By AliZeyk 6 Comments
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.