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Improving the sound quality of old metal albums

To me, At The Gates' With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness became somewhat unlistenable some time ago due to its really annoying production. That was when I started experimenting around with Winamp equalizer settings to mitigate the impact of bad production.. with quite satisfactory results.

I've gotten into the habit of creating eq settings for any album whose sound I don't like enough. Here's a sample of what I've made:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NRQWV09L

These are equalizer files for Winamp 2/3/5. Load with Presets -> Load -> From EQF (for Winamp5)

Album settings inside for:

Amorphis - The Karelian Isthmus
ATG - With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness (huge improvement, try it!)
Atheist - Unquestionable Presence
Bathory - Blood Fire Death
Demigod - Slumber Of Sullen Eyes
Enslaved - Vikingligr Veldi
Therion - Beyond Sanctorum


If you get overpeaking (crackling sounds), decrease the "Preamp" value.

If you know of other ways to get more out of badly produced albums, don't hesitate to post them.

Well, you dont really need to remix old metal recordings. If you really like some recordings you can stand the poor production...
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Except for Beyond Sanctorum, all those albums have good production.

Or instead of all this you could download foobar2000 (www.foobar2000.org) and use a real equalizer with much more bands and therefore control as opposed to winamp which likes to just beef up the bass and treble at both ends but still leaves it sounding like crap.

This is lol. If you want a good sound, use a stereo and not a fucken computer.
Did I just say that out loud?

I don't think you improve anything playing with any equalizer (concerning the album). You only better your inhability to face the album as it is.


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This is lol. If you want a good sound, use a stereo and not a fucken computer.


This is true too.



if you think "With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness" has bad production, try "Forest Poetry" by Ildjarn or "Drawing Down The Moon" by Beherit (i think this is the one), har har

EDIT: and by the way, if you're EQing you're just modifying an inherently "bad" production, so you're not really creating something new. but i do use the Winamp EQ sometimes on death metal mp3s to make the guitars more audible.
http://www.nauseant.tk - So putrid you can taste the crunch!

I should have known nothing good would come out of this. If you really want to worship the original sound, do so. I am only interested in ways to get more out of it.
WFIKTBD is one of my all time favorite albums, but try listening to it on headphones and you're in for a headache because of its too strong 2000-3000hz frequency. That is undeniably a production error and I don't see a reason to NOT change that.

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Or instead of all this you could download foobar2000 (www.foobar2000.org) and use a real equalizer with much more bands and therefore control as opposed to winamp which likes to just beef up the bass and treble at both ends but still leaves it sounding like crap.

While foobar does have a better equalizer, as a program it is so badly designed that I can't stand it. Winamp may be bloat-y, but at least it's comfortable to use.


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Saying that Vikingligr Veldi has a bad production is a big misunderstanding. It's not "bad production", it's not even second-rate Black Metal production ; Grieghallen Studios have several $100 000's of equipment and normally record classical music and the like.


Well, I guess according to your argument, In The Nightside Eclipse must have excellent production, too, with all that $100,000s of equipment used?

In fact, my main concern was to make the ATG and Atheist albums sound better, the others are somewhat ok. VikVeldi isn't 'badly' produced, but still improvable.

What's wrong with Demigod's production?  I always thought "Slumber" had good production.  I think people nowadays are too easily spoiled over how easy and inexpensive it is to get better production with modern software (sorry if this reads like a rant, it isn't meant as such).

I'd rather listen to a great band with less-than-remarkable production than a crap band with great production.  Too many bands nowadays are just rehashing old ideas.  It's like Aurthur C. Clarke, I believe, said, "90% of everything is crap."

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i use guitar tracks pro, the graphic equalizer function or "3 dB boost" on it.

the only thing i do to the sound is upper the dB's, for example with the album vlad tepes/torgeist "black legions metal" split, the vlad tepes songs where too quiet, so i uppered mids, bass and highs equally, mantaining the same sound quality and production, but making the songs sound more louder.

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It's like Aurthur C. Clarke, I believe, said, "90% of everything is crap."



Sturgeon's Law:

"Ninety percent of everything is crap". Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud." Oddly, when Sturgeon's Law is cited, the final word is almost invariably changed to "crap"

Skepticism - Stormcrowfleet (works for Lead and Aether as well).

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Actually that's what I think. The production on In The Nightside Eclipse is a deliberate choice and the sound you hear on the album just cannot be obtained with a bad equipment. It is excellent equipment with settings set to the opposite of what most people would choose in order to have a "good" sound. A good indication of this is the drums : they sound professional, you can hear they were made in a good studio. Once you realize this, you understand that the rest of the production is a deliberate choice, and if you ever recorded music yourself then you know that you just cannot have that washy guitar sound with a shitty equipment or a tape recorder technique.


I don't want to be rude but I think it's a little far fetched to think that many bands get the exact production they're after. Your description above totally ignores the fact that people have limited resources when recording and are thus continually forced to compromise.

There's nothing sacred about the production you get on your cd, cause you're playing through your own stereo which will have a unique sound. This is what eqs are about, isn't it?

That said, I love the production of with fear... I wish The Red had the same...
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No matter what Emperor wanted for their sound, it is impossible for what you hear on the album to be the opposite of what they planned;


no, I agree. But that is not to say that one should be uncritical because an album is released with particular production.


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Never been a fan of EQs. Don't really know why. I'm pretty satisfied with nearly all the albums I have anyway.


Me neither to be honest, but I do recognise that there is no neutral way to listen to an album.


Conflagrations

Au milieu de l'hiver, j'ai découvert en moi un invincible été.

I was thinking about this after browsing the Suffocation "remaster" of Breeding the Spawn.

I don't think production problems should count against an album, but I'm also a realist: it helps to be able to hear it and have it sound good. Good production cannot make a crap album better, but it can make a good album more accessible.

In fact, if more metal bands had quality production they would expand their audiences.

The problem is, in my experience, that bands don't keep copies of the tapes -- the independent tracks (guitars, bass, drums, voice) from the recording session. Thus there's not much to remaster except what labels do, which is compress and normalize to 90-96% volume.