Published Aug 28, 2013On top of being issued with four different album covers, Nine Inch Nails' upcoming Hesitation Marks will also be released as different audio experiences. An "audiophile" master will be served up as a free download to anyone who bought the standard set via the group's website.
According to a Tumblr post, the standard "loud" mastering job is that which appears on the CD and iTunes versions of Hesitation Marks.
The statement notes: "For the majority of people, the standard version will be preferable and differences will be difficult to detect. Audiophiles with high-end equipment and an understanding of the mastering process might prefer the alternate version."
Likewise, the vinyl edition was mastered specifically for a wax release.
Producer Alan Moulder noted that they opted to go with releasing separate masters to preserve the "true" studio experience. While the standard edition is meant to be blasted on speakers, mastering it as such also meant sacrificing some of the low end.
"Whilst doing this we became aware of how much low bass information there was on the record," Moulder explained. "Since that can define how loud of a level the mastering can be, we were faced with a dilemma: do we keep the bass and have a significantly lower level record, or do we sacrifice the bass for a more competitive level of volume? The biggest issue in mastering these days tends to be how loud can you make your record. It is a fact that when listening back-to-back, loud records will come across more impressively, although in the long run what you sacrifice for that level can be quality and fidelity. So after much discussion we decided to go with two versions."
Mastering engineer Tom Baker added that "[t]he goal was to simply allow the mixes to retain the spatial relationship between instruments and the robust, grandiose sound."
He noted that the standard edition is "more aggressive and has more of a bite or edge to the sound," while the audiophile variation "is merely an alternate take on the mastering, which some people will appreciate."
You can check out the variations September 3 — that is if you pick it up on Nine Inch Nails' website.
The standard set arrives through Universal Music Canada.