Did I receive a BAD disc or is everyone hearing the poor quality of sound? There is a background "harshness" that sounds like I'm listening to an old record on an old record player with a worn stylus. What gives???
I'm pretty sure you guys are just products of what 98% of modern CDs sound like. The sound on this album is dynamic. It's loud and it's soft. It has range. The background noise and warmth is there for a reason. It's how T-Bone thought it should sound. Not everyone has to like it, though.
I emailed the producer and they claim to have intentionally embedded the distortion to give the CD, and I quote, a more 'vintage' sound. One of the benefits of digital technology is the elimination of distortion often found in other mediums, such as vinyl. If one wants a vintage sound, one should buy a vintage medium, no? In truth, most people have crappy sound systems and probably don't notice the distortion, or at least it isn't as prevalent as it might be on a reference system, so there's no harm/no foul. We're either experiencing a pandering to society's weakest links or blatant incompetence.
We've just had one delivered here in the UK, and the distortion on the vocals is truly terrible. It flat-lines on the entire recording whenever the levels get fairly high - means it was simply recorded to loud! Purposeful "vintage" sound!? Utter rubbish, it's pure incompetence. By the time they realised the engineer had screwed up it was too late, and they know it. Sad.
There is some hiss on every track, and a little analog distortion in some of the loud vocal tracks. But compared to actual "vintage" recordings, there is hardly any. Have you listened to the hits of yester-year on a really good system? It's embarrassing how much distortion used to pass for normal. And as for the hiss, I find it kind of relaxing, and it sort of subliminally softens and lightens the tone palette, which would be otherwise quite dark and hard-edged. But again, there's not much of it, compared to old recordings. I'm quite certain this was all intentional. I've listened to it on an extremely good system, and I like the effect. It may not sound as good on a system that already has its own noise and distiortion. But my goodness, unless your copy is worse than mine, this is nit-picking. T Bone and the gang have really made something amazing, and if this is part of their vision (like the black and white effects in Sin City, and similar comparisons we could make to movie effects) - I'm inclined to give them a wide berth for such creativity!
The hiss doesn't bother me, it's the distorted vocals at high levels. There's no excuse, and there's certainly nothing vintage about it. Old recordings sound like they do because of the recording medium, not because the sound engineers were any less experienced. Play the CD in any PC and look at the EQ - it's regularly flat-topping at 0dB and beyond. That's a bad recording, not post-processing effects.
Let's agree that you don't like it. Regardless why old recordings sound the way they do (I agree the engineers were not "less experienced" - they were in many cases far better than today), the sound remains a fact unto itself. It will forever be part of those recordings. The distortion in these tunes is a conscious emulation of that sound, because the producer and the artists like it. It fits the music in their opinion. Again I return to film, and contemporary works that emulate vintage cinematic defects in order to create a certain atmosphere or "feel." This kind of thing happens all the time in all sorts of media, and there's always somebody who doesn't like it. But it's completely wrong to call it incompetence. It's a creative decision, every bit as much as what notes to play. I happen to like it, too. I'll take as many more records with these kinds of legendary performances (even with the "vintage" emulation) as the record labels see fit to make. One final point is that the mastering on this CD is really hot (not distorted, but heavilly peak-limited and compressed). It's entirely possible the analog part of your system distorts from the levels on this disc, which would sound bad, but would not be what the rest of us hear. I'm not a fan of ridiculously loud mastering such as this, but that's an industry-wide problem, not something to do with this album.
The reality is we'll never know their true intention. The admission of adding distortion to create a vintage sound may have been post facto, or it may have been aesthetic expression a priori. With all the articles surrounding sub-par quality standards in media production these days, I'm inclined to assume the later, but I see your point.
> My point was that the "vintage" effect wasn't actually intended, rather an excuse.
We only have the artists' word on that, and they're saying it was intentional. Unless you were there, it strikes me as odd that you would single out this album for that kind of criticism. There have been many cases (Neil Young comes to mind) where aritsts have cried foul when the final sound was not what they intended due to some mastering or pressing flaw or something). Typically an artist won't defend a work that deviates from their vision in any substantial way. I'm inclined to believe the producer. After all, he paid for the engineering, and if it wasn't done to his specification, I would expect him to raise sand about it. ;-)
Dead right. Not only noisy and messed up vocals, but the thing that bothered me more than either of those was the muddy bass and terrible kick drum. The smother everything.
The excuses about trying to recreate a "vintage vinyl sound" crack me up. I've got hundreds of vinyl records. I've got mono Brit import records from The Beatles made in the 60s that are clean as a whistle - you listen to these and say, "Oh... they dang well COULD make good recordings in 1964."
You bet they could.
I just bought a copy of Kathleen Edwards' "Asking for Flowers" ON VINYL and it sounds much better than the CD version (which I also bought).
I don't know what happened on this disc, but it ain't good.
I just gave this album a first listen, and it was hard to concentrate on the lyrics and vocals because the terrible sound engineering, whether intentional or not, was too distracting. The muddy base and over the top use of reverb effect on the instruments just killed all the enjoyment for me with the exception of the last two tracks. I came here to read reviews to see if it was "just me". Obviously, it was not.
This recording is getting the remastering it deserves. The sound I feel was a major mistake and the public should be told. I own music from all three of the big names on this recording and ,except for Zeppelins early live album,which has been remastered, there is no distortion. The performance on this recording may be the best thing to have happened in popular music in a long time, but until the corrections are made, we cannot know.
Having to remaster a 2 year old album is a damn shame, they should have a trade in deal for all of us who know good sound and know for sure that this album is NOT it. Maybe this sounds good on some kids i-pod or boom box, but on a real stereo this one hurts my ears. And yes I am a fan of both artists, I never heard of T Burnett before but i will be sure to avoid anything with his name on it in the future.