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> A Note About Mixing/ Mastering From Iced Earth
The Uncreator
post Jun 26 2011, 04:02 AM
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Today when I was burning some music to my PC - I read this little note Jon Schaffer left on the inside sleeve of the EP "I Walk Among You" in relation to the mix of the current records, which I thought was quite cool, and oh so very true.

"This a dynamic metal record! Play it loud!!! (We refuse to ruin our production by compressing the hell out of it so that it's mastered at ridiculous volumes! That kills the vibe and dynamics of the mix, Just turn it up on your stereo!)"
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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jun 26 2011, 07:21 AM
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QUOTE (The Uncreator @ Jun 26 2011, 12:02 AM) *
Today when I was burning some music to my PC - I read this little note Jon Schaffer left on the inside sleeve of the EP "I Walk Among You" in relation to the mix of the current records, which I thought was quite cool, and oh so very true.

"This a dynamic metal record! Play it loud!!! (We refuse to ruin our production by compressing the hell out of it so that it's mastered at ridiculous volumes! That kills the vibe and dynamics of the mix, Just turn it up on your stereo!)"



Fantastic note!! Check this article about it:

http://www.gatewaymastering.com/gateway_LoudnessWars.asp

"I’m hoping that Chinese Democracy will mark the beginning of people returning to sane levels and musicality triumphing over distortion and grunge. I have already seen a new awareness and appreciation for quality from some other producers, I pray it is the end of the level wars." Bob Ludwig.




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Saoirse O'Shea
post Jun 26 2011, 08:41 AM
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Kudos to Iced Earth for this.

It's a big issue in the mastering community and has been going on for years - have a look at Turn Me Up here for yet more on this.

Volume is perhaps driven as people perceive audio to sound better at higher levels (mainly due to the Fletcher Munson curve). This is exacerbated as bands and producers want their tracks to stand out when compared with other CDs, whether it's played on a home stereo, ipod or in a club. The easiest way to do this is to make it louder.

When I interned way back in the late 80s the average level for a CD was about -14dB, by the mid 1990s it had crept up to about -6dB and since the 2000s it's averaged at about -3dB. Anything beyond -14dB for most music is in danger of losing its natural dynamics, -3 is crushed and has virtually no dynamic range at all.

TBH - as a professional mastering engineer I'd argue that most of us ME's prefer to retain the dynamics but over the years that has been compromised because we are continually told to sacrifice the dynamics in order to get extremely high levels. I'm in a minority of MEs who refuses to crush the dynamics out of a track and I have to say that we lose a lot of work because of it.

A recent case was one producer preferred the tonality and dynamics that we got for his band's LP but decided he would go for the very loud PMCD from a different mastering studio. He asked us to match the perceived volume of lose the work - I refused and explained why but we still lost the gig. The LP is a set of mainly acoustic tracks that now has an average volume louder than any 1980s/90s heavy rock and metal. It is crushed and there is audible distortion throughout.

On a more positive note we completed a master recently for a UK metal band. They and their producer were happy to go for dynamics rather than perceived loudness. The CD is still loud because the song arrangements allowed us to do that but it also retains most of its natural dynamics. The CD has received very positive reviews and been complemented on how it sounds.

I find it continually disappointing how many times we are sent mixes to master that are crushed by the mixing engineer. Since the mid 90s, perhaps linked with the move away from analogue consoles and tape to DAWs there has been an increasing tendency for tracking and mixing engineers to think that their job is to make the mix as loud as possible without the master bus clipping. Wrong. The job is to present the stereo mix with clarity, precision, appropriate dynamics and balance and with sufficient headroom below digital zero so that the music is not compromised at all at both mix down and by any additional processing at mastering. Too many mix engineers nowadays will happily put a limiter on the 2 bus to get more volume for an individual track. Too often they forget that they've compromised the tracks dynamics and added processing that is almost impossible to remove and will almost certainly negatively impact on anything the mastering engineer subsequently does. What they also forget is both that the volume of a track is set by the mastering engineer based on ensuring the flow and coherence of the entire project rather than individual tracks in isolation and, that the ME may have to add fade ins/outs or cross fades.

If the music is already crushed at tracking or mixing there is very little that any ME can do to save it. What saddens me is that when we discuss this point with some clients and ask for a remix at more conservative levels far too often we are told, 'Hey man just make it louder - that's your job'. It's at this point that I generally ask the client to consider my advice carefully or to use a different studio as I don't want a reputation for mastering crushed, distorted audio.

Ultimately though as a profession nonetheless we MEs have to do what the producer wants or we don't work.



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Ben Higgins
post Jun 26 2011, 09:26 AM
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Yes, sadly Tony speaks the truth.. however, knowledge is power so if bands and their producers & masterers prefer natural dynamics then they can preserve them and ignore the trend ! smile.gif

And it's true that Iced Earth have always had a solid, heavy, chunky production.. there's nothing lacking in their sound. cool.gif

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Jun 26 2011, 09:27 AM


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