There are a few ways to very easily get sidechaining going in Ableton Live. Sidechaining triggers a compressor on the master bus or channel using a kick from a different channel. This causes a pumping effect ala Daft Punk. Used subtlety it can make sure the sharp transients of you kick always sit above the mix by itself. Live’s built in Compressor has sidechaining and you can also simulate the effect using Autopan. The Point Blank Music School has a nice free Max For Live drag and drop device available to download: click here. If you have Max For Live why not grab it? Take a look at the video above for the demo.
“Point Blank instructor and course developer Daniel Herbert has created this Max For Live custom auto sidechain plugin for use in Ableton Live. Watch the video to see how it works, what makes it unique and and how to set it up.” – pointblankonline
Here’s another piece of hardware to help you go back in time. Zvex makes some of the best effect pedals. Besides being built out of metal and hand painted many have rare tubes and unique electronics inside them. Their Instant Lo-Fi Junky uses a Belling Bucked Brigade and National Semiconductor op-amps to create a warbling, broken turntable, compression chorus effect. $219.00 for the Vexter screen printed panel version and about $350 for a hand painted version. Needless to say I’ll be getting one soon. If there are any effect pedals that do something similar please let me know.
“The ILJ was designed to produce the sounds and textures of our Lo-Fi Loop Junky in real time, but it does so much more. It features a compressor, filtering(lo-fi), luscious chorus settings unlike anything we’ve heard, vibrato, and a mini toggle switch to change the waveform(sine, triangle, square pulse) of the chorus and vibrato.” – zvex.com
For years many musicians, producers and music fans have been crying foul about the “Loudness War“. This is when a mastering engineer compresses and limits the dynamic range of a song to make it louder to the point of ruining the music. Many times it’s not the engineer’s fault as he or she is just following directions from the label or the band. It makes some sense you would want your album to be louder than others as it would stand out but when everyone is doing it the end effect is music is simply ruined.
Things have finally boiled over with the release of the new Metallica album Death Magnetic. Apparently it sounds so squashed that even their metal head fans can’t stand it. To add fuel to the fire a version of some of the album tracks appear mastered more tastefully in the newly released Guitar Hero 3 (video game).
“Music released today typically has a dynamic range only a fourth to an eighth as wide as that of the 1990s. That means if you play a newly released CD right after one that’s 15 years old, leaving the volume knob untouched, the new one is likely to sound four to eight times as loud. Many who’ve followed the controversy say “Death Magnetic” has one of the narrowest dynamic ranges ever on an album.” – wsj.com
I’m pleased this is getting attention because I personally can’t stand the smashed sound. It’s fine when it’s part of the artistic endeavor (such as any song by Justice) but other than that I find it seriously unpleasant.
The Wall Street journal has a great interactive graphic online comparing the sound quality of an old and new Metallica track: click here
If your a Metallica fan (I’m not) you can sign a petition to have the album re-mastered: click here
Read the full Wall Street Journal story: click here
Wikipedia’s entry for the Loudness war: click here