Friday, February 24, 2012

I want my MP3...

Trying to produce or reduce your music so it sounds good on weedy iPod headphones is a challenge every musician faces these days. You see kids walking round blasting music from their cellphone's crappy speaker and think "man, my music will end up sounding like that?" It's kinda grim, especially if you love bass... I love reggae and dub, but MP3s do nothing  for those styles - the format displays a distinct lack of bass. And everyone loves a big bottom end, right?

Here's a look at what's involved mastering for iTunes... hat tip to Flying Nun via Twitter.

Ars Technica: "Mastered for iTunes: how audio engineers tweak music for the iPod age".

excerpt... "ITunes Plus tracks available from the iTunes Store use the same 16-bit 44.1kHz quality as CDs, so the same master files created for CD production are typically used to generate the compressed files uploaded to iTunes. However, the compression process can eliminate or distort certain sounds that, while most listeners may not notice consciously, can degrade the listening experience.

"Mastering for iTunes was a different challenge," VanDette told Ars. "You can't get around it—when you throw away 80 percent of the data, the sound changes. It was my quest to make the AAC files sound as close to the CD as possible; I did not want them to be any more loud, hyped, or boomy sounding than the CD."

...Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service agreed it's a bad idea to try and create masters for specific listening environments. "Most modern hits these days are sounding pretty fatiguing and less than ideal on any system to my ears," Ward told Ars. "Though that probably says much more about what is considered to sound good than the skills of the relevant engineers."

"I just try to make things sound as good as feasible for as wide a range of possible playback environments as possible," Ward said. "The only real tragedy would be to make decisions which would penalize listeners with good playback systems by making decisions to allegedly enhance enjoyment on inferior playback systems."

Read the full article here.

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