Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"A Great Divide" was mastered this weekend by Jeff Lipton of Peerless Mastering. The band's friend, Chris Cook, kindly drove Rich and me up to the studio outside of Boston so we could actively hear what Jeff thought should be done to the CD.

This record is groundbreaking in the way that it was mastered; instead of crushing and compressing the audio in order to increase volume, the CD was left quiet in order to hear all the dynamic contrast. This makes it possible to turn it up and not have harshness. Try this: take any CD you have from the 70s or 80s and set your CD player to a volume where it sounds good. Now take a more recent CD and get that volume to be equal in loudness (probably a much lower setting; for me "Temple of Shadows" has to be at 8 to sound like "...And Justice for All" at 27). But hear the difference; the older CD doesn't get harsh and has a more rich sound, while it hurts to hear the new CD. This is probably the reason why I keep getting headaches when I try to listen to more modern music loudly.

Anyway, sitting in the studio was the first time I heard the CD in its entirety. I noticed so many new things. There is a balance between heavy riffs, lush/flowing orchestral parts, dissonant/energetic orchestral parts (even some microtonal moments), classic prog, and a tasteful use of pastiche. I'll let the public guess where these motives are once the album is released, but I'll have to disclose the proper locations soon enough to avoid false information floating around the internet.

Right now we're waiting on the artwork and final "okay" of the master, then it's duplication time.