Category Archives: brainy

The importance of good mastering

I’ll let you in on a secret. There will be a new XR1300 album in the new year. No more remixes or anything, but 13 brand new tracks!

As I was recording and mixing it, thoughts went back to two years ago when I released the second album, Surrender Is Not The Answer.  At the time I was creating it, I was really looking for a noisy and gnarled sound. I was having some issues at the time (moving, unrequited love, “the real world,” etc) and was in a pretty bad mood. The sound of the first version was a reflection of how I was feeling inside. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse after that, but that’s for another post.

At the time I thought the album sounded good. I was pleased with it and its ultra compressed and ultra loud mix. It wasn’t until a few months later that I tried to listen to it again and thought it was an abomination. It had far too much high end and the results sounded like a mess.  And not even a good mess. It literally hurt my ears.

A year later I remastered the album (which basically just involved me mixing the tracks and songs at much saner levels). And while the results no longer sound like the sonic annihilation I was originally going for, I thought it made for an infinitely better album. I was no longer embarrassed by the results and could actually listen to the songs again without killing my ears.

I would imagine some people think that mixing sounds too low sound wimpy and weak. And they might not be completely wrong. Though there is always the volume knob…

To show the difference between the original and remastered versions of Surrender Is Not The Answer, I present the waveforms of the song “Hiding On Planet Yuri” which was one of the more painful songs to listen to in its original incarnation. Obviously the one at top is the original version.

Screen Shot 2015 12 23 at 6 11 09 PM

While the waveforms can never tell the entire story of a song, there is absolutely no reason why a song should be mixed that way. It’s a literal brick wall of noise that allows for no dynamics and is exhausting to listen to.

Also, it needs to be pointed out, when you mix that loud, you have no real peaks. All you get is clipping. Look at the image on the bottom and you’ll see actual peak points. The one on top is just a smooth level all the way across. That’s digital clipping. That’s what you want to avoid at all costs.

Of course, one could make a middle ground between the two. I could have made the remaster a few decibels louder and still had better dynamics. But I’d rather mix and master a song so the listener can make the song as quiet or loud as he or she desires. That, and I wanted the remaster job to sound completely different without actually changing the music.

And that is why mastering is an important part of your final product.

Far too much music is mastered hot these days. I’ve talked about the loudness war before. Most products out there is nowhere near as loud as I mixed my album (which was louder in spots than Iggy Pop’s dismal remix of Raw Power), but few if any sound like the way I master things now. Hopefully things will change now that most online music services normalize sound levels.

Something to consider

Being an American, I had never heard of Mary Whitehouse until a few years ago. I mostly knew her as the inspiration behind the noise band’s name. And I knew she had something to do with censorship on British TV. Most people in the media portray her as a meddling, old, religious fanatic who was out to spoil everybody’s fun. And they mocked her accordingly.

Fast forward some 30 years to 2015 and we still have a band of Mary Whitehouses, but instead of claiming Christianity as their inspiration, they do it in the name of identity politics.

You see a Mary Whitehouse in every campus classroom that practices “trigger warnings” and “micro aggressions.” You see Mary Whitehouse in the pages of your favorite clickbait websites. You see Mary Whitehouse in the faces of people like Anita Sarkeesian and John McIntosh and Coralie Alison. You see it in the latest update of your favorite web comic.

Mary Whitehouse corporally died 14 years ago. But her spirit lives in in far more rancid ways than she could have ever dreamed. While the inspiration might be different, these men and women who have made every politically incorrect utterance forbidden are every bit as much a doddering old moralist as Mary Whitehouse was, the only difference is that the people who opposed Whitehouse are the same ones who are welcoming the new totalitarianism with open arms.

Thought crimes R us

The human impulse to dehumanize by Jim Goad: 

British TV personality Katie Hopkins was born with a very unfortunate nose. Her proboscis is roughly the size of a toucan’s beak. Blonde-haired and with sparkling blue eyes, the poor maiden would actually be visually fetching if it weren’t for her giant, crooked, sloping honker.

What’s more important is that I doubt Katie Hopkins would feel compelled to call the police on me for saying any of that.

The same cannot be said of her many detractors. In recent days thousands of those who hate her—in the name of love and tolerance, but of course—have encouraged the police to arrest her for maligning fat people and Scottish people. 


This new generation of insta-snitches—and there are endlessly dreary armies of them—who appear to feel justified in having human beings caged merely for hurting their feelings all seem afflicted with a self-absorbed notion that the only possible reason someone could have said something they found offensive was for the singular purpose of offending them…rather than, say, because it’s what they really believed.

But in the case of Hopkins, her allegedly “offensive” comments appear to be rooted in an ethical conviction that being fat is not only unhealthy, it unfairly burdens those who have to pay the fatties’ medical bills. “[Obesity’s] cost to the NHS is more than six billion a year,” she explained during the same televised segment where Szrodecki called the police, “and the Chief Surgeon at Guy’s Hospital said, ‘It’s killing millions, costing billions, and the cure is in our hands,’ and as a taxpayer that’s why I feel I do have a say, it’s because I’m paying for your health.” On Twitter, Hopkins has written, “My hate for fat people has grown from the fact I have to pay to make them better.”

Forgive me for suspecting that her real crime here is criticizing the bloated size of the British welfare state.

I recently mentioned that Anita Sarkeesian represents everything wrong with the modern world. I see more and more examples of this every day. Simply put, nobody has any skin anymore. Soon, everybody, and I mean everybody, will probably find their lives turned upside down for any perceived slight. And, in the case of feminists, if you didn’t say anything, they’ll lie and say you did.