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Author Topic: http://www.loudnessrace.net/  (Read 3468 times)

Pet_Sounds

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http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« on: April 29, 2004, 09:29:29 am »

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neil wilkes

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2004, 10:58:45 am »

Bookmarked!
Nice one. A voice of reason amongst all the clamouring madness.
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raw-tracks

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2004, 01:00:42 pm »

Glancing over the "Big List of Squashed CDs", it seems to me that Rick Rubin has produced a good number of the Titles on that list. Granted, I am not familiar with who produced all of the albums on the list. Does anyone notice any other "Major Offenders" on the list?
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Richard

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2004, 12:49:46 pm »

Hi George, Thank you for your PM. I have also decided to reply on-line to shed a
little more light on the subject.
I read most of the 'loundnessrace.net' site, I'm not listed, yet!!!!
As you know I also 'master' projects for people.
I have recently received both digital and analogue masters from established
engineers that are already saturated beyond any belief. MANY engineers are
trying to hype the A+R using loudness devices and so presenting the
Mastering engineer with the challenge of "match or 'better' this!"
I have recently called a company after receiving a 'file' for mastering that
was distorted. As I knew the engineer ( a friend) my first response was to
call him and ascertain that this was in fact the correct source, pointing
out that it was already 'louder' than most 'hot' cd's and very distorted.
His reply was very enlightening. quote: "Richard, I didn't know that you
were going to master it, or I wouldn't have sent you the 'hyped' mix that I
gave to the A+R guy for approval".
Now, who is to blame? The mix in question was 'approved'!
In this instance I chose to 'eat it', I called the company and said that the
mix that I had received did not need any more treatment, I gave them a PMCD
sub master for free and did not include my name on the label. The outcome
was a reply for the company "thrilled at the saving" !!!!
I must also point out that I have had to re-master projects where the
Mastering was definitely 'at fault'. The situation will not be changed by
'posting' the names of the 'offenders' based solely on the final product
being judged. We do need to 'lower' the apparent volume and in fact were
given the opportunity in the 'new world' of SACD and DVD-A. It would have
been easy, and it know at least I suggested it, to have raised the output
level of these 'new' devices 6dB so that the content could be back in line
with the 'old order'. However, it would appear that a higher priority was
placed on developing a 'loudness' plug in for mastering in this new format.
Volume wins and I agree often kills the enjoyment factor.
In my opinion, the change back to reasonable levels will only come about
when there is enough talent present to override the 'fear' factor of not
being 'contemporary'.
My 3 cents worth. Richard
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George Massenburg

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2004, 03:59:02 pm »

I hope that everyone makes sure they're aquainted with Richard Dodd's considerable body of work before flaming him.

George
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Richard

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2004, 06:48:47 pm »

George Massenburg wrote on Sat, 01 May 2004 14:59

I hope that everyone makes sure they're aquainted with Richard Dodd's considerable body of work before flaming him.

George

Thank you George, As a 'newbie'(to the forum) I appreciate the 'nod'
richard
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Innominandum

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2004, 08:30:21 pm »

I listen to extreme metal and haven't purchased a newly recorded album in a few years. Yesterday I picked up a few newer albums and have now witnessed the squashing first-hand. Ouch! These albums are really, really shitty sounding. This is the future? All albums must sound like shit?

Just thought I'd add my voice to the choir. Thanks for the link!
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Jeff Sochor

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2004, 09:15:40 pm »

I've been reading Across the Great Divide - The Band in America, and in reference to the album Cahoots (1971), Robbie Robertson said "At the time, there was kind of a race going on to make loud records. At Capitol, they were saying we should master with this guy and we did. They just eq'd it and limited it to make it sound alot louder on the disc. In retrospect, I think it was a mistake". I'd be interested to hear stories about when the backlash began.
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George Massenburg

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Loudness and the changing agenda
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2004, 07:43:43 am »

I have a couple of thoughts on the subject.

There have certainly been a few times that I've lost a mix because my work, by comparison, was perceived to be softer than another mixer's work.  Often throughout our careers we've learned object lessons when a choice is made to go with someone else, and I'd have to say that overall this system is not in and of itself not so bad.

In the mid 60's, for instance, those of us working in R&B were obliged to study the competition: Motown, Cameo-Parkway (whose catalog Bob Ludwig is currently remastering), Chess, Stax and a myriad other labels (yes, there was a time when the majors didn't dominate) defined the time.  We were always trying to outdo someone else (Motown in particular was hard to match), but the process had a distinctly different feel to it.  When records came to me, it was more, "hey, did you hear the new [x]???  Unbelievable sound!"

Now, Motown records were unique.  There were exceptional...stunning in every possible way: the songs, the arrangements, the artists, the sound!  It's like when a new phenom of a pitcher hits the majors with stuff that noone else can hit (Valenzuela's screwball in his rookie season comes to mind).  And on top of everything else, Motown records were loud...they pretty much blew everything else off the turntable.  Of course, it was a well-guarded secret how they did this - and only much later did we find out just how hard they worked to make 'em loud, pushing everything from people to cutters to the limit (and on occasion burning both out).  But you would have to observe that there was no one major component to the success of Motown.

One of the biggest object lessons for us was the idea that changing musical arrangements could be very powerful in bringing ideas forward and making a sound forceful.  Organizing (one wants to say managing?) a studio full of musicians isn't easy, and the job gets harder as the quality/experience of the musician gets better.   It wasn't long before we learned that inspiration in the studio trumps directive most of the time (but not always).

Fast forward to the 80's and 90's and you have a business that's been thoroughly corrupted by a tidal wave of cash (from re-mastered CD's), and technological innovations that make it easier and cheaper to make something louder by pushbutton by fiat.

The only thing this button doesn't make is music.  

From the perspective of 2004, the records that were thus hyped seem to have the worst chance of surviving to deep catalog status.

My question is: how many (and which) recordings in your collection do you keep coming back to?   Do any of them represent that effort to make them...I want to say...artifically loud?  Overuse of a Finalizer, perhaps?

George
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sdevino

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2004, 01:56:32 pm »

George,
I think you really started to hit on something when you mentioned arrangement. Any engineer who knows anything about the technology they are using understands that the best way to make a kick drum sound powerful or the tails on a reverb to sound detailed, is to make sure that little if anything else is competing for the same dynamic space.

Old Police songs like "Message In a Bottle" or "Walking on the Moon" totally kick but in terms of power (listen to the drums). The arrangements are amazingly open and detailed. But Aerosmith songs made in the same time frame don't have near the amount of punch or kick ass to them simply because everyone is playing all the time on them, and this is true on the original vinyl as well in remastered CDs.

I try my best to work with artisits to help them achieve arrangements that will get them the sound they want via the recording process. I think most of my clients appreciate this. I also find that well arranged CD's we make tend to be mixed at 3 to 6 dB lower reference level than denser mixes and achieve the same apparent loudness.

In summary I think that seeking loudness via the limiter is basically chasing ones own tail. You want it louder because the kik is being buried by the bass and the powerchord from the guitar all hitting at the same time. the reverb tails dissappear because the hi hat is hit constantly and drowns them out.

My 2 cents.

For what its worth everything I go back to listen to tends to be really well arranged.

Steve

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Steve Devino

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Bob Olhsson

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2004, 02:39:51 pm »

George, I'm blushing!

I think it's really important to understand WHY great sounding recordings and loud recordings are important. This really hasn't changed at all since Joe Atkinson was cutting at Atlantic and we were trying to beat him at Motown.

The path a recording takes reaching the public leads through a very complex decision making process. Nobody can possibly promote, play or stock every recording ANY label releases. At many points along the way people must take a listen and throw out more than half of what's on their plate. Sooner or later there will be two equally qualified recordings that a decision needs to be made between. The best sounding recording will win provided it isn't significantly softer than the competition. This is WHY both level and sound quality will always count in a big way.

So why has level at the expense of quality taken over for the most part? The answer to this lies in the change from airplay being sales-driven to airplay being determined mostly by market research. Conference rooms full of demographically-selected consumers listen to the first 30 seconds of fifteen or twenty contenders and vote. Within this context, more level raises the number of votes almost every time. The result of this process is the bland, excruciatingly loud CDs we hear dominating the air.

I don't know how we fix this but I do know that in the long run music must be released from this stranglehold or it will lose most of its fans.

George Massenburg

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2004, 04:03:34 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 02 May 2004 13:39

[...] Conference rooms full of demographically-selected consumers listen to the first 30 seconds of fifteen or twenty contenders and vote. Within this context, more level raises the number of votes almost every time. The result of this process is the bland, excruciatingly loud CDs we hear dominating the air.[...]


Bob, so happy to have you chime in.

Let me correct a couple of things and add one inportant point.

The snippets that are reviewed are likely to be as short as 10 seconds.  And there are hundreds of contenders.  I understand that occasionally even record companies supply these snippets, and that in the business they're called "Research Hooks".

Further, it's my understanding that the rating comes from a box with push-buttons, numbered 1 through 5, 1 being terrible and 5 being excellent; 3 is average.  It's my understanding that for some purposes research releases lists that throw out everything but the 3's.

Your research dollars at work.

George

p.s. Although they'll tell you differently, Arbitron (which dictates nearly all radio playlists) is no better.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2004, 01:56:03 am »

George Massenburg wrote on Sun, 02 May 2004 15:03

 ...it's my understanding that the rating comes from a box with push-buttons, numbered 1 through 5, 1 being terrible and 5 being excellent; 3 is average.  It's my understanding that for some purposes research releases lists that throw out everything but the 3's.


It figures.

The same music some people passionately love others will passionately hate. In the old days the jocks glued it all together. You can hear great examples of what American radio USED to sound like at http://www.reelradio.com.

Level

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Re: http://www.loudnessrace.net/
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2004, 04:22:18 am »

I agree Bob!

I was looking at my metering system today and it is all but impossible to find any mastering done this century without the VU's off the scale. If I play these back at 0VU, the peaks are running around -10dB NO DYNAMICS AT ALL!!

My last project, I hit the VU no higher than +1.5 at any time and the peaks were running -0.5

This should be a guildline for proper overall dynamic content (music/freq. dependant of course)

Crushing the 2mix buss in mixing has got to go. Nothing the mastering engineer can do but whittle away at the compression using wild EQ curves...which is counter productive.

Recordings I keep coming back to are:

Sheffield Lab. Thelma Houston and pressure cooker
Flim and the BB's /Tricycle.
Most of the Fourplay.
Keep on smiling by Wet Willie is very nice on vinyl (closer to master than the CD's)
Lincoln Mayorga and friends "distinquished guests"
Ry Cooder "Bob to you drop" (14 bit master)

I could go on. The SACD's I am getting lately must be pre-emphisis RIAA masters. What is with all this 3K output and pain as of late?? 50hz running 7 to 8 dB down compared to the vinyl counterpart..
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