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Author Topic: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks  (Read 34874 times)

Barry Hufker

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #45 on: March 01, 2005, 10:54:56 am »

Hot levels are not limited to pop, rock,etc.  I completed a classical disc of choral music.  I thought it had all turned out well until I heard the final CD.  Either the producer, the label (an international one) or the mastering engineer decided the music had to be compressed and limited until it was sh*t with barely any dynamics.  Each section of soprano, alto, tenor, bass was mushed together. Further, this person(s) EQ'd the hell out of it until all the "S" sounds were so piercing and sibilant it was painful to hear.  That sound can surely cut glass.

I complained but no one listened to me.  Had I known it was going to sound that way I'd have demanded my name be taken out of the credits.  I feel as J.J., I don't want someone to think I record or mix that way.  Now I am stuck with my name of this mess.

Barry
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Albert

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #46 on: March 01, 2005, 11:43:44 am »

hollywood_steve wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 16:47

I'm really surprised that no one has commented on the original post and the two sets of wave forms.  Granted the 2nd set is ridiculous, basically a straight line at 0dB.  But didn't anyone else notice that the first set of waveforms is also almost dead flat, only at a slightly lower level?  There are still zero dynamics, its just that the overall level has not been boosted quite so much.  But the big problem isn't that the 2nd set is closer to 0dB, its that both sets have zero dynamics!!!


I noticed this too.

The original file doesn't have any dynamic range either, although it has a very small range of transients. Whether that's what the artist wanted or not, it's still a pretty bad example to hold up to make the case for dynamic range. As you say, the only real difference between the two is that the second example has no dynamic range at a louder level than the first example has no dynamic range.
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compasspnt

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #47 on: March 01, 2005, 12:10:55 pm »

thesoundguy wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 02:36



If people had to look at stuff that was mastered this loud on a pinned VU meter, perhaps then they'd understand how wrong this is (since clearly they cant tell by listening to it).


Part (albeit a small part) of this whole problem is the lack of VU meters today!  Kill the peak meter!

Or at LEAST have both!
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lucey

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2005, 12:12:51 pm »

J.J. wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 10:40

.
I just hate the fact that somebody might listen to this album as is and then think that I don't know how to engineer or mix, because it doesn't sound at all like what I mixed.  I would think that an ME who is asked to make an album sound shitty against his judgment should want the same anonymity, no?




Yea, if you're low on the totem pole, your work is looking bad.  Then again, if that's the deal, that's the deal, right?


Seems like your 'image' comes down to your relationship with the person paying the bills and picking/communicating with the ME.

I've suggested a Professional Statement of Principles over on BBs forum that would be unenforcable and fluid in interpretation, yet would allow some teeth and a basis to begin lower and move up ONLY as requested.

Read the ideas, and responses to the doubters of such an effort here
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Brian Lucey
Magic Garden Mastering

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J.J. Blair

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #49 on: March 01, 2005, 12:35:38 pm »

Good news. The ME just called me, cause he got my e-mail.  At the time he did this, he had just switched from Sonic to Audio Cube and I guess hadn't totally dialed some stuff in.  He told me that he just got the Lavry blue converters and wants to redo it, that he feels really bad that I'm unhappy with it.  

What a nice guy.

Anyway, I know that the screenshots I posted only show the transients and not a lot of dynamic range, but take my word for it that certain transients, like the kick drum thumping you in the chest, had disappeared.  Also, cymbals suddenly sounded distorted and the distorted electric guitars sounded extremely harsh.  
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studio info

They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

David Schober

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #50 on: March 01, 2005, 12:40:38 pm »

Albert wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 10:43

hollywood_steve wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 16:47

I'm really surprised that no one has commented on the original post and the two sets of wave forms.  Granted the 2nd set is ridiculous, basically a straight line at 0dB.  But didn't anyone else notice that the first set of waveforms is also almost dead flat, only at a slightly lower level?  There are still zero dynamics, its just that the overall level has not been boosted quite so much.  But the big problem isn't that the 2nd set is closer to 0dB, its that both sets have zero dynamics!!!


I noticed this too.

The original file doesn't have any dynamic range either, although it has a very small range of transients. Whether that's what the artist wanted or not, it's still a pretty bad example to hold up to make the case for dynamic range. As you say, the only real difference between the two is that the second example has no dynamic range at a louder level than the first example has no dynamic range.


You're both correct about this.  How else could one interpret these two screen shots?   As you guys said, the original mix had already been squashed!  The second mastering had the ability to make it louder, and keep it's so-called dynamic range.  This is exactly the thing I'm talking about.

I know MEs who have lost work over this issue.  Thankfully they're busy enough so it doesn't matter.  But the only way Sheryl Crow's CD got made that way is because somebody approved it.  Sheryl, her manager, mixer, and lable all signed off on that mastering job.  If anyone thinks the mastering is done on it's own and the ME has the final say, then they don't know how things work.  

Blaming the ME is focusing on the symptom.  The disease is that those in control want this stuff...so they get it.  I'm not sure the disease is curable.  But blaming the ME is the wrong place to look.
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David Schober

maxdimario

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #51 on: March 01, 2005, 01:15:46 pm »

Again.. if the way to master records is to squash the shit out of them, to the point that it sounds like a novice at the helm, aren't mastering engineers concerned that once the quality is low enough they will be replaced by cheaper in-house mastering suites with software limiters and spectrum analizers?

..just wondering.
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David Schober

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #52 on: March 01, 2005, 01:24:34 pm »

maxdimario wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 12:15

Again.. if the way to master records is to squash the shit out of them, to the point that it sounds like a novice at the helm, aren't mastering engineers concerned that once the quality is low enough they will be replaced by cheaper in-house mastering suites with software limiters and spectrum analizers?

..just wondering.


Max,  you took the words right out of my mouth.  After I posted I was thinking that
about that.  Not only what you say is true, but even if the ME's refuse on principled grounds, who's to say the labels won't get their own little mastering setup and do the damage themselves.

The problem is a top-down problem.  And the solution will be top-down.  The MEs can't wage this war on their own.  It's got to be addressed by the producers and mixers first.  
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David Schober

bblackwood

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #53 on: March 01, 2005, 01:31:02 pm »

David Schober wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 12:24

The problem is a top-down problem.  And the solution will be top-down.  The MEs can't wage this war on their own.  It's got to be addressed by the producers and mixers first.  

But the mastering engineers can decide to not be part of the problem...
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Brad Blackwood
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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #54 on: March 01, 2005, 01:34:21 pm »

I think the problem is that the A/R guys and execs think we're over-zealous audiophiles complaining about imperceptible things in the music.  These guys don't have the ears to hear what terrible things they are doing to the music, and I'm scared to say it, but unless MEs or producers become label owners, I don't think its gonna change.
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Michael Norwood
Wood Bros. Productions

Timeline

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #55 on: March 01, 2005, 01:44:04 pm »

I agree pk limiters can abuse but when I pk limit my live 96k recorded/analog mixer feeds I use caution, I find it helps quite a bit. 44.1 is such a hideous sample rate anyway I think it's ok to try and get low level signals, echos and top end off the bottem of the dynamic range. It seems to help rock anyway if done at the mix and not afterwards. If your mixing to 1/2" maybe after but 'at the mix' is best I think.

I recently compared a mix L2 non-L2 and preferred the L2 crunching off the RANDOM peaks that would go over.

That doesn't mean I crushed it right to the top of left to right channels, no.

I produce, not master so I certainly know what my music should sound like.

I once went to mastering at MCA studios N. Hollywood and ended up redoing it myself because the life had been crushed out of it.

I think we all need to step back and a/b a bit more AT THE MIX...

Cheers,

Gary Brandt
Engineer/Producer
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Gary Brandt
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wolffy

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #56 on: March 01, 2005, 02:59:11 pm »

I've been following this thread, and I just happened to come across this review today of Queens of the Stone Age's 'Songs For the Deaf' on allmusic.com.  The underlined part is what's relevant.  It seems that AE's are not the only ones noticing...

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Certain people would have you believe that Queens of the Stone Age's third album, Songs for the Deaf, is the return of real rock — a bonecrushing work of boundless imagination, the cornerstone in a new era of great rock, much like Nevermind was a decade beforehand. These people, coincidentally, happen to be in the same group that criticizes the Strokes and the White Stripes, claiming that those two bands are nothing but hype, while shamelessly indulging in breathless hyperbole whenever they speak a single word about QOTSA. Anybody who heard Songs prior to its release claimed it was the greatest rock album in years, at least the greatest since Rated R, setting up expectations impossibly high for this very good album. To begin with, this ain't accessible — not because the music is out-there or unfamiliar (lots of Cream filtered through garage rock, prog-metal, album rock, and punk does not make one a Borbetomagus, nor does it make it "imaginative," either), but because it is so insular, so concerned with pleasing themselves with what they play that they don't give a damn for the audience. This extends to the production, which sounds like a stoned joke gone awry as it compresses and flattens every instrument as if it were coming out of a cheap AM car radio. Sure, that might be the point — the album begins with radio chatter, and there are lots of jokey asides by a fake DJ — but Deaf winds up being entirely too evenhanded and samey, since every guitar has the same beefy, mid-range, no-treble tone and Dave Grohl (aka the Most Powerful Drummer in the Universe) is pushed to the background, never sounding loud, never giving this music the muscle it needs. As such, it becomes tiring to listen to — too much at the same frequency, all hitting the ear in a way that doesn't result in blissful submission, just numbness undercut with a desire to have some texture in this album. Once you get around this — which is an effort; unlike, say, the Strokes' Is This It?, whose thin production worked aesthetically and enhanced the songs, this sound cuts QOTSA off at the knees — there indeed is plenty to enjoy here since the band is very good. They're exceptional players, especially augmented here by Grohl on drums, Mark Lanegan on vocals, and Dean Ween on guitar, plus they're very good songwriters, whether they're writing technically intricate riff-rockers or throwbacks to Nuggets. All of this is sorely missing from most guitar rock these days, whether it's indie rock or insipid alt-metal, so it's little wonder that so many fans of great guitar rock flock to this, regardless of its flaws. But that doesn't erase the fact that, above all, QOTSA is a muso band — a band for musicians and those who have listened to too much music. Why else did the greatest drummer and greatest guitarist in '90s alt-rock (Dave Grohl and Dean Ween, respectively) anxiously join this ever-shifting collective? They wanted to play with the prodigiously talented Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, two musicians who share their taste and willingness to jam. It results in interesting music and an album that, for all of its flaws, is still easily one of the best rock records of 2002. But, to be needlessly reductive, the analogy runs a little like this — QOTSA is King Crimson and the White Stripes are the Rolling Stones. Which one is "better" is entirely a matter of taste, but which one do you think plays to a larger audience, and is more about "real" rock?

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Christopher Wolff

dcollins

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #57 on: March 01, 2005, 08:43:51 pm »

J.J. wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 02:14


Where's Dave Collins in this conversation?


He's trying to balance being a service provider with what's really best for the clients sound...

The origin of mastering clipping definitely started at the top, as they were the only ones that could afford the first digital faders!

Just like your dry cleaner, you can always request "no starch."

DC

mark fassett

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #58 on: March 01, 2005, 09:43:49 pm »

I listened to Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" song today on my local radio station, and it actually sounded OK until the loud guitars came in... and it was the strangest thing, the vocals were ducking each time a the guitars hit a note.  In short, it was pathetic.  I don't know how loud this record is compared to others, but the labels don't realize how shitty this loudness wars is making their songs sound on the radio.  It's HORRIBLE.  Same thing with the Maroon 5 CD, which sounded very bad on the radio too.  
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Geoff Doane

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Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2005, 08:23:59 am »

Level wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 22:23


Beleive me, the compressors that started this shit reside in stand alone CD recorders and also the panasonic SV3700/3800 DAT machines.

My Sony 7050 (11K) would clip the crap out of digital with an analog input..the panasonic dats and the marantz CD recorders had built in limiters.

If I were to take a clean mix and ptch it into the SV3700 balanced input analog and crank the gain on the record input control to 10, it will sit there at -6dbfsRMS and actually sound sorta like the mix only jammed to hell.



Hmm... I won't argue that hyper-limiting isn't bad for the music, but I don't think I would blame the SV-3700.  It may clip more nicely than the Sony converters, but there's no limiting on the analog inputs that I can detect.  With a simple +4 dBu tone, I can hear the distortion the instant the OVER segment lights.  With program, the distortion is certainly more subtle, but you can still make it go SPLAT! if you abuse it.

Marantz CD recorders I have no experience with, so I'll offer no opinion there.

Geoff Doane
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