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What Does 'Overproduced' Rock Sound Like to You?
Old 22nd October 2022
  #1
Gear Nut
 
What Does 'Overproduced' Rock Sound Like to You?

A friend just released an EP of material recorded in a cool studio by a well respected engineer. Everyone brought their "A game" and some good songs were recorded with some especially great vocal tracks.

The overall effect of it fell a little flat for me. The word 'overproduced' came to mind to critique something that sounded a little too slick. Like it was missing the impact of their live sets.

Don't get me wrong. It's impressive how much space there is for each instrument in the mix and how they all have unique tones. There's a radio ready element to the mix that I honestly couldn't achieve if I tried, but the effect feels too glossy and... I'm not sure what. I guess that's why I'm asking: What does overproduced mean? How does it happen?

(I'd share a track, but that feels like a shitty thing to do to some friends who worked hard at something, maybe I can find an artist I don't know for analogy).
Old 22nd October 2022
  #2
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decocco's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshoppe ➡️
Like it was missing the impact of their live sets.
I hear you on this.

All kinds of fanciness applied and the music has LESS impact!
Old 22nd October 2022
  #3
Gear Guru
 
thethrillfactor's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshoppe ➡️
. Like it was missing the impact of their live sets.
But this is assuming one has actually heard the live sets of the band. If all you've heard is the record and that's your impression of what the band sounds like, then as a new listener you may prefer the "over produced" mixes.

I remember this same argument years ago with Nirvana "Nevermind".
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
for my taste, most any newer rock album is overproduced...

...which for me is the main reason i gave up listening to rock music on radio or streaming and which prevents me from buying cd's (for a few decades now) - remains live music!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 22nd October 2022 at 12:06 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #5
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Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
for my taste, most any newer rock album is overproduced...
I knew there'd be a day where we agree.

CIean, mainstream, expensive sounding 'rock' records are the sound of boredom.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #6
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor ➡️
But this is assuming one has actually heard the live sets of the band. If all you've heard is the record and that's your impression of what the band sounds like, then as a new listener you may prefer the "over produced" mixes.

I remember this same argument years ago with Nirvana "Nevermind".
This is a really good point: if your band doesn't have a loyal live following (yet), they'll have no idea what you "really sound like".

Still, I'd go with your gut: if you think it's overproduced, it probably is.

Having said that, modern radio rock is very much overproduced now... if you can even find any to listen to!

But a lot of artists sound super polished now: listen to Weezer's new stuff compared to old, Blink 182 was always kind of polished, but now it's immaculate.

It's just the sign of the times in a DAW, post-heavy world. Track to a click, layer by layer, fix all the flubs and doinks and zings, slip edit the drums to perfection, stack on your samples, loud loud loud, maybe 3-4dB of dynamic range between loud and soft sections (if you have any!).

To me the ultimate "is it overproduced?" test is: when I hear it, do I want to turn it down or turn it up? Even if I like the song, is it too loud, squashed, or pointy/fizzy? I'll most likely turn it down.

I tossed on ZZ Top's Tres Hombres last night driving and that album just needs to be cranked.

Same with Van Halen's Mean Streets: the top end doesn't rip your face off, the cymbals are tucked low enough to not eat the guitars, a lot of low-mid punch, but not a ton of sub, so it's not rattling your bowels.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #7
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I just made the mistake again of listening to the "Top Rock Songs of 2022" on Spotify. It's like a scab I can't stop picking.

Super polished grid rock with that kind of slack-jawed, lack of enunciation, dribbly chin vocals that's everywhere now. Have a listen to Maneskin for an example.

Like I picture a big pool of saliva on the floor in front of the vocalist as they struggle to articulate their mouths... like they cut the vocals a half hour after their wisdom teeth were removed: still groggy from general anaesthesia and their mouths are numb and full of cotton.

... but then Paramore's "This is Why" features an actual drum set and bass line played by a bass and a bass player, so that's a bonus. They've been around for almost 20 years though.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
To me 'overproduced' is absoIuteIy nada to do with what the band sound Iike Iive. It's a feeIing of raw emotion having been scrubbed off for no good reason other than sounding 'impressiveIy hifi' in a misguided attempt at adding something vaIuabIe by doing so. Often resuIting in 'un-wrong' records. No wrong bits, onIy shiny, 'professionaI' sounding bits, no human character Ieft. The worst thing. EspeciaIIy for rock, that thrives on uncontroIIed feeIing energy.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #9
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Listen to Soccer Mommy’s new album and tell me it sucks. I absolutely love the production! Rock doesn’t have to be unproduced or underproduced to be good.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #10
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Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate ➡️
Listen to Soccer Mommy’s new album and tell me it sucks. I absolutely love the production! Rock doesn’t have to be unproduced or underproduced to be good.
Just listened to "Shotgun" and "Bones". That is as pop as pop gets, not rock to me, but yeah.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #11
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 ➡️
I knew there'd be a day where we agree.

CIean, mainstream, expensive sounding 'rock' records are the sound of boredom.
100%

I find most "modern rock" painful to listen to.

Rock n' roll in particular needs grit. It needs to sound a little like drunken revelry. Like Exile. It's not that there aren't good rock tracks that have been produced well, or interestingly (the killers "I'm the man" comes to mind for me.. a little rock-disco maybe..) .. but the vast majority of these tracks leave me nothing .. or worse
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle ➡️
100%

I find most "modern rock" painful to listen to.

Rock n' roll in particular needs grit. It needs to sound a little like drunken revelry. Like Exile. It's not that there aren't good rock tracks that have been produced well, or interestingly (the killers "I'm the man" comes to mind for me.. a little rock-disco maybe..) .. but the vast majority of these tracks leave me nothing .. or worse
To me the epitome of weII produced rock is stuff Iike Jet - Are you gonna be my girI and The Hives - Hate to say I toId you so.

Energy on fire, but definiteIy NOT underproduced. Overproduction by definition breaks something. Those two are not broken. In fact that Hives tune makes me goose right now hahaha test passed.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #13
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate ➡️
Listen to Soccer Mommy’s new album and tell me it sucks. I absolutely love the production! Rock doesn’t have to be unproduced or underproduced to be good.
You're right, it doesn't, but that's not rock.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #14
To me, overproduced means doing enough to remove that feeling of what makes the raw musicianship desireable, assuming there is any of that happening before overproducing. These days there seems to be less and less of that and the fix it in the mix mentality doesn't help any.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #15
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
It's 2022, overproduce or die!
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #16
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle ➡️
100%

I find most "modern rock" painful to listen to.

Rock n' roll in particular needs grit. It needs to sound a little like drunken revelry. Like Exile. It's not that there aren't good rock tracks that have been produced well, or interestingly (the killers "I'm the man" comes to mind for me.. a little rock-disco maybe..) .. but the vast majority of these tracks leave me nothing .. or worse
Crank it to 11 and rip the knob off.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #17
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axisdreamer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm glad I never had to go itb but I understand why most engineers did and do . I don't run a commercial studio but use to part time. I still fix drum flaws by punching in,in real time or singing a section over by punching in. No drum looping no pitch correction or timing correction in a computer.. It has allowed music writing to become lazy and all sound the same and has become excepted that way. Where is the human touch? I know the ITB way is faster and is much better for the engineer's workflow in some ways so I get why we do it this way.


I work on a marijuana indoor farm and music is what gets us through the day there while we trim marijuana. The newer rock that one guy puts on always sounds dark in mood and in minor keys and they all sound the same and it makes me feel angry or depressed after hearing an hour of it.. Put rock music on from the 50's,60's,70's and you get fun happy and clever rock,flaws and all it feels great. I hate how every band has the same drum sound and the same compression sound and the same guitar sounds and the same vocals today in rock....

The technology has evolved fast now but the music has fallen behind in some ways.. I say all of this as a 63 year old musician that has been playing instruments since I was very young so I'm not just new to the game here. the Human touch is missing in rock music today in some ways but don't worry because pro tools will make it sound slick...
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by axisdreamer ➡️
the Human touch is missing in rock music today in some ways but don't worry because pro tools will make it sound slick...
SIick and 'unwrong'. So much 'unwrongness', so IittIe rightness.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 ➡️
I knew there'd be a day where we agree.

CIean, mainstream, expensive sounding 'rock' records are the sound of boredom.
It seems to have gotten worse with the trend toward dropbox/mail-order recordmaking. This was happening pre-Covid, but now it seems like it's the way it mostly gets done. Great players sending in 3-6 really competent tracks, but providing that many choices because they have no idea what anyone else is doing.
Old 22nd October 2022 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
garytube's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface ➡️
This is a really good point: if your band doesn't have a loyal live following (yet), they'll have no idea what you "really sound like".

Still, I'd go with your gut: if you think it's overproduced, it probably is.

Having said that, modern radio rock is very much overproduced now... if you can even find any to listen to!

But a lot of artists sound super polished now: listen to Weezer's new stuff compared to old, Blink 182 was always kind of polished, but now it's immaculate.

It's just the sign of the times in a DAW, post-heavy world. Track to a click, layer by layer, fix all the flubs and doinks and zings, slip edit the drums to perfection, stack on your samples, loud loud loud, maybe 3-4dB of dynamic range between loud and soft sections (if you have any!).

To me the ultimate "is it overproduced?" test is: when I hear it, do I want to turn it down or turn it up? Even if I like the song, is it too loud, squashed, or pointy/fizzy? I'll most likely turn it down.

I tossed on ZZ Top's Tres Hombres last night driving and that album just needs to be cranked.

Same with Van Halen's Mean Streets: the top end doesn't rip your face off, the cymbals are tucked low enough to not eat the guitars, a lot of low-mid punch, but not a ton of sub, so it's not rattling your bowels.
A good over produced example is that terrible reverb (and gating…?) that they added to ZZ’s Tres Hombres album in the 80’s to keep up with the times. The original sounds so much better dry. I agree, you can crank that album and it sounds so good!
Old 22nd October 2022
  #21
Gear Guru
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshoppe ➡️
A friend just released an EP of material recorded in a cool studio by a well respected engineer. Everyone brought their "A game" and some good songs were recorded with some especially great vocal tracks.

The overall effect of it fell a little flat for me. The word 'overproduced' came to mind to critique something that sounded a little too slick. Like it was missing the impact of their live sets.
In the spirit of Ambrose Bierce, I use the term: "Overproduced" simply to indicate that I appreciate the recording but don't care for the musical performances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambrose Bierce
Cannon (n.) An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.

Egotist (n.) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

Lawyer (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Love (n.) A temporary insanity curable by marriage...

Positive (a.) Mistaken at the top of one's voice.

Last edited by joeq; 22nd October 2022 at 08:10 PM.. Reason: undeleted text
Old 22nd October 2022
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
peachcasti's Avatar
Extremely edited, quantized and compressed. There are genres where that is called for but rock is all about the visceral feeling, so editing everything and overcompressing (especially overcompressing guitars, which rarely need any compression if they're already going through a tube amp and/or have some type of overdrive or distortion) kills the mood for me big time.

This is why I can't stand a lot of Rick Rubin-produced rock albums. Compression is used without any kind of regard for taste or need.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
garytube's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Eddie Kramer has repeatedly said “to leave the damn mistakes in”.
Keep it real, man.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #24
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gravyface's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Over produced: taking no risks, no chances. The best rock n roll sounds like it could fall apart at any time, close to the edge without falling off the cliff.

Particularly solos. There should be some looseness to it, pushing to the brink. Drums should be rushing a bit going into choruses and fills, 3rd verse should feel a bit quicker than the 1st.

From a sonic perspective, high gloss, zero attitude, zero dynamics, every snare hit and kick hit the same tone and velocity. No bleed. Clinical.
Old 22nd October 2022
  #25
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshoppe ➡️
[. . .] The overall effect of it fell a little flat for me. The word 'overproduced' came to mind to critique something that sounded a little too slick. Like it was missing the impact of their live sets. [. . .]
After all these years, my vocabulary still doesn’t mesh with GS lingo. And the one day when @ deedeeyeah & @ Karloff70 agree, I find my thinking an inverse to both.

If it doesn’t work—for whatever production reason—I always think of the result as being underproduced. Something and/or somebody wasn’t up to the task.


for my taste, most any newer rock album is underproduced... ...which for me is the main reason i gave up listening to rock music [. . .]!

Ray H.
Old 23rd October 2022
  #26
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pencilextremist's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
for me I'd class most 'rock' from the early 2000s as massively over produced, I don't think it's possible to 'overproduce' anything, but some producers and record labels just have bad taste and go too far, I really like dynamic range in mixing especially and also non auto-tuned vocals where you just had to keep doing takes until it was right instead of relying on the technology.
Old 23rd October 2022 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
After all these years, my vocabulary still doesn’t mesh with GS lingo. And the one day when @ deedeeyeah & @ Karloff70 agree, I find my thinking an inverse to both.

If it doesn’t work—for whatever production reason—I always think of the result as being underproduced. Something and/or somebody wasn’t up to the task.


for my taste, most any newer rock album is underproduced... ...which for me is the main reason i gave up listening to rock music [. . .]!

Ray H.
when grown ups start making noise with drums, guitars, leslie etc. - imo most any 'producah' should get out of the way and let the musicians interact with each other: they mostly know damn well what works and feels best for them!

...so no, i cannot relate to rock music being underproduced! (well, maybe: it's grunge or punk then - still much better than being overproduced and turning into pop!)

i'm glad though i get a producer to sit at my desk when broadcasting classical music! - it's not that i'm not experienced enough as a mix technician but i might get lost in small details, loose perspective or simply have no idea about the network's specific sonic fingerprint.
Old 23rd October 2022 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
After all these years, my vocabulary still doesn’t mesh with GS lingo. And the one day when @ deedeeyeah & @ Karloff70 agree, I find my thinking an inverse to both.

If it doesn’t work—for whatever production reason—I always think of the result as being underproduced. Something and/or somebody wasn’t up to the task.


for my taste, most any newer rock album is underproduced... ...which for me is the main reason i gave up listening to rock music [. . .]!

Ray H.
Interesting framing. Basically overengineered = underproduced, if overengineering throws the feel.
Old 23rd October 2022
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Muddy - too many thing going on at one time - instruments not having their own frequency space - too many elements, each interfering with each other instead of complimenting each other - too many effects - lack of clarity and focus - throwing everything in the pot, diluting the main musical elements - too many tracks
Old 23rd October 2022 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Addict
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor ➡️
But this is assuming one has actually heard the live sets of the band. If all you've heard is the record and that's your impression of what the band sounds like, then as a new listener you may prefer the "over produced" mixes.

I remember this same argument years ago with Nirvana "Nevermind".
Exactly the example I was going to use! If you can find a bootleg cd called “Virgin Songs”, it has a lot of otherwise unreleased versions of tracks. Not available on discogs as it is very Le Bootleg. It has the raw versions of a lot of tracks that were slowed down and tidied up for Hoarmoaning and Incesticide etc.
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