One thing these days that lots of people have complained about is extremely loud mastering of music and how it tends to kill the song. I’m someone who has heard many a song released where the mastering and/or mix was so brick wall limited that it ends up sounding distorted, lacking dynamics, and it’s disappointing. It destroys the vibe of the recording, all in the name of attempting to stand out above all others when broadcast to the world. The end result of these loud mixes that are overly compressed and limited is one of making the song sound small and shitty. Small and shitty is not necessarily the result any self respecting musician would ever want for their releases. However, many record labels now force this concept of “make it LOUD” to the mixing engineers and the mastering guys.
Once in a while, a mistake can lead to a new discovery about how to approach doing something. Said mistake can end up starting a new way to look at a problem. Such is the case with an approach George Leger III stumbled upon while putting his mastering skills to the test for my song Touch. I have a version of Touch that has been mastered by the great John Rodd. But before I end up releasing the song, I’ll consider going with a second master based on George’s new technique. To put it simply, it’s mind shredding loud mastering, without sounding distorted or compressed.
Watch as I get George to discuss the process of super loud mastering he stumbled upon, to my buddy Jesse Stern, who is also the co-writer on “Till We Meet Again.”
So we can get the low down on all this trickery.
Well really all it is… is this is a 32 bit hard… uh, software mixer right.
But because it’s 32 bit, you can crank the crap out of the levels internally. So I can take this fader and ride it up to say +9. And it won’t clip.
It chops the top off, but it does it in a way that it doesn’t sound dynamically compressed.
Like a soft clipping type thing?
So you can push it up and it sounds loud without sounding [distorted] compressed. Or distorted. Jody was just like: I don’t know what you did man, but the file you gave me, the mastering… It’s the loudest I’ve ever heard and it’s like doesn’t sound bad at all. It sounds great.
Well, yeah. He did a master of Touch.
That he gave back to me and I was like it was just… what did I say? Mind shredding loud?
Yeah. It was super super loud. [it was so loud…] I didn’t even realize I had done this when I did it. Until I went back and looked and I went, oh wait a minute I didn’t go through this whole thing that I thought I was going through.
And I’m looking at the meters of my thing and my meters are still going up and down with all the dynamics. I’m like how the F^#$ is it so God damn loud!
Yeah. And not like: Phhhhfffftttt! Like crushed. Normally you do that and it gets crushed. What I discovered is that you can actually use this internal little mixer to jack the heck out of your levels, but it doesn’t distort.
And it doesn’t sound compressed.
It is really cool. Cause it’s like you can add 6 to 9 db of limiting without it sounding at all like that’s what you did. The nice thing that I like about the master that I did is… The attack of the kick and the snare are still there. Dynamically it’s like BAM BAM it just sounds so good. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, what the hell.
Okay, are we ready?
We’re ready. We’re ready. Anybody ready?
Have thoughts on loud mastering for your music – chime in in the comments below. I’m happy to discuss.
Don’t you hate it when you’ve missed something awesome? If you’ve been following me for at least the last two months or longer, then you know that I was in Anaheim for the NAMM show in January. The show/convention is so damn large it’s impossible, not virtually but truly impossible, to see everything that goes on. As it turns out, one of my favorite musicians was there and I had no idea. Grrrr. Ian Thornley is a powerhouse of a writer, guitar player and singer. Powerhouse! Not only was Ian there, but he also performed at a private party for an amp manufacturer Suhr. I’ve heard of their amps, though I’ve never played one. A few nights ago as I was prepping the video I released this week as part of the recording process for vocals on a new single – I came across video of Ian’s performance at NAMM. It’s so damn amazing that I had to share it you all.
So many live performances sound so horrible that live music can often leave a lot to be desired. However, when you watch this, you should be floored by how awesome it sounds. I know I am. It sounds like a freakin’ recording. That’s how tight, how solid, how rich, how in tune these guys are. Remember, this is live, and it’s a band that had one rehearsal (it’s not Ian’s regular band). This is why I love playing with awesome professionals. They make it look and sound easy – and it is if you’re like Ian. There’s a real joy when working with musicians who transcend to this level. I remember my first album and how I wanted to be able to pull it off live – to sound just like the record. Wish that band could have stayed together, they had the calibre.
Blown Wide Open Performance I Missed
Do yourself a favor, go buy his music. Go see him live.