Metallica "Death Magnetic" - Comparison video, you decide - Mastering Media Blog

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Metallica "Death Magnetic" - Comparison video, you decide

This morning there is a video on YouTube comparing a short extract of the CD release of Death Magnetic with the "Guitar Hero" version. This is the same comparison that the fans made originally and posted on the forums about, which I reproduced and then blogged about.

The onscreen text shows when you are hearing the CD and the Guitar Hero (GH) versions. Take a listen & a look, and make up your own mind. The problem is especially bad at the end of the sample, where the video loops a few times. Which is better ?

(Note that YouTube changes the audio into mono by default. I have linked to the hi-res version, if your computer struggles to play this, click on the video to go to YouTube itself to see the "Normal" version. However the audio is much lower quality in the Normal version, making the differences harder to hear.)

If you think the distortion on the CD release sounds bad, please go and sign the petition, even if you're not a Metallica fan - this is our chance to send a message to the music industry that enough is enough, and we want decent-sounding records again !

Don't be fooled - in some ways, the CD version does sound better than the GH version - fuller, and warmer. I've written more about this here. The distortion ruins it for me, though. If the CD's mastering engineer, Ted Jensen had been given a clean version to work from in the first place, he could have made a master with just as full and warm a sound, even more harder-hitting, but without the distortion.

If you want to know more about why they sound so different, check out my post about the "Loudness Wars" here, or visit

These clips sound like the same ones I was sent and used for my original comparison - whoever created the samples has been turned down the CD version, matching the levels so the differences can be heard clearly.


Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Thanks a lot for helping to spread the news on the D-Mag saga, and the loudness wars. I'm sure you've noticed that this story is breaking through the the traditional media, thanks to your efforts.

I've been following the D-Mag mix story since its beginning, and have been blogging about it as much as I can. I'm just finishing my post on your work, and some of the news from Wired and Scandinavian newspapers. We need to keep track of all the media attention, and do what we can to fan the flames.

I have been cheerleading others online to help spread the word. When I have the time (hopefully tonight), I'll include email links to some music magazines. I'm sure that will help a lot. I would also suggest that everyone call or email their local radio stations. This story has legs, and we can make it work.

There have been many twists and turns already, which is really surprising. It's all due to our hard work and I'm sure more surprises are to follow.

Ideally, the perfect "win" would be for Metallica or Warner Bros to re-mix D-Mag or reissue it as a "clean" version. That may be difficult for various reasons (this was the final album that closes Metallica's contract with WB). But I think we're pushing awareness of the loudness wars to a new level. It's time for the backlash against the music industry's sabotage to hit the mainstream.

Again, thank you so much for your efforts, Ian. If there's anything I can do to help (besides my own blogging on the subject), don't hesitate to ask.

Some Audio Guy said...

Even through Youtube's really crappy audio compression there's a pretty substantial difference in range and tone.
I stopped listening to Metallica after they sued Napster fans, but anything that calls attention to this kind of brick wall limiting is A-OK in my book.

Thanks Ian!

ianshepherd said...

@some audio guy - amazing, isn't it ?

@daniel The extra 25,000 hits clued me in that people were paying attention :-)

I completely agree with what you're saying - Rolling Stone have got it now, hopefully that will make a difference ( ).

Where have you been blogging about this ? I had a quick look at your site but didn't see anything straight away.

Euan said...

Erm, all guitar hero tracks empasise the guitar track over the other instruments so you know what part your playing.

It's nothing special LOL.

Definitely not worth a Blog IMO.

ianshepherd said...

Thanks for your insightful comment. It;s the drums that benefit most, not the guitar...

Miggity said...

Thanks for bringing so much attention to this issue. Glad to see Rolling Stone picked up the ball now too. Hoping this is the catalyst to put a stop to all the loudness nonsense.

Euan said...

Metallica are sellouts who sue their fans anyways so who cares?

Anonymous said...

The GH version is pretty bad too. Not nearly as bad as the CD.

I don't want ANY compression. Without compression it should be about 1/3 as loud as it is now.

mindenes said...

It's crap like the Californication from RHCP.

Alto said...

I dunno guys... maybe there's something wrong with my ears, but the guitar hero version sounds no better. It's still popping and clicking the hell out of my speakers, which was actually what I found to be the original problem with the CD. When I listen to it sounds it sounds like there is someone beside me bursting bubble gum ever 1/8 note!!

Anonymous said...

This is very cool


Jeffrey Collins: Painter said...

Damn bro you are totally on point with that one. Seems to me their next album might be mixed by a 21 year old who's just starting out and wants to do it all in his headphones.

This degradation of music must stop. People need quality sound if they are going to be listening to it ten years from now.

Anonymous said...

wow good article
thanks ian !

ianshepherd said...

Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the comments, please check out the link on the right labelled "The Death Magnetic Story" for more info, and maybe Digg or Stumble any posts you think other people would be interested in !


w0lf16 said...

I dislike Metallica and wish those aging dinosaurs would disappear.