Originally Posted by Wrecking Crew
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.
Well, what I explained is the reason that explains why Death Magnetic sounds the way it did. It's the exception, not the rule. Most other albums get cranked to hell in the mastering, not the mixing. 95% of mix engineers leave a ton of room for the mastering engineer to make the track louder. Digital limiters and compressors have gotten a lot better in recent years. You can get a pretty jacked signal without any clipping and distortion if you've got the plugins/hardware and a bit of ingenuity.
It's a cyclical thing. For like 50 years artists have been competing for the loudest track around. Mastering engineers have had to acquiesce to the artists/labels' desire for a loud song or risk losing business. What's different about now as opposed to a few years ago is that mastering engineers finally have the technology to get a really loud signal that sounds good. Not nearly as nice as a song with most of its dynamic range intact mind you, but certainly good enough.