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thehawk

Original Poster:

9,181 posts

93 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
So I've been listened extensively on Spotify to a wide range of music from the 70's and 80's - it just seems to be much better mixed/produced. Things such as strings seem a lot more acoustic (natural?) and less processed. Easier to pick out individual instruments and generally nicer sounding timbres.

Compared with a lot of later stuff today that just seems a bit mushed up, not as clean and too processed.

Am I alone in this or is there a good reason?


OldJohnnyYen

1,455 posts

35 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
I agree, artists are too keen to get the best bit rate, the best audio quality. It leaves music with the raw gritty sound of the olden days of music.

A lot of rappers brag that they are recording all analogue but I don't listen to it to know how it sounds.

davepoth

23,329 posts

85 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
thehawk said:
So I've been listened extensively on Spotify to a wide range of music from the 70's and 80's - it just seems to be much better mixed/produced. Things such as strings seem a lot more acoustic (natural?) and less processed. Easier to pick out individual instruments and generally nicer sounding timbres.

Compared with a lot of later stuff today that just seems a bit mushed up, not as clean and too processed.

Am I alone in this or is there a good reason?
There's a very good reason for it - there is very little range in volume in modern music. In times past it was normal to have bits in songs, and indeed wholes that were quieter than other bits and other songs; so a part that was recorded by a single artist with an acoustic guitar usually ended up being quieter on record than a full band with electric instruments.

However, while that's great for people with good hi-fi equipment with a massive dynamic range, for cheaper systems it doesn't work very well - if you have the volume up to listen to quiet songs it will distort the loud songs, and if you have the volume down for loud songs you won't hear the nuance in the quiet songs because your equipment doesn't work properly at those volumes.

So there was a move towards normalising the volumes in recordings - generally this is something that is done during the mastering process. So if you get a copy of, for example, Led Zeppelin II in the first CD pressing, you'll find that compared to the recent remaster it will have a much bigger dynamic range.

However, what you'll also find is that it is overall much quieter. As audio technology improved in the 80s and 90s it became possible to massage the spikes in volume in the audio track much more closely. And if those spikes were taken out it was possible to shift the average volume of the track much closer to the maximum level.

the advantage of that is that the song appears to be louder than other songs when it's played on the radio. And apparently that's what the kids dig.


ratbane

1,307 posts

102 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
davepoth said:
There's a very good reason for it - there is very little range in volume in modern music. In times past it was normal to have bits in songs, and indeed wholes that were quieter than other bits and other songs; so a part that was recorded by a single artist with an acoustic guitar usually ended up being quieter on record than a full band with electric instruments.

However, while that's great for people with good hi-fi equipment with a massive dynamic range, for cheaper systems it doesn't work very well - if you have the volume up to listen to quiet songs it will distort the loud songs, and if you have the volume down for loud songs you won't hear the nuance in the quiet songs because your equipment doesn't work properly at those volumes.

So there was a move towards normalising the volumes in recordings - generally this is something that is done during the mastering process. So if you get a copy of, for example, Led Zeppelin II in the first CD pressing, you'll find that compared to the recent remaster it will have a much bigger dynamic range.

However, what you'll also find is that it is overall much quieter. As audio technology improved in the 80s and 90s it became possible to massage the spikes in volume in the audio track much more closely. And if those spikes were taken out it was possible to shift the average volume of the track much closer to the maximum level.

the advantage of that is that the song appears to be louder than other songs when it's played on the radio. And apparently that's what the kids dig.
Too true. Modern sound engineers are (often) trying to get a "normalised" sound, which suits radio mixes. I've had bitter rows with studios who remix tracks to suit radio, and it all ends up sounding like a sterile mush.

jesusbuiltmycar

2,890 posts

140 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
Isn't this as a direct result of " The Loudness War," whereby all dynamic range is removed from music?
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qube_TA

7,400 posts

131 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
Back in t' day it was very expensive to make extensively multi-tracked recordings so music was recorded on 8 or 16 tracks more often than not, 24 track was hugely expensive.

With modern digital recordings you can have a million tracks with unlimited editing without much effort.

Everything is digital with software emulating the natural effects of yesteryear, whether it be a reverb or tube amp, it'll all software.

I think that because it's digital upon digital upon digital it's lost something along the way.


Asterix

20,984 posts

114 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
People don't focus on sound capture anymore as they know they can rectify it in post - but it sounds like it.
In my band days during the mid/late 90's, I think we were the last of a generation where we recorded everything analogue - we edited by cutting and splicing the 2" tape. We spent ages getting exactly the right sounds at source and had great fun doing it - we were a traditional set up - Bass, guitars, drums and keboards - Hammond & Rhodes - and we were lucky enough to record in places like Rockfield and Mono Valley where we could get great sounds and using real reverb plates that were housed out in a manky old barn.

Billy Duffy, he of The Cult, produced some of the tracks and I learnt so much from him as to how to get really crisp guitar sounds that needed very little post fiddling, if any.

Also, as said above, there simply doesn't seem to be the dynamics in modern music plus everything is pushed too hard to sound 'loud' on radio.

Miguel Alvarez

4,253 posts

56 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
OldJohnnyYen said:
I agree, artists are too keen to get the best bit rate, the best audio quality. It leaves music with the raw gritty sound of the olden days of music.

A lot of rappers brag that they are recording all analogue but I don't listen to it to know how it sounds.
Rap for the most part has mixed analogue and digital gear for a long time. Being it outboard samplers, real to reals, desks and pro tools. Going off old information granted but a lot of the recent greats, Dr Dre, Primo, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, Muggs, Buckwyld would have been using some sort of analogue desk mixed with a sampler and probably two tracking to Pro Tools. Possibly adding some real to real tape for drums etc. Take Dre for example and you have some of the cleanest (and warm) sounding records of recent times.

You then get the newer generation who couldn't afford an SSL desk or SP/MPC and all the associated gubbins and you'll find they'll be using a mainly ITB solution. Not necessarily an issue as up until very recently sampling vinyl has been a big part of hip hop so the analogue element has always still been part of the chain. True audiophilles whill notice some difference but the general public won't (or won't care).

You then get the people who do record analogue for most of their chain who IMO probably don't know how to use their equipment properly or have bought (and I'll include myself in this) cheap analogue gear as in home real to reals as opposed to professional analogue studio equipment. All it really does is add "air" into the chain which gives a certain character to the mix.





Miguel Alvarez

4,253 posts

56 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
Just to add. I love rap as its my era and what I've grown up on but for the most part if I had to pick an era I'd go for the late 70s early 80s soul records. I mean take Thriller. That album was amazing in sound quality. The constant push for "loud" music has really ruined music IMO.

Roop

5,993 posts

170 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
As has been alluded to earlier, a lot of modern recordings are subject to heavy dynamic range compression (DRC). Note, this is not the same as normalization which does not affect the dynamic range (clipping aside).

All commercial FM stations will have one or more hardware compressors that will compress the output in real-time, thus all but negating the point of DRC-ing the recording. Even car stereos have crude hardware DRC systems to compensate for the noisy environment, so why we can't keep the original CDs with the full dynamic range for listening to on decent systems I don't know. Sod the crappy 1980's Saisho and Matsui stereos. Give us decent recordings...!

It's rubbish. Hurumpf. grumpy

Asterix

20,984 posts

114 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
We had nose to nose stand up shouting matches with our label when it came to mastering - they wanted to blast everything so it was hideously clipped and compressed to fk - we didn't.

We won.

Miguel Alvarez

4,253 posts

56 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
I think the type of music does play a part in this. If you're making an outwardly club/pop single then you can afford to crank the compression and limiter a bit. If you're making an album track/ballad then for god sake let the tune breathe. My first single was mastered at Abbey Road. (couldn't afford it for my others but the experience was a blessing). The guy really explained a lot before we visited him and during the session. We ended up making a few mixes. One for an EP one for the vinyl single and a radio version.

otolith

26,137 posts

90 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
There was a documentary on a few months back about the recording of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Roy Halee was talking about the locations they'd recorded bits of it in for the acoustics. Some in the echo chamber, some in a local church, some in a corridor in the basement, etc. While I expect it is possible to reproduce that kind of effect perfectly, you can't reproduce it if someone hasn't found it first.

Documentary is on youtube, "The Harmony Game", uploaded in 6 chunks here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/mmuicshelagh


Asterix

20,984 posts

114 months

[news] 
Monday 25th June 2012 quote quote all
I look forward to watching that later.
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