SXSW 2007 Panel: Why Does Today's Music Sound Like Shit? Page 4
Ludwig: In the case with Tchad, I had him send me alternate mixes that didn't have all the loudness-maximizing on them. But it's a huge problem when engineers feel they've gotta pre-master their own work - and actually destroy the musicality of it sometimes - because of A&R people who are just so shortsighted.
Just to explain: If you have a totally analog console, and you're mixing with analog compressors, and you go to record that onto a digital machine, the VU meter will read about +2. Today's recordings are routinely at +6, often at +8, and many times at +10 - with the occasional +12. We are so close to pure tone.
And as Andy Wallace says, to compensate for this, the soft spots just keep getting louder and louder and louder. That's when you approach total boring. And when you hear a whole record that's smashed up like this, you don't feel like listening to it again for a while because your ear is so tired. It's so tired of that sound. Thank God the Beatles didn't have that sound.
I can tell you one thing: There's no more "louder" than it is now. We have reached the point where there's nothing left. So that's one encouraging thing.
And the other good news is that there still are musicians out there, people who know what sounds good to them. I've done several of the Tool records [read review], and Danny [Carey] the drummer is an audiophile guy himself - in fact, he's got smaller versions of my EgglestonWorks speakers in his house. When Tool came into my studio, they said, "Look, we don't care if we're the loudest band out there. All we care about is that the dynamics of the band be preserved." And you've gotta really take your hat off to them for that.