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Mastering on the new album

Discussion in 'Threshold' started by batmura, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. batmura

    batmura Sea of Tranquility

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    What does everyone think of the mastering on the new album? I think the mix is stellar, but I'm slightly disappointed to see all the songs are mastered as loud as it gets, much like anything else that gets released these days. I do yearn for more dynamic range much like the stuff in the mid-90s.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. LavagesOfTime

    LavagesOfTime evangelist of Threshold

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    I'm not fond of the snare drum, to be honest. It sounds crystal clear but weaker than the previous releases.
     
  3. ManipulatorGeneral404

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    I have become significantly more informed about the loudness war lately, and it is among the banes of my existence as a music enthusiast. I had planned to ask Richard about the plans for dynamic range on March of Progress, then saw a Brazilian fan's post on the Threshold Facebook worried about Dead Reckoning's mastering possibly carrying over to the new album; he notes the drums on Dead Reckoning are extremely flat and have little punch because of compression, which I have always noticed, and I also found that the kick drum is sometimes almost completely lost within the heavy passages and the rhythm guitar tone comes close to distorting. Threshold's response was that March of Progress was "loud but not clipped to death", meaning that the signal does not run into the maximum amplitude very often or very severely, and the waveforms I have back this up; they look similar to those of The Seraphic Clockwork by Vanden Plas, which is somewhat loud but plenty listenable.

    Despite that one step towards fighting for breath, the March of Progress mastering is still quite loud, and I am very frequently able to tell by what happens to the drum volume. Drums in real life have a full, reverberating punch, and on a compressed studio recording, they just...sound without penetrating at all, and feel closer to samples than an acoustic kit; depending on the density of a mix, instruments will also start sounding quieter and quieter until, on some albums, even the snare is almost inaudible during dense parts. Redemption's The Origins of Ruin is one example of that, and still a disc that's difficult to listen to today.

    I agree with Murat that March of Progress is so professionally recorded and mixed (plus, quite well-played and performed!) that the loudness rarely becomes blatantly noticeable, and thus it's not crippled by loudness, but it becomes harder to detect myriad sonic details, feel music punching out of our speakers, and also to simply sit through an album without ear fatigue, the more it is compressed beyond a reasonable level; I know that I feel some of the live Threshold videos punch and breathe better than the studio versions. March of Progress and Dead Reckoning are mastered at 7 decibels of dynamic range, while Critical Mass is more dynamic at 8, and Subsurface and especially Hypothetical showing adverse effects from only 6, while I haven't measured any of the other Threshold albums yet. The difference, once heard and felt like I do now, is easily and very quickly detectable, and can do nothing but hurt the listening experience. My audiologist friends that helped me understand this phenomenon suggest 9 decibels, the reading on Haken's Visions which gained their album some positive press for its sound quality, as the bare minimum for metal, with about 12 on the higher end.

    I am telling this board what I hear as a fan, but for a more visual explanation of what the loudness war does to the listening experience, I invite all listeners to compare the Iron Maiden albums from 1980 to 2006 and spot the difference. I hear from many fans about diminished enjoyment of, or even inability to, listen to albums as loudly mastered as the loudest of these, and in comparison, I don't hear from anybody who doesn't enjoy, can't sit through, or refuses to buy an album because it's mastered too quiet. We think we're on a march of progress, but that is not the way we're going. The loudness war needs to stop dead. [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE[/ame]
     

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