Anybody has comments on Paul McCartney's New album's mastering?.
#31
4th July 2007
Old 4th July 2007
  #31
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RJeswald's Avatar
 

re: the comment about Paperback Writer. Agree good observation. I guess my comments would be that if live music is the benchmark, then any form of mastering is in a way detracting from the original. It then can be argued that at what point does the "artificial" tweaking of sound become bad Vs. good. Perhaps a matter of taste, and/or development of listening skills ( a whole lot about this in an emerging field of Music Cognition)

But I guess I would argue that recorded music will always be constrained by the hardware it is played through. As such, certain mastering as a control is obviously required to compensate for those constraints. In the old days, the obvious constraints were the limitations of cutting to vinyl.

So in summary, what we have on the McCartney album and others is a misuse of mastering techniques that have gone way beyond the necessary use for controling sound and dealing with playback constraints or as a desireable subtle effect such as in Paperwriter or countless other tracks from the 60's and 70's (CSN&Y, Fogelberg, etc. acoustic guitar for example) and therefore is perceived as unnatural and in some cases unlistenable.

Given its July 4th, an appropriate analogy might be seasoning food for a barbecue. A little bit of seasoning (mastering) is good to enhance the natural flavor of the food (music). Sometimes a creative use of seasoning works as well (effects). But one could easily over season (misuse of mastering tools) the food thereby masking its inherent quality and flavor and even making it uneatable. (listenable)

Happy 4th!!
#32
5th July 2007
Old 5th July 2007
  #32
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Fretbored's Avatar
 

It's sad that some mastering engineers force their sonic opinions on music that would stand better on it's own. Our job is to go unnoticed; however, some guys can't get past their pride long enough to accept their duty. I listened to the McCartney album on itunes, and it's definitely noticeable over the ye old laptop.
bcgood
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#33
5th July 2007
Old 5th July 2007
  #33
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I haven't heard it yet either but if it is slammed and squashed like people are saying that knocks Paul down a few notches in my book. When is someone with half a clue going to take a stand? I hope it will be Bono/U2 (The Edge, he's supposed to be a tech geek) because I love that guy/band.

bcgood
#34
5th July 2007
Old 5th July 2007
  #34
I think that what was said in the other post about the i-pod shuffle is the key.
Sure, people can just turn it up but they probably won't. So then your tune sounds 'little' (not as good) in comparison to everything else to the average listener's ear.
I assume that they will NOT turn it up. I mean it seriously DOES present a problem if you're in the business of selling millions of albums and competing with the major artists and labels. Although I've always been a huge fan of McCartney's music, I know that he's always been 'market-conscious' and does what he believes he needs to do in order to stay in the game.
Personally, I think this is a shame since he has such a huge audience. Who, if not he, could put a label on his cd saying to 'turn it up'?
If the loudness wars get any worse we'll need a 'Turn it DOWN' label!
I've had albums out in the past on major labels but these days I record my own cds and keep the levels far from anything squashed. But then again I don't have to answer to record companies and compete with the volume wars. You'd think McCartney wouldn't have to either.
What's next? "Brahm's Lullabye" through an L2 with clipped converters? I can't wait!
#35
5th July 2007
Old 5th July 2007
  #35
Gear nut
 

So It Goes...

Well, I'm a mastering engineer and I can tell you that this "syndrome" is usually at the behest of the client.. It's become a competition.. There are two issues. One is the insane levels most people want their music mastered at, and Two is the fact that the public seems to not care about dynamics. Most of the market is ultimately mp3'd for downloads. A lot of people just don't listen to cd's on a real system. It's been reduced to iPods, phones, with headphones, and car systems. I guess some people use a iPod dock for their stereo..but I think the loudness war, coupled with the mp3 market has desensitized people to things like dynamics. (Which I do prefer myself) It's really a trend that has gotten away from us i believe. So now the lack of dynamics seems to be the norm and is accepted. I wouldn't blame Ludwig.. It's what's expected these days. That's my two cents! lol
bcgood
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#36
6th July 2007
Old 6th July 2007
  #36
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bcgood's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmann View Post
Well, I'm a mastering engineer and I can tell you that this "syndrome" is usually at the behest of the client.. It's become a competition.. There are two issues. One is the insane levels most people want their music mastered at, and Two is the fact that the public seems to not care about dynamics. Most of the market is ultimately mp3'd for downloads. A lot of people just don't listen to cd's on a real system. It's been reduced to iPods, phones, with headphones, and car systems. I guess some people use a iPod dock for their stereo..but I think the loudness war, coupled with the mp3 market has desensitized people to things like dynamics. (Which I do prefer myself) It's really a trend that has gotten away from us i believe. So now the lack of dynamics seems to be the norm and is accepted. I wouldn't blame Ludwig.. It's what's expected these days. That's my two cents! lol
I don't agree with the underlying logic in your argument. I think that if they leave more dynamics in the mastering that it will sell more not less because the public WILL notice a positive difference. The average Joe may not understand why something smashed doesn't sound as pleasing as a mix/master that isn't squashed but most people enjoy the sound of a master with more dynamics and less clipping and distortion. My songs from the 70's and 80's for the most part sound so much better on my iPod than the new squashed albums so it doesn't matter if it's presented on an iPod as an mp3, it will sound better with dynamics to everyone and the album will have more of a "shelf life" people will listen to it for longer periods.

I've done listening tests with my brothers who know nothing about audio and they always like the less smashed versions of songs and the way stuff was mastered before the loudness wars. I believe this is one of the many examples of the artists and record companies shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak.

Some prominent and influential artist needs to take a stand in the place where he lives. Think about direction, wonder why you haven't now.

bcgood
#37
7th July 2007
Old 7th July 2007
  #37
Gear interested
 

I think the mastering was probably done as such at the request of the label. An integral part of the campaign was was play the record on rotation in Starbucks coffee shops, so they were probably looking for clarity over general ambient chatter, without any need to move the volume up and down between songs.

I have to say, as a big McCartney fan, the new record is by quite some distance the worst thing I have ever heard of his. Bearing in mind that his last record had some of the best compositions for a long long time, this new stuff is rubbish.
inlinenl
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#38
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #38
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I have it in the house ....

RMS -07.56 on some tracks it's really the end off the world ...... you can see they did not use any limiting or it was set to 0.0 input and -0.10 but just clipped the AD .... you can get it like that with the HEDD giving it 2 o'clock tape-color ... and after that normalize to 0.0 dB

HERE WE GO : a client from 58 who brought his recording to be mastered had the CD from paul in his car ..... he wanted to sound/have his tracks at the same level ......

mayby it's good four us ME's ... mayby NOT .. I don't know anymore I care/ I don't care ..

well it will sound good on Ipods/Mp3 ... that is the only reason I could Imagine ..
can some ask Sir Paul ....
#39
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #39
Gear nut
 

a response

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood View Post
I don't agree with the underlying logic in your argument. I think that if they leave more dynamics in the mastering that it will sell more not less because the public WILL notice a positive difference. The average Joe may not understand why something smashed doesn't sound as pleasing as a mix/master that isn't squashed but most people enjoy the sound of a master with more dynamics and less clipping and distortion. My songs from the 70's and 80's for the most part sound so much better on my iPod than the new squashed albums so it doesn't matter if it's presented on an iPod as an mp3, it will sound better with dynamics to everyone and the album will have more of a "shelf life" people will listen to it for longer periods.

I've done listening tests with my brothers who know nothing about audio and they always like the less smashed versions of songs and the way stuff was mastered before the loudness wars. I believe this is one of the many examples of the artists and record companies shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak.

Some prominent and influential artist needs to take a stand in the place where he lives. Think about direction, wonder why you haven't now.

bcgood
I'm not sure you get my meaning. I'm saying that quite awhile ago, (actually before iPods) the record companies started pushing for higher gain on all of their albums/singles. Ask any mastering engineer that's been around for awhile. It's true. There was no backing down once that caught on. They are in fact our clients, and i know very few engineers that will tell a Tommy Mattola, or a P.Diddy.. "No I won't make it louder because it decreases dynamics, introduces distortion... etc.." We are merely engineers serving our clients. Well the trend stayed, and in fact most companies joined in because they wanted their songs to be loudest on the radio. Now it's been so long, and coupled with the iPod mentality.. it is simply what is expected now. It's certainly not my taste. It actually gets me very frustrated when I have a perfectly great sounding album, and my client says "I played it next to so snd so.. blah blah and it isn't as loud". That's how it trickled down to newer musicians and producers. Logically and intellectually most people would agree abut the sound itself, but they
still want it to compete and give in to the "gain war". i promise you that it's true. i deal with it regularly. We're in a tough trade.
Best,
Larry.
inlinenl
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#40
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #40
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Nice on Larry ...

mayby we should not be carried away by the moment .... is the loudness rage not merely focused on hitparade/pop-music ...

there is a lot off different music out there .... at least I get it in .. like Jazz/Folk/religious/ethnic/classic/instrumental etc. etc.

so now and then in a while we can breathe .... and somtimes it's just fun to slam it !!!!
he see how loud i can go .. i'll even blast some US rap-levels ...

but this paul m. record is way !!! Up ..
#41
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #41
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ScottTunes's Avatar
 

I'm also of the opinion that Macca's album was delivered to the ME in a "loud" state, and not much can be done about it from there. This is what the client wants.

In Macca's case, I'm fairly certain he is following current trends these days (probably at the suggestion of his co-producer) instead of setting 'em. He may be afraid he wouldn't be viable otherwise. Age can do that to ya when faced with an industry that says you're over the hill at or near 26 or so.

This "LOUD" fad WILL abate some day... At least I hope it will...
#42
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #42
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Alex Niedt's Avatar
 

I'm kind of glad things are being pushed so much further so quickly right now. The sooner we reach albums full of white noise, the sooner things will be forced to return to a tolerable state.
#43
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #43
Gear nut
 

And let's not forget..

And let's not forget David Kahne the producer.. He too has adapted to the more is louder is better trend in order to keep working. Just listen to the Strokes last album and you'll see what i mean. If he kept producing in a style like he did with say, The Bangles.. he would be seriously unemployed. We've all had to adapt to this trend. I really wish it wasn't so, but ya know, tastes change, the public adapts and as engineers who want to keep working we have to adapt or fade away.. (then write about it all in a forum.. )
Yes, I do believe that there are maybe a couple of mastering engineers that impose their style on albums, but mostly we're just trying to stay working.
Best,
larry
inlinenl
Verified Member
#44
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #44
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well they all should be on a trial ... all the time I'm hearing/seeing the judge from "The Wall/Pink Floyd"
#45
10th July 2007
Old 10th July 2007
  #45
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songman's Avatar
 

I don't think it was just the mastering. Listen carefully to his voice, at certain places it sounds phasey like hell.
StephenMarsh
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#46
12th July 2007
Old 12th July 2007
  #46
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2 cents

In 12 years working exclusively as a mastering engineer, including stints at 2 major labels, in 3500+ projects, never ONCE has anyone OTHER THAN THE ARTIST asked for it to be louder for the sake of being louder, never an A&R guy, never a radio promotions guy, never a manager, never a producer - ALWAYS THE ARTIST. Major label and indie alike - it's ALWAYS the artist, period - end of story.

That's why it hasn't and won't change, mastering is a service business - at the end of the day - the artist calls the shots--Steph



(.....and I'm spent)
Masterer
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#47
12th July 2007
Old 12th July 2007
  #47
Don't start
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenMarsh View Post
In 12 years working exclusively as a mastering engineer, including stints at 2 major labels, in 3500+ projects, never ONCE has anyone OTHER THAN THE ARTIST asked for it to be louder for the sake of being louder, never an A&R guy, never a radio promotions guy, never a manager, never a producer - ALWAYS THE ARTIST. Major label and indie alike - it's ALWAYS the artist, period - end of story.

That's why it hasn't and won't change, mastering is a service business - at the end of the day - the artist calls the shots--Steph



(.....and I'm spent)

Really? Not once?

In my experience it's usually the artist, but many times the producer, or the A&R, or the label head, or the mix engineer, or some combination of all of them have asked me to make a record louder. From the most indie of the independents to biggest of the big Kahuna's. In fact, I had a project a couple of months ago in which all of the players asked me to make the record louder [with the exception of the mix engineer, but including one of the biggest CEO's in the biz].

If you've never been gang banged like that I guess you can consider yourself lucky [sort of].

...unless you like that sort of thing.
#48
12th July 2007
Old 12th July 2007
  #48
Gear nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenMarsh View Post
In 12 years working exclusively as a mastering engineer, including stints at 2 major labels, in 3500+ projects, never ONCE has anyone OTHER THAN THE ARTIST asked for it to be louder for the sake of being louder, never an A&R guy, never a radio promotions guy, never a manager, never a producer - ALWAYS THE ARTIST. Major label and indie alike - it's ALWAYS the artist, period - end of story.

That's why it hasn't and won't change, mastering is a service business - at the end of the day - the artist calls the shots--Steph



(.....and I'm spent)
I agree that artists now ask for mastering to be louder to compete, (say, within the last 7-8 years in my experience) but trust me, it started with the record companies push. Maybe some artist instigated it, but the record companies became extremely competitive about it. I watched the whole thing happen.. at Sterling Sound and (Herb) Powers House of Sound. (before I was engineering full time, so I was fielding all of these phone calls from the label guys.) In the beginning, mastering engineers (and myself) were trying to fight the good fight and talk sense to the label chiefs and A&R guys, but it was a losing battle after awhile. Some clients were lost, some were gained. And like you say, we are here to service their mastering needs. Now since it (loudness) is simply expected the artists of course want their product competitively loud, so that's where the request comes from now. In fact sometimes that's the ONLY criteria they seems to have. "MAKE IT LOUD!!" ...or... "You're gonna MAKE IT LOUD, right?".....
Sadly my response is always, "Of course, don't worry"...
And just so you know, I'm not arguing or anything.. just giving you perspective from my personal experience.. just like you are doing..
I personally can't see it going back at this point. With rare exceptiion people want their stuff louder. When i cannot comply because either the mix can't handle it, or I need to compress too much too avoid blatent clipping, I can tell the client is vaguely disappointed. If they only knew,.. so am I.. but for different reasons altogether. There's probably a couple of these discussions going on here on this forum, unrelated to Sir Paul's album. It's a frustrating topic for all!
#49
12th July 2007
Old 12th July 2007
  #49
Gear addict
 

Some of you heard the ˝Make Some Noise – the Campaign to Save Darfur˝ compilation featuring John Lennon songs by other artists?

I can't understand as well the Mastering here, too much enhancement (exciter), then we've got too many "ssssssss" on the vocals, on the REM tracks, it's almost unlistenable! The bass as well have weird enhancement, really un-natural...
And of course, all the tracks are over-compressed (we can especially hear the soft-clipping distortion all the time...boring!)

why that?
#50
12th July 2007
Old 12th July 2007
  #50
Gear maniac
 

Couldn't we say that this is largely a reflection of the fact that this has become background music most of the time? Especially if you think about the fact that people listening on their iPods are usually in places with a fair amount of ambient noise in the background.

It just seems that people "listen" to films now the way they used to listen to great rock albums or symphonies. That's where the dynamics still reign.

Having said that, I listened to Oasis' Wonderwall the other day and compared to My Big Mouth from the Be Here Now album, which was only released a couple years later, there's no comparison. And it's not that much quieter for goodness sakes!
#51
13th July 2007
Old 13th July 2007
  #51
MonsterIsland.com
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hangman View Post
it was after all a joke... but since you're making a big deal out of it.
It doesn't matter if McCartney passed it off or didn't. Its HIS record, and he and the label are responsible for it. They obviously wanted it to sound that way, or don't care.


And your last comment assumes that we aren't already making our own records dynamic.

the original topic was McCartney's new album and the mastering job done.

I think the joke fit the bill pretty nice.
Or he's insecure about being and older artist and he's trying to stay current by follwoing the trends like anyone else.
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