Mastering engineer Ian Shepherd says Metallica’s new Death Magnetic has been compressed just about as much as it’s possible to compress audio.
This is nothing new. In 2007, producer David Bendeth says over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered â€” almost always for the worse. “They make it loud to get [listeners’] attention,” Bendeth says. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. “I think most everything is mastered a little too loud,” Bendeth says. “The industry decided that it’s a volume contest.”
“According to Shepherd, the problem goes beyond compression. He says some parts are actually distorted from digital clipping. “As you can easily see,” he writes, “the CD version on the bottom has been heavily compressed, limited and/or clipped, and sounds massively distorted as a result.” Later analysis showed that the CD is 10 dB louder than the Guitar Hero version, which sounds about twice as loud to the ear, according to one description. That’s some wicked compression”.
“According to this analysis, audiophiles would be better off recording the songs from the videogame than buying the album because the Guitar Hero version has far more dynamic range than the hyper-compressed CD version”.
Ted Jenson who mastered Death Magnetic, whose comments can be supposably found on the ‘Metallica Forum‘Â says he is not to blame. “I get to slam my head against that brick wall every day. In this case, the mixes were already brick-walled before they arrived at my place. Suffice to say I would never be pushed to overdrive things as far as they are here. “Believe me I’m not proud to be associated with this one, and we can only hope that some good will come from this in some form of backlash against volume above all else.”
In this case, the engineers, Greg Fidelman and Andrew Scheps, put their hands in mastering/brick walling the mixes before it was even sent to Ted Jenson.
When will engineers and mastering engineers end this loudness war?Â When it comes to making records, Metallica is known toÂ sweat every last drop of blood.Â Do they deserve an album with a sound comparable to a tv commercial? Absolutely not!Â Please remaster and remix this incredible record and give the band and the fans a record with soul.
Sign the Petition here.