Author Topic: Tell me about production  (Read 523 times)

Beagle 2

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Tell me about production
« on: February 09, 2019, 12:36:43 AM »
Tell me why I hate the way this track is recorded, which I think is an amazing song by an amazing band but the way it's recorded is just yuck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0oJxUXTLcY

Now tell me why this is perfectly recorded and it's all right in my ears and perfect?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spm5-SXo4Do

And why, when it takes bands years to get an album out and it's had a troubled history and several producers... why does that sound shit?

I've been recording music for 13 years and I haven't got a clue about all this shite.

Bennett Brauer

  • I'm not "likeable"
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 01:12:28 AM »
Probably stating the obvious, but the greater the band interferes with the producer's work, the worse it sounds. Each band member wants his part to be more prominent so it all ends up sounding over the top. I think Queen were happy to defer to Roy Thomas Baker for their early albums, and stuck to that sound later with Mack.
The art of separation seems to have waned with new technology - loudness wars and all that. That could apply to the Eighties Matchbox clip, but I don't know much about them.

Twed

  • "J" Joe Jeans and his jelly beans
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 01:23:39 AM »
I'm listening on a phone so this might be inaccurate, but the first song seems to be commiting that classic production sin of lacking dynamic range.

Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 02:22:03 AM »
I'm listening on a phone so this might be inaccurate, but the first song seems to be commiting that classic production sin of lacking dynamic range.

Maybe they wanted it to sound like that, overproduction can afflict some music, I've heard songs that have been unofficially released, as in they have been recorded, then released officially, and suddenly the umph/pow that song had is lost.

I don't know, production is to taste, to some its too sweet, I want a little more soy sauce please chef. I generally listen to stuff on the experimental spectrum Lolz, so don't give a shit either way, which is a throw away comment, but you know.

Twed

  • "J" Joe Jeans and his jelly beans
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 03:17:50 AM »
But for something to be compressed that much you have to do something extra. It's not less production necessarily, just bad production. There's a difference between lo-fi and this.

Phil_A

  • HE WAS AN ROBOT
    • Chasing The Bumblebee
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 11:23:59 AM »
Tell me why I hate the way this track is recorded, which I think is an amazing song by an amazing band but the way it's recorded is just yuck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0oJxUXTLcY

Now tell me why this is perfectly recorded and it's all right in my ears and perfect?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spm5-SXo4Do

And why, when it takes bands years to get an album out and it's had a troubled history and several producers... why does that sound shit?

I've been recording music for 13 years and I haven't got a clue about all this shite.

Usually when a modern recording sounds "bad" it's a fuck-up at the mastering level, everything pushed up into the red to make it "punchy" or something along those lines. But this, I dunno. It just sounds like a really shitty recording, like a tape copy of a demo with the band all playing in one tiny room.

With the Queen recording I would imagine they had the luxury of doing hundreds of takes of each instrument, and probably had access to the best engineers of the time. Every element is clearly placed in the mix, nothing sounds cluttered or out of place. There's nothing there that doesn't need to be.

Just thinking about The Defiant Ones documentary that was on BBC 4 the other night, where they mentioned how Springsteen and the E Street Band spent three weeks sitting around in the studio trying to get the drum sound right on "Born To Run". I couldn't imagine any new act being indulged to that degree these days, when the pressure would be on to get something recorded ASAP.

So basically I think the difference is time and money, most of which don't tend to be available to modern bands so much.

buzby

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Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2019, 12:03:33 PM »
The Eighties Matchbox 'Blood & Fire' album was their last - their original lead guitarist (and one of the main songwriters) Andy Huxley left in 2004 after their second album The Royal Society was released, and his replacement Rob Fownes left to join NIN in the six year gap between the second and last albums (they were dropped by Universal after the second album and self-released a double EP in 2007). They split just under a year after Blood And Fire's release.

The album was recorded in two sessions over two years and was their first attempt at self-production - they started writing demos in 2008 and in 2009 started recording in France at the studio used by French psychobilly band Mr Feelix (who were friends of Fownes's replacement Tristan McLenahan, whose father owned the studio and brother Aaron engineered the sessions). They then went into Broadfields Studios in London (owned by  Thomas Mitchiner, who engineered the session) in 2010 to rework the recordings from France. It was mixed by Kevin Vanbergen, who had no real experience as a producer, his main area of expertise up to that point being producing digital transfers and recoveries from analogue master tapes for remasters for Mute.

The album has every indication of being a troubled production - the first new material in 3 years and the first with a new guitarist, the first attempt at self-production, two recording sessions nearly a year apart, one of which was engineered by the new guitarist's brother and mixed by someone with no real experience at working with a band (given that Vanbergen was primarily involved with remasters, it's probably no surprise it ended up sounding brickwalled). The record sounds like there was nobody really in charge or with a coherent vision of what they wanted it to sound like, and the second session in London was an attempt to rescue the album to just get something out. If that was the case it's no surprise they split not long afterwards.

For comparison, the original rough mixes of the tracks from the session at Mr Feelix's studio in France have been put up by a member of that band*, and the version of Monsieur Cutts from that session sounds far superior to the one that was put on Blood And Fire, which sounds like it was mixed with the VU meters for every track permanently in the red.

*Larry Euthanazor, who also thinks the released version of the album is overproduced.

« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 12:48:34 PM by buzby »

Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2019, 02:55:16 PM »
Tell me why I hate the way this track is recorded, which I think is an amazing song by an amazing band but the way it's recorded is just yuck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0oJxUXTLcY

Now tell me why this is perfectly recorded and it's all right in my ears and perfect?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spm5-SXo4Do

And why, when it takes bands years to get an album out and it's had a troubled history and several producers... why does that sound shit?

I've been recording music for 13 years and I haven't got a clue about all this shite.

It's mostly in the composition and playing.

The first one doesn't have any space or dynamics. It's just full pelt, hit everything as hard as possible style playing. Constant cymbal crashes, open hi-hats, cranked guitar and fuzz bass. Loads of upper midrange frequencies clashing. It sounds shite coz it's shite.

The Queen song has plenty of space and dynamics. It's a lot easier to record a band when the song is arranged more thoughtfully and the band members play with some subtlety. This song is better than the first song.


Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2019, 04:05:57 PM »
One of the best produced records ever is Neil Young's harvest. Elliot Mazer inadvertently proved that CD can replicate analogue warmth fine. Although he seems to think it's shit and the SACD version is much better.

Somewhat related, or not, Spotify are supposed to use dr normalisation, but it must be on playback as my chromecast audio has levels all over the shop. Which is great for fame recordings and that because Rick Hall was happy keeping everything quiet just so he could SLAM a horn section in near the end.

purlieu

  • Woo-hoo, Lord Nimon!
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 05:46:41 PM »
Interestingly, I don't like the song at all, but I really like the sound of that Eighties Matchbox track. I think big chaotic wall of noise production can work, so long as the music is similarly relentless. I particularly like the loose, open sound to the drums. A lot of contemporary production really tightens the drums up to the extent they sound like someone's playing in your head, and I hate it. I like a really roomy drum sound.

ToneLa

  • Kill your masters
Re: Tell me about production
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2019, 09:54:34 PM »
Interestingly, I don't like the song at all, but I really like the sound of that Eighties Matchbox track. I think big chaotic wall of noise production can work, so long as the music is similarly relentless. I particularly like the loose, open sound to the drums. A lot of contemporary production really tightens the drums up to the extent they sound like someone's playing in your head, and I hate it. I like a really roomy drum sound.

I'm a sucker for band-in-one-room feels and the odd criticism I have for this is, yes, it captures that, there is a spirit, but I can't help but spot what that excellent post by Buzby confirmed:

It does seem like the band controlled their levels. I find it interesting the OP asks "how this song was recorded" and I couldn't fault it from an engineering point of view.

It's clumsily mixed. If this element wasn't fucked up I'd be able to point to the dynamic range and go "oh, good lo-fi"! Production, I know I'm being anal, but that's more of a finalisation-format thing, but it's not just compressors I hear all over this. Each part seems to compete with others, individual compression on perhaps everything and naive mixers don't understand panning. I mean, if you mixed this to mono I expect it would be disgraceful.

Nah. I hate stuff like this, you know? It's not inherently flawed, it is the presentation. The music is compromised.

No imagination - for music that is powerful rather than complex. There's virtually no creative panning, and by creative I mean, I am a technician, "to solve problems".

It fights for space, and falls for the classic mixing issue of not realising that less is more. I haven't run it through my own DAW but I can already hear muddy equalisation.

It stinks, basically, of assembly, lack of confidence, and lack of vision. Was going to say earlier but Buzby's post made perfect sense: If I had to cite the production issue in one sentence, I'd say, They're compensating for a musicality which isn't present in the performances in such a way it detracts from what is there. I do talk like that!

I like the song, it is powerful, but it's almost embarassing in its naivety. What you are hearing here, folks, is what you do with compressors when you bring things up to standard. The ironic thing is, music like this, even punk, even metal, recorded accurately but more importantly presented as such (I'd dearly love to insert the term presentation into people's colloquial discussion of studio music in that context) that it is conceptually flawed.

I am not surprised given the history I did not know, but it is a shame they could not overcome it. I'd even ascribe the issue to mentality. You don't have to listen hard to feel pressure here. It's just not the exact, careful balancing act of proper mixing. Ultimately I just think: What choices were made? Either the wrong ones, or too many.

For such a modern track it's disappointing. If, as someone posited, it's a deliberate choice: I honestly feel the music suffers.

4/10
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 10:14:33 PM by ToneLa »