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There's a lot less high frequency content in modern recordings...

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  • There's a lot less high frequency content in modern recordings...

    One of the trends of the moment must be rolling-off or shelving high frequencies. If you listen to an eighties R&B or pop tune, and then listen to something recorded and mixed today, there is a lot less treble content, despite the advances in technology. Listen to Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Adele, David Gray, etc., and the high end seems damped. I'm sure it's genre dependent, but it sure seems to be true of the singer/songwriter types.
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  • #2
    Interesting. Maybe it's because people are no longer turning Dolby on while recording then leaving it off when mixing. But maybe it's because the more recent songs are being mixed and mastered by a new generation of engineers who haven't blown out their hearing.
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    • #3
      The latter sounds plausible but I suspect there's some consumer training in the mix.
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      • #4
        Just a thought, but maybe it's a reaction to digital and a desire to minimize some of the gremlins that rear their heads most obviously in the high frequency range?
        **********

        "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

        - George Carlin

        "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

        - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

        "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

        - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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        • #5
          My guess is that shaving down the high end helps music listened to on laptop speakers sound just a little bit less horribly horrible.

          nat whilk ii

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
            Just a thought, but maybe it's a reaction to digital and a desire to minimize some of the gremlins that rear their heads most obviously in the high frequency range?

            These days when mastering I often roll off the very highest frequencies with a steep 48/dB octave filter. The rolloff starts at about 15 kHz. Interestingly, some people have commented "Oh, so you're using analog processors now, eh?" I will say it does indeed sound somewhat more "analog."
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            • #7
              I haven't noticed any reduction in high frequencies but I hear a lot less of that "digital" brittleness in today's' recordings.
              Digital converter technology has improved greatly since the early days and I think that has a lot to do with why today's recordings sound less harsh.

              I have a hypothesis that there are certain frequency ranges that are more pleasing to the human ear than others. Human ears are attuned to the frequency range of human speech and I think low-mid range frequencies are pleasing to most people. It just so happens that analog tape can produce a pleasing frequency range or "bump". To much high end and to a lesser extent to much low end can sound fatiguing after a while.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Folder View Post
                I haven't noticed any reduction in high frequencies but I hear a lot less of that "digital" brittleness in today's' recordings.
                Digital converter technology has improved greatly since the early days and I think that has a lot to do with why today's recordings sound less harsh.
                I think that could definitely be a contributing factor.

                It's also possible that more and more people are using tape simulators and other analog simulation plugin software on their stereo busses and that's having a sonic effect on the highs too. I suspect it's probably a combination of factors that vary on a case by case basis.
                **********

                "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                - George Carlin

                "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

                  I think that could definitely be a contributing factor.

                  It's also possible that more and more people are using tape simulators and other analog simulation plugin software on their stereo busses and that's having a sonic effect on the highs too. I suspect it's probably a combination of factors that vary on a case by case basis.

                  DAW gain staging awareness too.
                  I think more engineers have figured out the audible benefits of recording individual tracks at lower volumes than they used to in the analog world.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by E-money View Post


                    DAW gain staging awareness too.
                    I think more engineers have figured out the audible benefits of recording individual tracks at lower volumes than they used to in the analog world.
                    I don't know about that. I still get a staggering amount of stuff from home (and even occasionally from "commercial") studios that is just slammed to the wall and even oftentimes clipping because they tracked it so hot. I've been trying to remind people for years that they don't need to track that hot, but if the stuff I get is any indication, lots of people still hold the mistaken belief that tracking as hot as possible is preferable to leaving some headroom.
                    **********

                    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                    - George Carlin

                    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Anderton View Post
                      … a new generation of engineers who haven't blown out their hearing.
                      I recently had my hearing tested and I do have significant high frequency deficiency. I've been aware of the classic noise induced dip at 4KHz and took that into consideration but now I'm beginning to wonder if I can trust myself.

                      My loss came from years of playing in front of a Twin Reverb while in close proximity to crashing cymbals.

                      I'm concerned about this "new generation" and what will happen to them as a result of turning up their ear buds to compensate for ambient noise. I set the maximum volume on my iPod at home in a quiet room. Sometimes when I'm outside, the iPod is completely drowned out by the sounds around me but I cannot make it louder or I probably would.
                      As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                      from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                      It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                      .

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                      • #12
                        not just high sound pressure levels but also be aware that constant or long term exposure to even relatively low sound pressure levels are quite capable of causing fatigue and permanent damage to our hearing...
                        my p0asting days were numb bird... now im done... bye.

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                        • #13
                          all those hours sitting in front of the piano keyboard?
                          my p0asting days were numb bird... now im done... bye.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by onelife View Post
                            I'm concerned about this "new generation" and what will happen to them as a result of turning up their ear buds to compensate for ambient noise.
                            It's a significant and very serious health concern. Today, 1 in 5 teens has some form of hearing loss - that's a rate 30% higher than in even the 1980s and 1990s!

                            I set the maximum volume on my iPod at home in a quiet room.
                            That's a very good suggestion - otherwise you're dealing with masking and can't assess the levels accurately.

                            Sometimes when I'm outside, the iPod is completely drowned out by the sounds around me but I cannot make it louder or I probably would.
                            That's the other thing that people are often unaware of - the barrage of environmental noise we're subjected to in everyday life. It's particularly bad in urban and suburban environments, but even rural folks can be subjected to more noise than they might think. Everything from traffic and vehicle noise to household items like vacuum cleaners, blenders, lawnmowers and even hammers.

                            While some locations and occupations are worse than others (and "musician" and "recording engineer" are definitely high-risk occupations!) no matter where we live or what we do for a living, modern society assaults our senses (don't get me started on light pollution), and even damages them - if we let it. Being aware of the volume level that's hitting our ears, and being willing to turn it down (when you can) or wear protection / limit exposure time (when you can't) is a good place to start if you're interested in fighting back, and protecting your precious hearing.
                            **********

                            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                            - George Carlin

                            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              "precious hearing" indeed

                              we need to bring Beethoven back for a lecture tour of high schools
                              As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                              from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                              It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                              .

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