Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Songs, Great performance, Average Sound, 11 Aug 2011
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This review is from: Somewhere in California (Audio CD)
As a fan of 80s rock, I can't get enough of this stuff and it's nice to see bands doing what they did/do best rather than trying to get heavier and dark. If we want heavier and darker (which usually means less melodic, forgettable songs, etc. - Europe - you know who you are;o) we'll listen to the modern bands.

Anyway, full marks for the return to form.

The thing that lets it down is the sound. It's 'ok' but it could be amazing. One of the problems, and it's likely to be the main culprit is that it's been absolutely smashed at the mastering stage (that's the technical term for very, very heavily application of a 'peak limiter' to get maximum volume). IMO, there's absolutely no need for this, it could still have been made loud enough without going this far. The effect of very heavily limiting can be increased distortion (lack of clarity), serious reduction in dynamics (no punch to drums etc), loud sounds modulating quiet ones and the list goes on...

This album suffers from most of them to some extent. It's also possible that certain choices at the time of mix aren't helping. In the 80s it was common that the drums and vocals were the loudest. The guitars were 'carved' around them. This allowed for plenty of reverb to be added to both drums and vocals to increase their perceived size. On modern albums (and to some extent this one), the guitars are the loudest (aside from quiet bits which always sound better for obvious reason). The title track is an exemplar of this, there could be far more impact when the drums come in for example. The result is that the drums sounds small and lifeless and so do the vocals, where you want sounds to have 'bite' they are 'rounded off'. I guess some people like this...I don't ;o)

The last Bon Jovi album was also mastered hot (approx -9db rms, still about 2 db quieter than this album!) but the mix was such that they got away with it. A heavier band with lots of guitars who have got it right is Judas Priest. The last couple of albums have struck just the right balance.

When you've got song with lots going on, running at full tilt, you need breathing room in the tracks and this just isn't here for the up-tempo rockers on this album especially 'Growin' up in california'. Shame.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Mar 2012 18:43:27 GMT
Tim091 says:
Are we dealing with the "ipod" mix do you think? I have noticed what you describe too many times in recent years and wonder if records are produced and mastered predominantly for headphones these days (and tinny little mp3 headphones at that).

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Apr 2012 15:27:17 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 Apr 2012 15:33:25 BDT
Hysteria says:
Possibly, but it's probably more trying to keep up with everyone else's levels so the record company and radio planners don't think there's something wrong with it ;o) I think these louder, fuller mixes can sound better on cheap playback systems and under difficult playback conditions (e.g. listening on noisy streets, etc.) but as always there are degrees of loudness and compression and many go far too far! The other thing is that some mixers are better than others at it and the more the mixer listen to everyone wanting their part louder, the more you're headed to a painful mix, especially once the mastering engineer roasts it and it's riddled with inter-sample clipping whose deleterious effects are playback-equipment dependent.
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