Show 111 – Dynamic Range Day 2011 and more

This week we talk to Ian Shepherd and Allen “Big Al” Wagner about Dynamic Range day 2011 and in the Rapid Fire section we talk about counterfeit mics; Guitar picks; and Omni mics.
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Dynamic Range Day 2011
Turn Me Up!
Home Studio Guru
Bieber is louder than Motorhead
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23 thoughts on “Show 111 – Dynamic Range Day 2011 and more

  1. Im so happy to hear that dynamic range day isn’t just another “old recordings were better and you young kids are screwing up the world”. Right away calling “loudness war” a myth, yes yes yes. I’m so on board with this.

    I recently mixed sound for an independent film and one of the songs in the film was a single I mixed a year earlier. I had just moved and set up my studio and mix room in the new house so I took the opportunity to remix the song (since part of it needed a no-vox mix anyway). I opened the year old session and zero’d out the entire mix to start from scratch. It happens to be a very dynamic song with solo vox/guitar intro and loud as a band can play by the end. When I was finished not only did I get a better overall mix but the quiet parts seemed more graceful and the loud parts seemed even more powerful. This is something I mastered in house both times and just looking at the waveform of the old and new masters I can see right away that, with out consciously trying, the new mix was much less crushed. The mastering chain had several fewer db of compression and less eq, but the final product is so much more full and powerful.
    I’ve proved to myself that i can do a mix that competes favorably with anything else on the iPod And didn’t get crushed to do it. At least in my case maybe it’s not just the mastering engineer’s fault!

  2. Great segment about Dynamic Range Day!

    One tiny niggle: I went to the download page for the TT Dynamic Range Meter, and after filling out both fields, it keeps telling me to fill out all fields. Wonder if anyone else is getting this.

    Otherwise – keep up the fine work gents!

  3. That’s funny cause i’ve known the turn me up website before the home recording show…

    From my experience what i can tell is that it’s very easy to explain dynamic to a muscian or the average listener BUT the real issues are with the label manager, so called artistic director etc…

    Everytime i’ve send a mix to those ppl they just start complaining about the volume of the song without even listening… Then the artist blame me for not having a deal with the company…

    Since i always send a squish to death version of the mix and they always say :” damn you got balls in that song… sounds great !”

    Sad but true.

    There is nothing you can do about salesman in this business, they are not listening to music but sounds/products/dollars/whatever…

    Anyway i’ll keep fighting

    Great show as usual

  4. I’d relate volume to sugar content of food. They keep adding more and more, because it “tastes good” at face value, until it’s reached the point where we’re all suffering because of the ridiculous content of sugar. At this point, there’s not enough dynamic range in our food flavour, because it’s so damn sweet.

  5. I listened to shows #110 and #111 back to back today during my commute and during work today. The snare mic shootout discussion was AMAZING. To hear the raw tracks of each mic was simply DEE-lightful. I have an SM7 that i never considered using on the snare and it’s good to know I have full license to do so if I choose.

    The DRD show was equally enjoyable. I’ve been following both Ian’s and Big A’s blog and always interested in their take on mastering.

    The show has certainly stepped up another notch.

    Rapid Fire Topics:

    Do you allow peanut butter & jelly in the studio?
    (never again…don’t ask)

    Do you allow your dogs to sleep on your studio couches??
    (please say no.. so i can play this for my wife 😉 )

    Thanks guys!!

  6. Hi !
    A couple of shows you stated, “the loudness war is over – and metallica has won” ! And now i hear that Justin Bieber is even louder. Shame on metallica !

    my formula thats working for me: If its squashed to death, don’t buy !

    Thanks for the show !

  7. we actually made a mistake, Bieber is louder than Motorhead (and many other metal bands, but nothing is worse than Metallica’s Death Magnetic. I noticed this in editing but it was too late to correct.

  8. I think it’s mostly musicians to blame. At least here.
    (I’m talking about home and semi-pro recording)
    I had that awful experience when I mixed local band, it sounded decent and we sat down at their friend’s studio to listen, and band kinda – “Maan, something’s wrong”, and that another guy throwing a brickwall with “CRUSH TO D112” settings, whole song begins to crackle and pump unnaturally but went louder very much – and band kinda – “Wow, that’s what we going for”.
    And I see it very often. I think mostly because guys comparing home recorded songs with world’s biggest bands (Mettalica for example), and they can’t understand that homerecordist can’t barely close stand near top-level mastering engineer. I could write on and on, but o hope I bring my point.

  9. Ironically, Ian’s audio was heavily compressed and almost sounded like it was going through bit crusher. I know it was probably just a bad connection, just thought it was funny. Great interview Jon, just say “no” to dr 4!

  10. I have been listening to the show for awhile and look forward to it each week. The last 2 episodes both went well together. I’m starting to think that the loudness everyone is going for probably starts with the mic and not just crushing something with a compressor and limiter. The loudest mic in the snare drum shootout was the U-87 and the high end large diaphragm condensers are known for having a larger than life sound. If everyone had the luxury to record with these more often they probably wouldn’t need as much squashing because a strong, full signal would be coming into the DAW.

  11. There isn’t really one person or group that’s “at fault” for the “loudness war”. Sure, the execs and radio stations want that in-you-face-sound, the mastering engineers push it to compete with other recordings, the mixing engineers push things to satisfy their clients and the musicians … well, they’re getting advice from the rest of us aren’t they?

    I came across this last year when a student asked me to comment on his mix. I asked him what he thought was going on and his first response was – “it’s not loud or present enough”. He said that he’d compared the mix to CD’s of bands he likes and the first thing that popped out was that it wasn’t loud enough – nothing about the balance or individual elements.

    After this, I started qualifying my advice when suggesting someone compare things to finished commercial music. When mixing, you need to understand that you’re still a ways downstream from the final product. My advice when comparing a mix to a pro CD is to turn the CD down 3-6dB first and get the RMS in the same ballpark – then focus on the elements, not the overall volume.

  12. Ryan is unkind in his dismissal of picks as being unimportant. The sound of a pick can be as important as the sound of the guitar. An acoustic played with a thin flicky pick sounds totally different to one played with a thick pick. I think the best picks are Clayton Ultem – the heart shaped in .94 for acoustic and the tear drop in .80 are where I ususally start. Course I don’t wanna start Pick Wars here.

  13. After listening to this episode I became very interested in downloading the supposedly free TT meter to make sure my own mixes had acceptable dynamic range. After visiting the Pleasurize Audio site and registering I was faced with the reality that the only way to access the Mac version of the plug-in was to donate $30 to the organization. After this realization I couldn’t help but feel like this whole segment was really an advertisement for the “free” plug-in that is conveniently located behind a members-only pay wall. I know that this plugin isn’t the only way to ensure that your mixes have a musical dynamic range, BUT the “DR” system and the TT plugin are plastered all over the Dynamic Range Day site and is the system that they recommend to find the dynamic range of your mixes.

    Unless Ian was completely ignorant of the fact that you can no longer get the plugin for I free I feel it was quite misleading to say that it is a “free” plugin during the interview and honestly such blatant misinformation leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth regarding the whole Dynamic Range Day movement. That’s not to say that this plugin isn’t worth the money or that Ian and others behind it aren’t passionate about this subject, but if he is doing interviews to promote it it just makes him and the movement look bad if it looks like he’s just trying to get people to lay down money for a plugin.

    I would welcome an explanation of this oversight by any involved and apologize if I have overlooked anything in my comments.

    To the HRS guys, really enjoy the show, but this might be a lesson to make sure that the information presented by third parties on your show is accurate.

    • The PC version is free on the site, both the plugin and standalone version. Or it was a few days ago. I do not know why they charge for the Mac version.

      The mac version of the plugin was available on the Brainworx music site, we’ve linked there before and at the time of posting the show I assumed it was still there. Sorry for any confusion. They must have changed this VERY recently.
      This wasn’t just an ad to sell plugins! It WAS free when we did the interview. I don’t know why things have changed.

  14. @ Jon. I couldn’t find it on the site either. So apparently they’ve sent it out to pasture. And there’s plenty of other audio meters out there. I mean most DAWS come with something.

    That said…

    @ Scott W. What a great tool Audio Leak is. Wow. It’s just fun to drop files in there just to see the profile. Like try dropping some classic rocks tunes in versus some modern tracks. This is my favorite software of the week. The awesome thing is that it tracks the entire time line of a song…I mean I know you can see it in a DAW but…this is just so quick.

  15. I appreciate Big Al’s comments on how musicians should be informed about extreme limiting and with that understanding make their own choice. Some people go on about extreme limiting as some sort of evil thing, and if it were done to my music *without my permission* I might agree but if a musician decides they want that “crushed sound” then that’s their choice. It’s just another kind of distortion in the pallet of colors. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t. That’s what makes music, “art” and not “science”. I personally think the segment went on a bit long and got a bit preachy.

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