Why records are getting louder

And the award for 'Best music-related visual aid' goes to: This page about compression and mastering and why 'Livin La Vida Loca' is the loudest record ever made...


Comments:
Very interesting. An allied article concerning compression in the recording process is available at the following link - http://georgegraham.com/compress.html
 
The problem is this.
You master a record for a client with your upmost taste and decorum.
Client takes it home and a/bs your master with ultramaximized hyper squarewaved top ten hit.
Client comes back and says they want it louder.

Whaddya do?
 
I saw something like this after the "Vapor Trails" release by Rush. Interesting to see many albums by the same group analyzed this way.

My favorite quote about this album.... "this CD sounds like dogshit"

http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/articles/8A133F52D0FD71AB86256C2E005DAF1C
 
Golly, that was a GREAT link. Thank you.

That must be why I loathe 99% of new music lately, it's...ahh, clipped, yes.

Let's keep the waveforms clean boys...

"clip only in moderation"
 
great article... moderation is the way to go. let it breathe!
 
I ti is actually possible to make Vinyl far louder than CD's can ever be mastered. It was surprising that the major labels never used the technique to do it though. You take a 12'' disc and master it at 45 rpm's instead of 33 1/3, allowing for deeper and wider groves that are louder.

The reason for clipping actually is because you record and master the songs at one bit rate, and then de-sample them for CD's. This is why if you do these same studies with the same tracks on commercially produced DAT and SA-CD disks (not DVD-Audio) you will find less clipping.
 
"The reason for clipping actually is because you record and master the songs at one bit rate, and then de-sample them for CD's. This is why if you do these same studies with the same tracks on commercially produced DAT and SA-CD disks (not DVD-Audio) you will find less clipping."

This does not make any sense.
You can convert any sample rate and bit depth to any other without clipping.
 
"I ti is actually possible to make Vinyl far louder than CD's can ever be mastered. It was surprising that the major labels never used the technique to do it though. You take a 12'' disc and master it at 45 rpm's instead of 33 1/3, allowing for deeper and wider groves that are louder."

Really? What kind of dynamic range and noise floor do you get with that?
 
"I ti is actually possible to make Vinyl far louder than CD's can ever be mastered. It was surprising that the major labels never used the technique to do it though. You take a 12'' disc and master it at 45 rpm's instead of 33 1/3, allowing for deeper and wider groves that are louder."

Erm, yes it was. DJ's (in the UK at least) used the 45RPM 12" singles to get a higher quality (more vinyl moving past the stylus) and often a longer version of the track.

45RPM 12" singles were as common as 7" over here at least.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Has anyone heard the recent reissue cd "Ginger Baker's Airforce" from UK's Lemon Recordings?

Talk about your dogshit remastering! They managed to completely ruin a rare rock and roll treasure.
 
"The reason for clipping actually is because you record and master the songs at one bit rate, and then de-sample them for CD's. This is why if you do these same studies with the same tracks on commercially produced DAT and SA-CD disks (not DVD-Audio) you will find less clipping."

I agree; this is horse(you know what). The reason for the 'clipping' as it's called is abuse of Peak Limiters like the Waves L2, which compresses the dynamic range of the waveform allowing the overall level to be higher with less (or no) difference between loud and soft events. Listen to any new music; if it starts "soft" and becomes "loud" there won't be any actual volume difference.
 
Yes, I remember Bob Ludwig saying not so long ago something about how the unfortunate side of his job, as of these days, is, firstly, receiving ridiculously awful mixes to "save" and, secondly, being told to squash the crap out of records. He cited, specificly, the Foo Figthers. And, yes, (most definetely the one with the heart on it), the Foo Fighters are a prime example of comp/limiting/brickwalling gone wrong. Another artist known to push Bob into mastering hell is Beck (or maybe it's the label). Then again, I've never heard (aside from, possibly, odelay..though it's been a while.) a Beck record that wasn't mixed with total negligience of knowing how to do such a thing, so, that could lend to the awful master as well.

The worst, ever, mastering job I've ever heard in recent times is the stereo re-master of "Downward Spiral". Whoever was responsible for it ought to be dragged out, beaten, stoned, tar-ed and feathered. I had a lot of respect for the original version, the mix sounded like it was the best that could have been done, the mastering was noticeable (in terms of comp/limiting), but not overbearing. In the re-master, the apparant waves bundle wave maximizing employed, etc...has forced the volume of kick tails/decay to reach the same volume as the initial attack. You get a swooosh swooosh sound which pretty much molests in every way shape and form the way those drums used to sound. And, man, the drums were once one of the greatest things about that record. They sounded as they were, obviously recorded in a basement, or bedroom somewhere with a couple of mics, yet, eq'd and glossed over so evidently well. Friggn' sacrilige.

The good news, I have found that a lot of artists (and by this, I mean mostly jazz, free jazz, experimental, and so on with the like...but, also cats like Jim O'rourke) around Chicago are refusing to have this garbage done to their recordings. As a matter of fact, I know of many who flat out refuse to allow a single compressor (from recording to mixing to mastering) show face on their CD's.

Which makes sense, really, as the CD has a rather inaudible noise floor.
The only problem is with conventional home and car stereos being so, characteristicly, shitty, that you sometimes need to throw limiting in to a certain degree so that a listener doesn't turn their stereo up at a level where the loudest passage distorts somewhere between the CD player and the ear (usually short impulse like tweeter overdrives come about unless you're listening to track two on the second to last Flaming Lips record...that's when car doors disassemble themselves). I am finding some things have far too many dynamics, amplitude wise. Classical cd's are the greatest culprit of peaking out my stereo. Unfortunately, on the flip side, you get CD's like the London Sinfonietta/David Zinman performance of Gorecki's "Symphony 3" on Elektra/Nonesuch that are compressed and limited to a point in which the attack/sustains/decays of the string section get lost into each other. What a horrible experience listening to that, especially since the piece relies rather heavily on amplitudal dynamics.

Then again, consumers are not smart.
They know nothing about music. And they know nothing about sound. Suits at major labels know even less about
music, and even less about about sound.

My advice, to the mastering engineers of the world:

Gain some self-respect, already.
If you are a believer of fine workmanship, then don't do what an artist or suit asks you to if it makes your work sound bad. So many people, artists/songwriters/musicians/engineers
are in the habit of kissing ass to the majors. What for? Does it really make you feel better about yourself when you finally show your aging parents your name on a name-brand CD? More importantly,
do you think mastering the right way will really effect sales? Not at all, kids will buy whatever gets pushed by a label, adults will buy whatever their friends will tell them to buy, and their friends will buy whatever records a critic will tell them to buy (as if any modern music critic is anything more than a young journalism intern who thinks they know what they, in fact, know nothing about). Nothing has changed, in terms of audience, since the invention of cylinders and flat discs. I have a crazy theory that if every mastering engineer on the planet refused to "pump up" the jams, then they'd probably get away with it without being scolded (who would the label go to if every mastering engineer refused to do it?).

Then again, I am quite the amateur engineer, and I, myself, have a problem with overcompressing everything (yes, and I hate the sound of it). So, who am I to judge, eh?

Rob

Oh man, I almost forgot the best part. The "loudness wars" are supposedly about having the loudest record on the radio. This can't be possible, radio stations compress and limit everything they broadcast
so that signal is constantly at the loudest amplitude the FCC will allow to be converted to radio wave. An extremely compressed recording should, in theory, and does, in operation, sound worse during broadcast. Apparently the true reason behind this is that, at the dawn of the cd era (and I am repeating this, I have no experience in the radio field), these little compilation cd's started floating around from local promoters with music from different artists (on varying labels), the record companies felt that they needed the loudest recording in order impress the jockeys. Also, this concept began, in it's primordial form, during the heyday of the 45 jukebox (and I suppose in the modern jukebox as well), record companies obviously wanted the loudest 45 so that it would cut across the chattering "wallahs" of the clientele and hit them smack dab in the ear. Which, is a good thing, if you want people to hear your single. In today's modern
"long player" market, none of this really makes sense. And do you think a trained disc jockey would determine suitable material based on it's loudness? More importantly, does any modern disc jockey have a say on the playlist? Nope, the station plays what they determine to be suitable (which usually ties into who is handing their parent company a certain amount of money in a form that can barely pass as "not payola"..as in..advertising dollars or using their concert promoting or ticket selling sister companies).
 
whilst were on the subject of crappy modern recording and production sound I'd like to chip in my intense disgust for the trend to 'over-brighten' everything - way too much treble and far too much emphasis on the hi-frequencies. There are so many CD's that I simply can't listen to now - even from major rock and pop artists that simply slash away at my ears with this blade sharp top end. After about 30 seconds at a reasonably high volume my ears are simply under attack by this mush of white-grey noise which is suffocating the rest of the frequency range. When I listen to music from the seventies and early eighties I find they have kept the top end clean but well mixed. The list of detrimental causes in modern music is endless - bad mixing, busy production sound, bad mastering but added up they just make music very unnatural.
I blame DIGITAL - ALL DIGITIAL IS SAMPLING AND SAMPLIG IN NOT REAL. It's a 'representation' a 'characature'. An analog sound is a natural waveform CREATED in nature by air pressure and amplified but still recieved BY ANALOG EARS!Digital is a signal that is converted into a waveform.
When I get digital ears I may consider listning to digital music.
Now where can I get that bumper sticker - DUMP DIGITAL.
 
wow. i cannot believe those last two comments. dudes seems to be stuck in old-land. records are loud these days. let there be a loud war. lets see who can make the loudest record. as far as going with the "correct" techniques of mixing/mastering of yesteryear? boooring. let it be loud, let it be distorted, let it clip. lets open music and all aspects up to new ideas and constant growth, not some set of rules made many many years ago. rock!
 
Hah! That's great stuff, compound 440r, perfect parody of a Top 40 fan with tin ears!

Right on, I can't wait until every record sounds like Atari Teenage Riot coming out of laptop speakers.

"lets open music and all aspects up to new ideas and constant growth, not some set of rules made many many years ago."

Heh, genius! While we're at it, let's dump algebra and geometry. They're just hard, and I think it's time for some new ideas. Man, talk about old.
 
yeah dude, right on - let's get rid of singing in tune whilst were at it. Stupid harmonical scales, touching human voices filled with emotion and heart - who needs em!!

I want more robo-vox and beat box sine wave cacophony. It's aural anachy, man!!!woohoo!

I'm soo buzzed about a future when all music is DI'd straight into the head with a YamaTora Skull Chip (trademark). Man it'll be SO V-LOUD it'll make your brand new plastic noses bleed!!

No need for composers either just computers that scan your brain and create some crazy cool random electrical impulses. Real soundless neural musick to fill those empty spaces where thoughts used to be - that's if you can be dragged out of your 'true-life' (trademark) virtual reality pornutopic space war-simulator!

Heey the future!!!! It's gonna be BRILLIANT!!
 
" I ti is actually possible to make Vinyl far louder than CD's can ever be mastered."

Sorry Matt, it's not. You probably don't know anything about the

RIAA curve
, or how the physical medium of vinyl is used to recreate a signal. Vinyl can never, ever, due to the

RIAA curve
and physical limitations of the medium, reproduce below 40Hz or above 16kHz nor have the low noise floor that the CD format does.

CD is digital, like as in binary, and follows set algorithms that work within the limitations of laser-written substrates in disks. Vinyl, on the other hand, is not at all linear, and suffers from so many other physical problems... well, I suggest you get yourself a good book on the history of recording. Many good books to be found on the subject at
Powells Books. I'd suggest learning what an acetate is for starters, and then spend a few months educating yoursend from there.

and educate yourself before making such silly statements in public. Sorry, posting anonymously only because I don't have a blog account. Cheers!
 
I blame DIGITAL - ALL DIGITIAL IS SAMPLING AND SAMPLIG IN NOT REAL. It's a 'representation' a 'characature'. An analog sound is a natural waveform CREATED in nature by air pressure and amplified but still recieved BY ANALOG EARS!Digital is a signal that is converted into a waveform.
When I get digital ears I may consider listning to digital music.
Now where can I get that bumper sticker - DUMP DIGITAL.


I like how you contradict yourself in the same breath. Why do you need a bumper sticker? Do horse drawn buggies even have bumpers?
 
Crumbs! Why is everyone so het up over mixing technique? Let people mix, produce, and consume as they please. Analog and digital both have their good ideas and posterity will show what it effective and what isn't. Quality mixing can be done in both digital and analog formats, and horrible compression and squashing can be done in both as well. Digital is fast, easy, and fault-tolerant, without degrading on resampling. Digital has the capacity for a nearly unlimited number of tracks on a very small budget, and at sufficiently high bitrate it is nigh indistinguishable from analog. Analog (tape, at least) can reproduce a very large dynamic range and there's no warmer distortion than tape distortion. If both are done right then neither is any more human or beautiful than the other.
 
So, we're moving on from New Wave into Square Wave music, huh? :)
 
If bad music is mastered well it is still bad, it would just be dynamic too. I don't want to hear it anyway so its volume doesn't concern me.
 
DEATH TO ALL LIMITERS THAT HAVE A SETTING BELOW 0db THRESHOLD

These are supposed to be the best recording engineers in the world and yet they smash their peaks to oblivion.

Crafting the peaks is an art. Lets go back to basics folks. You CAN be loud AND dynamic! Turn your limiters off!
 
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