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Current CD mastering practices, And why I now buy so few new CD's.
RockFan
post Aug 9 2005, 03:50
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Although I've been aware of the ever more destructive levels of compression/limiting used over the last 5-10 years (and taken part in discussions here and other places), it only dawned on me recently that I had unconciously practically stopped buying CD's the last year or two..

By that I'm referring to largely rock, indie, jazz etc, incuding so-called 'remasters'.

There are recent releases out there which I would like to own, but with what I've come to expect from modern CD's, I know that an album which I might have 'played to death' over weeks or months in years gone by will simply get boring after a few plays. So I don't buy them. Dynamics, soft/loud contrasts, drama - squashed out of existence.

New Queens Of The Stone Age? Probably a great album - but once bitten .....

I'm increasingly going to exchanges to try and find older releases of albums I want, or even buying vinyl versions of new albums where they're released, as they tend not to be afflicted as badly.

Obviously there are a proportion of buyers who only lsiten to CD's in the car or on personals in noisy environments who couldn't care less and will keep buying, but there must be a lot of others who, like me, are completely disillusioned with this 'loudness fetish' crap and have simply lost interest.

In fact I wonder how much this has contributed to the stagnancy in sales over the last few years that the 'industry' whines about so frequently?

R.
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seannyb
post Sep 15 2005, 03:49
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Hard limiting / compression is only half the story when it comes to bad mastering practices, IMO. It's easy to load a track up into your favorite wave-editor and "oh snap!" at the zoomed out result, or zoom in and notice how "oh my god, four samples in a row are hitting -0dB!" or something, but from my experience that sort of analysis makes things sound worse than they really are. You can actually get away with some clipping and lots of limiting if you apply it well & use a good limiter (I like Ozone's for example... it prevents inter-sample clipping too, which I think someone was talking about earlier in this thread). I often say to myself after mastering a track "man, I could totally take a screenshot of this and put it up on Hydrogen Audio to have everyone lament at the state of mastering" -- when in reality it sounds fine or even the same (after 'replaygain') as the pre-hard-limited. Even limiting the peaks to an audible degree can make a more pleasing, less aggressive sound.
here's an example of some of not-my-music I mastered if you're curious (info / download).

>> Here are some relevant excerpts from a 2003 interview with...

I read the interview snippets and I rather feel the same way about some of the things. The advent of non-destructive mixing & mastering rather nullifies his argument to only to apply EQ and compression at certain stages (since if you do it right, all the signal processing you do should be reversible, or else you're living In The Past)...

...but what he said about mastering for bad systems is what I can agree with. It's not so much compression in itself, it's the whole thing of how some albums are mastered to sound great on boomboxes -- and conversely sound horrible like some sh-tty boombox on a really nice stereo! I'd like to listen to Daft Punk's Human After All album a little more if it didn't make my studio monitors sound like $3 sony headphones (as much as I like the Autechre-ish direction they're seemingly edging into). Daft Punk's music uses compression artifacts to shape its own weird aesthetic, so the compression/limiting doesn't bother me... it's the insanely overexpanded soundstage and distorted, wishy-washy 5khz-heavy hyped sound of it all that drives me absolutely insane. Where's the low bass? Where's the fidelity in the treble? Where's the richness? They threw it all out the window, cuz I'm sure the original mixes didn't sound like that!

>> IMO Nine Inch Nails' sound is very good on their every album. Mr. Reznor just cares about things like that. [...] Or "The Fragile"[...]

I haven't tried the re-released NIN stuff because my fandom has long since died off (I'm not a teen anymore), but The Downward Spiral and The Fragile and stuff are full of clipping errors. Usually you don't notice this cuz Trent's music is so noisy and distorted to begin with, but it's apparent on tracks like Even Deeper, there's this obvious and awful clippy pop on its bass kick. I second everyone in saying clipping is just inexcusable -- when it's audible that is. It's especially surprising for someone like Trent, who seemingly loves to shape and create texture and has (had?) his own record label and everything. I mean, come on.

This post has been edited by seannyb: Sep 15 2005, 04:14
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Posts in this topic
- RockFan   Current CD mastering practices   Aug 9 2005, 03:50
- - Shade[ST]   I have a few King Crimson, Jascha Heifetz, and Hor...   Aug 9 2005, 04:26
- - irishcrazy2005   I am by no means an audiophile, and I guess that I...   Aug 9 2005, 06:43
|- - matth6546   QUOTE (irishcrazy2005 @ Aug 9 2005, 12:43 AM)...   Aug 9 2005, 20:31
|- - Vanishing   QUOTE (matth6546 @ Aug 9 2005, 09:31 PM)today...   Aug 10 2005, 09:05
|- - Bob Speer   Text removed by author   Mar 4 2006, 07:30
- - WmAx   QUOTE (RockFan @ Aug 8 2005, 10:50 PM)... Ro...   Aug 9 2005, 06:47
- - wodney   I concur with the thread poster. I rarely buy cd...   Aug 9 2005, 20:56
- - Lyx   Guess it depends on music-taste...... with most of...   Aug 10 2005, 12:02
- - esa372   A case in point: Rush :edit: link   Aug 10 2005, 14:32
- - chri5   I agree. An album which has been mastered without ...   Aug 10 2005, 15:29
- - snookerdoodle   I have to add that I just think that we have Yet A...   Aug 10 2005, 16:08
|- - legg   QUOTE (snookerdoodle @ Aug 10 2005, 10:08 AM)...   Aug 10 2005, 16:20
|- - PoisonDan   QUOTE (snookerdoodle @ Aug 10 2005, 05:08 PM)...   Aug 10 2005, 16:29
||- - snookerdoodle   QUOTE (PoisonDan @ Aug 10 2005, 09:29 AM)Havi...   Aug 10 2005, 17:17
||- - no.667   QUOTE (PoisonDan @ Aug 10 2005, 07:29 AM)Also...   Sep 12 2005, 20:35
|- - RockFan   QUOTE (snookerdoodle @ Aug 10 2005, 07:08 AM)...   Aug 10 2005, 23:04
|- - Cartoon   QUOTE (snookerdoodle @ Aug 10 2005, 05:08 PM)...   Aug 11 2005, 11:18
||- - snookerdoodle   QUOTE (Cartoon @ Aug 11 2005, 04:18 AM)In pri...   Aug 11 2005, 15:30
|- - GeSomeone   QUOTE (snookerdoodle @ Aug 10 2005, 05:08 PM)...   Aug 14 2005, 23:15
- - irishcrazy2005   OK, this is going to sound very stupid, but rememb...   Aug 10 2005, 18:13
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (irishcrazy2005 @ Aug 10 2005, 07:13 PM...   Aug 10 2005, 23:11
|- - bug80   QUOTE (Lyx @ Aug 11 2005, 12:11 AM)QUOTE (iri...   Aug 11 2005, 11:12
|- - irishcrazy2005   QUOTE (bug80 @ Aug 11 2005, 04:12 AM)I hope t...   Aug 11 2005, 17:01
- - Funkstar De Luxe   Norman people don't give a fuck about how a CD...   Aug 10 2005, 23:25
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (Funkstar De Luxe @ Aug 11 2005, 12:25 ...   Aug 11 2005, 00:42
|- - WmAx   QUOTE (Lyx @ Aug 10 2005, 07:42 PM)QUOTE (Fun...   Aug 11 2005, 01:14
- - RockFan   I forgot to include one of the most important casu...   Aug 10 2005, 23:26
- - snookerdoodle   CNN has an article about the industry and how de...   Aug 11 2005, 17:55
- - Erukian   I sorted foobar's playlist by album gain, and ...   Aug 11 2005, 18:58
- - Mo0zOoH   ‘The Wall’ mastered by Fidelity Labs g...   Aug 12 2005, 22:25
|- - esa372   QUOTE (Mo0zOoH @ Aug 12 2005, 02:25 PM)‘The W...   Aug 14 2005, 16:25
|- - Mo0zOoH   QUOTE (esa372 @ Aug 14 2005, 06:25 PM)QUOTE (...   Aug 16 2005, 03:21
|- - Cyaneyes   QUOTE (Mo0zOoH @ Aug 15 2005, 10:21 PM)QUOTE ...   Aug 16 2005, 03:29
- - NeoRenegade   QUOTE (irishcrazy2005 @ Aug 10 2005, 12:13 PM...   Aug 14 2005, 18:40
- - HotshotGG   QUOTE I forgot to include one of the most importan...   Aug 15 2005, 00:16
- - Hermit-ically Sealed   Hi, I'm a lurker of this site from time to tim...   Aug 16 2005, 05:50
- - Lyx   oh my god! Maybe even that animation on loudn...   Aug 16 2005, 06:58
|- - Hermit-ically Sealed   QUOTE (Lyx @ Aug 15 2005, 09:58 PM)oh my god...   Aug 17 2005, 00:50
|- - Hermit-ically Sealed   QUOTE (Lyx @ Aug 15 2005, 09:58 PM)if i read ...   Aug 17 2005, 02:29
- - BradPDX   I have produced several CDs and been a participati...   Aug 17 2005, 01:39
|- - Hermit-ically Sealed   QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 16 2005, 04:39 PM)Let me...   Aug 17 2005, 03:11
||- - WmAx   For examples of albums with simple microphone plac...   Aug 17 2005, 03:21
||- - richms   QUOTE (Hermit-ically Sealed @ Aug 16 200...   Aug 17 2005, 05:01
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 02:39 AM)But ta...   Aug 17 2005, 04:04
||- - bug80   QUOTE (Lyx @ Aug 17 2005, 05:04 AM)QUOTE Oh s...   Sep 1 2005, 12:45
||- - Yaztromo   Sorry if this has been posted before but I noticed...   Sep 5 2005, 23:20
|- - GeSomeone   QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 02:39 AM)The pr...   Sep 1 2005, 11:14
|- - Julien   QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 01:39 AM)I have...   Sep 12 2005, 14:13
|- - markanini   QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 02:13 PM)What wo...   Sep 12 2005, 14:56
|- - esa372   QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 01:39 AM)When t...   Sep 12 2005, 15:50
|- - bug80   QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 03:13 PM)QUOTE (...   Sep 12 2005, 17:03
|- - B.Fink   QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 02:13 PM)What wo...   Mar 15 2006, 16:33
|- - PoisonDan   QUOTE (B.Fink @ Mar 15 2006, 05:33 PM)QUOTE (...   Mar 15 2006, 17:46
|- - Triza   QUOTE (PoisonDan @ Mar 15 2006, 08:46 AM)QUOT...   Mar 16 2006, 02:53
- - dreamliner77   It's not that we are all the use of any compre...   Aug 17 2005, 01:42
- - Axon   Heh, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Alleged...   Aug 17 2005, 01:49
|- - RockFan   QUOTE (Axon @ Aug 16 2005, 04:49 PM)Heh, I wo...   Aug 17 2005, 02:09
- - richms   Another issue I have is that a few of the recent C...   Aug 17 2005, 03:38
- - Hancoque   I have another example for poor mastering. This is...   Sep 6 2005, 01:38
|- - Hermit-ically Sealed   QUOTE (Hancoque @ Sep 5 2005, 04:38 PM)I post...   Sep 6 2005, 05:34
|- - Martel   QUOTE (Hancoque @ Sep 5 2005, 04:38 PM)... It...   Mar 6 2006, 17:14
|- - Hancoque   QUOTE (Martel @ Mar 6 2006, 06:14 PM)edit: Pe...   Mar 6 2006, 18:58
|- - Martel   QUOTE (Hancoque @ Mar 6 2006, 09:58 AM)... I ...   Mar 7 2006, 17:33
- - shadowking   Till this day I cannot sit through St Anger. In co...   Sep 6 2005, 09:00
- - Axon   Hancoque, do you have a link to that Metallica for...   Sep 6 2005, 18:04
- - Hancoque   They seem to have changed the forums. I can't ...   Sep 6 2005, 18:10
- - Vanishing   I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband...   Sep 8 2005, 13:30
|- - bug80   QUOTE (Vanishing @ Sep 8 2005, 02:30 PM)I jus...   Sep 8 2005, 13:36
|- - Cyaneyes   QUOTE (Vanishing @ Sep 8 2005, 08:30 AM)I jus...   Sep 8 2005, 15:12
- - Grey   QUOTE (RockFan @ Aug 8 2005, 10:50 PM)In fact...   Sep 12 2005, 00:34
|- - micmac   QUOTE (Grey @ Sep 11 2005, 05:34 PM)QUOTE (Ro...   Mar 9 2006, 07:31
- - Triza   Julien, Iteresting debate. Good points why compre...   Sep 12 2005, 15:06
|- - Julien   QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 03:06 PM)Julien, ...   Sep 12 2005, 16:41
|- - Triza   QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 07:41 AM)QUOTE (...   Sep 12 2005, 18:01
||- - Julien   QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 06:01 PM)QUOTE (J...   Sep 12 2005, 19:01
|- - Cyaneyes   QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 11:41 AM)Clippin...   Sep 13 2005, 19:35
- - Drexl   I don't remember where it was, but I remember ...   Sep 12 2005, 20:36
|- - no.667   QUOTE (Drexl @ Sep 12 2005, 11:36 AM)I don...   Sep 12 2005, 21:01
- - trebius   Ok now i'm new to the audiophile side of the a...   Sep 12 2005, 23:54
- - Triza   Indeed. A bit OT: The other interesting thing is ...   Sep 13 2005, 00:25
- - seannyb   Hard limiting / compression is only half the story...   Sep 15 2005, 03:49
- - Triza   Well you can tell me whatever you want, but 16 bit...   Sep 15 2005, 13:29
- - Acid8000   I just bought the 1994 remaster of Pink Floyd...   Sep 16 2005, 05:36
- - dreamliner77   Gotta love that PIO got the last quote: http://ww...   Mar 4 2006, 07:51
- - Never_Again   Great idea, agreed. Where do I sign?   Mar 15 2006, 19:19
- - Axon   I tried to make a similar proposal on SteveHoffman...   Mar 15 2006, 20:03
- - BradPDX   I don't think that the idea of onboard compres...   Mar 15 2006, 20:07
- - Axon   That's contingent on producers buying into the...   Mar 15 2006, 20:18
|- - BradPDX   QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 15 2006, 12:18 PM)That...   Mar 15 2006, 20:42
- - eZze   this is my first post here... i was reading about ...   Mar 16 2006, 04:21
- - Lyx   QUOTE (eZze @ Mar 16 2006, 04:21 AM)this is m...   Mar 16 2006, 06:08


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