Charles, was the idea of applying no more compression to the mix related somehow to counteract the effects of the new kind of post-compression that are inheritent to the new medias and data compression artifacts, radios and agressive broadcast compression settings or sites and internet (video sites, e.g).
So, the mix can breathe and "survive until the final act" ??
Kinda, but not really a conscious decision based on that. I do agree that it does help. The mixes sound pretty good on John's myspace page. Of course they're a touch quieter, but that encourages the listener to turn up the volume + engage with the music. And once you turn it up, it actually sounds much better than some of the aggressively brickwalled music on myspace.
For whatever reason, mp3 codecs seem to sound pretty bad when fed with heavy brick wall limited music. All swirly. Less defined. Kinda slushie.
But to your original question, the no buss compression concept was initially a 180 degree reaction to the aggressive brick wall limited sound that has become popular. IOW, I wanted the sound of "Sorry Vampire" to be the polar opposite sound of a modern rock record. It IS very much a rock record + gets very aggressive @ times, but I wanted it to sound different. And I didn't think we could accomplish that with just a slight change. I felt it had to be a bold or dramatic difference.
We wanted the listener to be able to turn it up + be immersed in the sound of the band. To feel apart of the music. And that just isn't really possible with aggressive compression followed by aggressive limiting, which essentially eliminates all the spaces between the notes. Taking away the air + space around the music. That same space that draws the listener in to the record's world. Without it the listener feels more like a spectator of the music, rather than a participant in the music.
We wanted power that you could feel. BUT without that suffocating feeling that sounds like all the musicians are pressed up against a plate glass window, or the squinting head turning harshness that sometimes happens with aggressive compression or limiting.
And that's what we feel we've achieved.
The no 2 buss compression approach during mixing was also very useful in making mastered record more dynamic. I knew the label, Vagrant Records, would not be satisfied with the mastering if the mixes came back @ exactly the same volume as the unmastered versions. So, by not compressing the 2 buss during mixing we created a very dynamic record that sounded even better, bigger + more powerful after mastering.
I know it kinda seems backwards to think like that, but in the end it worked out extremely well. Granted it's putting a lot of faith in the ME, but Roger Seibel @ SAE Mastering did a brilliant job. And every1 was very happy with his work.
Charles, I haven't had the chance to hear the Sorry Vampire record, but it's kind of refreshing to hear that there are people actually going the other direction away from the "louder is better" formula.
Thinking back on my own latest productions I can't say that I'm going in that direction myself though. I feel that the urge for the record to be "as loud as the major releases" is so strong among the bands that I mix so I feel that I have to oblige. I mostly do minor label or demo-productions, and very often the bands bring along reference albums mixed by guys like TLA, CLA and Andy Wallace. Great-sounding records for sure, but you can't blame them for being very dynamic. I feel that the artists I mix are more pleased with my work if the finished product is in the same league loudness-wise as their major label counterparts.
I always try not to let the mixes get totally squashed, but every now and again I find myself setting that threshold setting on the mastering limiter a few dBs too hard.
John was the same way when he came to me to mix his record. He thought we were going to somehow create a record with depth + space that was also as loud as all the other records. Which is simply not possible.
It took me awhile to make the point. But the most convincing argument I made was showing him Matt Mayfield's brilliant movie The Loudness War (scoll down). It's the most potent 2 mins I've ever seen.
When John saw this movie it really had an impact on him. He totally got it. He then sent the movie to Vagrant Records (his label) when he was making the case to them that we didn't want to crush "Sorry Vampire" in mastering. And Vagrant is now a sponsor of Turn Me Up!
So, when John + I founded Turn Me Up! we decided to make the website an educational resource that producers + engineers could use to educate the bands they are working with about the impacts of the loudness war on their music. At the site we've essentially listed every single article on the subject we find. And we are updating it all the time.
Bottom line is that the answer to the loudness war is simply education.
And hopefully the website could be useful to you with future bands you're working with.
I totally agree with you about the concept of lowering levels of music and increasing the dynamics as counterpart. BUT...
I think this will also increase chances that levels of the mix will be more out of control (of the initial and intended way) after processed by the post-artifacts stuff (radio broadcast, data comp., and so on).
This discrepancies are more proeminent exactly for the least
I had the oportunity to work with the same artist here in Brazil several times. It is sort of a "field of tests" for me. Each record has a different mastering level and approach. And each one sounds completely different on air. RMS final levels varied from -18db to -9/10db in these records.
The loudest-mastered one seemed to be a bit smaller and less "convincing" to the competition on air.
The one with the lowest level had almost no compressor at all, even in the mixing. Just a few channels. Lot's of automation to say a few... But I had problems with the bass frequencies on air. Too bumpy in a few songs, and it triggered the broadcast compressor a lot, interfering with the vocal expression.
The one with the "intermediary" level had no 2bus compressor. Had compressors as needed in channels. In the end, somehow some songs still seem to be a way louder than the competition don't know exactly how. But mixing was way time consuming too...This was in 2002. This record included some great pieces an instant success song here.
But personally, I don't like the mix at all (or the mastering). Don't sound huge on stereos. Has lots of high frequencies, the vocal is very loud as much as the drums also. But... it's huge on air unexplainably... And I suspect it was a decisive fact for the success...
I convinded myself to return to this concept in my present work.
But what is an "average" level of a record to be turnmeup certified ?
So, I also think this aproach of mixing is a lot more time consuming.
But the "magic" definitly comes somewhere around this concept.
On the other hand, a lot more susceptible to an "error" in the after-mastering life...
I was watching the Charles Dye MILAR tutorial the other day. Charles Dye explains how he places the McDSP Analog Channel using AC1/AC2 (I can't remember which exactly) on his mix bus in order to emulate mixing on a "real" console, like an SSL or Neve. He puts it on right away and mixes through it, suggesting that he mixes differently when it is on from the beginning.
I want to try this. However, I use Nuendo and have a fully native VST system.
What would be a good native VST alternative to using the McDSP Analog Channel. I have tried the PSPaudioware Mix Saturator from their Mix Bundle.
However, it emulates tape saturation rather than solid state analog cirtuitry.
Any ideas would be greatly appeciated. I have been trying really hard to find a good system for making my digital recordings sound like analog.
Are you planning a Vol. II of Mix it Like a Record? The new techniques you are employing would be interesting for viewers (myself included). I think there will always be an audience for the many varied approaches to mixing people come up with.
I love learning from other mixers - and in turn further developing my own style. More tools in my arsenal is always a good thing. The opportunity to keep learning and developing in this industry is what keeps me energized!
Charles, what are your opinions on maxing out the master fader in floating point mix engines like nuendo? I've tried this technique followed up with the sonnox limiter to just take a smidge off and have had good results. This is a brand new way for me to approach things. Anybody else have opinions?
Someone mentioned Jazz, I like to listen to Jazz myself, unfortunately newer Jazz music is compressed as hell just to stay competitive with the norm (loudness war) which takes away a really important factor of what makes Jazz music so enjoyable, depth - listening to music with depth is like stepping out of your own world and entering a new world by taking a ride.
In this sense respect to Charles Dye for going against the norm and doing his thing.
EDIT: LOL sorry for bringing up an old thread, I was searching around a bit and had this thread opened as a tab for a while in my browser, forgot about it and then didn't realize anymore that it's an old thread haha...
I just listened to this record. Not a huge fan of the music personally but this is how dynamic all modern rock and indie rock could be. I've got my monitors cranked and it doesn't hurt - just feels good!