The latest video, Mastering Audio Issues #8, shows how 15 of my plug-in compressors are effective, similar, but all different. I show how the waveform statistics are different for each, and how the waveform itself is visibly different for each compressor. The sound is also slightly different. These differences are not huge, and any one of these plug-ins will get the job done, but it is interesting to see some of the ways that they differ. It is interesting to me that a free plug-in can sound as good as a very expensive plug-in. Don't trust the hype, trust the ears. I hope you enjoy it.
I ran across a re-recording and remaster of an old classic from the seventies...The Most Beautiful Girl, sung by Charlie Rich. The original went to number 1 on the Billboard charts and was one of the biggest country songs of the seventies.
The new version was not very good at all, and got me to looking at it. I decided to remaster the old version to or beyond the newer version loudness level and show that, once again, you do not have to destroy the song to change the level.
Their newer re-recorded version is only 1.5 dB louder and yet has a full 4.8 dB less dynamic range. (Explain that!)
So I of course had to show that you can make it sound better and still play their loudness game.
My version is almost a full db louder than their new version and yet still has a dynamic range of 7.2 dB, 2.2 dB more than theirs. I also added a richness in the bass and an added depth to the stereo field, as well as 2.3 dB to the loudness level.
In the video, the top track is the original and the lower track is my version. If you look at the upper left corner of the screen, the S button is the solo button, and is green when engaged.
A portion of the re-recorded version is included and all the versions are loudness matched, so you are not hearing the level difference, but only the EQ.
The original flavor of the song is intact in my version, and that was quite intentional.
The changes were very slight and slightly better in my humble opinion, but I could be wrong.
You are free to email me, if you agree, or not.
In the field of music recording, mixing, and mastering, there is more than one right way, and a whole lot of wrong ways. Our job is to pick a right way, and try not to pick a wrong way (picking a wrong way is extremely easy to do)
Next time we will find another song from the seventies, there are so many good ones!
Since this website is about mastering audio, I think it is appropriate to honor someone who I consider the first and most important independent Mastering Engineer.
Doug Sax was born on April 26, 1936, and died recently on April 2, 2015. He was the first mastering engineer to set up outside of a major label, and many would consider him the best in the business. (I am one of those) He started in 1967, and worked on albums every year through 2015.
His albums were the ones that others aspired to sound like. Many times I would listen to an album, think "this is excellent sound, who mastered this?" and look on the record jacket and see 'Mastered by Doug Sax'.
He mastered albums into 2015, but it was during the 70's that he really made his mark on recorded sound. Even though the equipment was simple and nothing like what we have today, he turned good mixes and average mixes into great recordings. The seventies is still my favorite decade for music, and many of his mastering jobs are the cause of it.
Look at his Wikipedia page for a partial listing of his work. It will take awhile to get through it.
And those are only a fraction of the albums he has worked on.
From the Doors first album in 1967, The Eagles first album in 1972, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon,
Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, George Benson, Neil Diamond, Toto, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Jackson Browne, Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, Diana Krall, Etc. Etc. up to Dolly Parton and Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan's latest albums, Doug mastered albums to the limit of their potential.
If you want to know what music should sound like in any particular genre, his work would be the best place to start. The albums were not compressed to death, it was all about the perfect EQ to best present the songs to the world. That is what mastering is really all about.
Thanks, Doug, for showing us the right way to do it.
While we are in the 60's, maybe we should look at a more typical hit from that era. Surfin' Safari was the first big hit for The Beach Boys in 1962. It was recorded that year, and like most of the songs and albums produced in that era, was recorded in Mono. So let's just do the opposite of what we did for the last couple of tunes, and make this one stereo. We have just made it easier to listen to with headphones and earbuds. There is no radical change of anything except the stereo image. I like it better in stereo, and in my mastering studio, it sounds even better in the speakers than in the headphones. Let me know what you think.
Today we look at the first 16 Track Recording, made in 1968. It went to number one in 1969 and was a big hit for Tommy James and The Shondells.
The last recording we looked at was made in 1958 and over a decade of stereo has passed with not a lot of progress in understanding the use of stereo.
Again, listening with headphones will let you know that this was not good for anyone wearing headphones. If you are listening on speakers in a large room, it is not such a big deal.
One interesting comparison is to listen to the instruments in the Della Reese video and notice how much better they were recorded on just 2 tracks.
In other words, more tracks does not mean better recording. Stereo is still the preferred delivery method even today, and knowing how to do it is as critical as ever.
It is not a gimmick, it is the way to go because most human beings have 2 ears. It is how we place sound sources in space and whether it is used for defense from predators or enjoyment of an orchestra, it is how we hear the world.
Surround sound should be merely an extension of stereo, not another commercial gimmick.
And while we are on the subject, dummy head recording is for dummies. All you have to do is listen to it once to hear how misguided that is.
The best stereo sound comes from the proper manipulation of the hardware and software that we use on a daily basis in the recording world.
If it doesn't sound natural, it is not right.
Until next time...