Title: Metallica release loudest CD in history
Posted: October 07, 2008 (07:34 PM)
Metallica's newly released Death Magnetic album has been mixed in such an extremely hypercompressed, distorted fashion, that even Metallica fans - who I imagine already sport above average hearing loss due to their ongoing exposure to hypercompressed metal records and hyperloud live metal gigs - are complaining that the sound quality is akin to crap.
Lars Ulrich defended the record slightly by saying, 'We wanted to roll with Rick Rubin's (the producer's) vision.'
I don't know if anybody's said this yet, but I imagine Lars' hearing is pretty appalling by now, considering the number of metal gigs he's played at without hearing protection. Maybe he honestly can't hear the distortion or detect the obnoxiousness of the recording.
I'd like to think that this incident will prove to be some kind of positive turning point in The Loudness War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war), but I doubt it will. The world has largely dispensed with concepts of quality in audio recording. A baseline of distortedly high, flat loudness and low dynamic range has become the default recording position in all mainstream genres. Almost nobody has a hi-fi system of any quality. Most people are content to listen to lossy mp3s on crap sound systems, and they like those mp3s all be compressed to exactly the same volume so that they never have to think about touching a volume dial.
I find it curious that in terms of visual quality, the mainstream demands better and better of their entertainment and art all the time - they want high definition, they want big screen TVs, and kids squeal if some XBOX game doesn't have a few extra pixels - but it hasn't noticed or cared that the quality of recorded music has been marching steadily backwards for about a decade.
Posted: October 07, 2008 (07:44 PM)
so I'm not the only one who cares.
honestly it doesn't even bother me that bad until records start pushing into the -10db RMS range, by then though things are just fucking unlistenable.
Posted: October 07, 2008 (09:38 PM)
Rubin is known for ruining albums by recording them too loud (see: RHCP - Californication).
Posted: October 07, 2008 (10:02 PM)
Apparently the Guitar Hero version of the album was mastered properly. How odd.
Posted: October 07, 2008 (10:11 PM)
New AC/DC album just leaked. This is far more interesting (hopefully).
Posted: October 08, 2008 (12:27 AM)
by the way, I think mp3 listening would do wonders against the loudness war or whatever hydrogenaudio are calling it these days if these programs (by which I mean iTunes) would just do replaygain or some volume control like that by default. then suddenly people would be noticing that the properly mastered recordings are punchier and better.
Posted: October 08, 2008 (04:14 PM)
On another message board, people were saying that if you bought the Metallica songs off iTunes, they sounded better than on the actual album, which I took to mean they were properly mastered there.
It's actually kinda funny because when The Day that Whatever the Fuck It's Called was released, I heard it on two different radio stations that day. On one, it sounded good. On the other, the drums and shit were cranked up to St. Anger levels and it sounded like crap.
Posted: October 09, 2008 (07:37 AM)
Ahhh, I knew about Californication. but didn't realise it was the same guy.
In the Metallica case, the mastering guy said that the album arrived already mixed brickwalled.
I think the trouble with engineering autolevelling is that it's difficult to come up with a standard that will work well in a uniform fashion. At the moment, most tracks are compressed the same, so they're 'autolevelled' anyway. The main thing people are interested in is having older tracks approach the same overall power level without you doing anything. Automatic gain matching still won't help here, as nearly everything will have a peak at 0 somewhere. So then you need to turn to limiting and compression, whose effects are always extremely dependent on the material and need to be intelligently set. By the time you've created some semi-smart algorithms to try to compress or limit automatically, while maintaining a semi-transparent sound, you probably still need something like one human hand to just adjust an amount knob, or results might be freaky. And as soon as you touch one knob, you might as well just be turning a basic volume knob, whose results are 100% transparent, and of course anyone who's prepared to do that has made made autolevelling redundant.
Posted: October 10, 2008 (10:16 PM)
you could just scale the overcompressed stuff back, mastering engineers these days don't seem to realize this but people have volume knobs for a reason.