Well, maybe not exactly the way you think… but let me explain!
This week-end I’ve received the masters of my new album from my mastering engineer. He’s great and has a really good ear, for example he has found little issues in my mixes that I had totally overlooked, like some overbearing hiss on the drum part of one song, or a click in the middle of a word on the vocal track of another. I’ve listened to these a thousand times and was rendered blind to these details…
But one thing is that his masters tend to be quite bright, and me, well, I’m more on the dark side…
I suppose it’s a sign of the times, but it makes me think that when people moan that CDs and digital sounds bad, and mourn the good old days of vinyl and the warmth of analog gear, perhaps all they are really longing for is a darker sound.
To be honest, the good old days were riddled with noise and distortion and many unwanted issues, and the sound was suffering from it.
Fact is that vinyl has limited frequency range compared to digital: it’s true of the low end that cannot be extended to the kind of subs the EDM crowd is used to, but it also has limited range in the high end, which generally equals a darker overall sound…
With the advent of CDs and digital, there are no such limits anymore, and we can render up to 20Khz and even more (which is pretty pointless actually) and this makes for more clarity in the high end, extended subs, etc.
Add to that the extreme compression that the recent loudness war has accustomed our ears to, and the fact that people listen to their cell phones, laptops with ear buds, with little low end, and all of that makes for a modern sound that is generally very bright.
Me, being the old dinosaur that I am, I tend to favor a darker, mellower sound, I even suspect that some amount of mud in a mix is necessary for a better sounding overall listening experience, something that doesn’t fatigue your ears and caresses instead of hammers your eardrums.
So in the end, I have asked my mastering engineer to add some mud back and to embrace the dark side. I’m sure Darth Vader would be proud! :D