I fight for darkness

image

Well, maybe not exactly the way you think… but let me explain!

This week-end I’ve received the masters of my new album from my mastering engineer. He’s great and has a really good ear, for example he has found little issues in my mixes that I had totally overlooked, like some overbearing hiss on the drum part of one song, or a click in the middle of a word on the vocal track of another. I’ve listened to these a thousand times and was rendered blind to these details…

But one thing is that his masters tend to be quite bright, and me, well, I’m more on the dark side…

I suppose it’s a sign of the times, but it makes me think that when people moan that CDs and digital sounds bad, and mourn the good old days of vinyl and the warmth of analog gear, perhaps all they are really longing for is a darker sound.
To be honest, the good old days were riddled with noise and distortion and many unwanted issues, and the sound was suffering from it.

Fact is that vinyl has limited frequency range compared to digital: it’s true of the low end that cannot be extended to the kind of subs the EDM crowd is used to, but it also has limited range in the high end, which generally equals a darker overall sound… 

With the advent of CDs and digital, there are no such limits anymore, and we can render up to 20Khz and even more (which is pretty pointless actually) and this makes for more clarity in the high end, extended subs, etc. 

Add to that the extreme compression that the recent loudness war has accustomed our ears to, and the fact that people listen to their cell phones, laptops with ear buds, with little low end, and all of that makes for a modern sound that is generally very bright.

Me, being the old dinosaur that I am, I tend to favor a darker, mellower sound, I even suspect that some amount of mud in a mix is necessary for a better sounding overall listening experience, something that doesn’t fatigue your ears and caresses instead of hammers your eardrums.

So in the end, I have asked my mastering engineer to add some mud back and to embrace the dark side. I’m sure Darth Vader would be proud! :D

10 comments

  • Erin At Eleven

    Erin At Eleven Scotland

    Interesting read! Didn't know you use a mastering engineer, hoping to learn more about mastering this year at college so I hopefully don't need to hire one 😂 I agree about the darker sound though, nothing worse when your phone etc cuts out your bottom end!

    Interesting read! Didn't know you use a mastering engineer, hoping to learn more about mastering this year at college so I hopefully don't need to hire one 😂 I agree about the darker sound though, nothing worse when your phone etc cuts out your bottom end!

  • Dawn Marie

    Dawn Marie Las Vegas, Nevada

    That was a very good read! I agree with all you said. A little bit of mud is a good thing as far as I am concerned. I am excited to hear it when it is done. The best to you.

    That was a very good read! I agree with all you said. A little bit of mud is a good thing as far as I am concerned. I am excited to hear it when it is done. The best to you.

  • Jacqui Lademann

    Jacqui Lademann Melbourne, Australia

    I completely agree. Music that is to light, all the time, becomes boring. It's it's the differences in light and shade that make a piece of music stand out.

    I completely agree. Music that is to light, all the time, becomes boring. It's it's the differences in light and shade that make a piece of music stand out.

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Thanks for visiting and your comment Erin! I use a mastering engineer mostly to have a second pair of ears, but as you can see, I still have a pretty fixed idea of what I want to hear! :D It's hard to cater for all possible platform and still sounds good. Listening on many devices, monitor and take care of certain frequencies in the low end above the subs is essential...

    Thanks for visiting and your comment Erin! I use a mastering engineer mostly to have a second pair of ears, but as you can see, I still have a pretty fixed idea of what I want to hear! biggrin It's hard to cater for all possible platform and still sounds good. Listening on many devices, monitor and take care of certain frequencies in the low end above the subs is essential...

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Thanks for the comment Dawn! Yes, I think we need a little bit of that in music, too bright and perfect and we're missing some life. I hope you'll like that album!

    Thanks for the comment Dawn! Yes, I think we need a little bit of that in music, too bright and perfect and we're missing some life. I hope you'll like that album!

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Hey Jacqui! Thanks for the visit and your comment. You're right that music is just like life, there no light without shade.

    Hey Jacqui! Thanks for the visit and your comment. You're right that music is just like life, there no light without shade.

  • Michael Woodknott

    Michael Woodknott New Westminster B.C.

    It ain't a party unless you roll around in the muck and the blood and the beer..!!...my perception of this evolution in music with the enabling of being our own publishers is going to give the air play music scene a new kick start I believe...I found from personal experience..that quality of the recording isn't really in the big picture...considering youtube is getting over 12 years of watching per day..the reaction on more organic sound with insights and communication to the actual artist is giving the listening viewers a much more fuller and to some a more exciting all round kick back by participating and supporting their fav artists...

    It ain't a party unless you roll around in the muck and the blood and the beer..!!...my perception of this evolution in music with the enabling of being our own publishers is going to give the air play music scene a new kick start I believe...I found from personal experience..that quality of the recording isn't really in the big picture...considering youtube is getting over 12 years of watching per day..the reaction on more organic sound with insights and communication to the actual artist is giving the listening viewers a much more fuller and to some a more exciting all round kick back by participating and supporting their fav artists...

  • Whatsisname (@seismictc)

    Whatsisname (@seismictc) UK

    I "master" my own stuff, but I don't deliberately go for a "dark" sound via the mix/master process. I try to achieve a dismal atmosphere through the music itself. I think that having a bright sounding top-end doesn't necessarily make a piece of music sound light or cheerful, and a well-placed reverb or two can muddy things up nicely.

    I "master" my own stuff, but I don't deliberately go for a "dark" sound via the mix/master process. I try to achieve a dismal atmosphere through the music itself. I think that having a bright sounding top-end doesn't necessarily make a piece of music sound light or cheerful, and a well-placed reverb or two can muddy things up nicely.

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Hey Michael, thanks for visiting! It's true that the music business now allows anyone to reach an audience. Doesn't mean that it's an easy thing though! As to the sound, TBH, I'm pretty picky about it, but it's true that video is yet another medium, where the image is actually perhaps more important than the sound...

    Hey Michael, thanks for visiting! It's true that the music business now allows anyone to reach an audience. Doesn't mean that it's an easy thing though! As to the sound, TBH, I'm pretty picky about it, but it's true that video is yet another medium, where the image is actually perhaps more important than the sound...

  • Ghostly Beard

    Ghostly Beard

    Hi Whatsisname and thanks for visiting! Love the dismal atmosphere you do, and of course it's not all about top end (actually the brightness I'm talking about is really harshness that is perhaps more around 2-5k than the air above 12k). But true that reverbs and delays are awesome tools to create a space and an ambiance.

    Hi Whatsisname and thanks for visiting! Love the dismal atmosphere you do, and of course it's not all about top end (actually the brightness I'm talking about is really harshness that is perhaps more around 2-5k than the air above 12k). But true that reverbs and delays are awesome tools to create a space and an ambiance.

Add comment