(there are reference hyperlinks throughout this article.  I highly suggest you follow them because they are reference and very relevant)

I’m sure many of you will be surprised to learn that I listened to Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” for this first time yesterday. Honestly I never really WANTED to listen to it for two reasons.  First, Metallica hasn’t really written good songs in a while, and second, if FANS (not engineers) are complaining about the quality of the record….that’s proof enough for me.  I don’t need to listen to it.

But yesterday I thought I’d give it a try….

Ho….

Ly…..

S**t……

It was worse that I ever could have imagined.  Worse as in, “who in their right mind would EVER put out a record that sounds this bad”.  It’s compounded by the fact that they have the money to make a great sounding record AND they should know what a good sounding record sounds like after all this time!

Well, maybe not necessarily the last comment.  I mean Metallica records  have never really sounded GOOD per se. (St. Anger anyone?)

So, what’s so bad about it you might ask?  The real question should be, “what ISN’T bad about it?”

Basically take every word you can think of that describes a bad audio recording and Death Magnetic fits that description.
It is all of the below and probably a bunch more words that I can’t think of right now….

Unlistenable
Nasty
Distorted
Brittle
Harsh
Crunchy
Painful
Unappealing
Clipped
Destroyed
Ruined
Compressed
OVER-Compressed
Flat
Lifeless

It’s just plain hard to listen to. I honestly didn’t pay any attention to the quality of the songs themselves because I was so distracted by the crappy sound.  I can describe the quality of the record to you all day, but you really have to experience how bad it is and make “that face” while you are listening before you can fully comprehend its horrendousness.  WHY WOULD YOU PUT OUT A RECORD THAT SOUNDS LIKE THIS?!??!?!?!

The best part about the whole situation is Lars Ulrich going on record saying that they LIKE the sound of it, it was meant to be that way and fans are wining to much!  I think someone is in denial.  He even dismissed a petition with 13,000 signatures (that has now reached 22,000) asking to remix/remaster the record!

The ONE saving grace of this record is that it really opened a lot of fans’ eyes to the loudness war. MP3 compression is one thing.  I can understand people not being able to tell the difference.  But you can’t dismiss flat out distortion.  People hear that and realize it’s NOT pleasant and they don’t want to listen to it because it’s fatiguing.  Fans heard the UNmastered version in the game Guitar Hero and realized how much BETTER it sounded!

This whole thing made me think. Remember that feeling you get when you first put in a cd and you start to crank that volume knob way up so that you can rock out? Or when you’re watching a movie and the character reaches over with a swift and determined motion to crank it up?

That simply doesn’t happen anymore.  In fact, most of the time I end up turning my stereo DOWN to listen to music because it’s already loud!!!  That’s psychologically bass ackwards!

Well, I for one still like to crank up the volume knob.  Who’s with me?

For further reading, please visit:

http://www.justiceforaudio.org/
http://turnmeup.org/
http://www.dynamicrange.de/
http://www.aes.org/
http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/

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