Production on SED

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Production on SED

Postby couch X slouch » Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:26 am

I think this would be a more enjoyable record if it sounded better. There is absolutely no bass guitar except as a very minimalistic "thickener". It was audible on Size Matters, somewhat there on Monochrome and SED is Helmet's "And Justice For All". I miss the sound of bass on first four records. It was LOUD in the mix and it had a very distinct sound. Henry was also a bassist a few classes above everyone who tried to fill his shoes but that's not an insult to other guys... he was just THAT good. His charisma and individuality showed through his playing. I don't understand why I've seen a couple of later bassists use the same amps and guitars. It was some crap ESP bass. A used Fender into a cranked Mesa head is all it would take to bring bass (somewhat) back into the mix. Even live, it's hardly there. Henry's bass was ALWAYS there, live or records.

Drums... say what you want about Tempesta's playing (I thought it was great, he hits super hard live and knows how to tune those drums) but his sound on SM was even and consistent throught the record. No points when it peaks or gets quiter. That was 50% Tempesta because he IS a very good drummer and 50% a knowledgable person in the control room. Drumming on Monochrome was phenomenal, as close to Stanier's as any of the 3 post- Aftertaste guys ever got but the volume goes in and out. It's all over the place. That record would've been my favourite of the last 3 if it had a better recording. Overall, even though there are volume drops all over the record (perhaps a better word would be inconsistencies), the actual drum sounds are pretty good. Not as loud in the mix as they should be but still pretty good. If I was a drummer on SED, I wouldn't talk to Page until he brought the drums into the mix. WTF? They sound like there was one overhead mic and no one bother to tune them. It sounds like a demo. It's totally unfair to layer all those guitar tracks and drown good drumming in the mix. Can we all agree that they're way quiter than they should be? I really have to concentrate to hear the bass drums. Anyone remember how loud and punishing Stanier's drums were. Holy shit, his bass drum was as much of a part of the band as Page's pinky ESP. Listen to "In The Meantime" and "I know" and tell me this isn't the truth. So... drums are either quiet in some songs or super quiet in other songs. Open note part in SED should be dominated by Kyle's drums but they're hardly there. Just imagine what Stanier would do with a few seconds of an opet note. I don't know... overall it's disappointing that Page's quality control isn't as high as before. I wish I could blam the lack of money on this but I'm sure Strap It On was recorded on way less money and drums on it are a)loud b) consistent volume in the mix, 3) distinct enough in their own sound

End rant/start flaming me.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby osbug » Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:06 pm

I would have to disagree with this assessment. Especially with the drums. Sure, at work on my crappy computer speakers, the mix isn't very good. But if I crank it in the car, or at home on the good speakers, the drums sounds really good. Particularly the bass drum, that is one of the very first things I noticed. That being said, it's really not fair to compare any drummer to Stanier :) Maybe the lossless files have something to do with it, I'm not sure which version you are listening to.

As far as the bass, my friend commented when we saw them at the Casbah a couple weeks ago about how the bass always sounds so awesome when we see them live. I'm not trying to be contrary here, but my experience has been 180 from yours. Then again, Page always talks about how much he loves the Casbah, so maybe the venue is part of it.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby astro13 » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:04 pm

You obviously don't have a clue as to what you are speaking about.We all love Stanier,Tempesta was amazing!You are listening to a digital recording-which is compressed in the first place,so there is a thing called DYNAMICS that you don't get.Why compare the first line up at all?Kyle Stevenson ROCKED these tracks and we miss Henry, but you can't go backwards-so the comparisons are retarded.Like the other person said, you probably have inferior speakers to go along with your inferior facts.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby couch X slouch » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:33 pm

Why are comparisons "retarded"? Shouldn't there be consistency in quality? Are you trying to tell me SED's production values are as high as first 4 records? Seriously?

My sound system is just fine and so is my opinion. You fail at reading comprehension because no one said my speakers are inferior.

@osbug, I've seen Helmet at 4 different Detroit venues, 2 Toronto venues and once in Buffalo. The only 2 times bass was as loud as it should've been was with Frankie Bello on their first comeback tour and once again in Detroit with the Aussie guitarist and the bassist who got fired recently. I think that show is actually going to be on the USB that comes with the deluxe package.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby astro13 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:19 am

You can't compare the first line up because they were "that" sound.They certainly can't remake Strap it,Meantime,Betty, etc. I went and listened to the whole album again and I can hear bass,kick drum just fine.Every detractor wants Helmet 1.0(which is sacred)but alas this isn't possible right now.You just don't understand recordings that are digital have a different bandwidth & If you can't hear this please go to the ear specialist.This is the most honest recording in the entire music biz for a long time.My comprehension is fine but I would tend to think your ears aren't
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Re: Production on SED

Postby astro13 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:11 am

Page took his time with this record-the production values are different,but this doesn't constitute a bad sound.Bands grow and change,something a lot of fans can't deal with.Would you honestly have them regress?Most bands struggle in their later years to stay relevant,Helmet has not had to.They have not compromised anything.Wharton Tiers is magic!But it isn't '92 anymore, and with all the auto-tune & crappy songwriting these days this album is a breath of fresh air.Just wanted to say I just got tired of reading stuff that belittles Pages production-who would know better than he how he wanted this album to sound.Hope we can at least agree that Helmet rules.Absolutely no offense intended-I probably got over zealous about this stuff,sorry!
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Re: Production on SED

Postby eht13 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:39 am

I love SED, but I do think that it would be even better if the bass and the drums/cymbals were louder in the mix.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby osbug » Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:49 am

couch X slouch wrote:...@osbug, I've seen Helmet at 4 different Detroit venues, 2 Toronto venues and once in Buffalo. The only 2 times bass was as loud as it should've been was with Frankie Bello on their first comeback tour and once again in Detroit with the Aussie guitarist and the bassist who got fired recently. I think that show is actually going to be on the USB that comes with the deluxe package.


To be honest, the first couple of times I saw them, the mix was the last thing I was thinking about. I was just stoked that I was seeing my favorite band :D Like I said, maybe I have just been lucky, and the sound guy at the Casbah is a huge Helmet fan, or understands their music. Heck, a lot of post-hardcore bands played there. Maybe it is just a good venue for them. Definitely not trying to discredit your experiences, just point out they are the opposite of mine :)

I have been listening to the album today, and I still think the mix is fine. No problems with drums OR bass. I will say that I am listening to it cranked pretty loud, so maybe that makes a difference.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby couch X slouch » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:16 am

astro13 wrote:You can't compare the first line up because they were "that" sound.They certainly can't remake Strap it,Meantime,Betty, etc. I went and listened to the whole album again and I can hear bass,kick drum just fine.Every detractor wants Helmet 1.0(which is sacred)but alas this isn't possible right now.You just don't understand recordings that are digital have a different bandwidth & If you can't hear this please go to the ear specialist.This is the most honest recording in the entire music biz for a long time.My comprehension is fine but I would tend to think your ears aren't


You seem very hostile over one person's opinion.

Let me simplify with two basic questions, which are answerable with YES or NO

1) Do you think drums on SED are as loud in the mix as they are on the first 4 records?
2) Do you think bass guitar is as loud in the mix as it is on the first 4 records?

I don't want them to remake first four records. I want the best band in the world to actually live up to their legacy. He has competent musicians in the band... now turn them the fuck up.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby couch X slouch » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:21 am

astro13 wrote:Page took his time with this record-the production values are different,but this doesn't constitute a bad sound.Bands grow and change,something a lot of fans can't deal with.Would you honestly have them regress?Most bands struggle in their later years to stay relevant,Helmet has not had to.They have not compromised anything.Wharton Tiers is magic!But it isn't '92 anymore, and with all the auto-tune & crappy songwriting these days this album is a breath of fresh air.Just wanted to say I just got tired of reading stuff that belittles Pages production-who would know better than he how he wanted this album to sound.Hope we can at least agree that Helmet rules.Absolutely no offense intended-I probably got over zealous about this stuff,sorry!


These are all valid points. I wouldn't worry much about Page's feelings being hurt. He makes a living writting songs with lyrics that belittle people. :D
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Re: Production on SED

Postby astro13 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:49 am

I will agree that the bass+drums are louder in the mixes of the first albums because Page did not do a lot of layering.Just awesome albums period!I feel like this is just a different approach since it's Helmet 2.0.Since this isn't Stanier+Bogdan,I think Page most likely had more say in their sound this go around.I'm not a debater,I just am glad to have new music from the best band in the world.No hostility,and I agree-the louder the better-peace bro!
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Re: Production on SED

Postby jarek » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:52 am

If we are talking about the sound , the problem is not the mix IMO . Snare sound is too low , that's why you don't hear "attack" . I know that from my own experience , when snare is high tuned , you can make guitars louder and it is still going to be there , if the snare is low tuned well you have to make guitars down a little - great example is "Revenge destroys everything"- the drums sound behind because of the low tuned snare .
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Re: Production on SED

Postby bornannoying » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:08 am

astro13 wrote:You are listening to a digital recording-which is compressed in the first place,so there is a thing called DYNAMICS that you don't get.


The compression found in digital recordings relates to the file itself, not necessarily to the dynamic range of the sound. True, lossy digital formats like mp3 achieve smaller files by omitting information but, assuming we're not talking about a 64k mono file, it's not really dynamic range that suffers. Excessive compression in the mastering stage is usually where dynamic loss happens, as per the recent Death Magnetic debacle. After all, many master recordings are digital these days, and so are lossless formats like FLAC, so the mere fact of being a digital format does not in itself say anything helpful about the dynamic range of a recording.

Moreover, I don't think dynamics are the issue if we're talking about the audibility of certain instruments in the mix. I think that's a lot more to do with either the instrument's volume in the mix or EQ issues (for example, you'd typically use EQ to cut the lower frequencies of the guitar sound to make room for the bass guitar, bass drum, etc).

So I agree with Slouch. The guitars dominate the mix to too great an extent. The reproduction equipment and, to a lesser extent, the format of the recording may affect the degree to which this problem manifests itself, but the bottom line is that the guitars overpower everything else. Doubtless that bothers some people more than others, but it's certainly something that struck me as a negative on first hearing the album.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby eht13 » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:10 pm

jarek wrote:If we are talking about the sound , the problem is not the mix IMO . Snare sound is too low , that's why you don't hear "attack" . I know that from my own experience , when snare is high tuned , you can make guitars louder and it is still going to be there , if the snare is low tuned well you have to make guitars down a little - great example is "Revenge destroys everything"- the drums sound behind because of the low tuned snare .


True, but the problem on RDE drum-wise is not just the snare. Yes, a tighter-tuned snare would have helped, but the bass drum and the cymbals are also not loud enough (buried in the mix). It is better on SED, but still not ideal.
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Re: Production on SED

Postby JonCurcio » Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:19 pm

I agree that the mix is bad. Aside from my complaints about pretty much everything else too (vocals mostly), all of the clips I've heard have the guitar way too high in the mix with very little bass in there. The sound is cold and harsh, and I'm not a fan of the guitar tone. My guess is that it has to do with the recording technique and gear, as Page's rig was pretty similar on Size Matters and I thought it sounded good. The drums are buried, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I know that Helmet means different things to different people, and I guess in the studio the focus was on guitar. My focus has always been on the guitar, but it's because the other instruments made the guitar sound good. Years ago, when involved with the whole Helmet 2.0 debate, I was listening to a live recording of Role Model, where it's just Stanier and Bogdan on the first verse. It was like, wow, this is it. Without the guitar, it was still Helmet. Without them, and without their replacements even playing as big a part in this SED mix, it's just flaccid.
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