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Old 02-24-2012, 10:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default What's Production?

I've heard people say things like "This album is overproduced.", "The production on this album could've been better.", "So-and-so is a great/terrible producer."; never had a clue what they meant. Can anyone explain? Does anyone have an example of a band who released one album that was well-produced and one that wasn't?
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Old 02-25-2012, 07:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Production has to do with the recording and manufacturing process. Depending on the genre you could be talking about lots of different things, but today there are tons of production options available:

Distortion, echo, reverb, recording location and acoustics, panning effects, volume and number of pick ups, as well as if you're recording every segment or track together or if you're individually recording elements of the final product. All of this has an impact on what the end product will sound like, and it can require as much attention and musical talent as writing and performing the songs in the first place. Not to mention that production can have to do with the way the actual performance is carried out in the recording environment.

An overproduced album might be an album where the level of production is distracting from the music (so if there was constant epileptic panning back and forth for no reason), or where the production takes precedence over the music (everything has been tweaked and made perfect which sort of dehumanizes it depending on the intention of the artist and the genre etc).

And an example of an album that was well produced vs. one that wasn't... its kind of subjective... I can give u a good example of a band that had some albums with very different levels of production.

Here's Timber Timbre's As Angels Do from there 2005 album Cedar Shakes:


Now this is their 2011 album Creep On Creepin' On. Track is called Do I Have Power...


There's a definite difference in production. For example I would say that the vinyl sound on the first track is kind of annoying and distracting. The 2011 track on the other hand probably has way more production but its very tasteful and it stays true to a live concept. The clarity of individual instruments and vocals is also much better on Do I Have Power. And btw, Creep On Creepin' On sound magnificent on real vinyl.

Last edited by Mr November; 02-25-2012 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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traitor.

Last edited by Batman; 10-11-2016 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey thanks fer the response but I've got a few more questions about your response. Hope ya don't mind.

I'm familiar with what distortion, echo, and reverb sound like. Not sure I understand what I've read about panning. Is it when you hear things alternating from the left and right ears? When you're talking about volume, you mean where the instruments sit in the mix, right? IE how a vocal melody tends to come through more than bass or drums on say... pop songs? Compared to say... funk where there's more emphasis on beats and the bassline? (taking a shot in a dark there). teh feck is a pick up? I know about pickups on guitars and basses that send their signal to amps and yapyapyap- are you talking about something else?

I think I get what you're saying about different levels of production. The first example sounds kinda stripped and bare compared to the second. Couldn't say what specifically but the second example just sounds like there's more going on with whats being played.
You're actually pretty precisely on point with what he said.
Sounds like you understand what production is. But EQ also plays a part in how an instrument sits in a mix.
And yes, pickup is the guitar/bass variety.

You can generalize a professional music producer as a person who has an overall idea of how a song will flesh out and how it will sound, and instruct the musicians about how to get there. The producer may also do the editing of recorded music.
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Artists are also produced to different degrees. Some artists only bring their voice to the studio. The producer does the rest, such as deciding what the instrumention should be and finding the right session musicians and how to get the best sound for the record, which involves reverb levels and everything else affecting sound.

New up and coming artists don't always have much studio experience. You can't just put them in the studio and expect them to make a good record because they don't know how to. The producer will be someone experienced who will help the artist make a good record or, perhaps sometimes more cynically, turn that artist into something that can make money. The bigger an artist is the more produced they tend to be, but it's often also the case that the more experienced artists tend to take more creative control over their music as they gain influence and have the know hows.

As an example of an artist who was (initially) very produced, here's Kate Bush from her debut :



Kate provided the voice, but everything else was basically decided by producer Andy Powell. A little later in her career, Kate wanted to bring in her band mates (from the KT Bush band) to play the songs and wanted a more rock feel to her music, but Powell disagreed and so session musicians were used instead. Kate hated it and as soon as she was able, she started producing her own music herself.

I still think Andy did a great job producing her, though!
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yay! I feel smarter. I need to listen to more Kate Bush. I've heard Running up that Hill and that's it... I have a creeping suspicion that I should be ashamed about that...
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yay! I feel smarter. I need to listen to more Kate Bush. I've heard Running up that Hill and that's it... I have a creeping suspicion that I should be ashamed about that...
I think she's best early on and late in her career. She has a lot of good songs in the 80s, but I don't much like the production
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I think she's best early on and late in her career. She has a lot of good songs in the 80s, but I don't much like the production
ic wut u did thar. xD
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I think in the 80s, people got a bit too fascinated with synthesizers, electric drums and other ways to make the music sound as "fake" as possible. The "gated drum" effect created by producer Hugh Padgham for Phil Collins single "In the Air Tonight" is a good example and became hugely influential on the sound of many bands and artists during that decade.



The drums enter quite late in the song. I don't like it.

The sad thing about using electronic trickery, whether it's these drums or a synthesizer is that it has a sell-by date. Either it's a passing fad or a new model replaces the old and makes it sound dated. A flute or an acoustic guitar does not really expire. They have a timeless sound. So to me, a lot of pop music from the 80s (including Kate's) sounds more outdated than music from the 70s which generally has a more timeless production.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The sad thing about using electronic trickery, whether it's these drums or a synthesizer is that it has a sell-by date. Either it's a passing fad or a new model replaces the old and makes it sound dated. A flute or an acoustic guitar does not really expire. They have a timeless sound. So to me, a lot of pop music from the 80s (including Kate's) sounds more outdated than music from the 70s which generally has a more timeless production.
This is something that I've always felt but never knew how to put, especially with the synthesizers. I love me some 80s jangle pop though.

I don't think most people who listen to pop music really put much consideration into their listening habits and consequently creating something that's really timeless isn't as much of a priority as making something that's marketable and fun.
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