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There is hope on the loudness wars..
Old 24th May 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
There is hope on the loudness wars..

I had a meeting with a pretty high up A&R at a major label. He and I talked about a lot of stuff, but one thing that came up was how loud records are mastered. I told him what we all say about how loud music is getting and how it is getting ridiculous. He agreed, and he doesnt like it either.

He went on to say he had Sterling do an album for him and actually asked them to master it at a lower volume then the first version that they sent. He loves Sterling and respects the hell out of those guys, but he is getting sick of the overly squashed sound too. Plus he said the point that "when it goes to radio, it will get squashed even more anyway".

Anyway, it was all stuff that we say on here, and so I really think a lot of people are getting sick of hearing bad sounding records..even the guys that sign bands now. A good reason for this is the many poorly mastered demos (too crushed) that they receive. After a while that whole sound gets old, and when it goes to radio it sounds ridiculous.

So...I thought I'd post because I think a misconception is that all record guys want really loud mixes that sound like ass, and I can safely say that is not true, and the loudness trend seems like it is peaking out right now.
Old 24th May 2006
  #2
I can really hope so.

Had a quality hip hop band in for a mastering session couple of weeks ago and they really liked what I did for their album. They took the CD with them to play for a bunch of friends/company contacts/etc. A couple of days later they contacted me again requesting that I should put lots of more compression to the material.
Of course I asked why, if you just wan't it to sound louder you have a thing called volume knob?!
His reply: yeah I know, I really liked your original mastering, it 'pumped and it breathed' but almost everyone I played it to said that it didn't sounded as aggressive and 'crushed' as every other album we referenced it against. It's part of the sound for the whole genre.

Guess we have to hope for artists and company pple who DARE to take the first step against this loudness race?!
Old 24th May 2006
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Methlab
I had a meeting with a pretty high up A&R at a major label. He and I talked about a lot of stuff, but one thing that came up was how loud records are mastered. I told him what we all say about how loud music is getting and how it is getting ridiculous. He agreed, and he doesnt like it either.

He went on to say he had Sterling do an album for him and actually asked them to master it at a lower volume then the first version that they sent. He loves Sterling and respects the hell out of those guys, but he is getting sick of the overly squashed sound too. Plus he said the point that "when it goes to radio, it will get squashed even more anyway".

Anyway, it was all stuff that we say on here, and so I really think a lot of people are getting sick of hearing bad sounding records..even the guys that sign bands now. A good reason for this is the many poorly mastered demos (too crushed) that they receive. After a while that whole sound gets old, and when it goes to radio it sounds ridiculous.

So...I thought I'd post because I think a misconception is that all record guys want really loud mixes that sound like ass, and I can safely say that is not true, and the loudness trend seems like it is peaking out right now.
Great news! The last records I've heard (Carrie Underwood - Some Hearts and Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way) have been extremely loud! Some songs on the Underwood CD has audible digital distortion. When they are singing normally it sounds like they are shouting. I think we are soon hitting the loudness limit and that might result in some engineers starting to back off on the limiting... Great!

It's quite difficult to limit that hard without ruining the stereo image. When the sound in the mix is very badly consumed the albums start sounding bad because they end up loud AND noisy, the noise is not always from transients at the ceiling, but also from a bad underlying overall mix SNR, due to a badly consumed sound field. So it's very much based on the original mix quality...
Old 1st June 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Alex Niedt's Avatar
 

Fantastic news. Thank you for posting this. Always nice to receive tidbits of hope for "the war." : )
Old 2nd June 2006
  #5
nice to hear this

but who gonna make the first step to stop this war ?

we should all start convincing people in pro audio about this problem
from artist to producers A&R ...

and i don't only speak about the artistic side, just think to all those kinds who already listen to louder and louder soungs, on loud headphones...

more deafs = less music



Peace
Old 3rd June 2006
  #6
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Improv's Avatar
 

what we need is someone rich to fund an information campaign. African poverty is important, no doubt, but does anyone have Bono's number?
Old 3rd June 2006
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

I think the early 90's would be a good starting point.
Old 4th June 2006
  #8
Gear Addict
 
johnlink's Avatar
 

Besides the obvious "no clipping", what would you suggest as standards for loudness?

John Link
Old 4th June 2006
  #9
Gear Addict
 
johnlink's Avatar
 

I think the answer to my question is here:
http://www.digido.com/portal/pmodule...er_page_id=59/

John Link
Old 7th June 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
average RMS to not be lower then double digits to start. That would be nice.

That is a conservative first step.

I am not a mastering guy, but when I crush a track, I am usually quite pleased with -12 RMS. That seems plenty loud to me. I just go by my ears and it seems like -12 is what I usually get when I check after I'm finished.
Old 11th June 2006
  #11
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tmcconnell's Avatar
 

Clear Channel

My friend who is Recordist for a Symphony and a former Broadcast Engineer told me that Clear Channel distributes a box to every new station called the "clipper" which takes limiting to the limit, so to speak, by simply forcing a hard clip. It goes between the limiter and the RF chain. This finally explains why I can identify a clear channel station in the first second of listening. This frankly disgusts me since it trains the ears of the general public to accept crap in the name of a tiny increment of reach.

I hear stuff I've mixed on the radio and its lost so much dynamic range its just not fun to listen to. The problem is I'm not sure how to respond: Leave more dynamic range in the final to fight back, or slam the 2bus so that at least I know the material will sound like after being decimated by limiting. Any suggestions? Both?
Old 11th June 2006
  #12
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tmcconnell

I hear stuff I've mixed on the radio and its lost so much dynamic range its just not fun to listen to. The problem is I'm not sure how to respond: Leave more dynamic range in the final to fight back, or slam the 2bus so that at least I know the material will sound like after being decimated by limiting. Any suggestions? Both?
Make it sound open and clear and with good transients and with a level more like a K-14 or even lower and it will sound best on the radio. In general, leave the dynamics IN because the radio processing was designed to work well with normal material and gives up on hypercompressed and clipped material. This has been demonstrated a number of times, quite objectively. On Glenn Meadows' Webboard, Tardon Feathered of Toad's place started a thread called "What Is Hot". And all the mastering engineers produced various masters of the same source. They varied from great-sounding to totally distorted and smashed.

Then he took a half a dozen examples of all the masters AND the original mix and passed them through the Orban set to typical aggressive FM settings. Guess what the winner was?

BK
Old 11th June 2006
  #13
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Verified Member
........a pretty high up A&R.....

Aren't A&R guys sort of like politicians...they'll pat you on the back and say, "yep, I agree and we're doing something about it and I'm glad you brought that up".

And then, when you're gone, they get on the phone and tell the mastering guys..."I want this release mastered hotter and louder than every single other thing on the planet".

Seems the only way to know if there's a consensus is if you actually start hearing less-squashed releases from that A&R guy's company.
Old 11th June 2006
  #14
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Masterer's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle
........a pretty high up A&R.....

Aren't A&R guys sort of like politicians...they'll pat you on the back and say, "yep, I agree and we're doing something about it and I'm glad you brought that up".

And then, when you're gone, they get on the phone and tell the mastering guys..."I want this release mastered hotter and louder than every single other thing on the planet".

Seems the only way to know if there's a consensus is if you actually start hearing less-squashed releases from that A&R guy's company.

Well put.


Lip service is cheap and abundant. Too bad we can't use it instead of gasoline.
Old 12th June 2006
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
tgrokz's Avatar
 

i never post here, but a i can only hope you are right, because by the time the "loudness war" should fade out, i will have gotten out of school and opened up a full time studio. no more worrying about that for me. i mean, im 18 years old, and i have a great respect for the quality of sound. i mixed my rock bands cd, and my mixes were warm and smooth. i was told to make them "cd quality". "cd quality" meaning i ran it through a strict C4 plug and a limiter. all of a suddon, i was a genious by my friends standards, but a failure by mine.
Old 12th June 2006
  #16
Gear Nut
 
spacebass's Avatar
 

Quote:
Guess we have to hope for artists and company pple who DARE to take the first step against this loudness race?!
well these days when i look at my 2 mix i LOVE to see peaks and valleys...
they remind me of speakers moving in and out like making love!

and that reminds me of all the air that gets pushed around by the sound and that is my happy place!!!!

i say "SAVE THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS"!!!!!!!!
Old 12th June 2006
  #17
Gear Nut
 
spacebass's Avatar
 

Quote:
im 18 years old, and i have a great respect for the quality of sound. i mixed my rock bands cd, and my mixes were warm and smooth. i was told to make them "cd quality". "cd quality" meaning i ran it through a strict C4 plug and a limiter. all of a suddon, i was a genious by my friends standards, but a failure by mine.
there is hope for this world!!
stick to yer guns kid
Old 13th June 2006
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle
........a pretty high up A&R.....

Aren't A&R guys sort of like politicians...they'll pat you on the back and say, "yep, I agree and we're doing something about it and I'm glad you brought that up".

And then, when you're gone, they get on the phone and tell the mastering guys..."I want this release mastered hotter and louder than every single other thing on the planet".

Seems the only way to know if there's a consensus is if you actually start hearing less-squashed releases from that A&R guy's company.
No, the meeting was not like this. Not only do I scout for him, he is also my friend and I have known him long enough to know he is not full of ****.

I know it is the hip engineer thing to bash A&Rs, but they aren't all the same stereotype.

And for the record, he DID release a less squashed album. That was the point of this thread, I mentioned it in my first post.
Old 13th June 2006
  #19
Moderator
 
Lindell's Avatar
 

Verified Member
We are doing two seperate masters on our next release on our little label. The first will be an "almost" un-limited radio promotion cd/mastering.
The second a full blown/level master cd.... I don't care if the promo cd shows up at peoples homes.... I care more of the sound on the radio.

/Lindell
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