Howie Weinberg is killing music

I had an interesting evening. I listened to Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ ‘Shake The Sheets’ on my nice headphones, and noticed it sounded like pants. I took a look at it in Audacity, and it’s been massacred in the mastering. this is a masterly explanation by a fan of Rush of how a lot of modern albums are absolutely killed in the mastering stage of production; basically, the average volume level of the music is massively increased in order to make it sound VERY LOUD ON THE RADIO, which causes the bits that really are loud (especially certain drum hits) to be ‘clipped’ (cut off when they go above the maximum volume you can put on a CD) and thus distorted. I mailed Ted, who surprised the crap out of me by replying in about five seconds and saying I should get in touch with the guy who mastered it. He mentioned one guy but the record itself credits someone else, Howie Weinberg. I did some googl^H^H^H^H^Hresearch, and it turns out our Mr. Weinberg has a surprisingly extensive track record (see the PDF discography), quite a lot of which I own, and one of which is the exact Rush album that was excoriated in Rip Rowan’s article. So I took a look at all the other albums he’s worked on that I own, and it turns out that Howie Weinberg is single handedly killing music.

The earliest stuff of his I have is from the early 1990s; The Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish and Siamese Dream, Jeff Buckley’s Grace and PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love. These are all pretty well mastered recordings. There’s certainly no obvious evidence of the systematic compression and clipping I saw on Shake the Sheets and Rip Rowan saw on Rush’s Vapor Trails. However, the rot seems to set in around 1996. From this point on, the albums he mastered – Garbage’s first two albums, PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire?, the Pumpkins’ Adore and others – start to show obvious signs of systematic compression and clipping. From 1999 onwards, everything he’s touched is basically hideously mastered crap; Vapor Trails, Shake The Sheets, PJ Harvey’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, the Pumpkins’ Machina, Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea, the Deftones’ White Pony, the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan, Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better…the list of great albums this man has murdered seems to have no end. Possibly the greatest single improvement to modern music would be to slap a court order on the guy preventing him from being within a mile of a recording studio…

3 Responses

  1. macsteelship
    macsteelship May 11, 2006 at 8:45 am | | Reply

    Hello.

    Men, when I saw this article, I felt so well.
    I’m a guy from Argentina. Here we have a great music star that recently mastered his last album (Ahi vamos) in New York with Howie Weinberg.

    All the songs of the album has in somewhere this awful sound of clip or drop that sounds like saturation.

    The fans of the artist adviced to the company but they said that the album is perfect.

    For that reason, when I read your article I finally understood that the problem was the engineer. Shame on you Howie !!!!

    Regards,
    Mariano.

  2. adamw
    adamw May 11, 2006 at 12:59 pm | | Reply

    Wow, I’m sad to hear he’s going international! Maybe you could point out my post to the record company, and also show them the response of Rush fans when they released the album Vapor Trails mastered by Howie – almost every fan of the group hated the mastering on that album.

  3. orlandorr
    orlandorr December 29, 2006 at 10:08 pm | | Reply

    Cerati’s Ahí Vamos is a good album, but I never could listen to it for too long because my ears hurted. Now that’s was the reason!

You can comment without reCAPTCHA by using an OpenID as the URL, or logging in with an OpenID or an old site account.

Leave a Reply