Sigur Rós – Popplagið mixdown

On June 30th, 2006, Sigur Rós performed Popplagið, from the album () at Klambratún Park, Reykjavik, Iceland. It was a landmark performance, broadcast live around the country on RÚV and captured in its entirety on the bonus DVD of the documentary Heima. Despite having seen them perform this song myself a few times, and listening to/watching every performance of it I can find, this is still my favourite, and also one of my favourite concert performances of all time. I watch that disc on my home theater whenever I get a chance, at house-shaking volume. I decided I wanted to carry the audio of it with me, but I haven’t been happy with any of the stereo mixes of it I’ve found. So I decided to make my own “headphone mix” from the 5.1 surround audio on the DVD itself.

I ripped the DTS stream, originally 32-bit, 48 kHz, to a monstrous set of raw .wav files, pulled the whole mess into Adobe Audition, and went to work. I didn’t want to mess with things too much, so there’s no effects added, EQing, or anything like that. The only real serious change I did was throwing a tiny amount of compression on the center channel. There were some volume changes at various points in the center channel audio that I feel are “inauthentic” and probably done manually after the fact for the DVD. It doesn’t jive with the original TV broadcast, and doesn’t jive with my experience of their other live performances. I felt like this was a justified attempt at an “undo” on my part.

The rest was just mixing. I took a surround submix from the left and right surround channels that I was going to play with the stereo imaging on, but it was just too good to mess with. All I did with that was offset it in the final mix by 100 ms, just to recreate a feeling of “big space” when you listen to it in headphones. I also nudged it up a barely perceptible 2 dB, relative to everything else in the full mix. Similarly, I jacked the LFE up a surprising 4 dB before I felt like the bass had enough warmth and thump to sound right in the various pairs of headphones I was auditioning this with.

Really, that’s about it. The mix I ended up with matches my personal preference reasonably well. There are some things that I can’t “fix” without a lot of work. Everything I did was “fire and forget” settings that apply to the entire duration of the track. Some time, if I ever get several hours, I might try to do something about the extreme limiting on the main left+right mix that really squashes things in the last few minutes. That kind of thing is extremely difficult to fix though. I can clearly see that this was done in mastering, and is a sad waste of 32 bits. The resulting mix has a dynamic range that is just shy of 80 dB, when technically it could, and should be nearly double that. Also, I might do a more tailored volume adjustment on the center channel, instead of the blanket compression I did. It makes Jónsi‘s voice a little loud when he first comes in. Then again, I love the way it all sounds anyway, so maybe not!

At the end of it all, I feel like this mix isn’t perfect yet, but is vastly superior to any other stereo mix I’ve yet heard, so I’m happy to share it. All technicality aside, this right here is the prime example of why I say music is my religion. Grab your best headphones, crank this, and be transported:



Style – Telephone

Let me tell you what loving a song is about…

Once upon a time, back in 1985, I recorded a lot of things off the radio. Much of it was from 94.3 CKMF FM in Montreal. They had a countdown, top 10 at 10 kind of thing I recorded, and for a couple of weeks, there was this incredibly cool song that floated around on it.

I have cassette recordings of it, but it took me many, many years to track down the source.

So there was this band, called Style, from Sweden. They released a single that made a bit of a splash back then called Telefon. Here’s what the dance mix of it sounded like:

I guess somebody at Sire records in the US pulled some strings, and got them to do an English language version of it.  That’s what I got to hear, record, and ponder over for decades. Then I started looking for it.

Now, there are a couple bad rips of it floating around, but a couple years ago, there was nothing, so I did some research, and some shopping. I sourced a couple copies of the original 12″, one from Brazil, and one from Holland. My reasoning was that I could eventually do a vinyl transfer on both of them, and if there were any glaring imperfections, I could crop together the best bits of each, and make something listenable out of it.


That’s exactly what I just did tonight. It took me most of the last 2.5 hours to do this. I ended up taking the majority of the audio from one copy, and replacing two sections of it with heavy pops from the second copy (painstakingly, with single-sample level cuts). Then I ran a bunch of basic utility cleanup on it, some gentle paragraphic EQing, and slight multi-band compression on the final result to make it sound “good” to my ears.

Here’s the result:

Soundcloud, for average people:

Chirbit, for Apple people:

Amazing 32-bit, 48 kHz lossless FLAC, for audiophiles: