31-Jack of Shadows [1996]

The first tim scott release

Jack of Shadows was the first public release on CD of tim p scott’s compositions. Although its product style may not be as sophisticated as later releases, it had an emphasis on musical structures and melody that helps it maintain its unique charm even 15 years later.

Remixing my own tracks!?

After 15 years, I wondered if I could resurrect the original data files from this CD and see if with new technology they could be made to sound better without losing the je ne sais quois that made that release unique and magical in its own way.

I started with the first tracks in order, but the one I think I’m happiest with the remix of “Eaterrock” (you’ll have to read the CD booklet for an explanation of that title, it would take me too long to explain it here).

If you go to this page you can listen to or download the “before” and “after” tracks and see if you can tell the difference.

Jack of Shadows — low volume CD?

If you have this CD, or have downloaded tracks from it, you may feel that in comparison with other recent pop and electronic music the average volume level of the tracks is lower. It’s not in your imagination.

Back in 1995-1996 when this was recorded and mastered, the average CD was not as loud as it is today. Even if you put on the CD of Slayer’s Reign in Blood (which I highly recommend!) — one of the most brutal speed metal records of all time — its average volume is very low compared to the average rock CD of today.

So listening to tracks from Jack of Shadows mixed with songs from more recent CDs you will probably really notice how low their volumes are. To take one song as an example “From the dark to the light”, its ReplayGain calculation is +2.4. This means it is at least 2 dB less loud than a “reference” value and 2 – 5 dB lower even than a typical recording. Looking at its waveform in Sound Forge we see that we can get another 2 dB of level out of it by simply normalizing. Here are the statistics calculations run on the whole song’s WAV data:

 Left ChannelRight Channel
Minimum sample value (dB)-3.453-2.264
Maximum sample value (dB)-3.750-2.603
RMS level (dB)-22.057-21.581

Note the RMS level -21/-22 which is at least 5 dB lower than what I consider a pretty quiet track now. This means that the mp3 tracks that people might listen to will be really quiet and probably they’ll lose interest.

The following two players contain the original, and then a “remastered” version of the song, which are simply processed through Izotope Ozone 3, using some basic settings (maybe listed later for those who are really interested in that sort of thing.) They don’t seem to sound that different except in absolute level; the approximately 5 dB mentioned above…(warning) so if you’re going to compare the two versions in the players below, keep an eye on your levels so you don’t blast yourself, especially if you’re wearing earphones/earbuds.

“From the dark to the light (original)”
(5:16) from Jack of Shadows
©1995 tim p scott
(click (triangle) to play; pause to stop; speaker to change volume; dots to download)
“From the dark to the light (remastered)”
(5:46) from Jack of Shadows
©1995 tim p scott
click (triangle) to play; pause to stop; speaker to change volume; dots to download

Shadowjack's domain
Artwork from Jack of Shadows CD

OK, so how did this happen? Well, part of the blame is that that was just the way things were back then, but I have to confess I had a minor dispute with the mastering engineer who wanted to make the tracks louder and add more reverb, but I had some fixed idea in my brain that I wanted the tracks to be more “pristine”. But I would definitely make different decisions today if I were to ever remix or re-engineer many of these tracks.

Page #31 / last edited 2020-05-03