Why all the modern record sound the same?

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Desperately wanting at all costs to promote their songs on the radio, the recording studio, using powerful software artificially embellish them, polish, make louder - thus, little by little, "squeezing out" of them all individuality.

Once on the YouTube channel of the group Maroon 5 video was taken (it is little known and is now deleted, but you can see the here and here ), in which the band members talked about the expensive and tedious process of creating another forgettable radio hits. < br />
The video length of 14 minutes, the elegant guys with disheveled hair sitting on a leather couch and playing the guitar well-known brands for $ 15,000 connected to audiokonsolyam for $ 200,000. They sit buried in the notes, and all the while talking about how much they do not like the song «Makes Me Wonder», and how much it lacks the chorus. See how they play the same riff over and over again is incredibly tedious. At some point, Adam Levine (Adam Levine) говорит: "I'm tired" project "songs to make them hits, instead of [just] to write them." But that's exactly what he did.



Note: This paper вышла published in March 2008 in the journal Word Magazine. It was a long time ago, before the fall of the popularity of radio, YouTube to its current level of popularity, most of the streaming music services, and other services that enable people to discover the music, to the revival of vinyl and until melomanskih digital players like Pono by Neil Young . I>

The final version of the song «Makes Me Wonder» was published in three versions: the album version, censorship (remote from the chorus word «fuck») and sverhtsenzurnoy (the word «fuck» was erased more thoroughly, and the word «God» was removed from the second verse). It was a brilliant hit, took first place in the charts Panama, Croatia, Cyprus, South Korea, Hungary and other, larger countries. Why did it happen? Because it constantly and tirelessly played on the radio.

When you turn on the radio, you might think that all modern music sounds the same. Think for a second, you eventually decide that just older. But you're right - it sounds the same. All stages of the recording process: the recording of the first words to make the last edits were developed with a single purpose - to get full control. In most cases, the controls are in the hands of the recording company, was eager to promote the song on the radio, so the bosses incite [to unify] environment-controlled recording (slow, technologically and using flexible digital effects).

Before presenting the finished song to the public, it is subjected to serious audio editing. After the song hit the radio airplay, the number of edits in the song increases as long as it is not anything original. And to create popular radio hits - want it recording studios.

Specified that «Makes Me Wonder» was popular on radio stations of the United States, preferring to play "the latest music for adults", which are described in the radio industry as "stations playing popular rock and commercial rock music written in the last 15-20 years. The music on these stations more alive than music for mediocre stations for adults, but still interesting for ordinary listeners, as opposed to those who are interested to listen to only hot news ».

Playlists such stations is the computer, most often with the help of purchased Google Scott SS32 - software package for automation of radio stations, which assembles the airwaves of 400-500 songs adds advertising screen and informs the DJ, when they start talking. Playlist is compiled based on the results of serious research. Twice or three times a year a company like Music Research Consultants Inc in Los Angeles, comes in different cities, buys the assembly hall at a hotel and dials from 50 to 100 people required age (all of these people may be housewives under the age of 26 40). Each of the test and receives a $ 65 remote voting - a small black box with a single switch and a red LED display. Then they listen to cuts from the 700 songs, lasting seven seconds each. If the switch is in the up position, the song is played, if in the bottom - no.

If the station requires a more recent information (remember that this radio created in order to "please the ordinary students, not those who are interested in the latest releases"), they can conduct a "test sample" in which people need to be right at the age of poll street, offering them listen to cutting of 30 songs on your phone.

The task of Maroon 5 is quite clear. Today's politicians need to come up with short slogans for radio, Maroon 5 goal - to provide semisekundnye snippets of songs that would encourage young men with high income crank out little red switch at least 180 degrees clockwise. No wonder that they look pretty tense.



Fortunately, there is a huge amount, just the whole army of producers, engineers, programmers and statisticians who are ready to help our heroes to create a harmless, but perfect-sounding pop hits for research. "It's like a digital photo", - says producer John Lecky (John Leckie), on whose account a number of works, including Radiohead - The Bends, the first Stone Roses album and the song The Verve - A Storm In Heaven. "Twenty years ago, if I showed you a picture of where I'm standing next to the Pope, would you believe, and decided that I had met with him personally. Today, you tell me that it is "Photoshop" - continues John.



John began his career as a cameraman recording in Abbey Road, where he and Phil Spector (Phil Spector) took part in the recording of George Harrison's solo album All Things Must Pass. Phil wanted to achieve surround sound, so he filled the studio musicians. The album was played "live" in a room with three drummers, two bass players, two pianists, two organists, six guitarists and horn, simultaneously record 6 channels of audio recording device 8. The last two channels have been reserved for the vocals.

For many people, the century was a "golden." The joint group of musicians recording in an acoustically-convenient location - it's awful difficult task. It is necessary to take into account the acoustic parameters of the room and figure out where to place microphones for recording instruments. Sound producers of Abbey Road wear white robes, and before proceeding to the responsibilities of several years go to the students, learning all aspects of the work. Listening to the recording, made in the old, for example, the album Buena Vista Social Club, you can recognize the sound environment in the room studio. It so happened, because the musicians played in it.

In the early 70-ies of the recording industry began to change: 4 track turned into 8, then 16, then 24 and 48. The engineers looked for ways to gain more control over the sound. Began to appear soundproof room, microphones have become very close to the tools that were recorded one by one. To clean record on film you can add sounds artificial environment using reverberating chamber. This gave rise audiokreativnosti and experiments was not the end. Such records as Tubular Bells or albums Queen, it was impossible to get into the 60's. Engineers in white coats experimenters replaced producers such as Trevor Horn (Trevor Horn).

The music began to sound differently: strange, but exciting. If you listen to the sounding acoustic guitar, piano or singing person, you will notice the strange and unexpected things. Aggressive metallic clicks of a mediator on the strings, the resonance of the piano strings - modern studios are all "catch».

Compare acoustic recording of Neil Young Harvest (1972) with a record of Johnny Cash American IV (2002):





Work Rick Rubin (Rick Rubin) with Johnny Cash on his album is very emotional, and it sounds touches the soul. However, these records do not sound as if John himself sitting in your room and sing their songs, they sound as if you are sitting Johnny kneeling with one ear in his mouth and stethoscope from his guitar.

When people talk about the lack of "warmth" and "natural" sound, often accused of digital technology. All this is nonsense, because "good record" does not become worse, if it recorded on CD or iPod. Do not become worse, even old-fashioned record (for example, the work of Arif Mardin with Norah Jones) recorded on two-inch tape, copied to a computer for editing, passed through a mixer and then recorded on the computer for mastering. Today, rare to hear that the newly recorded audio will not be subjected to analog-to-digital conversion - except to the album White Stripes, released on vinyl.

Until recently (2002, oddly enough), most recordings were made on technology 70s: with the help of huge multichannel mixing consoles in the 24- or 48-channel film. In addition to that required to hire a special room in which it was necessary to place a ton of equipment, hire a producer, recording engineer and the operator. Digital recording on the computer became available in the mid-90s, but most producers were skeptical about such a prospect.

By 2000, the Pro Tools - Studio software is the standard in the industry, was a mature, stable and well-sounding. With a laptop and a small set of equipment worth about $ 25,000, you could write the most albums recorded at the studios of major labels. In business, there was a transition from the console - table, fully covered with switches, and speakers the size of a closet, a computer monitor. You do not have to look at the group, or listen to it, you have to stare at 128 oscillating colored lines.

"There is no large-scale equipment, - says John Leckie - no bulky machines with flashing lights and large switches. I became a recording engineer, because the studio is more reminiscent of a spaceship. And now - no. It was like an accountant. Lost dynamics and creative, as the sitting room, only one man and looking at the monitor ».

"Before, you had a switch," Bass ", you turn it, and said," Yeah, well, you better "and continued to work. Now you need to select the frequency, decay rate, determine the number of decibels - all that matters. Always there is a desire to intervene ».

What distinguishes the use of Pro Tools to work with the film, it's ridiculously easy editing. Most groups use the metronome during recording, so the rhythm is constant. If the guitarist played his party 50 times, then simply choose the best and loop it for the whole verse.

"Musicians are lazy by nature, - says John. - If there is an easier way to record the song, they will take advantage of it - just not to play. " The group can play for a while, and then spend hours or days, choosing the best moments, collecting a song together. The music follows on the heels of dance music, exposing the party repeated the order. When the song structure is painted in the form of colored blocks on the screen, it is difficult not to be tempted to fill in the blanks, and add a bit just will spam the sound.

For this reason, you can no longer hear the mistakes of musicians on the record. Today, Al Cooper could not be randomly played Hammond organ «Like A Rolling Stone», because conscientious producer imperceptibly led to all the chords to normal. And then there are tuning. Before the advent of tuners for electric guitars in 1980, the group set up the tools "by ear", using the piano. Hearing the person is not perfect, so the tools to get a bit "upset».

Today the process of recording their performances and installation to the point where the producer and the group decide that here it is, the final product - is just the beginning. Record companies want to make sure that they can get the perfect semisekundnuyu cutting test on the radio, so audio processing continues.




Jack Joseph Puig (JJ Puig) in Studio A at Ocean Way Recording edit Black Eyed Peas, in the room where Michael Jackson recorded the «Beat It» i>

When the band and producer completed their multi-channel recording, usually a hard disk file Pro Tools for audio channels 128, into the hands of the engineer mixing. Working in Los Angeles, Joseph Puig mixed the record for the Black Eyed Peas, U2, Snow Patrol, Green Day and Mary J. Blige. His work is so serious that he often paid fees rather than a fixed salary. He works in the studio And Ocean Way Studios, located on the Sunset Strip. The hardware looks like a bad consecrated library, but instead of books there is a huge huddles equipment, took the floor to ceiling, and other vintage audio devices. In this room, Frank Sinatra recorded «It Was A Very Good Year», and Michael Jackson - his hit «Beat It».

Now, the studio owned by Jay Jay Puig. Record company paid him to completely redid the track, but without the producer and actors, breathing in the neck. He once said in an interview magazine Sound On Sound: «When I mixed the album A Bigger Bang Rolling Stones, I thought that one of the songs fit tambourine and shaker, and so they added. If Glyn Johns (who produced Sticky Fingers) did it then, a few years ago, he would have been shot. Mick Jagger was shocked by what I did. Before me, nobody has done anything like this with the records of Rolling Stones, he could not deny that came out perfectly, and this record was released ».

When it comes to multi-channel recording assistant JJ ​​brings it in order, placing the track in order and vykrashivaya vocal tracks in pink. Then JJ sets, polishes and cuts every sound that appears on the record. Many companies create plug-ins for Pro Tools, to change the interface of the program so that it looked like the old equipment, something like Studio One. If he wants to spend vocals by Fergie 1973 Roland Space Echo and amplifiers 968 Marshall - it takes to make just a couple of clicks.

Some of these plug-ins have a bad reputation. Auto Tune, developed by former seismologist Andy Hildebrand, was created in 1997 as a plug-in for Pro Tools. It automatically adjusts the "fake" vocals, bringing a voice to the closest note in this vein. L1 Ultramaximizer, released in 1994 by the Israeli company Waves, started the last stage of the war the volume. This is a very simple plug-in that constantly increases the volume of music (this issue we will return in the near future).

When JJ debugged, cut, edited and polished sound recording, it is transferred to the mix mastering engineer who prepares to release a record. What is going on with this mix - this is the essence of art, science and commerce. Available tools are limited and simple - it is an equalizer and changing the volume. But the difference between sound recordings, on which conducted a serious and recording, which did not, immediately noticeable. Entries after mastering sound like a real record. I mean, they all sound about the same.

For one week, 30% of the songs from the American Top 40 are subjected to mastering in Sterling Sound in New York, who has seven studios, working around the clock. There are not so many mastering engineers. The Strokes Is This It was recorded on an old Apple Mac in the basement studio of Rafael Gordon (Gordon Raphael), but mastering this song did Kalb Greg (Greg Calbi), who worked on the Born To Run and Graceland.

Mastering business is infinitely complex. Mastering engineer Bob Katz (Bob Katz) wrote a book in which 400 pages describe basic techniques. The book ends with a poem on the art of mastering:

«I see: a world that recognizes the skill and training
music that can not cause contempt ... » blockquote> The main tool mastering engineer - this compression (compression of audio does not apply to data compression that converts CD to MP3). This is a simple but at the same time complicated technique. The loudest portions of the recording are muted, however, raising the volume level, you do not notice distortion. Why is advertising on TV louder themselves gears? Because they are highly compressed audio. Why commercial radio so loud? Because the audio is strongly compressed.

Groups, producers and recording studios have always wanted to do loud recordings for radio and jukeboxes. At Motown studio realized that the sound of a tambourine able to break through almost any noise. If recording someone knocks on the drum, all the pub is heard when the jukebox starts playing this song.









Not really.





All of them?




Source: geektimes.ru/company/audiomania/blog/250822/

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