Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

Production Advice

make your music sound great

Did they REALLY just auto-tune Aretha ? SERIOUSLY ?

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OK, before we start, I need to get something straight.

Aretha Franklin is a legend, one of the greatest singers of all time, and if she chooses to sing through a kazoo whilst breathing helium, that’s fine with me.

Seriously, you just don’t argue with talent like that.

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It’s a kind of magic
- Or: It’s not about the f****** format !

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OK, enough is enough.

I’ve made various videos over the last few years comparing vinyl and digital releases of different albums – because sometimes vinyl is mastered with more dynamics than the digital formats, which is something I care about.

But I always try to avoid passing comment on the actual formats themselves – CD versus vinyl, analogue versus digital – because I feel these discussions are actually red herrings. They’re distractions from the real issues of what makes our music sound great.

But inevitably in the comments of these posts and videos, someone will eventually jump in with the timeless old chestnut:

‘Digital can never sound as good as analogue’

Now this is a popular belief these days, but the fact is there’s no theoretical reason to believe it’s true – correctly implemented digital audio can exactly reproduce any analogue audio signal with complete accuracy.

But when I say that, there’s always someone who says something like

“people who listen to CD are missing out on the emotional experience. I don’t expect you to understand, but I know it’s true”.

To which my response is – how dare you ?!

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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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There are no “stair steps” in digital audio ! What The Matrix can teach us about “resolution”

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Remember this sequence from the Matrix ? “There is no spoon”.

Well recently I’m hearing people talk more and more about “resolution” in digital audio, and I’m here to tell you -

There is no resolution.

It’s a red herring – an idea-virus left over from the earliest days of digital audio, perpetuated by gear manufacturers to try and sell us more kit we don’t need. Here’s why.

It all starts with the myth:

“Digital can never sound as good as analogue”

This statement simply isn’t true, but it doesn’t stop people repeating it like some kind of mantra. The reasons they give usually hang on the fact that digital audio samples the audio – “freezing” it at regular moments in time – and claiming that it can therefore never sound as smooth and continuous as the original analogue signal.

You can see it for yourself, they say. Zoom in far enough on a digital waveform and eventually you can see the blocky, grainy, digital “stair-steps” – so it stands to reason that you can hear them, if your hearing and equipment is good enough, right ?


There are no stair-steps.

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The Daily Adventures Of Mixerman – the Audiobook Dramatisation

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You’ve probably heard of Mixerman.

If not, now is the time to find out !

I first came across him way back in the early days of the Mastering Engineer’s Webboard(*) where he sparked a minor controversy by refusing to give his real name and credentials – in fact I remember things got pretty heated when he got into an argument about whether it was possible to get “big” sounding mixes using a DAW called Alsihad. (Never heard of Alsihad ? You need to find out about Mixerman – read on !)

(*) I was about to type ‘RIP’ because last time I checked the Webboard was offline, but it seems that it’s back ! That’s great news, there’s masses of information there, check it out.

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Ian Shepherd

BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars