Bob Dylan’s comment a couple of weeks ago about how “technology sucks” got me thinking about a few things. He’s absolutely right when he say’s “You listen to these modern records, they’re atrocious, they have sound all over them,” he added. “There’s no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like … static.” Dylan said he does his best to fight technology, but it’s a losing battle. “Even these songs probably sounded 10 times better in the studio when we recorded ’em.”
You would think that with all the wonderful tools that we have to work with these days that the CD’s being released today would have an amazing sound. Yet they don’t. Why is that?
The problem the over use of compression. It is designed to increase the “Loudness” of the cd. but you lose dynamic range. It is a well known complaint that the unhip bastards that run the market dont seem to get. You no longer get quiet and loud passages, just medium loud all the time. I’d say it’s more like the musical equivelent of putting the contrast on your monitor past the normal value and so far it up it’s like looking into the sun. You just can’t stand to look/listen to it for that long at all without your eyes/ears imploding.
When you use all that compression then the music doesn’t have a chance to “breathe”, because everything is coming at you at about 130dB, all the time. The real blame for this can be placed on the music executives more than anyone else, because they think louder=stands out more on radio=more sales. Of course, the sound engineers and producers hate doing it, but those clueless music company bosses are supplying the paychecks.
There are exceptions. I just picked up the new U2 CD “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb”. Not only is the CD filled with great tunes, but it is well recorded and mastered and sounds amazing. This is a perfect example of a band that has control over their product and cares more about how things sound then how many records they sell. Maybe Dylan should do the same thing. I’m sure his CD’s would sound better if he made sure that whoever was mastering it did it correctly.
I came across a great article that explains things perfectly. You can find it Over Here