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Armaetus

Iron Maiden files trademark suit against Ion Maiden

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23 hours ago, Graf Zahl said:

I can't pity the music industry.

They do have legitimate roles: Advertising, promotion, booking gigs, interviews, handling the money, legal services, keeping the drugs flowing (let's be honest), recording, distribution, financing the band, keeping the band happy, getting the right people connected, etc.

 

That's all good stuff (for the most part). Unfortunately, they do abuse their unique position at every opportunity. The best system is one where competition weeds out the lemons, and only allows the best talent to shine through. How do we get there from here?

 

21 hours ago, seed said:

But the people who support the artists will buy their works anyway :) .

Yep. If I find enjoyment out of it, paying them is how I can show my appreciation - it's as simple as that.

 

15 hours ago, GoatLord said:

That's why old Sabbath albums still sound incredibly loud and heavy; there's actual dynamics between the instruments. Softer moments emphasize the louder ones.

It may be non-intuitive, but yes, that's completely true. I have amplification, and I have a volume knob. I do not find square waves pleasant to listen to. You can't convince people of this with words - they have to hear the difference.

 

16 hours ago, Ajora said:

There's no better example of a band selling out than when Celtic Frost put out Cold Lake. Tom G Warrior has vehemently denounced it many times and admits that he wrote it purely to attain mainstream success. It tried really hard to ride the coattails of glam rock and failed miserably.

Sad, but I think the mainstream's attitude to extreme music really plays into this - it backs starving musicians into a corner. They see these ridiculous talent-less pop stars getting filthy rich and famous, and wonder why they spent 20 years of their lives learning to play guitar, when these spoiled teens can auto-tune their way to private jets and champagne on tap. Not a great excuse, but I can feel some empathy.

 

14 hours ago, Graf Zahl said:

Uh, Loudness War, anyone? I have lost count of CDs which pushed dynamics over the limit and had serious clipping issues at high amplitudes.

Heavy compression goes hand in hand with brickwalled sound and yes, it sounds awful, and with automatic gain adjustment shows its true colors quite clearly.

Your mention of "automatic gain adjustment" reminds me of the days of trying to record band practice using a single  cheap tape recorder's auto gain control mic. As soon as the drummer hit anything, the guitars, and vocals would disappear. Then they would just barely start to become audible when, BAM! the drummer would hit a drum again. Truly awful. Good times, though.

 

 

13 hours ago, Cynical said:

Get with the times -- the loudness wars ended about a decade ago, with the rise of digital streaming over terrestrial radio as people's primary method of music consumption.

 

People who don't have actual music production experience are invariably terrible at recognizing compression, and just yell "LOUDNESS WARS!" at everything without realizing what the real things they're hearing are that they don't like.  Here's a hint -- those Black Sabbath albums that were namedropped as great examples of dynamics?  Less dynamic range than almost anything released in the last seven or eight years.  Vinyl records literally have to be compressed like hell, or the needle jumps out of the groove.  Compression that comes from constantly slamming the input of a tape recorder is still compression.

I don't doubt that this is true for many people. In the case of vinyl, the original technique is not done with compression per se. Compression changes dynamically, based on input signal. The process for vinyl shapes the wave by, mainly, rolling off the low end in a known uniform manner. This process is reversed during playback by the pre-amp to recreate the original signal.

 

A compressor/limiter turns down the input when it reaches a certain amplitude threshold. The biggest annoying side effect is that these spikes must be detected, before the amplitude can be adjusted, leaving you with annoying "clicks" or "pops". This can be avoided somewhat with a pre-processing step. The opposite is sometimes called an expander, which increases the amplitude of quiet passages.

 

You can cheat, and get a 2-for-1 effect by turning the input signal up way too far, and then compressing it to death, in an attempt to create a constant output volume. So noise is brought way up, requiring various filters to be utilized to try to notch it out.

 

Now, all of that mess is quite annoying, but can be done without the final output being "clipped". However, the final sin is accomplished when the engineers take this final manupulated, man-handled mess, crank it up, causing clipping to occur at the input of the recorder (more distortion=better, right?) Pathetic.

 

And, no, it does not require music production experience to detect this. I can tell instantly, when my ears tell me to turn that shit off. Because of the per-channel independent manipulation, any stereo spacial effect is transformed into what I describe as "fluttering". Any unique nuances of each instrument are transformed into a mesh of tingy, harsh, yet muted mush. It's not powerful. It's like taking 10 cans of different colored paint, mixing them together, and expecting a color that's 10 times as vibrant - it just doesn't work. Amateurs.

 

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6 minutes ago, kb1 said:

And, no, it does not require music production experience to detect this. I can tell instantly, when my ears tell me to turn that shit off. Because of the per-channel independent manipulation, any stereo spacial effect is transformed into what I describe as "fluttering". Any unique nuances of each instrument are transformed into a mesh of tingy, harsh, yet muted mush. It's not powerful. It's like taking 10 cans of different colored paint, mixing them together, and expecting a color that's 10 times as vibrant - it just doesn't work. Amateurs.

  

 

Same here. Often I can't pinpoint a concrete issue but bad recordings just do not sound right, another telltale sign is when you cannot make out the instruments anymore and it all blends together into an impenetrable (brick)wall of noise.

 

Of course sometimes it's just poor mixing and not overcompression, but the number of sub-par recordings is still way too high.

 

 

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Interestingly, at the tail end of last year a review of "best metal albums of 2018" I stumbled upon online actually lamented having to laud Trivium for Silence in the Snow. To them, Trivium aren't a good band (they have their reasons for thinking this - I disagree, but see the flaws) but the album was produced very well, with the dynamics and breathing room that Graf and kb1 are complaining have mostly been compressed out of music, and they had to commend it for that. I think Trivium even did their own production and mixing, which may explain the unusually good sound of the album.

 

I'll have to get round to listening to it, one day. With any luck Matt Heafy (spelling may be wrong there) has stepped up his vocal game.

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10 hours ago, Graf Zahl said:

 

So why is it then that so many Metal albums still sound like garbage, with the song's overall amplitude pushed to the physical limit of the 16 bit wave format with absolutely no dynamics visible anywhere in the waveform?

 

Looking at those sounds in a wave editor they look - well - like a brick wall. Throughout the entire song the amplitude rarely dips below the technical maximum.

Music mixed like this has zero headroom for sections that are supposed to be a bit louder than the rest.

 

When looking at some of my oldest CDs I do not see this. These older CDs do not have a calculated replay gain of -10/-12 but -6 and a waveform that doesn't look maxed out when looking at it in a waveform editor set to display the entire song. These older CDs mostly sound a lot better, provided that they offer a good production.

 

 

So many problems with this!

 

1.  Looking at a waveform is misleading.  People have been taught to look for a bunch of whitespace around the waveform and say "look, it's got headroom, it's dynamic!", but in reality, that's representative of a lack of contrast in volume.  It is very hard to see the valleys in a waveform unless you zoom waaaaaaay in with your DAW, but the possible distance from peak to valley is much larger when you don't have a bunch of unused room in your audio file.

 

There's a reason why, when you send out a mix for mastering, you're told "make sure the peaks are above -6db, preferably close to -3, and the overall level is as high as you can push it to get the peaks in that range without needing to put a limiter on the master bus".  When you don't have a signal going much above the floor in the first place, it's impossible to have dynamics. 

 

2.  It's true that the earliest CDs had a lower average volume than most modern ones do, but that's because they were cheaply (and badly) done remasters of stuff that was originally mixed for analog formats, typically at 16 bit instead of 24 bit.  These CDs are the reason why idiots still talk about "analog warmth!!!" like it's an actual thing; transients were so stupidly explosive that everything sounded artificial and fake.  These albums were never supposed to sound like this, and the vinyl and casette versions don't.  The lack of true top-and-bottom end and the edges of the frequency spectrum due to being 16 bit as opposed to 24 bit is also a part of why they register as quieter; there's a lot of audio information (and thus, volume) there on a modern CD that you barely hear because it's at the edge of human hearing (again, Fleischer-Munson) that simply wasn't there on an early CD.

 

3.  I'm going to need some examples of metal recordings done this decade that are heavily brickwalled.  That shit went out with the aughties, thanks to a combination of the rise of Pandora/Spotify/Youtube/etc. and the backlash over Death Magnetic and that Christina Aguilera album that came out about the same time and also clipped on the final master; by late 2009, mastering engineers were already noting that bands tended to choose quieter masters over louder ones.

 

7 hours ago, kb1 said:

I don't doubt that this is true for many people. In the case of vinyl, the original technique is not done with compression per se. Compression changes dynamically, based on input signal. The process for vinyl shapes the wave by, mainly, rolling off the low end in a known uniform manner. This process is reversed during playback by the pre-amp to recreate the original signal.

 

A compressor/limiter turns down the input when it reaches a certain amplitude threshold. The biggest annoying side effect is that these spikes must be detected, before the amplitude can be adjusted, leaving you with annoying "clicks" or "pops". This can be avoided somewhat with a pre-processing step. The opposite is sometimes called an expander, which increases the amplitude of quiet passages.

 

You can cheat, and get a 2-for-1 effect by turning the input signal up way too far, and then compressing it to death, in an attempt to create a constant output volume. So noise is brought way up, requiring various filters to be utilized to try to notch it out.

 

Now, all of that mess is quite annoying, but can be done without the final output being "clipped". However, the final sin is accomplished when the engineers take this final manupulated, man-handled mess, crank it up, causing clipping to occur at the input of the recorder (more distortion=better, right?) Pathetic.

 

And, no, it does not require music production experience to detect this. I can tell instantly, when my ears tell me to turn that shit off. Because of the per-channel independent manipulation, any stereo spacial effect is transformed into what I describe as "fluttering". Any unique nuances of each instrument are transformed into a mesh of tingy, harsh, yet muted mush. It's not powerful. It's like taking 10 cans of different colored paint, mixing them together, and expecting a color that's 10 times as vibrant - it just doesn't work. Amateurs.

 

I'm not talking purely about the mastering process here.  On old rock and metal recordings, the mic pres were typically set ridiculously high, so the quiet parts would be just shy of max and the medium-volume and loud parts would make the tape deck distort like crazy (obviously, no one does this on modern equipment, because digital clipping is ugly and sounds nothing like a tape deck distorting or the tubes of an old mic pre adding asymmetrical clipping).  This, of course, means that you've got loads of compression on every instrument baked right into the recording.  Then, add to this the popularity of "wall of sound" mixing methods adding a second layer of reverb (which naturally makes quiet parts louder), and you've got a super-mushy compressed-to-hell release.

 

You think you can hear compression, but what you're hearing is guitars that are super-aggressively EQd to fit in the 3-4khz range with different tones on the left and right sides (so stereo spacial effects don't behave the same on the left and right as a result) combined with weirdness in the cymbal wash because the lower end of the cymbals is being carved out to make more room for the upper-midrange of the guitar and vocals, combined with reverb being applied in post in the mix rather than every track being mostly room mics ran through the same reverb tank/wall of sound room.  Go listen to "Trident Wolf Eclipse" by Watain; you'll hear all of what you hate on an album with a quiet master with little compression.  Mixing budgets are a tiny fraction of what they were 30 years ago; instruments sit less separately in the mix partially because no one has the studio budget to do all of the surgical EQ automation (that is, not just making EQ cuts global to an instrument track, but actually changing where those cuts happen by hand over the duration of the track) anymore.  I mean, just listen to "Paranoid"; the reason there's so much separation has nothing to do with compression or stero panning and everything to do with the fact that the post-EQ applied to the guitars is constantly changing, and very audibly so; in the verse, the treble-sparkle is killed so the guitars sit more in the mid-mids and Ozzy's vocals float over the top in the chorus, where Ozzy's notes are lower and there's less happening in the drums to create a cymbal-wash, the guitar is focused up more, with the mid-mids killed to make room for the vocals and more sparkle on the top to cuth through.  No one does that anymore, but it was standard practice in the old days (and was usually done skillfully enough to not make it obvious; "Paranoid" was mixed kind of clumsily, so it's more apparent). 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Cynical said:

 

You think you can hear compression, but what you're hearing is guitars that are super-aggressively EQd to fit in the 3-4khz range with different tones on the left and right sides (so stereo spacial effects don't behave the same on the left and right as a result) combined with weirdness in the cymbal wash because the lower end of the cymbals is being carved out to make more room for the upper-midrange of the guitar and vocals, combined with reverb being applied in post in the mix rather than every track being mostly room mics ran through the same reverb tank/wall of sound room.  Go listen to "Trident Wolf Eclipse" by Watain; you'll hear all of what you hate on an album with a quiet master with little compression.

 

Ok, so it's the mixing, not the compression - if this happens it still sounds like shit. There's definitely something going wrong with some modern recordings and whatever it is it makes many CDs sound vastly inferior to some of my older favorites.

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm learning so much about production from this thread. 

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Posted (edited)

I actually know what techniques are being used when I hear them, but you do make some good points. I think what happens more often than not is that you have younger, less experienced "engineers" with equipment that's much more sophisticated than they deserve, expecting to be able to apply effects "that are cool" willy-nilly, and expecting the computers to just "figure it out". You're right: In the Sabbath days, you had experienced guys mixing via analog controls, after having listened and studied the source tracks a few times, developing an educated plan of attack. Back then, they had excellent equipment, which was all analog. This equipment was invariably expensive, meaning that only the best guys were allowed to use it.

 

Nowadays, any kid with a copy of CoolEdit Pro thinks he's an expert with a state-of-the-art recording studio. And, the problem is, he's half right.

 

The thing is, it's really not that difficult to prevent the gross errors I'm describing: Bring your levels up near the top to maximize gain while minimizing signal-to-noise, then back it down just a bit to cover spikes (you could apply some minimal compression on a per-track basis, just to be safe, but, generally, if you are careful, you'll avoid 99% of all clipping). Generally, the less "effects" you add here, the better. Any effect you do add should always be applied to a single track only, and there should be a damn good, specific reason you're adding it. Global reverb, compression, etc. is lazy, and a recipe for disaster, and it gets in the way of any attempts to accentuate each instrument's frequency range needs. The good engineers realize that each instrument is designed to be hot at a specific portions of the spectrum.

 

Basically, keep your levels in check, keep it simple, and keep it clean. These simple rules will take you 90% there, anyway. I really think some of these modern guys have made themselves deaf with their own mixes :)

 

Edited by kb1

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Posted (edited)

Avoiding clipping isn't anywhere near as easy as you think it is, and you've probably never heard an album without some compression on the master bus, no matter how old the album is.  "Master bus glue" compression dates back to the '60s.

 

Here's the issue -- you don't want to put compression on an individual track if you can avoid it (which, in fairness, you can't on certain instruments, but you want to minimize it in general).  You *want* small variations in the volumes on drum hits, the twang of a bass string bouncing off the fret more or less hard, or the attack of a guitar strum.  Putting a compressor on an individual track nullifies that.  However, you WILL run into circumstances over the course of a full song where the hard drum hit just happened to fall on the same time as the hard guitar strum at the same time as the bass string really bouncing off the fret at the same time as the vocalist sang that one syllable a bit loud.  Any of these events on their own is no problem; all at once, and you've got a big spike.  Now your options are either 1: kill the dynamic range of an entire performance on one track because of one event like this (terrible), 2: automate the level of one instrument down in the mix for a split second (sounds unnatural, since one instrument suddenly gets buried relative to the others), 3: lower the volume of the overall mix very low (terrible, you end up with less dynamic range for the rest of the song as explained earlier) or 4: control the spike on the master, either through automation or compression (which are basically the same thing in the end).  Also, "minimal" compression on individual tracks -- you've probably never heard an album on the radio that's running less than 4:1 ratio on the bass and 10:1 ratio on the snare drum.  Some things need to be fucking smashed; you'll STILL have some snare hits and bass plucks cracking through way louder even at that ratio, those instruments have absolutely silly dynamic range that needs to be controlled somehow.

 

Also, lol @ "you'll avoid 99% of all clipping if you're careful".  Every rock producer from the '70s or '80s will tell you the same thing -- you WILL have some momentary clipping on any track you ever record, unless you overcompensate and record way too cold.  It's better to peak the levels every once in a while than it is to record cold; live with it, and just don't clip the master buss, and you'll be OK

 

Global reverb was more common on older albums than it is on newer ones.  It's not lazy; applying reverb selectively to individual tracks makes it sound like each instrument was recorded in a different space, applying reverb to the master makes the whole album sound like it is in the same space.  The former creates more definition, but is unnatural sounding, with reverbs from different spaces clashing against each other in weird ways; the latter sounds more natural.  Rather than being a recipe for disaster, effects on the master bus are a very critical part of the overall puzzle.

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now, if not iron maiden vs ion maiden, i would never read such interesting things. so in the end, iron maiden is not only the band i like, but helped me to get some new knowledge. everything iron maiden touches turns into Good Thing, even lawsuit treats. lol.

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2 hours ago, ketmar said:

now, if not iron maiden vs ion maiden, i would never read such interesting things. so in the end, iron maiden is not only the band i like, but helped me to get some new knowledge. everything iron maiden touches turns into Good Thing, even lawsuit treats. lol.

 

Same here lol.

 

It was especially interesting to read about all those technical aspects that go into making albums, even though I occasionally had to read the posts multiple times to understand (at least to some extent) what was being said - ah the wonders of not knowing jack shit about music theory and what goes into production/mixing...

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@Cynical

I have no desire to debate with someone who is proud of their accomplishments, and at least semi-knowledgeable and experienced. I would expect the same courtesy, of course. I do wish you would stop referring to "what I think vs. what is," and "what I have experienced" vs. not. When did you get the impression that I don't get the results I am looking for?

 

I tried to leave my descriptions general enough that the gist of the ideas came through, without writing a book, and without getting too technical, and I kinda expect someone with your apparent experience to pick up on that (which you started to, to some degree).

 

In the end, if it sounds good, it's good, so, if your techniques are working for you, so be it, and the same goes here.

 

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Hey guys, you can talk about the game now! ;)

Especially, since it's coming out Soon. ;)

 

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I really wish Iron Maiden didn't pull this colossally retarded move because of name similarities..

It's also nice to see how productive this thread has been as well.

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