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Define modern sound
Old 6th September 2020
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Define modern sound

What sonic characteristic makes a track sound modern? A choice of fresh unheard sounds? new style of playing or just bright mastered tracks?

New workstations/arrangers claim their high quality sounds to be cutting edge while PCM based VSTs from Korg and Roland are based on last generation would be qualified as somewhat dated.

In my opinion the difference lies in the higher ranges of frequencies which may have more detail.

Analog subtractive is also all the rage and from my experience, a dry track from any of these synths will not make the cut as modern sounding unless EQed bright. VCFs suck the highs and needs to be made clearer. This is why 12db LPF seems easier to cut through a mix.

How much of the modern sound is just about sounding bright and transposable on cheap sound systems? There are just so many new "sounds" that can make sense and most seem already available.
Old 6th September 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I actually think it's production techniques that make things sound more modern, rather than the intrinsic difference in sound between a Jupiter 8 and a Jupiter X. Tons of fx, sidechaining, automation, dynamic multiband compression and EQ, pitch and timing micro-editing, 150 layered DAW tracks to make a song, and so on.

The one sound source with a clear difference, to me, is PCM. We don't need to compress the attack, and loop the sustain, due to memory and processing limitations, any more. For realistic instruments, a vintage rompler won't sound modern. But for "analog synth" sounds, I think production techniques make a bigger difference as to whether a song sounds "modern". Lower noise floor, surgical carving out of space for each element, more density but less overlap. Modern DSP can allow more brilliance or sparkle, without aliasing worries, so people use that. Really deep and really high sounds are both trendy now. Like food, it's trending more and more processed. Then again, I don't really care about sounding modern, personally, so those are outsider observations.
Old 6th September 2020
  #3
Gear Head
 

Compression
Old 6th September 2020
  #4
A complete lack of dynamics, texture, or groove (i.e. everything is locked to a click).
Old 6th September 2020
  #5
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NawSon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PuggaMahone View Post
I actually think it's production techniques that make things sound more modern, rather than the intrinsic difference in sound between a Jupiter 8 and a Jupiter X. Tons of fx, sidechaining, automation, dynamic multiband compression and EQ, pitch and timing micro-editing, 150 layered DAW tracks to make a song, and so on.
This is almost verbatim how I would have described it. And the funny thing is that despite these definitely being the hallmarks of modern sound, they are not really new per se. We are about two decades into it, and yet it doesn’t fatigue ppl’s ears or sound dated to them yet.

It does to me.

Can’t wait to move on to anything else, just hoping it will suck less. I’m not holding my breath tho.
Old 7th September 2020
  #6
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horseface's Avatar
To me, a lot of modern electronic music sounds:

Harsh and very toppy, yet somehow lacking air
Sterile, kinda like its born in a vacuum
Slammed, lacking space
Different elements lack different textures - everything feels the same
2 dimensional, lacking depth
Flat, everything hitting a hard line and not going over it.
Hard, dense compression
Productions feel very magpie. A lot of influences from everywhere and lacking it’s own discernible identity.
Cartoonish caricatures of genres from other times.
More about sound design and production vs artistry and communication.
Lacking memorability.

In general, of course.
Old 7th September 2020
  #7
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Wolf LeProducer's Avatar
 

Modern productions are about layered sounds, compression, and reverb... IMHO, layering instruments and stuff is the hardest part of modern production
Old 7th September 2020
  #8
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horseface's Avatar
And brittle.
Old 7th September 2020
  #9
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Wolf LeProducer's Avatar
 

Low pass filtering on all instruments except vocals
Old 7th September 2020
  #10
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shreddoggie's Avatar
It can be calculated with a simple algorithm using the amount of suck correlation.
Its a simple cosign function created by the inimitable John Nash, sometimes known as the yawn equilibrium.
Old 7th September 2020
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Modern recording sound: everything is louder than everything else. Frequently contains at least one Millennial Whoop.

Modern synthesizer sound: pejorative term for analogue instruments with tuning that does not vary according to temperature, humidity, planetary alignment, or caprice.
Old 7th September 2020
  #12
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chaocrator's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yul View Post
What sonic characteristic makes a track sound modern?
overcompressed, overproduced, overpolished.
Old 7th September 2020
  #13
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
We all sound so old and bitter
I wonder what the next generations’ “turn that racket down” music will be?
Old 7th September 2020
  #14
Most of the complaints I see among people my age are more along the lines of "why are kids so boring now" and not the usual thing where radical younger generations are shocking conservative older generations.
Old 7th September 2020
  #15
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Thanks all for your responses very interesting content. Much appreciated.
Old 7th September 2020
  #16
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Yes, boring, lacking crispiness and texture, optimized in every aspect but kinda liveless and mushy or harsh and overprocessed.

Modern recordings by veteran artists today also sound boring compared to earlier stuff.

I think a lot of it has to do with technology. Everything now is optimized for certain THD measurements and linear frequency response, but the time domain sounds smeared. Real time SRC, linear phase filters, delta sigma converters, floating point calculation may all have something to do with it. Also people auditioning with ported monitors and crappy headsets.

General lack of inventiveness thanks to the internet and lack of courage thanks to marketing mechanisms.

Plugins with their fake sound instead of hardware.

Lack of real time experience because everything goes through converters (degrading the sound) and adding latency. There is a lack of immediacy in music, just as in video games now, which are equally suffering from increased latency (primarily because of screen technology) vs. 20-40 years ago.

Old and bitter? Just realistic, I think.
Old 7th September 2020
  #17
Gear Nut
 
aumgn's Avatar
 

For me bad modern sound reminds me of someone with to much Botox , a fake tan and a massive ego both in terms of production but often also creative intention.
Old 7th September 2020
  #18
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aumgn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
Yes, boring, lacking crispiness and texture, optimized in every aspect but kinda liveless and mushy or harsh and overprocessed.

Modern recordings by veteran artists today also sound boring compared to earlier stuff.

I think a lot of it has to do with technology. Everything now is optimized for certain THD measurements and linear frequency response, but the time domain sounds smeared. Real time SRC, linear phase filters, delta sigma converters, floating point calculation may all have something to do with it. Also people auditioning with ported monitors and crappy headsets.

General lack of inventiveness thanks to the internet and lack of courage thanks to marketing mechanisms.

Plugins with their fake sound instead of hardware.

Lack of real time experience because everything goes through converters (degrading the sound) and adding latency. There is a lack of immediacy in music, just as in video games now, which are equally suffering from increased latency (primarily because of screen technology) vs. 20-40 years ago.

Old and bitter? Just realistic, I think.
Some of the problem is people want to fit in with other scene members and there are a collection of humans who happily label something ' dated ' if it does not sound Hyper Engineered to death .

I personally think its a combination of multiple things , ones an obsession with perfection , i also think obessive compulsive disorder is also taking a lot of people as Daw encourages that , there were limitations years ago which meant you hit this sweet spot if you had the right setup where imperfections had to occur .Now you can just fixate down on the production so much you slowly destroy the energy in the sounds and yep that energy in the initial sound use to be as a result of many things from hardware and emulation seems to lack that .

I think the biggest problems this ability to just keep processing and editing and then press bounce , it throws the live mix down out of the window which i still think holds some magic and it also means people fixate mentally and slowly they become less emotionally focused .

You only have to look online , 10000 x videos on how to eq the perfect kick or a b c and almost zero on how to actually emotionally create a timeless work of art.

Its technology , its slowly turning humans into data robots
Old 7th September 2020
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
We all sound so old and bitter
I wonder what the next generations’ “turn that racket down” music will be?
"Oh, dancing cartoon crabs, how cute! Good choice, kids!"

Then, about a minute in... "Wha?... they broke the speakers! TURN THAT OFF NOW!!! It sounds like an aggressive farting contest!"


8.6M views

In truth, it's a fad, a gimmick. Take some recognizable music, slam it with some Audacity fx, some digital hard clipping, and millions of views later, millions of kids are habituated to that sound. Almost universally despised by the adults in the room. Could be the seeds of the next "turn that racket down" music!
Old 7th September 2020
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xanderbeanz View Post
We all sound so old and bitter
I wonder what the next generations’ “turn that racket down” music will be?

The next generation are all munching healthy food, no alcohol/drugs, early nights in bed and going to gyms instead of clubs

And their music reflects this sterile life

I'm old, bitter and moan because i want the next generations to piss me off with some angst and imperfections lol
Old 7th September 2020
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ORCHESTRION View Post
The next generation are all munching healthy food, no alcohol/drugs, early nights in bed and going to gyms instead of clubs
Gyms are far to dangerous, you can catch a virus. They will, of course, exercise at home or the outdoors.
Old 7th September 2020
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

I don't think "modern" is as negative as people are making it out to be here. There's just a lot of bad music being made because a lot more people are able to make music.

For a while now modern has been, as far as production goes, multiple layers of different forms of compression and harmonic distortion. Lots of reverb was the thing for a while but now it seems to be heavy use of very wet effects of all kinds, even on vocals. Pop music has been doing heavy low passing on everything but vocals and indie rock stuff has been doing that particular crunchy drum thing for a while.

Also plenty of older artists out there making modern stuff.

Low has been around forever and released a thoroughly modern sounding record recently.



The same guy who engineered that record does the Bon Iver stuff who has also been releasing thoroughly modern sounding record recently.



Also hip hop as always. A lot of people freak when they hear the name Kanye, often for good reason, but he's always making super modern sounding stuff.

Old 7th September 2020
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signalpudding View Post
I don't think "modern" is as negative as people are making it out to be here. There's just a lot of bad music being made because a lot more people are able to make music.

For a while now modern has been, as far as production goes, multiple layers of different forms of compression and harmonic distortion. Lots of reverb was the thing for a while but now it seems to be heavy use of very wet effects of all kinds, even on vocals. Pop music has been doing heavy low passing on everything but vocals and indie rock stuff has been doing that particular crunchy drum thing for a while.

Also plenty of older artists out there making modern stuff.

Low has been around forever and released a thoroughly modern sounding record recently.



The same guy who engineered that record does the Bon Iver stuff who has also been releasing thoroughly modern sounding record recently.



Also hip hop as always. A lot of people freak when they hear the name Kanye, often for good reason, but he's always making super modern sounding stuff.

Yes, all sounds like ass. Sorry, but it does.
Old 7th September 2020
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
Yes, all sounds like ass. Sorry, but it does.
Old 7th September 2020
  #25
For me it's.. a very clean, precise sound with sharp EQ'ing. Too clean, too precise/perfect, somewhat sterile sound, brought forth by over-using all the controls offered by working on a DAW.
Old 7th September 2020
  #26
Gear Nut
 
aumgn's Avatar
 

age is a problem
Old 7th September 2020
  #27
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grumphh's Avatar
 

Oh, look ma! A thread just for angry old men that like to yell at clouds.

Yes yes, by now we all know how much better music was when all you had were two Roland machines that could squeeze any note length (as long as your note was a 16th note long) and that the ms deviations from theoretical optimum (atomic clock accuracy) really blew life into your 4/4 bd-hh with inane 303 filter tweaks* on top of them...

Sorry, but you have clearly not understood that electronic music has been ****ty ever since Kraftwerk and TD discovered sequencers rather than playing by hand.


* "Look ma, i can punch in some random notes and make them sound really cool by twisting this knob - it's almost as if i am a real musician!"
Old 7th September 2020
  #28
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NawSon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
Oh, look ma! A thread just for angry old men that like to yell at clouds.

Yes yes, by now we all know how much better music was when all you had were two Roland machines that could squeeze any note length (as long as your note was a 16th note long) and that the ms deviations from theoretical optimum (atomic clock accuracy) really blew life into your 4/4 bd-hh with inane 303 filter tweaks* on top of them...

Sorry, but you have clearly not understood that electronic music has been ****ty ever since Kraftwerk and TD discovered sequencers rather than playing by hand.


* "Look ma, i can punch in some random notes and make them sound really cool by twisting this knob - it's almost as if i am a real musician!"
Absolutely incorrect. But you know that when you tried to troll us here.

The great thing about “electronic music” in a general sense up until fairly recently was the dichotomy of using human elements and machine elements, but with both being in some kind of harmonious balance.

For a while it was very avant garde to try to push that balance as far as it could go towards the machine elements.

Now we have reached the point where even the “human” elements are essentially treated as and impossible to differentiate from the machine elements, EVEN IN MUSIC THAT DOESN’T USE ELECTRONIC SOUNDS.

For me this is a massive failure of creativity.
Old 7th September 2020
  #29
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grumphh's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NawSon View Post
Absolutely incorrect. But you know that when you tried to troll us here.

The great thing about “electronic music” in a general sense up until fairly recently was the dichotomy of using human elements and machine elements, but with both being in some kind of harmonious balance.

For a while it was very avant garde to try to push that balance as far as it could go towards the machine elements.

Now we have reached the point where even the “human” elements are essentially treated as and impossible to differentiate from the machine elements, EVEN IN MUSIC THAT DOESN’T USE ELECTRONIC SOUNDS.

For me this is a massive failure of creativity.
You do realise that this is a thread full of angry old people yabbering about how modern music sucks, right?

Instead of trying to "define modern sound"* quite a large percentage of contributors in this thread only vent their anger at music not being what it was when they were young.

This sort of behaviour only deserves ridicule.
But of course, if gearslutz wishes to be a forum for curators of the past, well... then so be it



...
* Or at least coming with a plausible explanation why there is no such thing as "modern sound", which could be debated...
Old 7th September 2020
  #30
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NawSon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh View Post
You do realise that this is a thread full of angry old people yabbering about how modern music sucks, right?

Instead of trying to "define modern sound"* quite a large percentage of contributors in this thread only vent their anger at music not being what it was when they were young.

This sort of behaviour only deserves ridicule.
But of course, if gearslutz wishes to be a forum for curators of the past, well... then so be it

...
* Or at least coming with a plausible explanation why there is no such thing as "modern sound", which could be debated...
So you’re one of these people who believes that whatever they experienced is the best because it happened when you were experiencing it?

Yeah I’m not that short sighted unfortunately.

I’m quite able to weigh processes and results from various time periods and ascertain which ones gave us the best music.

Today’s processes and results are not the best.
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