The Better My Ears Get, The Harder It Is To Listen To Modern Or Remastered Music

So I’m sitting here in Pigeon Spaceship Studios, version 2.0 fine tuning the room to the new speakers.  I have never had a more accurate system or environment to listen to music.  I am literally rediscovering tracks I have heard all of my life as they come alive on this new setup revealing deeper detail and depth I had never noticed before today.

It didn’t take long to realize how deficient modern mastering techniques have become.  The loudness war has ruined practically any track released since 2000.  Any classic track “remastered” has had all of the life sucked out of it.

I suppose it is understandable.  It is probably way more important for songs to be able to compete on this:

instead of this:
I know I sound like the grumpy old man, but I really want to be able to enjoy new releases, but my ears won’t let me.  Rant over, continue about your day.

Winning The Loudness War

All of the tracks on “Just What The World Is Looking For” register either 8 or 9 on the TT DR Offline Meter.

There is punch and life in the tracks, something audiophiles and casual listeners will instantly appreciate.

I hope you will listen for yourself when the album becomes available next month!  You won’t regret it!

Report From A Loudness War Field General

Behold, the Loudness Wars.  It’s worse than I thought, and I have to make some hard decisions right now.

The top track is Bon Jovi’s brand new release.  The bottom is taken from their original (not a modern remaster) 1987 CD Slippery When Wet.  I had no idea how incredibly dramatic the sound quality difference was until I listened to them A/B on my reference monitors.

I also pulled a FLAC file of Bruno Mars “Locked Out of Heaven”, which I consider probably one of the better-sounding modern pop songs.  Large portions of that song lack even 2-3db of dynamic range.  It is mud.

Here’s the rub.  Initially, louder always sounds better.  TV and stereo salesman used to set their expensive models to turn on a few dbs louder to fool the customer into thinking they could hear a quality difference.

So, I am at a loss as to what to model my mastering efforts to.  I do not think I can, in good conscience follow the current trend… I know you’re probably thinking (the two of you that read this far), that hey, I heard Bon Jovi’s new song, it doesn’t sound bad to me.  And, I understand that, but I wish you could hear the way it could have sounded.

The easiest way for a non-audiophile to hear the difference?  Listen to the snare drum.  It is the “snap” that pops in where you are likely to naturally clap.  Compare that “snap” on modern recordings and ones from 20-30 years ago.  The snare drum has become a weak fizzle where it was once a sonic giant…  It is sad.

I am not an “old fogey”.  I sincerely like and respect modern music.  It is the engineers and producers I am faulting here.

The downside to this is people putting in your CD or cuing up your mp3 and getting over the initial lack-of-perceived volume shock.  It may even limit some market potential.  I am not sure.  But, years from now, I don’t want to listen back to my tracks and hear a blur of indecipherable fuzz.  So, I am going to ask all of you to get over the shock and just crank it up louder till it feels good!  🙂