So for some reason I was listening to Californication by the Chili Peppers (Red Hot) today, and all I could think about was how fucking ungodly loud and distorted it is. What the fuck were they thinking when they turned the gain all the way up until the clipping indicator glowed a nice healthy red throughout the whole track?
Yeah, it is unfortunate. Even stuff that sounds good, such as the latest Saul Williams and Nine Inch Nails records, could be so much more amazing if it had more dynamic range.
I've all but stopped listening to rock music lately and I think this is a large part of the reason.
Actually, I think the trend is starting to slightly reverse as of late, at least in some cases. The biggest pleasant surprise last year, mastering-wise, was the Beastie Boys' The Mix-Up, which is quite a bit more dynamic than most stuff lately, and sounds great. Short of revolutionary but still good by today's standards: 65daysofstatic, John Vanderslice, New Model Army. Even Powderfinger got a little quieter than before.
My roommate listens to all his music on his shitty MacBook speakers. When Mogwai comes on, it makes me want to strangle him and shout, "At least buy some decent headphones or something!"
Clipping? Weren't you listening to a bad ripped MP3? Most albums are usually ripped at a very high gain ...
I don't think press companies let you release CDs with clipping since it can damage your speakers. But it's true that they compress and distort the songs to hell.
Most albums are not "ripped at a very high gain" and they do indeed put out CDs with clipping. Here's some for you to download in FLAC (or rip the CD uncompressed) and check it out, with examples of where some of the worst clipping occurs: