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thenamelessdead
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:39 pm
Posts: 72
Location: Plymouth, UK
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:35 pm 
 

Production has always interested me - even to the extent that I nearly started a course on music production. Why didn't I? To expensive.

The sad thing about loudness is that it makes music I like difficult to listen to. There are non-metal examples, such as this from Muse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Yc3HhSl1Q. I like this album (they are a good band) but it seems to suffer from loudness and it's physically difficult to sit through it. So rather than get the occasional spin my cd sits idly in its case. Why any band should want this to happen is beyond me, and let's face it bands as big as Muse (and Metallica of course) really must have some input into how the end product sounds, if they want it (and I'm pretty sure Metallica do take a hands-on approach to this).

Remastering/remixing comes in to play here too. Does anyone else feel the Megadeth reissues are quite loud? They certainly need to be turned down to a lower volume in my car stereo compared to most of my cd's. A good comparison is Testament's early albums, which suffer/benefit (depending on how you look at it) from a fairly basic production. I need to hike the volume up a fair bit to get them to the right level, but that's a better solution than loud production.

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Corpus_Chain
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 1:34 pm
Posts: 120
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:49 am 
 

I thought the new Black Sabbath album sounded pretty good. I like how clear the bass is. It's proper doomy.
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Piikkienkantaja
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:54 pm
Posts: 16
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:06 pm 
 

The limited dynamic range built into nearly all modern metal recordings because of the Loudness War is made even worse by radio stations. Many DJs do not realize that once their levels are up to 100% modulation, any further increase in the volume control on the main board only drives the limiter further into clipping. Once when a local station was severely clipping, I called the DJ and had him turn his main board volume down almost as far as it would go. This had no effect on the volume perceived by the listeners; but it eliminated the clipping and re-introduced the lost dynamic range of the music.

On the subject of the recordings themselves, one notable exception to the Loudness War is "Time I" by Wintersun. At 3:10 into track #1 you think he's at full power. Wrong-O! Track #1 blends into track #2 and at 0:30, all hell breaks loose and once again you assume this is full power. Wrong-O! Just wait another ten seconds.

Of course, if this album had been engineered like most of what is being produced nowadays, all this effect would be lost. To say nothing of the mush that would remain when this album is broadcast on the radio.

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Arkhane
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:39 pm
Posts: 1570
Location: South Texas
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:00 am 
 

This loudness war is honestly what I think kills a lot of guitar tones that were badass back in the day. Take Hypocrisy's Osculum Obscenum album, and how bassy and deep it sounds, and compare it to Virus and Extreme Divinity. It seems like the engineer's job is to edit the tone of the instruments so that they can have more sound room to make the master track LOUDER. Almost every band has done this. They start off in their careers with badass guitar tones, badass bass tone and hit and miss drum tracks and EVERYBODY LOVES IT! But no, lets turn this knob and probe this mic a little.... ten years later, its all the same. Robotic, grey, lifeless WALL of this trebly midrange static. That wouldn't be a problem if the BASS WASN'T STRIPPED OF ALL ITS BASS!

This is why live recordings are so much better than album recordings. Because when they are done right, the guitars, bass, drums and vocals are not in perfect level to create a sort of "straightline sound wall", but they are still equipped with their natural power and tone. Meaning, the bass is deep, ballsy, and creates the perfect thunderstorm for the coming onslaught; the guitars completely saturate the air with electricity and give the room the ambience of rage or despair; the drums are fucking monstrous and brutal, and may remind one of warfare or the marching of an army of demigods, gods, or titans; and the vocals pierce the air and give the beast the breath of life... not let you here every break and crack of the voice coupled with the breathy noises between lines that only makes the vocalist sound like a crying pussy. No, it has not only life, but POWER! Isn't that what metal is about anyway? Not being mad or sad or as obnoxious as possible, but to give the musician and the listener power to fucking go beyond this fucking world and transcend life itself, rather than trim it down so it feels like looking at a row of trimmed bushes outside your local baptist church.

And with this rant, I believe I am finished. Will reread and edit as I need to, just in case of grammatical errors.
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Piikkienkantaja
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:54 pm
Posts: 16
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:12 am 
 

Arkhane wrote:
... Isn't that what metal is about anyway? Not being mad or sad or as obnoxious as possible, but to give the musician and the listener power to fucking go beyond this fucking world and transcend life itself, rather than trim it down so it feels like looking at a row of trimmed bushes outside your local baptist church.


Hedge trimming is a good metaphor for what modern audio engineering is all about. Here is a paragraph from a letter I wrote a couple of years ago in support of some DJs who were trying to get their station to clean up its audio:

Quote:
The limiter acts like a hedge trimmer. When all parts of a hedge are "too high", the hedge trimmer cuts everything to a fixed size and no evidence remains of the height of the parts of the original hedge. When everything in the music is loud enough to exceed the limiter's threshold, the limiter will cut everything in the music to a fixed volume and no evidence remains of how loud the notes were in the original recording.

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PvtNinjer
Veteran

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:45 am
Posts: 2629
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:02 pm 
 

Arkhane, I believe that is art in general! To evoke an emotion, to take you to another time or place! Like you said, the loudness war has removed all dynamic range from a piece and thus any emotional impact. Thank the gods that at this point in time, I am seeing a lot of metal bands forgoing the obnoxious mastering practices of the loudness war and re-introducing a dynamic range to their recordings rendering something that sounds both modern, crisp and crystal clear but also organic and full of life.

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rexxz
Retired

Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:45 pm
Posts: 8756
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:19 pm 
 

I hate this term so much. People actually think there's some sort of dick slinging competition going on with every producer, artist and engineer in the world to see who can be the loudest.

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Arkhane
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:39 pm
Posts: 1570
Location: South Texas
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:19 pm 
 

rexxz wrote:
I hate this term so much. People actually think there's some sort of dick slinging competition going on with every producer, artist and engineer in the world to see who can be the loudest.

I think we all realize its not an actual war, its just every engineer's attempt to touch and probe a recording's natural sound to try to get it as loud as possible. It's like the FDA and all the stupid crap they do and all the dyes and preservatives they use to get bacon flavored sprinkles instead of just shredding bacon itself into sprinkles

I'm listening to Nokturnal Mortums - The Voice of Steel album and a few Moonsorrow albums and just thinking to myself how the mix compared to other crap I listen to is quitter, but the atmosphere and dynamics are fucking great.
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Last edited by Arkhane on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rexxz
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Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:45 pm
Posts: 8756
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:22 pm 
 

But that's the thing, not every engineer does it and not even a majority do it as the term suggests. Let's just call it what it is, bad engineering. The sensationalist phrase doesn't help audio culture at all in my opinion.

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Arkhane
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:39 pm
Posts: 1570
Location: South Texas
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:31 pm 
 

I agree, but the problem is that this is what the majority of labels want. They wanna set their stereos on 7 and have every band they have signed sound exactly at the same volume. Thank the fuck Peter Tatgren's last Hypocrisy album didn't deprive the low end from coming out for the sake of loudness, and it actually sounds decent compared to that gong of an album "Extreme Divinity". Reminds me of the Arrival
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rexxz
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Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:45 pm
Posts: 8756
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:38 pm 
 

All I am saying is I don't think it's as big of a problem as this thread suggests. I certainly don't think the majority of labels wants this either. Even major pop labels are starting to back down on this practice, and they were the ones who initially started it. There's probably hundreds of thousands of music labels out there man.

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Arkhane
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:39 pm
Posts: 1570
Location: South Texas
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:42 pm 
 

Oh I see..... Your trying to bring me down a peg Mr. Rexxz.... Well this here thread aint big enuff fer the two of us!!

Nah jk, I gotcha man.
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rexxz
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Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:45 pm
Posts: 8756
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:43 pm 
 

I'm really not, I don't mean to sound confrontational or aggressive; this just hits close to home to me because I work in the industry and am inundated with this culture.

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PvtNinjer
Veteran

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:45 am
Posts: 2629
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:19 pm 
 

You are right, rexxz. I feel like I notice this "trend" if you want to call it that, in more accessible genres. But, I've also noticed that a lot of albums from the past few years lack the "brickwalled" production and are actually really dynamic, even in some of the "poppier" bands, like Anubis Gate's self titled album from a few years ago.

EDIT: By a lot of albums I mean the great majority.

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Arkhane
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:39 pm
Posts: 1570
Location: South Texas
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:54 pm 
 

rexxz wrote:
I'm really not, I don't mean to sound confrontational or aggressive; this just hits close to home to me because I work in the industry and am inundated with this culture.

I was joking. I realize full and well your only stating your opinion.
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CF_Mono
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:21 pm
Posts: 1452
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:24 am 
 

I don't think it's the demand even, it's just what people naturally started doing when the tools to easily create an ideologically "perfect" engineering job became available.

The problem with modern production isn't even so much the lack of dynamic range, as it is the flatness of the sound. It takes a lot of information in the music and, well, encrypts it for the lack of a better term, you go from three dimensional to two dimensional. Sounds don't have any individual space anymore, a note cannot be loud or soft, sharp or boomy, a little bit early or late, have an echo, a character that makes it different from the next one, songs just become a sequence of notes and drum hits. It makes the music a temporal journey and less spatial. All of the frequencies pop out at once, and if you try and focus in on different frequencies, noises or instruments, you can't do it, it all just sounds like one big thing emitting noise and individual things fail to grab your attention.

On top of that, everyone has opted to pick the same tones, same production techniques and same drum triggers. Again, it makes everything crystal clear, but turns the music into a sequence of homogeneous notes instead of a grouping of different unique sounds. Harshness, character, and motifs that challenge your ear to anticipate what's next disappear.

Fenriz did a great video on production, particularly drum sounds:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aRu_3WvE6c
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DreamOfDarkness
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:09 pm
Posts: 183
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:10 pm 
 

Good to see my thread isn't dead yet :P
I think some of the problems of many modern recordings can be attributed to the ignorance of many guitarists. They want their guitar to sound full, rich and heavy, something I can understand. But while the guitar played alone sounds great with certain amp settings, it becomes a problem in the album mix as it "consumes" almost all frequencies. The drums then need to be clicky and triggered to shine through, then the vocals are added and fill up the mid range and finally the bass comes but has little room left: the low frequencies are taken by the fat guitar sound and the bass drum/toms, the mid rage (which usually contains lots of the harmonics that give the bass sound a shape) is taken by the guitar and vocals.

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dicksauce
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:53 am
Posts: 3
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:38 pm 
 

rexxz wrote:
I hate this term so much. People actually think there's some sort of dick slinging competition going on with every producer, artist and engineer in the world to see who can be the loudest.


LOUDNESS IS REALLY ANNOYING TO LISTEN TO IN FACT IT IS KIND OF LIKE WHEN PEOPLE WRITE LIKE THIS AS YOU CAN SEE IT IS REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING TO HAVE TO READ I CAN RAMBLE ON ENDLESSLY BUT I HOPE BY NOW YOU HAVE GOTTEN THE POINT

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rexxz
Retired

Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:45 pm
Posts: 8756
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:41 pm 
 

Looks like you've lost your metal card.

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