Grey Seal (Elton John) - dynamics and loudness, how?!

Hey all, happy New Year!

Grey Seal is a very old song (around 1974) by Elton John. Yesterday I was listening to oldies for inspiration reasons and I came across a more modern remaster of this song. I listened to it a couple of times through the stereo in the sitting room. Then I realised what a mixing/mastering highlight this is (the song’s quite nice too) and so I took it to the studio and listened to it through the nearfileds. The dynamics is a-ma-zing. You can almost feel single instruments (pianos, guitars, tambourines, drum fills) sticking out of the speakers like little worms that want to touch you; and still, the track has an overall loudness which is competitive with modern productions. How the hell did they manage to do this?! I always get dull dynamics when I maximize loudness to this point, but these guys seem to have found a way around this. It’s both amazing and depressing…

That was an incredible album (Yellow Brick Road) , both musically and sonically… good question, thanks for the reminder. :smiley:

Well now, worms you say?

I don’t know about worms … but lately I’ve been experimenting with putting the Neve 33609 UAD compressor plug on the master stereo out to good effect. Might try it and see if you get the worm effect you’re looking for. :wink:

He, he… the thing with the worms is an analogy to worms biting their way out of an apple. I had this vision of a very compact, round and completely enclosed apple. It stands for a very loud and maximized track with very little dynamic peaks. The worms are the dynamic peaks that come out of the apple and break its boring enclosure, while reducing the apple’s mass… Well, whatever. Perhaps I’d better keep my hands off the Talisker bottle…

Anyway, thanks for the Neve 33609 hint. I don’t have a UAD system, but I might borrow one and give it a try.

I think the secret is that the recordings had good musical dynamics before they were processed for loudness. Even post-processing, the tracks have dynamics. Also, I think the cues for loud and soft are not just the volume but also the way the instruments are played. A softly played instrument has a different sound. So many tracks I hear are very flat sounding in their arrangements to begin with.

exactly :smiley:

great album by the way, it was the first LP I ever bought after our family purchased a ‘stereo’ system in 1974 :slight_smile: