t very exciting. I can also hear crackling throughout, and that’s not what was recorded in the studio. Another was Metallica’s “St. Anger” where the snare drum according to many sounded like a metal bin lid.
Personally, and again, no dig at the music, but I think the first Rage Against The Machine album sounded better than the others, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” was the Peppers’ best sounding album, and that Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power” and Megadeth’s “Youthansia” both sounded great, reasonably loud and more importantly, exciting.
Ironically, some of the UK’s best selling albums have been really quiet overall, allowing for proper build ups (crescendos) in the music: “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. Irrespective of whether you like the music or not, these are well-crafted records which will continue selling for a long time.
For more information, visit: http://www.loudnessrace.com
For a petition to get the Red Hot Chili Peppers catalogue remastered since it’s been getting louder and louder, visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/RHCPWBCD/petition.html
Lastly, if you think CDs that you buy don't sound good or don't play in your CD player due to copy protection etc., do tell the label.
[quote:4f026711a1]I can also hear crackling throughout, and that’s not what was recorded in the studio. [/quote:4f026711a1]
I am absolutely not taking a pop at you or your enterprise here, but one would assume a band of U2s collective experience, backed up by a crack cabal of recording engineers at the pinnacle of their game, would sort of be aware of this? How do you know it isnt just your listening gear, and why do you with comparitively limited experience presume to say "thats not what was recorded in the studio"? How on earth do you know given that it will probably play differently on every hi fi?
Another was Metallica’s “St. Anger” where the snare drum according to many sounded like a metal bin lid. [/quote:4f026711a1]
Which is nothing to do with loudness. That was a production choice undertaken after much deliberation and for reasons that were stylistic rather than audio-technical. Presumably Metallica, as production powerhouse of 20 years standing, also know what theyre at.
One has to ask then if this is connected with your own email offers to help with the loudness of band's cds?
Again not a personal dig, just playing devils advocate?
As I thought, the Pandora's box has been opened. You play away, Fires.
Firstly, I admit, it's impossible to know that the crackling wasn't there in the recording, but it sounds like a limiter (Thing that makes the music louder) being driven too hard to me. Secondly, why would someone want it in the recording? It's not desireable in any way. It's also the same distortion heard in lots of other records recorded too loud. It's not my speakers as it's on every system and I can see it in the wavforms on the computer screen, and I'll bet it won't be on the DVD either, since DVDs (at least not films) don't tend to suffer from the loudness race. Incidentally, go and watch a good film on DVD at a good volume, and once it ends, put in Vertigo by U2 and see how much louder it is.
As for St. Anger, it may have been partly by choice, but when you drive a limiter that hard, it's hard to get the snare to sound any other way. The other way to see it is that that the concept of that record was to sound loud throughout - so why not get a sound which will sound loud?
As for the offer "to help with the loudness of band's cds?", that's not the reason (or the offer - I've offered to master bands' CDs, 1 track for free as a trial). I can make Metallica or U2 louder - that's not the challenge. The challenge is to make them sound better. You've no doubt heard the saying: "The customer's always right", well so be it, if someone wants a CD louder, that's what I'll do, but only after I've told them why that's not a good idea. However, maybe this bit of the discussion should be on the studios forum. As I said, I'll probably put up a more technical post there.
[quote:09dd8da70c]As I thought, the Pandora's box has been opened. You play away, Fires. [/quote:09dd8da70c]
No box, no playing on my part, as I stated twice in the above post. I just think the initial post is highly bizzarre, especially following hot on the heels of someone else posting similar strangeness concerning your operation earlier in the day.
Obviously things are getting louder and some degree of dynamic is being lost, and the reasons are manifold. But any band worth their production salt will address this, and to accuse the costly production talents involved with the two prominent acts you mentioned as being in the wrong and implying that you know better just seems to me to be something of a rediculous statement.
I personally hate the production on the record you referenced and agree completely about the bin lid comment, but to say that it sounds that way through them not being somehow as savvy as yourself in the fine arts of acoustics is somewhat strange to say the least. As I mentioned it was a stylistic choice and abolsutely nothing to do with volume.
The points in your reply do zero to clarify things?
Well, I'm going to support Darrell here. I think he is very well informed on this topic. Fires, you seem to be taking this way personally. Darrell is entitled to his opinion, you are to yours. However, I don't think it's right to slag him off for it. I don't think that it's a stylistic choice that those bands made, but a commercial one.
I too share his opinions on loudness. Dynamics are lost when the music is mastered to produce a CD that is LOUD. The lack of dynamics is, to put it simply, $hite! It makes for music that is hard to listen to.
The following link will take you to an article form Mix magazine about this very topic, with illuminating references to U2's Vertigo at the end of the article..
And, in any case FOH, the loudness of a CD is [u:bcd044a192]not[/u:bcd044a192] a subjective matter. It can be analysed exactly, either in hardware or software, or you can just examine the waveform and see for yourself whether it looks overly "dense".
And, really, what are the odds that a professional engineer's hi-fi is making CDs sound bad?
(On the original post, I'd be more likely to sign a petition to have the Red Hot Chili Peppers back catalogue [i:bcd044a192]erased[/i:bcd044a192], but there you go.)
There are plenty of articles on the net about this, notably one of the links at the bottom of the original post. I'm sorry if this comes across as presumptuous, but I can back up the general idea even if we disagree about the "bin lid" thing. It's not just me, it's mastering engineers in general saying this. These people have the best ears in the business and rooms with better acoustics than studios as they can design their room around the monitoring (speakers), not their monitoring around the gear.
You've got to realise that mastering engineers are put under pressure by uninformed people all the time: A+R execs, labels and the band themselves, and that like I said, we take the view that "the customer is always right". If we didn't, we'd not get the work. It's as simple as that. That said, we do the job to try to minimise the artifacts. An analagouns example would be asking a reputable builder for a quote for an extension. He states it'll cost minimum £12000. You go back and say that's great but build it for 10000. He states that it'll be substandard, and you say, "we'll that's what I'll pay you". He says "I'll do it, but it won't look right". You say fine, I've just saved £2000. Six months later, it's finished, but the roof leaks.
For this reason, I try to explain this whole situation to the bands we record from the outset. Some listen and some don't, but I've at least done my bit.
I've no problem with what I'd said, and don't mind you knowing, but I'm not going post it myself as the topic it was locked for a reason. Suffice to say I wasn't slagging anyone and don't want to get into that at all. I think the posts which followed that first one vindicate me in that anyway. However, that situation is why I'm clarifying my position.
For the record, I replied to the person involved apologizing if I caused offense as that wasn't my intention.
Komodo Studios is 100% on the ball with this, in my opinion.
People have been moaning about this "loudness wars" stuff on the http://www.soundonsound.com/forums for years now.
Music is being multi-band-compressed to death so that it sounds bloody awful. One of the whole points of the 16bit resolution of CDs was that you could get about 95dB of dynamic range - these days, the whole bloody thing is compressed to within about 1dB.
I have a problem with a number of things you said there Darrell:
[quote:e47d8a839d="Komodo Studios"]The ear is easily fooled in the short term into thinking that a louder CD sounds better. [/quote:e47d8a839d]
No it's not - it just makes it stand out amongst other, quieter tracks on the radio and other formats. When vertigo comes on the radio you tend to notice because it stands out - it's compressed and LOUD!
[quote:e47d8a839d="Komodo Studios"]I can also hear crackling throughout, and that’s not what was recorded in the studio.[/quote:e47d8a839d]
I'm with FOH on this one, I find it extremely unlikely it was added accidentally or was missed out.
A lot of the rest of the article is your opinion, and that's fair enough. I read a really well written article on thumped with the same argument:
However - even I've noticed the difference between the mixing on a single version of a track, and the album version (which often has a greater dynamic range). It's horses for courses. Maybe the artists and label choose the mastering guy they reckon makes their song sound good, as well as loud?
Tenrabbits, you are talking ballex about the crackling.
Brutal loudness maximising whilst mastering WILL often result in crackles on consumer CD playback equipment.
This is because these cheaper CD players that we ordinary mortal use don't have such high quality Digital > Analogue convertors like the ones in posh mastering studios.
Although all the individual samples in the digital signal may be legal full scale digital values, the problem is that when you join the dots between them to reconstruct the analogue waveform, there may be peaks which exceed full scale. These will heard as digital distortion and cracks and clipping on cheap CD players.
That's why sensible people only normalise to (say) 0.5dB short of full scale,
but the kamikazee maximisers would rather die than loose half a decibel of loudness, so they go all the way.
Honestly, some people need to educate themselves before spouting noncesense
Vertigo won't sound as loud on air as more open and dynamic material. Actually, it may even sound quieter due to processing. "Vertigo" doesn't sound good on air or on Freeview which has even less dynamic range.
Feel free to contact me offlist and I'll explain the more technical side. I'm not trying to patronise, but I can back up what I've stated. It's just that this isn't the place to go into tech tak. Maybe the studios forum. I'm gonna have to get that done quick I feel.
As for the distortion, believe me, it's not missed out or an accident. It's just a byproduct. The mastering engineers know it's there, it's just that they're doing their job since the customer's always right. You should be able to hear it too, not just on "Vertigo", but on a whole pile of stuff. Listen to Kelly Clarkson's material: it's there too.
Every mastering engineer wants their stuff to sound both good and loud. The question is really how much will they compromise one for the other. An example of a really really loud one done quite well is Green Day's "American Idiot". Sure, the music's suffered a bunch for being that loud, but it's not suffered anywhere near as much as I'd have expected. However, it seems silly that track 4 which is a ballad sounds nearly as loud as "American Idiot", the song. That's what happens when consumers buy individual tracks online -record companies are forced into making every song loud, even though it can kill the feel of the album.
As for Singles and CDs sounding different, you're right. 2 things: Singles are even more competitive than CDs for volume. If you've bought the CD, you care about the music. If you buy the single, it's just that you like that song.
Also, cheapo compilation companies cut corners in mastering, using whatever was on the original CD as it's easy to track down (just buy the CD)rather than the higher quality unmastered version. "Best of" compilations however generally sound less grainy as the label has an artist's reputation at stake, and the masters are owned by one label so can be tracked down easier.
Actually feline - rather than just spouting my opinion.. a speciality of yours I notice, I went and asked some of the mastering engineers at work. I would hope most mastering engineers know the result of mastering to 0dB for cd, particularly as they have equipment that tells them exactly how many instances of clipping will occur in their master.
If you actually read what I said, you would have seen that I said it is unlikely to have been added accidentally or was missed out.
Unfortunately, lots of people recording at home don't know these things. Again, some may say I'm having a dig, but I'm really not. It's simply that if you buy a portastudio you can record without knowing about all this.
Vertigo won't sound as loud on air as more open and dynamic material. Actually, it may even sound quieter due to processing. "Vertigo" doesn't sound good on air or on Freeview which has even less dynamic range.
Feel free to contact me offlist and I'll explain the more technical side. I'm not trying to patronise, but I can back up what I've stated. [/quote:5e4cfb7e44]
If you want to send me an email I'd be very interested to read it. I understand that you're not trying to patronise, but I really think this is wrong. Dynamic range is the difference between the quietest and loudest parts of a song. If you take the [i:5e4cfb7e44]average[/i:5e4cfb7e44] db of a track, one which has less dynamic range (i.e. one which is closer to 0db more often) will be louder.
I'm very interested to know what processing you are talking about - particularly as I'm pretty familiar with the setup of both radio studios and freeview distribution equipment.
there is an entire academic discipline called "psychoacoustics", of which you seem blissfully unaware
There are numerous wee tricks to fool the brain into perceiving something as "loud", it's not a simple matter of dBs.
And these tricks can backfire when you subject the track to further compression, such as the utterly egregious "Optimod" thing that most radiostations use, and the compression they use on DAB radio and Freeview and other such ballex. And let us not forget iTunes.
It [i:c07ae5e33a]is[/i:c07ae5e33a] morally just [i:c07ae5e33a]if the end justifies the means[/i:c07ae5e33a] ie: can we sell more? If you're talking about good music sounding crap then it's not justified at all, and that's why I'm bucking the commercial trend.
As for tenrabbits' question, I've posted on the studios forum.
Do rebel and tell labels when you don't like their CDs. If all they care about is sales, tell them they'll lose sales if they don't wise up. I've told Sony I'm not buying anymore since their stuff sounds worse than other labels' material and they did that cloaked copyright protection thing.
Mastering engineers whose work you can trust for keeping things open and dynamic:
Bob Ludwig (This guy is so good no one will contradict him - winner of the TEC award for excellence every year it's been going. Look at this: http://www.gatewaymastering.com/gwclients_list.asp He's not cheap though...)
Bob Katz (most vocal about the state of affairs)
Some you probably can't:
most of the Sony stuff I think.
Many many others.
Really, we shouldn't even be debating which CDs are loud and clear. It's ultimately of no importance. If a CD's too quiet for you, use your volume control: That's what it's for. Rather, we should be talking about which CDs sound good. And this just refers to sound, but here are a few:
Live: Secret Samadhi
ACDC: Back in Black (remaster!)
Shawn Colvin: A Few Small Repairs
Sting: The Soul Cages - anyone hear the q-sound plugin? It's amazing
Keane: Hopes and Fears (pretty loud, but it's good anyhoo)
Mark Knopfler: Sailing to Philadelphia
Paul Simon: The Capeman
Jaco Pastorius: The Birthday Concert
Please expand this list - I need more decent music to listen to.
[quote:c4a2b46ede="Komodo Studios"]Mastering engineers whose work you can trust for keeping things open and dynamic:
Bob Ludwig (This guy is so good no one will contradict him)[/quote:c4a2b46ede]
I'm willing to contradict him. Have you heard his recent remaster of Springsteen's [i:c4a2b46ede]Born to Run[/i:c4a2b46ede]? Man, it's [b:c4a2b46ede]LOUD[/b:c4a2b46ede], and IMHO, sounds much worse than the original. He's a very talented engineer and has mastered many great sounding albums, but even the best aren't immune to the loudness wars it would seem. As for well mastered albums, I'd have to add [i:c4a2b46ede]Hourglass[/i:c4a2b46ede] by James Taylor to the list - an absolutely beautiful sounding album.
I think the best people for mastering are [url=http://www.mofi.com]Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs[/url]. Their Beatles remasters sound unbelievable compared to the retail CDs. It's amazing the improvement stripping away all the compression and limiting makes. If anyone has the chance to pick up an MFSL disk, do yourself a favour and take it. You won't be disappointed.
This is a very sad day indeed. Rest assured, Ludwig was pushed to this. Mofi have good gear and I'll be interested to hear what their stuff sounds like, although the gold discs are no doubt hokum. As for SACD, probably very few of you will ever hear a benefit since it would seem most SACD/CD players use the same convertors for both, converting DSD to PCM, thus defeating the whole purpose. On the upside, it would seem other people are annoyed at the loudness thing. I may have a job after all...
[quote:514121bcff="Komodo Studios"]As for SACD, probably very few of you will ever hear a benefit since it would seem most SACD/CD players use the same convertors for both, converting DSD to PCM, thus defeating the whole purpose.[/quote:514121bcff]
Yes, I've heard this about some SACD players. And just to complicate things, a lot of albums in the 80s and 90s were recorded in PCM anyway, and if you have a SACD with a 5:1 mix on it, it's very likely that it lived in Pro-tools for awhile. Still, as many SACD players have an 192kHz 24-bit D/A converter, I would like to think that some improvement in sound would be noticeable over a 44.1kHz 16-bit CD.
On this subject of good sounding CDs, check out this list of reference CDs from US mastering engineer John Vestman. He has some nice choices:
[url=http://www.johnvestman.com/commercial_cds.htm]Examples of great sounding CDs[/url]
Thanks so much for that list. Now I know what to buy myself. I've already got a good number of those. I was sure Vlado wasn't all bad as he's a former TEC nomine himself, but I haven't yet heard anything good. That will now change.
[quote:b35c20ba8c]You've got to realise that mastering engineers are put under pressure by uninformed people all the time: A+R execs, labels and the band themselves...[/quote:b35c20ba8c]
This is a remarkable thing to say. If you are a recording engineer or a mastering engineer, I would've thought your job is to make a band's music sound like the band wants it to sound. If some band comes to your studio with a copy of U2's 'Vertigo,' for example, and wants you to make their recording sound like that, then it's your job to do it. They're paying for the session and this should really, I think, dictate who has the right to make the decisions. As "uninformed" as they might be, the only important thing is that the band gets the record they want, or a record as close to what they want as you can get it.
Now I agree with you (indeed, anyone who possesses lugs will agree with you) that a lot of music, particularly commercial rock and pop music, is compressed and limited to such an extent that there is virtually no dynamic range. Firstly, this is because a lot of this music is intended to excite saps for a couple of minutes when they hear a [i:b35c20ba8c]loud[/i:b35c20ba8c] song on the radio, in the hope that they will buy the crappy [i:b35c20ba8c]loud[/i:b35c20ba8c] record. The majority of this kind of music, of course, is crappy music, made almost exclusively for morons (this is largely beside the point...). It is also, for the most part, not made by human beings playing instruments, so there is no reason why it would necessarily have any dynamic range.
If you hear a band playing in a room, on the other hand, the loud bits are loud and the quiet bits are quiet. There are hundreds of records currently being made in such a way that they do attempt to document the sound of a band playing in real life:
Some quiet music:
Low - Things We Lost in the Fire
Amalgamated Sons of Rest e.p.
Kepler - Missionless Days
Some loud music:
Shellac - At Action Park
Don Caballero - American Don
Make Believe - The Shock of Being
All these recordings sound more or less like real bands playing in a room, and are not compressed to death. They are all extraordinarily good, and they all sound magnificent. So, if you want records with realistic dynamic range you can find them. On the other hand, if you want the music you like and would buy anyway to be recorded in a way that suits your ideas about how music should sound, then that's a more difficult problem.
[quote:4c666377ba]This is a remarkable thing to say. If you are a recording engineer or a mastering engineer, I would've thought your job is to make a band's music sound like the band wants it to sound[/quote:4c666377ba]
That's true...but it's not a remarkable thing to say.
There'll be a struggle when people want something that goes directly against the quality agenda which those engineers take as their bottom line.
The loudness trend, which we've talked about, is one of those things.
It not only tires the ears, introduces some distortion, it also erases all that detail in the mids that other engineers have fought to capture and preserve on the recording.
When this is added to the fact that many of the people pushing for this will be unable to hear the detail that is in there in the first place, it puts the engineer in a very difficult position...he'll do the job that he's being asked to do, knowing that it is not only damaging the recording, but also his reputation in the eyes (and ears) of his peers and the industry at large...and therefore possibly, his future.
Really, it's a mastering engineer's job to make music sound good, to make it sound good on as many systems as possible, and to make it flow if it's an album. I stated earlier that the customer is always right, and few mastering engineers are so intransigent as to lose business rather than crush something. However, it's a telling sign where there's no credit for mastering on a big budget record. As for me, ultimately, I'll do what the band asks, but only after I've explained the dangers of crushing stuff. After that, it's up to them. The key to this is education, and I'm not going to speak for others, but I'm doing everything I can with the bands we record to educate people in this area, generally while Alwyn is setting up the drums. This isn't some rant about me saying the music they listen to is rubbish (although it may be), this is about me telling them how much better it could have sounded if there had been more dynamics in it.
The situation is even worse now than it used to be since more powerful digital limiters don't even clip material that audibly anymore. The result is some people don't hear it. However, the music suffers with a long-term lack of excitement.
PS: this is Darrell saying this, not Alwyn, although I know he agrees. It's just that for some reason we haven't managed to get separate profiles on FF.
[quote:1323b3bcc4]I’ve been having trouble listening to a lot of recent recordings. You may have had the same problem: The recordings initially sound loud and exciting, but gradually, you start feeling tired of the music as lots of the songs sound the same with no build ups, the vocals sound thin, the drums lack punch and on air, the music sounds crackly etc. etc. [/quote:1323b3bcc4]
well yes, in comparison to the actual voice of god telling you what to do things may sound a little tinny.
[quote:1323b3bcc4]The ear is easily fooled in the short term into thinking that a louder CD sounds better. Since many CDs are bought with only a 2 minute listen using headphones at a shop, this makes sense. Record companies have seized on this and put pressure on mastering houses (the last creative step in recording) to make their CD louder than everyone else’s. [/quote:1323b3bcc4]
Nonsense, record companies never put pressure on anybody, thats totally the decision of the artist.
[quote:1323b3bcc4] . I can also hear crackling throughout, and that’s not what was recorded in the studio. Another was Metallica’s “St. Anger” where the snare drum according to many sounded like a metal bin lid.
Have you considered for a moment that this could be the very whip and bootheels of satan squareing and quartering your soul untill your devine being has little option confront this noise and lash henceforth to the internet with the chariots of jesus at your side?
[quote:1323b3bcc4] Personally, and again, no dig at the music, but I think the first Rage Against The Machine album sounded better than the others, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” was the Peppers’ best sounding album, and that Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power” and Megadeth’s “Youthansia” both sounded great, reasonably loud and more importantly, exciting. [/quote:1323b3bcc4]
agghhh the grip of the dark one is too strong, search for reason brave darrell!!!
[quote:1323b3bcc4]UK’s best selling albums have been really quiet overall, allowing for proper build ups (crescendos) in the music: “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. Irrespective of whether you like the music or not, these are well-crafted records which will continue selling for a long time. [/quote:1323b3bcc4]
thats it darrell!!!! retreat to the safety of the common man!
[quote:1323b3bcc4]Lastly, if you think CDs that you buy don't sound good or don't play in your CD player due to copy protection etc., do tell the label. [/quote:1323b3bcc4]
yep, i might been wrong on that point, glad you spotted that.
oh - a PM again -
.[quote:8432bc4142] Hi again Captain,
I wasn't being sarcastic, I'm just a little confused by your post, that's all. On an etiquette level, it seems that posting private messages is frowned on even though I'm not sure why that would be. I'm sure there's a good reason for it though.
PS feel free to post this too if you want[/quote:8432bc4142]
only personally, and not as some form of etiquette thing, I generally post every private message i get from somebody i dont know on the online - it makes sense, otherwise you'll end up in some dumb passive agressive/confession box battle of niceties that doesnt resolve very much - capiche??? I was being sarcastic in a funny-pokey way with Komodo for the way we got treated by them - although the product was delivered; we had to endure a 15 minute lecture about not going out and drinking/taking drugs and shirking your responsibilities (fact - I dont drink!!) - and quite a bit of ear bashing about some fella called god and some dumbass religion and what not (I see the drug allegations have continued!!!), then on the re-order the price hike was around 33% higher then the quote - 15% higher then the advertised price with no reasonable explanation and quite an earful about "how on earth did you get that price" - therefore we ceased business with komodo. there were many other issue's and overall trying to work with komodo cost us a lot more than we bargained for, for somebody who's worked in the print industry for 5 years formatting every kind of document know to mankind I felt a little dumbfounded sometimes at what was being advertised in comparison to what got delivered and how it was being processed. I dont relate any of this in any way to komodo's ability to record music and produce it to a high standard, thats something you seem to be quite good at. Does it make more sense now?
The loudness debate is a good one of course, but all of a sudden this has turned in to a bit of a public slagging match. Am I the only one that feels its totally off to publicly insult someone because you don't approve of their business ettiquette - that sort of thing should be left to sort out between you guys one-on-one, especially as it's their livelyhood - NI is just too small for that sort of caper.
Of course it wouldn't be right to end up with a sermon as an unwanted added extra, but we're not seeing the whole context of that conversation so it's not
really fair for anyone to judge based on one view point.
you guys are right, its probably not the right time/place to talk about such things, although everything is true. apologies to people who care deeply about loudness. one thing i'd be curious about: if komodo was a band or a gig and you paid to get in and gave a similar review/feedback, would anybody think it was unethical or "bad for business" to point out such an event? - saying N.I is too small to be honest about how you were treated is a bad idea - thats like letting terrorists thrive just because they are in the only people in business...its my livelyhood too buddy. we've had conversations about local backrubbing before. what if you end up in the same position as i did?
besides, they can and do record peoples music to a high quality, dont let that fact pass you by just because i'm airing my opinion about thier other avenues. edit: and they are bold enough as a company in the commercial world to question what they do publicalily -
on the loudness topic, my opinion is pretty bland...and sorry for pushing this topic in another direction - if major companies are doing it, then its a dead duck, nobody can change it unless they take up a position in a big company, or it becomes commercially viable to to change it. you can do whatever you want when you record independent, but trying to change the policy of something your not a part of is pretty dumb, although its a good idea to highlight it for the education of other people - - companies are supposed to do what they need to do to make things sell, thats why they are companies and not kind aunty ethel.
Most people here...just like the big companies..will care more about the product that anything else, and the points you've made mightn't be of that much interest.
However, those points have been aired and are up for discussion and response, and that response hasn't been great so far. It'd probably do better in it's own thread on the main forum, rather than an addendum to a techie thread where it doesn't really belong.
That'd give you a chance as a customer to put forward your views, the other party to either confirm or reject those views, and other people to decide where they stand, or if they care about the principles or ethics involved.
We at komodo would like to keep this thread on the subject of CD loudness, but we feel we must address a couple of serious issues brought up by someone.
1 - religion and personal views
Not all employees of Komodo share the same religious views, and so Komodo Recordings is NOT on a mission to convert anyone, and the employee(s) who ARE christian are not the type to bible-bash. That WOULD be unnaceptable. (Alwyn for example is not a christian)
2 - alleged price "hike"
We will not comment on the mentioned "price hike" (which by the way is a serious allegation). Come to think of it, considering that this allegation refers to a christian member of Komodo, don't you think it would be a little strange if he or she was into "price hiking"?
3 - damn right we do good recordings! :wink:
Anyhoo, we hope this is the last time you read a post on this thread that is not about CD loudness.
Regarding The Ronster's quote "DVD as a format has a lower line level output anyway. This was decided upon in the inception of the format due to the much greater dynamic range required by movies as opposed to music", I think he's mixing up a few things: line level (or operating level) will refer to the output of the player (whether it's +4 dBu (pro) or -10dbv (semi-pro or consumer)), and has nothing to do with the actual percieved loudness or the measured amplitude (be it RMS or Peak) of a signal. It's even worse than that since the three can be wildly out depending on the music due to transients, bass content pitch and frame of mind (frame of mind obviously relating only to the perceived loudness).
If we're talking about how much digital headroom is left on a DVD, I've never measured DVDs, but I know some mastering engineers have been griping about under-modulation (remaining headroom not used up). There's no point in leaving more than a minimal amount of headroom (if stuff isn't overcrushed) due to the limitations in various format and since that will make CDs sound even louder, especially when the last person to use the system was watching a film.
I also disagree that movies require a greater dynamic range than music. Sure, this may be the case for certain types of music, notably pop, quite a lot of rock and much heavy metal, but on many occasions, we've had to take quiet sections of music down (either at the conductor's request, or simply because it was generally desireable, for instance to heighten the impact at the end of an intro or to heighten the impact of a crescendo). In fact, I read somewhere that Hollywood films are mixed with so-called "popcorn noise" added to the ambience of the mixing room, since cinemas are not as quiet as mixing rooms. Without this, quiet parts of the dialogue would be missed out in the average cinema due to popcorn noise, cans and air conditioning noises.
People can and should tell the big companies that crushing music for short term gain isn't on. There are situations in history where the world now looks back with bewilderment at the apathy people had at the time regarding what went on and wonders how this could happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way tring to pretend that one's on the same scale as the other, just making a point. I e-mail record companies and tell them when I hear edits in music and when radio 1 plays MP3s and that DAB sounds pants etc. etc. If they think people can't tell, why wouldn't they do these things. When a CD is too crushed, I e-mail them and tell them that I won't buy it for that reason. I don't normally buy without auditioning, and when it won't play due to copy protection, I take it back. Hurt their sales - or at least let them think you're hurting their sales - since that's the only voice they'll listen to.
Ah yes, but if you watch a movie and then put on Vertigo by U2 (christ knows why), [i:20b9180ebf]at the exact same volume setting[/i:20b9180ebf] on your stereo amp, it will be louder (ie the volume will be greater) because DVDs are lower in volume in general.
To be honest, I'm sure I don't understand the technical explanation you gave, but I do know that when I go from listening to a DVD at a loud level (as I do, frequently) and then decide to listen to music after (as I do, frequently) I always have to turn the amp down when the music starts, as it is obviously outputting at a greater volume than the movie - and I'm not talking solely about music produced in the last 10 years - [i:20b9180ebf]any [/i:20b9180ebf]CD.
And there is nothing wrong with any of my equipment, unless Denon and suchlike have wildly reduced the quality of their gear in the last few years. I'm just trying to illustrate that your comparison between music and movie soundtracks is spurious and irrelevant.
Indeed Ronster, there's nothing wrong with your equipment. Again, you're right, DVDs are at a lower average volume than most CDs (depending on what type of music you listen to). My point is really that there's no reason for this other than a short term marketing ploy - make people think the music's good because it sounds loud. Sure, CDs at a really low level can sound grainy if corners are cut in recording and mastering, but done right, there's really no reason to crush (make things louder) much at all.
There are cycles at work here, and I'm generalising, so there will be exceptions.
The first CD releases sounded crap as analogue to digital convertors were really grainy (bad 16 bit), nowehere near all the available digital headroom was used during recording, mixing or mastering.
After that, CDs started to sound better and better as these problems were ironed out. At the same time, digital to analogue convertors in CD players started to get better.
Then the volume wars began and music started suffering, gradually at first, then more and more. At the same time, more and more equipment is now sold on price alone than it was - you can now get CD players now for £15. In fact, on some of these, it may be necessary for the music to be loud on the CD as these won't have adequate output stages for driving headphones to a sensible level.
The worst bit of all this is the same mistakes are being made with SACD and DVD-A. Now is the time for the license holders to specify a maximum RMS level for CDs, and the reason that makes sense is that these formats are sold on their audiophile merits, so it would make sense to protect this aspect of them. Since many SACD discs are dual format - CD and SACD, what could be done in this case is crush the CD a bit and leave the SACD sounding good. Whether or not this is happening or not, I don't know since I haven't bought an SACD player yet as I've currently little faith in the format for a host of reasons. DVD-A might save things since people expect to turn a DVD player up to hear the music, but only time will tell. History tells us that it's not the best format which wins, but the best marketed.
In truth though, neither format will win - the race for a new music medium has been lost to the digital revolution.
A hard fact to swallow, but DVD-Audio and SACD sales are pathetic. There simply aren't enough consumers interested in Hi-res audio to make backing any format a winner for the electronics companies.
The future (and I mean that in a very real sense) of music is here, and its name is MP3.
Maybe not even MP3 itself, but something very much like it will become the defacto standard for music storage, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. 20 Million+ iPods sold and counting - people no longer want CDs as a music carrier (at least the generation that is in their teens now).
All mastering will have to be done now so that it sounds good when encoded at 192kps - all artwork will be in jpg format.
Sad, but undeniably true - in 20 years the idea of walking into HMV and buying a CD/record/Amazodisc will be comical - you'll buy all new music online, you'll only buy the tracks you like off an album and your favorite band might not even have a record deal, cause you heard them on myspace and decided that you wanted their album, and lo, it appeared on your computer in the time it took you to draw breath.
And none of this bothers me in the slightest as it's how I already live.
[quote:65cef1af1f="The Ronster"]A hard fact to swallow, but DVD-Audio and SACD sales are pathetic. There simply aren't enough consumers interested in Hi-res audio to make backing any format a winner for the electronics companies.[/quote:65cef1af1f]
I would be inclined to disagree. DVD-A and SACD are both emerging formats, so obviously they are a small minority in the market at the moment. At a time when the sales of CDs are decreasing worldwide, SACD and DVD-A sales are on the up, and continuing to rise. Sting's last album went Gold on SACD in 4 countries, and the SACD of [i:65cef1af1f]Dark Side Of The Moon[/i:65cef1af1f] has sold 800,000 copies. It took 4 years after the release of CDs before one sold 1,000,000 units ([i:65cef1af1f]Brothers In Arms[/i:65cef1af1f] if I recall), so hi-res formats aren't doing too badly when you compare them to the emerging formats of the past. Most people have no interest in SACD and the like because they have never heard one, but that will change as time goes on. I didn't hear a CD until 1989 (Roxette if you must know...lol), so I didn't have much of an interest in getting a CD player before that. Now I have six of them.
[quote:65cef1af1f]The future (and I mean that in a very real sense) of music is here, and its name is MP3.
Maybe not even MP3 itself, but something very much like it will become the defacto standard for music storage, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. 20 Million+ iPods sold and counting - people no longer want CDs as a music carrier (at least the generation that is in their teens now).[/quote:65cef1af1f]
But people most assuredly do want CDs as a music medium. Why, digital download sales are pathetic compared to CDs, so they must be on their way out...;)
Joking aside, the next big thing in the "real world" formats is going to be Blu-ray, so CD shaped things are going to be around for a bit longer whether people want them or not.
[quote:65cef1af1f]All mastering will have to be done now so that it sounds good when encoded at 192kps - all artwork will be in jpg format.[/quote:65cef1af1f]
No one will encode at 192kHz in the future. Technology gets more advanced as time goes on, not less. There are several formats which could be considered "hi-res" at the minute, and I'm sure one will emerge as the successor to the mp3. With the increasing storage size of hard disks, no one will balk at the idea of having an album on their iPod that takes up a few gigabytes.
[quote:65cef1af1f]Sad, but undeniably true - in 20 years the idea of walking into HMV and buying a CD/record/Amazodisc will be comical - you'll buy all new music online, you'll only buy the tracks you like off an album and your favorite band might not even have a record deal, cause you heard them on myspace and decided that you wanted their album, and lo, it appeared on your computer in the time it took you to draw breath.[/quote:65cef1af1f]
I would imagine this is true regarding the distant future, but I can't see things happening that quickly. Lots of people (like me), enjoy having a physical disk and sleeve-notes you can read (reading a computer screen gives me a sore head). The music industry is worth several billion a year (in this country alone), and for them to undergo the huge paradigm shift you are proposing in such a short space of time is highly unlikely. And don't forget, it is very costly to produce an album, so I imagine there will always be a recording industry structure of some sort behind it all. Any idiot can have Cubase on his computer, but few know how to use it.
Predictions for the future can be tricky. Within living memory for some, people thought that by the 21st century, we'd live on Mars and eat pills instead of food. Even given all that has happened, things have stayed the same more than they've changed.
[quote:65cef1af1f]And none of this bothers me in the slightest as it's how I already live.[/quote:65cef1af1f]
I look forward to the convenience you describe, but some aspects of it bother me a bit. When I buy a CD, I know that someone somewhere has staked his job on it being a good album. I know that the record company has possibly spent millions of pounds on it's production because they believe it to be a good album. I know that the producer, engineer, mastering engineer and the tea-boy have all staked their reputation and future career on it being a good album. I know that the buyers in the shop put it on the shelves because they thought it was a good album and so it would sell.
Sometimes though, when I get the CD home, it's not a good album. Sometimes it's a terrible album. And I think, "how can so many people screw up so badly?". But, if no one had to re-mortgage their house, pay the national debt of a third world country, put their careers on the line, or decide if something's good enough to go on the shelves, in order to bring a piece of music to me, then I imagine I'd end up with a terrible album a lot more frequently than I do now.
So, I guess I can worry about the state of the music industry, or I can go and get myself a better taste in music...:D
Marty J, that's fascinating. I had written pretty much the same thing, but couldn't post it since I'd logged in as Komodo Darrell in a bid to reduce confusion.
Anyway, firstly, I find that 192Kbps when done correctly and the music isn't too crushed can sound OK. However, OK isn't good enough for me. I want music to sound great. Not only is the music being damaged, people's appreciation is suffering too. When consumers buy one song at a time, they're losing the art that went into choosing the track order, the gaps and relative volumes etc. etc. I think this is why Metallica opposed Napster.
There's also the physical medium thing: I for one value album art, and while I don't own any vinyl, I think some of the sleeve designs looked great. They were proper art. A bit of that magic was lost in the transition to CD, and now it's being lost even more. People don't tend to value the 0's and 1's which reside on their hard drives as much as a physical disc. Music shouldn't be some commodity, it's an art form. I don't want music wall to wall all day long in the background (when I'm not working, obviously), I want music to listen to properly. It's like snacking on junkfood all day long versus having a really good meal in a great restaurant. I know what I'd rather have.
As for the future for SACD, since many of these discs are dual format, what labels should do is crush the CD side moderately and leave the SACD bit sounding good for people who care. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen since the mastering costs will be a bit higher. Whether or not SACD or DVD-A wins this format war remains to be seen. One thing history tells us is that the best marketed format will one, not the better format. I for one now back DVD-A for several reasons: 1) people don't expect DVDs to be massively loud in the same way they do for CDs 2)If the music is recorded as DSD, it has to be converted to PCM for mixing, so what's the point (unless it's recorded straight to disk without editing etc. which is very rare)? I don't see too many people recording DXD which avoids this last problem. 3) I can master a DVD-A album, and I can't currently do SACD as I'd need to buy lots of gear which wouldn't be a viable proposition.
Against DVD-A, I'm not sure if people understand the whole multichannel thing. I think stereo is great if speakers are set up correctly. If consumers can't set up 2 speakers properly, what hope is there for 5.1 and beyond?
As for a point made much earlier, I just listened to the new FooFighters album which was mastered gy Bob Ludwig and it sounds crap. The only redeeming thing is that it's on the Sony label, so maybe it's just a Sony thing. I'll be avoiding their releases until this is sorted, and telling them that I for one can tell what their game is.
As someone who has grown up listening to "crushed" music, I feel its what I know best and I actually quite like it. This argument, while extremely well presented and backed up, hasn't considered the possibility that people may like the heavily compressed sound in loud rock music. I think it works with the particular instruments quite well, if its done professionally.
I wouldn't want to listen to a brickwall limited jazz trio or orchestra, but i think it works well in rock and metal.
Wasn't guitar distortion an embarassing mistake to begin with? I think its probably just a case of natural progression, and at some stage the trend may change, but so long as people like the music being produced, I don't think it really matters.
I'm surprised by Ryan's argument here. Why would anyone like the sound of music with a limited dynamic range? Is it the fact that the drums will have no punch, that the music will sound boxy and small or the fact that the build ups won't have any impact that you like? Or is it simply that the music is louder? Why if you like it would you not want to hear a brickwall-limited jazz trio or orchestra?
It's got to the stage where I don't like the CDs that are being produced and haven't for the last 4 or 5 years, and that's not to do with the music. It's to do with the sound of the music. Honestly, what we're being given as consumers is not what the bands or producers strived to achieve in the studio in many cases. There was even an interview with Rick Rubin about Vlado Mellor where Rick was asked why Vlado had crushed the RHCP stuff to that extent, and he just answered "because that's what he does". He took the view that he had done his job in delivering good sounding mixes for the band and that what happened to these was out of his hands. I would have thought that if my name were on a CD for producing or mixing, I'd want the final product to sound good.
Mastering engineers are now reporting that some mix engineers have bought waves' L2 limiters (nice limiters when used for mastering) to make their mixes sound louder. When these mixes are given to the mastering engineer, there's not a lot he or she can do. The value added to a product by a process has to be greater than the cost of adding that value (in this case the value of mastering has to outweigh its cost), so to keep themselves in business, the mastering houses simply make the music louder yet again.
Incidentally, my brother (Kyle, drum tuition and session drummer) bought "In your honor" for Christmas and then came to me to say how awful it sounds and that he's going to take it back. Although he's around Alwyn and myself all the time, he's listening as a musician, not a mix or mastering engineer.
I think it doesn't matter what anyone uses, or how they get there.
If at the end of the project the band, and producer, and mastering engineer (if one is needed) can hold their head up and be proud of what they've created then you have to accept that, and if I don't like it, then i generally think, "I don't like what this band are doing" and I look for a band that i do get.
If the band are in the situation where an A&R guy, or manager or the like is calling the shots and they are unhappy about how it sounds, they have to wonder why the fuck they got themselves into that in the first place.... pig, ass, shit that Steve Albini talked about...
I sometimes think that the only people who are complaining about this loudness thing are the ones who cannot do it well.
If it's not your thing, which it isn't mine (or rather hasn't been because those are not the sort of projects that i have wanted to/ been lucky enough to have been asked to be involved in) then it honestly shouldn't affect you.
Here are 20 albums recorded this century that have inspired me in some way to want to record music.
a camp - s/t
All American Rejects - s/t
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Blink 182 - s/t
the Chalets - Check In
Cornelius - Fantasma
Cursive - the Ugly Organ
Folk Implosion - One Part Lullaby
Hot Rod Cicuit- Sorry About Tomorrow
Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
Les Savy Fav - Go Forth
Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium
Matt pond PA - Emblems
Mosquitos - Sunshine Barato
Muse - Absolution
Reggie & The Full Effect - Under The Tray
Rilo Kiley - Execution of all things, More Adventurous
ted Leo - Shake The Sheets
Ugly Duckling - taste The Secret
Another point is that:
When bands come to me and want it to sound louder & louder,
it's more often than not that they are the same levels as the tracks they are referring to, it's that the recordings they are comparing themselves to are far superior in production & mix quality, and sometimes musical ability. Which to me will always make it sound better than volume...
Well said Rocky. This argument has been getting more and more like dancing about architecture as it goes along.
My ears don't get 'tired' listening to very many albums at all.. and as my my three favourite groups (underworld, beta band and deus) have all released albums with large amounts of quiet/loud parts in them in the last few years, this argument is clearly deviating from reality and into the same sort of thing as people who buy 'oxegen-free purest silver' cables for their hi-fi.
Don't get me wrong - there ARE badly mastered albums out there, but don't mistake for them for albums you personally don't like.
[quote:8b501c66bb="tenrabbits"]My ears don't get 'tired' listening to very many albums at all.. and as my my three favourite groups (underworld, beta band and deus) have all released albums with large amounts of quiet/loud parts in them in the last few years, this argument is clearly deviating from reality and into the same sort of thing as people who buy 'oxegen-free purest silver' cables for their hi-fi.[/quote:8b501c66bb]
No one is talking about albums that have quiet/loud bits in them. Indeed, what is being argued is that music [i:8b501c66bb]should[/i:8b501c66bb] have quiet/loud bits (i.e. dynamics), as opposed to being one brick-wall limited volume throughout.
Do you think your favourite Beta Band album would sound the same if all the quiet bits where exactly the same volume as all the loud bits?
Oh, and oxygen-free copper cables do sound better...;)
Marty.. I meant dynamics by the 'quiet/loud' bit, and as your argument is that everything these days is brick-wall limited to death then how come these albums are fine? However - there are tracks on all those albums which are full blast the full way through, and I like those tracks too. You are arguing about your own personal choice.
Much like those cables - it's your choice to hear a difference (now there's some psychoacoustic effect for ya feline!), even though there is none there.
[quote:24a5ddbca6="tenrabbits"]Marty.. I meant dynamics by the 'quiet/loud' bit, and as your argument is that everything these days is brick-wall limited to death then how come these albums are fine? However - there are tracks on all those albums which are full blast the full way through, and I like those tracks too. You are arguing about your own personal choice.[/quote:24a5ddbca6]
I'm not arguing that all albums sound bad; in fact I mentioned one that sounds great ([i:24a5ddbca6]Hourglass[/i:24a5ddbca6] by James Taylor), and I provided a link to a page with a list of about 50 great sounding albums, and I'd agree with the author's choice (at least the ones I've heard anyway). There are many, many great sounding albums out there, and they usually share one thing: they haven't been squashed to death so they sound like they're being played on FM radio.
Loud music can sound great, as you've mentioned above, and some types of music [i:24a5ddbca6]should[/i:24a5ddbca6] be loud (death-metal is not commonly noted for its subtle sonic nuances). But having the music sound constantly as loud as possible should be as much of an artistic choice as having it fast, or slow, or acoustic, or in the key of G, etc. No one would tolerate a mastering engineer doubling the speed of an album (how many Happy Hardcore remixes of your favourite albums do you have? lol), yet people seem strangely forgiving (in some cases [i:24a5ddbca6]in favour[/i:24a5ddbca6]) of mastering engineers doubling the volume of something at the request of the record company, and changing the dynamics of the music from what the band recorded to something that will sound "as good" as the latest Britney Spears on the radio. Seems a strange test to set the music that you love (unless you're a Britney fan of course).
You should get yourself a copy of Nirvana's [i:24a5ddbca6]Nevermind[/i:24a5ddbca6] or [i:24a5ddbca6]In Utero[/i:24a5ddbca6] mastered by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. The original albums sound great, but when compared to the versions mastered using minimal compression (and OFC lol), they sound flat, dull, and lifeless.
[quote:24a5ddbca6]Much like those cables - it's your choice to hear a difference (now there's some psychoacoustic effect for ya feline!), even though there is none there.
Hey man, if you're happy with the 99p cables that came with your DVD player, knock yourself out...:D
Fair enough marty.. although I still think that most albums that you reckon are loud, are just the way the engineer and artist want them. It's horses for courses..
As for the cables.. well - it's not only me that's happy with those cables, the studios your favourite albums were recorded on are happy with them, the company that makes your expensive hi-fi (internal to the hifi is the cheapest type of signal path known to man - pcb - and snr on that level of signal is much lower) and pretty much every major broadcaster in the world is too. But if you can hear a difference where extremely expensive spectrum analysers can't... well fair play. I'd rather waste my money on something else. Like booze.
[quote:f0bf8b1a85="tenrabbits"]As for the cables.. well - it's not only me that's happy with those cables, the studios your favourite albums were recorded on are happy with them, the company that makes your expensive hi-fi (internal to the hifi is the cheapest type of signal path known to man - pcb - and snr on that level of signal is much lower) and pretty much every major broadcaster in the world is too. But if you can hear a difference where extremely expensive spectrum analysers can't... well fair play. I'd rather waste my money on something else. Like booze.[/quote:f0bf8b1a85]
I wasn't aware that the idea that good cables are better than bad ones (or indeed, the idea that there are "good cables" and "bad cables") is up for question in the pro-audio world. I use a mini-jack to stereo phono to connect my computer to my hi-fi; I have a dirt-cheap no-name one and a £15 JVC one (which is hardly "pro-audio" standard). The dirt cheap one hisses like hell and is very quiet - the JVC cable doesn't hiss and is easily twice as loud as the no-name cable (no, I don't think loud cables are a bad thing...lol). The no-name one also picks up EM interference from everywhere. I do feel that there is a point of diminishing returns (anyone who pays £15,000 for a pair of speaker cables or £5,000 for a power lead needs their head examined), but that point is somewhere above the cheapest cables available.
I can see what you're getting at though, and you missed an important point. Most people listen to music in rooms that have dips and peaks of 20dB or more all over the audio spectrum. The type of cable someone uses is generally the least of their worries when it comes to audiophile heaven...;)
I think Ten Rabbit's point is not that there's no point in using expensive cables, it's that there's really no audible difference between buying an expensive cable and a cable made by manufacturers who try to squeeze an extra fiver or tenner out of you using pseudoscience.
Particularly as they're used to link devices that once you look inside, you realise they have been made with the cheapest cabling or PCBs anyway, thus nullifying that Golden Signal Path.
I'd tend to agree with him, but I don't think either of us'd be using cheapies anyway.
I mentioned earlier about "In your honor" sounding rubbish, and I e-mailed Bob Ludwig, the mastering engineer as I said I would. I told him that he'd been in icon for a long time, that until now, his name on a CD was a guarantee (for me anyway) of a great sound etc. etc., but that those days are now gone. I told him that he, if anyone, should be the one to tell labels to back off and that due to his reputation, they should at least listen rather than take the job elsewhere. I'm not going to post his reply as posting private e-mails is bad form, but he came back saying he did the best he could with what he was given. I've already returned the CD, but if anyone can tell me who gave him a bad mix, I'll be sure to e-mail them and the label to complain. Incidentally, he said the surround version has been nominated for a grammy, so someone must have liked it.
He also recommends buying the upcoming Duncan Sheik album if you like dynamics. I'll certainly do that.
[quote:e342823ce0="Komodo Studios (darrell)"]if anyone can tell me who gave him a bad mix, I'll be sure to e-mail them and the label to complain.[/quote:e342823ce0]
According to allmusic.com, it was mixed by Elliot Scheiner,
[quote:e342823ce0]Incidentally, he said the surround version has been nominated for a grammy, so someone must have liked it.[/quote:e342823ce0]
The surround version was released on a dualdisc, the surround part of which is generally at 24bit. So I'd like to think it would have a wider dynamic range than the red-book CD. Might make for an interesting comparison if anyone out there has the dualdisc?
Elliot Scheiner has done some great work in the past, so it's still a sad day. I think he even mixed a whole CD without compression, although judging him by "In your honor" standards, maybe that was just by negligence...
I'm not quite sure what Marty means by "dualdisc", but either way, 16 bit is easily good enough to incorporate huge dynamics, provided things are mixed and mastered well. If he's referring to SACD, it'll be DSD which is technically 1 bit rather than 16 bit or 24 bit PCM (although to present the argument like that is somewhat misleading since DSD is at 64 times CD samplerate (I think) and works in a completely different way). Regarding more dynmaics in this format, the argument here from the marketing people is probably more along the lines of "Hmmm, these people have spent money on hardware. I know, we'll make the other formats (whatever they are) have more dynamics so that people can feel their money was well spent."
If someone has the surround disc however, I might be able to make a decent stereo version out of it...
Regarding Marty's post earlier: "The dirt cheap one hisses like hell and is very quiet..." It's not actually the cable hissing (unless there's something really bizarre going on), but his system hissing since he has to turn everything up louder to compensate for the inherant losses in the cable.
[quote:86d81d886d="Komodo Studios (darrell)"]I'm not quite sure what Marty means by "dualdisc", but either way, 16 bit is easily good enough to incorporate huge dynamics, provided things are mixed and mastered well. If he's referring to SACD, it'll be DSD which is technically 1 bit rather than 16 bit or 24 bit PCM (although to present the argument like that is somewhat misleading since DSD is at 64 times CD samplerate (I think) and works in a completely different way). Regarding more dynmaics in this format, the argument here from the marketing people is probably more along the lines of "Hmmm, these people have spent money on hardware. I know, we'll make the other formats (whatever they are) have more dynamics so that people can feel their money was well spent."[/quote:86d81d886d]
A Dualdisc has a red-book CD on one side, and a DVD on the other. The DVD can contain audio, music videos, interviews, etc. In this case, it has a 5:1 mix of the album (24 bit @ 48 or 96 kHz). The reason I say that it should be less compressed is that like SACD and DVD-A, it is something of an audiophile format and so does not carry with it as much incentive to be made loud. SACD, DVD-A and dualdisc mixes don't have to sound good on the radio. People invest in the technology because they want better quality sound, and this is the way they are mastered. The SACDs I have have a huge dynamic range compared to most of my CDs because they are produced for people who care about nice audio. The only reason they exist is to sound good, and unfortunately, the same can't be said for many CDs.
[quote:86d81d886d]Regarding Marty's post earlier: "The dirt cheap one hisses like hell and is very quiet..." It's not actually the cable hissing (unless there's something really bizarre going on), but his system hissing since he has to turn everything up louder to compensate for the inherant losses in the cable.[/quote:86d81d886d]
Good point, but the (slightly) more expensive cable still sounds better! :)
are you saying that because Bob Ludwig told you he polished a turd that you believe him?
If it's true, how can you have thought that the problem was a mastering engineer being forced to squash things by an evil & ill-advised label?
I haven't heard this record, but I know the difference in a bad mix, and a bad master, and a bad song for that matter...
This is a serious question, not meant with any malice -
What exactly do you hope to achieve by emailing the people involved and telling them that you think they did a bad job?
and how would you feel if Emily Lazar/Roger Manning Jr/ Mike Mogis emailed you saying
"...hey I heard that album you guys cut in Northern ireland, and I've got to say i was really disappointed, I mean, i died a little...."?
Marty, I agree that SACD will be less crushed, but really, that's for marketing purposes rather than real technical ones.
Rocky, I didn't tell Bob he'd done a bad job. I just said the end result didn't sound good. I personally feel the mastering engineer should be the last bastion protecting sound quality. If he or she isn't happy with the end result, surely he or she should have his or her name omitted from the credits. Bob did state that asking for this can result in customers not coming back. I personally think that's a short-term view as now, I think labels may hear material with a name on it, realise it doesn't sound good and avoid that mastering house for that reason, but these are matters of personal choice which are purely business-related.
There's a world of difference between saying someone did a bad job and saying the end result doesn't sound good. Bob said that he did the best with what he got and didn't defend the end product beyond that.
As for e-mailing people, I for one don't think we should sit back idly while music sounds worse and worse. Let's target the record labels then. Maybe that will be more productive since mastering engineers know not to crush, but cave in due to commercial pressure.
As for being able to tell the difference between bad mixing and bad mastering, I too can tell the difference to some extent, but we're dealing with shades of grey here, especially since more and more mix engineers are "pseudo-mastering" in the mixing by using insane amounts of bus compression etc. etc. in a bid to get their mixes chosen over some other mix engineer's.
I honestly feel that where the band are capable or good, our demos, and indeed some other studios' demos which recorded for under £1000 sound better than some major releases. And if they don't, at least you know what the reasons might be: unprepared bands, lack of time/equipment/experience/material etc. etc.. However, there are no excuses for sound quality where a major band, big name big budget producer and big name big budget studio and big name big budget mastering engineer are involved.
All fair points!
There is life outside the majors though,
and more often than not it's the freedom given to artists by indie labels, and some major indies that are the reasons I think recording has never been better than it is right now.
Listening to a lot of these 'pop' recordings is like eating at McDonalds, and no matter how healthy they try to become, they'll never change. They've chosen their path, let them get on with it. It's not completely a bad thing,
junk food is nice every now and then...
Saying that, I read an interview with Nick Raskulinecz ( think he worked on FF album?), and he & Dave Grohl have been working together for years,
likewise, Rilo Kiley used Mike Mogis as producer for their Warner Bros debut.
Death Cab For Cutie produced themselves.....
So I think that there are plenty of people calling the shots for themselves, sometimes they just aren't to peoples specific tastes.
I think records are sounding better & better all the time.
Let's move forward, not backward, upward, not forward.
Okay.. I' m with rocky 100% on the loudness issue - I really don't think things are getting worse.. pop music and the like will always be about immediate appeal to many people - and there's so many avenues open to artists nowadays that you can get some extraordinary stuff that was done in someone's bedroom!
The cable thing is something I'm tired of arguing about with people, so if you're happy paying more than about 99p a meter for your cable (which is the cost of the standard audio cabling I've put into many studios!) then grand. I've heard so much rubbish over the years (burn-in; unidirectional cabling!!; cryogenic freezing etc) that I'm extraordinarily cynical about it these days! Good (clean!) have connectors so much more effect.
Anyway.. I personally think the reason in your honour sounds bad is cos it's a balls album..! Can't master some life into lifeless music..
[quote:14b0107618="tenrabbits"]The cable thing is something I'm tired of arguing about with people, so if you're happy paying more than about 99p a meter for your cable (which is the cost of the standard audio cabling I've put into many studios!) then grand. I've heard so much rubbish over the years (burn-in; unidirectional cabling!!; cryogenic freezing etc) that I'm extraordinarily cynical about it these days! Good (clean!) have connectors so much more effect.[/quote:14b0107618]
I totally agree. I think the speaker cable I use is 99p a metre in Richer Sounds at the minute (Gale XL189), although it's getting on a bit, so I might "upgrade" to some £1.99 cable...lol
Things like "Burn In" (invented so the people who work in audio stores can get out of not being able to tell the difference between a £5 cable and a £500 cable in an ABX test), cables in which the electrons only like going in one direction (LOL!), frozen cables, etc, are utter BS.
The point I was trying to make was that quality inexpensive cable is much better than [i:14b0107618]cheap[/i:14b0107618] (in every sense of the word) badly made cable, and as good as ridiculously expensive cable.
Interesting debate, and something I've been thinking about a lot recently too.
If anyone wants any further reading on this subject, I can't recommend this enough...
[b:a90bf217a2]Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science
by Bob Katz[/b:a90bf217a2]
This is my new favourite book and is really useful for mix engineers/producers as it not only gives an in depth look into the mastering process but gives guidance and advice geared towards the earlier processes such as recording, mixing and compression/limiting/expansion etc.....Really good solid stuff.
Available here :
Firstly, I've never heard something sound as bad a Snow Patrol's new single on Downtown or Citybeat. I know "Final Straw" was mashed to bits (Eddie Schrayer I think) and I'm pretty sure the new one will be.
Secondly, I'm appalled at the distortion in Counting Crow's "Hard Candy". Bob Ludwig at the helm, but 1min57 in, there's a huge crunch on the left channel. I was able to redraw the waveform to reduce it, but should I really have to?
Thirdly, on the plus side, I think the RHCP's label have agreed to remaster some of their material for "audiophiles". On the minus side, I think it'll be on vinyl only.
It's not a thread about me. I have certain views and I express them (as is my right). I phoned you to ask you if you had a problem with me or anything I'd posted so we could avoid an apparent tiff in public. I didn't ask you what your problem was or make any personal comments. In fact, I was perfectly polite and civil. I didn't even threaten to do your knees. :lol:
You're entitled to your opinion (which was that [b:845a8627f0]everything[/b:845a8627f0] I said was rubbish), but no one is forcing you to follow any particular thread. I'm just confused as to why someone would make a comment about something they don't care about.
Now, if you want to have a debate about anything I've said here, let's do it. That's what the board is for. Now, what was it you disagree with?
your technical jargon about mastering doesnt interest me im not an engineer, most other people are able to get on with their jobs without declaring how much better they are than professional engineers on such and such an album, quite frankly im fed up reading it and so are many others, and you weren't polite, for a start i dont know you, dont ring me again, and you cant berate me for answers as to why im fed up with you thinkin your quite polite just because as usual you've offered to "master one of my tracks for free." thanks again darrell, if i ever need your help to master any recordings il contact you, for now run your studio - which you probably do extremely well - and i stand by my previous comment - shut your mouths. you're only putting people off using your studio.
I guess I'm coming to this abit later but did a bit of testing
Audio slave - Out of exile -0.1dB Peak down to -12 (on the softer bits)
Eagles - Hotel California -2.8dB Peak down to -18
But it's not a "recent" thing
Radiohead - The Bends -0.1 Peak down to about -12 aswell
Digital Import straight from CD to Software
And when I used the same basic -0.1 to -12dB to redo the Eagles track
(without even going into it just gain and limiting) there was a brightness and freshness but the drums lost some of there character.
You can't really judge "volume" based on the peak level. It's customary to leave up to about .5 Db headroom at the end (due to intersample peak appearing in the D/A). What matters here is the RMS volume, and that has been creeping up on average. Beware too, "Hotel California" was remastered recently, and according to one mastering engineer, it's now ruined.
I was just pointing out that an "old" CD - Hotel California (from when it was first made availible on CD) has a far lower peak dB than the more recent which are just at the limits (Adding to your point for the non technically minded - or so I thought!!!!!)
As for the RMS vol it's quite apparent that it's gone up in the examples I used as well.
I'm just saying I agree with you man.
The RMS has gone up but so has the peak.
It's all a world of "impact on the ears fools the brain...........at first"
Unfortunately the whole loudness issue will not dissappear.
It is done mainly for radio etc: most labels, producers etc want their work to stand out on radio and if the track is incredibly quiet then it simply will not grab the listeners attention like a loud mix will.
As a band we have been to numerous studios to record and the first recording we done was "supposably mastered" and when it was played on radio etc it was just too quiet.... dispite the so-called producer going on about "I like to keep dynamic range etc". The next studio we went to had a different approach when it came to mastering. Basically he showed us a copy of an album (waveform) and proceeded to take great pride in making our track louder than the pro-label mix. Its all down to personal preference. Since im doing a degree in music tech I try to reach a happy-medium with any recording I do, i.e. trying to keep dynmaic ranges while maximising volume.
However there are some amazing high volume level masters such as the Alterbridge album which would blow your speakers apart and the guitars etc still shimmer.
Alan Silverman of Arf! Digital (http://www.arfdigital.com):
"Mastering today often does more harm than good and I'm glad IM [i:5efd425e31](Iron Maiden whose recent stuff has been released unmastered - Darrell)[/i:5efd425e31] were brave enough to buck the trend, unlike U2, whose last album was mastered as though they were a twenty-something new band. Distorted no-impact mush Why????? Does U2 of all bands really have to do that to stay relevant?"
"I don't think that great mastering is irrelevant, but destructive mastering should be. Too bad bands are now starting to mix like badly mastered CDs at which point the damage is permanent"
"To elaborate, here are some screen shots of the wave forms of a new Iron
Maiden track from their website, and of the recent Pearl Jam record. As
you can see, the PJ track is so clipped, and peak-limited that there is
barely any recognizable shape, yet our poor ears and brains are expected to
decipher music in there somewhere, and in fact we do manage to hear
something that resembles music. This kind of production technique is all
too common today and it is done so that when the record first comes on it
hits louder or as loud as the loudest CDs. But this presumed advantage is
short-lived because a listener will immediately adjust the volume control to
where it is comfortable - often this means turning it down. The loudness
advantage is gone and we are left with mushy wallpaper sound with no impact
because all the peak energy has been shaved off in production. Looking at
IM's "old school" wave forms, you can see the beats clearly and the shape of
the music is visibly clear. Now our brains have a much easier time of
getting to the music, and this makes it more enjoyable, all things being
equal. As with any record, when it comes on, the listener adjusts the
volume control, in this case, likely turning it up. Now the beats and
energy really come through. For this listener, who has adjusted both PJ
and IM to a comfortable volume, IM will now come across as much louder
because the energy is still in the recording, it has not been amputated by
clipping and limiting.
After I'd notified Alan that I'd posted his post, he sent me the following:
I'd just like to comment on a previous post - where a dynamic CD was
reported to not sound loud enough in the air. I'm not sure what the problem
could have been since this goes against my own experience and how radio
works. Broadcast systems use their own dynamics processors to insure that
everything you throw at them plays at the same apparent volume at the
receiver. In essence, the system turns down the so-called loud stuff and
turns up the dynamic stuff. But it gets worse - the clipped stuff forces
the broadcast system to move the clip into the center of the waveform, away
from the top of the waveform where it started. The reason - when
broadcasting at Megawatts of power, the transmitter needs to see
symmetric waves or it risks shutting down. So now, the clipped stuff sounds
even more distorted even to the point where it sounds like the speakers in
the receiver are blown. This is a fact and has been publicized by Orban and
Omnia - the two biggest makers of broadcast equipment. So, in general,
non-clipped dynamic recordings, be they metal or minuets, sound louder and
more powerful on the air then the castrated variety.
As mastering engineer, I try to find a balance so that the end listener
doesn't have to dive for the volume control, but not so processed that the
music is less than it should be. All this overprocessing disrespects the
end listener and has gone way, way past the point of sanity - it robs the
listener of the full enjoyment of the music and all for a very fallacious
argument that only applies in boardrooms, not people's homes. Musician's
and producers who request and approve of this kind of treatment, IMO, are
not best serving their fans, and I'm thrilled that Iron Maiden served their
art and their listeners by taking a stand against this gross abuse of the
art of music. They are the first, and hopefully not the last to show some
[quote:75579693a0="Komodo Studios (darrell)"]But it gets worse - the clipped stuff forces the broadcast system to move the clip into the center of the waveform, away from the top of the waveform where it started. The reason - when broadcasting at Megawatts of power, the transmitter needs to see symmetric waves or it risks shutting down. So now, the clipped stuff sounds even more distorted even to the point where it sounds like the speakers in the receiver are blown. This is a fact and has been publicized by Orban and Omnia - the two biggest makers of broadcast equipment. So, in general, non-clipped dynamic recordings, be they metal or minuets, sound louder and more powerful on the air then the castrated variety.[/quote:75579693a0]
Interesting stuff from a mastering engineer. As a broadcasting engineer none of that makes any sense to me though, apart from the last sentence.
Ah well.. I'm sure someone will be on shortly to point me to a website which explains it.
[quote:bf3b170083="Komodo Studios (darrell)"]This is a fact and has been publicized by Orban and Omnia - the two biggest makers of broadcast equipment.[/quote:bf3b170083]
Aye.. bigger than Sony then? Or Quantel? Or Probel? Or do you just mean broadcast transmitter path kit? In which case Sonifex? Or Avitel?
Omnia and Orban both make similar products, which are both a small part of any broadcast chain. I have found an explanation which is part of what I'm looking for though: [url]http://www.omniaaudio.com/tech/CompetProc.pdf[/url].
I'm really busy at the moment, but I'll get through that paper. What was posted by Alan makes sense to me, but I do understand there are exceptions (small radio stations that don't use much specialised equipment at all, maybe only a Behringer multiband etc.)
The problem is that no two stations are alike, and sometimes, settings change on the processors during songs! (Radio 1 seems to change at 5PM or so, presumably in anticipation of more people driving, lots of radio stations and TV is more compressed at night, presumably so that it doesn't disturb people trying to sleep etc. etc.) ATL played some stuff I'd done which had a bit of limiting on it (I'm mild compared to some engineers on this), and it sounded fine. Radio Ulster played some flute band music I'd recorded and it sounded good, but the dynamics were all over the place. That wasn't my fault - I had recorded the band well and done nothing to manipulate the dynamics at all. The problem lay elsewhere.
Does anyone reckon we could get NIMIC (or some other body) to get a crowd of engineers into the Beeb/DTR/Citybeat etc. etc. for a few hours to actually see this stuff in practice and play with it? Maybe SARC?
[quote:614d291bf9="Komodo Studios (darrell)"]Does anyone reckon we could get NIMIC (or some other body) to get a crowd of engineers into the Beeb/DTR/Citybeat etc. etc. for a few hours to actually see this stuff in practice and play with it? Maybe SARC?[/quote:614d291bf9]
Is that really going to make a difference Darrell? Sure it would be nice to see and hear it working first hand, at the source, but ultimately all mixing and mastering should still be directed towards getting the stuff onto CD to be played on someones stereo.
You can't really compensate for different radio stations anymore than you can for "Rock" eq presets or Ultra-super-bass-xtreme-boost settings on peoples hi-fis.
I'm pretty sure that if Radio 1 played something that I'd mastered at the same RMS volume as Ted Jensen, his would sound better on air. Yes, it would sound crackly (in fact it does), but I don't think mine (or anyone else's for that matter) would come out as well for that RMS volume. The question is why?
Also, I sometimes master for formats other than CD. I've done some for telephone systems, the lifts at Stormont, talking dolls (Amazing Amanda), MP3s for radio stations (oh the shame) etc. etc. In these cases, I compensate for the deficiencies of the medium/palyback system/listening environment.
Normally, when I'm mastering for CD, I see my job as making something sound as good as it can on as neutral a system as I can put together. If someone chooses to put X-Mega bass 2006Pro (ltd edition) on their stereo, my material will get the same treatment as everyone else's. The law of averages dictates that some people's systems are bass light, some bass heavy. My aim is to get it right for neutral systems and please the maximum number of people. However, if I can do something which makes it sound good on other media which doesn't affect the stereo, then I'll do it.
Question: what happens to the Q-sound plugin on air? (Q sound is a plugin which enables stereo systems to project sounds from the rear of the room with only two speakers setup correctly. It's fabulous. However, when speakers aren't setup right, listeners will never be aware of it). If the stereo enhancement part of the broadcast processer puts everything Q-sounded completely out of phase and it disapprears as a result, then I'd consider that when I'm mixing if I know the material is going to get a lot of airplay. At the moment, I simply don't know what a broadcast processor does in this instance, but I'd like to. That's why I'm wondering if there's a way for interested parties to have a play.
As a home recording enthusiast myself I would like to know what you guys think is a good kind of RMS and Peak level to be aiming for in both your mixes and mastering ...
I know its pretty impossible to know what the RMS level should be as the song, genre, and so many other factors dictate the way the song should be mastered ...
I know I know I know ...you shouldn't be mastering at home ... but hey... some of us just can not afford to get our mixes mastered at mastering houses when frankly the mixes aren't worthy of the mastering houses price quotes...
I've made a few demo cd's lately for local bands and I think that around the -12 dBfs mark is a nice spot as it is getting the volume up at a competitive enough volume whilst at the same time not squashing them cymbals to pieces ...
Send me one, and you'll know when you get it back :)
About mastering, personally, I'd say for rock, you can get it a bit hotter, but not much. If it's mixing you're asking about, wno cares? Just get it so it's got a few db left in it.
Incidentally, I got a new DVD player recently. I played a CD on it only to discover it couldn't handle the volumes of modern CDs without distorting significantly. I thought, "no bother, I'll use a CD player for CDs and keep the DVD player for DVDs only". However, I've since discovered that it can't play Rammstein's triple boxed set without distorting either. Ah, progress...
I've just received Dave Viney's dissertation and haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but I thought I'd just post a few extracts (with permission) from "The Obsession with Compression" - A research project dissertation by Dave Viney, post graduate student at London College of Music, Faculty of arts, Thames Valley University. Formal publication pending.
"The obsession with compression is one of the many phenomena in the industry that has developed over time in response to commercial pressures but without being based on any sound foundations..." P57
"The key finding, in the context of this project, has to be that, based on the samples of 30 CD single tracks from recent months, there is no evidence of any significant correlaton between loudness (& implied compression) and commercial success..." P54
"A secondary but supporting finding is some evidence from correlations between panel assessments and commerical data that recordings with little 'processing' & compression sound 'more pleasant' & 'above average quality' ... this is of course based only on the assessments of professional/technical listeners and may not apply to untrained consumers...
"The results show that actual loudness varies considerably by track and this suggests that loudness profiles (patterns of dynamic change) may be more important than overall (averge or maximum) loudness in determining its perceived level"... P55
It seems a shame to me that there out of teh 51 volunteers for the questionnaire and CD, the 36 responses were from men. From my psychology degree I remember than women are more sensitive to dynamic range than men.
turnmeup.org seems like a waste of time. This seems to have more hope:
[quote:f118ae348c]From my psychology degree I remember than women are more sensitive to dynamic range than men.[/quote:f118ae348c]
Out of curiosity, in what part of your psychology course did you learn that? Genuinely curious btw, not sniping.
I wouldn't take any surveyed study that only had 51 respondants to be any way gospel! Especially if, by its own admission, it cannot be applied to the general public but rather audiophiles.
As an example, I was at my girlfriends house last night and her friends had on some RnB music channel on the TV. The amount of autotuned vocals on show was driving me mad but despite explanations they didn't pick up on it, nor when they did did it piss them off.
Could we evidently say that in overall, whereas the quality of music is improving in terms of songwriting and composing, that recording is taking a bit of a nosedive and the advances in technology have somehow blasphemed against basic recording principles, the demand for a record to stand out in terms of loudness rather than musical calibre being the desire of the industry?
It was one of the issues brought up at the end of one of my 1st semester classes in Recording Tech. in Queens. We must have sat for several weeks listening to just different genres and records (the Beatles had some howlers in terms of their recording/editing in some cases).
One of the arguments was of course dealing with over or hyper-compression on modern recordings, and I'd have to without doubt agree with the guys at Komodo. Shit is getting louder, and at a more prominent rate. Out of all the stuff I've been listening to recently, I usually find it easier to listen to underground or smaller bands, who haven't had to deal with a "big-time" studio. There are flaws in the recordings, there are contrasts in volume & dynamics (a good thing), it's like metal records from the 80's, but they still sound great.
One band I brought up on another forum was Suicide Silence, OK, not everyones taste but I like 'em. However, it gets hard to listen after a while for the prime reason that everything is just too damn loud, and some of the engineering isn't the greatest. The guitars sound similar to a Line 6 head, if you listen to any of the muted chugging. It feels like a POD or modeled distortion, all grainy and lacking that "real" quality. To me it also sounds like bad mixing and maybe over-compression on the higher end, when the tiniest splash cymbal ends trying to match the volume of an ESP 7-string through a Mesa Head/Krank cab.
If it hasn't been posted already, a link I recommend for some reading and info on the matter
To MSB and the guys at Komodo, I know Bob Katz did a book called "Matstering Audio", is it worth shelling out for as I come to the end of my degree life? If you guys have any other essential reads/watches/listens, feel free to drop them in a PM.
Darrell (sorry for spelling your name incorrectly in another post by the way)
I'm just wondering how much the "loudness wars" impact on your professional life?
Are you often requested to make things louder/squashed than you like to?
How often are you unable to do that because of the quality of the mix?
That's the main reason that I've found my recordings quieter than commercial releases of the same style, not because of the mastering, but because of how open the mix was - loud bass drums,
loads of low energy etc.
I thought I'd update my own personal experiences of the loudness wars in the past four years,
having recorded and released a number of albums for different sized artists & labels since I last posted.
Yet again, I can't state how little the loudness wars impact on my professional life.
In the instances where I have got things LOUD or where I've tracked on a project and it's been added to & mixed elsewhere (in case of fire/ASIWYFA) It's finished up sounding huge and incredible. Perhaps too loud and crushed for some peoples tastes, but perfect for what the band/producer/engineer/mastering engineer were aiming for.
Every bit as rich in quality and loud as my favourite albums -which is what I aim for.
For me, good songs, good sounds and good mixes will lead to the master being the way it should be.
I really don't care about how Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 or Metallica records sound in relation to loudness. Occasionally I'll hear production moves in such records that inspire me, but I can safely say I've NEVER thought "oh I love this song, but damn that mix is too compressed" and it's turned me off a song/recording/band.
I love the way some R'n'B and modern rap music sounds. It's a completely new and forward thinking style of music, sound and production, made on machines - it has no reason to sound like dynamic rockers of years gone by - and in many regards, the same can be said for loud records by Muse, Jimmy Eat World etc... they are (killer) drum samples, super distorted amplifiers multi mic'd & effected, layered vocals manipulated within a computer - why should they sound like AC/DC?
I think if Jimmy Eat World recorded like AC/DC I believe the point would be lost.
Like wise, on the dynamic metering website they were talking about drums on a garbage track.
I was listening to Absolute Garbage last night. I'm pretty sure every single drum sound on the album is a sample.
There are thousands of albums being made every year that sound incredible.
Happy Hollow by Cursive, Bronx II by The Bronx and Bedlam in Goliath by Mars Volta -
Three albums that have completely knocked me sideways in the past few years.
Sensational records and recordings. Truly mind-blowing.
Reasons to get up out of bed in the morning and want to make records like them.
Most of the issues I face running a recording studio in Northern Ireland are no where near concerned with the Loudness wars, but it's perhaps about how I view music and recording.
I try to make albums that sound amazing on a good set of speakers or headphones.
I remember last time we met you were talking about mono mixes to cater for the person driving in an area of bad reception listening on AM radio and how that's should be a factor in mixing a record.
I don't give a damn about how it sounds on AM radio or FM radio for that matter, or radio at all, because I'm not making or recording music to get radio play. If it happens, fantastic! And my mixes are usually acceptable on air. But I don't make records to appeal to radio listeners,
I make albums for people who buy albums and who listen to them.
Interesting quotes in your post, thanks for sharing them.
I don't personally feel compelled to take on board the views of a university student re: loudness wars.
If it was Mark Trombino, Mike Mogis, Gil Norton, Tim O'Heir or Robert Carranza I'd personally feel much more inclined to care.
[quote:c32ed02ffe="Rocky"]I don't personally feel compelled to take on board the views of a university student re: loudness wars.
If it was Mark Trombino, Mike Mogis, Gil Norton, Tim O'Heir or Robert Carranza I'd personally feel much more inclined to care.[/quote:c32ed02ffe]Not a good attitude. Things can be true or false regardless of who is making the statement. (Except in theology.)
[quote:a515da7082="Recycled Alien"][quote:a515da7082="Rocky"]I don't personally feel compelled to take on board the views of a university student re: loudness wars.
If it was Mark Trombino, Mike Mogis, Gil Norton, Tim O'Heir or Robert Carranza I'd personally feel much more inclined to care.[/quote:a515da7082]Not a good attitude. Things can be true or false regardless of who is making the statement. (Except in theology.)[/quote:a515da7082]
Thanks for sharing Darrell! Good reading. I agree with you about the bands wanting to sound like RHCP thing, I think maybe I just spend more time trying to make artists sound like what they want to, whereas you're dealing with their recordings once that stage has already been completed.
Which must be a nightmare!
Mastering for I-tunes is a strange thing indeed.
Although, with the way I-Pods are knocking out lower volumes than they used to -
I think that it's a possilbe factor in masters getting louder and louder.
I know that with my headphones and a walk to work through the city that my quieter tracks,
usually Opp songs I'm working on, are just slightly quieter than I want them to be in order to block out traffic, wind and howling single mothers of the ormeau road.
Other lads, what I meant was that I would be much more inclined to take the opinions and views
of people whose work I respect or admire, as apposed to someone whose work, ablility and values I know nothing about. Especially since I don't associate them with making any albums I care for. I don't think these findings for the most part are "fact" they are opinions used to form conclusions, no?
[quote:8959489f04="MSB Mastering"]FM is broadcast as M/S (Middle and Sides) rather than left and right. In areas of poor reception, many tuners will only play the middle component. I don’t know if it’s more robust or what, but that’s what happens. When you think that before the transmitter, many radio stations artificially widen audio so it jumps out, particularly in cars in my experience[/quote:8959489f04]
Actually FM is broadcast as Sum/Difference. MS is a micing technique used by recording engineers, which means the metering is different (hence why monitors have MS AB switching for mixing purposes).
I don't know about the metering for Sum/Difference - it's not something I need to worry about. My point is that in areas of bad reception, you lose the sides. It's something to be aware of, and, in fact, the latest edition of TapeOp. says the same thing.
Rocky, Ipods may be outputting lower volumes (I don't know, I don't have an iPod), but you refer to tracks you're working on sounding quiet as you walk through town. Presumably, these aren't mastered, never mind mixed, and that will also be a factor.
As for discounting the group of MPG engineers just because they've not made any work you value, I think that's to miss the point. Tony Platt and others from the MPG are respected names whether you value their work or not. The fact that they formulate opinions doesn't negate what they say. Music is art, so a degree of interpretation is to be expected. Much research consists of both quantitative and qualitative results. And their views are on top of the statistical analyses anyway.
Don't know if this has been mentioned at all in this thread, but I found a dynamic range meter thingy on the sound on sound website. Here's a link to the software.
Basically, for the uninformed, as well as measuring how loud a piece of music is, it also works out the dynamic range. The site has a sort of criteria, obviously the bigger the dynamic range the better in their opinion. I found it interesting comparing modern recordings against vintage ones, and against stuff I'm working on myself. For example, Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson stuff is around 11-14db dynamic range, some In Nirvana stuff is around the 9db mark, At The Drive In around the 5db mark, etc. I won't spoil the surprise of just how little dynamic range was in the last Metallica album.
[quote:cd99e97a4e="MSB Mastering"]I don't know about the metering for Sum/Difference - it's not something I need to worry about. [/quote:cd99e97a4e]
I don't know whether I should be more surprised that a mastering engineer doesn't know a standard method of recording that needs different monitoring, or that he doesn't even own the device that the majority of people listen to their mastered music on (an ipod).
Of course I know about M/S and how to decode it etc. It's not complicated. I'm not sure what you're getting at. Maybe I was unclear.
However, I'm not sure about your point about iPods. They're only one device people listen on, and they're not so limited that I'd normally want to do a different master for iPods. I and others were surprised that U2s back catalogue was mastered for iTunes. Even if I did want to do separete masters for iPods, would I assume most people use the earbuds that came with them or not? Would I assume people would be listening walking through the city centre or in a quiet room? In the vast majority of cases, 1 master is enough to cover most scenarios.
I've received some Private Messages regarding the Loudness issues.
The poster said I could post the details, but would prefer if it wasn't labelled as coming from them, for fear that people would misconstrue their views on the listening experience of the tracks as a personal attack on the artist, producer, engineers or programmers.
I personally don't believe it is a personal attack at all and I feel the conversation
has raised really valid points regarding loud cds, on-air compression, and why each lead to certain things happening.
But the gist of the conversation went like this:
You mention you'd value the views of XXXXXXXXXXX as he's made recordings you care about. I also love some of his work.... However, I'd not value his views on loudness too much based on what I heard of the latest XXXXXXXXXXXXX stuff on Radio 1.
The CD might sound great (I've not got it), but it was possibly the most distorted thing I've ever heard Radio 1 play, so much so that I pulled off the road to listen better.
It's not often I can remember where I was when I heard a track for the first time, but this is one of those instances. I thought it was a real shame as it didn't show the band in a good light.
Having said that, I don't know who mastered it or who had the say on what was done - it could well be that he had no say at all in the matter.
I'd Love to post this on the loudness wars thread as I think it's entirely relevant.
I'd rather you didn't for the simple reason that I think some people would view it as a personal attack on the band.... and it really isn't. That's why I PM'd you.
Funny enough, I cought the last 10 minutes of XXXXXXXXXXXXX last night and got to hear another of their tracks. While it didn't stand up as well on air as Pearl Jam's "Go", it wasn't as bad as what I remember the other track sounding like on Radio1. Radio1 is processed to a ridiculous extent though. I'm not sure that many people understand the differnce between a good song, good production and a good sound, or would make those distinctions when airing opinions.
.....I do think Radio1 kills loud stuff more than other stations, although I've not done empirically valid listening tests. They'd be hard to do anyway since the processing varies by time of day anyway.
Why not ask whether people think that stuff that's hammered in mastering translates well on air? I know that the CDs that I've got that are loud haven't sounded good on Radio1 anyway.
I get you about FF being out of control.
I also do understand everything you say completely.
You know that personally I don't give a hoot about the sound quality on Radio.
Indeed if Radio Compression is killing loud cds, I think there is more blame on the radio stations than the mastering or mixing of a record. Especially since the radio is playing the record.
Not the record being a release of a radio show. Know what I mean?
Though I understand fully the nightmarish circle created and re-run.
I've heard the XXXXXXXXXXXXX on radio - it's a bit squashed alright, but so is everything.
With XXXXXXXXXXXX - and Oppenheimer - and Dudley Corp, ASIWYFA and other things I've recorded and/or mixed
I hear them getting pulverised on air - I can hear that more than other artists, because with other artists, I'm listening to the song, not the ultra fine details of my mix/production.
And the radio never spoils my enjoyment of these songs. The song/production either makes me want to buy the album or not.
That's why I don't quite understand your great interest on how tracks sound on Radio,
in relation to masters.
I'm all about finding music & production I love and buying the records.
If I haven't bought the album, I generally don't really like the band enough to care about what
they sound like on the wireless.
The XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX record was mixed by Chris Sheldon w/ producer & band
and mastered by Ted Jenson.
It's flippin' loud - but it needs to be. The sounds are insane, hi-fi, squashed layers of dense extreme distorted bass/clamped rooms/distorted gtrs with distorted synths/pianos/voices.
Distortion = XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
They sound every bit as pummelled on XXXXXXXXXXXX show as At The Drive In, Jimmy Eat World (possibly my favourite recorded rock track ever) and when I listen to them at home or on tour, they sound every bit as huge.
I have seen a couple of kids complaining about how loud the album is, because it's causing their poor hi-fi's to crap out. But it sounds awesome on every set of speakers and headphones I own.
I see the loudness wars as generally damaging, but ultimately not too important,
because the people who are entering into it are making a choice every time.
It's not a flippant choice by the artists - they choose producers/mixers/mastering engineers
because they know how it's going to sound and I respect those choices.
A loud record has never put me off a band.
Maybe I'm lucky that the music I care about is either not competing in this world,
or if it is competing, it suits it the best.
Sometimes a recording needs to be loud to the point of distortion, sometimes that's the point and a final part of what the artist is trying to achieve.
It's pretty obvious who the band in your posts is Rocky. I have to admit I was disappointed (sonically) in the album myself, especially considering Gil Norton's involvement. But I think my issues are more related to the mix than how it was mastered and it's a personal taste thing.
I do however think it sounds a hell of a lot better on smaller speakers (such as my iPhone dock) and in-ear phones than it does on better hi-fis or my studio monitors. And maybe that was a concious factor in the mix?
I could say the exact same thing for an album like Siamese Dream, I can't stand listening to it in the studio, and it was released over 15 years ago before the brick walling hit current levels.
I thought y'all were talking about Franz Ferdinand for a while there, that was a bit disconcerting. Now it makes total sense, thankfully. Haven't heard the new material yet but I just assumed it would be a mainstream squashing job.
I'll tell you one album that looks like it's been squished to death though, Brian Wilson's last one, "That Lucky Old Sun". I don't normally indulge in this level of geekery but I loaded it into Sonar and I swear it looked like a solid block of audio. Literally no visible waveform. It sounded....loud. That was just the first track mind, but I don't imagine the rest of the album would fare better.
I really do think the album sounds amazing.
I know it's sonically everything the band have been striving for,
for years, it's a level of production and mix I couldn't achieve
and I think it's perfect for the band.
The difference between the mix & the master aren't that huge,
it's more of an eq thing really.
Half the albums (at least) I listen to these days sound
pretty whack on a set of studio monitors,
but on hi-fis and headphones, they sound incredible and huge.
The And So I Watch You... Album sounds pummelled in the studio,
but sounds cracking on my hi fi and i-pod.
"The And So I Watch You... Album sounds pummelled in the studio,
but sounds cracking on my hi fi and i-pod." Maybe it was mixed on i-pod earbuds. I don't know. But I do know that the music that I listen to that sounds fantastic on a great system will sound bright on a bright system and dull on a dull system, and quiet on a quiet system.
I have heard recently that A&R people are starting to listen to submissions on i-tunes with the replay gain thing enabled so that music is all more or less the same volume. Considering making music louder in mastering won't make it louder if there's replay gain or some automatic doofer levelling the field, all making the music louder will achieve is making it sound worse for this scenario.