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The Central Source for the Fight Against the Destructive Practice of Unsafe Mastering Levels (via J-Walk) is interesting and kind of funny due to the amount of anger the author seems to have about the issue. I’m no expert, but I do actually have a lot of the albums in The Big List of Squashed CDs and can’t say the mastering has bugged me on any of them.

There’s a contingent of people I’ve run into who are dead set against the trend of louder and louder mixes in pop music. Then there’s everyone else who basically couldn’t care less but will complain when your stupid song is the quietest one on their mix CD.

Posted on - May 14, 2004 [at] 12:17 pm by Brad
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5 Comments on this post

scottandrew on Mastering
May 14, 2004 at 2:11 pm

Huh, interesting stuff. I find it hard to believe he recommends -12db as the optimum level. That kind of blows my mind. Equally mind-blowing is knowing that Tool’s “Lateralus” is -12db reference. That doesn’t seem possible.

Anyway. My sin is I tend to lean on compression to compensate for crappy source sounds. Bass sounds thin? Compress it! Poor mic placement on the guitar? Compress it! Bad balance between the kick and snare? Compress!

I have better equipment now (and more patience in getting a good sound before I press Record) so I’m learning to break that habit, I hope.

Gotta thank the guy for reintroducing me the joys of “Armageddon It.”

ken on Mastering
May 14, 2004 at 6:09 pm

It *is* an unfortunate trend, in that by making everything louder we reduce the dynamic range of the music. That is, if you have a -12db reference level, you are free to go 12db above that for extra oomph or dramatic effect. If your reference level is 0db, well, where can you go from there?

It is the Achilles heel of popular music that it is driven and molded by the taste of the public. So, if they think louder is better, stuff will just keep getting louder.

On a side note, I think the squashed-ness of “The Downward Spiral” is actually one of its strong points.

Erik on Mastering
May 15, 2004 at 12:40 am

Seriously, I can’t hear the difference between different Armageddeons, and the NiNs. I can hear a difference between the Depeche Mode tracks, but if you switched them around and said “Okay, we were lying before, THIS one is the one that is old and good, and THIS one is the one that’s remastered and crap”, I would probably believe him just as much as I do now. I think the “problem” is not that people are apathetic to high quality recording, but rather for the most part, that people just can’t hear the difference.

dcom on Mastering
May 15, 2004 at 5:49 am

I don’t think I’ve ever got my mastering right. I don’t really care enough to.

sharp on Mastering
May 18, 2004 at 1:27 am

OGG has replay gain so you can go even louder!

w00t! :)

Comments are closed on this post.