‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’
Now that we’ve established a baseline, we can compare ‘Good Life’ to more modern dance mixes. Let’s start with the polar opposite:
It’s immediately apparent from the waveform above that Skrillex’s ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ has been heavily limited, with the peak level approaching full scale throughout. There are quieter section visible here, during which the average signal level drops, but even then the signal still hits maximum peak level quite regularly.
Zooming in reveals the subtle differences between sections. The highlighted area in blue is the ‘quiet’ bit, while the unhighlighted green section on the right is the louder part after the drop.
Frequency analysis of ‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’ is almost meaningless without taking into account this deliberate structural approach. If we just analyse one of the louder sections, we can see a bass-heavy frequency spread with a noticeable dip around 500 Hz (which separates the low end from the rest of the track and gives the bass more room to have a greater impact):
However, the use of the frequency range chances quite dramatically over the course of the track. If we use a spectrogram (which provides a way of detailing level and frequency over time) we can see the way the frequency balance changes with the loud-quiet structure (the brighter colours represent greater level). The arrangement and mix of ‘Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites’ are defined to a large extent by this contrast between the quieter and louder sections.
This structural technique provides contrast throughout, with the drops appearing to have even more impact since they follow quieter sections with a subtly different use of frequency and dynamic range.