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I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

As I think most people can attest to: An "audiophile" and his money will be parted.

For a very long time now, it was easy and cheap to buy original unremastered CDs pressed in the early 1990s and older, because everyone wanted the newer remastered versions that oftentimes include bonus tracks.

I'm noticing an increase in the price of older CDs, especially in very good condition.  The last couple of CDs I have been "hunting" for on eBay have demanded a premium as high as $50, while their newer, remastered version is going for $9 used.

I'm wondering if we're going to see record labels start to release "full dynamic range" versions of classic albums at a higher price point that sell well and are popular.

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #1
I'm wondering if we're going to see record labels start to release "full dynamic range" versions of classic albums at a higher price point
Could be worth it, frankly. At least I want to see Lars Ulrich eat his own words on Death Magnetic. *evilgrin*

Earache does indeed sell multiple versions concurrently, but not with a consistent pricing policy, it seems.
Some "Full Dynamic Range" editions have the same price tag (Carcass: Swansong and its FDR edition)
Others have a premium, but not a too hefty one (Entombed: Wolverine Blues vs its $1 more expensive FDR edition)
And then for at least one, the FDR omits bonus tracks (like, Slaugther of the Soul in 17 tracks vs FDR 11 tracks). Kinda fair enough if the FDR is considered more faithful to the original work.

Fun fact: For at least one release - Sleep's Holy Mountain - the FDR edition is as released on the original CD.

that sell well and are popular.
Napalm Death might not belong to every "that sell well" universe, but  YMMV :-o
Memento: this is Hydrogenaudio. Do not assume good faith.

 

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #2
Could be worth it, frankly. At least I want to see Lars Ulrich eat his own words on Death Magnetic. *evilgrin*

Ted Jensen has always claimed that Death Magnetic came out of the studio brickwalled and he's not the one that made it so loud.

Then the version from Guitar Hero leaked that was significantly quieter and had slightly more dynamic range.  I believe, at a minimum, the Guitar Hero version is free from clipping.

Every album I've heard Ted Jensen remaster has been a brickwalled mess.  He did quite the butcher job on Hotel California by The Eagles.

Companies like Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and Audio Fidelity do a pretty good job of remastering without cranking up the loudness.  But everything they sell is on snake oil SACD and they charge a $30,00 premium for it.

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #3

Then the version from Guitar Hero leaked that was significantly quieter and had slightly more dynamic range.  I believe, at a minimum, the Guitar Hero version is free from clipping.


IMHO the issue of dynamic range is always a bit overstated. Yes, it's nice to have lots of dynamic range, but there's a pretty big margin of "acceptable" dynamic range - at least to my ears. The big issues are brick-wall limiting+compression (close to zero dynamic range) and clipping.

I truly don't understand how anyone who respects their craft can listen to Death Magnetic as it was released and think this is acceptable craftsmanship. It just sounds completely terrible with the ubiquitous clipping. If I didn't know any better I'd think that release was some kind of practical joke.

I'm quite sure you can master something "very loud" while still sounding good enough. Death Magnetic just fails at every conceivable level.

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #4
As I think most people can attest to: An "audiophile" and his money will be parted.

For a very long time now, it was easy and cheap to buy original unremastered CDs pressed in the early 1990s and older, because everyone wanted the newer remastered versions that oftentimes include bonus tracks.

I'm noticing an increase in the price of older CDs, especially in very good condition.  The last couple of CDs I have been "hunting" for on eBay have demanded a premium as high as $50, while their newer, remastered version is going for $9 used.

I'm wondering if we're going to see record labels start to release "full dynamic range" versions of classic albums at a higher price point that sell well and are popular.
Note that there is a big bonus in some of the 'unremastered' legacy CDs with material originally created between the late 1960s through the late 1980's.  A LOT of the CDs (not all) still have DolbyA encoding.  Those CDs are diamonds-in-the-rough, because even though they sound a bit too intense (compressed highs, mostly), a proper DolbyA encoding brings them out in all their splendor.
I am not big into commercialization, but the only way to get my DolbyA decoder out into the public space is through light commercialization -- but it is being shown semi-privately at AES during a tape restoration talk.
The DolbyA decoding matter IS real.   Some material made more recently has been deeply destroyed (e.g. the ABBA "Complete Studio Recordings" have been compressed to crest factor of 4-5 and peak-rms of 14dB from abt 2005), but the older stuff has much of the dynamic range left in it.
One problem is that one cannot tell ahead of time whether something is DolbyA encoded or not.  I even have as late as 1992 'Gold' type collection that IS DolbyA encoded.
So -- I am not 'selling' any DolbyA encoders here, but rather stating that some of the material from the past is REALLY GOOD once it is decoded.
I have some NatKingCole stuff (believe it or not -- it is true) DolbyA encoded from old CDs  ABBA, of course, Carpenters... Geesh, Carpenters from HDtracks is DOLBYA ENCODED!!!

SO, lots of diamonds in the rough.  The tool to decode is forthcoming, and one can even use a real DolbyA unit -- with great tedium because of a lack of tones, and the old DolbyA HW did add more distortion than necessary -- but I believe that avg quality DolbyA decoding sounds MUCH better than undecoded, no matter the complete DolbyA decoder that you use.

Incomplete decoders don't work very well -- so you need one that does all of the decoding work.  I have heard some attempts that simply do not sound like a DolbyA HW unit.  The key is to avoid making the sound worse than it was.

John

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #5
a big bonus in some of the 'unremastered' legacy CDs
[...]
a proper DolbyA encoding brings them out in all their splendor.
[...]
one can even use a real DolbyA unit -- with great tedium because of a lack of tones, and the old DolbyA HW did add more distortion than necessary
[...]
The key is to avoid making the sound worse than it was.

So ... the record industry has a case for another remaster & reissue orgy, then?
Memento: this is Hydrogenaudio. Do not assume good faith.

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #6
a big bonus in some of the 'unremastered' legacy CDs
[...]
a proper DolbyA encoding brings them out in all their splendor.
[...]
one can even use a real DolbyA unit -- with great tedium because of a lack of tones, and the old DolbyA HW did add more distortion than necessary
[...]
The key is to avoid making the sound worse than it was.

So ... the record industry has a case for another remaster & reissue orgy, then?
They probably should remaster.  Here are 3 30second snippets of a signature ABBA song.
This demo shows EXACTLY a distributed CD, DolbyA equivalent decoding, and original vinyl version.

If you listen to the fully DA decoded copy -- it is amazing -- even better than the original Vinyl version (generally more dynamic range/etc.)  The entire MamaMia-DADecoded.flac in full detail is on the repository below.  I might have left a few more examples on my repo also (not sure.)  A real DolbyA HW unit can do similar to my SW (maybe a bit more distortion), purpose here is not to talk so much about my decoder -- it is about the fact that LOTS of DolbyA material has leaked out.

Also added a Carpenters's example from HDtracks.  You'll notice MUCH MORE spatial depth in the decoded copy.  Absolutely NOTHING was done to the Carpenters recording except DHDA decoding it.

Attached:
First -- MamaMia-Vinyl.mp3   Ancient vinyl rip
Next -- MamaMia-UnDecoded.mp3  From 1992 ABBA Gold CD, direct conversion to MP3
Final -- MamaMia-DADecoded.mp3 Decoded from exactly the same CD 'mastered' to sound similar to the vinyl, but NO sweetening -- just simple M+S spatial widening by 1.414 to match vinyl (from the same file, using my V3.8A decoder.)

Also Attached (Carpenters Top Of The World, from HDtracks, Singles album):
First -- CarpHD-UnDecoded.mp3  From Carpenters Singles Album
Next -- CarpHD-DADecoded.mp3  Decoded directly from Album file -- NO further processing.

Repository:
https://spaces.hightail.com/space/xghqJodgrj

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #7
a big bonus in some of the 'unremastered' legacy CDs
[...]
a proper DolbyA encoding brings them out in all their splendor.
[...]
one can even use a real DolbyA unit -- with great tedium because of a lack of tones, and the old DolbyA HW did add more distortion than necessary
[...]
The key is to avoid making the sound worse than it was.

So ... the record industry has a case for another remaster & reissue orgy, then?

There is always a case for a remaster and reissue orgy.

I think through most of the 2000s, they just took old master tapes, digitized them, then shoved them through some software that cranked up the loudness, applied a few noise filters, and called it a day.  I don't think there was an attempt made to make anything actually better.  They just needed the "digitally remastered" badge on it somewhere to sell more records.

Some records came through the process OK.  Others sounded like crap.  (Listen Like Thieves by INXS is particularly horrid.) Heck, they're digitally remastering digital recordings now.

With the advent of digital music sales and streaming, I wish record labels would make every master available to consumers.  They no longer need to worry about physical media costs any more.  All they need to do is create another set of MP3s/FLACs and put them up for download.  Let the consumer decide which version they want.  I spend a lot of time hunting down old CDs, sometimes just to hear the difference, sometimes just because I know it sounds better.  Given the choice, I'd happily drop $5.00-$10.00 on an old master that I can download and have access to immediately, rather than try and hunt down, pay shipping, and wait a week for it to get here.

Re: I think the "loudness wars" is getting some more attention in audiophile circles

Reply #8
Companies like Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and Audio Fidelity do a pretty good job of remastering without cranking up the loudness.  But everything they sell is on snake oil SACD and they charge a $30,00 premium for it.
To me, the real value in MOFI music is the second hand stuff, for example, the majority of MOFI releases available on Discogs are LPs, and CDs and only after that are the SACDs. Discogs - MOFI (see Formats, left column)
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

 
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