Good Listening: King Britt, Carl Craig’s Planet E Label, and Some Mastering Talk

Carl Craig. Photo (CC-BY-ND) James Kendall. “It must be a Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.” -Arthur Dent, in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy If you’re having any issue getting through your Thursday, it’s tough to beat some proper, good techno – the kind of techno anyone can love, even if they keep shouting about how they “hate” it. Techno pioneer Carl Craig is still going strong, the kind of artist whose work seems to flow freely. He’s got the roots, having begun with Derrick May in Detroit, but he’s remained a font of …


From the Trenches of the Loudness Wars, A Broad Survey of Research

This goes to ele—augh, no, aside from over-compressing, we need to stop overusing that joke. Photo (CC-BY) Orin Zebest. You’ve heard the gripes, and heard and seen the somewhat unscientific demos. Now it’s time to examine the over-compression of music with – science! Earl Vickers of STMicroelectronics examines the Loudness Wars in an academic paper, as noted to us by reader photohounds. The Loudness War: Background, Speculation and Recommendations [PDF Link,] The paper comes from last November, but it’s as relevant as ever. It’s not just the usual take, either. Its history begins with Phil Spector and vinyl, considering …


Vinyl Poised to Make Further Gains; Time To Ask, “What Does it All Mean”?

Kids today, with their new-fangled desire to listen to music cut into grooves on big circular platters… Photo (CC-BY) Matthias Rhomberg. At first, it seemed like it might be just a blip: amidst generally declining sales of physical music, down sharply from their 1990s boom, vinyl sales were trending up. The reversal started with a slight uptick in 2007 – already noticeable as the CD had begun its collapse. That slight uptick has turned into a small boom. From a tiny 300,000 units in US sales in 1993, the vinyl record is projected to do some 3.6 million units in …


Learn Mastering Technique in Free Videos: Limiting, M/S, Dubstep Bass

Mastering to me is a bit like applying stain to wood: done correctly, it brings out the definition of what’s there rather than covering it up. But making mastering effective is a really special art. Danny Wyatt, a veteran mastering engineer now working as an instructor with Dubspot, has some serious credentials both on the mixing and mastering side and as an educator. He’s worked with a range of artists over the years (Wax Poetic featuring Norah Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Thievery Corp., the Roots, Ultra Records, and Mos Def, to name a few). But he also doesn’t mystify his knowledge: …


The $79 Virtual Analog Console, Now on Both Mac and Linux: Harrison Mixbus

Harrison is a company with a rich legacy in high-end consoles. Mixbus, their software product, is something of an anomaly. Its analog tape saturation, EQ, filter, compression, and mixing should be sold a la carte for a few hundred bucks each, given the usual business model in this industry. The product should run on some proprietary DAW, and should definitely come with a hardware dongle. And it absolutely, positively shouldn’t run on Linux, because everyone knows you can’t sell a product for Linux. Instead, Mixbus sells for an intro price for US$79.99. You get the whole package: an entire DAW, …


Universal Audio UAD-2 SOLO Will Add DSP Power to Your Laptop for $499

I’ve been waiting for the near-ubiquitous ExpressCard slot on laptops to see some audio goodness, so one of the more welcome announcements of NAMM is that there’s now finally an ExpressCard-enabled version of the Universal Audio platform. The UAD is a DSP platform for computers, with an emphasis on high-quality, boutique mastering and effects plug-ins, including some recent, familiar emulations of classic Roland and Moog gear. UA’s stuff really does sound great, and host support has been improving (look for the key words “latency compensation” in your host of choice). So it’s about time that laptop users get in on …


Giving Musical Thanks: Help Kick Off CDM Notes, Win T-Racks 3

Any holiday that’s an excuse to give thanks (not to mention, eat) is a worthy one, whether you’re an American or not. Photo ()CC) riptheskull/Dave. Thanksgiving is an American holiday on this international site, but the basic ideal for which the day has come to stand – giving thanks – is a noble one. So we want to do three things here for CDM: 1. Ask you what for you’re thankful, musically speaking. It might be a synth, or a collaborator, or an album, or a song, or the metronome you’ve used since you started playing, or having more discipline …


MOTU Digital Performer 6 Released, With Tasty Sound Tools

DP6 is here (or will be here soon, say commenters), with a badly-needed UI update and a number of new features. The results still look like DP – in the way that should appeal to current users, that is – but enhancements demonstrate that the ongoing DAW battles carry on. DP6 New Features In the usability category: Updated UI with vertical track resizing (about time, jeez!) and better zooming and resizing Window tabs, which are a pretty cool way of switching between windows and tabbing views a la Firefox, Safari, et al (I’m surprised we haven’t seen more tabs in …


“Loudness War”: Music Over-Compression, Demonstrated on YouTube

Talk to everyone from armchair music production critics to dyed-in-the-wool pro engineers, and you’re likely to hear about how today’s records are over-compressed. (We think this is what Bob Dylan meant when he said records “have sound all over them.” But we made fun of him anyway.) To audio lay people, though, it may be tough to describe exactly what this means. One music fan has taken the battle to YouTube, with a graphical and aural demonstration of exactly what the technique (technically “brick wall limiting”) does to the sound. Rather than approach this the traditional way, he takes a …


Bob Dylan Art: Opening Up a Big Jar o’ Stature-Free CDs!

Bob Dylan’s insight into CDs continues to inspire new art. (If you’ve just joined us: Dylan rips CDs — really rips them, and a reader suggests cautionary emblems for CDs.) Now, thesimplicity has illustrated his answer, and I’m beyond words. Tasty: Big ‘ol CD jam. Thanks, thesimplicity! Yes, we’ll work out how to put some sort of t-shirt version together of these. Meanwhile, what’s that? Dylan shilling for Apple, so he can sell his new CD, the mastering of which he’s trashing in Rolling Stone, in a lossy, compressed digital format encoded with DRM? Actually, it is a good song. …