Nine Inch Nails' new album Hesitation Marks is finally out September 3 via Columbia. Today, Trent Reznor has shared that an alternately mastered "Audiophile Version" will also be available, as a free download when you buy the album through the band's webstore. (Those who have already ordered Hesitation Marks from NIN.com will be able to download it September 3.)
As explained Tumblr, the differences are subtle and for "the majority of people" the differences will be be slim. For audiophiles "with high-end equipment and an understanding of the mastering process," the alternate version could be preferable.
On Tumblr, engineer Tom Baker said it was Trent Reznor's idea to master the album in two versions, "and to my knowledge it has never been done before." He articulated the differences between the standard mastering and "audophile" mastering:
The standard version is â€śloudâ€ť and more aggressive and has more of a bite or edge to the sound with a tighter low end. The Audiophile Mastered Version highlights the mixes as they are without compromising the dynamics and low end, and not being concerned about how â€śloudâ€ť the album would be. The goal was to simply allow the mixes to retain the spatial relationship between instruments and the robust, grandiose sound.
Hesitation Marks producer Alan Moulder, who mixed the record, also posted a lengthy statement on Tumblr, detailing the differences between both processes.
Normally you wait until the record is finished being recorded and mixed, then take all the mixes to mastering. But we thought doing it as we went along might make us push the process further and spend more time on mastering rather than rush through it at the end. Whilst doing this we became aware of how much low bass information there was on the record. 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 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.
Watch the video for "Came Back Haunted", directed by David Lynch:
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