Monday, March 05, 2007

Techno Has Reached It's Limits: The Negative Effect Of Software Limiting In Techno Music

.:Techno Has Reached It's Limits: The Negative Effect Of Software Limiting In Techno Music:.

Here is a very interesting article from Blackout Audio which talks about how electronic artists are way to dependant upon the use of limiting in their music. The result, is extremely "hot" music that lacks any sort of dynamics or progression. Personally I think the author is spot on in this article, and I find all too from artists tracks that I listen to that in your face radio sounds has taken over so much music. I wonder though if this is not only a product of just techno music, but the introduction of software as the main form of creation.

Back in the early nineties, a well mastered album set at a good level could be averaging -12 to -14 db rms, and still peaking at zero db. What this effectively meant was the main body of the music (the rms level, and our perceived loudness of the track ) would be sitting at -12db, with 12db of headroom available for kicks and snares, drops and builds to provide the dynamic impact, colour and interest...Slowly the rms levels have been coming up and up since the first software limiters were introduced, (regularly to -5db rms or so on some techno mixes that arrive here) meaning there is now nowhere for the kick drum to go, except head first into a brickwall limiter, barely louder than the body of the track.

From a Live standpoint what are you LivePA'ers out there doing? I have seen on the board the issue of limiters come up several times, and the discussion of sounding "pro" or "mastered" is often an issue. Has the club or live environment mandated that we have the constant driving in your face sound?

I for one almost never use limiting, and only use a very little bit of compression on my tracks after recording, whether it ends up being a live or studio recording. This is using hardware, and ironically enough when I was a software musician I used to compress the heck out of my tracks. It is fair to say that my tracks sound much livelier now because of my toned down use of effects in general.

Lets hear your thoughts on this one.

1 comment:

J. Wells said...

A limiter is a useful thing to throw overtop a mix, or maybe an overactive track. However, in my experience as a breaks producer, I've found that if I'm using a limiter (or any other software engineering technique) to correct something, then I'm doing it wrong and ought to back up a step or two. It's true, a limiter can be an easy fix for problems, and a no-brainer way to give a mix that "in yer face" sound, but it's being overused by today's producers. I think it goes back more to the laziness of the average modern producer compounded by less experienced producers aping their lazy professional influences.