Posted by AliZeyk (29 posts) -

I love Harmonix. They make awesome games. They keep putting out awesome music for me to enjoy every week. And they make this music sound as awesome as they possibly can. Which is also why I have a beef with them. Well, not with them per se, but the amazing job they do mastering the audio on the tracks they publish really, really puts some of the studio efforts to shame. The same track on Rock Band sounds so much better than on my Zune. And no, this is not an audio quality issue, as I tend to rip everything at 256kbps or higher. Nor are these shady downloaded tracks, ill-gotten from some third party site, or from the pirate bay. No these are rips from original studio releases on CD's. The problem lies with the way the tracks on CD's tend to be mastered (and yes, some studio releases have amazing masters, but not all), especially mid 90's stuff. Take the No Doubt track pack; Spiderwebs on Rock Band comes through with amazing clarity, separation between instruments, and great punch to the bass. Now listening to the same track on my Zune, connected to my 360, playing through the same speakers, you lose a lot of that. It's not that it sounds bad; it just doesn't sound as good as the Harmonix master. And while kind of problem is more prevalent and apparent on older CD's, some newer releases have similar issues as well.
 
And on a related note, you realize how much work Harmonix was doing to make the tracks it put out sound so great when you listen to the mastering and audio quality of tracks on Rock Band Network. I love the idea of RBN, to be able to see more of the music I love playable in Rock Band, but so far, the audio quality on all the tracks I've sampled have been sub par.
 
So to end this winding train of thought, two things. First, everyone else out there that masters music, take a cue from Harmonix. And second, Harmonix, if you were to put out albums of the tracks you've mastered, I wold pay you for them, even though I've already payed for them once. I love them that much.

#1 Posted by AliZeyk (29 posts) -

I love Harmonix. They make awesome games. They keep putting out awesome music for me to enjoy every week. And they make this music sound as awesome as they possibly can. Which is also why I have a beef with them. Well, not with them per se, but the amazing job they do mastering the audio on the tracks they publish really, really puts some of the studio efforts to shame. The same track on Rock Band sounds so much better than on my Zune. And no, this is not an audio quality issue, as I tend to rip everything at 256kbps or higher. Nor are these shady downloaded tracks, ill-gotten from some third party site, or from the pirate bay. No these are rips from original studio releases on CD's. The problem lies with the way the tracks on CD's tend to be mastered (and yes, some studio releases have amazing masters, but not all), especially mid 90's stuff. Take the No Doubt track pack; Spiderwebs on Rock Band comes through with amazing clarity, separation between instruments, and great punch to the bass. Now listening to the same track on my Zune, connected to my 360, playing through the same speakers, you lose a lot of that. It's not that it sounds bad; it just doesn't sound as good as the Harmonix master. And while kind of problem is more prevalent and apparent on older CD's, some newer releases have similar issues as well.
 
And on a related note, you realize how much work Harmonix was doing to make the tracks it put out sound so great when you listen to the mastering and audio quality of tracks on Rock Band Network. I love the idea of RBN, to be able to see more of the music I love playable in Rock Band, but so far, the audio quality on all the tracks I've sampled have been sub par.
 
So to end this winding train of thought, two things. First, everyone else out there that masters music, take a cue from Harmonix. And second, Harmonix, if you were to put out albums of the tracks you've mastered, I wold pay you for them, even though I've already payed for them once. I love them that much.

#2 Edited by Crono11 (1653 posts) -

The RBN songs sound better when you download them, at least in my experience.
 
 
Edit: Oh and hell yeah fellow Zune owner!

#3 Posted by End_Boss (3363 posts) -

The No Doubt tracks sound better on Rockband because audio technology has improved since the mid-'90s, no doubt.

#4 Edited by OldGuy (1599 posts) -

It may also have to do with the Loudness War. You just can't push digital and have it retain clarity or seperation the way you could with analog. A (very) gentle push to create more presence isn't the worst thing (but it's not that great), but a lot of discs a pushed HARD and that turns them into mush. Too bad as I have this thing called a volume control on my audio equipment which works great and doesn't crush the music.

#5 Posted by JJWeatherman (14797 posts) -
@crono11 said:
"  Edit: Oh and hell yeah fellow Zune owner! "
Zune brothers unite!   :P
#6 Posted by DukeTogo (1516 posts) -

They get the master tapes for each track, and those are separated and adjusted when you play a specific instrument so you can hear it better.  This isn't just Harmonix, the Metallica album pack for GH4 was used by fans to get a better version of the album than the CD release.  The Beatles fans also bought Beatles Rock Band just to listen to the tracks at such a high fidelity.  A local radio station played the game on their weekly Beatles show, because it was better than anything else available.

#7 Edited by AliZeyk (29 posts) -
@End_Boss:  Actually, audio tech and techniques really haven't changed much since then. Sure they've become easier, and lossy, and then lossless compression has made some changes, but the tech to master and put together tracks is still pretty much the same.
 
@OldGuy: yeah, I've seen that video as well, and that has a lot to do with it. Primarily it's because adding loudness (compressing the dynamic range) makes for very easy "better" sounding radio. Too bad you can make compressed radio sound good in other ways as well, without sacrificing as much of the quality, but that takes time and effort :(.
 
@DukeTogo: But the record companies also have the same master tracks, so why can't they put out a better sounding version? And yeah, I've heard the difference between the Metallica album on GH and CD. It seems the record industry does not care about fans, as long as they can get their money, whereas Harmonix seems to very much be music fans themselves, and strives to always put out the best product they can.