www.MusicToday.eu   YEAR 2018   ENGLISH
EUROPE'S MASTERMINDS BEHIND THE SCENES
 
THE DOWNFALL OF MUSIC
How Mozart turned into Justin Bieber.
 
About 250 years ago music has reached its climax. Brilliant composers were hired by kings and emperors to compose the most beautiful music humans will ever be allowed to hear. Alone the masterpieces of the German composer Mozart do fill 170 CDs. And none of these CDs is boring. Today we switch on the radio and listen to music by untalented writers interpreted by clueless industry marionettes that have everything but skills and charisma. What happened? The answer is simple but yet surprising.
 
The kings and emperors of past times had the highest standards. They wanted to be entertained at a very high level. Moreover, the artists they supported represented the creative power of kingdoms or empires during official occasions. That is why kings and emperors only hired the very best artists - superstars of a kind that we have never seen after this period again.
The hired artists, on the other hand, were brilliant allround talents who perfectly understood the theory of music. They did not just know the characteristics of every instrument and of sound itself but were often also able to play several instruments by themselves - to an extent of perfection. Most of these artists were, indeed, virtuosos. Just like Mozart, Vivaldi, and Paganini. Either one was brilliant or one was not on the spot.
In these eras, music was luxury. Not just the brilliant composers but also the amazing
orchestra musicians had to be financed. The music that has been written in these eras mark the climax in the history of music. This climax declines in the early 20th century.
The first recording studios occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. They were very rare and incredibly expensive. Thus, studio time was highly limited and hardly affordable.
The first systems to play back music (Phonographs and Gramophones) were developed in the late 19th century and the first radio stations were evolving in the 1920s.
The possibility to record music and the possibility to air and to play back recorded music were the very starting points of the modern music business.
Because studio time was expensive and highly restricted, the bosses of studios did not focus on recording the untalented boys next door. They tried to discover the best engineers, composers, musicians, and singers. They wanted to record outstanding performances and they wanted to make millions by entertaining and wowing the masses. Radio stations were crazy about new material and, thus, the few record artists became incredibly popular and rich (to mention a few: Zarah Leander, Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Jacksons). Everything was about quality: The quality of the compositions, the performances, the recording, and the sound.
When Michael Jackson or Prince were on the rise they were successful because they were
extraordinarily talented in every field of music. People looked up to them. They were unreachable. But today they would have no chance: No one can identify with so much talent and people do not want to admire god-like persons anymore. The reason: Such stars confront the audience with its own lack of skills. Suddenly, talent turned into a burden.
In the 1990s computers became broadly available and changed the music business to the worse: Out of a sudden, the quality was ruled out. Suddenly everyone deemed oneself a music producer just because one had a PC.
The lack of skills on the client's side has been recognized by the industry: It started to sell dreams and ready-to-use sounds ("samples") to millions of wanna-be artists that have no clue regarding music. As a result, millions of people sit in front of a laptop, press the play button and think they are composers or producers just because a beat or sound they have bought before is playing back.
The media industry recognized this situation and started to brainwash the masses by casting shows. Suddenly it was possible to shift the focus from rare talents and expensive top productions to cheapest electronic mass productions and throw-away-music performed by the untalented boy next door: The masses can identfiy with the electronic sounds ("I have the same samples!") and the lack of talent ("if Justin Bieber can make it, I can make it, too!"). This is how Mozart turned into Justin Bieber: Identification sells!

Author: MTME Date: 09.09.2018 Version 1

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The Downfall of Music

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LOUDNESS AND DYNAMIC RANGE
And how they affect Airplay. A short Guide that explains Key Concepts.
 
Do you really know what "loudness" and "dynamic range" mean and how these concepts affect airplay? This knowledge is crucial for any producer and artist that want to produce music eligible for airplay.
 
Follow us: You enter a big room and within the room you can place yourself wherever you want: You is you and the room will not change that. You love to jump up and down in the room but if you would try to break through the high ceiling you would just break your bones.
 
What has this analogy to do with Loudness, Dynamic Range and Airplay? A 24 Bit file, to mention an example, is nothing else but an audio room: A room that is empty but offers space for an audio signal that loves - just like you - to jump up and down in the audio room. The audio signal is smaller than the audio room and it can place itself almost anywhere in the room.
Your size is measured from your head to your toes in cm. The audio signal's "size" is measured similiarly: The measuring unit is LU (Loudness Units) and the audio signal's "size" is measured from the softest part (lowest jump) to the loudest part (highest jump): The space in between (the "size") is called Dynamic Range.
The audio signal knows - just like you - that there is a ceiling that cannot be broken through. The audio ceiling is very high and beyond the ceiling, space and time end. Every attempt to break through the ceiling is stupid and breaks the audio signal's bones.
 
Now imagine: You enter a room and an audio engineer throws you against the wall, breaks your bones, ties you up to the ceiling and says: “You are a better person now for you hang higher and scream louder!” Would you agree?
No? But this is what most audio engineers do to audio signals: To make them loud, the engineers break the signals' bones, cut transients, diminish the dynamic range, cause distortion and clipping and say: "I tied the audio signal up to the ceiling and paralysed it! Now it is better for it screams louder! Ideal for radio, TV and airplay!” 
The conclusion "Louder = Better" is a misbelief many engineers share. "Loudness" (a high position of audio material within the audio room) has never been and will never be a quality criteria in professional music production.
"But loud songs stick out against competitors". Yes and no. The simple truth: Anyone can relativate the crafted loudness by turning the
volume knob up (I love that song!) or down (dislike!).
Unfortunately, the volume knob can't fix the broken bones of defect audio material that is loud at the expense of the sound quality. Too bad! For sound quality is what matters in professional music production.
"But isn't loudness great for airplay?" Radio and TV stations level all audio signals before they are aired. After loud tracks are reduced and soft tracks are raised in volume, the sound quality is the only difference left.
Since radio and TV stations do care about a good sounding programme they prefer intact and dynamic material that is likely to survive the heavy signal processing by broadcast stations: Thus, originally loud but defect material will probably be sorted out.
We illustrate the relationship between loudness, dynamic range and airplay:
Understanding Loudness and Dynamic Range - Key Concepts of Music Production - Music Today Europe

Author: MTME Date: 08.08.2018 Version 1

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Loudness, Dynamic Range and Airplay.

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Test: Online Audio Mixing and Mastering
Unexpected Results: Best Audio Mixing and Mastering Studios in Europe
 
You are looking for a studio that mixes and masters your audio material online? You want professional results - not just for private usage but eligible for distribution, airplay, and films? But where to start? We have good news for you: We have covertly tested European Online Audio Mixing and Mastering Studios and compared their services. Read about the unexpected and surprising results! Find the detailed article with evaluation charts below (PDF version).
 
Mixing and Mastering are not about great equipment. Mixing and Mastering are about knowledge, experience, practice, well-trained ears, and, last but not least, acoustically linear environments that display every single note exactly the way it is! Some studios have been built for millions just to ensure that the acoustic resonance is perfect. Thus, professional audio mixing and mastering can hardly be accomplished in acoustically questionable home studios. Big companies and artists with ambitious goals delegate this important step - the crafting of great sound - to specialized audio engineers.
Within the last 10 years a lot of audio mixing and mastering studios have decided to offer their services online: These studios offer anyone the stunning opportunity to upload very raw audio material. Then, after a couple of days and dependent on the quality of the source material, the client can download the great sounding, mixed and mastered results! At least, this is the theory. What about the practice? Which of the online audio mixing and mastering studios have the best skills?

 

And how is the situation at the front, 6 years after the broadcast standard EBU R 128 has been established in Europe? This norm is especially interesting for crafting music, for it is supposed to end the loudness war and allows for highest quality audio productions.
We have covertly tested European online audio mixing and mastering studios. To prevent companies from giving Music Today a special treatment, we took over the role of a client that has to make decisions solely on the basis of the info that audio mixing and mastering studios freely publish online. Thus, we visited websites, gathered information, and evaluated the results!
1. We focused on the published demos (that are marketing instruments and, thus, represent the best quality the studios can craft) and objectively analysed them in an acoustically linear studio with expert staff. Since we were testing online audio mixing and mastering studios, our main focus was, for sure, the audio quality of the demos.
2. Besides, we have focused on the business transparency of the online audio mixing and mastering studios: What services are inclusive for what prices?
3. Moreover, we checked which valuable additional services the online audio mixing and mastering studios offer.
 
Results in short (details: See PDF version):
All tested demos are transparent and free of artefacts. All tested online audio mixing and mastering studios craft a good sound and can be recommended! But, surprisingly, only one of them creates marvelous results.

 

The audio mixing and mastering studios on places 10 to 2 craft good productions that, surprisingly, are too loud at the expense of the sound quality that suffers from a diminished dynamic range. All tested productions disregard the quality-preserving broadcast standard EBU R 128 but opt for loudness. That is even more surprising if we take into account that giants like Abbey Road Studios are among these companies that miss the chance to make a change.
The unexpected overall winner of our comparison, Diamond Roses Records, crafts tailor-made quality productions with an intact, lively, exciting, and ready-to-be-aired sound that is in line with broadcast standards and does not suffer from any of the mentioned problems. No other tested online audio mixing and mastering studio handles audio material in such a quality-preserving way and offers so many services. With 97% of the points, Diamond Roses Records is our tip for those with high standards or ambitious goals!
 
BEST EUROPEAN ONLINE AUDIO
MIXING AND MASTERING STUDIOS 2018
No. Name Quality
1. Diamond Roses Records 97%
2. Miloco Studios (Group) 79%
3. Mastering Online 78%
4. Peak Studios 74%
5. Abbey Road Studios 74%
6. Mondstein Records 72%
7. Konbeatz 70%
8. Audio Mixing Mastering 70%
9. Milian Mastering 63%
10. Online Mixing 61%

 


Author: MTME Date: 07.07.2018 Version 1

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Complete Test: Best Online Audio Mixing and Mastering Studios - TOP10 (2018)

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Single Article: The Downfall of Music
Single Article: Explaining Loudness and Dnamic Range
Single Article: Test Mixing and Mastering Studios 2018
 
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