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The Top 5 Scariest Audio Abominations

Did you hear that...?


by Craig Anderton




CBS Copycode. This was a short-lived attempt to end home taping by saying “hi” to stupid: put a -50dB notch at 3,840Hz, and if a recorder senses there’s nothing up there, it can’t record. Besides, upper mids are for snobs. But it‘s a brilliant strategy for protecting music: if the music sounds worse, no one will want to steal it! Hmmm, the catch is they might not want to buy it, either...ooopsies.


The Most Horrible Sound Ever. It’s official! After statistical analysis of over 1.1 million votes, Professor Trevor Cox of the University of Salford’s Acoustic Research Centre found that the public considers vomiting the most horrible sound ever. But cheer up, techies: microphone feedback came in a close second.


The Free Earbuds They Give You on Airplanes. Lilliputian bass, treble as ugly as political ads, midrange distortion optimized for masochists, and the same degree of comfort as sticking a #2 pencil in your ear...what’s not to like? Mitigating factor: the level of quality properly complements the alleged “chicken” in-flight dinner. Well, at least the dinner they used to serve back in the days before life jackets for water landings were “first come, first served.”


Re-Masters” of Classic Tracks. Okay, some of these are done well. But the people who slap on a limiter and boost the highs with perfectly good music deserve a special place in hell...like maybe the room where the Spice Girls play 24/7 at top volume with 14 dB of limiting, 26 dB of boost at 4 kHz, 8-bit resolution, and an 8 kHz sampling rate. But there is an upside: even Satan won’t go in there.


PA Systems in Train Stations (Except Japan). “Your attention please! Train number geemum to ummphnerk is now jupersnif at gate grigarf! Flig snapoo gronflinum!”




Craig Anderton is a Senior Contributing Editor at Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.


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Evan M  |  February 16, 2018 at 7:11 pm
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