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Topic: Bad mastering or bad copy? (Read 3899 times) previous topic - next topic

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Bad mastering or bad copy?
Hi all,

I am posting in regards to a recently purchased album which, like many classic recordings which are being reissued and remastered on CD, seems to have become a victim (at least to some degree) of the loudness war.

I am referring to the album "Are You Experienced?" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  I recently purchased the 2010 Sony Legacy remaster/reissue and was shocked at the peak volume levels on some of these tracks as reported by my audio software.  Many of the songs are peaking at -0.1db! 

While the compression and super-amplified volume levels are a concern, what concerns me most of all are what seems to distortion "artifacts" of sorts that occur at certain points in the recording.  As indicated by my post's title, I'm wondering if I just got a bad copy, or if indeed this might be a bad mastering job/bad pressing and there may be others who are experiencing the same issues as me.

There are two specific tracks/spots where this is very noticeable, and it sounds terrible.  The first is on the track "Are You Experienced?", track 11.  It occurs just after Jimi's guitar first cuts in on the right channel, at 0:12, it sounds like the right channel is breaking up with static at that point, and it quickly dissipates.  This does not happen on the vinyl copy, which I also own.

The second distorted passage happens in the bonus track "Can You See Me", track 15.  It happens at the point in the intro where Jimi strums a guitar note which then hard pans from the left channel to the right, just about 0:09 into the song.  There is a static clicking sound that can be heard as the guitar pans, and this also happens in the second verse (though not quite to the same degree of severity).

I am hoping there may be another HA member who owns this specific pressing of this album, and can confirm or deny if this issue is a release-wide problem, or if I just need to head back to my local record store for an exchange.

Thanks very much in advance for any feedback!

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Bad mastering or bad copy?
Reply #1
It's perfectly safe to assume that it's a release-wide issue.

I have multiple copies of the track in question from various releases of Are You Experienced? and Smash Hits but only bothered with the copy I've ripped to my hard drive which I believe is the ~1994 17-track reissue.  Can You See Me doesn't have the problem you mentioned but the title track certainly does.

FWIW, peaks at -0.1dB don't exactly indicate a major problem with overly aggressive dynamic range compression; certainly nothing to get up in arms about.  You could be right and there are other legitimate tell-tale signs, just that citing peak levels is not a reliable or conclusive metric.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • DVDdoug
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Bad mastering or bad copy?
Reply #2
I would have said "Jimi Hendrix likes distortion", but since your're not hearing it on the vinyl. I agree there's something wrong with the production or mastering. 

...and was shocked at the peak volume levels on some of these tracks as reported by my audio software. Many of the songs are peaking at -0.1db!
The fact that it doesn't hit 0dB could actually be a good sign...  I think most CDs hit 0dB somewhere on the disc, and if the levels are too low you are not getting the full 16-bits of resolution. 

Some people try to avoid 0dB, but I routinely normalize to 0dB.  There's no reason a properly designed DAC can't hit handle 0dB and any "inter-sample overs".  (It's the integers fed into the DAC that are limited by the bit-count.

Now, if you are hitting -0.1dB several times per second throughout the song, the track is probably over-compressed.  And if there are several -0.1dB samples in a row, the file is clipped.