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Metallica Guitar Hero Release Has Higher Quality Than CDs 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the facepalm dept.
Last week Metallica released a new album, Death Magnetic, on traditional CDs as well as downloadable content for Guitar Hero III. Fans quickly noticed that the sound quality on the CD version was noticeably below-par, thanks to the recording studio's decision to sacrifice range for loudness. However, the tracks released for Guitar Hero III made no such sacrifice, as proved by Mastering Engineer Ian Shepherd. NME found an audio clip comparing the two tracks. This comes alongside statements from Activision claiming that Aerosmith's recent venture into Guitar Hero is generating more success for the band than their actual albums.
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Metallica Guitar Hero Release Has Higher Quality Than CDs

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  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by religious freak (1005821) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:02PM (#25080981)
    I wouldn't exactly call any Metallica song made after 1995 "quality"
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:10PM (#25081055) Homepage Journal

      "...studio's decision to sacrifice range for loudness."

      That's retarded. Loudness is no good if it sounds like it's coming out of a tinny radio, which is what too much compression and limiting [harmony-central.com] can do. They apparently did such a poor job of it that the Cd signal was clipped! They certainly forgot what good "metal" is supposed to sound like.

      Knowing Metallica, they probably cranked out a half-ass 10-minute session in the studio and had their "mastering" engineeer Pro-Tool the hell out of it, cut-and-paste style. Then they laughed, high-fived each other over beers, coke, and their solid gold Ferraris as they continue to be out of touch with reality.

      And yes, in case you all were wondering, their new album most certainly does SUCK. Listening to Metallica is like having banged the prom queen in high school only to see her become a queen of the 300-pound welfare sort :(

      • Knowing Metallica, they probably cranked out a half-ass 10-minute session in the studi

        high-fived each other over beers

        solid gold Ferraris

        Have you been watching Napster Bad [campchaos.com] again too?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nimey (114278)

        Listening to Metallica is like having banged the prom queen in high school only to see her become a queen of the 300-pound welfare sort :(

        What's wrong with that? You did bang she who was supposedly the hottest girl at the time. You can't help what happens years later.

        • by Mateito (746185)
          Nimey: What's wrong with that? You did bang she who was supposedly the hottest girl at the time. You can't help what happens years later.

          It has the same effect that "The Phantom Menance" had on my Childhood.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Maybe he "married her" and still has the relevant tattoos to prove it ;).

          Maybe he's even had to pay alimony via the RIAA.
        • by ecavalli (1216014)
          Yes, but in retrospect it becomes depressing as fuck as a result of her new-found corpulence being a palpable reminder of human mortality, and more specifically of the changes one's body goes through with age.

          In short, the fatties mirror our own inescapable flaws back at ourselves. Quite a downer.
      • Well Said. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Grog6 (85859)

        These asshats only get my pity...

        1. Fire your main talent. (Dave Mustane)

        2. Use the cheapest transport company, drive insane hours, and kill a popular bassist off.

        3. Alienate your fans by being corporate suits instead of the hard-core guys you image portrays.

        4. Put out a series of albums that confirm how much you've lost it, and can't write music anymore. These albums were only bought by fanboys, afaik.

        Somewhere, there should be a 'Profit' step; I'm not seeing it from here...

      • From what I recall they did anywhere between 10 and 18 takes in the studio. And sure they pro-tool'd the hell out of it (as most professionals do these days).

        Also, the album doesn't suck. It's got some very good tracks on it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lisandro (799651)

        And yes, in case you all were wondering, their new album most certainly does SUCK. Listening to Metallica is like having banged the prom queen in high school only to see her become a queen of the 300-pound welfare sort :(

        Actually, i downloaded some of the clips that were floating arround the net prior to the release and i thought it wasn't half bad - excellent for the standarts the band set for itself lately, in fact. I DID notice the awful mixing though, and i read the CD sounded much better. Well, it didn

    • Their latest album is quite good. Also, before Death Magnetic was released I wouldn't call any album after 1991 "quality"...you don't really think Load was all that good, do you?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by bledri (1283728)

        I wouldn't call any album after 1991 "quality"...you don't really think Load was all that good, do you?

        I was really disappointed in Load, but it was aptly named...

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

        by sleigher (961421) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:52PM (#25081359)
        I agree. The day the black album came is the day I wept (figuratively), as the band I grew up with turned their back on me and so many other. Today is a new day for those who were abandoned. The album is good although it is only good because Load(of shit) and the other later albums actually happened. Compared to the real Metallica it is still low on the chart. It does have some balls though.
        • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

          by KGIII (973947) * on Friday September 19, 2008 @10:30PM (#25081615) Journal

          I listened, on their website, to Unforgiven 3 and it was awful. I closed the tab in my browser. I cleansed my soul with Thieves from Ministry so life is good again.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sleigher (961421)
            Funny, I thought the way to do that was to CLEANSE THE SOUL! [youtube.com]
          • Yeah, one glance at that title and I knew I wouldn't like it.

            On the other hand, I found myself driving around like a murderous asshole with "All Nightmare Long" ruining my eardrums earlier today.

            It's no Puppets, but they're 25 years older. It's also no Load/Reload/St. Anger, though those albums can still be heard in places (though, thankfully, without the terrible tin-can drums of St. Anger)

            Considering the crap they have produced for the last 2 friggin' decades, I'm rather impressed. But I can't see them

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KGIII (973947) *

              If you get a chance I'd give some old Ministry a try. 'The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste' is one of the few albums I can listen too all the way through. Thieves, if nothing else, should be on everyone's "Drive Like A Maniac" playlist. It takes a couple of listens before one either loves or hates it.

              I play guitar and one of the things that always amazes people is when I pick up an acoustic and start playing things like Metalica. They are surely still full of talent but I have to wonder if they're burnt o

              • My dad still listens to music all the time, and is always open to new music, as long as it has something he's interested in (he's interested in skilled musicians, but he can't ignore a growling singer to listen to great guitarists).

                My tastes have changed over the years (as far as new music goes), but I've still been able to find plenty of music to listen to from bands that weren't around when I was in high school (12-16 years ago), as well as some good music from bands I enjoyed in high school (the last 2 M

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nomadic (141991)
          I agree. The day the black album came is the day I wept (figuratively), as the band I grew up with turned their back on me and so many other.

          I like the black album; most of the criticisms I've heard about it deal with the fact that it doesn't sound like their earlier stuff. You'll live.
          • by sleigher (961421)
            Well I will reply like another poster further down. If you are going to change your format from metal to modern rock, then please don't use the name METALlica. I agree the black album was not that bad but they made a big change. From MoP and Justice to Black album and Load. come on.......
            • The black album still had some metal on it, you just had to skip every song they played on the radio to find it, and none of it was as epic as almost anything on MoP. The strong metal songs on the black album are also pretty forgettable stuck in between a bunch of songs that got slammed into our heads for 4 years on the radio and MTV (remember when they played music?).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by unfunk (804468)
        Actually, yes. Load and Reload are a pair of excellent albums.. just because they're not balls-out thrash metal doesn't automatically disqualify them from any quality races.

        As I've said many times (just not here..), if any other band had released those two albums, they would have been hailed as musical geniuses.

        St. Anger, on the other hand... no thanks, I burned my CD of that (literally) and purged the hard drive the MP3s were stored on.

        ...and for what it's worth, I think Death Magnetic is a pretty
      • Load was dated 1996, so the GP did not think it was quality.
    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Yeah, if your band is going to switch from Metal to bland "Modern Rock" then please stop calling yourself Metallica.

    • by morari (1080535)

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Old News (Score:3, Informative)

    by cryptoluddite (658517) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:13PM (#25081091)

    Dance Dance Revolution on PS2 has better sound quality also, using 24 bit samples instead of 16 bit. And that was back in 2000 (or whenever).

    • Dance Dance Revolution on PS2 has better sound quality also, using 24 bit samples instead of 16 bit.

      Citation needed. I've analyzed the streaming music in We Love Katamari and one of the DDR games, and they use the so-called "VAG" codec, a variant of ADPCM that expands on the "BRR" codec used for Super NES samples. This averages roughly 4.5 bits per sample.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:16PM (#25081117) Homepage Journal
    This comic [xkcd.com] is no longer true. :(
    • by TheSHAD0W (258774)

      No, it's true, but you have to stick to their older work.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Reminds me of that bash.org quote;

      Poster 1>Metallica sold out in like 5 minutes

      Poster 2>Yeh I know

      Poster 2>Oh you mean a concert)-:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:17PM (#25081123)

    i can control my own volume thank-you. and because of records like this, i'm forced to hit the volume every time these songs come up on a playlist. i realize there are volume normalizing pluout there, but i don't like the effect on the overall song.

    you'll know what i mean if you jump from a cd made in the 80's to one made in the last 10 years.

    hopefully this gets enough coverage to signal the end of this incredibly annoying trend.

    • you'll know what i mean if you jump from a cd made in the 80's to one made in the last 10 years

      There is an option on iPods to automatically regulate the volume when the tracks come up, called Sound Check. Not sure what you mean by "cd". Explain yourself, old man.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Explain yourself, old man.

        I think he made his point pretty well when he said: "i realize there are volume normalizing pluout there, but i don't like the effect on the overall song."

        There is an option on iPods

        Ah, now I see why you need this stuff explained to you.

    • by sleigher (961421) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:59PM (#25081391)
      I was in a band and engineered many of our records. One of the things we do is compare our recordings to those of other bands on spectrum analyzers and such tools to see how levels and frequency ranges compare. WAY too often we put in other bands records and they are off the top and are clipping all over the place. The problem is that the industry sets a sort of standard for loudness and you kinda have to follow or your record sounds quiet. When it comes to metal you really have to be loud because of the whole in your face obnoxious aspect of the music. It sucks because those who are sensitive and can hear this hate it.
      • by Mprx (82435) on Friday September 19, 2008 @10:26PM (#25081593)
        Yet people recorded metal in the 80s with high dynamic range and it sounded perfectly "heavy". The loudness war has ruined most modern music for me, and even older music is being destroyed in remastered versions. Untrained listeners might prefer the compressed sound at first, but it's tiring to listen to for more than a few minutes. This is especially true as you get older. If you're concerned with standards, there's a new standard in planning at http://www.turnmeup.org/ [turnmeup.org] . In the case of less mainstream music your fans will likely be more knowledgeable, and understand it sounds better if they turn it up themselves. Higher dynamic range could make you more popular and help you stand out from your overcompressed competitors.
        • by sleigher (961421)
          It's funny too because my buddy and I were having this very discussion about the new album when it came out. He was comparing to MoP, and how this was better, I told him he is nuts. Master of Puppets has its share of problems but is light years better than this production. I will say I am a little surprised because Rick Rubin usually does a halfway decent job with metal.....
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by AttillaTheNun (618721)
            Unfortunately Rick Rubin is a producer, not a mastering engineer. He has little say in what happens to his work downstream of the mixing process.
            • by sleigher (961421)
              That is generally true but producers sometimes have a lot of influence over the sound without turning knobs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

          I've seen people explain that the real reason why SACD and DVD-Audio sounded better than CD is not much about the higher sample rate and bit depth, but because they don't use dynamic range compression on the SACD or DVD-Audio.

          I think there have been recording standards all along, the problem is that no one abides by them. I think one standard is to record standard dialogue at -12dB of max.

        • All it takes is a bit of marketing (for good, not evil for a change) to come up with some brand name and logo to distinguish albums that have been mastered with care from the rest of the compressed junk out there.

          Sort of like the SUPERBIT DVD releases, which focus on the quality of the main title as opposed to all sorts of extras.

          If you stick a notice on the album/download explaining why the volume seems lower compared to others, the fans will appreciate it more.

      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        Doesn't even make sense since pretty much anything you can connect to a speaker has a volume control. You can record something really quiet and just turn up the speakers...

        • by travbrad (622986)

          Well too quiet can be a problem too (can cause more hiss/noise), but that's only when it's VERY quiet. Too loud is much worse by far though, it greatly reduces the overall quality and it's downright annoying. It's not just modern pop music that does this though, I've noticed TV commercials seem to do the same thing. On the occasion that I actually watch TV, I hit the mute button as soon as the commercials come on (it's easier than hitting "volume down" about 5 times).

          They just want to "outloud" each othe

          • You can eliminate hiss and noise with good equipment unless you actually feel the need to record everything at obnoxiously low levels. After that it's up to the end user to have decent equipment that doesn't have hiss/noise on it in the first place, which isn't so hard these days, unless you're listening to the radio.

            There is still plenty of music out there that doesn't do this, and I've had very little exposure to it in my music collection (which is roughly 50% or more metal, so the whole metal = loud argu

      • by willy_me (212994)

        The solution - screw what others are doing and just engineer the best sounding album you can. Most people will rip the CD into iTunes (or something similar) anyway. iTunes can then analyse the track and adjust the volume setting so that it is at the same "loudness" setting as the crap CDs that are being engineered. I believe there is a tag in the mp3/aac file that is set to determine this setting. The end result is that your track will sound better and be just as "loud" as the competition.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Trouble is lots of young people (and old musicians) are _deaf_ or half deaf nowadays.

        Deaf as in can't hear well.

        So maybe that's one reason why they are making the music louder. Otherwise they can't hear the music.

        I'm sure you've heard at least one anecdote about some musician not being able to hear himself even though the monitor has been set to max.

        It's a shame ear protection isn't as popular. The young musicians I know don't seem keen on it.

        Pro bikers wear helmets, but musicians don't seem to think ear pr
        • by sleigher (961421)
          Well I will say to anyone who will listen. WEAR HEARING PROTECTION. I wore it all the time except during live shows and I definitely have diminished hearing. Not bad but I can tell it is not as good as it used to be. Live it is so hard to hear everything that even good earplugs tend to get in the way.
    • I have often said that since the 1980's the Music industry has actually been a garbage recycling industry.

  • by Graywolf (61854) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:21PM (#25081157)

    FYI, the "loudness war" topic has been discussed on Slashdot lots of times, most recently here: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/23/1219205 [slashdot.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cow Jones (615566)

      This is such a sad topic. On the one hand, I think that there's nothing wrong at all with raising the average volume of an album when you're remastering. The early CD releases were often lacking in volume, because the mastering engineers were doing the exact opposite of what they're forced do these days. Back then, a single very loud snare hit would automatically lower the maximum volume of the whole album, because the engineers didn't want to introduce artificial compression. That's the reason why old CDs

      • by Mprx (82435) on Friday September 19, 2008 @10:33PM (#25081645)
        Old recordings sound great if you listen on good equipment and turn up the volume. Dynamic compression destroys information, and while it's necessary for listening in noisy environments it should be a feature of the playback equipment, not forced on everybody.
        • by Cow Jones (615566)

          I agree. In an ideal world, you own the volume knob, and you decide what's loud enough. But there are many situations when you can't / don't want to adjust the volume for every single track. Party playlists, jogging, and radio are a few examples. Or even when I listen to a my MP3 collection in random order. This wasn't an issue with vinyl, because 1) there was a natural compression/limit when you transferred the sound to the plastic medium, and 2) vinyl was a lot more forgiving about sounds that were "too l

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Tacvek (948259)

            My question is why do we only have one volume knob on most devices?
            We always should have had a volume knob, and a compression knob. The common folk would quickly learn that the volume knob does what you think it does, but the compression knob brings the softest sounds closer in volume to the loudest, when you dial it up. It is not too hard for the average person to figure out.

      • by Cow Jones (615566) on Friday September 19, 2008 @11:01PM (#25081859)

        Ah, here I am, replying to myself. I'm sorry, but just in case there's somebody out there who isn't conviced yet, here are a few prime examples:

        one of the most cited examples [youtube.com]
        The Smiths - How Soon Is Now [youtube.com]

        The Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has a great article about it, too, as usual.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        I'm no pro but I record stuff live regularly at my church (it's interesting that the recordings we do via a PC's "onboard sound card" don't really have that much noise).

        I'm not really against compression - if it's techno music, you can use compression on some parts as an effect. Same goes for making a speech easier to listen to.

        It's a shame though - the tech is there to have really good recordings (>=120dB range), but nowadays we're not even getting 96dB "CD quality".

        The thing is, seems a fair number of
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:52PM (#25081351) Homepage

    Are they still trying to market "high-definition compact discs"? We could be seeing this as deliberate downgrading in order to push more expensive and less rippable versions. I wonder what the iTunes version sounds like?

    (And no, don't tell me to buy it and see. :-P )

  • Likely the two releases are for two different types of stereo: CD for the car (crappy speakers anyway) Download for the iPod -Frank
    • I don't know many cars that have bad speakers.. And if these guys are assuming that everyone who owns guitar hero is likely to have better speakers than what came with the TV, they have those versions backwards. I know many more people with high quality speakers in their cars and cable TV quality speakers in their house..

      I'm willing to bet it probably has more to do with the thought of having more room on the downloaded content then on the CD.

      ~22MB for typical loss less from the CD vs 60MB+ if desired for d

      • by tepples (727027)

        I don't know many cars that have bad speakers

        Any speaker will sound less-than-audiophile-quality over engine noise.

  • Concerts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jethro (14165) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:21AM (#25082289) Homepage

    This is exactly why I stopped going to concerts.

    They're all terribly loud, so much so that the music just turns into white noise. What the heck is the point of that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by EotB (964562)
      That is very much dependent on the particular band. A local NZ band, Blindspott, was always incredibly good live, very similar sound to their CDs (which are also very nicely mastered). Most recently I went to an Iron Maiden concert in Brisbane and it was fantastic. Their playing was spot on and sounded perfect. That said I've also been to a bunch that sounded terrible...
      • by Jethro (14165)

        I've kinda learned which venues to avoid. Speaking of NZ bands, I went to see Liam Finn play at a really small local place and they had the sound cranked up like it was a stadium. It sucked horribly. I had to leave before the migraine set in. That was extra sad since he was the opening act for a very quiet acoustic act I really wanted to see, too.

        • by EotB (964562)
          Yeah, I've talked to a few people who have seen Liam Finn play and a couple quite liked it, but there were also quite a few people who said he was trying to do too much by himself and was a little manic. Maybe it's part of that too?
          • by Jethro (14165)

            Oh he's a bit insane, and I think he's still trying to find his voice. I don't have a problem with that, it's just that it as a REALLY tiny venue - you'd have ZERO problem hearing his crazy drumming in there with NO amplification, but they had it cranked up all the way to hell.

    • by jasenj1 (575309)

      Earplugs are standard equipment for any concert I go to.

      Even my church runs their "contemporary" service - i.e. a band - at over 90 dB, and our high school runs their services at some insane level.

      I've never understood the need for such volume.

      - Jasen.

      • by Jethro (14165)

        I go to concerts for the music, so I think using earplugs at them is kinda, well. For me, it's a bit pointless.

        If I was ever at a church, believe me, I'd be using some heavy duty earplugs.

  • by NereusRen (811533) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @01:34AM (#25082711)

    I was chatting with a Harmonix rep at their booth at PAX. He mentioned that the Paramore song is really compressed/limited on the CD (in the sense of lack of dynamic range). No surprise there. I asked him whether that affected their game at all, and he said that since they got access to the master tracks and mixed it themselves, not really. I'd expect the same is true of almost any Rock Band or Guitar Hero track.

    That was great to hear, because the loudness war [youtube.com] sucks. There have been a number of albums that I would have liked listening to, but can't stand because of the loudness war. They sound the same all the way through, and the drummer sounds like he's playing in the other room while everyone else is standing too close to the mics. A drum hit, during the brief moment it happens, should be much louder than the rest of the band! Instruments shouldn't get quieter when other instruments start playing! Blech.

    Interestingly, I was listening to the Rock Band 2 setlist to get to know the songs I'd never heard (downloaded mp3s), and one song in particular stood out as being very well mixed with great dynamic range. I don't really like the music of Modest Mouse, but it was definitely a pleasure to listen to Float On just for that. They earned a bit of respect from me that day :).

  • ...why do they get the tracks that don't SUCK?
  • i know this doesn't seem like it is possible, but i've been wondering why more modern artists don't mix for volume and clarity. out of all the albums i have, i think rush in rio, rush: different stages, motorhead: everything louder than everyone else, and slayer: diabolus in musica sound really good AND are really loud. slayer's album was the loudest one i'd ever purchased, but it still sounds great. the distortion on a few songs sounds like it is not from too much gain to max out volume, but planned to cr
    • by KlomDark (6370)

      Yah, but Rush sounds good no matter what, so what's your point? ;)

      They sound best at Red Rocks during a lightning storm in my opinion.

  • When fans can just set the volume knob to 11 on the amp?
  • Maybe record labels should put out two versions of the song. Loud version and good version. See which gets bought.
  • Just got this reply from Loud Oldbitch, drummer from Matellica...
    "I would like to apologies to all the fans who are complaining about our new album. First I take full blame for the final product. After hour of analysis and going over what went wrong with a fine tooth comb. We found the source of the problem burried in the sound of what we thought was the perfect Matellica CD. After the engineers and producers scoped every single track they found and annoying never heard before buzzsaw sound that was burr

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