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MUSIC SOUND WORSE AND WORSE every decade. Is it true? Modular Synthesizers
Old 11th September 2011
  #1
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Bob Amirian's Avatar
 

MUSIC SOUND WORSE AND WORSE every decade. Is it true?

When I lately bought to my studio the most revealing monitors I've heard in my life (ATC), I started to clearly hear the reverb tails and bad edits cracks in many recordings, I also could finally hear the music the way it was really mixed.
So I started to listen to many records from my colection and FWIW discovered that untill approx.1980 records sounded GREAT (full, fat, detailed and glued), then they made a major step back (nasty reverb plates, thinner overall sound, more "mechanical", very detailed but not really glued), from approx. 2000 they started to sound very contoured, like a lot of lows and highs but the meaty mids were seldom there, and currently the music sounds like it lost the depth and fatness almost to the extent of a national disaster. It's just got more lows, but not third dimension or roundness it used to have.
I dare to call it:
"Lows are God. Highs are angels. Mids are atheists."
It's sooo wrong
Or is it just me and I'm missing something?
Old 11th September 2011
  #2
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Certainly in recent years everything seems to be compressed to buggery to make it "louder".

In the process the music has been killed - and many CDs are actually distorted.
Old 11th September 2011
  #3
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Admiral James T.'s Avatar
 

Well, I wouldn't generalize that, there used to be really bad productions way back then, and there are so many great sounding records still coming up today. But I sometimes hear it this way as well. I think there are many reasons for that. We got way more possibilities today. We can have as many tracks as we want, tweak every 0.1% out of everything, use hundreds of (soft-)synths and vst's all the time and edit the **** out of everything. As a result of that we're moving far away from the original source (the band), sometimes I think the producer and/or engineer doesn't even care 'bout the band, he doesn't give a damn what he already has, he just wants to get somewhere (where all the others are, probably). Many years ago a band had to be able to know their stuff, they already had a sound, you just had to catch that - and the engineer couldn't do much more than recording THE BAND, cuz he didn't have that many fancy tools.
Another thing is probably the availability of all things. Everyone can record nowadays, everyone can produce a CD, everyone can put his songs onto iTunes, soundcloud, whereever. Years ago you had to be good to do this. Just my 2 cents, and again, I thinks there was bad (sounding) music in every decade (and vice versa).
Old 11th September 2011
  #4
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Pretty much agree with OP. Basically it all started going downhill when digital arrived. Nasty reverbs, thin keyboards, transistor amps, fake drums. Not to mention the way everything started to be recorded one track at a time and sequenced to click tracks. How can people be moved by music that was never played in the first place? Bring back real sound and real humans playing - infinitely more affecting.
Old 11th September 2011
  #5
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Yes it's true. Nothing new here. Same is true with live concert sound.
Old 11th September 2011
  #6
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LOL some guys are definately stuck in past.

I do agree about everything is getting too loud and squashed but judging music by not being played ''live'' like you want too is just plain stupid. If you don't like electronic music, don't listen to it and stick to your guitar and close your self in a room.
Old 11th September 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doomcore View Post
LOL some guys are definately stuck in past.

I do agree about everything is getting too loud and squashed but judging music by not being played ''live'' like you want too is just plain stupid. If you don't like electronic music, don't listen to it and stick to your guitar and close your self in a room.
Music doesn't have to all be live, it depends on the genre, but something trying to sound like a live band that was layered in bits and processed to **** will probably affect you a lot less than Exile On Main Street, say. Have you not noticed how much less passion audiences have for this stuff?
Old 11th September 2011
  #8
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I second that, ppl on here r stuck in the past. There r amazing talents emerging from electronic music. Check out: Madeon. The guy is 17 year old, n his stuff is already amazing.
I'm a piano player myself, so most of my inspiration come from playing. But the best thing to do, is use the best of the digital and real world, n u will hav sumthin amazing. music is not dying, there r loads of amazing stuff, u just gtta know where to look.
Old 11th September 2011
  #9
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Admiral James T.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doomcore View Post
LOL some guys are definately stuck in past.

I do agree about everything is getting too loud and squashed but judging music by not being played ''live'' like you want too is just plain stupid. If you don't like electronic music, don't listen to it and stick to your guitar and close your self in a room.
I have nothing against electronic music. But you can't really compare the Beatles to DJ Whatsoever. The OP was saying "worse and worse every decade". You didn't really have that kind of electronic music 50 years ago. But you can compare the Beatles to Coldplay or the like. Electronic music is a completely different thing, but even there I like it better when it doesn't sound like born in a computer. I do like 70's Kraftwerk more than DJ Whatsoever though, so yes, call me stuck in the past
Old 11th September 2011
  #10
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Maybe a few reasons for this:

1) Insane compression/limiting have made the edits and reverb tails more prominent.
2) Close-miking instruments: this isn't how we hear instruments in live performance. The old tape recorders and gear rolled off the highs a bit to simulate some 'distance'.
3) (probably most important) recordings that stood the test of time through the last 20-30 years were the products of masters in their craft - both musically and sonically. So maybe it's not fair to compare them with 'just any' modern recordings.
Old 11th September 2011
  #11
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It's all very well complaining about the arrival of digital, but for many of us the economics dictate what we use. So it's digital.

When I'm reading interviews with mix engineers and analyses of mixes (perhaps most notably the monthly Inside Track article in the UK mag Sound on Sound), what strikes me is how much crap they throw at individual tracks, whether plug-ins or hardware.

Here's an example, quoted from SOS January 2010, Veronica Ferraro's mix of Kelly Rowland's "When Love Takes Over":
Sonalksis SV315, Nomad Factory DS2S & PEQ322, Digirack De-esser & Delay, Bomb Factory BF76, PSP 608 & Nitro, Groove Tubes Glory, EMT-Franz 266X, Lexicon 200, Eventide H3000.

Of course, some of this is likely to be on sends and returns and so is in addition to the vocal rather than in-line processing, but Ms Ferraro does speak about splitting Rowland's vocal into three stems, each with a different processing chain.

I'm not saying that it's necessarily a bad thing, or that in this case it results in a bad vocal sound. (I don't like the song so I've not listened to it recently, but I cite this as an example because such processing chains seem pretty common these days on 'big' pop records.) I do wonder whether it accounts for my perception that so many sounds on records seem so... well, brittle.
Old 11th September 2011
  #12
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I think there will be many different arguments about this and certainly, the arguments will keep on coming, but I personally do feel that many of the tracks I hear with in the charts are very very heavily compressed and do not seem to have any dimension/room to the sound. After about 30 secs, I end up getting fed up of the wall of sound and turn it down, only to find that it just doesn't sound good at lower levels.
Old 11th September 2011
  #13
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Bob Amirian's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickenuggets View Post
I second that, ppl on here r stuck in the past. There r amazing talents emerging from electronic music. Check out: Madeon. The guy is 17 year old, n his stuff is already amazing.
I'm a piano player myself, so most of my inspiration come from playing. But the best thing to do, is use the best of the digital and real world, n u will hav sumthin amazing. music is not dying, there r loads of amazing stuff, u just gtta know where to look.
Nobody meant that the MUSIC is dying. We're talking about QUALITY OF MIXES.

I was born in '72 and of naturally grew up listening to all stuff that is today considered old.
But today I'm not listening to any of these, since musically it's rather uninspiring for me.
Thanks to the You Tube and my 12yrs younger wife I'm absolutely amazed by the new Californian and Scandinavian scene, which is utterly modern, I totally switched my taste towards the emerging music.
Last year we recorded a duet with Royksopp, electronic pop star from Norway, they're great, and I know there's plenty of great new bands and artists.
What I discovered on my new ATC monitors was only the quality of SOUND itself. It's plain flat today. Somewhat lifeless. Fluffyless. Mojoless. Sexless. Very close to the listener with nothing in the second or third field.
Extremely contoured, though I don't know if it's by the mastering OR mixing engineer's decision.
Old 11th September 2011
  #14
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Its all in 600hz region...
Old 11th September 2011
  #15
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There is a way to stop it ya know..

Most of the guys on the forum are mix and mastering engineers.. Stop playing with it till it get's beyond buggery.. Keep it simple raw and powerful.

Even on the mastering side of stuff.. I have a volume button on my phone on my mp3 player and on my stereo.. You don't have to master it so loud, we need some sort of standards set like IEEE and ISO saying you can't peak more than -11 / 10 RMS or something.

I am not ******** I know how to turn things up as many, many, many people already know how to use a volume knob also.

When you export your MP3's try to do it in best quality as possible 320Kbps upwards.

Simples.
Old 11th September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Amirian View Post
Nobody meant that the MUSIC is dying. We're talking about QUALITY OF MIXES.

I was born in '72 and of naturally grew up listening to all stuff that is today considered old.
But today I'm not listening to any of these, since musically it's rather uninspiring for me.
Thanks to the You Tube and my 12yrs younger wife I'm absolutely amazed by the new Californian and Scandinavian scene, which is utterly modern, I totally switched my taste towards the emerging music.
Last year we recorded a duet with Royksopp, electronic pop star from Norway, they're great, and I know there's plenty of great new bands and artists.
What I discovered on my new ATC monitors was only the quality of SOUND itself. It's plain flat today. Somewhat lifeless. Fluffyless. Mojoless. Sexless. Very close to the listener with nothing in the second or third field.
Extremely contoured, though I don't know if it's by the mastering OR mixing engineer's decision.
You are so right with your observation of the sound of current music! Many people just listen to music with a different perspective today. The guys that think your just a old fart, are just new generation people that will be buying a U47 for $20,000 in 10 years just "trying to get some depth of field" LOL Its like you can't tell the kids anything.... today....
Old 11th September 2011
  #17
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It seems like recording has got better and worse. To me most pop music is overproduced, to many layers, everything lined up and corrected and most of the human element is lost. Whether or not it's over-compressed could be an artistic choice or maybe it's there to instantly catch your attention, I don't know but I do know I don't care for it.

On the other hand there are records being made today that I believe are better than anything done before. I listen to mostly jazz lately and honestly think recordings from the likes of Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Karrin Allyson, Pat Metheny ect. are better than the same type of recordings of the past. I think thats quite an accomplishment considering that by the late 50's these type of recordings were pretty damn good.

As for pop I tend to agree with you which is to bad because there is the potential to make better sounding records. People like Ben Harper, Ryan Adams and Jeff Tweedy seem to get it. Adele is an amazing talent but the way "Rolling In The Deep" is recorded makes me turn the dial.
Old 11th September 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Amirian View Post
When I lately bought to my studio the most revealing monitors I've heard in my life (ATC), I started to clearly hear the reverb tails and bad edits cracks in many recordings, I also could finally hear the music the way it was really mixed.
So I started to listen to many records from my colection and FWIW discovered that untill approx.1980 records sounded GREAT (full, fat, detailed and glued), then they made a major step back (nasty reverb plates, thinner overall sound, more "mechanical", very detailed but not really glued), from approx. 2000 they started to sound very contoured, like a lot of lows and highs but the meaty mids were seldom there, and currently the music sounds like it lost the depth and fatness almost to the extent of a national disaster. It's just got more lows, but not third dimension or roundness it used to have.
I dare to call it:
"Lows are God. Highs are angels. Mids are atheists."
It's sooo wrong
Or is it just me and I'm missing something?
I agree with you. I still buy CDs on a weekly basis (!! yeap, I'm old...) and I find these days, 5 out of 10 purchases sound bad (regardless of the type of music-I go from rock, electronic to Jazz). I was surprised to read a very good article in SOS magazine of September 2011 that explains what has been happening in the last 20 years. I think you will find some of your answers to why your speakers don't lie ! Enjoy reading (+ congrats to SOS magazine for such article)

‘Dynamic Range’ & The Loudness War
Old 11th September 2011
  #19
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spectacular g's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMauce View Post
Its all in 600hz region...
I prefer the 666hz region myself...

But as mentioned, many seem to think it's all mud there not magic.

G
Old 11th September 2011
  #20
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This was pointed out to me by Bob O many years ago, and it makes sense... as the existing engineers get further and further from ever going into a concert hall and hearing what a real instrument sounds like in a real acoustical space, the music that these engineers create will sound more and more artificial. same with the live concert engineers... they've not been trained the same way that I was trained, they are not trying to achieve the same things that I try to achieve. (But I want to point out that cymbals should not sound like someone is bashing a bag of beer bottles with a baseball bat; and there are some actual musical notes rather than just high SPL air thrusts in the sub frequencies; and there only kick drums that have a high end click do so because the pedal travel adjustment is out of adjustment causing the foot pedal to smack the pedal clamp.)
Old 11th September 2011
  #21
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anyone that thinks that mixes in general from the 80's are worse than the 70's and bad in general, aren't listening...or dont know...go back and revisit...that decade produced some of the best mixes EVER...lots of depth, featured elements, risks etc... in even some of the cheasiest tunes...go back and revisit please...this is completely wrong and you are doing yourself a disservice by not trying to learn some great stuff from that decade of mixes
Old 11th September 2011
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Lab View Post
I agree with you. I still buy CDs on a weekly basis (!! yeap, I'm old...)
On an unrelated note, I ONLY buy CDs now. It's the only way I can hold onto my purchases. iTunes only allows 5 licenses per song. After 2 or 3 years, new iPods, new computers...whoops, you can no longer access your music!

I'm beginning to hate this digital/consumer age.
Old 11th September 2011
  #23
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There is great music of all times... those who like to live in the past searching for that warm tingly feeling they got when they first heard (whatever) are merely ignoring the wonder that is this moment and relishing upon a past long since dissapeared. This mentality itself creates the "death to originality" that in which those who carry these pessimistic ideals are so afraid of. So what if someone wants to use technology to create a new and ORIGINAL sound, something that is NOT THE SAME as what someone did 50 years ago.

Its all art just the same, might as well say painting died after the mona lisa.

The music and musicians are not the problem, its the dedication of resources from cooperate interests to music that has very little merit. Look past the cooperate shades and dig for the music that DOES inspire. Its there, where? You tell me =)
Old 11th September 2011
  #24
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MUSIC SOUND WORSE AND WORSE every decade. Is it true?

IMO no it's not true.. I dont particularly care for much of what gets major air play and most of what is on = You Tube/Myspace/ etc. But there is plenty of outstanding music being made today. More a matter of simply more music each decade, more bad, more mediocre, more good.
Old 11th September 2011
  #25
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If you go look at the billboard number ones from the 50's and 60's, its all really crappy music too. The stuff that was hot on the radio then was just god awful, with a few good ones here and there. We just have the opportunity to view from hindsight and only hear that ones that stand the tests of time. Imagine different versions of "purple people eater"!!


Serioulsy, go look up what the billboard charts were on any certain day of any certain year and look it up on youtube, its mind blowingly crappy!!!
Old 11th September 2011
  #26
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Firechild's Avatar
It was a sound quality dip in the late 80´s and the early 90´s when the digital technology was new.
But since then we are now miles ahead what was made before those sad years.
Old 11th September 2011
  #27
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It's all a result of the Suits taking over.

I'm convinced that if the Beatles and Emerick were recording now they'd still have found a way to make great sounds. Digital may sound less warm than analog but that is not the issue to my mind - it is the material and the production that has taken the music out of the music. Formula rules now.
Old 11th September 2011
  #28
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msquared's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PdotDdot View Post
It's all a result of the Suits taking over.
Yes, this. Far more than "engineers can't understand the way instruments sound like" or "audiences don't care for good music" or "every musician out there sucks now", it's all about who is writing the checks.

Also, it's not universal. Plenty of contemporary music sounds quite good. And I think that you'd find that plenty of music in the '60s sounds pretty bad, except that nobody bothers to play that stuff anymore. Comparing the cream of the crop from the past to the generalities of today is unfair.

Slowly backing off of the OP's lawn...
Old 11th September 2011
  #29
I agree for the most part.

The poster that mentioned the close miking, and compression?
I think you are spot ON.

Thing is, somewhere along the line the "in your face" sound got big. I guess it was a gradual thing. Now, nobody will deviate from this approach, because it may not sound as in you face as the people they are competing with.

It's the old keeping up with the Jonses complex.
Sucks, because I don't think it sounds as good.

I wonder also, (and if any of the guys that were engineering in the 70's can answer) did people back then always want stuff to sound BIG all the freaking time?

Was this it's gotta be "big" thing a common request from producers and artists?

I get metal gtr players in, saying stuff like "Man, the guitars gotta be BASTARD HEAVY man...like with lows that go to China....just effing HUGE man..." These guys are usually drop tuned to C or something which is fine, but the thing is already way down in the bass range, how much do we need to exaggerate this?

Or "Man, the bass drum's gotta be huge, and fat man! More bass in the kick drum!" "More, More, MORE DAMNIT!!!

Am always getting asked for loud mixes etc. too.

More of everything basically. Except maybe reverb, or real room sound

I just wonder if this was a goal back in the 1970's, and people were still trying to get that but the tech (brick wall dsp limiting etc) wasn't there, or was it something just not asked for?

What it sounds like to me, is people just wanted it to sound good, mind blowing and new.

I have seen a few pros around here say things like "Everything can't be big in a mix". Amen. When I read this stuff, it makes me want to laminate it, frame it, and put it on my freaking wall for all to see.

Thanks,
john
Old 11th September 2011
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubbakron View Post
If you go look at the billboard number ones from the 50's and 60's, its all really crappy music too. The stuff that was hot on the radio then was just god awful, with a few good ones here and there. We just have the opportunity to view from hindsight and only hear that ones that stand the tests of time. Imagine different versions of "purple people eater"!!


Serioulsy, go look up what the billboard charts were on any certain day of any certain year and look it up on youtube, its mind blowingly crappy!!!
US Number 1's 1966
Simon and Garfunkel - The Sounds of Silence
Beatles - We Can Work It Out
Petula Clark - My Love
Lou Christie - Lightnin' Strikes
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made for Walkin'
Sgt. Barry Sadler - Ballad of the Green Beret
Righteous Brothers - (You're My) Soul and Inspiration
Young Rascals - Good Lovin'
Mamas and Papas - Monday Monday
Percy Sledge - When A Man Loves A Woman
Rolling Stones - Paint It Black
Beatles - Paperback Writer
Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night
Tommy James and The Shondells - Hanky Panky
Troggs - Wild Thing
Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In The City
Donovan - Sunshine Superman
Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love
Association - Cherish
Four Tops - Reach Out, I'll Be There
Question Mark and The Mysterians - 96 Tears
Monkees - Last Train To Clarksville
Johnny Rivers - Poor Side of Town
Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin On
New Vaudeville Band - Winchester Cathedral
Beach Boys - Good Vibrations
Monkees - I'm A Believer

US Number 1's 2006
Mariah Carey - Don't Forget About Us
D4L - Laffy Taffy
Nelly feat. Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp -Grillz
Beyoncé feat. Slim Thug - Check on It
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
Ne-Yo - So Sick
Sean Paul - Temperature
Daniel Powter - Bad Day
Rihanna - SOS
Chamillionaire feat. Krayzie Bone - Ridin'
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean - Hips Don't Lie
Taylor Hicks - Do I Make You Proud
Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland - Promiscuous
Fergie - London Bridge
Justin Timberlake - SexyBack
Ludacris feat. Pharrell - Money Maker
Justin Timberlake feat. T.I. - My Love
Akon feat. Snoop Dogg - I Wanna Love You
Beyonce - Irreplaceable

Which lot would you rather take to a desert island?
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