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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Reason In Audio => Topic started by: J.J. Blair on February 27, 2005, 02:28:00 am

Title: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 27, 2005, 02:28:00 am
This is what I was complaining about in the L2 thread.  The waveforms on top are direct from the 1/2" masters.  The bottom pair are imported from the CD.  The CD waveforms are brickwalled at 0db, and there are no transients whatsoever.  The cymbals sound distorted and the the guitars sound harsh.  But hey, the CD is loud!  (Ugh.)

Stop the madness!!!!!  You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better.  The L2 is at best, a piece of prosumer gear, that should be left to any amateur that wants to try to master his own mixes.  As the ad says, "doing your own mastering is like doing self dentistry."  I could throttle my mastering engineer on this album, even though he's a friend.  He really made me look bad.  I thought mastering was supposed to make your mixes sound better?

Now repeat after me:
I pledge allegiance to the analogue compression and rarefaction of the audio signal, and to the dynamics for which they stand, one nation under a groove, unditherable, with fidelity and high end above 22 khz for all.  Amen.

index.php/fa/721/0/
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: thesoundguy on February 27, 2005, 02:36:25 am
there was a time when the word "square" was used as an adjective to describe something that more or less, sucked.  Incidentally that was around the time when rock had perhaps the most dynamic range.

just an observation.

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).

dave
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 27, 2005, 08:19:44 am
J.J. wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 01:28

...You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better....

It's really not OUR call! Probably the best thing any of us can do is to return smashed CDs to the artist's management company and demand an undistorted copy of the CD. The only thing they know is that too low a level can hurt how a CD goes over in sales and focus group meetings which is their source of paranoia. If they get the message that too high is not acceptable to the fans, they'll do something about it. NOBODY ELSE in the food chain has the power to turn it down.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 27, 2005, 09:19:14 am
Click here for some wonderful examples of the distortion created along the way by hot CDs.

http://www.tcelectronic.com/TechLibrary
Scroll down to Loudness Control and Mastering

Then choose "programmed for distortion."

Barry
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: ammitsboel on February 27, 2005, 09:36:51 am
Barry Hufker wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 14:19

Click here for some wonderful examples of the distortion created along the way by hot CDs.

http://www.tcelectronic.com/TechLibrary
Scroll down to Loudness Control and Mastering

Then choose "programmed for distortion."


Isn't the TC article about overshooting and not about loudness(RMS level)?
Seems to me that this thread is about what RMS level does to music, especially if achieved by a Brickwall limiter.

TC has a lot of paper about overshooting and practical information, but i don't think you will find any information about music quality on their site. This thread is about music quality.
In fact TC is behind some of the worst music destroying devices worldwide.


Best Regards
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Barry Hufker on February 27, 2005, 12:08:39 pm
According to TC Electronic's notes:
"The soundfiles included with this download have been prepared to reveal the audible side  effects of extensive use of compression and clipping in mastering. The examples demonstrate  that distortion should be expected to happen downstream of the mastering studio, for instance  at a broadcast station or at the consumer."

So I think it starts with mastering for extreme loudness but becomes more distorted down the chain.

I believe this relates to the topic.

Barry
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: PaulyD on February 27, 2005, 12:28:45 pm
Quote:

In fact TC is behind some of the worst music destroying devices worldwide.


Is TC mastering gear inherently bad?? Even if used judiciously?

Just curious,

Paul
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: JamSync on February 27, 2005, 01:52:11 pm
PaulyD wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 17:28

Quote:

In fact TC is behind some of the worst music destroying devices worldwide.


Is TC mastering gear inherently bad?? Even if used judiciously?

Just curious,

Paul


TC makes some fine products. Any tool can be misused and not all self-styled mastering engineers know how to use the tools to the best advantage.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: ammitsboel on February 27, 2005, 02:30:43 pm
Since this thread is about the serious disadvantages of Brickwall limiting, such as "shy dynamics", a "floating" audio image and more "sameness" to the sound witch leads to boredom in the long run.

Then brands such as Waves L2 and TC really counts in as the "bad guys", because as soon as they start to react with the signal you will get the typical digital Brickwall limiter character, witch I believe is the theme that's up to discussion in this thread.

Best Regards

 
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: ammitsboel on February 27, 2005, 02:36:39 pm
JamSync wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 18:52


TC makes some fine products. Any tool can be misused and not all self-styled mastering engineers know how to use the tools to the best advantage.


But, how would you win a formula 1 race driving a go kart?
Even if you are the worlds best go kart driver you will never turn it into a formula 1.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: WhyKooper on February 27, 2005, 03:27:36 pm
............"Stop the madness!!!!! You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better"............

Yeah, and you McDonald's guys at the drive-thru gotta put your foot down to the idiot customers who think ketchup instead of mustard = better.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: ammitsboel on February 27, 2005, 03:59:36 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 20:27

............"Stop the madness!!!!! You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better"............

Yeah, and you McDonald's guys at the drive-thru gotta put your foot down to the idiot customers who think ketchup instead of mustard = better.


Is it just me that have a hard time trying to understand where the link is here?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 27, 2005, 04:14:48 pm
If I didn't know that he is losing his sight and probably doesn;t hang out on his computer reading forums, it's responses like that which sometimes make my wonder if WhyKooper is really Al Kooper.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on February 27, 2005, 05:32:31 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 13:19

J.J. wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 01:28

...You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better....

It's really not OUR call! Probably the best thing any of us can do is to return smashed CDs to the artist's management company and demand an undistorted copy of the CD. The only thing they know is that too low a level can hurt how a CD goes over in sales and focus group meetings which is their source of paranoia. If they get the message that too high is not acceptable to the fans, they'll do something about it. NOBODY ELSE in the food chain has the power to turn it down.


I agree totally. The whole chain is driven completely by money and profit - and only when THESE factors are percieved to be threatened will things change. The main problem now is that the user has no real choice - if they want to hear music they have to put up with what is manufactured - both artistically and technically. Sure CDs are starting to be returned to the stores (or not purchased in the first place), but what replaces them if nothing else is available? And with every passing day our ability to hear what we want, or even manufacture what we would like to hear ourselves and distribute to others, is being steadily eroded.

As ever the madness is being generated by control - as does all such madness at all socialogical scales - when the desire to make profit transcends the product itself and the desire to retain control transcends what is good for the people within society that are supposed to be supported by the regime, they are encouraged to believe they themselves have chosen. And IMHO control is always accomplished the same way - i.e. by taking what is natural and required in the human condition that was always there before and 'graciously' offering it back again in 'sanitised' form - with strings attached, in the form of forced compliance with granted permissions(!) paradoxically made palatable and legitimised within the mass opinion by installed (and often virtual) notions of fiscal prosperity, unpredented choice, security and apparent freedom! Sad

The very economic ethos that fuels the advances that lead to such unprecedented technical facilty and artistic potential, by dint of it's own very selfish motivations, ends up devaluing the end results to the point where it all starts to become essentially worthless. And we wake up to the fact that we had more freedom, more art and a better human condition - before such advances were ever thought possible - before the ethos itself became more important than the human condition it was apparently there to foster and support. The sad irony therefore is that by the time you can carry around an entire music collection in a box in your shirt pocket, there's nothing worth down loading onto it. It's so very sad - and I don't know the answer to it - it's the natural result of an ethos that encourages and rewards human being's desire to scramble to the 'top of the pile' Sad

Of course the answer the regime is applying (which IMVHO we are suffering now in our art) is obviously and predictably to simply restrict your choices in order to maintain the economic ethos at all costs - whilst hiding this agenda by providing an ever increasing 'choice' that spans an ever decreasing diversity - the limits of which are decided soley on potential fiscal gain.
I.e. you have all the choice in the world, but it's all the same - so you actually have no choice at all!!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 27, 2005, 11:35:20 pm
How about we just remind A&R people that the "A" and the "R" don't stand for "production", "mastering" or "telling me how to mix my fucking album".  LOL.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Norwood on February 27, 2005, 11:41:07 pm
J.J. wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 20:35

How about we just remind A&R people that the "A" and the "R" don't stand for "production", "mastering" or "telling me how to mix my fucking album".  LOL.

Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  Laughing
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 27, 2005, 11:50:57 pm
BTW, that article you posted the link on is great, along with those samples.  I just sent this e-mail to my friend (a 'famous' mastering engineer) who mastered that stuff I'm unhappy about.  I'm hoping that he decides he'd like another shot at it.

Dear (name withheld),

This Joker Five Speed thing has really been driving me nuts.  I'm going to send you a copy of the CD you made me and then a copy of the mixes, unmastered.  The distortion caused by the brickwall limiting is just embarrassing.  If you listen to it, I really think you wouldn't want people to think that this is representative of your work.  I know I hate for them to think that it's representative of mine.  I mean, it really sounds distorted.  .

I'm attaching an article you might want to check out on the subject.  I hope all is well with you.  Thanks.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober on February 28, 2005, 12:14:25 am
Hello all,

Just last month I was one of three mixers on an album released by a major label.  The album was taken to Tom Coyne.   Certainly many consider Tom at the top of the heap of mastering engineers.  My mix, and one other mixer had no problems and he did a great job on them.  (He was also very complimentary on our work.)  However he struggled for days over the third mixer's work.  Those mixes arrived to him already smashed to bits.  In fact it was seven dB louder than ours!  It was so hot, so smashed that it took him multiple attempts to make it sound decent.   Of that mix he said there was hardly anything he could do with it.  He felt it was the kind of mixing that an engineer might provide to the label for a sales conference or something where one wanted to hype the company, but was totally unsuitable for mastering.  He'd hoped there was an alternate mix with usable limiting and compression, but that was all that was given.

In this highly competitve world I understand why a mixer might do this.  Before mastering his mix would be tons louder (as if that's hard to do!) but in the end, the album suffered.  This mixer is one of the busiest in town and yet labels don't seem to be able to know the difference and keep using him.  In the past he has done great work and I've admired his abilities.  But like someone who loves hot food and piles on the sauce, apparently what was once reasonable, he considers not enough.  For him, and apparently the labels, he's gotta keep on piling on the hot sauce to make it seem normal.

Who do I fault?  The mixer first of all.  He should know better about what a mastering engineer needs to make a good sounding album.  Sending up a smashed album gives the mastering engineer little to work with.  Even if Coyne didn't add a bit of compression or limiting (and I don't think he did) it would still sound like crap.

Secondly I fault the labels for not hearing the difference.  Few A&R guys and gals have a clue about what sounds good.  Their job security are usually one album from firing so they go with the "safe" route.  Rather than hire the best mixer, they'll go for one that won't get them in trouble in case the album flops.

In my view the problem originates not at mastering, but with the mixers themselves.  Good mastering engineers cry out for decent mixes that aren't smashed to bits.  Maybe  some of the mastering houses are guilty of this.  But guys like Sax, Ludwig, Coyne, Grundman, Marino, etc are not guilty of this.  They pray for a decently mixed album and don't destroy it when it comes to them.

IMHO it's us mixers that need to put our foot down.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: thesoundguy on February 28, 2005, 12:49:43 am
hi david-

while I dont disagree with your points, there is no shortage of catalog remasters that sound like absolute dogwaste as a result of some of the people you named there.  It may be incumbent upon us as mixers to deliver a "masterable" product, and Im behind you %100 with that idea, but to suggest that ME's are not the problem is beyond naive.  There is an entire generation of kids growing up today on AC/DC remasters and Black Sabbath remasters and Rolling Stones remasters that just simply have no idea what these records sound like.  The parametric EQ existed when Highway to Hell was mixed and they didnt EQ the record originally like it was remastered because back then someone had the sense to realize that it sounded like dog waste notched like that.  Today, that sensibility is lost in the face of ME's going "check out my hot shot moves".  Catalog remasters today rarely resemble the original issues, god forbid some of the "name" ME's out there dont put their fingerprint on these classic records.  Sorry "name" ME, your fingerprint is just simply not appropriate on a record that has a preceeding reputation, a reputation btw that was built when maybe you were in high school.  This bugs me to no end.  

As irresponsible as it is for mix engineers to not provide a decent mix with dynamics to a ME, its equally irresponsible for us as mix engineers to let the ME's off the hook, there is MORE than enough catalog remasters to suggest otherwise.  Ever heard the reissue of "the slider"?  Oh my god.  That wasnt the result of ANY mix engineer doing anything wrong, hell, they didnt even have 350n/wm stocks back then...

dave
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bobro on February 28, 2005, 03:10:12 am
Here's what's really going on, J.J. I posted this in the mastering forum as well.

The solution will only come when the problem is properly diagnosed. Squashing is a symptom of the true disease, which is enforced homogeneity.

I listened carefully to hours of pop radio the other day (the playlists come mostly from America at the station, I know because I worked there).

Rhythm? Squashed to grids. Limited to move within a tiny range. And not one damn song outside of 4/4 (talk about brickwall), within a limited range of tempi and duration.

Instrumentation? Limited- in general, drums, bass, guitar, vox is obviously the "standard" and anything else is decorative or novelty.

Lyrics? Limited to things "people can understand and relate to" (a self-fulfilling prophecy). After such a dose of pre-digested ideas, the only CD I felt compelled to rush out and buy would be Japanese opera or something.

Styles of singing, voices? Limited to a handful of recognizable stereotypes, it's as strict as the Fach system in German opera houses.

Scales and temperment? Brutally brickwall limited to equal-tempered major and minor- these parameters are even robot patrolled now.

And the last straw, dynamics.

Face it: pop music is heavily limited and squashed in every concievable parameter, has been increasingly so for decades.

Since these advertising jingles masquerading as music are ubiquitious, pouring out of speakers everywhere whether you like it or not (I'm always reminded how my aunt described the non-stop music and speeches over loudspeakers at the factory, working under Stalin), subservient people start accepting these limitations as "normal" or even "natural", God forbid.

So I get jazz musicians digitally editing the shit out of their performances and explaining how it should be loud like the Red Hot Chile Peppers for example. And talented musicians trying to shoehorn their ideas into the limerick forms dominating the airways.

-Bobro





Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on February 28, 2005, 05:53:09 am
Bobro wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 08:10

Here's what's really going on, J.J. I posted this in the mastering forum as well.

The solution will only come when the problem is properly diagnosed. Squashing is a symptom of the true disease, which is enforced homogeneity.

I listened carefully to hours of pop radio the other day (the playlists come mostly from America at the station, I know because I worked there).

Rhythm? Squashed to grids. Limited to move within a tiny range. And not one damn song outside of 4/4 (talk about brickwall), within a limited range of tempi and duration.

Instrumentation? Limited- in general, drums, bass, guitar, vox is obviously the "standard" and anything else is decorative or novelty.

Lyrics? Limited to things "people can understand and relate to" (a self-fulfilling prophecy). After such a dose of pre-digested ideas, the only CD I felt compelled to rush out and buy would be Japanese opera or something.

Styles of singing, voices? Limited to a handful of recognizable stereotypes, it's as strict as the Fach system in German opera houses.

Scales and temperment? Brutally brickwall limited to equal-tempered major and minor- these parameters are even robot patrolled now.

And the last straw, dynamics.

Face it: pop music is heavily limited and squashed in every concievable parameter, has been increasingly so for decades.

Since these advertising jingles masquerading as music are ubiquitious, pouring out of speakers everywhere whether you like it or not (I'm always reminded how my aunt described the non-stop music and speeches over loudspeakers at the factory, working under Stalin), subservient people start accepting these limitations as "normal" or even "natural", God forbid.

So I get jazz musicians digitally editing the shit out of their performances and explaining how it should be loud like the Red Hot Chile Peppers for example. And talented musicians trying to shoehorn their ideas into the limerick forms dominating the airways.

-Bobro








Yes - the lowest common denominator, both technically and culturally Sad But the saddest thing of all is that those who dare to say this in today's atmosphere are immediately termed as arrogant kill joys that yearn for what is increasingly seen as a horrible grey and deprived past. In today's world new must always be better and more must always be synonymous with gain - if this were not so then all the impetus that keeps our societies going - would be catastrophically removed.

And you are touching on another really important effect - the artists themselves fighting radio play processing. A few years back I noticed a worrying trend for artists and producers to avail themselves of the processing radio stations put on their channels so that it could be applied to the mix itself to either;
- hear what a track would actually sound like when the public first heard it,
- or more worryingly, apply the processing to the actual final mixed product to avoid too much further dramatic changes at the stations, in order to get back SOME control of what your audience will actually hear!!!!

Since the way a track sounds on radio is often the lever that encourages people to buy it, the radio stations themselves have actually taken control of your programme by imposing their own processing without your consent or control!! In what other art form would this be acceptable?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 28, 2005, 07:26:20 am
I wish I could remember who did these particular Stones remasters, but ... he actually referenced the original vinyl to try and match it.  Shocking!  What  a fucking concept!

BTW, I'm somebody that likes to compress the stereo buss, but I never use more than -3db gain reduction at most.  If you can't get your mix to pump with that subtle a dynamic change, then you must have used Sound Replacer on everything.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on February 28, 2005, 08:52:50 am
Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 14:19

J.J. wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 01:28

...You mastering guys need to put your foot down to the A&R idiots and tone deaf musicians who think that louder = better....

It's really not OUR call! Probably the best thing any of us can do is to return smashed CDs to the artist's management company and demand an undistorted copy of the CD. The only thing they know is that too low a level can hurt how a CD goes over in sales and focus group meetings which is their source of paranoia. If they get the message that too high is not acceptable to the fans, they'll do something about it. NOBODY ELSE in the food chain has the power to turn it down.


Can someone explain how a cd that peaks at -0.5 dB and stays there actually translates to sales?
radio will compress the shit out of it if especially if it's a CHR format.
MTV will compress the shit out of it as well.


The only time a listener will judge the sound volume is at home on their ghetto blaster, after sales.
If the listener has a real hi-fi the cd will sound like shit because of the digital grain you get as an artifact of L2 etc.
and no dynamic range means the records will be listened to few times before it gets 'archived'.

Windows media player has a built in AGC to make all songs the same loudness when mastering cd's


I have tried to buy modern cd's, hoping to find something worthwhile but they sound like absolute shit to me.

sorry mastering pro's but this is really pathetic.

you are basically working as people who know the difference between good audio and crap audio and then you do what is asked of you by people who haven't got the slightest clue of what good audio is about.  This way the standards become progressively lower and lower.

one of these days the quality will be so low that record companies will master in-house on PC's.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 28, 2005, 10:25:19 am
Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 16:32

...Of course the answer the regime is applying (which IMVHO we are suffering now in our art) is obviously and predictably to simply restrict your choices in order to maintain the economic ethos at all costs ...

If only it were that intelligent!

I see no signs of it being driven by anything other than classic middle-management paranoia, a classic example of the Peter Principle. Obviously the result looks exactly the same but the solution is different and I don't think nearly as hopeless.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 28, 2005, 10:34:46 am
Paul Frindle wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 04:53

...you are touching on another really important effect - the artists themselves fighting radio play processing....
- or more worryingly, apply the processing to the actual final mixed product to avoid too much further dramatic changes at the stations, in order to get back SOME control of what your audience will actually hear!!!!...

Hopefully the myth that more processing to the CD will lead to less processing by radio is dead by now.

The reason for crushing CDs is in order to GET them on the air! This is about how the first 15 to 20 seconds sounds in a meeting.

It isn't about what they sound like on the air where no peak limiting at all generally results in both the best and loudest sound.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober on February 28, 2005, 11:00:56 am
Hello, thesoundguy,

I can't speak to reissue product since that's not in my control.  However the reject buttton for that is, or at least shoud be, in the hands of the artist.  If they don't hear they're albums being ruined there's nothing that can be done.

However, guys like myself, presumeably you as well, should be in the driver's seat when it comes to mastering our mixes.  If a mastering engineer smashed my mix, either he'd fix it or another one will be hired.  Of all the guys I've worked with, Sax, Marino, Grundman, Collins, Hall, Marcussen, Weinberg, and Ludwig, NONE of them would take a good mix and squash it to death...at least that's my experience.  If I heard a smashed album coming out of their den, I'd imagine it was that way when they got it.  If one of them did a reissue and squashed it, then you're right.  Guilty as charged.  But my feeling is that the pressure for this kind of sound has not been a result of squashed reissues forcing the hand of current mixes to be mixed in kind. Its the other way around.  Current trends, as bad as they are, are driving the reissues so when they are played, the stand up to modern levels.

I believe if we mixers can start making the change, the reissues will follow.  Don't think for a minute that the squash masters of today are mixing that way so they can compete with a 20 year old reissue.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: hollywood_steve on February 28, 2005, 11:47:07 am
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!!!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 28, 2005, 12:08:56 pm
Steve, the first waveform has little dynamics because it's basically three very loud electric guitars chugging eigths the entire song, and the singer insisted that the guitars were the loudest thing in the mix.  It's "rawk".  Hey, I don't write the shit.  I just record it.  However, what dynamics are there vary maybe 2 to 4db, as opposed to the 0.0db of the mastered version.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on February 28, 2005, 02:02:44 pm
David Schober wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 05:14

Hello all,
In my view the problem originates not at mastering, but with the mixers themselves.  Good mastering engineers cry out for decent mixes that aren't smashed to bits.  Maybe  some of the mastering houses are guilty of this.  But guys like Sax, Ludwig, Coyne, Grundman, Marino, etc are not guilty of this.  They pray for a decently mixed album and don't destroy it when it comes to them.



hmm...then, George Marino *didn't* do this?

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on February 28, 2005, 02:13:02 pm
J.J. wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 12:26

I wish I could remember who did these particular Stones remasters, but ... he actually referenced the original vinyl to try and match it.  Shocking!  What  a fucking concept!




Bob Ludwig, I presume.

from  http://www.highfidelityreview.com/news/news.asp?newsnumber=1 0158

Quote:

Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering, a member of the panel in today’s seminar is also the person responsible for the Rolling Stones re-mastering process. After playing a few tracks (more on that later), he went on to talk about why the new discs sound the way they do. He said that they had re-mastered the recordings not necessarily at the highest fidelity possible today (using modern restoration techniques), but rather in the ‘spirit’ of the music. While the project team went back and used the original master recordings, they also auditioned all the releases that have been made over the years to get a ‘feel’ of the music. In essence, what this means is that when a recording was found to be below standard, they didn’t try and make it sound perfect since even the graininess has long been considered part of the the music.



The Stones remasters sound really good, no brickwalls there...but I do wonder what reference recordings they were using for 'Ruby Tuesday', 'cos the chorus on the remastered version is unlike any I've heard before on vinyl or CD (Mick solo, no harmony vox).

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 28, 2005, 02:51:57 pm
I thought it was Bob, but I couldn't remember for sure.

BTW, I just sent my 2nd over to the mastering facility with copies of the album mastered and unmastered w/ a note attached.  I'll let you know what happens.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober on February 28, 2005, 04:31:20 pm
krabapple wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 13:02

David Schober wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 05:14

Hello all,
In my view the problem originates not at mastering, but with the mixers themselves.  Good mastering engineers cry out for decent mixes that aren't smashed to bits.  Maybe  some of the mastering houses are guilty of this.  But guys like Sax, Ludwig, Coyne, Grundman, Marino, etc are not guilty of this.  They pray for a decently mixed album and don't destroy it when it comes to them.



hmm...then, George Marino *didn't* do this?




Those pics do say a lot...however it's a bit anecdotal.  I presume those who posted the screenshots did their best to make sure none of the waveforms had been zoomed in.  But as I said above, if this was done in mastering, then guily as charged.  However, I still, still maintain that the buck doesn't stop with them.  The label, the producers, the artists all have authority to stop this kind of work, no matter where or when it happens.  All I can speak of is my personal experience with these guys.  Not a one of them expressed to me their prefrernce for squashing a song.  George did a great job for me and it was only slightly compressed on a few songs.  Some, mine being one of them mixed on an Neve, took no compression at all from him.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not absolving all mastering engineers from blame.  But my experience is that the greater sin occurs before the mixes even arrive.  But even if it were true that it was all or mostly the mastering engineers at fault, where the hell are the mixers, producers, artists, and lables?  As I said before, if I got a ref that had been decimated by a mastering engineer I wouldn't accept it.  These little screen shots are interesting, but somebody approved it.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: PRobb on February 28, 2005, 05:08:16 pm
Its wrong to blame the AEs and MEs. A guys gotta work. And if the clients are demanding loud and you don't deliver, they will go hire someone who will. And its hard to blame new artists. Bob Ohlsson is right, its about what the first 15 seconds sound like in a presentation. And if some asshole committee has the power, you have to impress them. The ones who can to change this are the major artists. They have the power to say no. And if albums with dynamics start to sell, then the suits might see that everything doesn't have to be squashed to sell.
In the 80s, we would have been having this discussion about those crazy, huge snare drums being the loudest things on every record. This too shall pass.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: thesoundguy on February 28, 2005, 05:10:18 pm
David Schober wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 21:31

Not a one of them expressed to me their prefrernce for squashing a song.


Im sure they can express their preference about being able to earn a living though.  Its my new favorite past time to blame mastering engineers, especially ones that work out of a certain place in NYC, but with the bands (?!!) and or labels so concerned with things being so loud, any good mastering guy can only lose a gig so many times because his ref wasnt "loud enough" before he starts to increase the level on his masters just to remain competitive in a retarded market.  Unfortunately, ME's need to eat and pay bills, so they have to compete with whatever BS the industry cooks up.

About two years ago I interviewed for a job with some very famous actor who was doing a record.  The interview ended with him throwing me out of his apartment after a debate went completely wrong over how loud a CD should be.  After that experience, there is absolutely ZERO doubt in my mind that some part of this is brought upon the industry by the artists themselves.  His honest question to me was "why would you not want the loudest CD possible, that is the whole point of mastering".  And this was said by someone who you would not expect to go and bite on some hype.

I would love to know what bob ludwig did to the last sheryl crow record which was about 300 dB over 0FS.  Her previous records were insanely good and I couldnt last through a song and a half on the last one.  It is really hard for me to swallow the idea that even someone like ludwig is immune to market trends.  The label is paying for his services, if they want it loud, by proxy of taking the job, the ME is obligated to make them happy.  The other option is not take the job, not give them a master they are unhappy with a post-it note attached to it explaining why it sounds so much better than what they thought they were paying for.  

Its not my intention to knock these people because they are just making a living.  But the suggestion that every single record that has gone to a ME for release on a major label has arrived to them THAT loud is just silly to me.  We can mix this stuff without a ton of limiting and an ME can master it all nice making us BOTH look like superstars and the label will hand the master to an intern with an L2 to get their level if thats what they are convinced they must have, which currently, for some reason, is the case.

I guess the moral is the customer is always right.  I recently worked on a project and recalled it because it was too loud and got it fixed and walked away happy, but Im the record label and the buck stops here.  When some monster coropration decides they want the loudest CD at any cost, ultimately who are we to say?  When a label can keep a band in the studio for 21 songs and say "I dont here a single yet, record more", then 23 songs "I dont here a single yet, go record more" (sad but true) they CERTAINLY can say "this isnt as loud as so and so, make it louder".  Its lousy to admit that, but isnt that the bottom line, they are paying customers, so...  Its up to indie guys who actually have some control over this stuff to change things, but bands now are so used to that sound, good luck trying to explain to them why their record shouldnt be as loud as the band they are competing with.  I can go on all day long about why Im not gonna mix like that but at the end of the day, the only clients I get are people that are predisposed to that style in the first place.  Im not converting someone dead set on a loud record, perhaps thats the better discussion instead of pointing fingers at whose fault all this is or isnt.

My next rant is about the EQ catalog reissues get for which some folks out there ruining my favorite records have absolutely NO excuse...

dave
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on February 28, 2005, 05:24:43 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 15:25

Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 27 February 2005 16:32

...Of course the answer the regime is applying (which IMVHO we are suffering now in our art) is obviously and predictably to simply restrict your choices in order to maintain the economic ethos at all costs ...

If only it were that intelligent!

I see no signs of it being driven by anything other than classic middle-management paranoia, a classic example of the Peter Principle. Obviously the result looks exactly the same but the solution is different and I don't think nearly as hopeless.


Under normal circumstances I would hope that your belief was correct - that the phenomenon is simply a reflection of ignorance and sheep-like aping - rather than a reflection of a deliberate and measured desire for profit. But sadly IMVHO I think this view may be optimistic.
IME more aggregated 'intelligence' and resource is expended cococting marketing techniques and the atmospheres needed to support them than was ever allowed to be dedicated to the generation of the actual product itself Sad One visit to the inner workings within a head office of any multinational media corporation should be enough to illustrate that.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: WhyKooper on February 28, 2005, 08:50:52 pm
......."Its wrong to blame the AEs and MEs. A guys gotta work. And if the clients are demanding loud and you don't deliver, they will go hire someone who will......."

THAT is the most intelligent phrase spoken on most of this entire thread.  

If you work at McDonalds and you start giving me a hard time about what I'm ordering, you're not going to get my business.  And no doubt, you'll get fired in the process.

This isn't remotely like McDonalds?  Is mastering not a business?  Do the clients not order what they want and then sign off on the projects once they get what they want?  Including these so-called butchered mastering jobs?  

You guys who say things like "my mastering", "my mixes", "blame this guy", "this mastering guy butchered this poor artist's recording", "blame those guys", "things should be like this", "should be like that", "this is ruined", "that is ruined", "need to do this", "need to do that"...NO...these are not "your" mixes, these are not "your" mastering works.  

These works, these projects, these preferences, belong to the people who created the work, or own it because they paid for it, and are writing the check to you to have you to master the project.  And if they say "hotter", "Odb on everything", "squash it to make it as loud as these other 5000 projects, WHO ARE YOU to argue?  WHO ARE YOU to say, "but look at this waveform".  WHO ARE YOU to say, "but if I do this, your record won't have dynamic range just like all the other records that don't have dynamic range".

If I bring a work to you to master under the above terms and you give me a hard time, guess what?  You are not going to get my business.  Period.  I don't come to you to "educate" me. I come to you to do a task that needs to be done under certain parameters.  And if you meet those parameters and I sign off on the work...end of subject. If I'm a young artist who wants product as insanely loud and flattened as possible, and when I hear the finished "flattened" mastering job and decide, yeah, "It's loud and reminds me of the other stuff I want to compete with", WHO ARE YOU to argue?  If I say, do whatever to make it as loud as anything on the planet, and if I then sign off on your squash-job, WHO ARE YOU to condemn?

If you don't like the way certain styles of records are mastered, stop looking at their waveforms.  Stop listening to that style.  Stop listening and looking at any smashed masters from any style.   Stop accepting these types of jobs (if you're even being offered any) and go do some jazz or classical or something where you're working with a style that's recorded under the parameters YOU like and where you're surrounded by a bunch of people who WANT you to master the way YOU want to.  

And, if you're not an ME, if you're just Joe-blow sitting on the outside blowing philosophy and psychology around, condemning ME's for the condition of recordings that ARTISTS and project OWNERS are PAYING to have done that way, you are severly out of touch with reality.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on February 28, 2005, 09:14:53 pm
Surely every mastering engineer out there does whatever he can to help the client achieve his/her goals. The problem lies with those mastering engineers that simply default to over-the-top levels with no input or direction to do so.

And yes, it is a very common problem, all the way to the 'top'...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on February 28, 2005, 09:23:14 pm
I think Bob Katz K-14 should really be K-16 if you want to know the truth.

An excellent excuse to see levels get back to normal.

The "default" as Brad has stating, started in 1993/4 and it began with using the limiters in outboard Marantz professional CD recorders using analog input. Rapper mixers quickly realized they could hit analog in hard and the CD would not clip due to the inboard limiter..and the CD was damned loud. Then the A/R Scanks thought this was "better" and labels hired those rouge engineers to be in the bigger productions and from that, it became a horsepower game of idiotcy.

No Professional audio engineer started this.

It was the indies with Big Boy records and No Limit records that established this shit. They sold millions and everyone stuggled to keep up.

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.

This was what started this bullshit.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Norwood on February 28, 2005, 10:19:50 pm
Level wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 18:23

I think Bob Katz K-14 should really be K-16 if you want to know the truth.

An excellent excuse to see levels get back to normal.

The "default" as Brad has stating, started in 1993/4 and it began with using the limiters in outboard Marantz professional CD recorders using analog input. Rapper mixers quickly realized they could hit analog in hard and the CD would not clip due to the inboard limiter..and the CD was damned loud. Then the A/R Scanks thought this was "better" and labels hired those rouge engineers to be in the bigger productions and from that, it became a horsepower game of idiotcy.

No Professional audio engineer started this.

It was the indies with Big Boy records and No Limit records that established this shit. They sold millions and everyone stuggled to keep up.

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.

This was what started this bullshit.


That is awesome... screw the $1500 L2, I just found a SV3700 on ebay for $160!  I'm adding mastering to my list of services! Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 01, 2005, 05:14:33 am
Well, whoever said "somebody approved this," the answer is, that is what I'm bitching about.  As the client, listening to the CD outside of the mastering facility, I think it sounds like ass.

As far as WhyKooper's McDonald's analogy, there's a reason that McDonald's doesn't shit in a cup and sell it to you as a milkshake, either, even if you think you wanted that.  So why should MEs?  

Personally. I think that it's the ME's job to educate the client.  I mean, there were certain limitations on vinyl, and just because a client asked for it doesn't mean that you ignored the laws of physics and cut a disc that would make the needle jump off the turntable.  I mean, as an AE, when somebody asks me to do something that I know will make things sound bad, I explain to them why that is a bad idea or even let them try it so they can hear that it's a bad idea.  I don't just say, "You're the boss.  Even though I'm the professional, I'm going to let you make decisions that affect my reputation without tryng to dissuade you, because I'm afraid you'll hire some whore who will do anything you ask."  Have a single one of the MEs reading this explained to their client the effects of recursive processing and printing at 0db, and have been told to do it anyway?

Where's Dave Collins in this conversation?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: JGreenslade on March 01, 2005, 06:49:28 am
To be honest, I’m not sure the current fad for hot RMS levels stems from inbuilt limiters fitted to CDR burners in the early ‘90s. To my ears the “loudness race” started around the ‘70s, probably earlier, and much of it would have been a desire to compensate for the S/N ratio of broadcast, and the environments that house typical receivers.

I feel the problem has come to a head in recent times because of the proliferation of digital “finalisers” or “loudness maximisers” which have taken the "art" to its ultimate conclusion; whereas in the ‘70s / ‘80s engineers could implement analogue tape and analogue compression to maximise volume, which required a degree of technical understanding and could sound vaguely “pleasing” if performed “tastefully”, we now have digital packages such as the L2 or TC devices which enable any Schmoe to push a button and flat-line the mix without any real thought going into the process.

It's not just MEs - Pummelling a mix through plug-ins is second-nature in many studios, and they don’t even stop to think for a second – everything else sounds this way, why would I want to be the misfit? I wish you could see the expression on some people’s faces when I’ve tackled them on this issue – “you’re joking right? I have to do this, the company will reject my mix”.

An issue that concerns me deeply is the way that, considering so many high-profile artists / projects such as the last Johnny Cash LP have received the pancake treatment, the currency of “studio engineer” has become devalued in the eyes of many music lovers. On numerous occasions now, in real life and through web groups, I have seen hi-fi enthusiasts / record collectors pour scorn on “studio engineers” (mastering engineers included, they’re all the same in muso’s eyes), as if they were second-rate compared to engineers in other audio fields. They don’t stop to figure out the industry infrastructure (why should they?), and tar anyone involved with the process with the same brush, based upon the gross distortion / zero dynamics they witness on many releases. I can give numerous examples of when I have witnessed this contempt… Once you explain the commercial process to them, and they comprehend that much of this pressure comes from A+R / schmokus groups, their attitude changes, but how many of this vital music buying group know an engineer who can explain the causal factors to them?  


On a visit to a photographic studio last week, the owner was telling me about a “dynamics package” he’d downloaded for his Mac for the purpose of maximising MP3s. Apart from DBX expanders years ago, I think this is the first time I’ve seen dynamics processing directly targeted at the consumer. He seemed pleased with the results… I wonder what the long-term implications of such software will be???

Justin
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Brent Handy on March 01, 2005, 07:29:11 am
I just submitted a disc for a band to Disc Maker.  I wanted to see what they could do with their new mastering room.  We got back the proofs, and I am alsmost certain that nobody listened to the disc.  Same thing.  It was within .01 of full scale, it was terrible.  What's worse is that we wrote on the submission form to leave it as it was, with dynamics, just tweak as little as possible.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Brent Handy on March 01, 2005, 07:34:39 am
If this is the end that we all get, then why even bother recording above 16/44.1.  If is is going to be nice and jagged, lets just make it that way from the start, put the ME's out of work and take their pay.  In my opinion mastering is an unnecessary process now, if that's they best they can do.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on March 01, 2005, 08:14:27 am
J.J. wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 04:14

Have a single one of the MEs reading this explained to their client the effects of recursive processing and printing at 0db, and have been told to do it anyway?

Sure, but it's their art. There's nothing wrong with giving the client what they want, what's wrong is simply doing it assuming that's what they want...

I have cut obscenely loud records at the request of my clients and will continue to do so, but if they don't ask for it, they get a nice, conservative level that sounds good.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 01, 2005, 10:40:25 am
As I have said in regards to production, audio professionals should get the option that directors get, when creative decisions made by other people compromise their work to the point that they think it will harm their career: The movie becomes directed by 'Alan Smithee'.  It's funny, when they showed Dune on network TV in the '80s, they cut that thing to pieces.  I mean, they had edited about two hours off that David Lynch wanted in the film, just for theatrical release.  But aparently the TV edit was too much to bear. But not only did the credits say "Directed by Alan Smithee," a great deal of the crew had their credits changed to Bob Smithee, Joe Smithee, Dough Smithee, etc.  LOL.

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?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Barry Hufker 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
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Albert 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.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: compasspnt 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!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: lucey 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
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair 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.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober 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.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario 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.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober 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.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood 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...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Norwood 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.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Timeline 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
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: wolffy 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?

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: dcollins 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
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: mark fassett 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.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Geoff Doane 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
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on March 02, 2005, 08:29:40 am
Level wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 20:23

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

There are no limiters in the Panasonic 3700/3800 DAT machines.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Otitis Media on March 02, 2005, 12:22:37 pm
mark fassett wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 21:43

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.  


Yes, I was horrified as well when I heard that tune on my local radio here in Boston.  BCN just beats the shit out of everything with their broadcast chain.  If you listen to the disc, Boulevard sounds really good.  The whole album sounds good, IMHO.  It's loud as fuck, and has that aggressive L-A sound, but it works.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 02, 2005, 01:36:17 pm
David Schober, you keep insisting on their being too much compression on the original track.  I think you missed where I said there were three distorted electric guitar chugging eighth notes the entire way through the song.  Of course the waveform is going to look compressed, because there is very little dynamic.  The point is that with recursive processing, there are zero transients and the dynamics are even less.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: canada on March 02, 2005, 01:54:10 pm
mark fassett wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 21:43

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.  


Not to mention the vocals were pitched to hell and back on that Green Day record.  And that albums took a Grammy...  I sometimes wonder if I'm the only idiot on this planet that can tell that most vocals are pitch corrected and devoid of emotion.  I heard an R&B tune the other day that sounded like Kraftwerk for chrissakes.  The dude was souling out, technically better than Marvin Gaye, but you know in the booth the guy sounded like shit, American Idol style.  Then, to put icing on the cake, they blast it through some compression so that it never sounds pensive or dark.  These days, it has to be hot hot, louder than the rest.  I'm wondering when mixes will sound like 4 bit resolution nintendo tracks... you can get some real volume from four bit dithering!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: dcollins on March 02, 2005, 03:22:58 pm
bblackwood wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 05:29

Level wrote on Mon, 28 February 2005 20:23

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

There are no limiters in the Panasonic 3700/3800 DAT machines.



And the 7000 series of Sony DAT machines had input level controls, so it's all a mystery!

DC
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 02, 2005, 04:36:23 pm
If you take the analog input of the SV3700/3800 and crank it up into the red and use the digital out, you will see the limiter in action.

I have 2 of them and both do this.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: JGreenslade on March 02, 2005, 04:51:44 pm
wolffy wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 19:59

 
It seems that AE's are not the only ones noticing...

snip

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine



The comments tend to reinforce the notion expressed by myself in a previous post that the loudness war has devalued the currency of Audio Engineer in the eyes of a valuable group.

Justin



Before CD burners had limiters:

Taken from: Davies Lecture (late '30s in lecture order):   http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/m/15099/998/?SQ=6 a6d32815a8a07f3a193e31d71f71a58#msg_15099

Quote:


Sean then described an early limiter designed by RCA using a variable
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: mark fassett on March 02, 2005, 07:27:13 pm
Otitis Media wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 09:22

If you listen to the disc, Boulevard sounds really good.  The whole album sounds good, IMHO.  It's loud as fuck, and has that aggressive L-A sound, but it works.



Well, no offense, but I listened to the CD version today, and it is also too loud... way too loud.  That's for my taste, anyway.

More important and to my original point, if it sounds that bad on the radio, can anyone consider it a well mastered recording?  Isn't the role of a mastering engineer to make sure the recording sounds as good as possible in a wide variety of situations?  

Before you answer it's not the mastering engineer's responsibility, I say hogwash.  I think, IMHO, a mastering engineer should have an Optimod (or whatever multiband compressor or signal chain they're using these days, it's been many years since I was in radio) in the room, to demonstrate for the idiots who are making the decision exactly how shitty this is going to sound on the radio.  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: dcollins on March 02, 2005, 07:48:17 pm
Level wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 13:36

If you take the analog input of the SV3700/3800 and crank it up into the red and use the digital out, you will see the limiter in action.

I have 2 of them and both do this.


It's not a limiter, it just that the digital out isn't showing overs.

DC
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 02, 2005, 09:07:51 pm
It certainly acts like a brickwall filter from hell.

What do you call a device that allows you to keep punching up the gain and the peaks stay the same??

Compresson and limiting.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on March 02, 2005, 09:22:44 pm
Level wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 20:07

It certainly acts like a brickwall filter from hell.

What do you call a device that allows you to keep punching up the gain and the peaks stay the same??

Compresson and limiting.

No, Bill, it's simply called clipping.

There are no limiters in these machines.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 02, 2005, 10:25:13 pm
The waves are not squared off like a clip. No red digital lights saying "over".(post input...after SV) The rms Is brought way the hell up.

Try it. You get no argument from me. I would never use it like that anyway (professionally)...but it has been done. I have real equipment to give real results and not a stinky use of a box for making things ugly.

MY POINT..is it has been used this way to jack up the level.

11 years ago I saw it actually. I visit certain small project studios that used it this way and I have to take the Louisville slugger out and teach.

The wave shape looks just like what you get from compression and limiting...it does not "crack" or clip violently.

Look and you will see.

Just hook it up and look will ya??

I hate being called a liar when I know better. Scotty, you there??

    http://www.tangible-technology.com/audiobasics/levels/level. html
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: David Schober on March 03, 2005, 12:34:51 am
Does anybody still use a DAT anymore?  

My 3800 had been nothing but a CD player stand for the last three years or more.  

I think it still works, but if I ever have a DAT arrive to be played I'm going to play an older tape for a bit to make sure it doesn't decide to make a lunch out of the client's tape.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 03, 2005, 01:03:12 am
The beginnings of the DAT (portion of) discussion was about the useage 11 years ago.

I use mine at times as a client sends them. Either the Sony 7050 or the 3700. The 3800 is about to be tossed.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on March 03, 2005, 05:40:31 am
Level wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 21:25


The wave shape looks just like what you get from compression and limiting...it does not "crack" or clip violently.

Look and you will see.

Just hook it up and look will ya??

No need, Bil - I worked at a three room facility that only printed to DAT for 5 years before they switched to Masterlinks, mastering virtually everything that came through there. I am intimately familiar with the action of the 3700 and 3800, and there is no limiter in the path, regardless of analog or digital input. That's 14 different DAT machines, none of which exhibited the behavior you are describing

You must have a special machine.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 03, 2005, 06:20:20 am
Everytime I read a post about L2 abuse and the like, it really makes me consider what a ridiculous condition we are all in.
music lovers suffer most.

What a joke! Confused  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Geoff Doane on March 03, 2005, 06:41:14 am
Level wrote on Wed, 02 March 2005 23:25

The waves are not squared off like a clip. No red digital lights saying "over".(post input...after SV) The rms Is brought way the hell up.

Try it. You get no argument from me. I would never use it like that anyway (professionally)...but it has been done. I have real equipment to give real results and not a stinky use of a box for making things ugly.

Look and you will see.

Just hook it up and look will ya??




Bill,

I did an analog test yesterday on the SV-3700, and today did some quick digital tests (on an SV-4100, but I'm reasonably sure they work the same).  The red OVER lights don't come on with an AES input, even when the output of a digital console is driven well into clipping (clipping that I can hear, as well as see overs on an external DK Audio AES meter).

I think what's happening here is that the OVER lights on the SVs are only tied to the ADC output, and so can't light on playback or with a digital input.  The meters are merely analog voltmeters, reading the output of the DAC.

The Sony 7000's meters OTOH, are real digital meters, and the OVER light can be programmed to light on one, two, or more successive samples that are all ones.  That's part of the reason why the 7050 was worth 11K and the 3700 was 2K (or less).  For some reason, the Panasonic has a gentler clip characteristic, which may have led people to treat it as a crude limiter.

On the topic of broadcast limiters, the final stage before the transmitter is often referred to as a "clipper".  It absolutely clamps the maximum output level (distortion be damned!).  This might explain why some radio stations sound so bad.  Although having an Orban or other processor in your monitor chain might seem like a good idea to demonstrate its effects to clients, all you can hope for is a "typical effect".  All these processors can be set up to do nothing, or to absolutely trash the signal.

Interestingly, the more enlightened broadcast engineers claim they would rather have music that isn't squashed to death, and perceptual coders (MP3s) have more trouble with heavily processed material.  Squashing your music so the broadcaster doesn't has got to be counterproductive.

Geoff Doane
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 03, 2005, 09:26:25 am
cbc6403 wrote on Thu, 03 March 2005 05:41

... Squashing your music so the broadcaster doesn't has got to be counterproductive.
I think this is called "magical thinking."

It's tragically hilarious that people carry on about "warm vintage sound," spend obscene amounts of money on vintage gear and then trash their recordings with consumer-grade recorders and quantities of compression and limiting that nobody would have dreamed of or even dared use on most of the recordings these same folks consider to be their benchmarks.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 03, 2005, 02:26:59 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Thu, 03 March 2005 15:26

cbc6403 wrote on Thu, 03 March 2005 05:41

... Squashing your music so the broadcaster doesn't has got to be counterproductive.
I think this is called "magical thinking."

It's tragically hilarious that people carry on about "warm vintage sound," spend obscene amounts of money on vintage gear and then trash their recordings with consumer-grade recorders and quantities of compression and limiting that nobody would have dreamed of or even dared use on most of the recordings these same folks consider to be their benchmarks.


Absolutely.

and it goes to show how little individual thinking is involved in the decision making processes.

Working in the 'music world' for some people is simply a question of learning 'tricks' that they foolishly believe will make them successful and respected.

people who don't follow their instincts and sensitivity towards music are just like guys who work at McDonalds; follow the rules, push the buttons, set the timers for the fries..
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Ryan Leigh Patterson on March 05, 2005, 12:02:45 pm
I've been following this debate for sometime now, and my opinions are still in flux.  However, I'm starting to get used to the "brickwall' sound.  Imagine when guitar players started cranking up their amps 50 years ago...oh, the terrible distortion.  I'm sure many musicians and audio proffesionals were horrified with the sound, yet this sound is still one of the mainstays of mainstream pop music.

I typically work with indie bands, and alot of the heavier stuff I'm hearing today is getting this slammed, squashed, limited treatment, and to be honest, sometimes it works.  Sure the transients and dynamics get ruined, and the high frequencies get smeared, and the stereo image gets fuzzy, but when did this ever matter to most listeners??  Most people listen to music in their cars on garbage factory stereos (that they think sound amazing), tiny little computer speakers placed totally in dissary, or on cheap little mini earbuds.  For those with those with decent systems, most don't set up their stereo, or surround speakers properly.  They are usually placed where they look best, or are most out of the way, and even then they are probably wired out of phase!!  Don't even get me started on mp3s!!  I've known people who have a hard time telling the difference between a 96k mp3 played on laptop speakers and a CD over a half decent system (true story).  The fact that we are messing up our mixes with excessive limiting doesn't matter.  I've been working more and more in mono these days, because honestly, I know that most people will miss half of my mix/song in stereo due to their listening environment.  It's the same thing with home theater.

What we need to consider is that consumer audio should be more flexible, and allow for a variety of encoded and user adjustable parameters.  For example, an L2 like algorithm in the amplifer section of the stereo.  The music can be mastered at a more resonable volume, then if the A&R dude wants it loud, a simple encoding with the music will tell the built in L2 to crush the song, unless the listen wants to turn it of, or down.  
I listen to a lot of older jazz records, and when I'm driving or on the subway, the quiet sections are always too quiet, so I crank up the volume, just like badly mastered DVDs movies.  A compession/limiting feature would be great, just like the loud switch on 70's Marantz amplifiers had an eq curve to emulate the Fletcher Munson effect, why not have a "Really Loud" switch to emmulate an L2!!

Ryan Patterson

Toronto Canada  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: robero on March 05, 2005, 03:01:12 pm
saskatchewan wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 19:02

I've been following this debate for sometime now, and my opinions are still in flux.  However, I'm starting to get used to the "brickwall' sound.  Imagine when guitar players started cranking up their amps 50 years ago...oh, the terrible distortion.  I'm sure many musicians and audio proffesionals were horrified with the sound, yet this sound is still one of the mainstays of mainstream pop music.

I typically work with indie bands, and alot of the heavier stuff I'm hearing today is getting this slammed, squashed, limited treatment, and to be honest, sometimes it works.  Sure the transients and dynamics get ruined, and the high frequencies get smeared, and the stereo image gets fuzzy, but when did this ever matter to most listeners??  Most people listen to music in their cars on garbage factory stereos (that they think sound amazing), tiny little computer speakers placed totally in dissary, or on cheap little mini earbuds.  For those with those with decent systems, most don't set up their stereo, or surround speakers properly.  They are usually placed where they look best, or are most out of the way, and even then they are probably wired out of phase!!  Don't even get me started on mp3s!!  I've known people who have a hard time telling the difference between a 96k mp3 played on laptop speakers and a CD over a half decent system (true story).  The fact that we are messing up our mixes with excessive limiting doesn't matter.  I've been working more and more in mono these days, because honestly, I know that most people will miss half of my mix/song in stereo due to their listening environment.  It's the same thing with home theater.

What we need to consider is that consumer audio should be more flexible, and allow for a variety of encoded and user adjustable parameters.  For example, an L2 like algorithm in the amplifer section of the stereo.  The music can be mastered at a more resonable volume, then if the A&R dude wants it loud, a simple encoding with the music will tell the built in L2 to crush the song, unless the listen wants to turn it of, or down.  
I listen to a lot of older jazz records, and when I'm driving or on the subway, the quiet sections are always too quiet, so I crank up the volume, just like badly mastered DVDs movies.  A compession/limiting feature would be great, just like the loud switch on 70's Marantz amplifiers had an eq curve to emulate the Fletcher Munson effect, why not have a "Really Loud" switch to emmulate an L2!!

Ryan Patterson

Toronto Canada  



Hello, I'm just an amateur in this field of recording, I consider myself more a musician.

There are just some things that have struck me in the atmost peculiar way with this thread. I feel inclined to reply with some basic conceptions that atleast most of the musically conceived persons should understand. So instead of telling the answers I've found personally to be true for myself, I'm asking some questions  that you might want to ask yourselves.

Music, it connects usually to the emotional side of ones perceptions, so to say, so whenever we are listening to it, we connects to some emotion, whatever emotion it might be in the music you are involved with, or does it it? (Very important question)

Does the way you listen to music change whenever the situation you are listening it to changes? What are these situations? Why does some piece of music sound better when you are listening to it alone, and crappier when there are other oppiantted people around?  

Second, why do some records last for only a moment, and others stay there forever?

Third, what has dynamics to do with all of this?




Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 05, 2005, 07:33:42 pm
robero wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 20:01



Hello, I'm just an amateur in this field of recording, I consider myself more a musician.

There are just some things that have struck me in the atmost peculiar way with this thread. I feel inclined to reply with some basic conceptions that atleast most of the musically conceived persons should understand. So instead of telling the answers I've found personally to be true for myself, I'm asking some questions  that you might want to ask yourselves.

Music, it connects usually to the emotional side of ones perceptions, so to say, so whenever we are listening to it, we connects to some emotion, whatever emotion it might be in the music you are involved with, or does it it? (Very important question)

Does the way you listen to music change whenever the situation you are listening it to changes? What are these situations? Why does some piece of music sound better when you are listening to it alone, and crappier when there are other oppiantted people around?  

Second, why do some records last for only a moment, and others stay there forever?

Third, what has dynamics to do with all of this?







Oh boy I wish I had seen this post earlier, when I had more time - these are absolutely fascinating questions I could run on about forever Smile

I have spent my whole life from very early childhood thinking about just such matters! How and why does music 'work' and at what level does it affect us? Is the emotion I feel in the presence of a harmony or song the same as that in the heads of other listeners, or is it entirely personal? If others feel similarly is music really a universal language and if so does in transcend cultural boundaries? To what extent does is rely on expectation and modern idiom?

Is it possible that music can transfer an emotion directly that you have never had experience of in your life before!!

Now this final point says it ALL for me cos I believe it to be true. I have heard music for the first time and had my very personality changed - injected with a purely emotional non-verbal (and often unexplainable) concept that became part of my life from then on!! And this in my view is the true meaning of art, regardless of how it is generated and from which fraternity it emerges. This is what I think after years of wondering and experiencing:

Humans have a talent and fundamental desire for communication of ideas feelings and concepts. We think of communication primarily in terms of spoken and written language because that's the most immediate medium.

But we know that communication can take many other forms which we employ in normal daily life often without realising it. Examples of this include body language, facial expression, smell, sensory simuli of all kinds and general sensory hubbub all around us etc.. All of which contributes to our perception of the world around us. And the complex interplay and emotional weightings of all this 'sense' constantly modifies our feelings and perceptions almost on a minute to minute basis. One of the things you notice if you suffer from depression is the inner workings of this in action - you can actually feel it happening. In fact I have often wondered if the very definition of depression IS heightened sensitivity to one's own emotional 'machinery'! The final 'feeling' we have about the world around us at any particular moment is a very fragile, constantly moving experience that is made up of all kinds of diverse sensory input, our personalities and past experiences - being added to at every instant we are alive by new combinations, perceptions and feelings - probably even whilst we are asleep.

Now in my extremely humble opinion(!) it's this inner emotional evaluation process (that is the result and conslusion of all the above) that music taps into directly. It's nothing short of a subliminal inerrant language that we are born with as humans. It can bypass other sensory evaluation processes to plant directly into the heart of your personality. IMHO the basic fundamental effect any particular harmony or musical piece has is in essence the same for everyone, but the way this is interpreted, liked or disliked, appreciated or unappreciated is the result of your personality filtering. Since your inner personality's perception is changing and under modification permanently by dint of all the other senses, the appropriateness of a musical piece will vary for you personally depending on situation and state of mind, as will your receptiveness to any new unheard of piece at any particular time. This is why we can end up inexplicably 'getting' a piece we have heard many times before without particularly appreciating it.

If we can consider it a language we can also consider that it can also be learnt (like spoken language) and as we learn we gain access to more and more complex possibilities within the art and a greater range of emotion can be communicated. What seems like a discordant racket when we are young can end up being sheer beauty once we have cottoned on to the emotions it's trying to transfer and the language it's using to do so. As a kid I would never have imagined that one day I would be totally moved by listening to Bartok - but it happened to me at age 19 years like an enlightenment.  Similarly, music from other cultures which sound almost abhorrent at first can infiltrate our senses such that we suddenly gain an appreciation for it and find ourselves amazingly moved by it - like being initiated into a subtly different form of the art. It's universal and innate. Without any formal training musical appreciation and the manipulation of the language is represents can flourish, just like foreign languages seem to just 'percolate' into our heads if we live amongst it for a few months without making any effort at all. If we are lucky we may learn to 'say what we want to' using musical composition - without ever writing a single page of score. And I must admit that most often when I play it's like speaking - I have a feeling to vent and I just do it without even thinking how or without even being able to repeat it. Each time its like describing something using words - the sentences are never the same twice - all being built at the time of playing.

I would suggest that all art forms operate on this level - but what exactly IS music as distinct from any other art form? Well INVHO music relates to everything to do with sounds of all kinds from all sources, however produced. Natural sounds from nature scores highly on the emotional scale as does rhythm, harmony, cadence, timbre, dynamics, combination, style and idiom the list is endless - its all just sound leading to emotion and people trying to convey emotion directly via the medium of sound. That is why IMVHO one of the biggest disservices we commonly inflict on musical art is to put too greater emphasis on formalisation and process. Developing what is often refered to as 'the rules of music' seems a total nonsense to me! Several such 'recipes for acceptable musical construction' have come and (thankfully) gone in the fullness of time. I have witnessed musical bigots decry the values of whole musical idioms because 'they failed to conform with what they would consider musical form', even though the people producing this music were responsible for the success of the whole organisation and paying their salaries!! Luckily these people were not employed as designers within the organisation - however they did eventually take control!!

Ok so where am I leading with all this waffle and what has this got to do with recording and reproduction and dynamics?

The sole purpose and value of recording and reproduction is to provide a means by which the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a musical performance can be transmitted to others not present at the time of the performance. Seems obvious I know - but we MUST always remind ourselves of this without fail!
It's not ultimately about technical accuracy, specs, sample rates, this or that bit of kit - however important these factors might be - it's about the transference of the ESSENCE of the music and what made it great to the human experience. This is why we can still get wet eyed listening to a fabulous performance recorded on 50 year old kit with heavens knows what freq response and technical acumen - because despite it's technical failings the essence of the art WAS preserved. Now this point is absolutely crucial in my mind and although I spend every day designing signal processing kit of one kind or another - I never lose sight of what it is all fundamentally about - the basic transference of emotion from performer to audience. The difference between a great and artistically powerful bit of kit and a horribly mediocre one is almost never visible on the specification sheet!!

As recording professionals we are humble custodians of this terribly important process. Our job is to work within the constraints offered by inevitably technically limited reproduction environments and use our artistic appreciation and knowledge of the kit at our disposal to produce our best effort at preserving the ESSENCE of the performance, such that others can appreciate it. It is an essentially artistic pursuit because compromise is always present and striking the right compromise is in the final analysis dependent on YOUR appreciation of the art, whether its a conventional piece, a piece assembled out of samples and synths - or even someone artistically banging trash can lids together.

Ok so now we talk of deliberately imposed limitations! If we remove appreciable dimensions of what constitutes the human experience of sound from the musical production process we LIMIT the power of expression obtainable. So if we lob off everything below 200Hz and shave off everything above 8KHz we modify the timbre of the music - and limit possibilites for the artist. However if we remove all dynamic range from the the programme and turn everything into the monotony of a fully modulated cacophonous din you have removed a whole dimension to the emotional process - loudness can no longer be used as expression at all! This isn't simply modifying the experience - it's tantamount to invalidating the whole language of music - much as removing all but the present tense would from language - much as reducing all photographic or painted art perspective to 2 dimensions only - much as inflicting people's eyes with an inability to appreciate light and dark, thus rendering all visual perception a mixture of edges and hues only. How would your garden look to you then - would it still be beautiful? I think not. If Leonardo DaVinci was thus inflicted would he have been able to have painted the Mona Lisa? Of course not.

Listening sadly to what passes as musical production these days - in all honesty my emotions are telling me it is like the tragic cacophonous screams of a dying society - like something constantly shouting at me demanding attention but communicating nothing in return but the sad urgency of brute agitation and tension. The sort of emotion caused by an injured child screaming for help behind a locked door you cannot breach - you being powerless to help. Music, which is for me the most cherished dimension of life - cruelly removed! Most, most depressing - a terrible loss.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: robero on March 05, 2005, 09:25:54 pm
Very nice Paul, but let me say, you put it in a sligtly ambiguous way. I had to read your reply quite a few times to grasp the essence.

I have a few other questions to you then? (The waay I puut my quuestions was inspired by A.S  Laughing )

How do you think the Tv has changed the way recording professionals  'view' of sound? (I was thinking about the monitoring systems and all, but there are of course all kinds off reasons)

In otherwise, did musicians have something to say back in the good ole' days, or not.

When did it all change?. I've seem to have noticed that it's seldom about the professional sound engineers, than it is about the 'bad bad' people somewhere in the industry, who are making decisions what is good music and what is not?

I'm under the impressions that it used to be the talent that mattered, but now the industry can't find the talent anymore.

Sorry about me being ambiguous....Smile noot if you didn't get it!

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 05, 2005, 09:52:46 pm
great post Paul.
I'm glad these things are saved on a hard disk because I'm gonna read it again a few times..

one bite at a a time.

regarding the screams of society I totally agree with you.
If you look at the art at the downfall of the greek or roman empire you will see this preoccupation with suffering, instead of ideal form and beauty, as in the growth-period of a society.

Modern society caters to the desires of international industrial mass marketing and reached a peak a few decades ago.

we have to reduce the influence of the spiritually dead international public companies from the cultural scene and start believing in our human resources and abilities.

we have one advantage our ancestors did not have: we have the means to change or re-invent our culture in a minute fraction of the time that it used to take because of mass communication and globalization.
In a way, cultural change that used to take 200 years now takes 20, both up and down the 'spiritual ladder' so to speak.

but we need to participate and set the ball rolling.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: lucey on March 06, 2005, 09:16:55 am
robero wrote on Sat, 05 March 2005 15:01



Third, what has dynamics to do with all of this?





Emotions rise and fall  ... Joy and Pain  ... Surprise and Relief

For music to have the emotional power it also needs to rise and fall, in level

Dynamics are a large part of the musical language of emotions ... and combined with the harmonic and melodic languages, are the bulk of the emotional content of music.

NO DYNAMICS MEANS EVERYTHING LOUD, AND THIS IS LIKE EVERYONE YELLING EVERYTHING THEY SAY.  YOU CAN BE SAYING SOMETHING VERY INTERESTING AND IF YELLING, IT FEELS THE SAME AS IF IT WAS VERY BORING.  YOUR POINTS CAN BE HUGE OR SMALL, AND WITH YELLING IT ALL BECOMES RATHER ANNOYING.  CHANGES IN CONTENT ARE ALSO LESS CLEAR WITH YELLING, AND SPEAKING OF DAN RATHER ... I NEVER LIKED THE GUY AS AN ANCHOR BUT HE WAS SET UP BY ROVE IMO. ANYWAY, EMOTIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO FEEL IF YOU ARE YELLED AT ALL THE TIME.



Does that help?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 08, 2005, 06:01:59 am
<NO DYNAMICS MEANS EVERYTHING LOUD, AND THIS IS LIKE EVERYONE YELLING EVERYTHING THEY SAY.>

I disagree - if I whisper no matter how loud you make it I'm still whispering. If I play a soft guitar intro no matter how loud it is it's still a soft guitar intro.

I recently mastered an album and I did two versions - one dynamic and one slammed through wavehammer and L2. I left it to the artist to decide - he liked the L2 version - it sounds more NOW he said.

cheers
john
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 08, 2005, 09:05:16 am
John Sayers wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 06:01


I disagree - if I whisper no matter how loud you make it I'm still whispering. If I play a soft guitar intro no matter how loud it is it's still a soft guitar intro.



But not really... it doesn't sound like it anymore. It may sound like it tonally but not dynamically.

Interesting too that your artist said he liked the L2 version because it sounds "more NOW" and not because it sounds "better."  I suspect a lot of people are saying that.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 08, 2005, 09:39:57 am
Paul, I was finally able to give your post the time it deserves and just wanted to say thank you.  I completely agree, the emotional impoverishment that's reflected in modern productions speaks volumes.  I'd like to thank Bobro for his thoughts too... yes, music is being treated as something to be regimented within strict limits - in tempo, structure, tone, genre (and "subgenre") and now dynamics... and a lot of people (even artists) don't even seem to notice or care.  I can't help noticing that the same is true WRT how people behave and treat each other in life.

Some people feel that art can only reflect culture, not change its course.  I used to be willing to accept that but I don't think I am anymore.  Maybe it's just yet another sad reflection of our culture that artists are now so willing to be relegated to "entertainment" and bow in service to efficiency and economy.  I think it's time to take back our once honored position as healers and prophets!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 08, 2005, 09:44:09 am
There is a difference in squashing a signal with a hardware fairchild or the like and squashing it with an L2.

I think the fairchild creates less listener fatigue, even with all the distortion.

L2-shredded records are un-listenable to my ears primarily because of the digital grind of the software compressor.

Ever since the dawn of digital everybody has said that the worst thing to use were the digital dynamics processors and here we are putting the things on the master in a way that it's shortcomings are clearly evident.

not the best solution, I would say Confused
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: WhyKooper on March 08, 2005, 02:10:42 pm
.....As recording professionals we are humble custodians of this terribly important process. Our job is to work within the constraints offered by inevitably technically limited reproduction environments and use our artistic appreciation and knowledge of the kit at our disposal to produce our best effort at preserving the ESSENCE of the performance, such that others can appreciate it....
---------------------------------------

Excuse me?  The job of a mastering engineer is to create a master that the client approves and signs off on.  

If the client says "preserve the essence of the recording", hey do it.

If the client approves a squashed result and signs off on it, then THAT was the job for the ME to do.  Not some "preserve the essence of the performance" drivel.  J Sayers mentioned in another post that he created two versions and the client chose the squashed version.  The client owns it...end of story.  

Some of you people keep f-o-r-g-e-t-t-i-n-g that most any of this stuff that survives into a few generations from now (and a percentage of it will just like "Louie Louie" and other not so fabulous mastered works) can and will be remixed, remastered, reedited, re-this and re-that by the future owners of this stuff.  Whatever you mastering guys are doing right now is not set in stone.  Whatever you do will no doubt be undone and redone by future generations using whatever preservation or demolition tools they see fit to remold some of this decade/century's recorded music into the styles they seek.  

--------------------

..what passes as music...sad..terrible loss..dying society or whatever...
-----------------------
Gheez!  Get a grip.  I've been in the biz since the early 60's.  This is a fantastic time.  Everything is temporary.  Everything is transitory.  A lot of this "squashed" music perfectly fits the style and complements the "songs".

I read this thread and I swear some of you probably took to heavy drinking back when fuzz boxes and distortion circuits were developed for electric guitars.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 08, 2005, 03:02:35 pm
<Gheez! Get a grip. I've been in the biz since the early 60's.>

me too

In the above example I was the ME and the artist was the engineer - I've also recently mixed and mastered and album for another artist and gave the same two choices as before - once again the squashed version was chosen.

Seems they think it sounds better.

cheers
john
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: jwhynot on March 08, 2005, 03:16:21 pm
100% agree Mr "Why"

(Where'd you get that name anyway)

Squash or no squash, digi or not, music is partly about content, partly about intent, mostly about accident.

Recorded music works on a bunch of levels (pun intended) but here are a few in no particular order:

Cultural resonance - when the content (notes, words, harmonies etc) relates to other music.  "Style" if you will.

Purely tactile/proprioceptive - thumping drums, screaming voices, stuff that speaks to the snake brain and gets you moving.

gestalt (I like to refer to this as "get salt" for the tequila drinkers -- oh, BTW, you know why Hitler didn't drink tequila?  It made him mean...) - that is to say the ineffable but unique first impression a musical sound makes, whatever it is.  Think of the guitar chord at the start of "Hard Day's Night" (younger folks refer to your local lending library --- or rather, look up "lending library" --- or... oh never mind)

Words.   Yup, the words.

A sense of the other - that is, when hearing this recorded racket, one gets a sense that actual humans are involved in making the sound.  This is frequently confused in the minds of Tonmeisters as meaning "naturalism" in recording.  Sorry fellas, music going down a wire will never be natural.  No, it's more an illusion.  Clever people can create the illusion at will, but often it's more like discovery - a certain setup in the room, the equipment - a certain mood - people who are "clever enough" can at least recognize when that happens and stop fucking around.

The sense of the other - that illusion - is not "realism".  It doesn't matter one  bit what the reality was in the recording sessions, once the punter puts the CD on (or selects the mp3 on the ol' iPod).  

Heavily limited recorded music (I don't mean in the sense of budgets or other deficits) is quite capable of conveying that illusion, carrying the words, creating a distinct first impression, pounding and screaming, and sounding like something you might have heard before.

I agree that using gear poorly - reducing what's really important in a recording for some other (possibly nefarious) purpose is something I don't want to do.  Still, as Mr WK mentions, some of my absolute favorite recorded music sounds like absolute shit according to people in the know.  While we're talking about allegiance to "rules" and how everything is so smashed up and lousy these days I can't help thinking of how people were up in arms about 24-track - fucking narrow tracks - no way you can get music on there - and a 48-input console?  What's your problem, can't make a decision?  I tell ya, music is totally dead man.

Any one here around when guitars were "Finished"???  I mean the second time, the early 80s.  (some will recall that the Beatles [[youngsters are encouraged to google them]] were turned down for a record deal on the premise that "guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein")

Readers of Plato will realize that the world has been coming to an end since the ancient Greeks.

Focussing on square waveforms as if having valleys in the waveform display is somehow more musical... well I accept there is some correlation but would strongly dispute the exclusivity of some of the arguments presented here.

out
JW

PS I'm a relative newcomer to this world, having started with the whole studio bit in '79...  
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 08, 2005, 03:55:19 pm
I think some of you are missing the point.  Most of us realize that trends come and go, and most of us realize that if a client prefers one thing over another then it's the engineer's job to give it to them.  I think most of us also realize that rules are made to be broken, that in art there are no rules, etc. etc.

However, first of all there's nothing wrong with establishing guidelines which can be used as a baseline.  The AES has a lot of such guidelines in place and certainly not everybody follows them. Engineers since the dawn of recording have basically used as a baseline the ideal of capturing a performance just as the musician played it.  That is the standard for fidelity.  We all know that most recordings deviate from that standard quite a bit - often very artfully.  But the baseline still exists, as it should, and there are obvious qualitative reasons why it does, otherwise we'd all be content to record on Soundblasters with Radio Shack microphones and be done with it.

This doesn't mean someone might not come along who uses the distortion from a Soundblaster to make a very artful recording. However if everyone else were then expected to pass all their masters through a Soundblaster, regardless whether it was appropriate for the music or not, in order to "compete in the marketplace" or "sound more NOW," then we have a problem.  And that's pretty much where we're at with hypercompression right now.

Is this a passing trend?  Probably.  Will people remaster stuff in the future so it'll sound better?  Probably.  What does that have to do with anything?  I don't think any engineer can reasonably use as a defense for doing a poor job, "It's OK, someone else will clean this up in 30 years."  Huh?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: chrisj on March 08, 2005, 04:06:43 pm
John Sayers wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 06:01

<NO DYNAMICS MEANS EVERYTHING LOUD, AND THIS IS LIKE EVERYONE YELLING EVERYTHING THEY SAY.>
I disagree - if I whisper no matter how loud you make it I'm still whispering. If I play a soft guitar intro no matter how loud it is it's still a soft guitar intro.



Yes, but if you mumble your RMS loudness is way hotter than your peak output, and if you sing with phenomenal articulation and projection, your peak output is WAY HOTTER than the RMS output. This is another kind of dynamics.

When you slam with peak limiting (not necessarily compression- Boston's first album is insanely compression-squashed, yet has unusually hot peaks relative to RMS- it's close to 'Rumours' w.r.t peak hotness) you specifically wipe out the peaks that provide the auditory cues to such a spectacular performance, rendering the result closer to what it would be if you mumbled and played unenthusiastically.

Hell, you could peak limit and then expand the more largescale dynamics back to beyond what they were and it would still suck. Which may be why DC isn't charmed by expansion, and I think that's a fair criticism. It's not just about the RMS levels varying wildly. What's the peak level doing?

Mind you, when I expand I get hotter peaks relative to RMS, but what I do isn't compression. It's a transfer function like the opposite of HEDD, and if pushed it sounds distinctly gnarly, which I have to watch out for. There is no time factor involved at all, it's strictly sample-by-sample.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 08, 2005, 04:49:01 pm
Quote:

rendering the result closer to what it would be if you mumbled and played unenthusiastically.



neither of my clients suggested that I'd made them sound like they'd mumbled or played unenthusiatically. Rolling Eyes

cheers
john
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: WhyKooper on March 08, 2005, 05:25:54 pm
......I don't think any engineer can reasonably use as a defense for doing a poor job, "It's OK, someone else will clean this up in 30 years." Huh? ......
----------------------------------------
Squashing the dynamic range does not represent a "poor job" on behalf of the ME, not does it result in a "poor" product.  Nor the end of the world or the end of good music or the end of anything else.  

It is simply a procedure that creates a sound and level that the client wants when the client directs the ME to go that direction ..and then signs off on the resulting product.  

There is nothing to "fix" or clean up in the future.  

Whatever gets done to the product in the future will simply be a procedure.  It may mangle the product more (by some of your definitions of what's good) or it may result in a remix/remaster that you can not conceive of back here in the distant past.

If an ME EVER told me that I was ruining MY product by having obscene levels incorporated into the mastering process, that would be the LAST time I gave that person work.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 08, 2005, 05:46:49 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 17:25


It is simply a procedure that creates a sound and level that the client wants when the client directs the ME to go that direction ..and then signs off on the resulting product.


I think I already acknowledged that if a client asks for something specifically then they should get it.  But your case pre-supposes that the client HAS directed the ME to go in that direction.  It also pre-supposes that if the client signs off on it it means he proactively "approves" it rather than that he simply trusts in the ME.

The question is what does the ME do when the client has NOT asked for this procedure, or any particular procedure, but is simply trusting the ME to prepare the work for release and will abide by the ME's choices?  That's where reasonable standards come in handy.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 08, 2005, 06:29:13 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 19:10

.....As recording professionals we are humble custodians of this terribly important process. Our job is to work within the constraints offered by inevitably technically limited reproduction environments and use our artistic appreciation and knowledge of the kit at our disposal to produce our best effort at preserving the ESSENCE of the performance, such that others can appreciate it....
---------------------------------------

Gheez!  Get a grip.  I've been in the biz since the early 60's.  This is a fantastic time.  Everything is temporary.  Everything is transitory.  A lot of this "squashed" music perfectly fits the style and complements the "songs".

I read this thread and I swear some of you probably took to heavy drinking back when fuzz boxes and distortion circuits were developed for electric guitars.


LOL Smile You are making some very good points and certainly much heavy drinking was indeed done to great effect - but not because of feckless reactions to a bit of distortion Smile I too have spent a lifetime deliberately making distortion and my early musical years were practically completely taken with producing the darndest most powerfully sweet/aggressive distorted guitar sound I could muster from my own designs. And to this day I design processing that actually limits, compresses, distorts, EQs, changes envelopes - you name it - all great artistic stuff (hopefully) and I support and applaud it. And even at my advanced age (remembering the 60's very well) - I still get excited by it, WHEN it adds to the spirit of the performance, when the art demands it. Obviously - 'I' - am not the one pontificating from 'on high' that art has to be confined to feeble, whimpy, self-important and affected 'blither-blather', droaning on constantly and ever-so-nicely about darned gnomes, fairies, hobbits and 'bottom of your garden magic'! Jeez - pleeeze!

I think you may be missing the point that I am trying to make - do people have to do this to absolutely everything - to the point where nothing is spared? Is there really no other idea in town? Surely there must be something that might be better or more moving without it? I mean yes, I love distorted loud guitars more than you could ever imagine, but I could weep at how they are made to sound these days - even the essence of power guitar art has been deleted and regurgitated as an annoying racket. Has everyone forgotten what was so deeply moving and artistic about power guitar? Take for instance that Green Day album, track 4 for example - a brilliant track, but ruined by totally atrocious sounding distortion and complete lack of dynamics and 'presence'. To the trained ear you can still hear that many of the original sounds (particularly drums) were great - but all ruined in the end. In our house this album didn't last after the 4th track before no one could stand it anymore - not even our 10 and 13 year old children who bought it with their own pocket money. Apparently it got taken back cos they couldn't listen to it.

And you know what's sadder? In my day buying albums and owning music was an honour and every record was cherished and preserved, selected and brought out at the right moments to suit whatever mood you were in and placed protectively back on the shelf again afterwards. Up to around 10 years ago my albums were my single most valuable possession - they were the very first things to be moved into any new flat/house and took prime place in my life in every sense. Now our house is awash with albums bought at the rate of about 1 each week and it pains me that they are virtually never listened to from end to end. They lay around the floor and under the chairs, behind beds and furniture, being trodden on, lost and worthless. And lately they have even got bored with taking new albums back and have given up buying them all together "cos the Video Hits channel on TV sounds better" (interesting that one). Guess how this terrible waste makes me feel - having spent a lifetime in music, recording and system design?

So what happened to our Green Day album - bought only 3 weeks ago? And this is absolute honest truth - it happened last week. Well, at the moment I am trying to design yet another plug-in process that 'fits' today's idiom, atmosphere and sonic palette. In order to do this I listen very closely and at great length often at high levels to what is the epitome of 'what's around and cool', in order to understand/feel what indeed the emotion actually was that the people making these tracks were really trying to achieve. Why? Because I want to give it to you done 'better' and significantly enhanced - that's my job. So remembering the Green Day album, I went around the house asking where it was so I could take it to work - and the sad answer? "Oh Lxxx (13years) took it back to the shop cos it sounded trash". "I think Sxxx (10years) made a copy using Mum's computer". Where is it then, can I borrow it? An hour later after much scampering around cos I am becoming visibly agitated - "Sorry Dad, I think we threw that away too, cos it also sounded totally gross!!"

Ok - now I'm an old fart perhaps, but do you think this is the value our society should assign to 'art'? Like it or not - this IS a reflection on our society.

And as a final devastating kick up the arse for my whole profession and a lifetime's work (which I had always considered mattered in some small way to art and society), tonight I went in to bid one of them good night and I actually found the Green Day CD (copy). It was lying in a pile on the floor of around 10 or so of their recently bought CDs, all with a extra holes drilled in them!! Why? Because they had decided to make them into a "pretty hanging mobile display"! "It's ok Dad because we never listen to them anymore". Stumbling out of the door in disbelief, I looked up and saw half a dozen or so more CDs pinned to a cork board and hung on the wall - as a 'display'.

Am I the only one - is my family unique? Sadly I doubt it. If you want to explain why the industry is in decline - look no further Sad  
Oh and BTW - do we lock up the 10 year old for making an illegal copy of a CD - if she ends up throwing that away too?

Fantastic time indeed? Fantastic possibilities and totally unprecedented capability - but IMVHO sadly lacking 'output value'.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on March 08, 2005, 06:37:49 pm
Quote:

 title=Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 06 March 2005

The sole purpose and value of recording and reproduction is to provide a means by which the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a musical performance can be transmitted to others not present at the time of the performance. Seems obvious I know - but we MUST always remind ourselves of this without fail!



but, isn't your reasoning a bit backwards?  You feel an emotional effect while listening to a recording (sometimes right away...sometimes only after years of listening!) and conclude that the recording therefore 'transmitted' the emotional effect.  Well, maybe, but maybe another person might never feel it...or might feel something else.  Isn't it possible the the emotional effect is really *entirely subjective* while the recording only 'transmits'....the sound?  The emotional effect is *your* reaction to it, at that moment, in that circumstance.  

Who is to say what the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a performance objectively *is*, anyway?  And if we can't define that, how do we know how to transmit it reliably?


Regarding squashed music, I don't mind it when it's new...I do mind it when its a remaster of something that wasn't squashed in the first place.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 08, 2005, 06:53:27 pm
 
krabapple wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 23:37

Quote:

 title=Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 06 March 2005

The sole purpose and value of recording and reproduction is to provide a means by which the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a musical performance can be transmitted to others not present at the time of the performance. Seems obvious I know - but we MUST always remind ourselves of this without fail!



but, isn't your reasoning a bit backwards?  You feel an emotional effect while listening to a recording (sometimes right away...sometimes only after years of listening!) and conclude that the recording therefore 'trasnmitted' the emotional effect.  Well, maybe, but maybe another person might never feel it...or might feel something else.  Isn't it possible the the emotional effect is really *entirely subjective* while the recording only 'transmits'....the sound?  The emotional effect is *your* reaction to it, at that moment, in that circumstance.  

Who is to say what the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a performance objectively *is*, anyway?  And if we can't define that, how do we know how to transmit it reliably?


Regarding squashed music, I don't mind it when it's new...I do mind it when its a remaster of something that wasn't squashed in the first place.




Yes I agree - these are very good fascinating points and this is a deep subject. As to how music affects people - normally we can see this by being in their company, watching them and experiencing the atmosphere. There is no doubt in my mind that en masse we tend to extract similar emotions from musical pieces. Attending a concert of any genre shows this most strongly. And of course buyer's preferences illustrates at the very least 'a preference' for something. We can force feed market music by hype, lifestyle suggestion, fashion and glitz, but the acid test is probably how enduring it is after a period. All my kid's Spice Girls CDs have been thrown away.

And yes I agree, the ruined re-mastered discs are particularly sad to experience - especially if you still own the originals.

BTW - does anyone know why the tracks sound so much better when played out as part of the Video - are they mastered diferently? Listening to the kids Video channel - they are definitely better?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bobkatz on March 08, 2005, 07:07:51 pm
Paul Frindle wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 18:53

 

BTW - does anyone know why the tracks sound so much better when played out as part of the Video - are they mastered diferently? Listening to the kids Video channel - they are definitely better?




Probably because DVDs don't have the long 20+ year sliding history of the loudness race that CDs have been going through. Don't turn your back, though, it'll happen. It's already happened, unfortunately. Lack of an enforceable standard for sound levels on digital media is the one thing I regret about this transition to digital audio.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 08, 2005, 07:11:17 pm
bobkatz wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 00:07

Paul Frindle wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 18:53

 

BTW - does anyone know why the tracks sound so much better when played out as part of the Video - are they mastered diferently? Listening to the kids Video channel - they are definitely better?




Probably because DVDs don't have the long 20+ year sliding history of the loudness race that CDs have been going through. Don't turn your back, though, it'll happen. It's already happened, unfortunately. Lack of an enforceable standard for sound levels on digital media is the one thing I regret about this transition to digital audio.


Thats interesting. So is music destined for a Pop video mastered differently from the commercial CD?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 08, 2005, 07:12:37 pm
Paul - it could be the broadcasting system: These are three systems

MTS - Used in conjunction with NTSC/525. Consists of two independant carriers each carrying a discrete channel. One channel provides stereo sound by providing left/right channel difference signals relative to transmitted mono audio track. The second carrier carries the Secondary Audio Program (SAP) which is used for a second language or a descriptive commentary for the blind. Uses a technique based on the dbx noise reduction to improve the frequency response of the audio channel.
FM-FM - dual carrier FM coded discrete stereo transmissions, analogue. Can be used for bi-lingual operation under user selection, but no auto-selection is available. Audio characteristics better than standard mono soundtrack.
NICAM - (full name: NICAM 728) Digital two-channel audio transmissions with sub-code selection of bi-lingual operation. Stereo digital signals with specifications approaching those of Compact Disc are possible. NICAM stands for Near Instantaneously Companded Audio Multiplex and uses a 14bit sample at a 32KHz sampling rate which produces a data stream of 728KBits/sec.


the USA uses the MTS system.

cheers
John
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 08, 2005, 07:21:23 pm
John Sayers wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 00:12

Paul - it could be the broadcasting system: These are three systems

MTS - Used in conjunction with NTSC/525. Consists of two independant carriers each carrying a discrete channel. One channel provides stereo sound by providing left/right channel difference signals relative to transmitted mono audio track. The second carrier carries the Secondary Audio Program (SAP) which is used for a second language or a descriptive commentary for the blind. Uses a technique based on the dbx noise reduction to improve the frequency response of the audio channel.
FM-FM - dual carrier FM coded discrete stereo transmissions, analogue. Can be used for bi-lingual operation under user selection, but no auto-selection is available. Audio characteristics better than standard mono soundtrack.
NICAM - (full name: NICAM 728) Digital two-channel audio transmissions with sub-code selection of bi-lingual operation. Stereo digital signals with specifications approaching those of Compact Disc are possible. NICAM stands for Near Instantaneously Companded Audio Multiplex and uses a 14bit sample at a 32KHz sampling rate which produces a data stream of 728KBits/sec.


the USA uses the MTS system.

cheers
John


Yes I realise this. And our delivery is via digital TV in which one can hear the data comp artefacts. But I am talking about the actual production. There is definitely less distortion and less squashing on many tracks on the video sound track. I have compared them on the same system by putting on the CD directly after the video has played on the TV (turning the level down of course!!).
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 08, 2005, 07:41:51 pm
well the audio in clips is normally copied straight from the CD release.
It's usually played back for broadcast via a bank of betacam players which could be any of these:

DVCam - 16 bit 48k  top of the line mastereing machines probably not used for daily program playback
Digital betacam which is 20/18bit.
SP Betacam analogue Dolby C-type NR (Noise Reduction) system

maybe it's the low end SP betacam you are hearing ??

cheers
john
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 08, 2005, 07:58:43 pm
John Sayers wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 00:41

well the audio in clips is normally copied straight from the CD release.
It's usually played back for broadcast via a bank of betacam players which could be any of these:

DVCam - 16 bit 48k  top of the line mastereing machines probably not used for daily program playback
Digital betacam which is 20/18bit.
SP Betacam analogue Dolby C-type NR (Noise Reduction) system

maybe it's the low end SP betacam you are hearing ??

cheers
john


Ok I understand, it's a mystery then. I have done other tests on single CDs that have the video included in compressed AVI format. In this case the production was definitely different for the music of the video track than the CD Audio. I am very familiar with the sound of data compression and artefacts due to coding method (that's my business), but these differences were definitely not due to these effects.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: chrisj on March 08, 2005, 08:39:18 pm
krabapple wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 18:37


Who is to say what the FUNDAMENTAL emotional effect of a performance objectively *is*, anyway?  And if we can't define that, how do we know how to transmit it reliably?


We are, of course. Who else?

Seriously- we are what 'Slipperman' calls Secondary Sound Transduction Artists. Even us mastering wonks- hell, maybe especially mastering wonks, given the subtlety of what mastering can be about.

I may not be the next Bob Ludwig, but I can make the cymbals shiny, or smoother, or cold. I can make the midrange (vox, guits etc) lean and sinewy, or plush and soft, or practically not there. I can make the bass sloppy, or tight, I can make you focus on the bass guitar or the kick. I can make you notice the hi-hat, or not notice it even if it came to me really hot.

The big question:

WHY?

The only answer worth a damn is "because that's what I think will further the fundamental emotional effect". I could get something like Tom Waits music in and decide it wants to come off even more lean and empty sounding. I could get something in that's absolutely overblown high-mid gratingness and either finetune the edge of that or replace the whole freaking presentation with one that sounds like real sounds in real space, on the assumption that it would be better so. Any or none of these might harmonise with what the artist wants, or clash completely with it.

I don't think the artist is the final authority. The final authority is the AUDIENCE. The artist is the one paying your bills (you hope!). If the artist isn't connecting with what you're doing, you can stop doing it, or you can convince them that you're not wrong. Just because they're the artist doesn't mean they are always going to be right about how their art is presented- they have a right to stick by their opinion, always, but it's pretty cold to assume they are so egoed out that they can't learn better. The best artists are more likely to get spooked if their vision clashes with yours, and try to find out what you're talking about, and then accept or reject it on a basis of understanding it.

I was just listening to "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" off Genesis' "Selling England By The Pound". Off vinyl, over my work speakers, having just revamped the room more than a bit. I could find fault with the presentation, but in fact it had me bopping in my seat and I had a hard time focusing on what I was writing, because the music was so compelling that it demanded my attention.

If I have to choose between that, or modern severely distorted levels, I'm going to choose the former. (SEBTP is a very dynamic album...) I might go for a bit more density, because up to a point you're not really losing anything by bringing things upfront, but I'm going to choose to make the music as compelling as I can, NOT as loud as I can. Loud is easy and the ear gets bored of it, as Paul Frindle's experiences amply illustrate...

And an artist may certainly disagree with this, but still, I'm not wrong. They don't have to agree- they may have a much better idea of what's going to impress a rack jobber in a Wal-Mart meeting room looking for product- but I might have a much better idea than the rack jobber of what's going to serve the fundamental emotional effect of the music.

I'm not going to give that up. It's my job to know better how to present music.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 09, 2005, 02:49:37 am
Chris, I like it. I feel the same way and I just can't let 'bullshit sound' leave this place. I will pass it on to someone else before I clip a track. I find my masters that kick the most ass..come in around -16dbfs RMS.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: John Sayers on March 09, 2005, 05:44:05 am
Quote:

Ok I understand, it's a mystery then


yeah - it's got me buzzing and confused as you Smile

may I suggest that the only reason that I can think that someone would have a different audio track on a video other than the CD mix would be that they've mixed it in 5:1 for a later release on a DVD and you are hearing 24/96 reduced to betacam ??

cheers
john
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 09, 2005, 06:24:50 am
John Sayers wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 10:44

Quote:

Ok I understand, it's a mystery then


yeah - it's got me buzzing and confused as you Smile

may I suggest that the only reason that I can think that someone would have a different audio track on a video other than the CD mix would be that they've mixed it in 5:1 for a later release on a DVD and you are hearing 24/96 reduced to betacam ??

cheers
john


Yes - good point but this is much less subtle than that. But if it really is the 5.1 target then it would indeed likely be a different mix anyway - so maybe that's it? And also maybe people are more conservative with limiting and compression where 5.1 is concerned - or maybe they have to be cos they don't have the kit required to do it perhaps?

In that case a locally folded down 5.1 production might sound better than the mastered CD audio?
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 09, 2005, 08:00:50 am
WhyKooper wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 23:25

......I don't think any engineer can reasonably use as a defense for doing a poor job, "It's OK, someone else will clean this up in 30 years." Huh? ......
----------------------------------------
Squashing the dynamic range does not represent a "poor job" on behalf of the ME, not does it result in a "poor" product.  Nor the end of the world or the end of good music or the end of anything else.  

It is simply a procedure that creates a sound and level that the client wants when the client directs the ME to go that direction ..and then signs off on the resulting product.  

There is nothing to "fix" or clean up in the future.  

Whatever gets done to the product in the future will simply be a procedure.  It may mangle the product more (by some of your definitions of what's good) or it may result in a remix/remaster that you can not conceive of back here in the distant past.

If an ME EVER told me that I was ruining MY product by having obscene levels incorporated into the mastering process, that would be the LAST time I gave that person work.


..you mentioned guitar distortion and fuzzboxes.

there is quite a difference between a tweed fender in overdrive and a digital emulation of a tweed, or the sound of a modern re-issue, or the sound of a solid state amp being overdriven.

some stuff sounds better than other stuff.

If you have the ability to hear beauty and proportion in sound you will choose a solution which enhances the sound based on your sense of aesthetics and beauty etc.

I believe that the vast majority of people who know audio will consider mindless brickwall limiting to be negative.

We are talking about mastering music, not commercials.

As an example I would like to refer to some articles by Bob Orban, who is responsible for multi-band compressor/clippers used in broadcasting. I was responsible for orban abuse at the radio network I worked in years ago.

Bob himself stated these interesting points as a result of his reasearch:

1) although heavily compressed stations will get a higher amount of hits per day, because of the louder signal, listeners will soon get tired and switch channels.  Long term listening (radio on all day) can be achieved only by reducing compression and clipping.

2) females are more sensitive to distortion and compression artifacts, so female audience goes down.

3)Orban processors utilize a special sensing circuit for gain reduction which evaluates RMS based on difference between peak and steady-state signals. A sine wave fed into the box will modulate lower than a music signal because it has no peaks.
This proves that compressing for radio is a waste of time and causes more harm than good.

Long term listening is IMPORTANT for music listeners.
I know when I hear a new cd that has been sacrificed to make an A&R guy happy that I will NOT be able to listen to it more than twice because the sound bothers me.

If you want something that people will listen to enough times to become real fans you can't have L2 brickwalling.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 09, 2005, 08:42:06 am
Lee Flier wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 08:05

...your artist said he liked the L2 version because it sounds "more NOW" and not because it sounds "better."  I suspect a lot of people are saying that.

This is the problem. We put out some crappy sounding records at Motown because we couldn't get the same quality of performance again when we tried to go back and fix them. An amazing number of people would emulate this thinking there was some magic in the distortion when the real magic had been in the performance. There is this odd assumption that someone who has made a hit record must have known what they were doing so it's important to emulate every aspect if you want your record to be successful. Unfortunately we haven't had any defining pop artists in quite a while so the lemmings are all headed for the cliff again.

I'm somebody who has loved all kinds of music all my life. When a CD is so distorted that I want to take it off before the first song is over instead of listening to the whole thing at least once, something is dreadfully wrong. I don't buy the elitist position that "ordinary people" don't care.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 09, 2005, 09:02:10 am
Bob Olhsson wins!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 09, 2005, 09:05:45 am
[quote title=Bob Olhsson wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 13:42. I don't buy the elitist position that "ordinary people" don't care.[/quote]

Well said Bob - I completely and entirely agree Smile That is the essence of what I feel - people really DO matter - all of them. It's just amazing and sad that people actually need to remind themsleves of this. The real chagrin of what I was recounting in last posts (at length - sorry) was that the fact that the CDs have so little value to my children means THEY are missing out on something that I actually had and deeply treasured at their age. The fact that the CDs have so little value means the ARTISTS are missing out and are being undersold - not necessarily financially - but morally. The whole process of musical expression and appreciation is being eroded.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 09, 2005, 09:39:47 am
Thanks guys.  That is exactly what I'm feeling too.  And yes, people do care, but they may not be able to articulate WHY they care - they just turn the music off.  Maybe not even knowing what they're missing.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Rob Darling on March 09, 2005, 10:10:24 am
The people absolutely know what they like.  I started late in this business- I was 25 before I stepped foot in a studio and I never played instruments- just loved records.  Most of my memories of music are as a receiver, not a creator. I can clearly remember many reactions to sound that bugged me.  For example, I'd love to ask George why the compression had to kick in on "Verdi Cries" on the 10,000 Maniacs record- I always wished Natalie's voice would just keep going.  Rupert Hine produced my least favorite records with some of my favorite artists- terribly bright, overtight, and aggressively studio-ed records for Stevie Nicks, the Fixx, the Sugarcubes, and Rush.  

Now, the downside of this is that people do buy what they like.  And right now people like agressive, in-your-face, I'm hopped up on diet pills and Starbucks to deal with the life I hate, sound.  The biggest thing I learned when working in big studios is that music has to be truth to be successful.  Now, it doesn't have to be meaningful or deep- Britney believes with all her heart and soul that the touch of her hand is important- but it does have to be truth in the artist's eyes.  Then people buy the truth they are looking for from an artist.  Unfortunately, the truth most people are seeking right now is not very good.  As an aside, I'd say it's very interesting that Crystal Meth is a drug people party to these days.

And now for the sad part- I hate to say it, but as much as drum solos are boring, really great engineering usually is as well.  It is music, not sound, and whatever details you labor over in the studio outside of the fundamentals will probably not make it out into lesser systems and the massive variety of sound systems and environments.  Along the way, music will probably be lost for all the effort on sound.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: blairl on March 09, 2005, 10:35:57 am
WhyKooper wrote on Tue, 08 March 2005 15:25

If an ME EVER told me that I was ruining MY product by having obscene levels incorporated into the mastering process, that would be the LAST time I gave that person work.


This is exactly what the ME's that don't want to squash are using as an excuse.  They are a service provider and in order to stay in business, they do what they are told, despite knowing they are degrading the fidelity of the finished product.  As long as producers like WhyKooper or A&R people want slammed levels, the ME's are obliged to deliver.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: WhyKooper on March 09, 2005, 10:52:33 am
......This is exactly what the ME's that don't want to squash are using as an excuse. They are a service provider and in order to stay in business, they do what they are told, despite knowing they are degrading the fidelity of the finished product. As long as producers like WhyKooper or A&R people want slammed levels, the ME's are obliged to deliver....
-----------------------------------------

And that statement reflects the correct procedure.  

If I have a top ten single that was mastered as loud as humanly possible....and also heavily compressed during playback over here at KIIS FM in LA....and you tell me that the various 18-22 year olds (who buy my product) are gonna turn away from the station "sooner" because of subconscious irritation about the levels....what station do you think they're going to "turn" to in order to listen to the songs they like?  The local Montovanni station?  The local "all Elvis" station?  

No.  

They're going to switch (if that really is happening as mentioned) to ANOTHER station that has a similar playlist these kids like. Which is where the listeners will once again find my top ten-heavily-limited loud mix...probably over the air with compressor settings simliar to KIIS in order to compete.

To back up a statement such as the "switching of channels" due to limiting and compression effect, I believe I'd have to see some radio arbitron figures that show that these types of stations are at the bottom of the ratings for their markets...due of course to the continual loss of listeners because of the limiting/compression epidemic.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 09, 2005, 11:17:16 am
WhyKooper wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 16:52

......This is exactly what the ME's that don't want to squash are using as an excuse. They are a service provider and in order to stay in business, they do what they are told, despite knowing they are degrading the fidelity of the finished product. As long as producers like WhyKooper or A&R people want slammed levels, the ME's are obliged to deliver....
-----------------------------------------

And that statement reflects the correct procedure.  

If I have a top ten single that was mastered as loud as humanly possible....and also heavily compressed during playback over here at KIIS FM in LA....and you tell me that the various 18-22 year olds (who buy my product) are gonna turn away from the station "sooner" because of subconscious irritation about the levels....what station do you think they're going to "turn" to in order to listen to the songs they like?  The local Montovanni station?  The local "all Elvis" station?  

No.  

They're going to switch (if that really is happening as mentioned) to ANOTHER station that has a similar playlist these kids like. Which is where the listeners will once again find my top ten-heavily-limited loud mix...probably over the air with compressor settings simliar to KIIS in order to compete.

To back up a statement such as the "switching of channels" due to limiting and compression effect, I believe I'd have to see some radio arbitron figures that show that these types of stations are at the bottom of the ratings for their markets...due of course to the continual loss of listeners because of the limiting/compression epidemic.


This is how the modern market seems to work:

You lower the OVERALL quality of product and services, so that there are no alternative choices. Focus on advertising, consistency of product above quality, and DISTRIBUTION and you have a typical market.. for soap.



It's obvious that a kid who owns a ghetto blaster as his primary hi-fi will pick the loudest station, then he'll switch, switch back.
he may even take the record home and listen to it, or download it (since the quality is shit anyway).

what will not happen is that the listener will experience the full effect of the music and therefore s/he will always consider it a form of entertainment on par with playstation and TV.

you won't get anymore music lovers, people will stray away further and further from music.

real musicians are scarce and will continue to be worse and worse musicianship-wise and in number, because there is little to be excited about.

This of course should be of great concern to everybody, but some people are so concerned with learning the DAW 'tricks' to become famous engineer/producers that maybe this is sadly becoming less of a concern.

It's easier to make push-button music when the market is controlled by capital, and the all the media companies band together to eliminate anything that might upset the balance.

forget the radio, I've been listening to my pop records for decades and I haven't gotten tired of them yet.

Once you buy a great record that you can listen to over and over and that will make your life-span better (as it has done for millions in the past)you will be motivated to buy another great record with little regard for price.

of course one really truly good record will raise the standards, and ruin it for many mass-produced music groups.

the stuff that's out now is NOT like the 60's overcompressed stuff it's WORSE.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 09, 2005, 01:32:29 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 09:52

...To back up a statement such as the "switching of channels" due to limiting and compression effect, I believe I'd have to see some radio Arbitron figures that show that these types of stations are at the bottom of the ratings for their markets...

There are in fact two ratings, one of which is called "time spent listening" and those in fact have been dropping like a rock. The Arbitrons most people look at are the Cumes which reflect how many people stopped by a station. It is the cheapest and easiest to manipulate so it gets all the attention. The saddest part of the whole story is that this obsession with ratings and targeted demographics has been at the expense of entertaining people with music and this IS shown in the TSLs. What's good for selling spots is no longer what's best for selling records.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 09, 2005, 01:41:57 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 10:52


To back up a statement such as the "switching of channels" due to limiting and compression effect, I believe I'd have to see some radio arbitron figures that show that these types of stations are at the bottom of the ratings for their markets...due of course to the continual loss of listeners because of the limiting/compression epidemic.


Actually, arbitron figures do show that radio ratings are down over the past few years PERIOD.  Overall.  Kids aren't just switching to another station if they don't like what they hear, they're switching the radio OFF altogether.

Your point about "they're not switching to the local all-Elvis station" doesn't hold any water because that's a musical taste question.  If a kid doesn't like Elvis he's not going to listen to the all-Elvis station whether it's compressed or not.  The question is whether artists (and radio stations) that are currently popular with kids would be more so if they weren't hypercompressed.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 09, 2005, 01:51:17 pm
[email

robdarling@mail.com[/email] wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 10:10]
And now for the sad part- I hate to say it, but as much as drum solos are boring, really great engineering usually is as well.  It is music, not sound, and whatever details you labor over in the studio outside of the fundamentals will probably not make it out into lesser systems and the massive variety of sound systems and environments.



Rob, although I think you made some great points otherwise, I've gotta really disagree here.  I think a great recording will always sound better than a mediocre one in any environment, on any system. Oftentimes dramatically better.  A well engineered/mastered recording will still sound great even if it's made into an MP3 and being played through crappy computer speakers.  A poorly engineered recording will sound even worse in those environments.

The details always matter.  "The listener won't know the difference" is never an excuse, and misses the point.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Rob Darling on March 09, 2005, 05:00:24 pm
Lee-

I'm not saying that bad engineering wins- I said that OUTSIDE THE FUNDAMENTALS, engineering often goes overboard.  What I'm saying is that super-fine details will not necessarily make a record more enjoyable and often miss the point.  Phase, tightness, attention to masking in arrangements- basic engineering excellence- these undisputably help a record.  But many things engineers get off on are actually distracting to a listener and get in the way of the music, which ultimately is more important than the sound.  

As a producer, I battle this with engineers, whose own agendas in their expression of craftsmanship are often at odds with what the music needs.  It's like hiring a woodworker who is really caught up in getting fine sanding and finishing down when you are trying to make a shaker cabinet.  There is a time and place for everything, which many, if not most, engineers miss completely.  As an example, do you really think any of the early Van Halen records would have been well-served by crystal-clear, dynamic engineering?  I don't think so.  A time and place for everything.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bobro on March 09, 2005, 05:31:09 pm
I have ceased to worry- squashed music is just plain unsexy and people do like sex, so it's only a matter of time before the "loudness" wars become a humorous footnote in the history of music- "The Age of Frigidity".

The real question is, who is going to be the scapegoat when the embarrassed backpedalling starts? An industry which can sell, for example, coked-up millionaires polluting the world with plastic jewel cases as sensitive working-class environmentalists sure isn't going to take the blame.

It's pretty obvious who will take the blame, unfairly of course: what is the hottest buzzword in recording, in this "loudness wars" period?

"ProTools" of course. "Pro Recording = Protools" for a lot of people at the moment. When everyone realizes how cornball this moment is... whoops! This is already happening, just read two different interviews with musicians who refer to the "cold brittle sound of protools".

Digidesign probably has a repackaged PT called "DynamicTools" or something like that in the works, LOL.

-Bobro
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxdimario on March 09, 2005, 06:16:04 pm
Bobro wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 23:31


"ProTools" of course. "Pro Recording = Protools" for a lot of people at the moment. When everyone realizes how cornball this moment is... whoops! This is already happening, just read two different interviews with musicians who refer to the "cold brittle sound of protools".

Digidesign probably has a repackaged PT called "DynamicTools" or something like that in the works, LOL.

-Bobro



the cold brittle sound of digital is real, and we need to push the envelope, and get it right, or go to a higher level of analogue, or a hybrid.

in the good old days, recording standards (equipment) were set by organizations that were growing and needed to grow to reach full potential...And utilized capital to increase quality and intelligibility of the end-product.

nowadays, standards are set by people who are trying to exploit an existing established market, and are still thriving on the hopes of better days.

Exploitation without planting new seeds and maintaining the 'ground' you work with will lead to failure. Just plain farmer's common sense.


The people who are now on top basically seem like they just bought the business end but have not enough love of culture, or music, and no history behind them except for the glam and sizzle of showbiz legends.

XXX will not bring back what XXX has taken away, once it's gone.

it takes the human element. The artist and the individual.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 09, 2005, 08:35:05 pm
robdarling@mail.com wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 16:00

...do you really think any of the early Van Halen records would have been well-served by crystal-clear, dynamic engineering?  I don't think so.  A time and place for everything.

I think they would have IF and ONLY IF the engineering hadn't gotten in the way of the performance.

I think the idea that good or bad engineering makes a record is seriously misguided. Good engineering does have the potential to open more doors and reach a broader audience than bad engineering does. Just one reviewer loving the sound of a recording can totally make it happen.

However good engineering at the expense of a convincing performance is absolutely the worst kind of engineering.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxim on March 10, 2005, 01:58:22 am
i'm just gonna wade into this heated thread

1. to think that clipping is going to kill music is akin to saying that distortion would do the same in the sixties/fifties/?/before my time (i'm sure a lot of people did)

if anything, "unplugged" music is enjoying a renaissance (perhaps, because of distortion-laden music)

now, we talk about "expensive" distortion, because we've learnt to deal with it and it's become an artistic tool

similarly, i think "loudness wars" will cause a response in dynamics appreciation among artists and listeners alike

2. doesn't the radio have to be squashed, anyway

the thing that makes me turn the radio off (apart from the playlists, obviously), usually, is bad reception, because i mostly listen to the radio on the run

so it makes sense (?), that the more squashed bits will make it through the airwaves (i may be talking out of my ass there)

i grew up listening to radio free europe and voice of america in the depths of the siberian outback, and my first great musical experience was hearing jimmy cliff's "the harder they come" on shortwave, with soviet jammers working full blast to fuck up the sound (i guess, they really were afraid, and, perhaps, for a good reason)

now, the sound could not have been worse, but it was manna to my ears (that song still gives the chills)

last thing i was worried about was the lost dynamics

the point being, our brains will decode any information, given the desire, whether it's mp3, am, fm, dvd, wax cylinder etc

2. what bob said, good engineering, like good design, should not be heard/seen

it's boring in that, if if anyone(other than audio engineers) have noticed it, you should go back and start again

i don't think it's right to say that phase is good, but limiting is bad

all's fair in love and rawk, as long as it gets the message across

3. fwiw, the last few cd's i've enjoyed (aimee mann, elliott smith, damien rice, jon brion) have some dynamics in them

maybe, people are heeding the call

the record i'm making will attempt to avoid square waves, unless intended for artistic reasons

after all, i believe, that depriving oneself of dynamics, is like cooking without herbs or spices, an unnecessary sacrifice (like depriving oneself of tuning and timing deviations)

which brings me to

4. pap music sux (the life out of music)

jingle rock/pop music must adhere to a sanitised formula, whose function is to turn off your higher cerebral function, and therefore you choice-making capabilities

what's the evil mesmerist's favourite tool?

the ticking clock-click track

for at least 60 % of the population (probably, more like 90%), that's enough to cause a trance

the tuned perfections also smoothe out the edges that might wake a discerning listener's brain

the over-limiting just ensures that the ticking never stops/drops

of course, there are other tricks (wouldn't i love to know what they are?), but you get the message:

ve hav vays to make you get ze message

that's why most engineers spend their time talking about kicks and snares ('coz it's where it's at)








Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 10, 2005, 08:56:33 am
maxim wrote on Thu, 10 March 2005 00:58

to think that clipping is going to kill music is akin to saying that distortion would do the same in the sixties/fifties/?/before my time (I'm sure a lot of people did)...
It isn't the same kind of distortion and people weren't saying this. The distortion was also almost never intentional and had a quality that let your imagination think there were things there that actually weren't, a soft focus effect.

Radio was far less compressed and AM frequently sounded better than today's FM. If a record was annoyingly distorted, radio would simply reject it.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: pipelineaudio on March 10, 2005, 12:58:45 pm
"As an example, do you really think any of the early Van Halen records would have been well-served by crystal-clear, dynamic engineering? "

I think the early Van Halen records were in fact VERY well served by crystal clear dynamic engineering. Jump for example, is a great song, but the sonics, even as a non engineer in my younger days were so completely awesome, that I had to test every stereo in the universe with them. When amazing sounds and amazing songs come together it is a thing of remarkable beauty! Another example, "Devil's Plaything" by Danzig. The group of people who were the target for this album, werent usually treated to better than 4 track cassette recordings, but that 12 string just took your breath away.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on March 10, 2005, 01:39:32 pm
chrisj wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 01:39


I may not be the next Bob Ludwig, but I can make the cymbals shiny, or smoother, or cold. I can make the midrange (vox, guits etc) lean and sinewy, or plush and soft, or practically not there. I can make the bass sloppy, or tight, I can make you focus on the bass guitar or the kick. I can make you notice the hi-hat, or not notice it even if it came to me really hot.


Why am I flashing on 'The Outer Limits' right now?   Laughing

 
Quote:

I was just listening to "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" off Genesis' "Selling England By The Pound". Off vinyl, over my work speakers, having just revamped the room more than a bit. I could find fault with the presentation, but in fact it had me bopping in my seat and I had a hard time focusing on what I was writing, because the music was so compelling that it demanded my attention.


Well, that tune bores the hell out of me, and I like Genesis.
Aren't you glad this particualr audience isn't the 'authority' here?


Quote:

If I have to choose between that, or modern severely distorted levels, I'm going to choose the former. (SEBTP is a very dynamic album...) I might go for a bit more density, because up to a point you're not really losing anything by bringing things upfront, but I'm going to choose to make the music as compelling as I can, NOT as loud as I can. Loud is easy and the ear gets bored of it, as Paul Frindle's experiences amply illustrate...



Maybe you'd like the 'Platinum Collection' remix/remaster of that tune, then (Nick Davis did the work)



Quote:

I'm not going to give that up. It's my job to know better how to present music.



Well, no you're being presumptuous...you probably do know how to make it sound the way people with your preferences like it. Whether that's a 'better' way to present music is of course entirely subjective.


Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on March 10, 2005, 01:46:50 pm
maxdimario wrote on Wed, 09 March 2005 13:00


..you mentioned guitar distortion and fuzzboxes.

there is quite a difference between a tweed fender in overdrive and a digital emulation of a tweed, or the sound of a modern re-issue, or the sound of a solid state amp being overdriven.



Is it still beyond our powers to create digital emulation of these devices that's good enough to pass a blind test?  (I'm asking seriously... has anyone ever tested this?)


Quote:

Some stuff sounds better than other stuff.



"Better" has no universally-agreed on objective definition, though.  Ultimately it's subjective preference, even if the preference trend goes decisively one way and not the other.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on March 10, 2005, 01:57:06 pm
Now if I may offer a personal anecdote -- Evanescence's hit song 'Bring Me to Life' is, artistically speaking, a cheesy, adolescent, melodramatic goth/metal/rap/whatever hybrid, and I'm willing to bet it's had the dynamic range smashed right out of it.  And it's not the sort of stuff I listen to routinely.  But guess what, it rocked my world from the *first time* I heard it on a *car stereo* , through to today, when I occasionally crank it on my home theater.  (Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People' had a similar effect, btw).  So I guess I honestly LIKE smashed music sometimes. In practice there's just no telling what will hit you, and what won't.


It might be that if these tunes were remastered with a more politically correct dynamic range, they'd sound better to me -- or they might sound so different from the way I'm used to, that the 'spark' would be gone.  Both outcomes are possible.








Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 10, 2005, 02:02:16 pm
krabapple wrote on Thu, 10 March 2005 13:46


Is it still beyond our powers to create digital emulation of these devices that's good enough to pass a blind test?  (I'm asking seriously... has anyone ever tested this?)



First of all, yes I have done such blind tests and I can always pick out the real tube amp from the digital emulation.

Second, even if this were not the case, I don't think whether it will pass a blind test is really the point.  The point is what happens on the performance side of things.  Tube amps "feel" much different than playing through a digital modeller and that in turn affects the guitarist's performance.  I will finger something differently for one type of amp vs. another, etc., and the whole concept of "re-amping" is just ridiculous to me unless it's a completely distorted guitar that's pretty much insensitive to subtle fingering differences anyway.  And even then... latency affects the performance etc.

I think it's the same way with engineers... we turn in a different "performance" with different gear in response to its interface, metering, etc. and this will affect the ultimate outcome of our work.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 10, 2005, 05:40:18 pm
Lee Flier wrote on Thu, 10 March 2005 19:02

krabapple wrote on Thu, 10 March 2005 13:46


Is it still beyond our powers to create digital emulation of these devices that's good enough to pass a blind test?  (I'm asking seriously... has anyone ever tested this?)



First of all, yes I have done such blind tests and I can always pick out the real tube amp from the digital emulation.

Second, even if this were not the case, I don't think whether it will pass a blind test is really the point.  The point is what happens on the performance side of things.  Tube amps "feel" much different than playing through a digital modeller and that in turn affects the guitarist's performance.  I will finger something differently for one type of amp vs. another, etc., and the whole concept of "re-amping" is just ridiculous to me unless it's a completely distorted guitar that's pretty much insensitive to subtle fingering differences anyway.  And even then... latency affects the performance etc.

I think it's the same way with engineers... we turn in a different "performance" with different gear in response to its interface, metering, etc. and this will affect the ultimate outcome of our work.



Yes brilliant point Smile The real purpose of guitar amp 'character' is to provide the desired feedback to the musician whilst actually playing it. The amp is in effect part of the instrument performance and inspires the musician to play 'into' that style in order to get the expression he 'feels'. It's and extremely complex thing indeed.
Distorting AFTER the performance is obviously therefore nothing approaching the same thing - even if you used the very same amplifier. Anyone who thinks it could be has never actually played as such - or they wouldn't miss this absolutely crucial point which is obvious to any guitarist.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: jwhynot on March 10, 2005, 05:47:40 pm
So did we suddenly and inexplicably attain perfection in the music feedback loop, when Fender amps were "perfected" back in the tweedy fifties?

What did all the musicians do for the 30,000 years before that?

Just because you call something an emulation doesn't mean it's the same thing.  There was a commonly-used DX7 patch back in the early 80s called "Steinway" that actually had people debating whether it was a "real" Steinway or not.

Music down a wire calls off all the bets regarding naturalism, IMO.  Sure you can make distinctions between this process and that medium, but I'll never be satisfied with any general conclusions in the matter, especially if they're based on that recurring fallacy that music has reached and breached its peak and it's all downhill from here.

At some point that may be true but I see no reason at all to conclude that it's now.

JW
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 10, 2005, 06:25:18 pm
jwhynot wrote on Thu, 10 March 2005 22:47

So did we suddenly and inexplicably attain perfection in the music feedback loop, when Fender amps were "perfected" back in the tweedy fifties?

What did all the musicians do for the 30,000 years before that?

Just because you call something an emulation doesn't mean it's the same thing.  There was a commonly-used DX7 patch back in the early 80s called "Steinway" that actually had people debating whether it was a "real" Steinway or not.

Music down a wire calls off all the bets regarding naturalism, IMO.  Sure you can make distinctions between this process and that medium, but I'll never be satisfied with any general conclusions in the matter, especially if they're based on that recurring fallacy that music has reached and breached its peak and it's all downhill from here.

At some point that may be true but I see no reason at all to conclude that it's now.

JW


No of course not - that would be absurd. But what we as a profession WOULD however like is to be able to create what we would sometimes like to hear and deliver to others who may also like it, without being forced to fight the limitations imposed by what controling influences would like us to hear right now. Surely that's fair isn't it? The whole point of this discussion is that what we are beginning to witness is an almost religious devotion to limiting and compression which is applied to everything - whether we like it or not - whether people actually like to hear it or not. If the art we would sometimes like to produce does not survive this - then it is this to be considered somehow invalid, passe and the fodder of old farts? So would you allow us the right to create this - or are we to be denied it for all time, following a currently populist view? I mean should we as well go out and destroy all books from past eras and remove the words and idioms no longer used in modern communication from our language, in order that no one should ever successfully write in that style again - because to do so would be somehow sacrilegious to modernity? BTW I don't for a moment think that's what you are suggesting Smile
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 10, 2005, 07:07:03 pm
Yeah, Paul said it perfectly.  I find it bizarre this obsession with "the latest thing" and the insistence on applying "the latest tools" to everything, in slavish service to "what the kids want" in their estimation... well I'm sure a 12 year old might think it's amusing to take some garish Photoshop filter and put that on every single great painting that ever existed.  And maybe that would make a cool pop art exhibit, but if I go to an art museum I don't want to see that filter on every painting from Dali to Renoir.

And if I were a visual artist I would not want to be told by art galleries that I have no hope of selling my work  or placing it in any high profile exhibits unless I first scan it into a computer and apply the Photoshop filter of the moment.  No matter if it was originally an oil painting or a watercolor or a photograph or a line drawing.

This whole compression fixation seems exactly that outlandish from where I sit.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: zetterstroem on March 10, 2005, 10:44:39 pm
hear hear!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxim on March 11, 2005, 02:41:47 am
on a related note, i was watching 'romeo & juliet' the other night (the zefirelli version), and i wondered whether the modern day hollywood machine would let that story through without changing the ending

i think not

bob o wrote:
"It isn't the same kind of distortion"

absolutely, my point is that it took us a few years, before we could utilise this new strange effect as an artistic tool

clipping, to my ears, certainly has an emotional impact (it's disturbing, discrete, disgusting etc)

i, most certainly, don't want it applied to my records willy-nilly

but i would/have used it to make an artistic statement
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Andy Simpson on March 11, 2005, 07:17:59 am
Just to confuse the issue......

I just heard Ray Charles' Hit the Road Jack on Saga FM (UK).

This sounded thin and made the broadcast comp/limiter pump and duck unbelievably badly......

Infact, when the female vocal lead came in during the last part of the song (with some gusto) the whole track was almost ducked to silence (relatively) for about 1 second before it faded back up again......

To further explain, Saga FM is a popular Midlands 'oldies' station......

Andy


Btw, I love that old version of romeo and juliet....and what a juliet!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lee Flier on March 11, 2005, 02:18:52 pm
I couldn't resist... Very Happy

http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/4286/795/?SQ=73 5652f6ca2225ac49cc054f39469864
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: krabapple on March 11, 2005, 10:04:58 pm
 .
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bobkatz on March 12, 2005, 10:18:39 am
Lee Flier wrote on Fri, 11 March 2005 14:18

I couldn't resist... Very Happy

 http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/4286/795/?SQ=73 5652f6ca2225ac49cc054f39469864



Excellent analogy! Of course, abstraction is in the eye of the beholder. What this also illustrates is how our ears are far less objective than our eyes, it seems to me.


BK
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: blairl on March 14, 2005, 01:26:16 pm
Whatever happened to the day when a mastering engineer was looked at as an expert collaborator on a project?  Someone who you trusted because of the years of experience and hundreds or even thousands of albums he had under his belt?  Someone who you could go to for advice on making your project sound the best it possibly could?  Are these days gone?  

I have seen some comments on this thread that make me think people are viewing a mastering engineer as a common commodity.  Clients are now instructing the mastering engineers what to do and threatening to take away business if they don't.  They aren't looking for advice from a Pro, they are looking for someone to smash the album and do what they are told, something they could do themselves, or get any number of people to do.  I'll call this the "Sit down, shut up and do what you're told!!!" approach to mastering.

Has it really gotten so bad that the mastering engineer is no longer looked at an expert collaborator on a project?  It seems that many ME's are advising clients that such high amounts of limiting are detrimental to the sound quality of a project, yet they are ignored.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Level on March 14, 2005, 01:40:33 pm
Blair Leishman

What you are writing about is the fake vibe that has been expounded due to those who write those writings, on the web, and little 'puppies' following the only masters they can see, to conform.

It is not that way at all in my World.

My Clients not only hold me in high esteem, they demand it. They are paying for it as well!

People come to me exactly for what a mastering engineer can and will do. I take things so far as to ask for remixes of several songs when it comes down to it.

Remember, you have those who want to establish a "pattern" for mastering engineering teachings, then you have old guys with grey hair and beards, (me) that knows, when a 'crock is a crock'..but out of some respect and professionalism, I do not call them out. In the meantime, I GET called out from those who has never had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the great ones who taught me, before the "callers out" were born.

It is so ridiculous, no wonder music sounds like ass these days. Listen and learn is too much for them..it is blast and be in pain!

Don't worry about it. You are covered.

Blair, you need mastering, your first 10 mins. of track are no charge by me. Listen and compare.

The rubber meets the road with the ears.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bblackwood on March 14, 2005, 01:53:28 pm
blairl wrote on Mon, 14 March 2005 12:26

Has it really gotten so bad that the mastering engineer is no longer looked at an expert collaborator on a project?  It seems that many ME's are advising clients that such high amounts of limiting are detrimental to the sound quality of a project, yet they are ignored.

Yes, in some cases, but there are guys out there still fighting for sound quality...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 14, 2005, 04:58:56 pm
Level wrote on Mon, 14 March 2005 10:40


The rubber meets the road with the ears.


Ugh.  I don't think that's the phrase you want to use.  Didn't you watch that stupid show I did?  LOL.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: chrisj on March 14, 2005, 10:03:47 pm
blairl wrote on Mon, 14 March 2005 13:26


Clients are now instructing the mastering engineers what to do and threatening to take away business if they don't.  They aren't looking for advice from a Pro, they are looking for someone to smash the album and do what they are told, something they could do themselves, or get any number of people to do.  I'll call this the "Sit down, shut up and do what you're told!!!" approach to mastering.


That's fine- once they've done this, if they need to have somebody fix the damage they had somebody do, they WILL need a pro. Or some sort of mad scientist- I'll cheerfully volunteer to wear the latter hat Wink

Remember 'Livin La Vida Loca'? Some of us (including Bill Roberts) are doing a sort of 'radical restoration shootout' in Brad's forum.

I can do this: http://www.sover.net/~jinx6568/LaVidaLocaRaw.mp3

Don't worry, this fad too shall pass. Even the recordings will be remastered, if they're important.

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: tripit on March 17, 2005, 12:10:49 pm
David Schober wrote on Tue, 01 March 2005 17:40

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.



This particular track might not have been the best visual aide for the topic at hand, but I was at JJ's studio recently and heard the track in question, and there is no doubt that the mastered version sounds horrible - much worse than what JJ sent in.
On the original pre mastered track, while the dynamics are limited due to the nature of the song, the audio recording itself is not squashed to death. It's "rawk" as JJ likes to call it. And while the wall of guitars is pretty much flat lined, sonic wise it's still retaining it's quality as best as conditions will allow. The mastered version on the other hand, sounds brittle and harsh, with the cymbals sounding like breaking glass. The entire track has a harsh edge that isn't on the original.
The lack of dymanics in the track is directly reflective of poor song writing, performance and production that all follow the status quo of medicority in the "modern rock" format. The poor mastering could be due to a number of things, as JJ later posted, the ME was going through a change, new gear etc. But I agree ultimately with JJ - records are sounding worse and worse all the time. I don't think a lot of the up and coming engineers, artists, label idiots and consumers even know what a good record is suppose to sound like. That's the real problem.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 17, 2005, 04:26:53 pm
OK, I just got back the remaster today, and it is a great deal better, due mainly to the fact that there is far less recursive processing.  I made a 33 secs @ 192kbps mp3, going back and forth from the old version to the new.  You'll get the general idea.  Both versions peak at 0db, but one is obviously being limited more than the other, and it shows.  This is from a 10 or 15 second portion.  My instructions were to have no digital limiting, but it seems as if even people who did that for years and years are forgetting how to do that, or just assume that we don't know what we are talking about.

index.php/fa/861/0/
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 17, 2005, 04:29:58 pm
You can hear the difference too, even with mp3.  BTW, if you don't like the music, don't blame me.  I don't write or perform the stuff.  But I thought I'd post it just so we can have something concrete to discuss.  

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Eric Bridenbaker on March 18, 2005, 11:41:53 am
It's one thing to talk about comprimising dynamic swing and transient response for the sake of loudness maximization, (which does indeed translate very well to the limited bitrate of mp3 - something to consider for sure when making commercial mp3s). For uncompressed audio formats boasting 90 dB range and up, there is no reason for it, other than to achieve the initial short lived impression of loudness.

The thing I'm missing these days is the air of the overall headroom. I mean this in a literal sense really in that there is a high ceiling overhead, with big gods in the sky, instead of these tiny little trolls dancing on my overheated cubicle. This requires that the music be NOT at the ceiling all the time.

It may be a case of semantics, but I would like suggest that It's got every bit as much to do with what we DON'T hear as with what we do. Whether the cup is half full or half empty, the fact remains that having the space is a neccessary requirement, before the water can even think about filling it.

Cheers,
Eric
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bobkatz on March 18, 2005, 05:43:00 pm
Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 11:41

It's one thing to talk about comprimising dynamic swing and transient response for the sake of loudness maximization, (which does indeed translate very well to the limited bitrate of mp3





I disagree. Coded media such as MP3 were DESIGNED to be used with normal, "natural" music. The more dense the material you feed the codec, the worse it sounds, in fact, the noisier the codec gets!

This is a demonstrable fact. I even gave a demonstration and lecture at the last AES demonstrating the effect. MP3 does not like squashed or clipped material. Send it material with normal dynamic range and it will perform just lovely. There are technical reasons behind the design why this occurs, no time to discuss it now.

BK
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Eric Bridenbaker on March 18, 2005, 07:26:27 pm
bobkatz wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 17:43

Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 11:41

It's one thing to talk about comprimising dynamic swing and transient response for the sake of loudness maximization, (which does indeed translate very well to the limited bitrate of mp3





I disagree. Coded media such as MP3 were DESIGNED to be used with normal, "natural" music. The more dense the material you feed the codec, the worse it sounds, in fact, the noisier the codec gets!

This is a demonstrable fact. I even gave a demonstration and lecture at the last AES demonstrating the effect. MP3 does not like squashed or clipped material. Send it material with normal dynamic range and it will perform just lovely. There are technical reasons behind the design why this occurs, no time to discuss it now.

BK

Intersting!  It makes sense that the mp3 algos would be optimized for a specific dynamic range. Thanks for setting the record straight on this.

I typically notice dynamic problems on very quiet sections of mp3, but it follows that slamming the codec would create another set of equally disurbing issues. I'll have to try that one.

Are there any differences to bear in mind between using Constant Bit Rate or Variable Bit Rate in regards to these tests?

Cheers,
Eric
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bobkatz on March 18, 2005, 08:20:36 pm
Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 19:26




I typically notice dynamic problems on very quiet sections of mp3





I'd like to hear more about your reactions with that. At what bitrate?  At 192 kbps or above it should handle any level very well. In fact, I don't see any reason why lower levels should be a problem as it allocates more bits to them when signals are lower.

Quote:



but it follows that slamming the codec would create another set of equally disurbing issues. I'll have to try that one.




The more clipped and distorted the source, the more ratty the mp3 (or any coded material) becomes.

Quote:



Are there any differences to bear in mind between using Constant Bit Rate or Variable Bit Rate in regards to these tests?




Only indirectly. Variable bit rate is just a special case of constant bit rate with an attempt to economize on bitrate when the signal permits. So if the VBR permits going fast enough when needed, then there should be no difference. An expert on how MP3's are coded might be able to refine on my answer... maybe there could be noise modulation issues in VBR that don't exist in CBR.

BK
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: JamSync on March 19, 2005, 12:26:12 am
bobkatz wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 22:43

Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 11:41

It's one thing to talk about comprimising dynamic swing and transient response for the sake of loudness maximization, (which does indeed translate very well to the limited bitrate of mp3





I disagree. Coded media such as MP3 were DESIGNED to be used with normal, "natural" music. The more dense the material you feed the codec, the worse it sounds, in fact, the noisier the codec gets!

This is a demonstrable fact. I even gave a demonstration and lecture at the last AES demonstrating the effect. MP3 does not like squashed or clipped material. Send it material with normal dynamic range and it will perform just lovely. There are technical reasons behind the design why this occurs, no time to discuss it now.

BK


It just makes sense. Lossy codecs are designed to throw away "unimportant" material. If everything is squished, everything registers as "important", so what's the codec to do? it cannot tell the difference.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 19, 2005, 10:42:35 am
Lossy coded audio can also get really brittle if the material has had much digital signal processing done to it. A raw, totally unprocessed piano recording was a real ear-opener to me.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: keny on March 19, 2005, 11:16:43 am
Does anybody know the difference between the various mp3 compressions? like ogg vorbis or mp3 pro? Perhaps hotter signals would fare better in a different format..... Till then I'm using 192k/s
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Eric Bridenbaker on March 19, 2005, 11:55:47 am
bobkatz wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 20:20

Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 19:26




I typically notice dynamic problems on very quiet sections of mp3





I'd like to hear more about your reactions with that. At what bitrate?  At 192 kbps or above it should handle any level very well. In fact, I don't see any reason why lower levels should be a problem as it allocates more bits to them when signals are lower.


Thanks again Bob!! Using Lame v3.90.2 codec at 192 kbps seems to be just fine.

The sound I was refering to was ocurring at lower bitrates, I hear kind of a digital swooshing in the high end, noticable on quiet sustained , high notes as might be produced by a string section. Also happens with cymbals. An FFT reveals a brick wall LP filter effect, removing frequencies above 12-15K entirely... I guess something has to be removed.

However,  this is at bitrates of 128 kbps and lower, and
mostly I've been hearing these sounds on these so called "Near CD quality" web radio stations (which turn out in reality tp typically use 64kBps mp3 "Pro" codec, a really squashed proposition).

One station that seems to sound really GOOD is:

http://www.naxosradio.com

I asked their support which codec they use, and they were unspecific in their response, stating that Microsoft Internet Explorer had to be used to play the stations, indicating perhaps that it is some kind of streaming WMA. Sounds good though, worth checking out.

Here's an interesting a rundown of a myriad of codecs incuding OGG, MPC (which a lot of enthusiast seem to say is best lossy codec) , WMA as well as some lossless codecs like APE, FLAC, Shorten:

http://www.dbpoweramp.com/spoons-audio-guide.htm

Not sure how this all fits into the Brickwall limiting discussion, its admittedly a stretch.

I suppose that data compression, for better or worse, has made the new media distribution model possible (especially in the case of MPEG video compression technology). MP3 might be a step down in sound quality, but it's a major step up in convenience, opening up possibilities for suppliers and users alike. It should be no suprise that the majority of consumers and retailers  are choosing functionality over sound quality benefits that are beyond the general sonic capabilities of their stereos.

Not to say that brickwall limiting helps with any of this...

Cheers,
Eric
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: keny on March 19, 2005, 12:22:03 pm
heh the producer in me says you gotta take the conversation somewhere after 10 pages... then again maybe its time to start a new topic about mp3 compression...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: thedoc on March 19, 2005, 12:52:03 pm
I have been lurking on this thread, I do not do mastering, but I have to say that I agree with Ms. Flier's response.....Just one example would be any Alan Parsons record...  Of course, the music comes first, that is no issue.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: bobkatz on March 19, 2005, 02:36:16 pm
Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Sat, 19 March 2005 11:55

bobkatz wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 20:20

Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Fri, 18 March 2005 19:26




I typically notice dynamic problems on very quiet sections of mp3





I'd like to hear more about your reactions with that. At what bitrate?  At 192 kbps or above it should handle any level very well. In fact, I don't see any reason why lower levels should be a problem as it allocates more bits to them when signals are lower.


Thanks again Bob!! Using Lame v3.90.2 codec at 192 kbps seems to be just fine.

The sound I was refering to was ocurring at lower bitrates, I hear kind of a digital swooshing in the high end, noticable on quiet sustained , high notes as might be produced by a string section. Also happens with cymbals.






Right, we're all very familiar with that sound! "Space Monkeys", like a cellphone connection. But I don't think it is particularly associated with low levels over high ones, it might be associated with the dynamic changes from low to high levels as the codec tries to keep up with its masking and unmasking chores. I think I hear the problem at all levels with lower resolution codecs, not at any particular level.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 20, 2005, 06:16:58 pm
Quote:



I disagree. Coded media such as MP3 were DESIGNED to be used with normal, "natural" music. The more dense the material you feed the codec, the worse it sounds, in fact, the noisier the codec gets!

This is a demonstrable fact. I even gave a demonstration and lecture at the last AES demonstrating the effect. MP3 does not like squashed or clipped material. Send it material with normal dynamic range and it will perform just lovely. There are technical reasons behind the design why this occurs, no time to discuss it now.

BK


Yes I agree. The bit rate reduction is more at home with simple harmonic series than packed ones because with packed ones there is no place left to 'win' the bandwidth from. The very worst kind of programme that shows this up IMO is that which contains very complex but still recognisable spectra such as cymbals - large orchestral with prominent strings etc.. In fact it is very disconcerting to hear the background string parts changing in timbre depending on foreground parts like vocals etc..
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: maxim on March 21, 2005, 05:55:39 am
doc wrote: "I have to say that I agree with Mr. Flier's response....."

ahem.. that would be ms flier
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Eric Bridenbaker on March 21, 2005, 08:09:37 am
Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 20 March 2005 18:16

The very worst kind of programme that shows this up IMO is that which contains very complex but still recognisable spectra such as cymbals - large orchestral with prominent strings etc.. In fact it is very disconcerting to hear the background string parts changing in timbre depending on foreground parts like vocals etc..


Nicely stated. Almost as though the foreground parts are "stealing" the spectra away from those in the backround.

This must be due to how the codec makes use of the psychoacoustical masking effect to determine which portions of the audio are removed.

Cheers,
Eric

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Paul Frindle on March 21, 2005, 09:47:01 am
Eric Bridenbaker wrote on Mon, 21 March 2005 13:09

Paul Frindle wrote on Sun, 20 March 2005 18:16

The very worst kind of programme that shows this up IMO is that which contains very complex but still recognisable spectra such as cymbals - large orchestral with prominent strings etc.. In fact it is very disconcerting to hear the background string parts changing in timbre depending on foreground parts like vocals etc..


Nicely stated. Almost as though the foreground parts are "stealing" the spectra away from those in the backround.

This must be due to how the codec makes use of the psychoacoustical masking effect to determine which portions of the audio are removed.

Cheers,
Eric




Yes - clearly we are more sensitive than the original proponents of the masking effect figured. There definitely IS a masking effect, but it's not as powerful as some of the original researchers advocated. IMVHO this is yet another effect that has been over stated for reasons of market expediency.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 21, 2005, 10:58:03 am
Where masking gets tricky is the fact that it's very different for different individuals, especially any having some form of hearing damage. A moving target.

This I suspect is the problem people have with trying to mix listening to cheap digital converters. Masking hides digital artifacts creating another moving target compared to simply striking a balance listening to an analog console. As you reduce the measurable artifacts, I've found the translation locks in better although it doesn't necessarily sound "better" in the analog sense.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: working4life on March 29, 2005, 06:42:08 am
We have VU meters. We offset them by
8dB so we can read them.

Joe
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Lennbob on October 01, 2006, 12:17:54 pm
blairl wrote on Mon, 14 March 2005 12:26

Whatever happened to the day when a mastering engineer was looked at as an expert collaborator on a project?  Someone who you trusted because of the years of experience and hundreds or even thousands of albums he had under his belt?  Someone who you could go to for advice on making your project sound the best it possibly could?  Are these days gone?  

...

Has it really gotten so bad that the mastering engineer is no longer looked at an expert collaborator on a project?  It seems that many ME's are advising clients that such high amounts of limiting are detrimental to the sound quality of a project, yet they are ignored.


Exactly! I'm new to this site, but pretty much the standard advice regarding mastering engineers seems to be that the job of a mastering engineer is to put the final polish on your recording, to give it the best sound possible. You shouldn't try to do this at home, kids, 'cause you'll probably just screw it up.

Unfortunately, what we're too often seeing is the topic at hand: excessive use of compression and limiting that ultimately lives up to its name: compressing the commercial lifespan of a given record into shorter and shorter periods, while simultaneously limiting its artistic/cultural impact. After all, you're not likely to give a disc much playing time if you start to suffer from listening fatigue after the second or third song...

Judging from an article posted on the austin360.com site (  http://www.austin360.com/arts/content/music/stories/xl/2006/ 09/28cover.html), I'd say that people outside the recording industry are finally starting to take note...

Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: compasspnt on October 01, 2006, 06:00:54 pm

Well stated Lenn.

And Welcome!
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: RSettee on November 26, 2006, 12:13:37 pm
I hear alot of mixes being slammed, and it definetely bugs me. But this is a trend, often propagated by the labels or artists themselves, to make the mixes sound louder at any expense in order to compete with other songs on the radio. I've heard alot of digital clipping on records, and the waveform looks like a continuous block, not the "heart monitor waveform" that regular records are like. I've seen masters that the vu lights literally do not move from the 0 dB mark. I think that there's always those that realize that they'd rather go for something lower in volume that "breathes", rather than end up with something that is mastered louder, but not as dynamically pleasing.

A friend had recorded a band on their label, and I said that I could master it for them. They gave me the master mix on cd, and it was already maxed out to 0 db.  I tried a couple of songs, and it was already clipping and maxed out, and it was frustrating. There was nothing I could do with it, and I told them this, that i'd be wasting my time, so I didn't do it.  If anything, i'd have to reduce the levels, to add a bit of overall EQ that was missing from the mixes. I also told them that they'd be wasting their money if they got it mastered, seeing as the compression/ limiting/ 0 dB maximization was already done in the mixes, so what do they do? Send it out to Toronto to get a guy to master it for a grand! I mean, people don't listen when you tell them the truth. All he did was add a bit of 15-20 kHz sparkle, and that was it.

Ugghh.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: compasspnt on November 26, 2006, 02:11:32 pm
alan_cohaul wrote on Sun, 26 November 2006 12:13


... But this is a trend, often propagated by the labels or artists themselves, to make the mixes sound louder at any expense in order to compete with other songs on the radio...



The irony of this expectation is that slammed out mixes/masters actually sound QUIETER on the radio that those with some room left for the station's processors to "breathe" a bit.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: RSettee on November 26, 2006, 03:04:02 pm
Yeah, good point. Also, what alot of people don't realize, is that there's faders in the control room at the radio stations, so that they can even everything out with a master fader. My misconception when I was making a cd, was that I thought it had to be as loud as the other cds, otherwise it wouldn't sound as good on the radio, but I had a good perspective of things after I started working at a local campus station.

When I DJ'd, I always found that the slammed songs were initially louder, but they always wore on the ears, whereas the lesser compressed ones had more fullness, and could be bumped up to the same levels anyways, but with a sympathetic motion to the dynamic of the music.

But alot of radio stations have higher compression, so sometimes it doesn't matter anyways. I think alot of the top 40 and country stations do.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: swill777 on January 18, 2007, 04:06:41 pm
Check out Californication by the Chili Peppers, wow, this is horrible:

http://swill.ma.cx/temp/rhcp.jpg
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: duckhunter on January 24, 2007, 02:15:05 am
Hi all!  New to this forum.  Have been looking for site like this to further educate myself about mastering in our new commercial studio. First let me say that I am struggling with satifying some clients demanding Green Day levels, so these posts have been very helpful.  I'll share what I have learned. I'm very persistent and was not going to give up until I didn't have to turn up my volume knob on my cheap car stereo when switching between Green Day cd and my project master.

The first cut on Alien Nation was first mixed very hot and then without any limiting applied, cranked up beyond 0 db to clip the crap out of it....really....which preserves all of the dynamics.  Then the wave produced thereby was carefully edited to smooth out each clip using the pencil editing tool.  Then the wave form produced  was then cranked with a Limiter....L2 or whatever so that the average rms using the K12 was at about +8, so that the levels bounce nicely at that level.  I did it to my mix and I have a Green-day-level mix...hot as hell and the clipping is addressed.

That's what I know.  The product is good with killer drums, etc.  Clients were blown over by the result.  I may be on to something so ya'll try it too.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: compasspnt on January 24, 2007, 10:10:49 am
Welcome to PSW Dean!

But the title of the thread refers to STOPPING the madness, not finding new ways to further it...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 25, 2007, 07:53:44 pm
Terry, you kill me.

BTW, maybe somebody smarter than I am can explain to our friend why you don't want to print at +8.
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: compasspnt on January 26, 2007, 12:50:14 am
Paging Paul Frindle...
Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: djui5 on January 26, 2007, 08:22:12 pm
What's wrong with printing at +8? Those red lights are for excitement right! It means your getting a hot mix......




Title: Re: stop the madness!: proof that brickwall limiting sucks
Post by: Ali Moniack on January 26, 2007, 10:41:52 pm
"Excitement" and "heat" can surely be achieved at any level?

I guess if all else fails...*sigh*