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Big-label mastering engineers don’t understand lossy formats, Article about Mastered for iTunes
Kohlrabi
post Mar 27 2012, 09:12
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Just found this article via twitter, circled among mastering "engineers" (in fact Heba Kadry reposted it, the girl who mastered the latest Mars Volta album, which reaches -12.79 dB on my RG scans, and is generally mastered in a horrible fashion).

This further backs my impression that most of them don't have a single clue of what they are doing. The section about the mastering practices of Rubin and Meller are especially eye-opening to me. Masterdisk "engineers" also apparently are now out to rape the Rush back catalogue. Further down they cite phase-reverse tests to prove AAC files are different from the original (wow, REALLY?).

The good thing is, I can use this article to decide which releases to avoid in the future. But I'm really at a loss what we can do beside that. I'm really fed up with mastering "engineers" destroying music releases.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Mar 27 2012, 09:17


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stephan_g
post Apr 5 2012, 16:30
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^Agreed. A "decent stereo", btw, includes a DAP and some good headphones these days and probably is more affordable than ever.

He's arguing,
QUOTE
Somewhere along the way, “loud” has morphed to become more than a level — It’s now an aesthetic choice of its own, and has even transcended perceived volume.

...which I don't think anyone seriously has issues with. (Though one could also argue that younger people's hearing is seriously f'd up.)

But what if, for the same material, there's a CD release with DR6 and a vinyl release with DR10 (or even DR12)? This is not at all uncommon these days. Good for vinylphiles, but not exactly fitting my definition of "unified artistic vision". Plus, I like CDs and I know that they could live up to the promise of "perfect sound forever" nowadays. There certainly is no technical reason to make CDs hotter than LPs.

Normally you would expect the artist to be creating their vision in the studio, when then serves as a reference for whatever media are created.
"The medium is not the message."
Which gets us back to the start of this thread and the unfortunate attempts to compensate for differences in lossy formats that may not even be real. For CDs, this feedback loop seems to be broken in many cases.

Justin again:
QUOTE
In fact, I had trouble finding many pop albums that should be worth listening to according to the Dynamic Range Database. Any rating in their system under 9DR is marked “bad”, and even Dark Side of the Moon with its album average of 10DR is labeled “transitional”.

Actually "bad" is DR7 and under. (Ahem.) But as with any single-number indicators, keeping the salt shaker handy is not a bad idea. A metal album at DR6 can actually still be quite listenable, while a pop record would be sounding like Cyprinus carpio at this point. (Florence and the Machine's Ceremonials is only DR5. Ugh. Lana Del Rey's debut is no different, but the vinyl is DR11.) It's the guitars that skew the DR reading. Reverb tends to do the same - Enya's Watermark sure sounds a lot more dynamic to these ears than DR12, which would seem to be an average value for a production from the olden days (which are usually DR11-12).

Not sure why DSOTM (overrated, overrated album btw) is only DR10, WYWH is DR12. Old versions of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours are DR14 or DR15, respectively. (Those are pretty "dry".) Most of Chris Rea's '80s albums are DR13-14. The Cars' Heartbeat City is DR14. Same for Peter Gabriel's eponymous 4th a.k.a. "Security" (pre-remastering) - now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you masterfully use dynamics. The people involved presumably cut their teeth on prog-rock in the '70s and possibly classical before that.

Justin further argues
QUOTE
I’ll admit that Aja is good for what it is, but if you find an engineer who wants to make your record sound just like it, he probably arrives at the studio wearing a gray, thinning pony-tail and a polyester polo-shirt proudly embroidered with the words “Out-of-Touch”.

(That sort of argument really screams hipster, but that's another story.)
He's got a point in that quality apparently became a matter of fashion. Being the old quality geek that I am, this strikes me as problematic. Sure enough, I've heard plenty of innovative, "bleeding edge" material with dynamics approaching the flatness of a postage stamp. If my ears are any sort of indication, nowadays it is easily possible to make recordings so unnaturally dense that they result in nausea on the part of the listener. (I might be more sensitive to this than most, I don't know. Putting on some classical or whatever, it sure feels nice to listen to music that's not screaming "LISTEN TO ME!11" at the top of its lungs all the time.)

Why don't people in the industry listen to listeners anyway? It's the end user who ultimately has to put up with whatever they're putting out after all. AFAIK, artists commonly are sick and tired of hearing their own stuff at the point it's mastered, so they usually aren't of much help.
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- Kohlrabi   Big-label mastering engineers don’t understand lossy formats   Mar 27 2012, 09:12
- - evereux   QUOTE Apple’s 256 kbps AAC files are supposed to s...   Mar 27 2012, 09:26
- - skamp   They obviously think what they do is teh shit. Nor...   Mar 27 2012, 09:32
- - 2Bdecided   I think you're being a little harsh on the art...   Mar 27 2012, 09:35
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 10:35) I ...   Mar 27 2012, 09:44
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 09:44) Jus...   Mar 27 2012, 10:55
||- - DonP   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Mar 27 2012, 05:55) QUOT...   Mar 27 2012, 12:38
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 09:44) I...   Mar 27 2012, 14:10
|- - Fandango   @greynol: Oh, here it is explained by a guy named ...   Mar 29 2012, 05:14
|- - skamp   QUOTE (Fandango @ Mar 29 2012, 06:14) PS:...   Mar 31 2012, 10:59
- - KMD   Thats round the wrong way, the article said the ...   Mar 27 2012, 10:14
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (KMD @ Mar 27 2012, 05:14) Thats r...   Mar 27 2012, 17:15
- - Porcus   I bet the people behind Monkey's Audio will wa...   Mar 27 2012, 11:15
- - RobWansbeck   Vlado Meller is reported as saying : “ The high...   Mar 27 2012, 16:11
- - greynol   http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st...   Mar 27 2012, 16:14
- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 03:35) I ...   Mar 28 2012, 23:39
|- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 15:39)...   Mar 29 2012, 03:12
||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 28 2012, 21:12) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 14:24
||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 06:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 15:22
|||- - krabapple   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:22) So t...   Mar 29 2012, 17:14
||||- - greynol   QUOTE (krabapple @ Mar 29 2012, 09:14) Yo...   Mar 29 2012, 18:03
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 09:22) Your...   Mar 29 2012, 17:18
|||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:18)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:39
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 11:39) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:49
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 12:49)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:02
||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 06:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 15:37
|||- - krabapple   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:17
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 09:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:32
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 12:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:00
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 16:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:26
||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 29 2012, 12:26) QU...   Mar 29 2012, 18:52
||||- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 10:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:58
|||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 29 2012, 12:58) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 19:02
|||||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:04
|||||- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 10:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:04
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:37
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 17:52)...   Mar 30 2012, 10:19
||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 30 2012, 04:19) It...   Mar 30 2012, 17:19
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:19)...   Mar 30 2012, 19:06
|||||- - TrustScience   That's true. I did make a couple clarifying ed...   Mar 30 2012, 20:13
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 17:19)...   Mar 31 2012, 10:33
||||- - krabapple   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:19)...   Mar 31 2012, 21:59
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 18:19
||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 16:45
||- - krabapple   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:10
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:48
||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 29 2012, 11:48) The...   Mar 29 2012, 18:02
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:02)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:13
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 18:39)...   Mar 29 2012, 04:29
||- - greynol   QUOTE the Mastered for iTunes process uses a healt...   Mar 29 2012, 04:46
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 29 2012, 04:12) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 04:34
|- - IgorC   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 19:39)...   Apr 6 2012, 23:17
- - greynol   I read the paper by Apple back when we first discu...   Mar 29 2012, 05:23
- - Fandango   Ah, it has been discussed before and Apple actuall...   Mar 29 2012, 05:30
- - greynol   I provided a link already. Go to the first post i...   Mar 29 2012, 05:35
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 06:35) I pr...   Mar 29 2012, 05:51
- - saratoga   I think the most damning thing about the mastered ...   Mar 29 2012, 05:53
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 29 2012, 06:53) Ess...   Mar 29 2012, 06:04
- - greynol   As I said in the dedicated discussion, Apple is ad...   Mar 29 2012, 05:59
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 00:59) As I...   Mar 29 2012, 06:12
- - greynol   RE: Big-label mastering engineers don’t understand lossy formats   Mar 29 2012, 06:30
- - 2Bdecided   It's what happens when the art-world and scien...   Mar 29 2012, 09:36
- - drewfx   Perhaps interviewing someone with a background in ...   Mar 29 2012, 19:02
- - greynol   When I am in a position to improve something of mi...   Mar 30 2012, 16:49
|- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 30 2012, 10:49) When...   Mar 30 2012, 17:40
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:40)...   Mar 30 2012, 19:13
- - greynol   I'll try not to make this a long post as I...   Mar 30 2012, 20:47
- - saratoga   At least from my point of view (and as I mentioned...   Mar 30 2012, 21:41
|- - db1989   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 30 2012, 21:41) And...   Mar 30 2012, 21:53
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (db1989 @ Mar 30 2012, 16:53) QUOTE...   Mar 30 2012, 22:23
- - greynol   Aside from db1989's point in the next post whi...   Mar 30 2012, 21:52
- - greynol   Since others are piling on while admittedly not ad...   Mar 31 2012, 22:14
- - Axon   Perhaps TrustScience would have found our reaction...   Apr 1 2012, 17:26
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 1 2012, 18:26) In that ...   Apr 1 2012, 18:09
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 1 2012, 19:09) Warr...   Apr 1 2012, 22:06
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (knutinh @ Apr 1 2012, 23:06) QUOTE...   Apr 1 2012, 22:22
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 1 2012, 23:22) My p...   Apr 2 2012, 09:00
|- - skamp   QUOTE (knutinh @ Apr 2 2012, 10:00) let u...   Apr 2 2012, 09:15
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (skamp @ Apr 2 2012, 10:15) iTunes ...   Apr 2 2012, 12:31
- - krabapple   It's possible that calling famous mastering en...   Apr 2 2012, 07:17
- - Kohlrabi   The notion that mastering engineers who deliberate...   Apr 2 2012, 13:07
|- - db1989   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 2 2012, 13:07) I al...   Apr 2 2012, 13:25
- - Kohlrabi   Thank you very much, db1989. That was what I had i...   Apr 2 2012, 13:48
- - db1989   Great!   Apr 2 2012, 13:50
- - absinthe33   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 10:12) Jus...   Apr 2 2012, 15:22
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (absinthe33 @ Apr 2 2012, 15:22) br...   Apr 2 2012, 16:08
|- - absinthe33   QUOTE (dhromed @ Apr 2 2012, 17:08) QUOTE...   Apr 2 2012, 23:04
|- - splice   QUOTE (absinthe33 @ Apr 2 2012, 15:04) .....   Apr 2 2012, 23:52
- - 2Bdecided   Some lossy codecs can introduce audible temporal s...   Apr 2 2012, 15:28
- - skamp   Heba Kadry again: "While Im all for setting a...   Apr 4 2012, 15:23
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (skamp @ Apr 4 2012, 16:23) Heba Ka...   Apr 4 2012, 22:29
|- - splice   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 4 2012, 14:29) ... ...   Apr 5 2012, 01:33
- - 2Bdecided   ...which leads back to Justin's latest article...   Apr 4 2012, 16:25
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 4 2012, 16:25) ......   Apr 5 2012, 11:24
- - stephan_g   ^Agreed. A "decent stereo", btw, include...   Apr 5 2012, 16:30
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 11:30) Why...   Apr 5 2012, 18:04
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 16:30) ^Ag...   Apr 5 2012, 18:43
- - stephan_g   Don't know about that, but I was just browsing...   Apr 5 2012, 21:56
- - markanini   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 21:56) Not...   Apr 6 2012, 02:01
- - krabapple   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 16:56) Not...   Apr 6 2012, 20:28
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