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Topic: Superb music. Terrible production.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Yann Offline




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Posted: Jan. 21 2017, 06:01

Music was amazing. Best album since Amarok, no doubt.

But the production, oh boy. I had to go to the equalizer (something I NEVER do) and start lowering frequencies until it didn't feel hurting to the ears and the sound went from shrilling to a much sweeter tone.

This album needs to be remixed and remastered. But the magic is there.
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qjamesfloyd Offline




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Posted: Jan. 24 2017, 11:15

I think you may be on your own here, nothing wrong with the production sound on my equipment, it sounds lovely.

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knife edge Offline




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Posted: Jan. 25 2017, 07:05

Recording quality is superb. No or very little dynamic compression, cristal clear but natural presence and body. Very little post processing.

"Tested" with: headphones Audeze Lcd-X, Sony MDR-1R ; speakers ESB 7/09
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pauly Offline




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Posted: Jan. 26 2017, 17:08

Sounds absolutely superb on my old Technics turntable.
Played the cd version in my car on the way to work today and that sounds amazingly crisp. Absolutely no sound problems to my ears but maybe I'm a cloth eared nincompoop!
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TubularRidgeDawn Offline




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Posted: Jan. 26 2017, 20:08

I think it depends what your equipment is and how it is set up. Initially I thought some of the acoustic/flamenco guitars were too much at the forefront of things, and during some crescendos and vigorous excitable moments the treble was too much, but I have become accustomed to it now, and all sounds trully wonderful. The percussion sounds magnificent.

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Yann Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 01:21

Quote (knife edge @ Jan. 25 2017, 07:05)
Recording quality is superb. No or very little dynamic compression, cristal clear but natural presence and body. Very little post processing. Recording quality is superb. No or very little dynamic compression, cristal clear but natural presence and body. Very little post processing.


I was not talking about compression, but EQ and recording quality. Lack of compression (or a very limited one) is no flaw at all. Albums in classical music, for example, use almost no compression but they're carefully recorded and equalized.

Quote (TubularRidgeDawn @ Jan. 26 2017, 20:08)
Initially I thought some of the acoustic/flamenco guitars were too much at the forefront of things, and during some crescendos and vigorous excitable moments the treble was too much, but I have become accustomed to it now, and all sounds trully wonderful. The percussion sounds magnificent.


I think the problem lies in recorded acoustic instruments. Old synths have been simulated with sample libraries as far as I know, and I would say that percussion used sample libraries too (sampled percussion sounds extremely well). One thing with sampled libraries is that they use to be very well recorded and have some minimum subtle EQ but enough to work well out of the box.

I would guess that Mike recorded acoustic guitars, nylon (flamenco) guitars, mandolins and flutes. And when you listen to the album, those are the instruments that are creating problems in the mix. To be honest, I think the acoustic instruments needed to be recorded in some professional Studio. Mike's house is not likely to be fit out for it.
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Alan D Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 05:34

Quote (Yann @ Jan. 27 2017, 05:21)
I would guess that Mike recorded acoustic guitars, nylon (flamenco) guitars, mandolins and flutes. And when you listen to the album, those are the instruments that are creating problems in the mix.

Like others above, I'm not aware of these 'problems in the mix' that you speak of. I'm not saying there aren't any, but if there are, I'm not hearing them. It all sounds pretty wonderful to me, whether through the LS3/5As of the hifi, or the cheap portable in the bedroom. There's a 'live', just-slightly-unruly edge to everything that I find very attractive.
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qjamesfloyd Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 05:50

I have listened to the album on Sony headphones from my laptop, and through my hi-fi which is Rotel CD player and Rotel Amp, through B&W speakers, and it sounds wonderful to me with both ways  :)

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knife edge Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 09:27

Quote (Yann @ Jan. 27 2017, 01:21)
Quote (knife edge @ Jan. 25 2017, 07:05)
Recording quality is superb. No or very little dynamic compression, cristal clear but natural presence and body. Very little post processing. Recording quality is superb. No or very little dynamic compression, cristal clear but natural presence and body. Very little post processing.


I was not talking about compression, but EQ and recording quality. Lack of compression (or a very limited one) is no flaw at all. Albums in classical music, for example, use almost no compression but they're carefully recorded and equalized.

Quote (TubularRidgeDawn @ Jan. 26 2017, 20:08)
Initially I thought some of the acoustic/flamenco guitars were too much at the forefront of things, and during some crescendos and vigorous excitable moments the treble was too much, but I have become accustomed to it now, and all sounds trully wonderful. The percussion sounds magnificent.


I think the problem lies in recorded acoustic instruments. Old synths have been simulated with sample libraries as far as I know, and I would say that percussion used sample libraries too (sampled percussion sounds extremely well). One thing with sampled libraries is that they use to be very well recorded and have some minimum subtle EQ but enough to work well out of the box.

I would guess that Mike recorded acoustic guitars, nylon (flamenco) guitars, mandolins and flutes. And when you listen to the album, those are the instruments that are creating problems in the mix. To be honest, I think the acoustic instruments needed to be recorded in some professional Studio. Mike's house is not likely to be fit out for it.

Sorry, but I think you're not used to "pure" recording of these instruments. It's the lack of post processing that bothers you. Those instruments are ment to jump out, ant it's fantastic. Finally!! It's ages that I wait for a recording like this!

Btw, classical recordings, especially large orchestra ones, use some compression. They have to.
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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 14:15

Quote (Yann @ Jan. 27 2017, 05:21)
To be honest, I think the acoustic instruments needed to be recorded in some professional Studio. Mike's house is not likely to be fit out for it.

Remember that the original Ommadawn was recorded predominantly in a bedroom that was lined with egg cartons! Maybe you need to start a "This album needs more egg cartons!" meme? ;)

I wouldn't personally say that the room is the main factor in the final sound of Return to Ommadawn. I think it's rather the result of deliberate choices which Mike has made, like he's said in this interview with The Quietus:

"On the original, the sound of the acoustic guitar is not very good. Some parts sound great but other bits just don't. The new one is far superior in terms of clarity. I still let the performances be very natural, there's no tidying up."

There are a number of factors that will have led to the sound of the album, starting with Mike's instrument choices (for example, a maple-backed acoustic guitar with new but fairly light strings; they might even be 80/20 bronze, judging by the colour), Mike's preference in microphones (I think he's still using the B&Ks he's had since Amarok) and more...the room will be having some effect for sure (especially if he's recording in the house rather than the studio that's at the end of the garden - he's got a lot of hard surfaces there, including the big windows). The lack of the various subtle distortions and compression from recording to tape is another factor when compared to the original Ommadawn, and of course it doesn't have the long signal path of a large mixing desk to go through either. In some instances, even the condition of Mike's fingernails is having an effect, there's quite a strong 'ping' from the nails on some parts (amongst other things...). Then there's Mike's general sound preferences, as indicated by the Quietus quote...

In other words...it does tend towards greater brightness and faster, less softened transients than the original Ommadawn, but I think that's by choice. I feel like there's also less of a sense of perspective than in Mike's older mixes, with things tending towards being a lot more up-front. It's less to my own taste, but I think a lot is a matter of opinion and also perhaps what things we're prepared to 'listen past' - like, for example, how there's a lot in Tubular Bells which Mike can't accept, but which I think a lot of us can...
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TubularRidgeDawn Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 17:03

But you get used to it the more you listen, and you accept it for what it is, which is trully beautiful. I also think Mike has recorded the album 'his' way and the way he wanted it to sound with intention. There is a rawness in there, and yes a human touch. Like he said somewhere, like a real human being is behind everything, along with any natural flaws, which, like an old piece of furniture, gives it a unique character and charm of its very own.

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taw may on ommadawn egg kyowl
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Yann Offline




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Posted: Jan. 27 2017, 23:52

Quote (Korgscrew @ Jan. 27 2017, 14:15)
Remember that the original Ommadawn was recorded predominantly in a bedroom that was lined with egg cartons! Maybe you need to start a "This album needs more egg cartons!" meme? ;)

That's quite a typical thing in early studios, a big room with egg cartons... it worked very well, so why not?

Whatever, let's take it. Do you think that Mike's has taken the biggest room in his house and covered all the walls with egg cartons to record the instruments. I don't think so.

Quote (Korgscrew @ Jan. 27 2017, 14:15)
On the original, the sound of the acoustic guitar is not very good. Some parts sound great but other bits just don't. The new one is far superior in terms of clarity. I still let the performances be very natural, there's no tidying up.


So you're telling me that Mike in his house got a better sound that a whole professional team got in the original Ommadawn... because Mike said so. Of course. And don't get me wrong. Mike is a bloody genius when it comes to music, but he says one thing today and the contrary tomorrow.

Quote (Korgscrew @ Jan. 27 2017, 14:15)
In other words...it does tend towards greater brightness and faster, less softened transients than the original Ommadawn, but I think that's by choice.


Obviously, it is by choice. He made that choice, but that doesn't make it the right choice... when it comes to recording.

Again, don't get me wrong, I'm sure he had his reasons for that choice. Probably he needed to feel that this album was his own. I'm sure that choice makes sense from an emotional point of view, which is important because music is based in emotions,. But that doesn't make it a good recording. And I'm not saying that he shouldn't have done it this way: at the end of the day, what matters is the music, the recording can be done again. Dear God, Beethoven symphonies have been recorded like hundreds of times. So if homemaking every aspect of the album made Mike feel in an emotional state that led to that great music, that's wonderful, and that was the right choice. But again, that doesn't make it a good recording.
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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: Jan. 28 2017, 09:15

Quote (Yann @ Jan. 28 2017, 03:52)
So you're telling me that Mike in his house got a better sound that a whole professional team got in the original Ommadawn... because Mike said so.

I'm telling you that Mike in his 2017 house thinks he got a better sound than Mike in his 1975 house...and putting the point out for debate. ;) Perhaps I was a bit unclear in how I put things across - I do hear what I think you're hearing (and possibly a few things you've not mentioned yet...), but I felt like it might be interesting to explore the possible reasons a bit deeper...

As to why not use egg boxes...it depends on the material, they can have some effect at some frequencies, particularly in terms of breaking up certain reflections, but their thickness means it's really a very limited range in which they're effective. You can sometimes cause more problems with them than they solve. It was a common thing for amateur studios, certainly - because they looked like the treatments that some bigger studios were using - but at least the really great early studios which I've been able to examine closely were using much more precise methods of acoustic treatment. Of course, as may have really been your point, if the album comes out OK, is there any reason to care whether the treatment was theoretically correct or not?

I'd say it's only really an issue as far as that people do still follow these ideas in the hope of improving their recordings, so it's nice for us to really explore why a recording has turned out a certain way. I don't believe, for example, that Mike covering his current recording spaces with egg boxes would yield a recording that sounds like Ommadawn, for example. :)

I was being slightly facetious about the egg boxes really, but my point was that The Beacon wasn't any more of a professionally designed recording space than Mike's current spaces but that they achieved a result that at least I rather like...

I think that's encouraged you to hit the nail on the head though - the team. At least in the later stages of recording Ommadawn, Phil Newell was at The Beacon, so Mike mixed it with his input, which I think was a very valuable thing. I get the impression that Mike sees Ommadawn as something he did predominantly on his own, whereas my impression from talking to and reading accounts from people who worked on it is that it was actually quite a collaborative effort. That's not to say Mike wasn't the captain of the ship, but rather that he wasn't sailing single-handedly.

I think Return to Ommadawn shares a lot in common with Mike's other recent mixes. There's stuff there which, if I'd been presented with that material to mix, I really wouldn't have done...but Mike would probably find issues with my mixes too. ;) That, of course, is actually what I think is a key to success - acknowledging that none of us are totally infallible, and seeking external input into our work.

It's an interesting question though, really, that of what the 'right' choice is in a work like this. As I said before, there are things that aren't really to my taste, and they clearly aren't to yours...but yet Mike seems to feel like he's realised his intent with it, and a lot of listeners are loving it...so how are we to go forward from here? :)
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TubularRidgeDawn Offline




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Posted: Jan. 28 2017, 10:22

Quote (Korgscrew @ Jan. 28 2017, 09:15)
It's an interesting question though, really, that of what the 'right' choice is in a work like this. As I said before, there are things that aren't really to my taste, and they clearly aren't to yours...but yet Mike seems to feel like he's realised his intent with it, and a lot of listeners are loving it...so how are we to go forward from here? :)

It's a good debate this one, but it is what it is, and I agree it is personal taste at the end of the day. Having composed stuff myself in the past I know you can really get into it and maybe too close to it, that's maybe where a fresh pair of ears are required sometimes, or leaving some space and returning to it.

I love 'Return To Ommadawn' as it is. It has a special dynamic of its very own. There is a rawness to it. A lot of emotion comes through on Mike's playing, which I find quite stirring at times. I remember reading or hearing Mike say at one time that he always meant each note he played, that is to put his heart into each one, and I believe he really does it here, which shines above all other aspects for me.


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hubert Offline




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Posted: Jan. 29 2017, 13:45

I'm actually with Yann on that one. The melodies and arrangements are wonderful, but the aesthetic choice of how of the instruments were recorded  and mixed is very unpleasant to my taste.

I know Mike mentioned he purposely left the performance quite raw, but frankly I find it very much left at the unfinished stage. There are recording issues all over the place (the accoustic guitar is often distorted, there are digital artifacts in a number of places too), and even the playing is nowhere near what Mike can do if he spends the time (there are timing issues everywhere).

By contrast, Amarok is an example of an album that was amazingly well recorded and performed, while still retaining the human element. Ommadawn is another one, although from a different era.

To me RTO is a "promising demo". Great arrangement ideas (if perhaps "Oldfield by the number"), interesting melodies, perhaps a bit disjointed, but with a bit of work and proper recording it could make a fantastic album.

Now, for the record, I am a huge fan of Mike's music. I got into guitar playing thanks to him, and to this day I believe he is one of the most innovative, original, and talented guitar player out there. That's why RTO feels so unfinished to me.
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ARROW Offline




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Posted: Jan. 29 2017, 17:21

Quote (Yann @ Jan. 21 2017, 06:01)
Music was amazing. Best album since Amarok, no doubt.

But the production, oh boy. I had to go to the equalizer (something I NEVER do) and start lowering frequencies until it didn't feel hurting to the ears and the sound went from shrilling to a much sweeter tone.

This album needs to be remixed and remastered. But the magic is there.

I just happen to be an audio professional and work within the professional audiovisual industry. I can confirm that without a doubt this album has been perfectly mastered, which is a rarety in that it is devoid of the usually manipulation at the mastering stage to boost the volume such that it sounds loud when played back by in-ear headphone via an ipod, mobile phone, or similar device as per the Loudness War.

Consequently you should look to your playback equipment because that must be defective.
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Yann Offline




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Posted: Jan. 30 2017, 03:18

Quote (ARROW @ Jan. 29 2017, 17:21)
I just happen to be an audio professional and work within the professional audiovisual industry. I can confirm that without a doubt this album has been perfectly mastered

Aha...

Well, I said before that (in my opinion) the problem lies in some very specific instruments, like the flutes or the nylon guitars. If I'm right, and I can be wrong but, if I'm right, that is something to fix in the mix, not in the mastering. Any sound engineer would know that.

So... well, whatever.
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qjamesfloyd Offline




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Posted: Jan. 30 2017, 04:51

I think a big problem with a lot of Mike's fans is they waste to much time thinking about the production and recording of instruments, and forget what is really important, the music!!! just listen to the music, let the emotion flow over you. It is amusing people get so caught up in the recording etc, when you consider that Mike's first album and arguably greatest achievement is really his worst recording as far as playing, tempo, tuning, etc!!! but would anyone want it any other way? no!!!!

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Satyagraha Offline




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Posted: Jan. 30 2017, 06:05

Quote (ARROW @ Jan. 29 2017, 23:21)
I can confirm that without a doubt this album has been perfectly mastered, which is a rarety in that it is devoid of the usually manipulation at the mastering stage to boost the volume such that it sounds loud when played back by in-ear headphone via an ipod, mobile phone, or similar device as per the Loudness War.

Indeed. It has a dynamic range of around 12dB, which is the same as the original Ommadawn. For comparison, MOTR has a dynamic range of 6dB, which is considered very compressed, but sadly standard in modern-day mainstream mastering. But not as bad as Radiohead's latest single, which has an awful dynamic range of 3dB. I can't understand why they are destroying their music like that.


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Jesse Offline




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Posted: Jan. 30 2017, 07:05

Quote (hubert @ Jan. 29 2017, 13:45)
I'm actually with Yann on that one. The melodies and arrangements are wonderful, but the aesthetic choice of how of the instruments were recorded  and mixed is very unpleasant to my taste.

I know Mike mentioned he purposely left the performance quite raw, but frankly I find it very much left at the unfinished stage. There are recording issues all over the place (the accoustic guitar is often distorted, there are digital artifacts in a number of places too), and even the playing is nowhere near what Mike can do if he spends the time (there are timing issues everywhere).

By contrast, Amarok is an example of an album that was amazingly well recorded and performed, while still retaining the human element. Ommadawn is another one, although from a different era.

To me RTO is a "promising demo". Great arrangement ideas (if perhaps "Oldfield by the number"), interesting melodies, perhaps a bit disjointed, but with a bit of work and proper recording it could make a fantastic album.

Now, for the record, I am a huge fan of Mike's music. I got into guitar playing thanks to him, and to this day I believe he is one of the most innovative, original, and talented guitar player out there. That's why RTO feels so unfinished to me.

Amarok mixed properly?! did you hear those big stabs at the beginning?
hello ringing ears/damage.

personally i find the RTO guitar to be recorded somewhat raw and the plucking is very audible, but i kinda like that
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