Battle of the Bands - UK

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TheOrangeJuicer
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Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:55 pm

Here are the 10 UK college bands that were selected to participate in a battle of the bands contest that I mentioned in an earlier thread. Viewers can pick their favorites and then the top 3 bands with the most votes go on to a judged gig to see who wins top honors. Looking at the wave files (if those are really accurate) it appears that none of the contestants know crap about recording! They are all way overdriven to clipping and compressed as hell at the same time like so many of the pop recordings these days. That makes them sound louder on an iPod, a boom box, or a cheap car stereo but like crap on a real hi-fi rig. The irony of the situation is that the contest is sponsored by a hi-fi company and one of the prizes is a new hi-fi system. Maybe the kids will learn something about audio along the way.

http://www.studentbeans.com/battleofthebands.html
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Borderline Productions » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:04 pm

The mixes were heavily compressed, but I didn't have any clipping when I listened. I wasn't sure how to vote. I liked the second band probably because they were tightest of the bunch. The sixth band could have been better executed but I found the song more memorable than the rest. For the third choice it is a toss up between the seventh and eighth bands. Both had a good sound. Tricycle was more interesting, but Hippy on the Hill had more emotion. Some of the other bands I wouldn't cross the stree to hear.
Bob

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:39 pm

It's not the clipping from the playback that makes it crap. The compression prevented that. The problem is that they recorded everything with all the levels maxed and then compressed the pile of poop out of it to keep it from clipping in an absolute sense. What was clipped in the process were the tops and bottoms of over half of the wave forms, losing all dynamics and rendering it lifeless. You can see that almost all the songs tracks look the same from a levels perspective, they are all almost like straight bars. Accurate audio recordings should capture real dynamics and compression should be used sparingly overall. Sometimes a single track, like a guitar or a vocal track might get more compression or echo than another, but not the whole freakin' take...

Here's what recording levels generally look like on a DAW when clipping as indicated in the red zone:

Image

You can see in the other areas where the levels were lower, all of the peaks and valleys of the original recording stay within the window. Clipping occurs in the recording process when these peaks are literally clipped off. Then the whole track is compressed so that it stays within the window, but is maxed-out to fill the window so it is as loud as is possible. That's unfortunately the state of recording today...
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:44 pm

OK, I did listen to the tracks as best as I could stand to. Most of it was utter crap, trite "boy band", wannabe pop. Pardon me while I sling the vomit from my DM onto their shirts... :lol:

The three that I found somewhat listenable and certainly with the most promise of the lot were:

Kinnie The Explorer
The Fury
King Louis Collective
-Bill

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baytamusic
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by baytamusic » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:58 pm

Compression should be left to a mastering engineer except for maybe on the snare, bass drum, and bass guitar.

This compression thing for loudness on the radio has been going on since the 90s. Not anything new...

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by baytamusic » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:05 pm

Also, all of this music sucks and I hate how every single recording sounds. :)

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Borderline Productions » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:12 pm

Bill,

I noticed the same thing when I looked at the soundcloud tracings. A constant loud volume causes ear fatigue and makes the music unlistenable for another reason (the first being that most of these songs were derivative trip).

There are some would argue that compression is over used by mastering engineers. In laying down basic tracks compression is needed for vocals, acoustic guitar (especially finger picked), and bass.

I was getting an iMovie together for my kids and decided to add part of a Cat Steven's song. I copied the track to program where I could edit it. Much to my surprise the volume rarely more than 6 dB form the center line. The envelope was anything but even. I think you will find most of the stuff from that era has some dynamic range.
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Wendigo » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:41 pm

All of that is liquid pidgeon excrement except the Fury who are ok at best (they sound like they desperately want to be Priestess). IMNSHO. :lol:

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:09 pm

Borderline Productions wrote:Bill,

I noticed the same thing when I looked at the soundcloud tracings. A constant loud volume causes ear fatigue and makes the music unlistenable for another reason (the first being that most of these songs were derivative trip).

There are some would argue that compression is over used by mastering engineers. In laying down basic tracks compression is needed for vocals, acoustic guitar (especially finger picked), and bass.

I was getting an iMovie together for my kids and decided to add part of a Cat Steven's song. I copied the track to program where I could edit it. Much to my surprise the volume rarely more than 6 dB form the center line. The envelope was anything but even. I think you will find most of the stuff from that era has some dynamic range.
I agree. I am arguing (well stating as no one disagrees :lol: ) that compression is overdone and the "loudness wars" have been an ongoing nuisance. My music roots are from the Cat Stevens era as that was when I was discovering lots of great music as a kid. You can imagine how someone who grew up listening to great recordings on Lp must feel when subjected to the mp3 crap that is coming out today.
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:12 pm

Wendigo wrote:All of that is liquid pidgeon excrement except the Fury who are ok at best (they sound like they desperately want to be Priestess). IMNSHO. :lol:
yeah, they are trying real hard to have a cool, 70's hard rock sound. Sort of like "The Darkness" did. They aren't half bad really, just sound a bit forced and self defined almost as if they were a tribute band.
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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Borderline Productions » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:17 pm

I look at the overall sound envelopes when I record stuff. I have one song that is loud throughout, but that was the intention and the song is only 2 minutes long.

It seems like the only dynamic differences is going from one fully saturated level to another. A quiet section will be everything up to the limit, but the limit is set lower. At least in some of these recording you could hear individual instruments, which is a plus. Several of the songs had decent bass parts and bass players, which is also a plus.

The challenge was to pick three, so I picked three.
Bob

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Action-Hank » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:39 pm

Hi guys - sorry to butt-in on your thread


My band and I recently recorded a 3 track e.p. with a friend (and musician) at a small studio that he runs. The tracings of our tunes on soundcloud are pretty maxed out nearly all the time, but I don't recall this being the case when we recorded the tracks. So I can only conclude that we too suffer from the over-compression you mentioned. That said, ours is supposed to be quite a big 'blown up' sound.

This probably won't be your cup of tea, but if you have time to take a listen I'd be interested in your opinions. I guess I should also add that they were recorded in quite a hurry, but there is always scope for remixing / mastering.

Incidentally we recently won our local city's 2010 battle of the bands.

http://soundcloud.com/thirtyone/01-knif ... s-come-out" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Try not to let track names give you the wrong idea - they're generally working titles coined in jest which end up sticking.

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by TheOrangeJuicer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:26 pm

Action-Hank wrote:Hi guys - sorry to butt-in on your thread


My band and I recently recorded a 3 track e.p. with a friend (and musician) at a small studio that he runs. The tracings of our tunes on soundcloud are pretty maxed out nearly all the time, but I don't recall this being the case when we recorded the tracks. So I can only conclude that we too suffer from the over-compression you mentioned. That said, ours is supposed to be quite a big 'blown up' sound.

This probably won't be your cup of tea, but if you have time to take a listen I'd be interested in your opinions. I guess I should also add that they were recorded in quite a hurry, but there is always scope for remixing / mastering.

Incidentally we recently won our local city's 2010 battle of the bands.

http://soundcloud.com/thirtyone/01-knif ... s-come-out" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Try not to let track names give you the wrong idea - they're generally working titles coined in jest which end up sticking.
Cool tunes! Sorry about the sound quality. Check out some of "Tool"'s records if you want to hear a well recorded and mastered heavy rock effort. Probably not near the same quality via YouTube but here's a track that sounds great off of the original CD when played on a nice hi-fi system:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hglVqACd1C8
-Bill

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Wendigo » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:42 pm

TheOrangeJuicer wrote:
I agree. I am arguing (well stating as no one disagrees :lol: ) that compression is overdone and the "loudness wars" have been an ongoing nuisance. My music roots are from the Cat Stevens era as that was when I was discovering lots of great music as a kid. You can imagine how someone who grew up listening to great recordings on Lp must feel when subjected to the mp3 crap that is coming out today.
Agree. Songs rarely have that range you mentioned anymore. I have great turntable at home and nothing can beat listening to great honest recordings on vinyl. Cat Stevens' acoustic guitar, the Beatles' mono recordings for the most part, basically anthing that isn't over compressed allows you to listen to the track over and over and always find something new. It improves with each listening to the point where most listeners would then reject the type of mix common nowadays.

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Re: Battle of the Bands - UK

Post by Action-Hank » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:20 pm

Cool tunes! Sorry about the sound quality. Check out some of "Tool"'s records if you want to hear a well recorded and mastered heavy rock effort. Probably not near the same quality via YouTube but here's a track that sounds great off of the original CD when played on a nice hi-fi system:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hglVqACd1C8[/quote]



Thanks Bill

I'm a big fan of Tool - I've got a couple of Tool Vinyls which sound absolutely stonking through my old NAD.

Trying to get the recordings you envisage withing the budget and timescale you have can be a real ball-ache. Saying that, I do think we benefit from a more live, slightly lo-fi approach. Those tunes are all live takes bar solos and vocal overdubs.


Do you think we would benefit by taking another look at the mastering? It does sound better on a cd, through a hi-fi, than streamed from soundcloud to be honest.

Again, sorry for the hijack - I'm in 'learning mode' at the moment, and there have been some really interesting threads cropping up! :)

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