Originally Posted by Onioner
Now this is where it gets tricky. Some mixing engineers have been doing what is supposed to be the mastering engineer's job and crank their master fader (basically the one fader in Pro-Tools/Logic that brings every active instrument fader up or down simultaneously) to oblivion. This results in clipping, which is when part of a wave form gets effectively chopped into a flat line because it hit the "ceiling" so to speak of digital audio- that's 0 dB. We hear clipping as digital distortion. When a mastering engineer receives a mix, they're supposed to balance the overall EQ from track to track, make the songs loud enough for the market and add fades and transitions where necessary. When a mastering engineer receives a jacked mix of the kind I just mentioned, there is nearly nothing they can do to fix it. This is what happened to Death Magnetic, and Stadium Arcadium, both Rick Rubin productions. Rick Rubin has probably never manned a board in his entire career. Yes, he deserves some blame for letting these albums get pressed sounding they way they do, but he is not directly responsible for the sound of any of his records in an engineering sense.
Thanks for the breakdown, I was wondering who to blame for the clipping present in so much music today. I had to get a new CD player 10 years ago just because of clipping. It's amazing the difference when you pop in a CD from the '80s or early '90s versus most anything after around 2002.