#1
I was not sure if this was to go in the metal forum or here, but I thought here would be better, since the metal forum is meant for specific band discussions.


Q: Why is most heavy metal music so poorly recorded?

A: The short answer is: poor engineering by people who never learned, and others who learned from those who didn't know.

Most so-called recording engineers who specialize in this genre, especially today among the younger generation, are just your average 'guitar player turned recording engineer' types. Many of them have no formal training in audio engineering. Another reason is to be found in the target audience this music is meant for and the listening equipment used. Good recording quality is a priority for listeners of jazz and classical for example, so titles in these genres are engineered accordingly. On the other hand, "sound quality" has traditionally been something metal fans crap on and wipe a certain body part with. In fact, in most heavy metal communities, whether online or in the real world, anyone who criticizes or even talks about sound quality, is ridiculed. This ugly habit is dishonest, since even a little open-minded listening (preferably on good equipment!) will reveal that most heavy metal is very poorly produced and recorded, often with large amounts of high-frequency distortion (not that the average hearing-damaged tone-deaf metal head would notice), excessive treble energy and a muddy mix with lack of seperation, made worse by excessive editing, overdubbing and processing.

There is a concept of audio engieering in which one attempts to accurately and pristinely capture the sound of an instrument. You listen to a piano, guitar, bass, drum or vocal, and try to record it with good microphones in a room with good acoustical properties, in an attempt to reproduce a sound that is as close to the original source as possible. Judging by the way most metal music is recorded, this concept apparently rarely, if ever, enters the minds of the recording engineers who work with this music.

Again, whereas fans of classical and jazz usually do most of their listening on high-end home stereo systems, most metal music is typically played back on cheap low quality equipment such as portable music players, car stereos, computer speakers or ghettoblasters. If fans of metal were in possession of good playback equipment, it would only serve to painfully display the limitations of the source material.
#2
I'm a huge audiophile, so naturally I use high quality stereo components.
I don't use some bull**** all-in-one stereo, either.
Everything is external and it all goes into a nice power amp with nice speakers.
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#3
i have pretty decent playback equipment. that being said i think master of puppets and ride the lightning were both awesomely recorded and mixed. same for most of panteras albums and tool albums as well.
#4
How do you know I don't play all my music on a high end music player?
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#5
I think that you kidna answered your own question. Maybe. Oh my head hurts. Interesting discussion though.
AL
#7
I definitely see where you're coming from, we do sound engineering in my Class, but.......

Yeah, poor mixing = poor grades.

It doesn't help that I'm one of three people in my class that isn't obsessed with Metal or Punk.
#8
I have trouble believing that you've listened to enough heavy metal to even form this opinion.....

Sure, there is some metal that is recorded poorly, just like any other genre, but there is also A LOT of metal that has stellar production quality, especially these days. You just have to consider what the music is supposed to sound like.

A heavy metal recording, if it is to be faithful to the music, should sound like a heavy metal concert - not a freakin' piano recital. If the music is not about subtlety, I don't know how you could expect it from a recording.

You have no idea what you're talking about.
#9
Quote by Keskimaki
One of the reasons is that this sort of music is much more difficult to engineer.

You sir are incorrect.
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#10
Yeah, and what I think is that in extreme music, production serves a little different purpose than in Jazz, as an example you used.
#11
Quote by aetherspear
You sir are incorrect.


Pfft. When dealing with lot distorted audio, mixing is more complicated when compared to for mixing something like a Jazz quartet.

Recording good distorted guitarsound is already a lot more difficult than good clean sound.
Last edited by Keskimaki at Feb 24, 2009,
#12
It's subjective if it's poorly mixed.

Alot of metal music needs to b e raw and give the impression it's lively played, while pop music is as dynamic less and compressed as hell so it sounds stable on most music sets.

Try too listening to some pantera or metallica's ride the lightning or Dream Theaters Train of thought on a "REAL" stereo set, and you might change ur opinion about Metal mixes

They are not intended to listen at low volumes, so the quality isn't as good, the dynamics really live if you have a good stereo set and at a quite loud volume.

At low volumes the punch/dynamics are gone/inaudible which essentially makes metal; metal most of the time.

Also in black metal and some death metal, the focus is to get a very raw mix, cause that's the style to capture the essence better. IT's more about the overall punch then the quality of the instruments themselves.

That being said;
I hear old bootlegs of zeppelin and I like it, while I hear some players with super good quality and I don't like it.

Quote by Keskimaki
Pfft. When dealing with lot distorted audio, mixing is more complicated when compared to for mixing something like a Jazz quartet.

Recording good distorted guitarsound is already a lot more difficult than good clean sound.


I agree, with distortion there are more harmonic overtones, and compression, so it takes up (frequency) more space in the mix.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Feb 24, 2009,
#13
Quote by Keskimaki
Pfft. When dealing with lot distorted audio, mixing is more complicated when compared to for mixing something like a Jazz quartet.

Recording good distorted guitarsound is already a lot more difficult than good clean sound.



Not to mention everybody wants to be louder than everybody else. A metal mix is super dense, no room for anything.
I've heard many an audio engineer make the remark that mixing heavy metal music is an extreme challenge.
#14
Well thats a lot of garbage for sure. Your listening to the wrong metal. Check out some Devin Townsend mixed metal, SYL, his solo stuff, Soilwork etc. Check out Lamb Of God. Later Megadeth perhaps?Later Testament?Children of Bodom?Opeth?Heartwork era Carcass.
There is some awesomely recorded metal out there.I am merely scratching the surface with my selections here.
Andy
#15
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Also in black metal and some death metal, the focus is to get a very raw mix, cause that's the style to capture the essence better. IT's more about the overall punch then the quality of the instruments themselves.
I think that's a result of the bands in the 80s not having the money to use great recording equipment, so that became the sound of the genre that is now desirable rather than the best one can do.
#16
I do hear some poorly recorded stuff, but yeah like someone mentioned earlier opeth and children of bodom's most recent albums are superb in my opinion.

By the way on this subject, does anyone happen to know whether there's an area with tips on recording metal on this forum? or maybe an article somewhere on the internet or books maybe? I suffer from both being inexperienced and not having real production studio quality equipment, and my band is trying to record some metal songs and it's definitely not sounding good =\

This is probably the kind of bad quality recordings you're talking about! lol
#17
I don't think OP has ever tried to record and mix heavy metal, or even worse, death metal...

it's hard
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#19

I think that's a result of the bands in the 80s not having the money to use great recording equipment, so that became the sound of the genre that is now desirable rather than the best one can do.

Then you get guys like Varg Vikerness who've stated they just did not give a **** and ran the guitar through a stereo for an amp.
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#20
Quote by bangoodcharlote
I think that's a result of the bands in the 80s not having the money to use great recording equipment, so that became the sound of the genre that is now desirable rather than the best one can do.


One should also aknowledge how relatively new thing recording music is, let alone was in 80's. Technology was changing all the time, and especially digital recording brought major new things on the table.
#21
Ok, I wanted to be subtle but

TS = one of the biggest idiots i've seen on UG

fact.
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#22
I think that most modern metal is at least decently well-recorded. A lot of black metal still has poor quality for the "kvlt factor," but that's hardly "most heavy metal music."
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#23
Quote by Rocker_geek
Ok, I wanted to be subtle but

TS = one of the biggest idiots i've seen on UG

fact.

Why, because he doesn't have a deep knowledge of metal?

Go to The Pit, click any thread and you'll have a whole heap of retards.
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#24
Quote by J.A.M
Why, because he doesn't have a deep knowledge of metal?

Go to The Pit, click any thread and you'll have a whole heap of retards.


As you can see, I've called him one of the biggest, not the one.

I know, the pit is full of retards, but he's almost as bad .Some people in the pit just try to be funny, but this is guy using psuedo-intellectual arguments just to bash a genre he dislikes. He doesn't even know what the **** he's talking about.

But why do i care?
to you anyway
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Last edited by Rocker_geek at Feb 24, 2009,
#25
^Where has he said that he dislikes Heavy Metal music? He just opened the floor to discuss why it's poorly recorded and tried to present a suitable answer. At least he used some degree of intelligence to explain clearly.
If you play guitar, please don't waste your time in The Pit, and please instead educate yourself in the Musician Talk forum, where you can be missing out on valuable info.
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#26
Quote by bangoodcharlote
I think that's a result of the bands in the 80s not having the money to use great recording equipment, so that became the sound of the genre that is now desirable rather than the best one can do.


This is part of it.

The other part, I believe, is this... Obviously, some metal is better recorded than other metal. I think you'll find that the more mainstream-ish a metal artist is (Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera), the better the production will be. A lot of the subgenres of metal (doom, black, etc.) are really niche markets, and therefore have very limited budgets. Metallica will get Bob Rock. Razor will not. Simple economics.

The most talented recording engineers/producers are simply too expensive for fringe artists. So, if you are a fringe artist, the best you can hope for is to get a really talented producer who hasn't created a name for him/herself yet, so doesn't have the high price tag yet. Otherwise, you're stuck with someone who isn't capable of producing a great sounding album.

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#27
I find it easier to record clean stuff. Metal can be very tough to get a good mix. As for the TS, he did the "brain surgery" thread that was just as stupid.
#28
Do they offer on-line courses in brain surgery now too? I gotta go!

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#29
another factor that needs to be taken into account is that a lot of times metal SHOULDN'T be so perfectly produced. There are a lot of bands out there whose sound is very raw. it has a raw feeling and as such the raw production fits it and adds to the atmosphere. I mean, I don't like bad sound quality, but in a lot of metal I don't like it to be overproduced either. As an example, one of the things I don't like about a few mainstream metal bands (like you hear on the radio) is that they're too overproduced, their sound isn't raw enough, and as such it sounds like pop rock to me.

but even taking that into account, something can have good production and still sound raw, for instance, Master Of Puppets. that album's production, to me, is awesome. everything is mixed very well, but it still has a raw, violent, grab you by the balls sound all at the same time.....

idk, I'm starting to ramble, but I think you get the idea.