25 Sep

New Metallica Album is Too Loud. Many Say Unlistenable

A while back I posted “Why Vinyl Records Sound Better” which had some reasons why vinyl was better from an audio standpoint than newer CD’s. I saw a new article that has the perfect example using Metallica’s new album Death Magnetic.

The Wall Street Journal carried this post saying that even heavy metal fans are complaining that music is too loud. Following are some quotes from the article:

“…even though Metallica’s ninth studio release, “Death Magnetic,” is No. 1 on the album chart, with 827,000 copies sold in two weeks, some fans are bitterly disappointed: not by the songs or the performance, but the volume. It’s so loud, they say, you can’t hear the details of the music.”

“…audiophiles, recording professionals and some ordinary fans say the extra sonic wallop comes at a steep price. To make recorded music seem louder, engineers must reduce the “dynamic range,” minimizing the difference between the soft and loud parts and creating a tidal wave of aural blandness.”

“When there’s no quiet, there can be no loud…Louder recordings, with higher average sound levels, leave less room for such variation than quieter ones.”

This next one is amazing;

“…the critics have inadvertently recruited a key witness: Ted Jensen, the album’s “mastering engineer,” the person responsible for the sonic tweaks that translate music made in a studio into a product for mass duplication and playback by consumers. Responding to a Metallica fan’s email about loudness, Mr. Jensen sent a sympathetic reply that concluded: “Believe me, I’m not proud to be associated with this one.”” [Wow. Even the engineer who worked on the album isn’t happy.]

“Sound engineers say artists who insist on loudness paradoxically give people less to hear, because they end up wiping away nuances and details. Everything from a gently strummed guitar to a pounding snare drum is equally loud, leading to what some call “ear fatigue.” If the listener turns down the volume knob, the music loses even more of its punch.”

“But many musicians, producers and record-company executives “think that having a louder record is going to translate into greater sales,” says Chris Athens, Mr. Jensen’s business partner and a fellow engineer. “Nobody really wants to have a record that’s not as loud as everybody else’s…” [These are most likely the same people who think that people actually love to pay for crappy music.]

Thousands of fans have already started petitions to have the band remix and re-release this album to make it sound better. That to me is just crazy, when your own fans say your album sucks because of the sound quality, you might want to make them happy.

Below is a graphical representation of the wav files for …And Justice for All, and Death Magnetic. There is no dynamic range to Death Magnetic, which makes everything the same volume. That isn’t music.

There are play buttons on these, but they don’t work as this is an image, but please, go to the Wall Street Journal link above and click on the graphic and listen to the sound files. The new Death Magnetic is unlistenable.

Metallica's ...And Justice for All, and Death Magnetic Volume Comparison

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