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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Hello all, just found this forum (see below for why I was looking).  I am starting to get back into music and I was reading about the loudness wars (I have not been a serious music listener for the past 10 years or so), today I finally heard what all the fuss was about:

I was listening to Judas Priest's 2005 release Angel of Retribution on CD then I switched to Screaming for Vengeance, Judas Priest circa 1982, and I was shocked at how "bad" the 2005 AOR sounded (obviously a victim of the loudness wars) in comparison (not nearly as clear and dynamic, almost a grating quality).

My question is if I search out that same 2005 AOR album on either the original vinyl release or the Back on Black reissue, will they suffer from the same issue?  And overall will buying vinyl releases of new material have the same issue (so will I be able to bypass the loudness war by purchasing LP's instead of CD's and turning them into CD's myself)?  Is it all just case by case depending on who mixed it?

Thanks for any input.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 01:43:56 PM by pbiancardi

  • mixminus1
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #1
Just out of curiosity, I bought Depeche Mode's "Playing the Angel" and Lady GaGa's "The Fame" on both CD and vinyl a little over a year ago.

From both listening and viewing the waveforms, it was plainly obvious that the vinyl was made from the exact same brickwalled master as the CD.

I also picked up Pink Martini's "Splendor In the Grass" on double LP, which came with a download code for a 320 kb/s MP3 of the album.

The vinyl sounded very good, and examining the waveforms of both the vinyl and decoded MP3s showed that the vinyl master had zero brickwall limiting, while the MP3s were "punched up" a little bit, with some very carefully applied limiting on the loudest parts.

So, I think the answer is:  it depends on the release, and I don't think there's really any way to know for certain unless the artist/label specifically says something about it, such as with the multiple re-release of Wings' "Band on the Run."
"Not sure what the question is, but the answer is probably no."

  • pdq
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #2
Ironically, it is the vinyl that would benefit the most from dynamic range compression, having much less dynamic range than CD.

  • DVDdoug
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #3
Quote
Is it all just case by case depending on who mixed it?
Yes, it's hit-or-miss.  I don't have statistics, but I believe the CD and vinyl are usually from the same master.  And, it might be hard to get the truth about any particular recording because there are vinyl fanatics who will always say vinyl sounds better (or "more natural, or "more open" etc.).

The idea of mastering (and re-mastering) is to improve the sound...  So, if they think they've improved the sound by smashing the dynamics and making it louder and more "modern sounding", they are likely to do the same thing to the vinyl. 

BTW - Most of the "loudness" usually happens during mastering, rather than during mixing.  Especially with older recordings, there will usually be only one mix, but there may be more than one master/remaster.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 02:06:10 PM by DVDdoug

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #4
You are right, I meant mastering not mixing.

I just hate to drop more money if I am going to end up with essentially the same thing as I have now?

What is the point of all of the "audiophile quality" 180g releases that I am seeing if they are the same thing that I can get on CD for 1/3 of the price? 

How can I ever figure out which new releases offer me anything beyond a bigger package and higher price?  I am willing to pay for quality, but how do I know its there?

I guess I just have to try an research anything I buy, which presents a bigger problem online as there are 1,000,000 opinions but no way to tell which are educated.

For instance I ordered Judas Priest Nostradamus "Super Deluxe" package on sale from Best Buy (includes 2 CD and 3 LP version), am I going to find out that I paid for the same thing twice?
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 02:10:04 PM by pbiancardi

  • zipr
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #5
What is the point of all of the "audiophile quality" 180g releases that I am seeing if they are the same thing that I can get on CD for 1/3 of the price?


My guess would be profit.

  • DVDdoug
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #6
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What is the point of all of the "audiophile quality" 180g releases that I am seeing if they are the same thing that I can get on CD for 1/3 of the price?
Yeah...  Like I said, vinyl fanatics.  CD is a superior format, and if they were serious about sound quality, they would release a less-compressed "audiophile" CD (or other digital format) similar to what Paul McCartny did...

And of course, LPs are good for DJ "scratching".

I don't have any modern vinyl.  I assume modern LP releases have better quality than the older records did...  People have higher expectations after being exposed to digital.    But, I haven't bought a record since I got my 1st CD player (maybe 25 years ago).    CDs (and MP3s) just sound better and they don't deteriorate like vinyl. 

And unlike vinyl, CDs don't require expensive equipment to sound their best.  So, I'm no longer constantly upgrading like I was in the vinyl days.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 02:54:24 PM by DVDdoug

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #7
The idea of mastering (and re-mastering) is to improve the sound...


No, the idea is to sell more records.  IF the seller thinks that better sound will improve sales then and only then will they master for the best sound.  This is Capitalism we live under, remember? 

Based on the products they actually sell these days, one can I think conclude that they believe that improved sound is not what sells records, but that loudness is.  Whether they have empirical evidence for this I do not know.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 03:16:17 PM by Ed Seedhouse
Ed Seedhouse
VA7SDH

  • ramicio
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #8
We live under corporatism.  True capitalism is a free market.  If the artist isn't in the top-40 then the vinyl version will likely be a completely different master.

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #9
We live under corporatism.  True capitalism is a free market.  If the artist isn't in the top-40 then the vinyl version will likely be a completely different master.


So I am talking Judas Priest here, not a top 40 act, is there anyway I can tell without buying if the LP mastering will be superior to the loud CD version?  Will anything be indicated on the packaging?  Has anyone had good / bad experiences with Back on Black?  Here is what their website states:

The rich, organic feel and warmth that you hear in a great record comes from a good vinyl cut. Many masters are not suitable for vinyl, as today's modern digital music formats such as compact disc work in a very different way - and this is why we take the time to have them expertly re-mastered for vinyl production.

A cutting stylus cannot cut the square waveforms found in many recordings that would result in a terrible sound. The re-limiting process, individually tailored for every release, smoothes the wave peaks to produce a cut that brings out the colour of the original recording. Filtering the frequency extremes to more closely suit vinyl sound reproduction reintroduces energy to the signal at both ends of the frequency spectrum. And phase issues are rectified by slightly narrowing the stereo image – bringing clarity that would otherwise often be lost.

These highly skilled techniques have been developed over many years to bring the best possible sound to vinyl lovers, and are expertly applied to all our releases!

  • ramicio
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #10
You could check out http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/ to see if the album you seek is on there in both forms.  The Sublime album I have is one of those Back in Black ones, and so is Appetite for Destruction, and they both are not compressed.  Those are both remasters, though, and the original albums on CD were nicely done.  From my experience, if the vinyl gets released at the same time as the CD in the last few years then the vinyl is going to be exactly the same compressed crap.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 03:39:40 PM by ramicio

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #11
You could check out http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/ to see if the album you seek is on there in both forms.  The Sublime album I have is one of those Back in Black ones, and so is Appetite for Destruction, and they both are not compressed.  Those are both remasters, though, and the original albums on CD were nicely done.  From my experience, if the vinyl gets released at the same time as the CD in the last few years then the vinyl is going to be exactly the same compressed crap.



Good site, this confirms what my ears told me:

Judas Priest    Angel of Retribution    2005            6  (bad)
Judas Priest    Screaming For Vengeance    1982    12 (transition)

But no way to tell if the LP version of AOR is any better.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 03:51:09 PM by pbiancardi

  • ramicio
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #12
Being from 2005 and not being unpopular it is most likely going to be the same as the CD.  The only way to find out is to find out for yourself or scour the internet for reviews.
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 03:59:30 PM by ramicio

  • DonP
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #13

A cutting stylus cannot cut the square waveforms found in many recordings that would result in a terrible sound.


If by that they mean that they're banging against the maximum 16 bit values with their level and compression settings, then it doesn't sound good on CD either.

I say vote with your wallet.  If they aren't making albums you like, or are making you buy vinyl by deliberately making a bad CD then just say no and buy a different company/artist's offerings.  Otherwise you're just encouraging the practice.

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #14
Well just dropped the $20.00 for the vinyl, for no other reason than to see how it compares, I will post my findings.

  • DVDdoug
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #15
Quote
... if for no other reason than to see how it compares, I will post my findings.
Make sure to match levels when you A/B. 

And if you want to report your results, consider digitizing the vinyl which will make it easier to perform a proper blind ABX test[/u] to avoid running afoul of TOS #8[/u].  (I may have crossed the TOS #8 line when I said "CDs sound better", but hopefully nobody will question my claim that I can hear clicks & pops on my 30-year old records. )

I suspect you will hear a difference in an ABX test, and then there's the subjective opinion of which sounds better...
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 06:16:55 PM by DVDdoug

  • DVDdoug
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #16


P.S.
I'd say it's easier to make a CD sound like vinyl, than it is to make a record sound like a CD.  So, your original idea of making your own CD is a good idea, if the record does actually sound better.

Izotope[/u] has a free plug-in to degrade an audio file and make it sound like a record! 
  • Last Edit: 11 April, 2011, 06:31:01 PM by DVDdoug

  • krafty
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #17
Depeche Mode, Playing the Angel...

Quote
From both listening and viewing the waveforms, it was plainly obvious that the vinyl was made from the exact same brickwalled master as the CD.


That is what I realized too. The same goes for 'Sounds Of The Universe'.
It is just a pity such disgraceful modern mastering technics overthrown the common sense.

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #18
Depeche Mode, Playing the Angel...

Quote
From both listening and viewing the waveforms, it was plainly obvious that the vinyl was made from the exact same brickwalled master as the CD.


That is what I realized too. The same goes for 'Sounds Of The Universe'.
It is just a pity such disgraceful modern mastering technics overthrown the common sense.


So when I get both the LP and CD versions, a good way to test would be to record the vinyl (I will be going Sanyo TP-1010-->TC750 Preamp-->Soundblaster XFi USB-->PC) and open its waveform and compare to the waveform of the same song from the CD?  If that is the case I will post the pics and some sound samples, probably take a week or two before everything arrives.

  • krafty
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #19
pbiancardi,

The waveforms will not be the same. They have been normalized and "tweaked", you will see more peaks on the vinyl and the CD will be brickwalled. The vinyl versions of PTA and SOTU are more pleasant to hear, however they are not that exciting at all, since they don't have any outstanding peaks. They're just a little better but far from ideal.

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #20
Well I am very curious now, so there is no way to tell if the Vinyl is the same master as the CD?

What are PTA and SOTU?

  • mixminus1
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #21
No, the waveforms can't be "the same," but if they vinyl was mastered from the CD master, they should be "quite similar."

A heavily brickwalled CD's waveform will look like a rectangle, sometimes referred to as a 2x4 (a reference to the lumber).

The waveform from a record mastered from that same master will look like a fuzzy rectangle, or a 2x~4.
"Not sure what the question is, but the answer is probably no."

  • Nowings69
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #22
I have begun to hear Painkiller
so its lucky that you know the original sound
and I'm envious of you!

  • krafty
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Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #23
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What are PTA and SOTU?


Respectively latest Depeche Mode releases.

Newly released Vinyl and the Loudness War
Reply #24
I emailed the label (Back on Black) regarding the Angel of Retribution album and was told that it was remastered for vinyl from the digital masters provided by Sony.

So the big mystery is what they do to the digital masters to remaster them for vinyl?