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#515514 - 06/24/07 08:31 PM Bringing dynamics back to music  
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Patrick Bryant Offline
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How many of you think modern CDs are too loud and distorted?
During the last 10 or so years, major label releases have been mastered loud, smashed up to the digital limit, even distorted in order to pop out of that 6-disc changer just a little louder than the rest.
I've noticed, we indies are doing the same thing, just trying to "keep up".
Some Web-friends of mine with major-label engineering credits are starting an industry group to try to convince labels to reverse the loud trend and bring back the dynamics that music needs.
I'm going to be writing more about this, but for now, here's your reading assignment: go to http://www.turnmeup.com and watch the video and read the articles linked there. That ought to give you a background on what I'm going to write about.

Toodles!

#515545 - 06/24/07 11:44 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
Joined: Dec 2001
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Speak for yourself there...

Actually I play the loud game, but I do it without going distorted. And yes, I do know the difference. I figure if John Mayer can get it as loud as he does without pushing past just being loud (Maroon 5 is a great example of distorted too loud), then I can attempt to achieve it too. While I'm not quite there, I think I will be. John's recordings while loud, also have extreme definition and clarity that is the next level is recording production. That's what your video is about. Somehow it's still possible to get even with the loud.

I do agree, pushing it to distortion and buzz isn't the right step.

Jody


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#515561 - 06/25/07 12:36 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Patrick Bryant Offline
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Jody, what John Mayer album would you recommend as the best example of this?

#515591 - 06/25/07 03:26 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Heavier Things, and Continuum.

The blues stuff where he's trying to be Stevie Ray Vaughn isn't really a good gauge.

Jody


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#515631 - 06/25/07 10:15 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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niteshift Offline
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I don't necessarily think they're distorted, just way over compressed. To bring everything up to a ear bleeding zero has the intelligenge and subtlety of a brick. Dynamics and letting the track breathe speak volumes for age and experience, and treating music with respect.

cheers, niteshift

#515694 - 06/25/07 01:35 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
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I'm growing kind of tired with it, myself. Have you listened to Green Day's "American Idiot"? Jeez......

But I can deal with it on an album. What's starting to get to me is when I mix old and new on my iPod. I'll put it on shuffle and listen to an older tune at a nice volume and then a new one comes on and Wham!

I hope it runs it course pretty soon, but I expect it won't.....

Scott

#515723 - 06/25/07 03:18 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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pelliott Offline
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NJ
We're actually starting to get people that are more concerned with leaving the dynamics in stuff we're mastering. Most still want it crushed though... I would agree that a portion of it is just hypercompression and not distortion but for a handful of mastering folks a "trick" they pull out of the bag is called clipping. It's basically distorting (chopping off the sample at digital "0")the signal but not to the point where it's heard easily or at all.... I'd like to note that this almost always is coming at the request of the artist, prodeucer, record company, etc. Mastering guys would LOVE to leave the dynamics as much as possible..... Also, I can't say that I love the sound of John Mayers albums. I do hear some light distortion and some heavy compression.... An album I think sounds great and isn't overcompressed is Damien Rice - "o"..... That's my 2 cents.



Paul Elliott
Head Mastering Engineer
The Soundlab @ Disc Makers
#515734 - 06/25/07 03:47 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: pelliott]  
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biskitboy Offline
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what good are dynamics when everyone is just carrying around an iPod? I have some expensive, large (by today's standards)speakers sitting unused in the corner. My girls (including my wife) don't even notice the difference. And women are supposed to hear better than us guys. Audio seems to have gone backwards. My wife bought a 2007 Toyota Rav4 with mp3 port in it and I swear, it is the worst car stereo system I have ever heard, bar none. I can't hear anything but cymbals and pumped up, rattling bass, and nothing in between coming out of it. They all think it's fine.


Talking about music is like dancing about architechture-Steve Martin
#515945 - 06/26/07 02:09 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: pelliott]  
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Johnny Daubert Online content
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Originally Posted by dorsal1
We're actually starting to get people that are more concerned with leaving the dynamics in stuff we're mastering.


Paul, your Pennsauken place mastered my North&South CD, (by Daubert and Holcombe). You guys did a wonderful job, and looking at the wav file, as I recently did, you left room, and did not chop off any of the high peaks. It sounds rich and full. And, our recordings were only done on a Tascam 488 cassette machine! So thank you, if you have anything to do with it. I have always received compliments on the overall sound of the album.

I have to admit, that my attempts at home mastering is nothing more than pushing it all way too much and then backing off .01 db to not have it clip,,,,but it had already been clipped, with the peaks being made thicker. Not good, I know, but was just about forced to, to keep up with the intense volumes of the sites where my band's songs are.

Thank you and all here for such insight. The songs do have a natural dynamic feel to them just by the way Sub mixed them, so I should not try to mess with them as I have. (Back to the drawing board I guess!). Simply is best in mastering too? Also, the right gear!


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
Songnado I and II:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=322686





#515948 - 06/26/07 02:19 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Patrick Bryant Offline
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I've got quite a few discs from people I know or have met, and it's been interesting putting them under the microscope.

Jody, your Practical Insanity album was mastered with some restraint. About 4dB more breathing room than the loudest CDs I've tested so far.

Those loud ones got there by clipping the peaks, though *sigh*

#515958 - 06/26/07 03:16 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Pat,

I'm fully aware of where my mastering is. Part of why I couldn't get it louder without distortion was in the mixing stage. There's an awful lot I've learned since then that will allow me to get it much more intense for the next CD without going into distortion.

I went to several mastering guys with the same song to test master. Most of them just pushed the volume into distortion to get it loud, without me asking. So you can't only blame the artists, the labels, etc... it's mastering guys too. I eventually had a buddy of mine do the mastering, who's been a mastering engineer for many years.

He's very good at getting level without distortion, and I specifically asked for that headroom. While I'm not as loud as say John Mayer or Maroon 5 with P.I. I'm within striking distance and over a radio broadcast you'd not likely hear a difference. I know that with my next one, I'll achieve the dynamics along with the clarity and punch. It can be done, but most people attempt to short cut it.

And therein lies the problem, the shortcuts that people who don't know what they're doing, take.

Jody


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#516035 - 06/26/07 12:16 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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I use a thing called a VOLUME KNOB to make my stereo speakers louder or quieter. It is really quite useful. Have none of you heard of such a thing?
I do not want pre-recorded distortion on the music I play.

A little true story to illustrate my point.
The band were unloading a huge ammount of PA gear into a club. When the owner spotted us he said that he thought it was a lot of gear for a small club like his and hoped we would not be too loud. We told him that all the equipment was not for volume just for quality of sound. After the first song he marched over to us and said "Hey son Could you turn the quality down a bit."

BIG JIM

#516044 - 06/26/07 12:49 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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pelliott Offline
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NJ
Volume knob? Never heard of him...
One of the things that happens though is that if people like the John Mayer album and crank it until it "feels right" to jam out to then whe they put your disc in they have to crank it even more to get the same "feeling". SO now you're wide open on your vol knob and either your amp or your speakers now can't handle the signal because you're wide open.... so then there is distortion in the playback system and you never get the same feeling. That's one of the challenges for us mastering guys. SO usually we're trying to find a happy medium.

Jody --- yea, the mastering guys have some culpability. The best advice I can give since pushing levels is the norm, if you are outside the norm, let the ME know so they know what your values are. Most ME's will love you and want to work with you because we're then allowed to do our job better. The hypercompression only messes up what we usually want to do with a project.

John - thanks for the kind words


biskitboy - can't argue too much on your point. Most people don't care or can hear the difference. I still think they're effected though. How many people can listen to an entire disc anymore. Most people can't taken the beating.... Try listening to u2's "atomic bomb". Most people, even people who don't care or know, won't do it. They'll say they don't like the songs or something but I think a part of it is that it's not pleasing to listen to.


Paul Elliott
Head Mastering Engineer
The Soundlab @ Disc Makers
#516057 - 06/26/07 01:43 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: pelliott]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Hey Paul you make sense.

If only some artists would take a crash course in sound technology the world would be a better place. Have you tried mastering the dynamics the way you would want it done then ask the artist if they really want extra distortion it costs more. You could also explain to folk about the volume knob. That would fix all their problems.

Could someone explain what a bass boost is and why we might need one? Most music nowadays has the bass well and trully boosted already.
With all this extra loudness and oomph that seems to be the norm nowadays I pity all the neighbours.
A guy I know has a 1000w system IN HIS CAR wow what an idiot you hear him before you see him. He has a bad habit of saying pardon all the time. I wonder why.

#516061 - 06/26/07 01:52 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: pelliott]  
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Kester Offline
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The worst ever case of mastering too loud that I am aware of is on Rush's "Vapor Trails" album. The songs are great and the musicianship is amazing, but I have never been able to get through it in one sitting and rarely listen to it because it sounds so bad.

I really wondered how something like that could actually pass through quality control. Yes, it's that bad! I have recently discovered that the band and the producer are very upset by the final results. Makes me feel better to know that they really didn't want it to sound that way!

Here's a quote from Paul Northfield (the producer) "I didn't hear it until it was all said and done, at which point the record company was over the moon with it, saying it was fantastic, let's get it out there...To me its guilty as charged. All you can say is decisions were made at the time, everybody was just really tired and we did what we felt was right, and then given a month or two's hindsight we found it was wrong."

And from Alex Lifeson (Rush guitarist)"For me it's really a sonic issue: it was mastered much too hot; it's too loud and it eats away at us and we want to address that - and maybe for no other reason than it would just make us sleep peacefully at night."

There is suppose to be a re-mastered version released, but the record company is holding back on it for some reason.

There was a very interesting article online about the "Vapor Trails" mastering, with pictures of the wav forms documenting the problem. Quite an interesting read. The webpage is currently unavailable, but when I find it I will post a link.

My opinion is that just about all recorded music is too loud these days. It's absurd. The whole world is too loud really.
Silence is a delicacy. Guess music is having to compete to be heard!?



please visit my music site at http://www.raucoustic.com
#516067 - 06/26/07 02:08 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Kester]  
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Patrick Bryant Offline
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VAPOR TRAILS is one CD that's often been cited by critics of the "loudness war" as being too loud and distorted.

Another is CALIFORNICATION by Red Hot Chili Peppers. In fact, fans of RHCP have started a petition to try and get Warners to re-release a cleaner version. Good luck with that smile

#516079 - 06/26/07 02:46 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Scott Campbell Offline
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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
I use a thing called a VOLUME KNOB to make my stereo speakers louder or quieter. It is really quite useful. Have none of you heard of such a thing?


Well, you have a point Jim - if you're sitting right by your stereo.

But if the volume knob is located under my arm while I'm cutting the lawn, or if I'm driving in heavy traffic, or if I'm just lazing on the couch 10 feet from the stereo, then it's a nuisance.

Is it the end of the world? Do I lie awake fretting over it? Nah - but then the relative importance of something doesn't necessarily stop one from complaining about it grin

Scott

#516086 - 06/26/07 03:21 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Funny that Vapor Trails was brought up. It's my least liked RUSH album for the sheer fact that it isn't a typical sounding RUSH disc. This is a case of the producer or band not making a clear decision (probably wasn't even there for the mastering) and it ruined something that could have otherwise been a decent album.

Mind you when I speak of getting the 'loud' to happen, I don't like to do it to the squish point. Especially not in the mastering stage. There are other ways to get the 'loud' and not lose the dynamics. But it has to start at step one.

Jody


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#516296 - 06/27/07 04:20 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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I'm glad someone brought this up.
I always thought that the mix on a cd compared to a cassette tape
never sounded as real.
I play mostly cd's now because of the unavailability of casettes and albums.
Even though I have either inherited albums and cassettes or purchased them mostly used.
I think the last new cassette I purchased was in a KMart store 4 years ago.
I always have to turn down the bass and treble with a CD,
and still I get some distortion. Especially with the bass.
I have recorded from cassette or album to .wav.
It's a little boxy, but with a good enough system I can hear the detail pretty good.
The disc definately has it's limitations.
Now everything seems to be switching to an ipod.
Which is going to make cd's obsolete.
All this cramming with technology seems to be more of a hinderance at times with the sound.
Almost like what a cell phone is to an old fasioned phone.
I will not get a cell phone because of the crappy sound quality.
Everything soundwise seems to be getting more rinny-tin-tin.

Matt

#516340 - 06/27/07 11:10 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: mattbanx]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Assuming the word dynamic means the range of volume on a recording from the loudest to the lowest sound it does seem that many songs I hear on the radio are all set to the highest volume possible. Where a passage could benefit from a lower volume on a recording it is raised to the max. When you can barely hear the vocal over the music it doesn't say much for what an artist thinks of his music.

Many classical pieces show where a quiet passage greatly enhances the work.

You don't have to two block everything to have a great recording.


Ray E. Strode
#516345 - 06/27/07 11:34 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
Have you tried mastering the dynamics the way you would want it done then ask the artist if they really want extra distortion it costs more.



Hey Jim,
Occassionally I get an artist or producer that tells me they don't want to get caught up in the loudness war and that dynamics is king to them..... inevitably after they get their ref they say "sounds great, but {nervous chuckle} can we get a little more volume out of it - you know 3-4 dB".... To which I then ask someone near to shoot me. I like the idea of charging more for extra distortion like you're ordering the extra artery clogging biggie size of fries from a fast food joint.... OK, you're going to die soon sir but here's your bucket of fries.


Paul Elliott
Head Mastering Engineer
The Soundlab @ Disc Makers
#516352 - 06/27/07 11:58 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: pelliott]  
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He he, I like that one Paul. In other words "the worse you want me to master your music, the more I will charge, because as my reputation goes down my bank balance will be going up" !

Cool business plan, I must remember that one.

cheers, niteshift

#516378 - 06/27/07 01:41 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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On the one hand, the argument, "It has to be loud to sound good on the radio" is a fallacy, because the stations all have something like this in the audio path:

[Linked Image]

The Optimod includes an AGC (automatic gain control) that acts like an automated volume knob that keeps everything at a consistent level. Then there's more processing that boosts everything up. The mastering guys I've corresponded with say that CDs that aren't crushed actually sound better on the radio because the station's processing is doing more of the work and isn't so much "fighting" the processing that's already there.

On the other hand...
Getting on the radio in the first place requires an "in your face" sound coming out of the radio programming guy's CD player when he listens to it for the first time. Bringing dynamics back to recorded music is going to require some attitude adjustments in the radio world.

#516391 - 06/27/07 01:56 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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The best thing an artist can do for themselves is be there during the mixing and mastering phase of their project. As an indie I wouldn't consider it any other way. I do however sympathize with the major label acts, they are stepping on someone else's toes when it comes to production, mixing, and mastering. There is a fine line of having that breathy , punchy sound, which can actually come from the proper use of compression, and having that everything squashed to the middle sound. I have seen engineers start their mix that way, only to have to go back and reopen the compression parameters because they have squeezed the life out of the music...JMO...Moker

#516460 - 06/27/07 05:17 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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HEY MOKER 100% WITH YOU
As I said before on another thread. I trust my sound engineer and usually let him do his thing but I still would not let him at my stuff unless I was there overseeing.
Any sound guy worth his salt should know that principal. He would have to do it all over again if the artist did not like it. Why give himself extra unpaid work.

#516730 - 06/28/07 11:39 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Thanks Jim,
I like to keep it simple, and I don't confess to being a true techie, but I do know when an engineer is helping the music come alive or they are killing it. Most of my time is spent trying to write great songs, but when I get in the studio, I do have ears...ha...Moker

#516950 - 06/28/07 10:30 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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Hey Moker
Interesting thought just sprung into my head.
What percentage of a song's success is down to the mixing and production as compared to the musicianship, arrangement, lyrics or melody? I reckon it is quite high. sometimes even as much as 50/50. I can think of many examples to prove my point. Maybe that is why some folk spend just as much or even more time on mixing than on actual recording.
It can sometimes be said that there was less time spent in writing the darned song in the first place. JIM

#517091 - 06/29/07 11:11 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Funny thing.
I thought that my band's CD was mastered way too SOFT.
But that is probably only based upon hearing it next to other bands' CDs that are pushed to (or past) the limit.

#524675 - 07/22/07 10:48 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: PopTodd]  
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I'm gonna contribute to this thread some more. I just got busy, bear with me smile

#525032 - 07/24/07 04:04 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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I've read this from top to bottom. Thanks for the great discussion.
Now, for my two cents:
I find this volume war to be juvenile. It's like a bunch of kids at a mega-bass competition, and it's not just on CDs.
I work in live sound, but I can't stand going to concerts unless I have to work them. It's like they're trying to see how many people they can get to soil their pants with bass beyond the threshold of feeling.
I used to spend hours listening to LPs, but the sound of CDs, even those by the same artists, gets annoying after just a short time. And, don't even get me started on iPod and MP3.
Analog recordings, even on CD, are so much denser than digital. Everything is so big that it doesn't need to smash the volume ceiling in order to sound huge.
Another reason folks seem to need 96 tracks to record four instruments?


"Take 276, you know this used to be fun."
John Entwistle
#525590 - 07/26/07 04:02 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Cpt.Analog]  
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Another Point:

Music to this day does'nt neccessarialy depend on the medium.
I have listened to some Yes and Asia albums when digital disks were almost unheard of by the music consumer.
But the medium is always going to have something to offer to certain people that the other is not.
That is the way it will always be.
And if it were up to me, all the music mediums would be sold in retail outlets, including 8 tracks.
At least there is enough nostalgists to where I would think that the market could profit selling every medium on some limited basis.
I have been going from just plugging into my sound card.
Which so far has comprised all of my recordings.
Now I am experimenting more with sequencers instead of just practicing to them.

I guess dynamics depends on how much people want to dance outside of the genres they play in.

But music would be pretty boring if everyone did the same thing.

Matt

Last edited by mattbanx; 07/26/07 04:12 AM.
#536542 - 08/28/07 01:44 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: mattbanx]  
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Here's an interesting article about the loudness trend, from the IEEE Spectrum.
In a Flash format...

http://spectrum.ieee.org/aug07/5480

#537785 - 09/01/07 06:14 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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I was asked by a forummember to "pop" by and recite a statement, that I´ve earlier made on the Blog at mi7.com.
The topic is still the lack of dynamics in most modern music, and here's what I wrote:

Most contemporary musicproduction has an "In Your Face" approach to sound. The mastering-technicians quest for the 4 dB RMS point is now on! But haven't we all got an obligation to think twice?

Many people in music find that a lot of the music produced nowadays sounds flat and "digital". In fact we have never had better technology available to produce and ensure well-sounding music. In my opinion the "flat" sound is not related to the letter "D" as in DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It is mostly related to the "d" in the dynamics-processor plugins, available at the tip of the cursor.

In all sorts of modern music production I think compression is used to a wide extend. A lot of producers and technicians use compressors on single tracks, groups and on master-busses to achieve "that" hitsound. As I see it, it is actually all the track and group compression that is transforming a lot of wellsounding recordings into a parallel flow of machinelike soundstreams. Making levels too homogenius tends to make most musik sound similar when it comes to dynamics.

We long for the varied and unique sound of great producers and bands of the past. How 'bout getting it back by using lower ratio-settings and less compressor plugins? It's worth a try..."



Last edited by Thomas/Masterbox; 09/01/07 06:15 AM.
#537850 - 09/01/07 01:15 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Thomas/Masterbox]  
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Well, yes, sometimes it is an artistic decision to crush everything and make it loud, I've seen more than one professional mastering guy on forums talk about receiving mixes that already were extremely loud. And being asked to make them Even Louder, as Loud as (insanely cranked-to-the-max CD by a popular major-label band).

(Hey, that's what rock and roll is all about, being loud, eh?) smile

Some mixers have got in the (IMO) bad habit of playing already-mastered CDs on their control room speakers and striving to make their mixes sound Exactly Like Them.

I just want to say I didn't start this thread to bash mastering engineers specifically, but to discuss the Loudness Wars and how they affect us as music lovers and real independent artists.

Thomas, thanks for coming over and posting.

#538150 - 09/03/07 12:25 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Hey Thomas,

Thanks for chiming in mate, always good to have another set of ears around the place. Hope you can stay awhile, and add some more input.

cheers, niteshift

#540409 - 09/11/07 03:35 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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I'm getting out of the stage to where I want to record everything into a funnel.
Noticing the differences with a synthsized bass analog and digital.

All the stacks of tube amps and resisters being fitted down to a piece of software.

Despite the room saver, the energy to get loud just does'nt seem to be there without those large dinosaur devices.

But what used to be a great way to measure what's too loud for me has been a synthesized bass. When I just plugged into a sound card that is.
I have stepped up not too long ago to a digital interface.
No doubt small compared to many here, but a big step as well as experience to me.

I always record the synth bass first before I plug in a guitar.

I would remember in overdubs thinking that the sound levels were adjusted just fine, but I did'nt think of the compression with the instruments.
It's funny how the sound problems don't seem to be as noticable at the time.
But now that I want some more quality in my equipment, the sound problems stick out like a sore thumb.
But all I started out with to judge too much distortion with the sound was from that synth bass.
It would have to at least pass that test before I would upload.
I would'nt do that to someones speakers.

I have damaged a number of my speakers to do that.

Matt

#548061 - 10/11/07 06:06 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: mattbanx]  
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I've just finished a new song that is going to get pushed to a major TV show and should it get picked up will be a digital single. In the grand scheme of things I did some things very different for this mix. One it was extremely complex with lots of layers, which in turn required a new 8-core Mac Pro to finish (that's a story in and of itself) all because it was recorded in hi-def 96k/24bit. I did the whole mix a very low volume and mixed without any compression on the master fader. In fact it was peaking at no more than -2db on the master bus. I did this on purpose to the give the mastering engineer tons of room to do his magic.

Next came the mastering. Since the mastering guy I use is a good friend of mine we spent time trying several things. Some were great, some were not so great. After 4 tries we settled on a master that will be the digital single release. It's as loud as a mix can get without actually distorting. It's damn loud, it sounds awesome but still isn't quite as loud as a major - it's very close (though most I compare it too are actually distorted from being too loud). Even one more tenth of a db on my mix and it would be distorting, which is what I wanted to avoid. It still has most of the dynamics I did in the mix.

However, since this thread has started, and since I've done this mix, I've read an article with several mastering engineers. Most of them actually don't like the loud wars either. But they comply because of the people paying the paycheck. What they have started doing is several different masters. One for digital singles, one for vinyl, one for CD, etc... Interestingly enough, my mastering guy suggested the same thing tonight. After having gone through this mix, I have the same mindset. There are needs for each kind of master.

I do know that when it comes time to assemble the next CD, I will have this remastered, but not pushed so hard for volume. It's just the reality of today, one size does not fit all.

I will eventually post an mp3 of the mix on my blog. When I do, I'll post the link here.

But how about discussing the concepts of mastering for different final versions. That's a very viable thing to look at.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#548068 - 10/11/07 06:53 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hey Jody,

Yes, I'd probably agree there are different mastering requirements for different mediums. The downloadable single really does need to be hot, as it's placed next to a whole different bunch of songs, and if they all play at a different volume, guess which song is going to get booted from the collection if it sounds "weak".

It would be OK to go back to a more relaxed feel for a complete CD, as each track is mastered relative to the others, so this is a format I would probably choose to listen to, if the engineers started backing off and got back to dynamics.

I see you're submitting for television. Have you thought about how the mix might sound in 5.1 ? We've recently gone completely digital here in Oz, ( free to air television, and soon radio )and from what I understand there is a push from some quarters to produce all programmes in 5.1 Currently, a lot are, but do we need the gardeneing programme in 5.1 ?

Was wondering if this was a consideration in your choice of instrumentation, mix and mastering.

cheers, niteshift


#548069 - 10/11/07 07:19 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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Nite,

I always make multiple mixes. I do surround mixes of my songs usually afterwards. Now with Logic 8 and the new 'puter, it will be a breeze. The U.S. is a bit behind in that technology, which is actually sad. I'm not even sure the show I'm pushing to is in surround. But I do know that eventually it make come up for a movie, and those are surround.

I also plan to release a DVD-A version of my last CD, plus my next CD (of which this song will be on). So that will be surround of course.

I also do instrumental mixes as well.

As for the considering choices before surround. No. I don't pick instrumentation based on going surround. To me, surround is a 3D palette compared to the 2D stereo palette. There's not much difference, other than you have a lot more room to move things around and get interesting with.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#548072 - 10/11/07 07:42 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Jody, so for this submission, you fowarded the hottest mix ? It would make sense when the music supervisor is listening to a whole bunch of tracks back to back. I don't like super hot mixes, but I guess there are times when you need to play the game.

cheers, niteshift

#548188 - 10/11/07 02:39 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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I'm sending the mix of the Digital Single version, so that would be correct. If they like it, I will ask them what their requirements are and provide them with any alternate masters they want.

I'd also like to clarify something about surround mixes, they have so much more headroom than a stereo mix. Thus you don't get the same loud issues. You can be much more quiet and dynamic and get a huge effect with it.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#548360 - 10/12/07 02:43 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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I notice in a lot of film music (which has become more than a passing interest to me the last couple years) that it is much about effects and a particliar sound. Stereo mixes to large surround mixes. I don't know exactly how that would work with T.V.
A hot mix makes me think of something like the music on the Fox T.V. series 24. I have heard that people with even a basic home setup nowadays can do some spectaculiar things with sound similiar to that.
I have been recording individual tracks in stereo and then record back to mono on the final mix just because there seems to be more seperation and clarity in the sound doing the individual tracks in stereo. And I make the final mix mono because I still want the sound to stay more in one place.
But it does'nt seem to take all kinds of technology to have a "hot mix" nowadays.
And there also seems to be a trend toward a pre-automated sound, but not that big yet.
Someone would have to have that certain uniqueness to set the apart in any event.

And congragulations Jody!

Matt

#549003 - 10/14/07 06:19 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Ok, I've finally got it where I'm happy for this song I was talking about. Nite heard it previously, but I've made a couple of adjustments and had it re-mastered. As stated before, this is the digital single version. It's probably a db or two less loud than the majors as I decided to not push to distortion with the mastering guy. But it's very close.

Here's a link that will work for the next few days. Once it's submitted to the TV show, I'm gonna pull the link down.

http://singleoftheday.com/herodemo

Thoughts?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#549019 - 10/14/07 07:22 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Cool song!
Really good mix, too!
If it hadda been for me, I woulda wanted it a little less loud and more dynamic, but just give me a kick in my heinie and I'll go stand in the corner and say it's perfect smile

#549035 - 10/14/07 08:49 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Thanks!

In case you hadn't been following the thread, it's kinda a new thought that there would be different masters/versions for different formats. Since this is for the "digital single" type thing where it has to be loud, that's the reason there's a little less dynamics and more volume.

When it comes time for the CD, I'll change the mastering. To retain the dynamics, because the mix is quite dynamic.

That's my thought process.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#549063 - 10/14/07 11:30 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hey Jody,

I would have liked to play the 2 back to back, but from what I recall, the vocal seems to have a lot more presence and up more in the mix. The breakdown around 2.05, has a nice dieback, and then back into the oomph. I'm also hearing a cool subtle delay and ghosting of the vocals, which, I don't think was there before, or couldn't be heard with the compression.

To my ears, everthing seems to be sitting well balanced. Can now also hear the string/key line, which was difficult to hear previously.

Good luck with it, think you might have nailed the song mate, both musically and sonically wise.

cheers, niteshift

#549073 - 10/15/07 12:18 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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Everything you heard was already in the mix. All that changed was volume levels. I pushed the vocal 2db. I pulled the chorus guitars back 1db. I pulled the cymbals/hihats back about 2.5db. In the bridge I pulled the vocal down another 2db. In the bridge I pulled the guitar and electric piano down about 2.5db. I left everything else exactly the same.

The delays you hear were always there. They're just more noticeable now because the vocal is louder overall.

Yup, it helps to live with a mix for a day or two before you call it final. I found I needed to make a couple of adjustments after not hearing it for a couple of days.

I know when I go to press it for the CD version, it will have a lot more dynamics. You'll hear a lot more of the layers that are in it. I'm considering two versions of CD's. One that's dynamic and allows the music to breath and another that's designed for the loud wars. Then let consumers choose which they prefer. Easy enough to do.

Glad it's getting a thumbs up.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
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#551983 - 10/24/07 03:38 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Yeah, it's sounding much better, you've let the song breathe. Since it's going off where it's going, those guys like to hear sublety, and as we're commenting on it, dynamics. You're playing to the audience, which in this case is seasoned industry. I'm quite sure they appreciate the dynamics, raher than the squished blast your eardrums type of mix.

cheers, niteshift

#574043 - 01/09/08 07:33 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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Thought I revive this little thread. This morning a fan sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article and proceeded to grill me. Here's the link: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17777619/the_death_of_high_fidelity/print

There are a lot of additional links in that article that explain everything as well.

When I told him I was going to do different mixes for different mediums and that I wasn't going to mix the CD the same way as the MP3s/Digital sales stuff it made him happy. He's an audiophile and is bummed about the way music gets pumped like this. He specifically goes out of his way not to listen to radio and artists that pump stuff up too much.

In other news related to digital sales. Apparently Apple is working with movie studios where a studio would release a DVD with additional movie files meant for the iPod/iTunes right on the DVD. Meaning you won't have to rip it for the iPod. From what I understand it would mean that it would tie into your iTunes account and watermark it to you somehow. I think that's a pretty darn cool idea.

One would hope they would do something like this for music as well. I know for sure that I would gladly put MP3's on the CD if they could be watermarked to the buyer.

Which is a similar concept to a new thing I'm working on with a website I'm developing. Watermarking the file to the buyer, but no DRM. Thus they can use it freely, but they wouldn't want to share it freely.

Thoughts?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#574045 - 01/09/08 07:37 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Thinking about it a little further with the watermarking of MP3 files. Actually Apple has already started doing some sort of watermarking with their iTunes Plus files. I remember reading about that at some point where a user figured out that there is additional information in the file tagged in it throughout the file that determines what account bought the file.

It would be great if Apple could do this via CD like they seem to be doing with DVD's.


Jody Whitesides
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#574205 - 01/10/08 01:47 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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The other day I dug out an old CD from 1985 (Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits) and the average level of all the cuts is much softer than anything recent. But there's more room for the peaks to go, and they do. When I turned the first cut (So Far Away) to a good listening level, that snare just went through me on every off beat. So cool to be reminded of a time when music fans loved that visceral impact. *sigh*

I wish CD changers and iPod-type devices would come out with a function to scan the levels of every song and adjust the playback level to compensate. That'd help I think.

#574308 - 01/10/08 11:33 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Hi Pat I have an old Stones album. On the sleeve it says "made loud to be played loud" Guess what IT ISN'T.

#574382 - 01/10/08 02:37 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Patrick, Here's some hope I guess.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61655

itunes- Soundcheck seems to be trying to do it.


Paul Elliott
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The Soundlab @ Disc Makers
#574401 - 01/10/08 03:42 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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I figured it would be smart to repost it on this page since it was replied to.

Originally Posted by Jody Whitesides
Thought I revive this little thread. This morning a fan sent me a link to a Rolling Stone article and proceeded to grill me. Here's the link: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17777619/the_death_of_high_fidelity/print

There are a lot of additional links in that article that explain everything as well.

When I told him I was going to do different mixes for different mediums and that I wasn't going to mix the CD the same way as the MP3s/Digital sales stuff it made him happy. He's an audiophile and is bummed about the way music gets pumped like this. He specifically goes out of his way not to listen to radio and artists that pump stuff up too much.

In other news related to digital sales. Apparently Apple is working with movie studios where a studio would release a DVD with additional movie files meant for the iPod/iTunes right on the DVD. Meaning you won't have to rip it for the iPod. From what I understand it would mean that it would tie into your iTunes account and watermark it to you somehow. I think that's a pretty darn cool idea.

One would hope they would do something like this for music as well. I know for sure that I would gladly put MP3's on the CD if they could be watermarked to the buyer.

Which is a similar concept to a new thing I'm working on with a website I'm developing. Watermarking the file to the buyer, but no DRM. Thus they can use it freely, but they wouldn't want to share it freely.

Thoughts?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
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#574413 - 01/10/08 04:47 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hi Jody it is a good idea to revive and revisit interesting old threads after a few months. I just hope that "the Morality thread that just wont die" if it eventually dies will never be resurrected.

#595761 - 03/12/08 10:21 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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I COMPLETELY AGREE. Dynamics are a lost art these days, and too many songs become boring so quickly because of their over-compressed, loudly-mastered recording. Ear fatigue can't help but set in.

#595909 - 03/13/08 10:04 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: evbro]  
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It's funny how attitudes change over the years. Back when Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" came out, people were stunned at how great the drums sounded. No one knew they were really essentially samples. Now when I listen to it, it SOUNDS like drum samples. But the CD still sounds very very good... and it's way softer than anything I've bought in the past ten years.

I'm recording CD #3 and I'm trying to do everything I can to make it sound real. Including not hyping the volumes. I'm actually thinking of including an explanation, in layman's terms, as to why it's "softer" than other CD's...


Richard MacLemale
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#595944 - 03/13/08 12:21 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
Hi Pat I have an old Stones album. On the sleeve it says "made loud to be played loud" Guess what IT ISN'T.


That may be true by today's standards, but in its era it was recorded loudly, that is to say the amps were cranked up fairly loudly to get their natural crunch and for its time it was a reasonably loud recording. However, I think what the Stones wanted was for kids to turn it up loudly so that it would piss off their parents.

#595976 - 03/13/08 01:27 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Richard Maclemale]  
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Originally Posted by Richard Maclemale
It's funny how attitudes change over the years. Back when Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" came out, people were stunned at how great the drums sounded. No one knew they were really essentially samples. Now when I listen to it, it SOUNDS like drum samples. But the CD still sounds very very good... and it's way softer than anything I've bought in the past ten years...


I've started transfering my favorite vinyl LPs to digital (don't tell the RIAA smile )
I have The Nightfly on black vinyl and it sounds great even after the transfer and subsequent burning to CD.
I have to turn my car CD player up higher but I don't care.
Yep, at least the snare on that album is a sample (Roger Nichols' "Wendel" sampler that he designed back in the 80s) which facilitates Donald Fagen's perfectionism toward musical timing.
I suspect the early CDs made between 1983 and 1990 are even more dynamic than the old vinyl. It's not the CD medium that lets us down, it's modern production techniques.

#596013 - 03/13/08 03:57 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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The CD as a medium is a very capable medium for dynamics. It very much is modern production techniques that have led to less dynamics.

I've recently undertaken the sound sculpting of my studio. Adding appropriate bass traps and "fixing" the sound in the studio. What a massive difference! I'm happy I haven't released Hero Unexpected. I can go through and re-mix it again and fix a few things that I still wasn't happy about with the mix.

As I mentioned before, I'll do multiple mixes for releases from now on. A CD version for dynamics, and a Digital Download version for loud. That way I can get the best of both worlds.


Jody Whitesides
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#596071 - 03/13/08 06:31 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
Hi Pat I have an old Stones album. On the sleeve it says "made loud to be played loud" Guess what IT ISN'T.


Well... you're not playing it loud then, are you? smile

#596255 - 03/14/08 04:45 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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I recall a Rolling Stone Magazine interview with Donald Fagan a few months ago to where he was talking about the pitfalls of recording software. How these progerams are used to make something sound too big and perfect.
The openess, tonalitiy, and all the intracasies in a recording are not there.
There is somewhat of a colder sound then on vinyl or cassette.
An acoustic in the old analog recordings does'nt ring out as much. On cd it sounds more clangy and cold.

I recall record company people in their business suits going to used stores and to record collectors because they lost the master recordings to a lot of those old acts.
Some things are just going to be gone with the sound from the original.
And once it is gone, it is gone forever.

#596266 - 03/14/08 05:59 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: mattbanx]  
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"The other day I dug out an old CD from 1985 (Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits) and the average level of all the cuts is much softer than anything recent. But there's more room for the peaks to go, and they do. When I turned the first cut (So Far Away) to a good listening level, that snare just went through me on every off beat. So cool to be reminded of a time when music fans loved that visceral impact. *sigh*"

That vibraphone sounding melody toward the end of Why Worry Now sounds more glowing on vinyl. More of a full, compressed feel to those albums. I notice that the most on quiet songs.

#631256 - 07/07/08 05:04 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Interesting thread... I don't think it is fair that the mastering engineers are always getting the blame for CDs being too loud and having no dynamics. A lot of dynamics are lost already in the mixing stage, I think.

Looking at my own stuff, I used to use way too much compression on individual tracks in my early mixes (in part because of the limited set of tools offered by the DAW software I used early on). Nowadays, I use compression in the mix very selectively, because it's such a double edged sword. If something needs to be louder in the mix, I mostly rely on gain to get it there. What's interesting is that my newer mixes are both louder and more dynamic.


Jim Offerman ~ inspirational pop music
blog - follow me twitter - buy 'Start Here' on bandcamp!
#639790 - 08/05/08 11:54 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jim Offerman]  
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Hey Jim,

Interesting blog entry from Masterbox, one of the mastering dudes.....

http://community.mi7.com/profile/blog/entry/2007

cheers, niteshift


#640354 - 08/07/08 03:43 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: niteshift]  
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Yeah, great post. More people who do mixes should read it! smile

Another thing that might help would be the plugin makers shipping their products with more "here's how you use our compressor in a real mix" presets and less of the "look how punchy we can make your kick sound with this Ubar CompreszzoR 6001 setting!" stuff that you usually get...



Jim Offerman ~ inspirational pop music
blog - follow me twitter - buy 'Start Here' on bandcamp!
#654375 - 09/22/08 03:49 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jim Offerman]  
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It's finally started to happen. Fans petitioning for albums to be remixed and remastered. The latest release that is too loud... Death Magnetic by Metallica. Seems even the mastering engineer (who claims the mixes came to him overly loud and squished) is not proud to be associated with this release.

Could this be the straw that broke the camel's back?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
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#654413 - 09/22/08 06:27 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Here's hoping! smile


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blog - follow me twitter - buy 'Start Here' on bandcamp!
#903978 - 06/16/11 06:55 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jim Offerman]  
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Ok, if there are so many experts in sound issues then tell me
if a sound engineer made his job(mastering) good:

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10491067

as for me he made a sound louder with no distortion

#1043417 - 03/25/14 09:40 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Alek]  
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The discussion continues... However, I'm now seeing new ways to get more volume out of a track without the over compressed and or brick wall limited vibe that tends to squish the life and volume out of track - or even add distortion.

One New Trick For Mastering: http://wp.me/p20RW6-7I5

Time to revisit all this.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1043430 - 03/26/14 12:12 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Thanks Jody!

Been doing that with Logic, the internal mixer of that is the same way! Thought it wasn't showing the levels right when it wasn't distorting when it should! I'm not THAT deaf now after all,,,,Ahhh

When I use Audacity for all my editing shows for interview hosts, I can't do that, but with just talking, I don't have to blast it anyway. For music though, (and using Audacity), do you know a way around the distortion issues if wanting to go into the red for any reason? I use "Leveling" along with certain compressions to achieve power when needed, but still have to stay under clipping for the most part. Some highs can be be over without notice, or if they are treated with Low Pass Filter at a certain measure for each one.

Thank you!

Johnny


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
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#1043452 - 03/26/14 04:11 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Logic does have a good internal path. However, the program George is using to achieve that result isn't Logic. I actually didn't get the name of it. But it came with his audio interface which is an RME.

As for Audacity - I've never used it. I'm guessing their audio engine isn't very good. Which would explain why it's clipping when it hits red.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
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#1043470 - 03/26/14 11:22 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Humm,
Old Audio Tape Recorders had a Dynamic Range of about 55 DB. That meant you could record loud passages as well as quite passages with out gross distortion. Possibly new CD Recorders can do even better. With Tape Recorders you could and they probably did go into the red of which was about 3 percent distortion with no Ill effects. With CD recording going into the red is a no,no. You get gross distortion immediately. It will sound like a thunderstorm on an AM Radio.

There is no reason I can think of that you can't acheive good dynmaic range with today's equipment. It is more or how the recording is made rather than the equipment. I think some people like to two block everything of which generally kills the sound.


Ray E. Strode
#1123920 - 02/08/17 11:55 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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This post is a big draw for google!


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#1123963 - 02/09/17 07:23 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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And in the past couple of years things have changed yet again in the getting it louder situation.

My mastering friend and I have figured out a newer form of mastering that would make most old school guys cringe. It came about as an accident which caused us to stumble onto something new that works in weird mysterious ways. Bigger bass with crazy volume.

In recent weeks Logic has added a 64bit summing bus. This changes the headroom in ways I haven't really figured out yet, but my guess is, it will change how levels will work yet again.

I did show the trick I referenced to a guy who builds high end EQs and Compressors. When he tried the trick in his studio based on my guidance, he was floored. Couldn't believe how it worked and how well it worked. Understood exactly what the process was, and thought it would come in pretty handy.

Loud isn't the enemy.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1123988 - 02/10/17 01:57 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Well,
For something that is nerve wracking get a copy of the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture with the Minneapolis Symphony by Antal Dorati on Mercury Living Presence. The Canon Fire will tell you what "Real" loud is!


Ray E. Strode
#1123991 - 02/10/17 02:37 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well,
For something that is nerve wracking get a copy of the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture with the Minneapolis Symphony by Antal Dorati on Mercury Living Presence. The Canon Fire will tell you what "Real" loud is!


Though that can be deceiving Ray. If the bulk of the recording is set well below the peak level, the volume knob by the listener is turned up to compensate. Then when the canon goes off at peak level, it sounds much louder because of the volume level set by the listener. It’s like those videos where everything’s set at a soft level, the listener turns the volume knob way up to hear it better, then wham, something jumps out at an ear excruciating peak volume. Yes, extreme dynamics.

John smile

#1124001 - 02/10/17 11:28 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Originally Posted by Jody Whitesides
And in the past couple of years things have changed yet again in the getting it louder situation.

My mastering friend and I have figured out a newer form of mastering that would make most old school guys cringe. It came about as an accident which caused us to stumble onto something new that works in weird mysterious ways. Bigger bass with crazy volume.

In recent weeks Logic has added a 64bit summing bus. This changes the headroom in ways I haven't really figured out yet, but my guess is, it will change how levels will work yet again.

I did show the trick I referenced to a guy who builds high end EQs and Compressors. When he tried the trick in his studio based on my guidance, he was floored. Couldn't believe how it worked and how well it worked. Understood exactly what the process was, and thought it would come in pretty handy.

Loud isn't the enemy.


"Loud" is an important tool in one's toolbox.

The problem with the technique of simply increasing the master volume several dbs above zero is not clipping, but that all the ratios between the various instruments change. They all become "closer" in average volume as a result, changing one's mixing "intention" to a large degree.

If the numerator is a voice and the denominator is a Hammond Organ, and they are averaging about a 6/4 ratio, then adding 10db to that master track would change a 3 to 2 ratio to a 16/14 ratio, or 8 to 7. That Hammond is gonna sound too loud, compared to the voice now.

A better method of using software oversampling is to gain ride all the mixer channels louder than one usually does, but strictly maintaining the ratios between the various channels. That way the final mix can be as loud sounding as you want while maintaining the intended ratios between the various channels/instruments.

But then again, this is all just a thought experiment on my part, LOL..

I suppose it depends on what actually happens once a sound is as loud as can be. If one increases the master track volume even further, then all the softer instruments will now be approaching that "as loud as can be" threshold as well, I'm thinking. But I'm still not convinced by my own arguments, LOL...

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 02/10/17 11:57 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1124012 - 02/11/17 01:08 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Well,
When making a recording keeping levels where there is not gross distortion is important. With digital going into the red is a no, no because gross distortion happens immediately and sounds like dragging a wire brush across a blackboard. With audio tape going into the red may not even be auditable for the most part. The writers at HI Fi Stereo Review once did tests to see how much distortion was needed before you could detect it. On a fundimental frequency it took 6 percent before they could detect it.

For a better look at how loudness affects the human ear you need to look at the Fletcher-Munson Curves that did tests to see how sensitive the ear was at different frequencies.

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 02/11/17 01:09 PM.

Ray E. Strode
#1124021 - 02/11/17 04:08 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well,
When making a recording keeping levels where there is not gross distortion is important. With digital going into the red is a no, no because gross distortion happens immediately and sounds like dragging a wire brush across a blackboard. With audio tape going into the red may not even be auditable for the most part. The writers at HI Fi Stereo Review once did tests to see how much distortion was needed before you could detect it. On a fundimental frequency it took 6 percent before they could detect it.

Ray, I'm pretty sure based on that post, you haven't worked much with modern digital equipment in the last couple of years. ["going into the red is a no, no"] Otherwise you'd know that's a false statement.

As for the Hi Fi Stereo Review, how old was that article? And what digital equipment was used for the test?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1124022 - 02/11/17 04:40 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Uh Well Jody,
Once again I will mention the Fletcher-Munson Curves that measured the sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies. Recording something with gross distortion may be some great thing, but listening to it will get old pretty quickly.

Hi-Fi Stereo Review Magazine had excellent Labs and did Tests on Audio Equipment and published the results on a regular basis.

While Digital is a great advance, it doesn't allow gross distortion to improve a recording. When CD's first came out a lot of people didn't like them even tho cleaning up the sound made it more accurate people actually liked the earlier sound that was made on tube equipment before digital. And it appears Vinyl is making a comeback. Not that it will ever likely replace CD's of which you don't use anymore but will be here for a long time to come. I copy tape to CD on occasion. Every time it goes into the red gross distortion happens.


Ray E. Strode
#1124025 - 02/11/17 05:35 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hi Jody,

Your blog post on discovering this phenomena is really a mind blower and a paradigm shifter, especially for music where all instruments are intended to be mixed at or near peak levels.

I am also amazed there is no real literature on this phenomena outside of your blog article. The process you discovered resembles tape saturation in that the louder the master fader goes, the "warmer" the sound becomes, because the digital equipment is simply using it's 32 or 64 bit oversampling to neatly chop off the sound at zero, and rarely are there any clipping artifacts that we have been warned about in our "learning process" about this stuff so many years ago.

I think one could call this process/phenomena digital saturation cuz that's really exactly what it is and what's happening when the master fader goes beyond zero into "plus land." One indeed gets a more natural but louder mix than one can get using normal compressors and limiters.

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 02/11/17 06:00 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1124069 - 02/13/17 10:05 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Uh Well Jody,
Once again I will mention the Fletcher-Munson Curves that measured the sensitivity of the human ear to different frequencies. Recording something with gross distortion may be some great thing, but listening to it will get old pretty quickly.

Hi-Fi Stereo Review Magazine had excellent Labs and did Tests on Audio Equipment and published the results on a regular basis.

While Digital is a great advance, it doesn't allow gross distortion to improve a recording. [snip...] I copy tape to CD on occasion. Every time it goes into the red gross distortion happens.

Then whatever DA converters you're using are probably over 7 years old. As I wrote, most modern high quality converters do not have "gross" distortion when you hit red. All formats old and new will grossly distort if you pump too much audio thru them at too high a level.

Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Hi Jody,

Your blog post on discovering this phenomena is really a mind blower and a paradigm shifter, especially for music where all instruments are intended to be mixed at or near peak levels.

I am also amazed there is no real literature on this phenomena outside of your blog article. The process you discovered resembles tape saturation in that the louder the master fader goes, the "warmer" the sound becomes, because the digital equipment is simply using it's 32 or 64 bit oversampling to neatly chop off the sound at zero, and rarely are there any clipping artifacts that we have been warned about in our "learning process" about this stuff so many years ago.

I think one could call this process/phenomena digital saturation cuz that's really exactly what it is and what's happening when the master fader goes beyond zero into "plus land." One indeed gets a more natural but louder mix than one can get using normal compressors and limiters.

Bingo. This is the reason why I am calling out the BS on comments about digital distortion or that it sounds sterile or leads to too much loudness.

Is it possible to go too far with it? Yes, just like any other format (tape, vinyl, cassette, gramophone, etc). The problem is, most guys used to recording to older mediums probably don't understand digital. The immediate and main difference is that digital is a mirror - if you don't feed it the sound you want, its not going to add "color" to the sound. Whereas other formats like 2" tape, they actually do color and modify the sound instead of being a mirror.

Are the warnings about digital clipping legit? Sure, just not a hardline 0 any more. Modern interfaces have much better algorithms and parts than they used to. Thus now we get more "saturation" than the old school digital distortion of yesteryear.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1124078 - 02/14/17 12:47 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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R&M Offline
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I have been using a dj mixer in my recordings. In the past I have used distortion pedals and reverb units.
But I have been looking at getting a good mixing board.
How important do the members find in their sound with software?
There seems to be more versatility and individuality having my hands on the sound controls instead of software.

#1124079 - 02/14/17 01:55 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hmmmmmm..........
Gotta think about this one, I said with a smile.

#1124090 - 02/14/17 12:38 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Good Lord!,
DA Converters? Any hard Drive Recorder where you feed an audio signal into has a Analog to Digital Converter. If it didn't you couldn't put a signal on the disc or whatever device you were recording to. And on the stand Alone CD Recorder I have there are meters so you don't record the signal over what the device is capable of. Every recording device I have seen, I bought my first tape recorder in 1956, and it had a sort of meter, actually a neon bulb that blinked when the level was getting too high.

One thing that puzzles me, why do people buy a seperate DA Converter when it is already in all the recorders. Do they think it is better? I guess they think they are getting better sound.

Long before Digital was the new word, there was audio tape recorders. The basic specs for a good sound was 50 to 15K plus or minus 2 db. S/N ratio 55 DB. Some recorders had better specs but you couldn't hear the difference. Many years ago Ampex said the high end of about 12,5K was all that was needed.

There have been many excellent recordings made on tape before digital was invented. All with the average specs mentioned above.

I have read some other descriptions of audio designs that just floor me. STARVED PLATE DESIGN. Now what the hell is that. Any one that understands Tube Theory would be laughing their *ss off.

TAPE SATURATION. Now there is a good one. Again there are level meters on a tape recorder so to prevent gross distortion and overloading the tape.

Some of those pieces of "Audio" gear I have no idea what they do.
COMPRESSORS. As I understand it, a compressor allows you to lob off the peaks to prevent distortion? Must sound great.

MIXING. Like it or not, you can't fix a recording after it is recorded. You can only make it worse. You need to do it right the first time or re do it. That's how they did it in the old days. But some people seem to indicate just one more piece of gear and they can make great recordings! Gosh I wish I was selling all that gear. I would get rich!


Ray E. Strode
#1124138 - 02/15/17 03:49 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Some of those pieces of "Audio" gear I have no idea what they do.
COMPRESSORS. As I understand it, a compressor allows you to lob off the peaks to prevent distortion? Must sound great.

Herein is the exact answer that shows how much not understanding gear, let alone new gear, makes a difference. Ray, it would behoove you to read about gear, use gear, understand gear, before posting definitive statements about gear and how the recording process works.

A compressor does not lob off the peaks to prevent distortion. Not really the reality of what a compressor does; a limiter, yeah that almost does that, but a compressor, no. AD & DA converters and their quality make a massive difference for digital. Yes the ones that I use for recording are substantially better than the ones that come on a CD player - but who really uses CDs anymore? Peak meters on tape machines were guides to say - it might be getting too hot. Not definitive answers. Only your ear knows if it sounds distorted!

As for the mixing wisdom - there are things that can be fixed, there are things that can't be fixed. There are things that can be made better, there are things that can't. There are things that can be masked and there are things that can be removed. Things can also be re-recorded. There is no hard fast rule that a mix has to be done right the first time. That era of once and done is not the norm any more. Like it or not, things have changed. Many people, including myself, believe its for the better.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1124145 - 02/15/17 06:39 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Humm?
My post of WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER has had over 2 and 1/4 million hits so somebody is still listening to CD's.


Ray E. Strode
#1124159 - 02/16/17 02:12 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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I thought this topic would cover dynamics as it concerns the playing of the music. That has been a pet peeve of mine since home recording became so big.

It reminds me of a band I played in a while ago, where the keyboard player was constant,y harping on the fact that we needed to be conscious of dynamics. That's too loud, that's too soft, that's not soft enough in the bridge, and every player had to do it, in heir own way till it sounds seemlessly, then if you recorded live, you would t have to worry about fluctuations.

To me dynamics is more than how loud something is, green day sure gets loud recordings, but to me dynamics covers up and downs, the ebb and flow, and the changes in volume in the song

That's something that gets lost when tracking everything yourself.

And something that is missing in a lot of home recordings. That, as well as no tempo changes, has really made some of the music stale. Great songs of yesteryear had tempo changes in various sections, as well as dynamics changes, that's what breathes life into it

But this is a good topic as is

Last edited by Trentb; 02/16/17 02:14 AM.
#1124163 - 02/16/17 02:40 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Humm?
My post of WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER has had over 2 and 1/4 million hits so somebody is still listening to CD's.

Yup, there are some still clinging to other dying media too. The first CD I burned in several years was actually for this current JPF Awards. Everything else for years now has been file transfers. The CD is already becoming niche much like vinyl and tape have. Streaming has won. Which means its the current game for recording and dynamics. To use your phrase: Like it or not.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1126752 - 04/19/17 06:10 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Newest addition is that this year Vinyl payouts exceeded streaming payouts.
https://www.theguardian.com/busines...deo-streaming-royalties?CMP=share_btn_fb

For those clinging onto Streaming as their savior ..... y'all better get gigging to cover those shortfalls.

That said Vinyl, cassettes, CD's are never going to come back to their glory days but Streaming has a long way to go before anyone can actually make a living at it --- OK show me the streaming money figures of a few ... but also show me how much the PR cost and I'm betting 9 out of 10 there is a loss

#1128074 - 05/28/17 09:16 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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It appears that streaming services are starting to fight back against the loudness wars. They're all increasing and decreasing audio volumes based on a specific loud level. Here's a good article about it.

https://ask.audio/articles/spotify-...4-lufs-what-does-this-mean-for-producers

The takeaway is that mastering to insanely loud levels means it will no longer be of any value.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1133391 - 12/06/17 02:48 AM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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TC Perkins Online content
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I have started using a plugin to monitor the loudness of my tracks. I read the same article that Jody posted above ^^ and I started using my meter. It's the Youlean Loudness Meter and it was free (may still be).

Like it or not, for the type of music most of us do (rock, pop, country) if you are not perceived loudly enough, many people will not like your song as well. I guess it all comes down to what people are used to hearing. While I refuse to be caught up the loudness war, I do rock, and I want my song to have heft and impact. If the "old school" guys could have done that 30 years ago THEY WOULD HAVE. They mixed and mastered to a standard. It's a new age, and modern tech allows for quite a bit more "loudness" without slaughtering the dynamics if it's done right for 'pop' music. Unfortunately, the loudness wars created some bad habits, and probably why we have these discussions.

I will probably go back and re-check every song I have on soundcloud and re-master (I plan to remix and redo some stuff in the old ones based on feedback anyway) them to somewhere in the -12 to -16 LUFS range (they already seem to be close but I plan on adhering more or less to the spotify standard for now). I experimented and found that keeps them sounding modern and I still see lots of play on my VU meter, and they hold up to the more professional stuff in terms of level.

Peace,
TC

PS: I checked and the plugin still looks free. If nothing else get it and check your mixes just to learn and experiment!

Last edited by TC Perkins; 12/06/17 02:50 AM.

If it has strings I will find a way to play it!

You can hear my tunes at https://soundcloud.com/tc-gypsy
#1133426 - 12/06/17 02:35 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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I've done a side-by-side comparison of the same song mastered to what amounts to CD level, then to Spotify level, then Apple Music level. Then set each appropriately to the same volume level.

Its not hard to do, but it is very ear opening to hear the difference. They all end up sounding the same "loud" and nothing changes in terms of "heft". What does change is the spacial impact. Songs mastered to say -9 LUFS, which about as loud as you can get things in the digital realm (maybe -8), end up sounding less spacial when played at -14 LUFS or -16 LUFS.

I found that songs that were mastered to the level its to be listened to as a max ended up sounding much better from a spacial aspect. And when turned up further with a volume knob, they have more impact.

Also, when a song mastered to that volume (-9) can also have more revealing issues at lower volumes. The latest best example is Ed Sheerans Divide. Several of those songs are actually distorted due to loud mastering and I found that I disliked listening to them despite how good the songs are.

As I've been working on getting Apple certified for the Mastered For iTunes program. I've found that Mastering to -16 LUFS with well mixed material has actually made it easier to run things thru their applications and avoiding volume based distortions. Which is an improvement on the loudness wars.

p.s. I use the iZotope Insight, it has a plethora of information that it tracks.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1133427 - 12/06/17 02:42 PM Re: Bringing dynamics back to music [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Jody Whitesides Online content
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BTW - all that being said...

The end user can still go into settings in Spotify or Apple Music and turn off the volume limits. Which defeats their volume level parity. If that setting became hardwired, it would be the ultimate end to the volume wars.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
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