Thursday, October 1, 2009

How is Music Remastered You Ask?

Recalling the sound of a chainsaw revving its engine, Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, the legendary guitarists of Pearl Jam, slide their fingers down the fret of their guitars to open one of the most prolific PJ songs known as "Even Flow." When it was first released on vinyl/cassette/CD, producer Rick Parashar did the best with what was available to him when it came to recording PJ's first ever full-length album, Ten. What it lacked was some serious low-end. The bass was almost non-existent, and after seeing bassist Jeff Ament perform live several times I knew there was some crunch in that bass that has never been heard before on CD.

I became immensely jubilant upon hearing the news that producer Brendan O'Brien was tapped to do the remastering and remixing of the tracks on Ten because of his work on albums such as Yield where songs like "Brain Of J" had the deep vibration I've been wanting. I never knew the intricacies of Ament's performance on the album until I heard the remastered version, and the levels of McCready and Gossard made their riffs more prominent.

Some bands prefer the analog approach because they feel it might add character to the music, or it is just a more natural way of doing things. The Beatles discography is getting a digital treatment. In an article in Fast Company, they discuss how the original Beatles discography is now being converted into digital files. The way it was originally executed was by taking the analog recording and putting it straight onto compact discs. While trying to "keep the integrity" of the original recordings, with digital remastering producers are able to take out some microphone pops, electrical clicks, that hissing sound on some recordings. What it is doing is giving the recording a much more polished sound and relevant sound.

In an interview I did with the band Barefoot Truth, they discussed how it is a "digital world" in the music industry these days and the only way to compete is by going digital. They use the process of recording in Pro-Tools, a recording software, and then transferring those tracks onto analog tapes. They are still able to keep their organic sound while keeping things a bit more professional sounding.

It just shows that everyone is trying to keep up with the times, even if its Pearl Jam, who are known to be set in their ways, or The Beatles, who don't even exist anymore. Barefoot Truth said it best though, "We live in a digital world."

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, interesting post. I would have liked to have learned a little more about the science or technology of the remastering process. How, exactly, do they do it? You also would have done readers a favor by explaining the difference between analog and digital. Does anybody contend that remastering can go too far and distort the original music? Or is always just eliminating extraneous noise? What about live recordings? Bill Evans's "Sunday at the Vanguard" would not be the same if the clinking glasses were edited out.