Uses of the term
It is not always clear what critics mean by "overproduction", but there are at least a few common uses of the term:
- A reference to heavy use of audio processing effects such as reverb, delay, or dynamic range compression.
- A reference to heavy layering or multitracking; in the context of pop and rock music, this may refer to the addition of elements such as chorused vocals or backing strings.
- A reference to radio versions of songs pushed to be more "pop" through the use of loud drum beats or other instrumentation changes.
- A reference to heavy use of pitch correction, time correction, or quantization.
- A reference to records overseen by a producer who "imposes" his or her own distinctive "sound" or techniques on a band or artist; Producers frequently accused of this kind of "overproduction" include Phil Spector, Mutt Lange, Mitch Miller, and Chet Atkins.
All six of these meanings share the idea that a record producer or mastering engineer has made "unnecessary" additions or changes to a record in the production process, and in doing so has decreased the quality or enjoyability of the music.
In general there is little consensus among music critics or producers about when the use of an effect or production technique becomes excessive. For this reason, some producers consider the term unhelpful, confusing, and subjective.
The extensive use of dynamic range compression has recently been bemoaned by critics as part of a "loudness war". In August 2006, Bob Dylan criticized modern recording techniques, saying that modern records "have sound all over them" and that they sound like "static". Those responding to Dylan's comments seemed to assume that he was referring to the trend of increasingly compressed music.
In spite of the decreasing cost and increasing availability of professional or near-professional recording software and techniques, musicians and producers in some genres consciously set themselves against the idea of "overproduction" and attempt to make music with a rough or "lo-fi" sound.
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- "Dylan rubbishes modern recordings". BBC News. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
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- "Music + digital + compression = atrocious sound?". Retrieved 2 April 2008.