Unprofessionally Mastering a trend ?


Dear mastering folks.

I've read some time ago, about too loud audio mastering on CD's.

½ an hour ago I took my chances and had a look on Destiny's Child "Bootylicious".
I'm stunned. :shock:
It's clear that the bassdrum hits the digital roof every single time it's present.
The audiocurve is cut off, looking straight flat at + 0dB and - 0dB and it sounds like..."pluff-pluff".
I think that's deeply unprofessionally done.

The 16bit digital roof should only be reached by a couple of spikes.
Not every single time there's a hit on the bassdrum.

What has happened inside the mastering facility, with this CD ?

Now. I will have a look on my CD's to see when this awful and amateurish trend has started.

It's like they have been thinking: " Let's push as much sound as possible inside the 96 dB dynamic room"
I think that's is a very misunderstood platform of mastering audio.

What about you good folks.
Have you ever mastered sound in this way ?

Right now, I think this Destiny's Child "Survivor" from Sony Entertainment Inc. 2001 is a defect product.
I wonder if it's even possible to return it to Sony and search for another edition, which is better mastered.

Thank you for taking your time.


Hiding under a stone, I guess.

Is that the norm now ? Holy c***
That's really bad.

Playing this material on the TV-set, on a ghettoblaster and from the speaker on a cellphone, one cannot hear how bad it is.
But even on decent equipment, it's obviously an amateurs work.

I had a look on Dire Straits "Communique", the original edition from early 1980's.
Lots of headroom.
On a newer edition, it suffered from bad mastering with these awful cuts.

Like stuffing a birthday cake through a small pipe.
It's still cake, when it comes out, but the fine details is gone.

Perhaps these amateurs are mastering with their minds in a carstereo.

It's really bad.

Thanks for replying, Michael.


Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2007
Personally,just my thinking here, it must be with the entire trend of making everything available to Joe Public.

If the equipment is made available, if the dollars are made available, if the standards are lowered enough, if enough TV shows the average singer/musician becoming the much sought after, then the current "hey, I really CAN be a star" trend continues en masse.

Opium for the masses has been replaced.


Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2005
I've been known to use some " creative clipping" in some of my tracking and mixing. A slightly digital analogy to analog saturation. So this might not all be from the mastering process? A little clipping on a bass drum track can increase its odd order harmonic distortion which can give a little greater click to the thump. But I agree as it is all like the FM loudness wars of rock-and-roll stations gone by. Everything is overblown. Over-the-top. Taking it to the extreme. Everybody wants extremism.

I'm extremely disappointed
Ms. Remy Ann David


It's a trend propagated by the car stereo manufacturers so they can get away with using smaller power amps.

Read up on it.


No Bad Vibes!
Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2007
Everyone wants their CD louder than the other guys.

Thankfully, the current medium can only be pushed so far.


Well-Known Member
Jun 24, 2007
It seems really easy to gravitate towards loudness and each time shave a lil more of the dynamics of the song. So it has no body or soul and our ears are just over-sensitized. When I listen to music that is recorded, mixed, or mastered in this manner it tickles my eardrums. There are so many new sonic imperfections that are present, even if it is clear. The low end is so compressed it gets numb. I am currently working on my bands project now, and am getting an average mastered volume around -14 to -16 RMS. I like to keep the dynamics of the performance and demand the listener to turn it up. I could'nt even imagine myself mastering a song to -10RMS. That is where the ZERO point is in my mind. -10RMS :lol:
The square wave syndrome


Well-Known Member
Apr 4, 2006
I'm as much an opponent of the loudness wars as anyone, but I can't call the product "amateur" or "unprofessional." It takes real pros to make stuff that sounds like this. You can bet that your Destiny's Child CD was done in a professional mastering house with tons of hit records on the resume. When you are making crap like this it has to be done just right. Solid dense blocks of square waves made with a cheap plugin sound different than the solid, dense blocks of square waves made with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of outboard equipment.

Thomas W. Bethel

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2001
Unless you have access to the unmastered tracks as well as the mastered tracks it is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to blame or commend the master engineer for what he did or did not do to the recording.

Much of the stuff I get in is already in pretty bad shape and all I can do is do some "sonic surgery" to try and get it ready for mastering. Things are already distorted, have weird frequency curves and lots and lots of effects, compression and reverb. All I can do, as most mastering engineers will tell you, is try and do my best with what is coming in the door. If it is at all good I can make it sound fantastic, if it is marginal I can make it sound a whole lot better, if it is really really bad all I can do is my best and hope that by showing the artist where the problems are he or she will do a better job the second time around,

Good topic :wink:


Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2007
I saw your post about this before, but I can't seem to find it now ...

What then, would be ideal for you to receive a mix? The obvious would be nothing on the stereo bus, yes?

Where do you prefer the levels to be?


When extremism is normal, then normal would be quite extreme.

Of course this ol' CD has been through a million dollar set-up.
I wouldn't be surprised if the engineers involved, have had a huge budget too.
But what are they thinking ? Where and when did their standards go ?
At 0dB, for milliseconds, the speaker or earphone membrane just sits quiet doing nothing at maxed out position. It's doing nothing.
How can I grow respect for that ?

BTW. If I have a " ready-to-square-wave" digital track in the digital domain, with the one and only spike hitting 0dB as it should be and I amplify it digitally in order to get square waves, the result in direct comparison, would be the same, if I do it on a notebook computer or in a Class-A equipped studio/mastering facility.

Good reply, Thomas.
Who is the winner, with this trend.
Not the public, nor the artists.
If any can do something about it, is the persons with the buttons and that's not the executives.
Of course, if the recording engineer has ahem sqreewed up, then the mastering engineer is left with bad material.
Sonic Surgery. I like the sound of it, if I may say so :lol:
I find that very interesting and I love intensive and forensic work like that.
If one could just draw the missing curves in a program of some sort.

I'm sorry guys and girls. I'm just not very fond of square waves.
It's bad style wherever you're talking about new issues or remastered tracks and I got a bit angry when I discovered it.
I'm sorry if the tone was a bit tense. No offense.

Pr0gr4m. The link doesn't work for me.


No Bad Vibes!
Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2007
But what are they thinking ?

They were probably thinking "If I don't do this for them, next time they're going to go to the guys who will".

It's all about paying the bills.
Some folks can be talked out of the loudness war, others can't.
If you're business has overhead, you gotta do what you gotta do.


Well-Known Member
Feb 9, 2005
Hmm....the link works for me from a couple different machines. You can go to prorec and do a search...or google search "Loudness Rush".

I'm curious, before you looked at the audio, what did you think of it. Did you think it was bad? Great? Ok? Did you hear it and think that the song was great but the recording totally sucked ass?

...and if you think that's amateur, you haven't heard too many amateurs. But then, I've heard some pretty damn good amateur stuff.


No, I actually liked the song.

It wasn't until I saw it played in Media Player, with visual effects turned on [Curves], that I saw it hitting the roof.
I ripped it with EAC [lossless wave] into Audacity and saw to my surprise, that it did in fact hit the roof.
It looked like someone had stuffed it through a pipe.

I have two CD's of "Communique" with Dire Straits.
An early version that I just bought and a newer one, that came into my posession a couple of years ago.
The thing of getting old CD's from the early 80's is just a hobby.
I heard a difference with these two. One was louder than the other.
These were also "investigated" in Audacity.
All the toppes that are available in the old CD, are now suddenly wiped out .
There's no need of doing that. It's destructive behaviour.

I think theres some sort of assumption of a nonexisting consensus, that consumers wants everything to be louder and of a lower and clipped quality.
If they can't hear the difference, what about bringing high quality audio into circulation instead.

Why lean towards bad stuff ? I actually really can't see the point of doing that.

By the way. Don't get me wrong.
I'm the amateur here :)


Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2007
pr0gr4m said:
Hmm....the link works for me from a couple different machines. You can go to prorec and do a search...or google search "Loudness Rush".


Link hasn't worked for me yet, either. Googled or otherwise...

You must have a copy of the page cached in your browser., that is why it is working for you...but poor us who wants to read and cannot:(


Well-Known Member
Feb 9, 2005
Since linky no worky do this...

Go to http://www.prorec.com. Don't click on that address, type it in your address bar. Then in the search box search for "loudness rush". The first article returned is "Over the Top". That's the good stuff. 5 seconds of work and your there.