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Volume Maximizing & The Destruction of a Cultural Value

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  • Volume Maximizing & The Destruction of a Cultural Value

    Volume Maximizing & The Destruction of a Cultural Value

    An Example

    Today I went thru some anthology and song collection CD's, for example the CD "America's Wartime Sweethearts" by The Andrew Sisters.

    I just had a little shiver when I found out that the new CD was volume maximized and spectralized by the mastering engineer, where the original master was a normal recording with wider dynamics.

    One thing is clear, as future reference for dynamics this CD is not suited, because the dynamics, the loudness and the spectrum was falsified.

    .

  • #2
    Absolutely agreed!

    I noticed this with some other old favorites. Maybe not many think of ZZ Top's "Blue Jean Blues" as a piece of important cultural heritage -- but it is for me (and I suspect for a bunch of slow blues loving folk). And I was amazed a year or so ago when I compared three different versions that I found on my old subscription service. One sounded about like the LP: great. One circa 2000 "remaster" was super overcompressed and somewhat painful. And the latest "remaster" from around 2005, I think was an outright sonic assault... it had no dynamics whatsoever... *

    It was like a balloon with a face on it that you blow up and blow up and keep blowing... just before it bursts...


    We need a "Mastering/Remastering Hall of Shame" -- with real punishment.

    I haven't figured out the last yet -- but it won't be pretty. I'm thinking that it might not even fall under the Bush administrations torture-isn't-torture relaxed definitions...

    This is a cancer on the industry that effects all music lovers.


    __________

    *
    Plenty of other examples -- of course; increasingly, they're everywhere. My own beloved Rory Gallagher got the treatment a few years back... there was a litte barely audible sound FX track (a fairground ambience) that led into Tattoo'd Lady. I guess the "remastering 'engineer' " must have thought it was some kind of MISTAKE -- 'cause he jacked it to the ceiling. I could have lived with that if the music in the track -- one of my all time faves -- hadn't got the same ham-fisted, tin-eared, music-hating treatment.


    Screw those loudness-uber-alles jerks.

    Line 'em up against the all and let's just get rid of them now.


    Future music lovers will thank us.
    .

    music and social links | recent listening

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    • #3
      i had to remaster janes addiction ritual album just to listen to it... but it was mostly EQ and taming that horrible top end.

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      • #4

        We need a "Mastering/Remastering Hall of Shame" -- with real punishment.


        Start a website called www.masteringhallofshame.com for starters????

        Y'all can figure out how best to mete out punishment. Whether it's acidic vitriol from members of ZZ Top and the Andrew Sisters, public floggings, taking away their L3 units, making them wear ridiculous clothing in public, forcing them to form a pyramid with other mastering engineers or what, I don't know.
        Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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        • #5
          I actually clicked there just on the off chance that someone already had... (but... sigh... not yet)

          You're probably right... but I'm already maintaining something like 7 or 8 domains for myself and a slug for other folks... on the other hand, one field of web work I haven't done any much of is monetizing with adverts and whatnot... Maybe I could get the thing to pay for itself with google ads for mastering-in-a-box tools over on the side.


          Or maybe something like www UpAgainstTheWallMasteringMoFos com...

          __________

          PS... I finally broke down and signed up with Yahoo Music Unlimited (the $6/mo [or $9 if you don't go yearly -- I'm holding off for now on that -- so far, Yahoo has NEVER responded to a single trouble ticket I've filed over previous account issues and now has ignored to tech tickets [the issues 'fixed themselves' so... no harm, no foul? I dunno.]

          Anyhow, YMU (I think they changed the name to Y! Music -- but, honest, that company simply has no clue what they're doing so it shows up as many different names) allows you to DL or stream [the files are DRM'd and depend on a current license so if you're subscription's not current they won't play -- but if you sign back up they will... an interesting arrangement... anyhow, the selection is MOSTLY better and the fi -- around 180 kbps on one file I did the math on -- is somewhat higher than the old and definitely higher than many of the other stores, like iTunes 'regular' DRM fare. (But not, I don't think, as good as the 256 kbps non-DRMs sold by Apple and Amazon or the quite-reasonably "hi" fi LAME-encoded VBR's sold by Emusic.) ]

          The upshot is that a LOT of 'classic' albums are available as "remasters" or in some other non-lableled (original?) form. I'm now making a point of DLing the 'originals' so that -- if/when they disappear out of the Yahoo roster, I'll still have access to them. Which is kinda annoying, since one point of having a subscription is so you DON'T have to fill up your HDD with files...

          Anyhow...

          I think I'm reverting to my college/Nixon era super-agro-nihilism on this issue... the rule of law is out on these so-called "mastering engineers" -- I say hunt them down like rabid coyotes and put them out of our misery.

          __________________________


          Hey Angelo -- how do you feel about dance remixers who have NO CLUE how rhythm works?


          I just listened to a couple minutes of a Future Sounds of London track that was totally tennis-shoes-in-the-dryer... What an utter insult to anyone with a tiny slice of a sense of rhythm!!!

          (Not talking about some trick drum-n-bass syncopation here -- mind you -- I've been around and know the D-n-B guys' tricks pretty well. No, we're talking about taking a loop that simply doesn't fit time and trying to throw so much crap on top of it that I guess the clueless loser who mixed it thought no one would notice... I guess. Well, really, the only explanation would be that the clueless loser was just that.)
          .

          music and social links | recent listening

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          • #6
            Can't someone design a monkey proof limiter???oke:
            First kill the goose by refusing to feed it , then blame it for dying and not giving anymore gold eggs


            Professionalism is an attitude and , not a possesion that you own forever once you have acheived something.



            "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

            Albert Einstein


            .

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            • #7
              It's one of modern society's little paradoxes that, upon the arrival of technology that could support a dazzling dynamic range, the powers-that-be decide they can only use the top 3% of that range.

              BUt I understand why. Look back 37 years, to the first release of LedZepII. Page wanted to make the 'loudest' record ever. Put it on your turntable, and the needle literally could not track - it would skip out of the groove. They thought they solved the problem, and tried again with Physical Graffiti.... and got the same problem.

              The search for maximum loudness has been going on since the advent of recording. And nowadays, when so few people actually listen to music as an activity, that music is mere background. Played in noisy environs like your car, or on your computer with its whirring fan. Try listening to music on an airplane; listen as ALL quiet passages disappear into the massive background noise.

              So I don't like it and I think we're poorer for it. Yet I understand why the market chooses compression/maximization.
              ______________________________________________

              "Your own limitations render you incapable of realizing that not everyone is as limited as yourself."

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              • #8
                Interesting example with the Andrew Sisters. I've noticed this on newer compilations for 50's stuff like Tony Bennett's hits, etc. It's tragic.

                Just this past weekend I was jonesing for some Wings. Band On the Run is a cool album. Some of McCartney's Wings stuff, though frequently maligned, is awesome. Anyway... I'm in Barnes and Noble so I can scan any album. I pick up Band On the Run and listen to the title track. It's cooler than I remember. Then I notice a Wings compilation from maybe 1 year back. I cue up the same tune for comparison. Holy Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!!! What a crime. Gone is the easy, open quality. It's slammed_____!

                I hope we're keeping those original masters healthy 'cause some day soon we're gonna want them.

                And Blue, Blue Jean Blues is an amazing tune.

                I done ran into my baby
                And finally found my old blue jean
                Well I could tell that they was mine
                From the oil and the gasoline
                __________
                Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                Jesus

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                • #9
                  What does "spectralized" mean?
                  Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


                  Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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                  • #10
                    What does "spectralized" mean?


                    EQ most likely.
                    __________
                    Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                    Jesus

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's one of modern society's little paradoxes that, upon the arrival of technology that could support a dazzling dynamic range, the powers-that-be decide they can only use the top 3% of that range.

                      BUt I understand why. Look back 37 years, to the first release of LedZepII. Page wanted to make the 'loudest' record ever. Put it on your turntable, and the needle literally could not track - it would skip out of the groove. They thought they solved the problem, and tried again with Physical Graffiti.... and got the same problem.

                      The search for maximum loudness has been going on since the advent of recording. And nowadays, when so few people actually listen to music as an activity, that music is mere background. Played in noisy environs like your car, or on your computer with its whirring fan. Try listening to music on an airplane; listen as ALL quiet passages disappear into the massive background noise.

                      So I don't like it and I think we're poorer for it. Yet I understand why the market chooses compression/maximization.


                      And it was a lot worse for 45 singles -- for the same reason as today -- artists and/or producers were worried that if the new single wasn't at least as loud or louder than the other singles in the stack on the changer that they'd get shut out. (Whereas, even if an LP was in a stack, the listener would probably go over to the hi fi within a song or two to turn it up, presumably.)

                      But 45's were mostly quite lo fi things, paradoxically. I remember the first time I heard a stereo, hi fi 45 -- I was pretty stunned. I knew that, theoretically, 45 rpm should give higher fidelity but it was almost always the opposite -- 45's were usually made with the worst, recycled vinyl (they ground the whole business, labels and all, so each successive batch of recycled record vinyl was worse than the last). But when done right, a 45 could really be stunning.


                      Anyhow... meet the new musical industrial complex... not that different from the old musical industrial complex.

                      .

                      music and social links | recent listening

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                      • #12
                        What does "spectralized" mean?


                        An algorithm that generates the second and third harmonics of any program signal, and summing that to the program. Quasi artificially refreshing the upper spectrum for more brilliance, similar like an Exciter.

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                        • #13
                          Well we've talked about this a lot, but man, it really has got to stop or people will listen back to these CDs ten years from now and say "No wonder people stopped buying music..."

                          As a mastering engineer, I'm subject to the same demands of artists wanting the maximum loudness and me wanting something that sounds good. I've spent a tremendous amount of effort coming up with mastering techniques that are a compromise between the two. The end result is an album that doesn't seem quite as loud (because it isn't), but you can turn it up without having your ears bleed

                          The one thing I will say is that this is a very critical process. There's a very small "window" where you can have a "loud" CD and still retain dynamics.
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                          • #14
                            To be fair, some new bands in which I have no interest--say, Fall Out Boy--write and record with that ultra-slammed sound as the target. There is a kind of immediacy to it, I guess For better or worse, it is the aesthetic. But to kill music from another era and with another aesthetic entirely, it is truly a crime against humanity. And musicians and recordists have been complaining about for years now.

                            I was listening to a weird Giant Sand album the other day that was remarkable for how uncompressed it was. I mean, extreme, extreme dynamics to the point that it too was very difficult to listen to.

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                            • #15

                              The search for maximum loudness has been going on since the advent of recording. And nowadays, when so few people actually listen to music as an activity, that music is mere background. Played in noisy environs like your car, or on your computer with its whirring fan. Try listening to music on an airplane; listen as ALL quiet passages disappear into the massive background noise.


                              You know, that's a good point. Or try turning up the music in order to cut through the background noise and hear the quiet passages, and the loud parts could blow your eardrums out.

                              I never thought of it in that way, but it makes sense. Maybe music is deliberately mastered nowadays to fit the lifestyles of the people listening to it. People used to sit in their living room or bedroom in front of the stereo and just listen to an album; nowadays people put music on in the background, or listen to their Ipods through little earpieces while other things are going on. It sucks for those of us who do still like to sit in a quiet room and listen to music through good speakers, but we aren't the ones who the music is being made for. It's being made for the general audience.
                              ...

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