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Heroes of Anti-Loudness. Dynamics Plugins
Old 21st March 2010
  #1
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Heroes of Anti-Loudness.

I thought it would be interesting to have a positive thread to applaud artists/MEs who had chosen to let their albums be more dynamic than the current 'standard'.

I'm enjoying the Seasick Steve "Man from another time" album which is a good deal more dynamic than most, mastered by Ray Staff.

I hope to hear of other albums that people are enjoying like this, that I may have missed, as I find so many of the crushed albums unlistenable.

Thanks.
Old 21st March 2010
  #2
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Guns 'N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy"

Bob Ludwig made 3 versions: one dynamic, one loud, and one even louder.

They released the most dynamic of the 3. Put a smile on my face.

Final CD Mastering Engineer Talks Loudness Wars
Old 22nd March 2010
  #3
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“We don’t care if our record’s the loudest record on the radio, we just want to have the quality of what we’ve achieved in the mix,” – Danny Carey of Tool (Bob Ludwig interview, 9/12/08 ).

'Maximizing' level also implies 'minimizing' dynamics and transients.... Dynamics and transients are good things." – Eve Anna Manley (Manley labs).

"I was floored when I heard they decided to go with my full dynamics version and the loudness-for-loudness-sake versions be damned. I think the fan and press backlash against the recent heavily compressed recordings finally set the context for someone to take a stand and return to putting music and dynamics above sheer level."
– Bob Ludwig on Guns 'N Roses' album 'Chinese Democracy', Nov 25, 2008.

"I think people are turning off of music because it's less musical. When there's half a dB of dynamic range in a mix, that's not natural. We don't hear the world like that. It's like someone shouting at you the whole time.” - Pat Wilson (Weezer).

and There can be no loud without soft - Soundzoo 'War of the levels' article.

Check out also White Lion's comeback album 'Return of the Pride' (2008) in which we decided to go with the un-processed PT mixes rather than the more coloured SSL mixes.. hugely dynamic in line with the 'epic' nature/feel/size of the opening track and others.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #4
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Wilco
Old 22nd March 2010
  #5
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The only heros are the artists.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #6
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Last week me and an artist I just produced and mixed went to Abbey Road to complete the mastering, we had been there previously for a couple of songs to get a feel for if it´s right.

The artist wanted a very dynamic, natural sounding album so it´s arranged, recorded and mixed that way. Last minute, he gets cold feet and starts worrying about level and that maybe it should indeed be louder to stand up to the competition.

Alex Wharton, the ME at Abbey Road we had the pleasure to work with, talked him out of it in no time and the album is still dynamic and nice. It was all in all a very good mastering experince. (It´s been a while since I had one to be honest. Some ME´s seem to get really scared when you say I don´t want it loud...)

to Alex Wharton at AR.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
"I think people are turning off of music because it's less musical. When there's half a dB of dynamic range in a mix, that's not natural. We don't hear the world like that. It's like someone shouting at you the whole time.” - Pat Wilson (Weezer).
Yet, their latest album still is a brick
Old 22nd March 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post

Some ME´s seem to get really scared when you say I don´t want it loud...)

to Alex Wharton at AR.

They are just posers... as real mastering engineers welcome the chance to do great work and forgo having to even think about loudness.

That said you can do a fairly loud record and keep all the dynamics if the music was recorded properly.

Also ME get blamed all the time but if you saw the rap record I had to deal with last week you'd all feel very, very sorry for me. Mono, limited to death MP3 were the base tracks... unfriggen-believable. I had all I could do just to put back in the frequencies that the MP3 encoding stripped out! Volume and level... didn't even think about it because it was beyond loud and all ready pushed into distortion. It came out better in the long run... however in the end I know that I WILL GET BLAMED for this CD being crushed and distorted!

Sorry but it was the LACK OF BASIC ENGINEERING SKILLS that caused this mono'ed, distorted, no dynamic, lame encoded piece of... art (?), NOT the mastering engineer!
Old 22nd March 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gainreduction View Post
Last week me and an artist I just produced and mixed went to Abbey Road to complete the mastering, we had been there previously for a couple of songs to get a feel for if it´s right.

The artist wanted a very dynamic, natural sounding album so it´s arranged, recorded and mixed that way. Last minute, he gets cold feet and starts worrying about level and that maybe it should indeed be louder to stand up to the competition.

Alex Wharton, the ME at Abbey Road we had the pleasure to work with, talked him out of it in no time and the album is still dynamic and nice. It was all in all a very good mastering experince. (It´s been a while since I had one to be honest. Some ME´s seem to get really scared when you say I don´t want it loud...)




to Alex Wharton at AR.

He's a good lad
Old 22nd March 2010
  #10
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Just re-got "LP2" by Sunny Day Real Estate on Vinyl, and have enjoyed "Systems/Layers" by Rachel's for years! Thank you Golden Mastering! Excellent job!
Old 22nd March 2010
  #11
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Loudness = Energy.
Dynamics = Introspective/Focus on detail.

Mixing Engineers = Smarter than average.

Smart People = High mental focus/low testosterone.
Athletic People = Low mental patience/high testosterone.

Put it all together from a biological/sociological perspective and you are left with a movement of anti-loudness by a disconnected mixer-listener relationship. To hate loudness is to hate anyone that has different testosteroe levels than you. Testosterone dictates how loud or dynamic one enjoys ones mix. A true professional would have enough scope and awareness that these differences of opinions exist as to be able to cater to and respect both points of view and serve the varieties of pleasures of the audience.

Only 1% or less of the human population is a smart or patient or focused as a mixing engineer. But we are making music for them, not us. It's valid to like what you like, but rememer that there are many different people out there with different levels of testosterone and listening perspectives.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post
Loudness = Energy.
Dynamics = Introspective/Focus on detail.

Mixing Engineers = Smarter than average.

Smart People = High mental focus/low testosterone.
Athletic People = Low mental patience/high testosterone.

Put it all together from a biological/sociological perspective and you are left with a movement of anti-loudness by a disconnected mixer-listener relationship. To hate loudness is to hate anyone that has different testosteroe levels than you. Testosterone dictates how loud or dynamic one enjoys ones mix. A true professional would have enough scope and awareness that these differences of opinions exist as to be able to cater to and respect both points of view and serve the varieties of pleasures of the audience.

Only 1% or less of the human population is a smart or patient or focused as a mixing engineer. But we are making music for them, not us. It's valid to like what you like, but rememer that there are many different people out there with different levels of testosterone and listening perspectives.
That's quite an elaborate theory. However, to say that loudness = energy isn't a given at all. Personally, I'd bet that most would define energy in music as dynamic impact (or the specific nature / qualities of signal dynamics) not as a near steady state signal (i.e. lack of dynamics), which would make the original premise and thus the hypothesis flawed.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering View Post
That's quite an elaborate theory. However, to say that loudness = energy isn't a given at all. Personally, I'd bet that most would define energy in music as dynamic impact (or the specific nature / qualities of signal dynamics) not as a near steady state signal (i.e. lack of dynamics), which would make the original premise and thus the hypothesis flawed.
...it's like going on a rollercoaster vs going on a lazy river river lagoon ride.

On a rollercoaster you get an experience of viceral intensity that overwhelms your body and mind.

On a lagoon ride it's about relaxing, enjoying the sights and sounds, letting your mind wander and explore.

Now there are different people who only like one or the other or both or none, am I right?

The mixing engineers who are fans of lagoon rides are arguing that a rollercoaster should have more nuance.

It's like missing the whole point of riding a rollercoaster. (aka driving down the street with your volume on max just bumpin the hell out of the music.) that's a viceral experience that most people enjoy moreso than contemplating the nuance of a perfect dynamic mix.

So that's all I meant when I meant loud = energy. Because, considering that the uneducated masses listen to the radio, and that is what type of pleasure they demand: High energy viceral rollercoaster rides as opposed to nuanced and balanced works of precision that many don't have an attention span for; nor an emotional palette.

To hate the loudness war therefore is to express a veiled criticism of those of lesser inteligence and to express anxiety due to the general lack of appreciation of the craft of mixing.

But at the end of the day, it's what the audience craves.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post
...it's like going on a rollercoaster vs going on a lazy river river lagoon ride.

On a rollercoaster you get an experience of viceral intensity that overwhelms your body and mind.

On a lagoon ride it's about relaxing, enjoying the sights and sounds, letting your mind wander and explore.

Now there are different people who only like one or the other or both or none, am I right?

The mixing engineers who are fans of lagoon rides are arguing that a rollercoaster should have more nuance.
If any such generalized statement could be made, it would be exactly the other way round: In order to have a rollercoaster, you need ups and downs, changes in velocity and direction to create impact, energy, excitement. I.e. you need to have dynamics.
Sound without dynamics otoh is much like a constant speed ride. It can be at 5 mph or at 500 mph. If the speed, altitude and direction never changes, it won't be exciting.


When we're talking about creative bus compression to create some impact and excitement (by introducing dynamic movement via long attack time!), that's a different matter. (Maybe this is what you're talking about? Are you equating loudness with punchy compression?) But sheer loudness, i.e. lack of dynamics, i.e. brickwall limiting, reduced range for dynamic variance, will not add impact or excitement (and this will become pretty clear when comparing level compensated). All else being equal, the less brickwalled mix, at compensated playback volume, will sound more exciting to most people in most cases.



Quote:
To hate the loudness war therefore is to express a veiled criticism of those of lesser inteligence and to express anxiety due to the general lack of appreciation of the craft of mixing.
That is utter nonsense.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post
Only 1% or less of the human population is a smart or patient or focused as a mixing engineer. But we are making music for them, not us. It's valid to like what you like, but rememer that there are many different people out there with different levels of testosterone and listening perspectives.
67% of statistics are made up on the spot. It's science.
Old 22nd March 2010
  #16
i'd say godspeed you black emperor
Old 22nd March 2010
  #17
jdg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post

But at the end of the day, it's what the audience craves.
brawndo, its what plants crave
Old 22nd March 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering View Post
If any such generalized statement could be made, it would be exactly the other way round: In order to have a rollercoaster, you need ups and downs, changes in velocity and direction to create impact, energy, excitement. I.e. you need to have dynamics.
Sound without dynamics otoh is much like a constant speed ride. It can be at 5 mph or at 500 mph. If the speed, altitude and direction never changes, it won't be exciting.


When we're talking about creative bus compression to create some impact and excitement (by introducing dynamic movement via long attack time!), that's a different matter. (Maybe this is what you're talking about? Are you equating loudness with punchy compression?) But sheer loudness, i.e. lack of dynamics, i.e. brickwall limiting, reduced range for dynamic variance, will not add impact or excitement (and this will become pretty clear when comparing level compensated). All else being equal, the less brickwalled mix, at compensated playback volume, will sound more exciting to most people in most cases.





That is utter nonsense.
What I meant by loudness is not punch but rather immersion. A wall of sound. Not the details of the sounds but the overall encompassing feeling. Certain genres are a one trick pony when it comes to the style of immersion they deliver. Some having the same core drum patterns (four on the floor, backbeat) and the pleasure comes from rhythym and trance of the groove. All I'm saying is the groove immersion is what most people pay attention to anyway, not the quality of the mix (barring an annoying or unlistenable mix).

Loudness jumps out at you and captures your attention without you having to devote attention. It does the work for you. The immersion is more potent if the song is mixed louder. Why would someone make a song less captivating in this MTV generation world of short attention spans.

The rollercoaster analogy seemed more a description of tension and release, not mixing something hot.

And don't think mixing engineers aren't human. Why is it nonsense to assume a ME has qualities of human frailty like bitterness or insecurity, fear of change?

Obviously there is a consumer demand for mixing things hot. Now what is the argument for not giving consumers what they respond to again?
Old 22nd March 2010
  #19
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I have noticed that every time I listen to Shellac, I have to turn it up from what I was listening to before. It doesn't surprise me, coming from audio geeks that haven't been shy about hate for compression. I think the music is what rocks, not the loudness. If you record a song that is played loud with an emotionally explosive feel, you don't have to crush the crap out of it. Emotional energy is always better than a crushed track, not that squeezing it a bit doesn't help get the point across but the feel should be there to begin with.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jordan s View Post
I have noticed that every time I listen to Shellac, I have to turn it up from what I was listening to before..
Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering plays bass in the band, I don't think they're are interested in making the loudest records. I have the "1000 Hurts CD". Bob's on GS.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #21
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"1000 Hurts" ......great album!
Old 23rd March 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post
What I meant by loudness is not punch but rather immersion. A wall of sound. Not the details of the sounds but the overall encompassing feeling. Certain genres are a one trick pony when it comes to the style of immersion they deliver. Some having the same core drum patterns (four on the floor, backbeat) and the pleasure comes from rhythym and trance of the groove. All I'm saying is the groove immersion is what most people pay attention to anyway, not the quality of the mix (barring an annoying or unlistenable mix).
That's all fine, but none of that has anything to do with lack of dynamic range.

Quote:
Loudness jumps out at you and captures your attention without you having to devote attention. It does the work for you. The immersion is more potent if the song is mixed louder. Why would someone make a song less captivating in this MTV generation world of short attention spans.
Again, it is simply not true that less dynamic range = more captivating. All else being equal, the version with more dynamic range (at compensated listening level) will sound more exciting.

You seem to attribute a number of qualities to loudness that are not necessitated at all. The necessity of loudness on a digital carrier is reduced dynamic range. Nothing else. Nothing more. All other aspects should be separated from this discussion. Methods to reduce dynamic range introduce artifacts that result in sound changes as well, but those can be - and often are - used in dynamic masters too.

Quote:
The rollercoaster analogy seemed more a description of tension and release, not mixing something hot.
Mixing hot / driving a board or tape hot is a different thing to loudness in a digital medium. If that has been your premise before, I can see how what you wrote before makes sense to you.

But the technical necessity for change in the signal when cutting a loud master is a given. It's not primarily a creative choice, in 90% of sessions it's "how can I get it loud while inflicting the least possible amount of damage". It's practically never "let's make this creative change. sounds good. oh look, the peaks were chopped off in the process and I can cut the CD 3 dB louder now!"


Quote:
Why is it nonsense
Because the argument was, as far as I could tell, a complete non-sequitur

Quote:
to assume a ME has qualities of human frailty like bitterness or insecurity, fear of change?
Again, your conclusion does not follow from this premise.

Stating a dislike or preference for certain qualities in a recording does not constitute "criticism of those of lesser inteligence" (sic) and it does not "express anxiety due to the general lack of appreciation of the craft of mixing."


Quote:
Obviously there is a consumer demand for mixing things hot.
Again, mixing things hot has nothing to do with cutting a loud CD at the mastering stage. One is a sound decision, made at the mixing stage. The other is a technologically necessary compromise that's introduced after all involved have long signed off on the mix.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #23
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a couple of my favorite non-crushed records:

buena vista social club
norah jones - come away with me
medeski, martin & wood - notes from the underground

every time one of these comes on i'm THRILLED to reach over and turn up the volume.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BaySickLy View Post
Obviously there is a consumer demand for mixing things hot. Now what is the argument for not giving consumers what they respond to again?
PS: Having read through it all again, it seems you're really talking about driving a mix / board hot for sound / artistic reasons. When MEs talk about loudness wars, that is generally not what they mean but rather compromising sound for the sake of loudness due to format necessity.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #25
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Edit. Double post. Post below

Last edited by BaySickLy; 23rd March 2010 at 03:10 AM.. Reason: Double
Old 23rd March 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering View Post
That's all fine, but none of that has anything to do with lack of dynamic range.



Again, it is simply not true that less dynamic range = more captivating. All else being equal, the version with more dynamic range (at compensated listening level) will sound more exciting.

You seem to attribute a number of qualities to loudness that are not necessitated at all. The necessity of loudness on a digital carrier is reduced dynamic range. Nothing else. Nothing more. All other aspects should be separated from this discussion. Methods to reduce dynamic range introduce artifacts that result in sound changes as well, but those can be - and often are - used in dynamic masters too.



Mixing hot / driving a board or tape hot is a different thing to loudness in a digital medium. If that has been your premise before, I can see how what you wrote before makes sense to you.

But the technical necessity for change in the signal when cutting a loud master is a given. It's not primarily a creative choice, in 90% of sessions it's "how can I get it loud while inflicting the least possible amount of damage". It's practically never "let's make this creative change. sounds good. oh look, the peaks were chopped off in the process and I can cut the CD 3 dB louder now!"




Because the argument was, as far as I could tell, a complete non-sequitur



Again, your conclusion does not follow from this premise.

Stating a dislike or preference for certain qualities in a recording does not constitute "criticism of those of lesser inteligence" (sic) and it does not "express anxiety due to the general lack of appreciation of the craft of mixing."




Again, mixing things hot has nothing to do with cutting a loud CD at the mastering stage. One is a sound decision, made at the mixing stage. The other is a technologically necessary compromise that's introduced after all involved have long signed off on the mix.
You have officially won this conversation!

Lol honestly, though I might have been writing confidently, I don't really know what I'm talking about on this topic.

I was mostly bsing with some undeveloped theory seeing if I could sneak it in there and to see if anyone bought it.

It's refreshing to have a discussion with a true critical thinker who posseses sound reasoning and I respect that you politely called me on my bs hypothesis.

*goes to study physics of sound*
Old 23rd March 2010
  #27
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Heroes of Loudness

Old 23rd March 2010
  #28
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anti loud would actually be the opposite of loud, so a record that's still fairly loud but not clipped wouldn't count.

You might need to go back in time a bit to find a quiet record.

One of my favorites from 1984 is Michael Hedges "Ariel Boundaries" on Windham Hill records.

It's very quiet and very dynamic.

JT
Old 23rd March 2010
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
You might need to go back in time a bit to find a quiet record.

One of my favorites from 1984 is Michael Hedges "Ariel Boundaries" on Windham Hill records.
Jerry, that's a great one that I haven't heard in a *long* time.

The MM&W I mentioned before, I just pulled up the first track in my DAW & when the drums come in it's peaking around -10dBFS. Gets louder near the end, but, hey.. dynamics!
Old 23rd March 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jruberto View Post
Jerry, that's a great one that I haven't heard in a *long* time.

The MM&W I mentioned before, I just pulled up the first track in my DAW & when the drums come in it's peaking around -10dBFS. Gets louder near the end, but, hey.. dynamics!
Oh yes, forgive the oversight. -10dB peaks, now that's quiet!

MM&W, what a great jazz combo! Given the chance to play guitar with those guys, I might even take a sabbatical from mastering.

Any more quiet CD lovers around?

Cheers - JT
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