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> Worst Sounding Albums ?, bad production or bad mastering
Ben Higgins
post Aug 16 2013, 11:29 AM
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Ok, so we've had threads about people's fave sounding albums but let's look at the other side of the coin.

What are some of the worst sounding albums ever ? And why ?

I'm not talking about song writing, just the mixing and/ or mastering..

Manowar - Into Glory Ride - 1982

Where are the guitars ? Where are they ? This mix is great if your idea of a full band is cymbals, vocals and bass ! The album contains some of Manowar's best ever song writing but Ross the Boss's riffs are woefully hidden so far back in the mix that the songs are only a fraction of what they could have sounded like. Still a great album tho !



Every Iron Maiden album since (and including) Dance of Death

Why ? Well, just listen to them. Still not convinced ? Put on Powerslave, Seventh Son or Number of the Beast.. then put on 'Different World' or something else from 'A Matter of Life and Death'. I love Maiden still, but the sound of their recent albums is below par for a multi million selling band.



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Darius Wave
post Aug 16 2013, 11:59 AM
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Creed "My Own Prison"



I like the band itself bad guitars on this album sound so thin and harshy...all juicy middle sucked...damn


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Ben Higgins
post Aug 16 2013, 12:56 PM
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QUOTE (Darius Wave @ Aug 16 2013, 11:59 AM) *
I like the band itself bad guitars on this album sound so thin and harshy...all juicy middle sucked...damn


Oh man, you are so right. It reminds me of every band's first demo. The fizzy, scooped guitars tongue.gif


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SpaseMoonkey
post Aug 16 2013, 01:20 PM
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NIN - Pretty Hate Machine.



BUT WAIT! They did re-release/master it! biggrin.gif



Edit to Ben: No! Too early, need food!

I grew up on NIN, I remember watching the music videos and such. But Pretty Hate Machine was not an album I enjoyed. The music always seemed fuzzy and didn't seem clean at all. I disliked the cd for that a lot. But now with the remastered cd. It's pretty much like they fixed all of that. Some of the ambient noises in the back now "pop" and give it a such cleaner redefined feel. Almost like sitting back and drinking a nice cold slightly iced Sprite that give a cool refreshing crisp bite to it! Terrible Lie is the song I really noticed it on, the entire bass riff really stands out and is cleaned up.

This post has been edited by SpaseMoonkey: Aug 16 2013, 01:36 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Aug 16 2013, 01:27 PM
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QUOTE (SpaseMoonkey @ Aug 16 2013, 01:20 PM) *
NIN - Pretty Hate Machine.


Interesting ! Don't forget to tell us why you think it sounds bad tho ! Is it too thin, 80's sounding maybe ?

I notice in the remaster that they've played with the panning a bit but the lead vocals are more sibilant this time around.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Aug 16 2013, 01:35 PM
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...

I'm not talking about song writing, just the mixing and/ or mastering..

...
[/quote]

Assuming that it's professionally mastered generally it's the down to the production prior to mastering. There are limits to what you can affect and/or save at mastering and also the mastering engineer nearly always has to do what s/he is told by the producer.

If the guitars have already been mixed out by the mixing engineer then the chance of bringing them back at mastering is slight. We're doing everything on the stereo mix and even splitting out to an MS is onlikely to be enough to sufficiently pull something out from the background.

I get a lot of enquiries where the producer wants 2013 LOUD and if I even suggest that it is not a good idea and will be detrimental to the audio the work goes elsewhere. I'm quite happy for that to happen as I don't like butchering audio but clearly someone somewhere is happy to drive things way in to the red, shear off peak forms, clip trnasients and flatten out the crest to next to nothing.

Having said all of that the mastering engineer is at the end of the ass kicking chain so it is always our fault. Everything that has gone before has been approved by the producer. Ultimately if it's finally deemed wrong by the consumer the producer will blame the mastering engineer: all of the previous production decisions were right so the ME must have screwed up...


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Ben Higgins
post Aug 16 2013, 01:42 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Aug 16 2013, 01:35 PM) *
...

I'm not talking about song writing, just the mixing and/ or mastering..

...


Assuming that it's professionally mastered generally it's the down to the production prior to mastering. There are limits to what you can affect and/or save at mastering and also the mastering engineer nearly always has to do what s/he is told by the producer.

If the guitars have already been mixed out by the mixing engineer then the chance of bringing them back at mastering is slight. We're doing everything on the stereo mix and even splitting out to an MS is onlikely to be enough to sufficiently pull something out from the background.

I get a lot of enquiries where the producer wants 2013 LOUD and if I even suggest that it is not a good idea and will be detrimental to the audio the work goes elsewhere. I'm quite happy for that to happen as I don't like butchering audio but clearly someone somewhere is happy to drive things way in to the red, shear off peak forms, clip trnasients and flatten out the crest to next to nothing.

Having said all of that the mastering engineer is at the end of the ass kicking chain so it is always our fault. Everything that has gone before has been approved by the producer. Ultimately if it's finally deemed wrong by the consumer the producer will blame the mastering engineer: all of the previous production decisions were right so the ME must have screwed up...


Oh yeah totally agree Tony smile.gif Don't worry, I wasn't for a moment suggesting that the mastering process resulted in a bad mix. I've known you long enough to know better than that smile.gif The bad mix is there anyway. No, I mean there may be some albums that had a hatchet job done on them at the mastering stage.. sometimes they're remasters. I was directly inspired by this album by (again) Manowar..

Original version (in conjunction with Metal Hammer)



Remastered retail version (after fan complaints of dodgy bass sound etc) I think there was an attempt to make it 'less harsh'.



To be fair, they are YT videos, compressed files etc.. but I do think there is a genuine slump in sound quality ??

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Aug 16 2013, 01:42 PM


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Slavenko Erazer
post Aug 16 2013, 02:23 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Aug 16 2013, 12:29 PM) *
Every Iron Maiden album since (and including) Dance of Death

Why ? Well, just listen to them. Still not convinced ? Put on Powerslave, Seventh Son or Number of the Beast.. then put on 'Different World' or something else from 'A Matter of Life and Death'. I love Maiden still, but the sound of their recent albums is below par for a multi million selling band.


So, i actually feel lucky that i haven't listened to whole Maiden album since Brave New World smile.gif They will never make another Somewhere in Time / 7nth Son album, quality and production wise wink.gif

And what About Metallica - ST ANger Production? Drums sound is awfull, like playing on some saucepan . Also there are no middles.
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Aug 16 2013, 03:53 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Aug 16 2013, 01:42 PM) *
Oh yeah totally agree Tony smile.gif Don't worry, I wasn't for a moment suggesting that the mastering process resulted in a bad mix. I've known you long enough to know better than that smile.gif The bad mix is there anyway. No, I mean there may be some albums that had a hatchet job done on them at the mastering stage.. sometimes they're remasters. I was directly inspired by this album by (again) Manowar..

...


No worries as i didn't think you were Ben, it's just a general reply smile.gif .

A lot of remasters are a mess and for lots of different reasons.

Sometimes they are re-'mastered' over the top of the original master because the label hasn't got access to the mixes. Sometimes it's not even the pmcd but one of the actual commercially available CDs etc. I've lost count of the times I've been asked if I can remaster from a vinyl record, cassette tape, 8 track, etc.

So here you start with a stereo mix that may already have been limited, dithered to 16 bit, etc. so it's hardly great source material. Ideally the engineer should be concentrating on cleaning up the source and doing very little else but she'll be told to get the level to modern equivalent instead. So instead of focusing on cleaning up the source they'll have to eq down the low end and take up the mid quite a lot, shear off the tops of waveforms and compress the life out of it before limiting it again and redithering it and so inducing more noise.

Sometimes the mastering engineer will have access to the original mixes but may well be working in isolation of the producer and band. Here the engineer doesn't know what the artist intended and so is kind of working in the dark. Often what they'll try and do is aim for something that they think is current and representative; sometimes they try and make their own artistic statement. In either case the remaster is likely to be quite different from the original.

A little OT as none of these are metal examples:
On a drive from Malaga to my home last week my wife and I were listening to the radio. Both my wife and I found it very easy to spot the remastered version of Rose Royce's 'Wishing on a Star' because the lead vox had been pushed for volume and the top sheared off to the point where it was distorting. That's bad (re-)mastering.

When we got home we wathed the BBC3 Urban Prom and we both liked one of the singers. Went to listen to his material on commercial release and it had been made so vanilla that all the beautiful resonances that gave his voice depth were gone. Bad mixing and/or mastering.

My wife bought me Tracy Thorn's last album and I find some of it unlistenable because the mixing is painful in places. (The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by different engineers in different studios.) One of the mix engineer also did some of the mastering and the gapping and sequencing is 'odd'. Bad recording, mixing and mastering in places.

You should listen to Dappy's recent releases (one of the three from N'Dubz) who now records, mixed and masters his own material because he's famous and has a bedroom studio. It's pretty much a master class in how not to mix but because he's famous there will be a lot of bedroom mixers who will try and emulate what he does.


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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bleez
post Aug 16 2013, 04:27 PM
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QUOTE (Slavenko Erazer @ Aug 16 2013, 02:23 PM) *
And what About Metallica - ST ANger Production? Drums sound is awfull, like playing on some saucepan . Also there are no middles.

I'd agree with that. It could have been so much better.

I have Testament 'souls of black' on CD and I really think it is spoiled by the crappy production. They are brilliant songs and Ive heard a couple of re-recorded tracks from it on youtube and they sound great!
Im not sure if its just the standard production at the time or if it's particularly bad. Also, Im not sure what the technical term would be for 'it just has no balls' huh.gif
I have the cd in my car just now and most of my CD's sound really good on the stereo but with this one I struggle to let it play right through because I get annoyed at how thin it feels.
I just got 'Dark roots of earth' as well and that sounds brilliant. smile.gif



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Gabriel Leopardi
post Aug 16 2013, 07:41 PM
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I would like to add another vote to St Anger, and what about "And justice for all". The mix of that album is not good, I remember that they weren't happy with it and that's why they decided to contract the same producer than Motley Crue's Dr Feelgood album for the black album.


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Ben Higgins
post Aug 16 2013, 09:05 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Aug 16 2013, 03:53 PM) *
No worries as i didn't think you were Ben, it's just a general reply smile.gif .

A lot of remasters are a mess and for lots of different reasons.

Sometimes they are re-'mastered' over the top of the original master because the label hasn't got access to the mixes. Sometimes it's not even the pmcd but one of the actual commercially available CDs etc. I've lost count of the times I've been asked if I can remaster from a vinyl record, cassette tape, 8 track, etc.

So here you start with a stereo mix that may already have been limited, dithered to 16 bit, etc. so it's hardly great source material. Ideally the engineer should be concentrating on cleaning up the source and doing very little else but she'll be told to get the level to modern equivalent instead. So instead of focusing on cleaning up the source they'll have to eq down the low end and take up the mid quite a lot, shear off the tops of waveforms and compress the life out of it before limiting it again and redithering it and so inducing more noise.

Sometimes the mastering engineer will have access to the original mixes but may well be working in isolation of the producer and band. Here the engineer doesn't know what the artist intended and so is kind of working in the dark. Often what they'll try and do is aim for something that they think is current and representative; sometimes they try and make their own artistic statement. In either case the remaster is likely to be quite different from the original.

A little OT as none of these are metal examples:
On a drive from Malaga to my home last week my wife and I were listening to the radio. Both my wife and I found it very easy to spot the remastered version of Rose Royce's 'Wishing on a Star' because the lead vox had been pushed for volume and the top sheared off to the point where it was distorting. That's bad (re-)mastering.

When we got home we wathed the BBC3 Urban Prom and we both liked one of the singers. Went to listen to his material on commercial release and it had been made so vanilla that all the beautiful resonances that gave his voice depth were gone. Bad mixing and/or mastering.

My wife bought me Tracy Thorn's last album and I find some of it unlistenable because the mixing is painful in places. (The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by different engineers in different studios.) One of the mix engineer also did some of the mastering and the gapping and sequencing is 'odd'. Bad recording, mixing and mastering in places.

You should listen to Dappy's recent releases (one of the three from N'Dubz) who now records, mixed and masters his own material because he's famous and has a bedroom studio. It's pretty much a master class in how not to mix but because he's famous there will be a lot of bedroom mixers who will try and emulate what he does.


I love this type of insight.. the whole subject is so interesting. It's horrible to think of a remaster over an already mastered audio track but yes, I can definitely imagine that happens.

I'm going to check out Dappy's stuff 'cause I just got to hear me that mixing !! wink.gif


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HungryForHeaven
post Aug 16 2013, 09:38 PM
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I totally agree about Into Glory Ride. So many (actually not so many) great songs, and the sound is B-class (as is the cover).

And yes, St Anger is compressed (?) like there's no tomorrow. Feels like listening to something in your forehead.
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Slavenko Erazer
post Aug 16 2013, 11:08 PM
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QUOTE (HungryForHeaven @ Aug 16 2013, 10:38 PM) *
I totally agree about Into Glory Ride. So many (actually not so many) great songs, and the sound is B-class (as is the cover).

And yes, St Anger is compressed (?) like there's no tomorrow. Feels like listening to something in your forehead.



3 great songs on Into Glory , and the rest not so great. smile.gif
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Ben Higgins
post Aug 17 2013, 09:13 AM
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QUOTE (Slavenko Erazer @ Aug 16 2013, 11:08 PM) *
3 great songs on Into Glory , and the rest not so great. smile.gif


Shut up. tongue.gif


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HungryForHeaven
post Aug 17 2013, 10:15 AM
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QUOTE (Slavenko Erazer @ Aug 16 2013, 10:08 PM) *
3 great songs on Into Glory , and the rest not so great. smile.gif

I'd say 4 or 5 of them are great. The remaining two are just good. cool.gif
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Slavenko Erazer
post Aug 17 2013, 02:44 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Aug 17 2013, 10:13 AM) *
Shut up. tongue.gif


Why? mellow.gif Hail to England and Sign Of the Hummer are a lot better albums...
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Gabriel Leopardi
post Aug 17 2013, 06:20 PM
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The latest Ratt album sounds very weird for me...





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Jouve
post Aug 18 2013, 07:31 AM
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Eh. You know guys, it's weird but I find St.Anger mix awesome. It has really huge punkish garage sound. Moreover - you won't believe but Metallica did an awesome job on sound. That album sounds good not just through good speakers and expencive headphones, but also with a crapy ones.
unsure.gif But that's just my humble oppinion.
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Slavenko Erazer
post Aug 18 2013, 09:49 AM
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QUOTE (Jouve @ Aug 18 2013, 08:31 AM) *
Eh. You know guys, it's weird but I find St.Anger mix awesome. It has really huge punkish garage sound. Moreover - you won't believe but Metallica did an awesome job on sound. That album sounds good not just through good speakers and expencive headphones, but also with a crapy ones.
unsure.gif But that's just my humble oppinion.



Most of Black Metal albums are also made to sound excellent on cheap headphones. The crappier they are - sounding result is better ! laugh.gif

Btw band with name Metallica shouldn't be allowed to sound garage punk huh.gif When i compare them to the sound on Master Of Puppets...
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