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#990077 - 05/01/05 03:01 PM Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Remember some 20 years ago there used to be “Direct-to-Disc” and “Half-Speed Mastered” vinyl records for those of use looking for higher quality records? They were between 1.5 times and 2 times more expensive than their lower-quality higher speed pressed versions for the general public. But, I bought them, because I could hear the difference.

With all this L2/L3 over compression (and I mean clipping near “zero” dB) going on, today, I think it would be worth while to offer versions of releases that haven't gone through this process. I would look forward to CD releases that actually allowed me to use my volume control and hear the audio resolution, again. I actually think I'd start buying CDs in more quantity than 2 to 5, again.

Any takers?
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#990078 - 05/01/05 03:55 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
bdbklyn Offline
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Well it wasn't than long ago (1998)that we all thought we would be making high quality DVD-A or SACD as the primary release format in the next two years. The majors aren't really interested in releasing mutiple formats. Recently there have been several dual format disc releases, but nothing exotic, just 44.1 16bit CD and 48k 24bit DVD
I have a few direct to to disc releases. I wan't really crazy about the the half speed mastering stuff. The hi end sounded amazing...the low end got a little wooly fo me.

Bill
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#990079 - 05/02/05 03:31 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
bdbklyn Offline
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AudioMaverick,

You mention that "it would be worthwhile" to offer releases of versions that haven't gone through "this process". This process happens many times during mixing, which would mean a remix of the project. When you say it would be worthwhile. Do you mean selling these versions to a communitny of audiofiles? How many copies do you think a chart topping LP would sell to this community?

Bill
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#990080 - 05/02/05 11:26 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdbklyn:
AudioMaverick,

You mention that "it would be worthwhile" to offer releases of versions that haven't gone through "this process". This process happens many times during mixing, which would mean a remix of the project. When you say it would be worthwhile. Do you mean selling these versions to a communitny of audiofiles? How many copies do you think a chart topping LP would sell to this community?

Bill
My personal question is *why* does this process happen in the first place. It didn't use to. In the last 20 years, CDs have overtaken vinyl. And, yet, as superior as it is, audio for CDs has been treated to something worse. I don't want to believe the *Industry* just wants the general public to accept overly compressed audio.

I'm not sure why this thing of altering the source material to preclude the volume control ever took hold. It compromises the quality of the sound. But, I am trying to figure out a way of being part of the turn-around... if it ever materializes. Just as in everything else, one has to start small and work up. I am suggesting this as an idea. Maybe someone can see what I am proposing and suggest a better way to achieve the same result. I am hoping to NOT hear, "And, you don't want to join our point of veiw?" The D2D & HSM discs existed for a reason. People spent tens of thousands of dollars for their audiphile gear & didn't like the sound of the mainstream music they got at the record store. I don't think any percentages have changed in today's consumer market. If offered, people with high-end gear will buy it, just as before.

The audiphile pressings never sold a high volume. I think the D2D & HSM pressings reflected between 1% and 5% of the total sales of ony album. But, I was one of those who happily paid the $25 instead of the $7.50 for the cheaper. And, I know I was not alone.

Seeing the music forum threads complaining about this very thing over the years, here, I can see that 1% to 5% sales being met, again. All I am asking is for a record company to consider the offering. Look at these two wave forms and tell me which one you'd prefer to buy (sorry about the size). This is the same song from a popular CD...

- Original Track from CD off the shelf, highly compressed...
http://www.audiomaverick.com/image/cd2loud/01-original_track.jpg

- The same track without high compression...
http://www.audiomaverick.com/image/cd2loud/11-finalproduct.jpg
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#990081 - 05/02/05 11:32 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Oh yeah, to answer the question...

I think there are plenty of "Young Urban Professionals" driving their $60K SUVs to work from their $700K homes with at least $25K invested into their home theaters that are in the age range of 25 to 35. I am sure they listen to Brittany, Christina and whoever else is on the charts, right now. I am close friends with one of those types. I think the sound system in his car cost about 1/3 of what he paid for the car.

I think good music & good quality music combined equals more sales of music. CDs can sound better than MP3s. Make them that way and MP3s wil begin to fade. This is my opinion, and I stand by it.
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#990082 - 05/03/05 03:19 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
bdbklyn Offline
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AudioMaverick,

I'm not dissagreeing with you that commercially released recorded music should sound better. They should. DVD-A and SACD looked like they would be the saviours of bringing audiophile audio reproduction to the masses, but in this current .mp3 world, it doesn't look like that is going to happen. They surround stuff had amazing potential in that the most mixers realized, early in the mix process that they needed to use much less processing to fit their mix in a surround lanscape than they did in a stereo mix.

The tendency for most people (myself included)is to pick the louder and brighter of two choices as better. I can't quote any statistics, just extensive personal observations. After all , I was the juy who listened to wire with Shelly Yakus for 30 days.

As recently as last Sunday, I did a mastering session with a young artist who brought along some samles of contemporary CD's that he wanted to sound like. As uusal, in this case I work on his music before listening to his "reference" discs. Both the artist and producer were very happy with what I was doing, even exclaiming how "amazing" it was sounding.

Well, then it was time to put up his ref discs and lo and behold they were totaly distorted and very unpleasant to listen to. Despite the fact that my original version was actually louder than their references, they chose the version I did that mimic-ed the EQ and compression of their references. To me, and my ear, the version they chose was not nearly as pleasant to listen to as the one I originally had done, but I don't get paid to argue with people, just to point out what their options are.

I joke with people all they time when I try to explain what it is that I do and tell them that "I'm a lot like an optometrist. What do you like better, this or this?....This or this?"

Just a little history to point out. These loudness wars in mastering that everyone thinks is a relatively new phenomenon have been going on since the early days of the Beatles. Audio acuracy has always been compromised for level in popular music. What's funny though is that records thatwere almost unlistenable to in their original vinyl releases have found their way into our CD collections as examples of great sounding recordings.
I guess we just have bigger hammers to do the work these days.

I feel your pain,

Bill Dooley
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#990083 - 05/03/05 05:37 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Thanks for the input, Bill. I understand the loop. I'm just hoping to be part of the movement that breaks it.
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#990084 - 05/05/05 01:20 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
doug osborne Offline
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Is it time for all mastering engineers to deliver a high-rez/wide-dynamic-range file and a good-as-it-gets MP/AAC/whatever compressed file along with the client-directed-squashed deliverable?

Formats come and go (some, like SA-CD and DVD-A maybe never arrived...). Future delivery, whether on a disc or streamed on a network, could include whatever level of audio quality that the supplier sends or the customer pays for. It seems to me that there is no better place than at the mastering stage of the project to make these and hand them to the artist or record company even if they might not use the alternate deliverables right now.

We have always had a choice between good and fast (records vs. radio, cd vs. cassette, etc.) but the LP record at its best could fill all needs - quality playback could be more dependent on the playback gear than the delivery medium (assuming a high-quality pressing). I, too, purchased many audiophile LPs, but I always sought great pressings from regular labels, and benefited the most from upgrading my playback gear. The people who paid more for better pressings, high-end cartridges, etc., drove the industry toward better quality.

Quote:
I don't get paid to argue with people
LOL. Delivering the extras adds value to your service - they'll never fully appreciate you, anyway...
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#990085 - 05/05/05 07:32 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
bdbklyn Offline
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Good philosophy Doug. I keep a 24 bit and whatever the client brought me sample rate master backup of all projects that I do. This in anticipation of future deliverables.

This is the added value to my service. They will not pay for these services now, so why render them now? As it is they don't pay for the time of the backup or the materials for archiving.

On the other hand, one thing you really should know is that the stuff that comes out of here with a little too much "hair" on it, comes in here that way.
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#990086 - 05/06/05 11:09 AM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
doug osborne Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdbklyn:
...the stuff that comes out of here with a little too much "hair" on it, comes in here that way.
GIGO
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#990087 - 05/06/05 01:31 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Doug & Bill, thanks for entertaining this thread. I am getting some useful insight (and internal humor) to how things work in the money-driven part of the business. I can see how the client's wants determines the product.

I realize that high and overly abundant compression lived in the early days of analog product. I used to push my cassetts to +4, too. I think what bugs me about the over compression in today's digital is the resulting clips that are causing the final product to look more and more like square waves. That is a very annoying distrtion, to me. Even a playback needle would wear down grooves that couldn't match wave forms I am seeing on a commercial CD, or just skip out of them. The CD player can play it, though. If I didn't return a record because of the skipping, a few plays would sometimes cause the record to sound better.

And, I have a few "regular pressings" that did sound very good. The ELO *Time* album really stands out, for me. I transfered it over to CD with minor noise reduction to clean it up.

I like the idea of giving the "hair" the multiple wersions. It at least gives them the opportunity to listen to them. I've done a similar thing of giving two or three final products to choose from. At that point, I have done so much in the mixing process that it took only a few minutes more to give them a second rendition. And, I have had feed back from a couple of them that they had switched over to my suggestion for their demo/swag CD.

I wonder if car designers get dismayed over people buying sports cars and always using the turbocharger to get where they are going. I guess I am officially an "old fogie"! And, I probably should stick with the stuff I can relate to :p . Anything remastered since 1996, I probably won't appreciate... :rolleyes:
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#990088 - 05/06/05 01:33 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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#990089 - 06/05/05 01:37 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdbklyn:
... The tendency for most people (myself included)is to pick the louder and brighter of two choices as better...
Bill,

I had the younger friend over a couple weeks ago. And, he was sporting a recently released Duran-Duran CD that was just punchy as all get-out. But, it did sound relatively clean and bright... Kind of like really dialing in Sonic Maximizer. It really did sound good for the music style. So this friend starts talking about how dynamic it is, and light bulb comes on. My definition and his is not the same.

So, based on your reply, here, I ripped one of his favorite tracks to the HDD and looked at it. It was not clipped and chopped, but just really compressed out, very much like it was mastered on analog and transferred to digital at the end. This is not the trend I have been seeing where the peaks are chopped of some 6dB or better, leaving flat tops.

So, I ran my little process and got it to about 8 or 10dB. But the life just fell out of it. My friends face... oh, I wish I had a camera for both of ours. I could not get anything even close to the original sound, much less a sound that was more appealing.

I guess I am shifting my perspective. After casually playing with some variations of released CDs, I am seeing that some music just lends itself to low-dynamic, but really punchy, format. And, distortion may be the effect some people want in their music. My soap box is getting notably shorter. There are still CDs that have been butchered, in my book. But, I’ve got to keep an open mind.

BTW - I like the optometrist analogy. I never thought of it like that.
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#990090 - 07/27/05 10:23 AM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
KB Gunn Offline
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Loc: sitting in front of my Triton ...
I am an optometrist. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have said, "Which is better, 1 0r 2?"
I had often noticed I heard better with my glasses on than off. That was before I had laser surgery. Maybe the people that chose the more distorted mix needed an eye exam.
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#990091 - 07/27/05 01:09 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Interesting observation! This person is color deficient. He sees maroons and browns as the same. I watched a health show, recently, that talked about people who have neurological pathways between senses. Although it was geared towards those who have one sensory input affect another, it does pose the possibility that not everyone has the same sensory experience from the same stimuli.

This is an interesting topic. And, it’s way off the original topic. Or, is it? Just because some of us hear unpleasant things in hard-limited signals that look like square waves, that doesn’t mean others don’t hear something they like to hear.

Thanks for the observation!
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#990092 - 08/03/05 07:01 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
techristian Offline
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I must admit it. I'm also guilty of over-compression. I like the sound, but after generation after generation of compression the DISTORTION does become quite noticable.

That is one reason why I have decided to re-record some of my drum tracks for my new CD before release.....but darn...I still like the sound of compressed drums.

Dan

http://teachmedrums.com
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#990093 - 08/04/05 01:27 AM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$
AudioMaverick Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by techristian:
I must admit it. I'm also guilty of over-compression. I like the sound, but after generation after generation of compression the DISTORTION does become quite noticable.

That is one reason why I have decided to re-record some of my drum tracks for my new CD before release.....but darn...I still like the sound of compressed drums.

Dan

http://teachmedrums.com
Compressing the drums is not the same as compressing & hard limiting the final miixdown. I agree with the drum thing, too. Compression is an effect. And, used properly (and in moderation) is a good thing.

I also like spicy chili. But, I don't like chili that is so-o-o-o hot that your taste buds shutdown! Some people do. Kind of of a similar comparison, I guess.
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#1796275 - 08/15/07 09:33 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: AudioMaverick]
Angel_Mor Offline
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Registered: 08/15/07
Posts: 3
You are totally wrong here, All of you!

Before you say something critical, you should get to the basic math of audio.
6db = 1 bit!
-6db = - 1bit

The lower the volume the lower the Bitrate, the lower the quality will sound through big sound system.

Cheers,
Mor
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#1796355 - 08/16/07 05:31 AM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: Angel_Mor]
Griffinator Offline
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Where in the world do you come off, Angel?

Do you know absolutely NOTHING about dynamics as they relate to bitrate?

Suffice to say, that comment could not have been more wrong if you had applied concerted effort to do so!

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#1796408 - 08/16/07 07:38 AM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: Griffinator]
Angel_Mor Offline
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Registered: 08/15/07
Posts: 3
 Originally Posted By: Griffinator
Where in the world do you come off, Angel?

Do you know absolutely NOTHING about dynamics as they relate to bitrate?

Suffice to say, that comment could not have been more wrong if you had applied concerted effort to do so!


listen well...and learn!

just like in a pic that you edit in photoshop.
if you will export it in small size, you won't be able to see the picture as clear in big size, becuase it will lose sharpness when you zoom in! (specially the small details will appear blurry). the smallest size when you export, the less Pixels that image will contain.

When you "squash" a little bit the sound, you save sharpness and dynamics for BIG PARTIES with BIG SOUNDSYSTEM even for the small details in ur track!!!
these days if you won't do it well, your music will sound weak in big sound system compare to other artists, not becuase the volume but becuase the "headroom" of the sound with high bitrate.

just like with busy mix with lots of instruments to easy mix with few instruments, the more instruments you got, you have to turn their volume down and down...while everytime you decrease an instrument by 6db, you decrease it by -1bit!

by making everything as loud as possible you earn bit "headroom" that can be used well in the final mix, after you have mixed everything you should use multiband compressor to get the maximum volume you can without touching the master fader (keep it 0db always) becuase the master fader is a zoom in/out, just like in image pixels, the biggest you export it, the better it will shine when zoom in!

hope you understand my point.
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#1796715 - 08/16/07 06:05 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: Angel_Mor]
Griffinator Offline
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I understand exactly how wrong your point is. Wow.


 Quote:
just like in a pic that you edit in photoshop.
if you will export it in small size, you won't be able to see the picture as clear in big size, becuase it will lose sharpness when you zoom in! (specially the small details will appear blurry). the smallest size when you export, the less Pixels that image will contain.


A completely and utterly irrelevant illustration.

A more accurate illustration from photoshop:

I take a masterpiece from Vincent Van Gogh. All the color is perfect, but very subtle. I digitize it into photo shop (analog to digital conversion) then jack the saturation through the roof (hard limiters + gain staging) to make all the colors BRIGHTER (LOUDER) so it will stick out in a wall filled with paintings (CD's in your changer). Net result is, it looks like crap, because all those subtle colors have become extremely bright and very hard on the eyes, and it's difficult to discern what the painting was supposed to look like in the first place, because everything's distorted.

You, my friend, have the whole concept backwards.

 Quote:
When you "squash" a little bit the sound, you save sharpness and dynamics for BIG PARTIES with BIG SOUNDSYSTEM even for the small details in ur track!!!


No, you don't. When you compress a track, you are reducing the dynamics. Dynamics = the difference between the loudest and softest passages of a piece of music. When you compress, you're bringing the loudest sounds down to the same level as the softer ones. By then applying post-gain, you are making all the sounds extremely loud, and dynamics are lost.

 Quote:
these days if you won't do it well, your music will sound weak in big sound system compare to other artists, not becuase the volume but becuase the "headroom" of the sound with high bitrate.


Further proof you have no idea what you're talking about.

From Wikipedia's entry on same subject...

Headroom: The amount by which the maximum permitted level, or digital FS (full scale) exceeds the alignment level or nominal level in dB (decibels).

Do you know what that means? It means the closer you get to 0dB (louder) with your nominal track volume, the less headroom you have.

The only reason you think a track sounds "weak" compared to other CD's if it's mastered with more dynamic headroom is because it's not as loud as they are.

 Quote:
just like with busy mix with lots of instruments to easy mix with few instruments, the more instruments you got, you have to turn their volume down and down...while everytime you decrease an instrument by 6db, you decrease it by -1bit!


And your point is?

If I have a track, as an example, where the snare and kick are hitting at -0.5dB peaks, and the guitar is strumming along at a nominal -30dB, and the bass is floating between -35 and -15, and the singer is crooning away at -20, then I have a dynamic range of about 20-25dB (or roughly 4 bits). If I then compress that track to death and bring all that up to -5dB, then my dynamic range has been reduced to 4dB - less than one bit!

Now, to go back to our Photoshop analogy....

If you're painting a picture, how many different colors would you like to have available? 256 million? Or 8?

If you reduce your dynamic range to a mere 4dB, you're painting a picture with 8 colors.

Why? Because the human ear, in self-defense, will block out "droning" type sounds, where there is no changes in volume, after extended periods of time.

I really don't know where you got your information, but you have a lot to learn about how audio works.

I suggest you start with the aforementioned Headroom article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headroom

Then do a search in the Archives here - George Massenburg's forum, for anything relating to "dynamics", "headroom", "bitrate", and "mastering" - you'll learn plenty about how absolutely removed from reality your current viewpoint really is....

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#1803509 - 08/31/07 09:57 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: Angel_Mor]
miroslav Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Angel_Mor

by making everything as loud as possible you earn bit "headroom" that can be used well in the final mix, after you have mixed everything you should use multiband compressor to get the maximum volume you can without touching the master fader (keep it 0db always) becuase the master fader is a zoom in/out, just like in image pixels, the biggest you export it, the better it will shine when zoom in!

hope you understand my point.


I don't think even you understand your point....

That's pretty interesting logic..."making everything as loud as possible you earn bit headroom".... \:D

Can you imaging what a symphony orchestra would sound like if they followed that approach!
Go open a Webster's and look up the word "dynamics"...'cuz in your approach that's something you don't have.
And I can see why you are comparing your approach to graphics and pixels.

Keep in mind...graphics are two dimensional…audio is 3 dimensional...
…so you really can't compare the two, it's an invalid argument.
But...when you make "everything as loud as possible"...then I can see why it would be like graphics to you...because you flatten everything out and make it two dimensional.
It has no depth and no dynamics...and that is about the worst thing you can do to sound…to music.
Make it two dimensional…. \:\(
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#1982218 - 08/19/08 06:06 PM Re: Record Companies - High Quality Audio Idea... $$ [Re: Angel_Mor]
Mortal Engines Offline
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Registered: 06/11/08
Posts: 147
Loc: Portland, OR

"When you "squash" a little bit the sound, you save sharpness and dynamics for BIG PARTIES with BIG SOUNDSYSTEM even for the small details in ur track!!!
these days if you won't do it well, your music will sound weak in big sound system compare to other artists....."

A freaking awful way to look at it but, THAT is unfortunately what we are up against when these mastering decisions are made....though it seems alot of current popular music is really heard on some crappy sound systems (little boom boxes, 49 dollare i-Pod docs, etc...and from what I gather, Studio execs who are trying to sell the music are just trying to compete with the "other successful overly loud" songs on the air.

The answer? I suppose it would be fine to just completely disregard what is currently out in the mainstream media....I generally do my best to adhere to that axiom...I can't compete with THAT machine anyway. I am not photogenic and the music I make has no commercial value, as far as I can tell. I try not to get too bugged about it and keep making music that I can stand listening to and punch the clock at my day job (the one that pays for all my gear). The occasional 25 dollar check from CDbaby.com makes it sorta worth it.

http://www.myspace.com/mortal_engines


Edited by Mortal Engines (08/19/08 06:08 PM)

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