What are some of the most "poorly engineered" albu

Discussion on new albums, developing listening skills, critical listening to others' work, as well as TOMB members' MP3 links, online recording critiques

Moderator: cgarges

Post Reply
User avatar
AnalogousGumdropDecoder
pushin' record
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Post by AnalogousGumdropDecoder » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:56 am

dwlb wrote:
AnalogousGumdropDecoder wrote:Here's a few of mine.

Donald Fagan - The Nightfly
Really?
Yes. Really. I understand why engineers tend to like the sound of this. It is "well engineered." I just think it sounds sterile, boring, and devoid of personality. Which is not to say Fagan doesn't have a signature sound and attitude that come across on everything he touches simply because he has touched them. Just that his And I really like some of Fagan's work with Steely Dan. Talented dude (sometimes). His best work is super polished, and it works for him. I just think the sound of The Nightfly is one or two steps across the line into snooze-fest territory.
Love your new bananaskin shoulderpad,
Cody C. Gaisser
www.myspace.com/codygaisser

User avatar
JGriffin
zen recordist
Posts: 6739
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2003 1:44 pm
Location: criticizing globally, offending locally
Contact:

Post by JGriffin » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:25 am

AnalogousGumdropDecoder wrote:
dwlb wrote:
AnalogousGumdropDecoder wrote:Here's a few of mine.

Donald Fagan - The Nightfly
Really?
Yes. Really. I understand why engineers tend to like the sound of this. It is "well engineered." I just think it sounds sterile, boring, and devoid of personality. Which is not to say Fagan doesn't have a signature sound and attitude that come across on everything he touches simply because he has touched them. Just that his And I really like some of Fagan's work with Steely Dan. Talented dude (sometimes). His best work is super polished, and it works for him. I just think the sound of The Nightfly is one or two steps across the line into snooze-fest territory.
But is that "poorly engineered" or just "poorly produced?" The thread topic is "poorly engineered," which is why I asked.
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9096
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:53 am

I always considered Nightfly to be a pretty invisible production, what is itself a aesthetic.

And I wish I wrote, "a touch of Tuesday Weld" ...
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
AnalogousGumdropDecoder
pushin' record
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Post by AnalogousGumdropDecoder » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:23 pm

You could be right about engineering vs. production on Nightfly. The instruments are all very clear and clean and isolated, which I guess is part of the aim of good engineering. However there are zero dynamics and the levels are unnaturally even, which could be the "mix" as opposed to engineering, but... I can't help but suspect those sounds were getting neutered from the get-go. For that reason, it hits a weird gray area between sounding natural and sounding artificial that seems really dull and uninteresting to me.

You guys may be right. Could be production, could be the mix, could be Fagan's aesthetic.

Regardless. Blah.

EDIT: I also have to say that I'm the kind of person who doesn't like things that sound too perfect. So to me, production or engineering that is too immaculate makes me gag (sometimes more than bad production or engineering). There's an episode of Pete & Pete where younger Pete is hanging out with this underwear inspector or something who is anal retentively perfect about everything. At the end of the episode everyone eats ribs and afterwards the inspector is perfectly clean and declines a moist towelette. Pete realizes that getting sauce on you and needing a moist towelette is part of the nature of BBQ, and thus the inspector's perfection is his imperfection. Just a thought,
Love your new bananaskin shoulderpad,
Cody C. Gaisser
www.myspace.com/codygaisser

Marlowe
gettin' sounds
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 1:12 pm

Post by Marlowe » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:10 am

After 'Melancholy' the Smashing Pumpkins stuff just got progressively more compressed, trashy and needlessly annoying to listen to.

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9096
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:28 am

Marlowe wrote:After 'Melancholy' the Smashing Pumpkins stuff just got progressively more compressed, trashy and needlessly annoying to listen to.
I thought Melancholy ... had some problems, actually.

Comparing the CD to what radio compressors do to the guitars on "Bullet w/ Butterfly Wings" is a lesson in what, eh, radio compressors do.

But yeah, Adore was OK for the most part (and the outtakes record), but after that ...
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

Marlowe
gettin' sounds
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 1:12 pm

Post by Marlowe » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:39 am

True, but it wouldn't keep me from putting it on. 'Machina' and 'Friends and Enemies...' are so trashed that even when I do take the chance and put them on I'll usually bail pretty soon after.

Although the Zwan record is overdone I don't mind it because it doesn't have the high/mid grinding trend going on. Plus, I love those songs.
vvv wrote:I thought Melancholy ... had some problems, actually.

Comparing the CD to what radio compressors do to the guitars on "Bullet w/ Butterfly Wings" is a lesson in what, eh, radio compressors do.

But yeah, Adore was OK for the most part (and the outtakes record), but after that ...

Marlowe
gettin' sounds
Posts: 118
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 1:12 pm

Post by Marlowe » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:44 am

Another one is the HEINOUSLY wrong compression on the Mates of State song 'Like U Crazy' from their album Bring It Back. Pumpfest on the drums. Someone should be arrested for scarring a great pop song.

http://www.amazon.com/Bring-Back-Mates- ... s_ep_dpt_1

User avatar
AnalogousGumdropDecoder
pushin' record
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Post by AnalogousGumdropDecoder » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:06 pm

Agree on the Pumpkins stuff. For someone as "ambitious," production-oriented, and overdub-intensive as Corgan, he sure does get some lifeless sounding mixes. I always get the impression I'm hearing the music beamed at me from a vacuum instead of being engulfed by it. Melancholy's still a good album despite it though. You'd think working with people like Flood, he'd be able to get his shit together. The newest album sounds wretched to me... like a guy trying to make a really bad Queen album on his laptop. And I'm really not a "fidelity" kind of guy. I guess I can tolerate "lo-fi" and distorted recordings if they have character, but I get put off by things that are neutered. Unless it's vintage Todd Rundgren. Then I just excuse it because he is/was a badass. His newer work sounds REALLY atrocious though. And that guy's a grade A producer. He engineered Skylarking, right? HE has no excuse.
Love your new bananaskin shoulderpad,
Cody C. Gaisser
www.myspace.com/codygaisser

Qlevel
audio school graduate
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:30 pm

Post by Qlevel » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:42 pm

Not really the absolute worst-engineered albums of all time, but just a few that come to mind.

XTC - Drums and Wires: Just sounds weak, raw, and tinny overall. Volume is often inconsistent, even on the same track. Needs more compression. Anyone know if they've remastered this yet?

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular: I have a love/hate relationship with this album. I can understand the "semi-lo-fi/neo-psychedelic" direction that they were going for, but Fridmann's production starts to get old pretty fast. Too many nasty frequencies, vocals are sometimes intelligible, and louder parts peak out. The overall album sounds amateurish and sloppy.

Bruce Springsteen - The River: I usually like bright mastering, but this album's shrill and metallic timbre can become obtrusive. Not to mention that all 20 songs sound like this. Sounds like a gymnasium recorded from the hallway outside.

Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run: Almost the exact opposite of The River. It unintentionally sounds like it was recorded 10 years before it's time. Needs more presence, ambience, and punchier drums. Makes an otherwise tight band sound sloppy.

Kings of Leon - Only By The Night: I love the big and roomy drum sounds on this album, but the rest can get really mid-rangey and harsh at times. Certain songs are over-compressed. It's one of those albums that gives you hearing fatigue after listening at a loud volume for an extended period of time.

The Connells - First Two Albums: Both are clearly low-budget works, but the misuse and overuse of digital reverb just kills it. Guitars sound muddy and vocals can be too loud at times. Dynamics are lost.

The Decemberists - Castaways and Cutouts: Hard to tell if it was poor tape quality or an early low-bitrate digital recording, but things just generally sound "artifacted". Ridiculous 60's-style extreme panning. Not to get into the production too much, but the sparsity and simple arrangements on this album don't really work in it's favor and instead make it sound lifeless and dull.

U2 - No Line On The Horizon: Eno and Lanois could be two of my all-time favorite producers, but NLOTH suffers from some of the same things that I complained about on Oracular Spectacular. Certain elements peak out while others don't punch enough. The mix is muddy and buries some extremely cool stuff that I want to hear more of in the forefront. Drums could use a lot more clarity and sparkle. Lacks the lush crystal-clear ambience that was prevalent on their 80's works.

Rush - Vapor Trails: MASSIVE over-compression. This album is really hard to listen to from all of the clipping and digital distortion. Everything sounds dry and lifeless with no dynamics.

User avatar
Jitters
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 413
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:21 am

Post by Jitters » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:50 pm

AnalogousGumdropDecoder wrote:Agree on the Pumpkins stuff. For someone as "ambitious," production-oriented, and overdub-intensive as Corgan, he sure does get some lifeless sounding mixes. I always get the impression I'm hearing the music beamed at me from a vacuum instead of being engulfed by it. Melancholy's still a good album despite it though. You'd think working with people like Flood, he'd be able to get his shit together. The newest album sounds wretched to me... like a guy trying to make a really bad Queen album on his laptop. And I'm really not a "fidelity" kind of guy. I guess I can tolerate "lo-fi" and distorted recordings if they have character, but I get put off by things that are neutered. Unless it's vintage Todd Rundgren. Then I just excuse it because he is/was a badass. His newer work sounds REALLY atrocious though. And that guy's a grade A producer. He engineered Skylarking, right? HE has no excuse.
I think Todd Rundgren did a great job on the latest New York Dolls album 'Cause I Sez So'. Did you hear that one?

Tim A
gettin' sounds
Posts: 116
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:26 am

Post by Tim A » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:27 am

I guess this is probably mixing.
but i always though Doves put out extremely average albums, were as ive seen them live on tv (filmed live shows often have bad mixes) and they are bloody amazing.
i would love it if they did a best of (even though they just did) and went back and recorded all these songs, with someone like Flood or something

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9096
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:33 am

I really like the sound of Doves' Some Cities. It's kinda murky inna fitting way.

I love the first Black Joe Lewis record, and the production suits it, except the highs give me a headache after awhile - I'm hoping to pick up the new one soon and that it's better.
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
AnalogousGumdropDecoder
pushin' record
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Post by AnalogousGumdropDecoder » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:57 pm

Qlevel wrote: XTC - Drums and Wires: Just sounds weak, raw, and tinny overall. Volume is often inconsistent, even on the same track. Needs more compression. Anyone know if they've remastered this yet?
Are you listening to one of the old CD versions (US or UK from 80s or 90s)? These sound pretty thin and murky. The Japanese import mini-LP version sounds pretty badass, and I think there may have been a remastered US or UK version at some point since the Japanese version came out. Not sure. I Anyway the Japanese mini-LPs are great because they have the original (better) UK track lists with the B-sides and songs from the American albums tacked on as bonus tracks. 'm used to the Japanese CD and the American vinyl but I really love the sound of this album (though not as much as Black Sea). I think the dynamics are intentional. "Complicated Game" just wouldn't work if the volume stayed constant. It's also one of the few cases where the big gated drum sound really adds to an album. 2 cents.[/i]
Love your new bananaskin shoulderpad,
Cody C. Gaisser
www.myspace.com/codygaisser

User avatar
AnalogousGumdropDecoder
pushin' record
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Post by AnalogousGumdropDecoder » Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:58 pm

Jitters wrote: I think Todd Rundgren did a great job on the latest New York Dolls album 'Cause I Sez So'. Did you hear that one?
No. I'd like to.
Love your new bananaskin shoulderpad,
Cody C. Gaisser
www.myspace.com/codygaisser

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests