27th January 2008
FX smörgåsbord user
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.