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Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

Production Advice

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Daft Punk win 2014 Grammy for Great Sound

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Daft Punk won no less than five Grammy Awards last night, including Record Of The Year for “Get Lucky”) and Album Of The Year for “Random Access Memories”.

One of these five awards was for Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) – and it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I think this factor was a crucial part of the mix. [Boom, tish!]

It’s easy to think that the sound of a record is almost irrelevant to it’s success – after all, it’s the song, performance and artist that sells records. Most people listen to music on laptop speakers, mobile phones and iPod earbuds, these days – no-one can hear sound quality on those, right ?

Looking at it another way, one of the most obvious ways to judge “quality” in the 21st Century is “loudness”, and since research shows that loudness has no effect on sales, one way the other, it stands to reason that other more subtle factors in the sound make even less difference, right ?

Well, maybe – but maybe not.
 
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UK Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves – Dynamically !

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Bob Katz recently announced that the Loudness War has been won. But is he right ?

Well, based on recent releases by a slew of UK female artists – maybe !

The YouTube video above of Lily Allen’s new single “Hard Out Here” sounds great and measures a respectable DR9 on the TT Meter, following the same trend as two of the year’s biggest hits, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky“.

(Plus the satisfyingly rude and on-point video and lyrics for “Hard Out Here” are especially pleasing if you share my reservations about “Blurred Lines”…)

And Lily’s not alone.

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Abandon normal instruments: How to start making music from NOTHING – Today

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There’s a recurring theme on this site:

It ain’t what you use, its the way that you use it.

Watch the video above, and then tell me you don’t agree – I dare you.

We spend so much of our time lusting after bits of gear, the next new “must-have” plugin, a new guitar or a better amp… and it’s all nonsense.

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Clipping – what is it, and what does it sound like ?

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Clipping.

Analogue versus digital ? Blatant fault or creative decision ? Better or worse than limiting ?

Some engineers deliberately clip their analogue gear or analogue-to-digital converters, some never clip anything, some use gentle clipping – what’s the best answer ?

There’s so much discussion about this topic, and more often I find that people are confused about exactly what “clipping” actually is in the first place.

So, I made this video to give my own perspective, and some clear examples of how hard digital clipping sounds, compared to soft “analogue” style clipping, and how it sounds compared to limiting.

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If you can’t hear it, it doesn’t matter, right ? WRONG

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If you can’t hear the difference, it doesn’t matter, right ?

WRONG.

Have you ever said something like this ?

“People will only ever listen to the mp3, so it doesn’t matter”

“I can’t hear any distortion – so it doesn’t matter”

“I can’t hear the loss of dynamics – so it doesn’t matter”

Or, the ultimate:

“If it sounds right, it is right”

I hear this all the time.

So, am I saying that’s not true ?

Not exactly. What I’m saying is:

Your monitoring might hiding things from you, and you could be making decisions you’ll regret later
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Ian Shepherd


BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars

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