A study in punch and weight - two versions of Frankie Valli's 'Grease'
sk-1
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8th March 2012
Old 8th March 2012
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A study in punch and weight - two versions of Frankie Valli's 'Grease'

So, here are two differently mastered versions of the same cut of Grease. One huge, with absolutely slamming drums, and sounding a few generations old, the other a clean as a whistle but a bit thin and with no power at all.

You can see what I mean with these youtube clips. Here's the awesome version (a bit of lossy compression going on as usual, but you can get the idea):

Frankie Valli - Grease (1978 Clip) - YouTube

And here's the anemic version:

Frankie Valli- Grease - YouTube

The first one is played back slightly faster than the second, but otherwise they're the same basic cut. I've checked this in Protools by speed matching them and I get combing happening.

So the question arises - how in hell do you make something that big from such humble beginnings? No combination of eq and dynamics that I applied comes close to the thickness and punch those drums have.

It's easy to squash the drums in sample 2 down to the same dynamic range as sample 1, or to wind in some bass, but it just sounds like standard-issue compression and eq. Where does the magic come from?

The hats in particular have some crunchy fizz on them that sounds like cassette tape or the result of a broadcast process of some sort...

I'd love to hear from anyone who knows how this feat of engineering was likely performed. Because I will then sell the secret to the highest bidder over at the hip-hop forum

Last edited by sk-1; 8th March 2012 at 02:12 AM.. Reason: Clarity
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8th March 2012
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That's odd, I wasn't aware grease could have punch.. or is it the other way around. ha.. little joke there.

But seriously, in answer to your question, I believe it's typically referred to as a "re-recording". Meaning, as for the two examples you've posted, I don't think I'd go as far as saying "remix" or "remaster" because to me they sound like two different recordings, possibly with two different (or several) recording techniques involved. My opinion.
sk-1
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8th March 2012
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Yeah, that's what I thought originally, but then I lined them both up in 'tools and those drums clearly phase with each other. Perhaps another drum track has been added to the original, but it doesn't sound like it to me.
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8th March 2012
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Several things could be involved, but as for the drums specifically, I don't think it would have been too hard to just overlay something like a single bass drum on it's own track or whatever. This is done all the time in more modern recordings with things like using a plugin to replace a trigger hit with a sample.
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8th March 2012
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Much prefer the sound of the 2nd link purely comparing the sound coming out of those youtube videos, the one you described as 'anemic'. Way higher fidelity, more natural dynamics, you can really hear the seperation and definition of the individual instruments, far more natural, but especially... its stereo.

The first youtube video is mono. It actually sounds like its a recording off a 70's television audio stream going through some tight broadcasting compressors. Maybe thats the secret sound you're after?.
sk-1
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8th March 2012
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That's interesting that you prefer the hi-fi one. It's definitely the 'pure' version of the two. I agree that it sounds 'nicer', and being stereo is good, but to me the first version has much more feel to it and has the tough vibe that makes the whole track much more compelling, despite being rough around the (mono ) edges.

And I agree that there's probably something broadcast-y going on in clip 1.

Any takers for a mini-competition to recreate clip 1 from clip 2?
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8th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sk-1 View Post
That's interesting that you prefer the hi-fi one. It's definitely the 'pure' version of the two. I agree that it sounds 'nicer', and being stereo is good, but to me the first version has much more feel to it and has the tough vibe that makes the whole track much more compelling, despite being rough around the (mono ) edges.

And I agree that there's probably something broadcast-y going on in clip 1.

Any takers for a mini-competition to recreate clip 1 from clip 2?
Is there any particular reason you have the links posted at a certain time section?
sk-1
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8th March 2012
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It's the solo drums in the break that demonstrate the tone difference most vividly.
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9th March 2012
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The second clip is probably taken from a CD. The first one is a copy of a broadcast, probably on VHS or Beta. In addition to the heavy limiting done in front of the station's transmitter, there may be additional auto-gain control on the consumer's record deck. You can hear it getting pretty crunchy in the middle. Any way, the source video used by the station is probably a U-Matic or Betacam copy of a 1" mother, made from a 1" master. That's a lot of degradation between the master audio tape and You Tube. I also wouldn't doubt if a Dolby switch was disengaged somewhere it shouldn't have been.

The second clip is much better IMO.
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9th March 2012
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The difference is a combination of mono vs stereo, the speed/pitch differences and source quality (broadcast & AGC vs a likely CD), and the first file having been uploaded in 2007, the second in 2011... a bit happened in between those dates in terms of YouTube encoding.
Jerry Tubb
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Why That song?

Now it's stuck in my head...

And I didn't even listen to the examples.


JT
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And why am I suddenly doing the Hand Jive?
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9th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
And why am I suddenly doing the Hand Jive?
I almost reported this post...just for the visual imagery
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sk-1
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15th March 2012
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Sorry for any mental anguish caused by the song. I've had it my head too if that makes up for it. The only cure was getting Bohemian Rhapsody in there which did the trick, but the Galileos are wearing a bit thin after a week of it

Some interesting answers - I guess most folks don't dig the lo-fi crunch. Obviously it's not good if everything sounds like that, but this particular drum break - I reckon that some time in last 35 years something magic and very sampleable has happened to it. I'd love to find a non-youtube compressed copy of it...

Ben
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16th March 2012
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I have the original 1978 vinyl here, from my old days of digging for drumbreaks. I've subjected the break to what would likely have happened to the "fatter" one.

A bunch of limiting for broadcast, some wow and flutter from the VHS, along with a weird eq and some drastic hf shelving and more compression, then for some digital clipping which happened during the transfer to computer and youtube.

This little example switches back and forth between the vinyl output and the tortured one.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/271648/Hosti...%20example.wav

DISCLAIMER: I know I'm not even close to the youtube example in sound and tone of the vhs version. It's 3:55 o'clock here and I messed around with this for like 3 minutes just for the hell of it.
sk-1
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16th March 2012
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That's pretty cool, definitely got some punch happening without it sounding like it's simply been mashed by a compressor.

Cheers!
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24th March 2012
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ski-1, your answer lies in the base of the material: Analog.
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