Main Forums >> Production - Mixing, Mastering, Gear & Techniques

Mike Senior
SOS Mix Specialist


Reged: 08/08/03
Posts: 1381
Loc: Cambridge, UK
Re: Lady Antebellum: 'We Owned The Night'
      17/02/12 10:46 AM
I auditioned this track from their 'Own The Night' album, which gives the following credits:

Produced by Paul Worley with Lady Antebellum
Recorded by Carl Schleicher
Additional Engineering by Erik Hellerman, Brett 'Scoop' Blanden, Curt Jenkins, and Peter Bowman.
Mixed by Peter Coleman
Mastered by Richard Dodd

The mastering credit isn't entirely clear in the sleeve notes, though, and might possibly be Andrew Mendelson (who appears to have been the primary mastering engineer for the record as a whole). Whoever it was, though, the track presents another mastering conundrum: why is this track peaking at -1.3dBFS? I can't imagine why any mastering engineer in this kind of chart-oriented style would deliberately leave that much digital headroom -- OK, maybe 0.5dB if you were really worried about intersample clipping of consumer playback devices, but 1.3dB? And it's not a global headroom setting either, because the other big single 'Just A Kiss' peaks at a much more typical -0.1dBFS.

The only plausible reason I can arrive at for this is that Richard Dodd did indeed do the mastering on this track in isolation, but that Andrew Mendelson then adjusted its gain to fit more comfortably alongside the other tracks on the album. While in principle there's no problem with this, wouldn't it have made more sense to source a master without the final limiting from Richard Dodd so that Andrew Mendelson could make the fullest use of the available digital headroom? High-profile mastering engineers often seem to be up in arms about people squashing mix dynamics in pursuit of overall loudness, so it seems pretty indefensible to reduce a master's dynamic range further than the available digital headroom demands. Of course, none of us know the politics behind the whole situation, and maybe that holds a missing clue to the explanation.

And that's not the only mastering issue that raised my eyebrow. If you check out the phrase "push too far" during the first chorus of 'Just A Kiss', there's a strong subsonic pulse on the plosive of the word "push". At around 15Hz or so, I don't really think anyone is going to hear this information, and again I'd kind of have expected any mastering engineer to be on the alert for this kind of thing -- there seems to be no sense in wasting headroom for the sake of inaudible subsonics.

Perhaps a lack of high-pass filtering on this track was at the instigation of Worley. After all, to quote him from that article I linked to in the main critique: "To this day, every mastering engineer that I know, if left to his own devices, will automatically chop off everything below 20-40, sometimes even 50 cycles. They say you can’t hear those frequencies and that they just affect the limiters, and they want to make things as loud as possible. And I go: ‘That’s wrong!’ If you truncate at 40 cycles, all the multiples of that, 80, 160, 320 Hz, are also impacted by removing the fundamental of a chain of frequencies. So you’re going to affect the kick, and the snare, and the vocal, all the centre information will have its guts ripped out. I don’t care how loud things are — people have volume knobs after all. I just want my low end!”

I have to say that I sympathise entirely with Worley here, and have had similar concerns with some mastering jobs I've heard on my mixes in the past, but in this specific case I can't see how a 12dB/octave high-pass filter at 20Hz would have been the end of the world -- it certainly doesn't seem to 'rip any guts out' to my ears. But even if it did, surely we've come far enough with digital technology that a high-pass filter could have been automated just to take care of that corner (and a couple of less pronounced ones later on) and leave everything else alone?

All that said, I don't actually think it should have been the mastering engineer catching that low-frequency pulse, because my guess is that it's probably coming through one or more of the vocal mics, on account of the plosive. If my surmise is correct, then it's even more questionable to my mind that the mix engineer spared a 20Hz high-pass filter at that stage, when it would have sorted out the technical issue with no side-effects at all on the low end of any other parts in the arrangement.

For more critiques of commercial productions, browse The Mix Review Index.

--------------------
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio
A complete mixing method based around the techniques of the world's most famous producers.

Post Extras Print Post   Remind Me!     Notify Moderator
Rate this thread

Jump to

Entire thread
Subject Posted by Posted on
* Lady Antebellum: 'We Owned The Night' Mike Senior 17/02/12 10:40 AM
. * Re: Lady Antebellum: 'We Owned The Night' Mike Senior   17/02/12 10:46 AM

Extra Information
0 registered and 17 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  David Etheridge, James Perrett, zenguitar, Martin Walker, Hugh Robjohns, Zukan, Frank Eleveld, Will Betts 



Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is enabled
      UBBCode is enabled

Rating:
Thread views: 15281

May 2014
On sale now at main newsagents and bookstores (or buy direct from the
SOS Web Shop)
SOS current Print Magazine: click here for FULL Contents list
Click image for May 2014
DAW Tips from SOS

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Digital Editions | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media