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Customer Review

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What has happened here!?, 13 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Hydra [Double CD + Media Book (100 page booklet)] (Audio CD)
I give this album three stars as I love the vocals, and the songs are good in general, but the recording/production quality is very poor.

If you play it at medium volume on an average system the album flows on in the background and the tunes are quite catchy, maybe you won't notice any problem. But play it through decent headphones however and it is a fuzzy mess, with hi-hats filling the crunching sound about half a beat out of sync behind the main beat, which sounds really annoying.

Collectively it is such a poor job. Is it over compressed? I have CD's from 25 years ago that were recorded/mixed better than this. I tried some to compare afterwards as I actually thought my system was on its way out, but the old albums are sharp and clear, whereas Hydra is just a mess of sound that is annoying to the ears/brain for some reason; I just cannot play it through, and I skip a lot of tracks half way. So frustrating. There are even some volume changes between the tracks - they don't seem normalised or volume matched properly.

Sharon den Adel's vocal poke through here and there to at least recover some merit, especially on the absolutely beautiful track 'Edge of the World'. But there are too many guest vocals as well. Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage) is passable, but Tarja (ex Nightwish) and Xzibit - Really?

I will be seeing the band on tour shortly in the UK as I am such a big fan and supporter of them, since mother Earth (2000), but as a minimum they need someone else to record/mix/produce their next album. Good songs, lyrics, concepts, and lead vocals ruined by the way it has been thrown together.

Incidentally, I bought the double CD and booklet. It mirrors the album really, as there are some absolutely great photos of the band, but they are reproduced badly. All fuzzy black and white with poor definition. The extra four songs are worth a listen, but the four 'evolution' tracks you will only play once; they are just snippets of how tracks evolved. Strangely enough, the recoding quality/sharpness on these is better in places, which tells me someone got hold of these tracks and turned them into a muddy mess of sound afterwards!

It is so frustrating as there is a great album here waiting to burst out here, but it turns me off when I play it - It is not a good sound. With better mixing and a few changes here and there it would have been a five star album I am sure, but in this form it just does not hang together very well at all, and the sound quality makes it difficult to listen to. So sorry to say this.

Edit: I listened again tonight after listening to a few other albums first. It gets no better. Songs and vocals five stars - recording quality zero stars. I am actually going to post this back to BMG and ask them to send me a copy when they have re-recorded it properly! As N.A. Davies commented on my post, the album itself is great, but it sounds like it is being played off an old cassette - I couldn't put it better myself! How can this happen in this day and age? So disappointing.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Feb 2014 07:32:33 GMT
N. A. Davies says:
Aaah yes, the latest edition of the Loudness Wars - google the term if unfamiliair. I totally agree, but rated the album on the song strength. Sadly, most new releases have the life compressed out of them. Many have commented its so it sounds good on radio and I pods, but I listen to my music on Ipod through headphones and connected to hifi, and even on the lesser resolution of IPod the older albums sound much better! To prove this to a disbelieving other half I played a track from hydra, followed by a song from Kate Bush Kick Inside album (1978), then 30 seconds to Mars trackfollowed by a song from 10ccs debut album (1973). The 70s albums sound clearer more vibrant, less condensed, more alive and exciting! You go figure, I cant!

Posted on 15 Feb 2014 14:00:50 GMT
scarecrow says:
A dynamic range of between 7 - 8 is considered acceptable for rock and pop music.
I measured the tracks In The Middle Of The Night from The Unforgiving and Let Us Burn from Hydra and they both had dynamic ranges of 4 - 5.
I have seen an interview with a sound engineer and he says the fault lies with the artists and producers who insist the engineer mixes it that way.
Although I haven't owned a turntable for years it would be interesting to know if the vinyl recording is the same.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2014 09:39:44 GMT
N. A. Davies says:
'who insist the engineer mixes it that way.'
I can hear the conversation now -'please MrEngineer, make this album sound as rubbish as you can please'

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Feb 2014 01:01:55 GMT
JP Welch says:
The vinyl definitely sounds better. I have the box set, and the CD sounds way more compressed. I still think it's a poorly produced/mastered album, but the vinyl is a much better listen.

Posted on 22 Feb 2014 22:53:28 GMT
I have the mp3 download, quality is perfect. Maybe it's the c.d. version. I have your very issue with every single Avantasia release after the Scarecrow (which itself was perfect) on c.d. which I liken to sounding like it had been recorded on cassette from a weak F.M. signal. Maybe it is expected that we should be downloading MP3. Very annoying and frustrating when you are paying extra for these special editions. WT to me have always had amazing, production, mixing and mastering. There is no issue at all with the MP3 version. Hydra is an exceptional album and easily a contender for album of the year.

Posted on 23 Feb 2014 04:05:58 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 23 Feb 2014 06:58:28 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Feb 2014 15:57:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2014 15:22:30 GMT
Bobcat says:
Interesting and thanks for the heads-up! I am entitled to download the mp3's due to the Amazon 'autorip' feature, so I will give them a go. Maybe it is just the CD. I will report back!

Edit: No - unfortunately the amazon autorip mp3's are exactly the same. It is to be expected really as it is the way the album has been mastered.
They should admit it, get rid of the person responsible (they should never be let near another album), re-release the album mixed properly.
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