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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: RockFan on 08 August, 2005, 10:50:18 PM

Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: RockFan on 08 August, 2005, 10:50:18 PM
Although I've been aware of the ever more destructive levels of compression/limiting used over the last 5-10 years (and taken part in discussions here and other places), it only dawned on me recently that I had unconciously practically stopped buying CD's the last year or two..

By that I'm referring to largely rock, indie, jazz etc, incuding so-called 'remasters'.

There are recent releases out there which I would like to own, but with what I've come to expect from modern CD's, I know that an album which I might have 'played to death' over weeks or months in years gone by will simply get boring after a few plays. So I don't buy them. Dynamics, soft/loud contrasts, drama -  squashed out of existence.

New Queens Of The Stone Age? Probably a great album  -  but once bitten .....

I'm increasingly going to exchanges to try and find older releases of albums I want, or even buying vinyl versions of new albums where they're released, as they tend not to be afflicted as badly.

Obviously there are a proportion of buyers who only lsiten to CD's in the car or on personals in noisy environments who couldn't care less and will keep buying, but there must be a lot of others who, like me, are completely disillusioned with this 'loudness fetish' crap and have simply lost interest.

In fact I wonder how much this has contributed to the stagnancy in sales over the last few years that the 'industry' whines about so frequently?

R.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Shade[ST] on 08 August, 2005, 11:26:32 PM
I have a few King Crimson, Jascha Heifetz, and Horowitz remasters, and I can't say that they suffer from bad quality, or overcompression -- I believe the "bad" mastering practices must be specific to certain studios, but definitly not all albums fall in this category.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: irishcrazy2005 on 09 August, 2005, 01:43:18 AM
I am by no means an audiophile, and I guess that I mostly listen to music while doing other things, so I don't notice stuff as much.  However, what is it that you are hearing from this "compression" and bad mastering?  How does it sound different?

-Phil
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: WmAx on 09 August, 2005, 01:47:09 AM
Quote
...


RockFan, you know what? What you said is almost identical to my situation.

-Chris
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: matth6546 on 09 August, 2005, 03:31:10 PM
Quote
I am by no means an audiophile, and I guess that I mostly listen to music while doing other things, so I don't notice stuff as much.  However, what is it that you are hearing from this "compression" and bad mastering?  How does it sound different?

-Phil
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=318721"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

i'm going to attempt to answer based on what i've read and understood from this board.

today's 'bad' mastering involves taking the song and compressing the dynamics. that is, to take the high parts and the low parts and make them near the same level, which results in a flat sound. this squashing of the dynamics opens up more 'room' which they use to turn up the volume. this turned up volume results in clipping.


those who know what they're talking about - feel free to correct me or add to my answer.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: wodney on 09 August, 2005, 03:56:52 PM
I concur with the thread poster. I rarely buy cd's these days for the same reason. I'm no audiophile but, for me a quick check of my ears is to rip the cd to wav and then look at the waveform using Audition. It often reveals high volumes and a very flat waveform....or that's how I see it. Very little transition between the "quieter parts" and the "louder parts".
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Vanishing on 10 August, 2005, 04:05:04 AM
Quote
today's 'bad' mastering involves taking the song and compressing the dynamics. that is, to take the high parts and the low parts and make them near the same level, which results in a flat sound. this squashing of the dynamics opens up more 'room' which they use to turn up the volume. this turned up volume results in clipping.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=318858"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Squashed dynamics don't necessarily result in clipping. If the mastering engineer is any good, he can get the album really loud without constant clipping, for example "Awake" by Godsmack (album gain  -9.21dB) or "Exposure" by Thumb (album gain -9.23dB).  These albums of course sound rather flat and have no dynamics left, but they are listenable because they don't clip. Other albums, like the new one from Slipknot, are totally unbearable to listen to because they clip all the time.
So, squashing is not the same as clipping, but clipping can be a byproduct of excessive dynamics-compression when done wrong.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 10 August, 2005, 07:02:44 AM
Guess it depends on music-taste...... with most of the music to which i listen, the amount of non-overcompressed albums is unusually high.

However, the loudness-race, together with fundamental changes in music-evaluation-behaviour....... have changed the way how i buy CDs: I now almost never ever buy a CD "blindly". Usually, i would listen to various albums for multiple weeks - and those albums, which after that timespan still do sound nice to me, will then be bought.

So, my expectations about what is a really good album, have risen. The pool from which to choose music has also increased. Thus, i now evaluate more thoroughly before buying.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: esa372 on 10 August, 2005, 09:32:26 AM
A case in point: Rush (http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/articles/8A133F52D0FD71AB86256C2E005DAF1C)


[span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%']:edit: link[/span]
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: chri5 on 10 August, 2005, 10:29:16 AM
I agree. An album which has been mastered without extreme compression and crazy maximization for example is De La Soul's 3 Feet High & Rising. When you listen to best of albums featuring a track from this album you can really hear the difference.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: snookerdoodle on 10 August, 2005, 11:08:04 AM
I have to add that I just think that we have Yet Another Reason to buy with our ears.

The recent Sony/BMG payola settlement should, I believe, "settle" (ahem) once and for all any doubts that, in this industry anyway, the tin-hat folks are on to something.

Perhaps someone will start independantly rating things like the dynamic range on recordings. It gets a little dicey here - the very folks who have done this in the past end up being the same publishers who also foist off audio snake oil ($6000 speaker wires).

I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways. In a Just World, music would be mixed for a listening room and the electronics (in personal devices and car stereos) would have a "noisy background" setting that was nothing more than a compressor, IMHO. But the truth is, those of us who are neurotic (I said "us" and include myself before anyone gets all defensive here) enough to have a listening room and/or decent-cans-and-amps are a tiny minority. The "Market" seems to love what is being put out.

Me? When I wanna show a friend "what I'm talkin' about" regarding dynamic range, I set 'em down in my living room, turn off the lights, and roll the "Firebird Suite" from Fantasia 2000. That sucker always wakes 'em up, heh heh...

Mark
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: legg on 10 August, 2005, 11:20:59 AM
Quote
I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways. In a Just World, music would be mixed for a listening room and the electronics (in personal devices and car stereos) would have a "noisy background" setting that was nothing more than a compressor, IMHO. But the truth is, those of us who are neurotic (I said "us" and include myself before anyone gets all defensive here) enough to have a listening room and/or decent-cans-and-amps are a tiny minority. The "Market" seems to love what is being put out.


I never thought of that theory and it would seem like a good one. But IMO it would be better if the players were the ones incorporating the option to have dynamic range compression for noisy enviroments. But clipping is just unforgivable (sp??), on a few CDs I can even hear it while I'm driving , it gets annoying.

PS. I do have my limits with dynamic range, an excessive range like that of AC3 in The Two Towers EE just gets annoying, the sound effects are just TOO loud when compared to the voice volume, but I guess that's the whole point in the realism of sound in movies.

PPS, The PS seems longer than the actual post 
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: PoisonDan on 10 August, 2005, 11:29:53 AM
Quote
I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways. In a Just World, music would be mixed for a listening room and the electronics (in personal devices and car stereos) would have a "noisy background" setting that was nothing more than a compressor, IMHO. But the truth is, those of us who are neurotic (I said "us" and include myself before anyone gets all defensive here) enough to have a listening room and/or decent-cans-and-amps are a tiny minority. The "Market" seems to love what is being put out.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319065"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree 100%. I also belong to that "tiny minority" that you mention, and the current state of affairs also makes me sad.

Having said that, I haven't really stopped buying CDs because of this. Or to put it another way: if I really like an album, I don't let the sound quality interfere with my buying decision. Still, I really hate it how some really good albums sound so bad, but I try to live with it.

Also, maybe it's because I don't buy that much "popular" (chart) music, but the amount of CDs I buy that sound really awful are a minority. And every now and then, a CD is released which still has an exceptional dynamic range (e.g.: "With Teeth" from Nine Inch Nails).
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: snookerdoodle on 10 August, 2005, 12:17:35 PM
Quote
Having said that, I haven't really stopped buying CDs because of this. Or to put it another way: if I really like an album, I don't let the sound quality interfere with my buying decision.

Me either. I still appreciate and enjoy creativity as much as anyone. No sense "cutting off our nose to spite our face," to quote our mothers...

Mark
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: irishcrazy2005 on 10 August, 2005, 01:13:14 PM
OK, this is going to sound very stupid, but remember that I am new here.  I understand that clipping is when the volume tops 0 dB, but what does that sound like?  I really have no clue what you guys are talking about.

-Phil
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: RockFan on 10 August, 2005, 06:04:02 PM
Quote
I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways. In a Just World, music would be mixed for a listening room and the electronics (in personal devices and car stereos) would have a "noisy background" setting that was nothing more than a compressor, IMHO.

......

Mark
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319065"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Exactly, and this what Foobar's 'Replaygain' is all about!

"A proposed srandard"

The radio stations have had the circuitry 'downstream' of their turntables and CD players for decades, why the f*ck is has it not been built in to car and personal players as a matter of course, and alowed the discs themsleve to be left unmolested?

(shakes head).

ciao,
R.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 10 August, 2005, 06:11:09 PM
Quote
OK, this is going to sound very stupid, but remember that I am new here.  I understand that clipping is when the volume tops 0 dB, but what does that sound like?  I really have no clue what you guys are talking about.

-Phil
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319096"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


There are at least 3 possible effects which can happen:
- the music looses dynamic width. Basically, all instruments become equally loud instead of the drums and other instruments "kicking" louder than the others.
- some instruments - upon closer listening - sound smeared and harsh... as if the sound was thrown against a wall and got partially "squashed"
- mix of the above two: the album may just sound "hot" and "loaded". What this means is that the music is constantly at maximum volume - as if white noise comes screaming into your face. The result is that listening to the music becomes annoying, because it is just "too much". Similiar to an oversaturated image.

For more info, try searching the forums for keywords like "overcompression".

For an extreme example, you could also pick a classical song(lots of dynamic width)....... make a copy of it..... run an aggressive compressor-DSP on it...... then replaygain both files and compare.

- Lyx
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Funkstar De Luxe on 10 August, 2005, 06:25:33 PM
Norman people don't give a fuck about how a CD sounds.  Infact, I done a few silly test wich seemed to show they prefered fucked up music.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: RockFan on 10 August, 2005, 06:26:53 PM
I forgot to include one of the most important casualties of compression;

Ambience, timbre, acoustics ....  space.

Whether produced electronically with reverb/echo, or by genuine venue or studio acoustics, they are often vital for the 'atmosphere' created by a group/ensemble, or even simply to hear the timbre of a paticular voice or instrument.

They vanish almost into the noise-floor where left intact - very difficult to 'listen for', almost subliminal.

Heavy compression crams them up into into the rest of the signal, and as good as destroys them.

Of course, to be aware of these 'cues' you have to be at ease, and in an environment that allows you to hear them,  using replay equipment (player, amp, speakers) of sufficient resolution.

The industry seems hell bent on denying us these pleasures. Is it stupidity? Malice? I don't really care anymore - they make me ANGRY either way.

R.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 10 August, 2005, 07:42:36 PM
Quote
Norman people don't give a fuck about how a CD sounds.  Infact, I done a few silly test wich seemed to show they prefered fucked up music.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319173"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Or maybe they just like what they are used to.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: WmAx on 10 August, 2005, 08:14:22 PM
Quote
Quote
Norman people don't give a fuck about how a CD sounds.  Infact, I done a few silly test wich seemed to show they prefered fucked up music.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319173"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Or maybe they just like what they are used to.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319197"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I have, as an anecdotal test, given some songs to a friend[non audio enthusiast, just music lover who listens to a lot of modern material] to compare. One version of each is the original[with good dynamic range] and the second versioin is modified with Adobe Audition software, tweaking/compressing/limiting to approximate a modern top 40 release. The only instructions/info I gave beforehand was to adjust the volume for each song individually to taste. Well, I was suprised, but the person actually preferred the compressed/limited versions. Eek! This is just anecdotal, and a single subject, and hardly a carefully organized test; but I think it would be interesting to conduct a study and see if this is a typical preference of the general listener.

-Chris
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: bug80 on 11 August, 2005, 06:12:55 AM
Quote
Quote
OK, this is going to sound very stupid, but remember that I am new here.  I understand that clipping is when the volume tops 0 dB, but what does that sound like?  I really have no clue what you guys are talking about.

-Phil
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319096"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


There are at least 3 possible effects which can happen:
- the music looses dynamic width. Basically, all instruments become equally loud instead of the drums and other instruments "kicking" louder than the others.
- some instruments - upon closer listening - sound smeared and harsh... as if the sound was thrown against a wall and got partially "squashed"
- mix of the above two: the album may just sound "hot" and "loaded". What this means is that the music is constantly at maximum volume - as if white noise comes screaming into your face. The result is that listening to the music becomes annoying, because it is just "too much". Similiar to an oversaturated image.

For more info, try searching the forums for keywords like "overcompression".

For an extreme example, you could also pick a classical song(lots of dynamic width)....... make a copy of it..... run an aggressive compressor-DSP on it...... then replaygain both files and compare.

- Lyx
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319169"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


irishcrazy2005 was also asking how clipping sounds like 

As you know, the maximum sound level on a CD is 0 dB. When you try to record, for example, a sine wave with an amplitude that's too high (say 3 dB), everything that's above 0 dB will be "chopped", and that's what's called clipping. This effect will introduce extra harmonics in the signal, which we will generally hear as distortion.

To show this graphically, I made an example using a sine wave of 4 Hz. In the following picture you see the original signal (blue) and the one that will be recorded onto the CD (red). You can clearly see the "chopped" peaks and dips.

Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Cartoon on 11 August, 2005, 06:18:42 AM
Quote
I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319065"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


In principle I agree with you, but some of these new recordings are compressed so hard that they sounds like crap even in a car while doing 100 mph down the freeway.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: snookerdoodle on 11 August, 2005, 10:30:33 AM
Quote
In principle I agree with you, but some of these new recordings are compressed so hard that they sounds like crap even in a car while doing 100 mph down the freeway.

But they might sound GREAT in a Jeep Wrangler doing that same 100 mph with the top and doors removed. Well, assuming you hear anything at all and that you can get the thing up to 100 mph and don't flip it over... Heh heh...

Mark
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: irishcrazy2005 on 11 August, 2005, 12:01:54 PM
Quote
I hope this answers your question.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319293"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yeah, this does.  Thanks a lot!

-Phil
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: snookerdoodle on 11 August, 2005, 12:55:38 PM
CNN  has an article (http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/11/diy.music.ap/index.html)  about the industry and how decisions are made. I realize it's not about the engineering in particular, but the mindset helps explain the engineering, IMHO.

Mark
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Erukian on 11 August, 2005, 01:58:33 PM
I sorted foobar's playlist by album gain, and i found a lot of my techno records at top. Early Underworld has a postive gain, up to +4, although that doesn't mean the samples used havent clipped prior to being used, but the dynamics are definately left in there. I just listened to their cd dubnobasswithmyheadman, lots of faint background harmonies start to whisper at 70dB, at 80dB it's like i'm hearing a different recording, tons more detail that i never thought existed.

I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of techno pre-2000 was recorded and mastered by the small indie-techno labels without the use of any compressor/limiter. The DJ's probably had it cranked so loud anways they heard all the details.

-Joe
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: moozooh on 12 August, 2005, 05:25:58 PM
‘The Wall’ mastered by Fidelity Labs goes up about 10—11 dB after replaygaining. I still don't get it: how do they manage to make the disc so quiet, yet preserve all the dynamics?.. :\
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: esa372 on 14 August, 2005, 11:25:32 AM
Quote
‘The Wall’ mastered by Fidelity Labs goes up about 10—11 dB after replaygaining.
 
My MoFi copy of The Wall shows an album gain of +1.35db...

Is "Fidelity Labs" the same as "Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs"?
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: NeoRenegade on 14 August, 2005, 01:40:44 PM
Quote
OK, this is going to sound very stupid, but remember that I am new here.  I understand that clipping is when the volume tops 0 dB, but what does that sound like?  I really have no clue what you guys are talking about.

-Phil
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319096"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
If you want to know, there's one easy way. Take an MP3, load it into MP3Gain, and adjust the gain to around 106 or 112dB. Then listen to the MP3.
This won't permanently damage the MP3; remember, MP3gain is completely lossless and reversible.
Quote
Norman people don't give a fuck about how a CD sounds.  Infact, I done a few silly test wich seemed to show they prefered fucked up music.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319173"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I know what you mean! I've had times, especially back in high school, when I'd pass my CD player to a friend so they can sample my music collection, and they'd turn the volume up as high as it can go, and turn on the old "bass boost" feature. The result is horrible. To paraphrase Rip Rowan, it's more white noise than music. All the bass drum pumps are reduced to dull thuds enveloped in static. And yet this is how they like it.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: GeSomeone on 14 August, 2005, 06:15:43 PM
Quote
I do have a Personal Theory: the music is being engineered to be played in cars. Or iPods on noisy subways.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319065"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This is not so far fetched. My (similar) theory is that CD's are made to sound like people would hear them on the radio/MTV. To me the worst compressed sound is heard on many radio stations.

I'm reluctant too to buy a CD nowadays. I was shocked how clipped the latest Coldplay (X&Y) album was. There are some quieter parts that give some relief, but 80% is limitted flat with severe clippings.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: HotshotGG on 14 August, 2005, 07:16:53 PM
Quote
I forgot to include one of the most important casualties of compression;

Ambience, timbre, acoustics .... space.

Whether produced electronically with reverb/echo, or by genuine venue or studio acoustics, they are often vital for the 'atmosphere' created by a group/ensemble, or even simply to hear the timbre of a paticular voice or instrument.

They vanish almost into the noise-floor where left intact - very difficult to 'listen for', almost subliminal.

Heavy compression crams them up into into the rest of the signal, and as good as destroys them.

Of course, to be aware of these 'cues' you have to be at ease, and in an environment that allows you to hear them, using replay equipment (player, amp, speakers) of sufficient resolution.

The industry seems hell bent on denying us these pleasures. Is it stupidity? Malice? I don't really care anymore - they make me ANGRY either way.


I absolutely agree with you. My trapt self-titled sound exactly like this, well produced yes, mastered horribly distorted guitar is clearly masterd louder than anything else (their was virtually no noise-floor.)  I was amazed to find out how well The Back To The Future soundtrack was mastered and produced though. It's a shame, because mastering engineer's can control these things to I mean they are the ones with the "multiband compressors". A lot of 80's recordings used to use a fair amount of reverberation both natural and electronic and the resulting timbre sounded so much better, because of it.

Quote
This is not so far fetched. My (similar) theory is that CD's are made to sound like people would hear them on the radio/MTV. To me the worst compressed sound is heard on many radio stations.


I think it's good combination of both the industry and other ridiculous factors like that.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: moozooh on 15 August, 2005, 10:21:57 PM
Quote
Quote
‘The Wall’ mastered by Fidelity Labs goes up about 10—11 dB after replaygaining.
 
My MoFi copy of The Wall shows an album gain of +1.35db...

Is "Fidelity Labs" the same as "Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs"?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320048"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ugh, yeah, right… Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, that is. 
Still, my copy is very quiet indeed: replaygain_album_peak=0.354797.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Cyaneyes on 15 August, 2005, 10:29:09 PM
Quote
Quote
Quote
‘The Wall’ mastered by Fidelity Labs goes up about 10—11 dB after replaygaining.
 
My MoFi copy of The Wall shows an album gain of +1.35db...

Is "Fidelity Labs" the same as "Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs"?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320048"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ugh, yeah, right… Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, that is. 
Still, my copy is very quiet indeed: replaygain_album_peak=0.354797.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320378"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


My MFSL The Wall (gold disc, catalog number UDCD 2-537) is +1.34, album peak 0.999969... do you have a different MFSL version? 
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hermit-ically Sealed on 16 August, 2005, 12:50:17 AM
Hi, I'm a lurker of this site from time to time, specifically I'm a big user of LamedropXPd (extreme setting) for supreme quality mp3's. I love watching the kbps readout on foobar2000 fluctuate  Anyway check out these wavforms from a recently re-released metal album originally from 1991. The record co just HAD TO go and ruin a classic and "update" it so it sounds blaring, harsh, and actually becomes irritating to listen to. GOOD JOB! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I'll be hunting down an original copy. Here's the "waveform" and the "db waveform" (https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=bfb1439af0b3834c6aaa60c87e4f192a" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://img225.imageshack.us/img225/38/waveform1sv.jpg) (https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=67ada58cd8ca4379994c0c2c6ec15ab1" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/2788/waveformdb7op.jpg)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 16 August, 2005, 01:58:01 AM
oh
my
god!

Maybe even that animation on loudnessrace.com was an underestimation of what would follow... if i read that db-waveform correctly, then this track has 10db dynamic range? wtf?

- Lyx
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hermit-ically Sealed on 16 August, 2005, 07:50:07 PM
Quote
oh
my
god!

Maybe even that animation on loudnessrace.com was an underestimation of what would follow... if i read that db-waveform correctly, then this track has 10db dynamic range? wtf?

- Lyx
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320405"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
It's sad. The current CD's and re-issues of originals that have been compressed to the point of destroying the very thing they're supposedly trying to sell (good music), seem to be the path of the future. Whatever, If these record co's want to self destruct and continue on their path of destroying music so be it. Good thing I have almost no desire for modern music especially the most affected (pop crap). I'll gladly pay much more for a rare used OOP cd that the record co wont make a penny from.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: BradPDX on 16 August, 2005, 08:39:03 PM
I have produced several CDs and been a participating musician in dozens. The practice of using large amounts of "global" compression (compression applied to the entire mix and not just particular tracks) is a phenomenon with roots back into the 70's.

Let me add something really quick and important here: totally uncompressed recorded music is relatively rare in the pop/jazz/folk world and has been for a long time.

The essential psychoacoustic problems being addressed are 1) scale and 2) noise floor. Issue 1 is the fact that most recorded music is not played at realistic performance levels - it is simply impractical for me to crank up my living room rig to even small ensemble levels without bugging half the neighborhood and myself as well. The spaces in which we listen to music are often utterly at odds with the original volume levels.

Compression, judiciously applied, allows music to be perceived as "full" and satisfying at substantially lower levels. Is it "real"? Well, no - but then, neither is a 7-piece band cranking away in my 15 x 25 ft living room being reproduced through 2 sound sources. At its best, compression is a compromise made to remedy the most basic compromise in the system - the fact that the music will NOT be played in original spaces at original levels. It will be coming out of 2 speakers in your home or car.

If anyone in this group is a musician, you can try some interest experiments. For example, I recorded a CD of 10 lullabies for my kids a while back. I did this on the cheap, just the way the kids hear me every night - 2 good condensors, a hard disk recorder, me and a Martin guitar, played live.

When the tracks were played back on good cans or speakers, they sounded great - just like the real thing. I trimmed up the beginnings and endings, burned a CD and popped it into the boom box in the kid's bedroom. My god, it was awful. At low volumes (the target use case) all detail was lost - only the vocals would jump out from the tiny box. The kids hated it.

So it pulled up the tracks again and applied global compression. I burned several discs to see which amount of compression would sound good for the kids. The answer: the one with a lot of compression. Listened to closely, the compression is obvious. But when heard at low volume on the boombox, it is great. Mission accomplished and lesson learned.

What was different from my live performances in the same room? A lot. Lower volume, limited frequency response, directional speakers, etc. The net result was that the music was better served by squishing it. Don't worry; I still play "live" most nights. Lately the kids like Gram Parsons songs.

The next thing is noise. The 70's saw the birth of real FM radio, 8-tracks and cassettes. This meant that the shift to "car listening" was underway, and the record companies obliged with increased compression. In a sense, they are right: uncompressed music in a noisy car is misery. The peaks take your head off while the music floor is inaudible. The trouble is, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem.

I agree that many recent pop recordings I have are excessively compressed, lifeless and grating. That to me is sacrificing one thing for another. But take heart; well recorded music is out there in spades as well. Lately I have been listening a lot to Sufjan Steven's excellent "Illinois" CD - wonderfully dynamic and spacious, not to mention GREAT songwriting and arranging.

And I'll bet that "Illinois" is using some compression - just not too much!
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: dreamliner77 on 16 August, 2005, 08:42:41 PM
It's not that we are all the use of any compression... I use it all the time when I record but it's got to be used judicusly and musically.  What we see on many modern recordings is not even remotely artistic.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Axon on 16 August, 2005, 08:49:47 PM
Heh, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Allegedly the reason why Zwan's debut CD was mastered so freaking hot was because Billy Corgan specifically wanted it. He quite literally wanted that sound.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: RockFan on 16 August, 2005, 09:09:58 PM
Quote
Heh, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Allegedly the reason why Zwan's debut CD was mastered so freaking hot was because Billy Corgan specifically wanted it. He quite literally wanted that sound.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320612"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


yeh, well that's rich and pampered a-holes for you.

R.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hermit-ically Sealed on 16 August, 2005, 09:29:50 PM
Quote
if i read that db-waveform correctly, then this track has 10db dynamic range? wtf?

- Lyx
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320405"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Oh sorry, I think it was on the 36db scale view. Here's a 96db and 120db view of the wav. (https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=ee71f28346289f2c03a099015ef92e42" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://img279.imageshack.us/img279/204/gorguts96db9zf.jpg) (https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=7bd2f78ad86d8d99e9af9d8578c98bfc" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://img279.imageshack.us/img279/4848/gorguts120db9ym.jpg)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hermit-ically Sealed on 16 August, 2005, 10:11:01 PM
Quote
Let me add something really quick and important here: totally uncompressed recorded music is relatively rare in the pop/jazz/folk world and has been for a long time.

[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320609"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Uncompressed music is also rare or nonexistent in metal too. In fact metal in general is more compressed than other genre's. The distortion of a guitar is a kind of compression itself, Am I right? But this amount of compression and the added fun of severe wave smashing/clipping is far beyond enhancement of the power or prescence of a song into the realm of ridiculous idiocy. The song of the waveform I posted is actually a good song, but it sounds like utter dogshit! It's massively irritating, in fact it actually becomes a form of punishment with the goal being how much of it can you endure. I have another bands re-issue from the same company with the exact same problem.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: WmAx on 16 August, 2005, 10:21:04 PM
For examples of albums with simple microphone placement[2 or 3 mics placed at far and mid positions] recorded in real acoustic environments[as opposed to sound booth + effects] and no dynamic compression, refer to:
http://www.mapleshaderecords.com/index.php (http://www.mapleshaderecords.com/index.php)

Warning: Mapleshade is VERY heavy on the snake-oil[just try to overlook this aspect], but their recordings are still of superb quality.

-Chris
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: richms on 16 August, 2005, 10:38:50 PM
Another issue I have is that a few of the recent CDs I have listened to have clearly had some form of "mega bass" processing done on them, there was virtually nothing under 60Hz with loads of harmonics, like you get from a mini system doing its best.

I like my bass to be felt, not to be made artifically louder by distorting it.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 16 August, 2005, 11:04:50 PM
Quote
But take heart; well recorded music is out there in spades as well. Lately I have been listening a lot to Sufjan Steven's excellent "Illinois" CD - wonderfully dynamic and spacious, not to mention GREAT songwriting and arranging.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320609"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's right - i would even go on to say that the majority of the total of *different* albums released globally is not overcompressed. Compressed to increase volume, yes - but not in a destructive way. So, the majority of music released is very listenable. However, only a minority of *people* listen to this majority of *music*. Especially in experimental and non-mainstream genres you will find lots of good sounding records. So, the reason why people perceive the loudness-race to be omnipresent is because the majority of people listens to well known artists.

While the loudness race has definitelly had its impact on indy-music as well, it is not really a problem there. Thus, overcompression is definatelly a feature of the music-*industry* (and a mean "industry" literally here).


Quote
Uncompressed music is also rare or nonexistent in metal too. In fact metal in general is more compressed than other genre's. The distortion of a guitar is a kind of compression itself, Am I right?

Partially, yes. There are genres which use "instrument-specific" overcompression as an artistic tool. The main feature of shoegazer-music for example is to oversaturate a given space with effects-loaden e-guitars - and then paint on this "texture" with other instruments. Thus, the other instruments shall partially "melt" into the oversaturated ones, but still stay distinctive. Overcompression is not a mindless loudness-tool there, but instead is a very complex and difficult to master tool(difficult because of the inheritant problem of oversaturating a part of the sound, yet keeping other parts seperate and distintive). This kind of music often has high albumgain values (-6 to -7 being the average) - without being mastered hot.

Quote
Oh sorry, I think it was on the 36db scale view. Here's a 96db and 120db view of the wav.

Hmm, i think we've got a misunderstanding here - i was talking about the two shades of blue which are used for the db-waveform - i would asume that the brighter one represents the averaged "floor", while the darker shade represents the averaged "ceiling"?
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: richms on 17 August, 2005, 12:01:29 AM
Quote
The distortion of a guitar is a kind of compression itself, Am I right?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320619"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


The compressed guitar is an instrument in its own right with the sound coming from the guitar+pickups, tone, pedals, amp and speaker all in unison. It is miked and mixed in just like any other instrument. On a well mastered metal CD you can hear the guitar as its own instrument placed in the soundfield with other stuff around it.

When a CD is mastered my a compulsive red line hitter, the guitar is usually the first to be affected I find, because its the most complex instrument, it will sound like its coming from all over the place long before the drums are sounding messed up (IMHO) - and is a good indicator of how bad the mixing is.

What they are doing is essentially negating the purchase of decent playback equipment.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: GeSomeone on 01 September, 2005, 06:14:56 AM
Quote
The practice of using large amounts of "global" compression [..] is a phenomenon with roots back into the 70's.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320609"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Good point, all you said applies in general. Dynamics must be within a reasonable range for home enjoyment. Individual tracks may benefit from the right amount of compression (e.g. bass) or limiting (drums, vocals).

Ideally playback equipment should handle the issues like "car environment", low level listening, portable use etc. Not make every album to fit those.

The current issue here is more with the (re-)mastering practices of the last (10?) years.
Since digital there is an abrupt upper limit to a signal and a lot of times it seems the point is to get as close towards that as possible. It comes from the thinking "louder is better" and "in a CD changer our CD should at least be as loud as the others". This is referred to as "the loudness race".
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: bug80 on 01 September, 2005, 07:45:56 AM
Quote
Quote
Oh sorry, I think it was on the 36db scale view. Here's a 96db and 120db view of the wav.

Hmm, i think we've got a misunderstanding here - i was talking about the two shades of blue which are used for the db-waveform - i would asume that the brighter one represents the averaged "floor", while the darker shade represents the averaged "ceiling"?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320624"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I can't find information on what the lighter color is in Audigy, maybe somebody else knows?

I think the darker shade is the "real" waveform and the lighter shade a moving avarage (The RMS value calculated over 50 ms or so).
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Yaztromo on 05 September, 2005, 06:20:25 PM
Sorry if this has been posted before but I noticed loudnessrace.net is back up, but now at http://www.loudnessrace.com (http://www.loudnessrace.com)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hancoque on 05 September, 2005, 08:38:12 PM
I have another example for poor mastering. This is taken from Metallica's album St. Anger. I have marked the significant spots. The album really sounds like it looks there. I clearly heard a crackling sound at locations like the shown. It's just sad that such a great bands produces such a crap. I posted that image in the official Metallica forums some time ago and there were many people that liked the "new" sound and didn't care about clipping at all.

(https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=60c7a40ed07cab598d9ac13c65e96c57" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://www.devir.de/temp/st-anger.gif)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hermit-ically Sealed on 06 September, 2005, 12:34:47 AM
Quote
I posted that image in the official Metallica forums some time ago and there were many people that liked the "new" sound and didn't care about clipping at all.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=325282"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Most people are idiots.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: shadowking on 06 September, 2005, 04:00:20 AM
Till this day I cannot sit through St Anger. In contrast Paradise Lost CD's are ear candy  - especially Symbol Of Life which came out around St Anger - its really crystal clear and dynamic around -7db
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Axon on 06 September, 2005, 01:04:11 PM
Hancoque, do you have a link to that Metallica forum thread?
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hancoque on 06 September, 2005, 01:10:47 PM
They seem to have changed the forums. I can't access it anymore. I posted the image more than one and a half year ago. So I guess if the thread hasn't been deleted it has been long forgotten.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Vanishing on 08 September, 2005, 08:30:20 AM
I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak/)).
Quote
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon  .
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: bug80 on 08 September, 2005, 08:36:03 AM
Quote
I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak/)).
Quote
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon  .
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=325807"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I once worked with the L3, it is very agressive indeed, very hard to get subtle compression out of it.

I prefer the L2, which can be used very subtle in combination with a multiband compressor.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Cyaneyes on 08 September, 2005, 10:12:30 AM
Quote
I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak/)).
Quote
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon  .[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=325807"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I agree in principle, but in defense of the L2 and L3, neither one will allow clipping of any kind.  Even if you crank the threshold way way down, there won't be any clipped samples like the Metallica examples posted above.  I've used both, and I find that even though they suck the dynamics out and make the music sound flat if overused, they don't have obnoxious compression artifacts like some limiters/compressors.

I think the clipping in most music these days is a result of careless recording and/or mixing...
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Grey on 11 September, 2005, 07:34:06 PM
Quote
In fact I wonder how much this has contributed to the stagnancy in sales over the last few years that the 'industry' whines about so frequently?


What's sad is that the "industry" assumes that the entire decrease in sales is due to music piracy.

I've seen no effort on their part to address consumer complaints of high prices and poor quality. It's as if they're saying, "this is what you're going to pay for, whether you like it or not".
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Julien on 12 September, 2005, 09:13:17 AM
Quote
I have produced several CDs and been a participating musician in dozens. The practice of using large amounts of "global" compression (compression applied to the entire mix and not just particular tracks) is a phenomenon with roots back into the 70's.

Let me add something really quick and important here: totally uncompressed recorded music is relatively rare in the pop/jazz/folk world and has been for a long time.

The essential psychoacoustic problems being addressed are 1) scale and 2) noise floor. Issue 1 is the fact that most recorded music is not played at realistic performance levels - it is simply impractical for me to crank up my living room rig to even small ensemble levels without bugging half the neighborhood and myself as well. The spaces in which we listen to music are often utterly at odds with the original volume levels.

Compression, judiciously applied, allows music to be perceived as "full" and satisfying at substantially lower levels. Is it "real"? Well, no - but then, neither is a 7-piece band cranking away in my 15 x 25 ft living room being reproduced through 2 sound sources. At its best, compression is a compromise made to remedy the most basic compromise in the system - the fact that the music will NOT be played in original spaces at original levels. It will be coming out of 2 speakers in your home or car.

If anyone in this group is a musician, you can try some interest experiments. For example, I recorded a CD of 10 lullabies for my kids a while back. I did this on the cheap, just the way the kids hear me every night - 2 good condensors, a hard disk recorder, me and a Martin guitar, played live.

When the tracks were played back on good cans or speakers, they sounded great - just like the real thing. I trimmed up the beginnings and endings, burned a CD and popped it into the boom box in the kid's bedroom. My god, it was awful. At low volumes (the target use case) all detail was lost - only the vocals would jump out from the tiny box. The kids hated it.

So it pulled up the tracks again and applied global compression. I burned several discs to see which amount of compression would sound good for the kids. The answer: the one with a lot of compression. Listened to closely, the compression is obvious. But when heard at low volume on the boombox, it is great. Mission accomplished and lesson learned.

What was different from my live performances in the same room? A lot. Lower volume, limited frequency response, directional speakers, etc. The net result was that the music was better served by squishing it. Don't worry; I still play "live" most nights. Lately the kids like Gram Parsons songs.

The next thing is noise. The 70's saw the birth of real FM radio, 8-tracks and cassettes. This meant that the shift to "car listening" was underway, and the record companies obliged with increased compression. In a sense, they are right: uncompressed music in a noisy car is misery. The peaks take your head off while the music floor is inaudible. The trouble is, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem.

I agree that many recent pop recordings I have are excessively compressed, lifeless and grating. That to me is sacrificing one thing for another. But take heart; well recorded music is out there in spades as well. Lately I have been listening a lot to Sufjan Steven's excellent "Illinois" CD - wonderfully dynamic and spacious, not to mention GREAT songwriting and arranging.

And I'll bet that "Illinois" is using some compression - just not too much!
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=320609"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]



It is good to hear another point of view on the topic. I think that the audiophiles & engineers behind the www.loudnessrace.com project, even if their point is totally valid, tend to reject some things a little too quickly.

In order to fully enjoy a record that has lots of dynamics you have to setup a proper listening environement. What I mean here is that you will most likely never truly enjoy such a record on a $300 stereo in an appartment in a residential area where you cannot listen to the music at a fairly high volume.

When played at low volumes, such records will have you jump on the volume knob constantly if you want to hear the quiet passages. The problem increases greatly when the listening environement is noisy or when the playback unit has its volume output limited(In Europe, portable devices' output is limited to prevent hearing dammage).

I do not mean that super squashed records are more pleasant to hear, I just think that the increase in loudness had to happen because it is convenient for most of the listeners. The real problem is not the loudness in itself, it is the fact that this an irreversible process.  Of course, you are free to rip the CD on your computer and apply heavy limiting to the audio to gain some RMS, but it is pretty tedious and not so easy for those with no audio-engineering background at all.

What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: markanini on 12 September, 2005, 09:56:28 AM
Quote
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I've had this though many times, why can't the industy for example follow a reference gain standard of 89 dB SPL and let the listener choose if they want a 6 dB limiter on their playback equipment?
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Triza on 12 September, 2005, 10:06:50 AM
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: esa372 on 12 September, 2005, 10:50:04 AM
Quote
When the tracks were played back on good cans or speakers, they sounded great - just like the real thing. I trimmed up the beginnings and endings, burned a CD and popped it into the boom box in the kid's bedroom. My god, it was awful. At low volumes (the target use case) all detail was lost - only the vocals would jump out from the tiny box. The kids hated it.

[...]

The next thing is noise. The 70's saw the birth of real FM radio, 8-tracks and cassettes. This meant that the shift to "car listening" was underway, and the record companies obliged with increased compression. In a sense, they are right: uncompressed music in a noisy car is misery. The peaks take your head off while the music floor is inaudible. The trouble is, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem.
So, producers are mastering albums specifically to be played on boom-boxes and car stereos... 
That's awful!  That's like making movies specifically to be watched on a cell phone!

I think your reference to compression being "judiciously applied" is key.  It is certainly is a useful tool, but its applications are being painfully misused... creating music wich is (as you say) "lifeless and grating".



Here are some relevant excerpts from a 2003 interview with Steve Hoffman (http://www.stevehoffman.tv) by Keith Hanlon (http://www.citizenkeith.com) for Tape Op magazine (http://www.tapeop.com).  The entire interview can be found here (http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=59070).


Steve Hoffman: Mastering for the Breath of Life
by Keith Hanlon (http://www.citizenkeith.com)

As a mastering engineer, Steve Hoffman has worked on many classic recordings, but very few of them would be considered a standard CD or LP release. After working at MCA on reissue CDs from Buddy Holly and The Who (among others), he entered the audiophile world. He is currently a free agent, working on SACDs for Audio Fidelity and LPs for S&P Records.

He made his name as the mastering engineer for DCC Compact Classics. Throughout the 90s, DCC specialized in producing 24-karat gold compact discs. They released gold disc versions of albums by The Doors, Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Miles Davis, and many others. Even non-audiophiles feel that these discs are the definitive versions. Indeed, the first time I heard his work on Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," I felt as though I was hearing what Dylan heard in the control room during playback.

Steve's trademark is what he refers to as the "breath of life" -- recordings that are dynamic and natural sounding. You don't have to have a $50,000 system to hear the difference.



Q. On your website, you specify your title as "Audiophile Music Restoration Specialist" instead of, say, "Mastering Engineer." Can you tell me what you think the difference is, and what you feel your job is?

A. That's a good question. I always like to use the word "audiophile" in there because nowadays a "mastering engineer" is someone who mangles the sound to the lowest common denominator. In other words, so that their CD is just as loud as everybody else's out there. Sort of the old, "my radio station is louder than your radio station" thing.

My personal opinion is that there has to be a bastion of good sound out there and many of my jobs entail much more than mastering. There's all different kinds of restoration from old records to old tapes to this and that. I didn't want to be lumped in with the mass of guys out there who just follow orders now and compress the hell out of everything.


Q. What do you mean by "just follow orders"?

A. I'm lucky because somebody who hires me is interested in getting the best sound they possibly can. Usually that is a record company that has an audiophile leaning. In other words, they are not worried about competing with the loudest CD out there. It's more of "what sounds the best on a $50,000 stereo?"

You'd be surprised at how bad most modern compact discs sound on really good equipment. It'll make your ears fall off after half an hour. When they hire me, they know that I'll keep the dynamic range intact, and try to add my trademark "breath of life" to everything.


[...]


Q. A lot of Tape Op readers are working with computers, or 4-track cassette machines. What should they consider when trying for a more natural sound?

A. They should take their fingers off the EQ buttons. I know it's tempting to EQ everything. But try and work on everything in it's natural state, because once something is EQed into the mix, it's there and you can't get rid of it. If you EQ the drums to sound really loud (in a mix), and you hear your mix on somebody else's monitors, and all of a sudden it doesn't sound as good as on your Mackie monitors, now what do you do?

Well, you keep all the signal processing until the very last minute, and only dial in one half of what you originally wanted to add. If you're going to add like 5db at 10,000 cycles to get the cymbals to go (makes a high end sibilant sound), back that off, down to two and a half. Cut it in half... you can always add more in mastering. But once it's on your mix, you're screwed. You cannot get rid of it.

The same with compression. You can always compress when you're mastering. Hopefully you can use some nice sounding analog compressors, not a merciless digital maximizer which kills everything.

The idea is… if you want your record to sound loud, there has to be a point in the record that is quieter than the loudest part or it will all sound quiet. Even the loudest loud will just sound quiet because that's not the way the human ear works. In order for something to sound loud, there has to be a little quiet part in there somewhere where your ear would go, "Oh that's quiet... whoa, it just got loud!" If it's all loud from beginning to end on every song, even the ballads, it's just not going to be effective.

No matter what you've read about that, ease off on the maximizer. Please! [laughs]


Q. What about the person that says, "Well, I listen to stuff in my car, on my boombox or my home stereo. Why should I care about the audiophile's point of view?"


A. There will be a day, when this person is now a rich and famous rock star, and he or she will be able to afford a really nice stereo. And when that happens, all the warts that made your mix sound good on that $100 boombox are going to be sticking out like a sore thumb. So what you want to do is plan for the future and not take everything to it's lowest common $100 boombox, just make sure that you leave some for someone with a really nice stereo. Like your mom's or dad's stereo. Try it on that. How does this sound on theirs? Does it sound too bassy or too bright? Is there bass? Does it sound exciting? If it doesn't, then obviously something is wonky with the mix.

Another thing I want to mention while I have this little soap box is never mix really loud. Mix at a lower volume. Mixes that are loud are thrown off by the equipment going into hypershock. You'll never get the right amount of bass. The bass always tends to distort loud, and it starts to sound louder, so you turn down the bass. But when you play it at a normal volume, there will be no bass. Your ear is totally compressing it as it's playing back and you're not getting the full picture. Try mixing it at a normal volume. If your mix sounds lousy at a normal volume then you're doing a lousy mix. Fix the mix. The end. [laughs] The readers are gonna hate me, but it's true! What can I say?

[span style='font-size:7pt;line-height:100%']Repinted with permission.[/span]


...and here's another point:
Quote
Something else happened in the 90s. More people had CD changers, and they started to notice that an "old" CD was quieter than newer discs. They automatically assumed that was bad, because it was annoying to keep adjusting the volume.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Julien on 12 September, 2005, 11:41:03 AM
Quote
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326465"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: bug80 on 12 September, 2005, 12:03:29 PM
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Quote
[...]

It is good to hear another point of view on the topic.[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326453"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I don't think it is that much another view on the topic. I think we all know compression is necessary on virtually every record, we are talking here about overdoing it. For the people who don't know the history behind it all it may be nice reading, though.

Quote
I've had this though many times, why can't the industy for example follow a reference gain standard of 89 dB SPL and let the listener choose if they want a 6 dB limiter on their playback equipment?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326463"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I can think of some reasons for not doing that:

1) A compressor/limiter that does the job well (comparable with the equipment mastering studios use) is currently expensive.
2) Using a compressor/limiter correctly is an art by itself (it is not a matter of pushing the preset "rock", for example, every song needs its own amount of compressing and limiting).
3) Today, mastering becomes more and more part of the total production process. For example mixing engineers sometimes mix a record with the final mastering in mind. Second, mastering engineers sometimes make small adjustments to the sound mix during mastering. This all can't be done if you leave the limiting to the end user.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Triza on 12 September, 2005, 01:01:23 PM
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Quote
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326465"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326479"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Julien,

I just looked at the samples in EAC's WAV editor. I cannot tell if the samples "clipped" at 32767 or somewhat lower. Either way everything that is brickwall-limited is clipped in my dictionary. This was like that. On the top of that there was no dynamics. No quite passages even for a second. I hardly could finish the 1st track.

I am very sad the current state of play.

As for the boombox. The neighbour's stupid daughter had one. It drove me up the wall. I heard her stupid music all the time. I showed my arsenal to the neighbour. I have 2 monitor speakers, no subwoofer. I asked the neighbour if they hear me ever. They said never.  No wonder. I do not need to churn up the system to hear all the details.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Julien on 12 September, 2005, 02:01:10 PM
Quote
Quote
Quote
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326465"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326479"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Julien,

I just looked at the samples in EAC's WAV editor. I cannot tell if the samples "clipped" at 32767 or somewhat lower. Either way everything that is brickwall-limited is clipped in my dictionary. This was like that. On the top of that there was no dynamics. No quite passages even for a second. I hardly could finish the 1st track.

I am very sad the current state of play.

As for the boombox. The neighbour's stupid daughter had one. It drove me up the wall. I heard her stupid music all the time. I showed my arsenal to the neighbour. I have 2 monitor speakers, no subwoofer. I asked the neighbour if they hear me ever. They said never.  No wonder. I do not need to churn up the system to hear all the details.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326489"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


oh , ok. I see what you mean. I was refering to soft-clipping as opposed to hard-clipping. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
Neighbour's stupid daughters have been a problem for ages
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: no.667 on 12 September, 2005, 03:35:03 PM
Quote
Also, maybe it's because I don't buy that much "popular" (chart) music, but the amount of CDs I buy that sound really awful are a minority. And every now and then, a CD is released which still has an exceptional dynamic range (e.g.: "With Teeth" from Nine Inch Nails).
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=319070"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


IMO Nine Inch Nails' sound is very good on their every album. Mr. Reznor just cares about things like that. For example With Teeth has been released in 3 versions - CD, SACD and DVDA.
Or "The Fragile"....that is a record which is totally not listenable in car...because of its complexity and dynamics.(well, it is listenable when u turn the volume really up:))
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Drexl on 12 September, 2005, 03:36:08 PM
I don't remember where it was, but I remember reading something Noel Gallagher of Oasis said.  It was something about how he pointed to a boombox, and said "yeah, but does it sound good on that?"  He said nobody listens to music on big speakers.

Now I understand what he was talking about, unfortunately. 
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: no.667 on 12 September, 2005, 04:01:24 PM
Quote
I don't remember where it was, but I remember reading something Noel Gallagher of Oasis said.  It was something about how he pointed to a boombox, and said "yeah, but does it sound good on that?"  He said nobody listens to music on big speakers.

Now I understand what he was talking about, unfortunately. 
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326505"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

well,it's just connected to making profit:)not many people have really good stereos. the band-especially oasis-and the managers want to make money.to sell records.so they want it to sound loud etc. because those "stupid daughters" will buy it:)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: trebius on 12 September, 2005, 06:54:11 PM
Ok now i'm new to the audiophile side of the audio scene though obviously I like my music. This is the waveform of I Predict A Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs...now surely that can't be good? Where is the music? It's just a wall of sound? It really does sadden me that this is what music these days is decimated to.

(https://hydrogenaud.io/imgcache.php?id=c6908365f0982dbfb3d65567585e8047" rel="cached" data-warn="External image, click to view at original size" data-url="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v431/trebius/wallofnoise.jpg)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Triza on 12 September, 2005, 07:25:35 PM
Indeed. A bit OT:

The other interesting thing is that these bands are rubbish live as well. I do not go to concerts often , but I did 2 years ago, when I went to T-in-the-Park. I could not find any bands Greenday, Foo Fighters, The Hives were there) who could sing. The vocals were terrible. They were croaky, husky pooped-out. Everything was distorted beyond belief. (Some stupid blokes kept throwing various liquids into the crowd. too, but that is another matter.) Overall the bands were just on tour and try to grab as much as their can and naturally they were knackered and again the performance was terrible. The same goes for what I see on TV about Glastenbury (I hope I spell it correctly). Also these bands generally make a lot of noise by drumming and plucking everything their reach to hide their lack of skill. Their melodies are generally rather primitive. Straight from a guitar tutorial. I just cannot find the craftmenship.

Triza
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Cyaneyes on 13 September, 2005, 02:35:17 PM
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Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record?[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326479"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I just looked in Audition.  There's some clipping, but not too bad.. only maybe 10-15 samples per drumbeat.. sad that that's considered "not too bad" compared with many albums these days... 
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: seannyb on 14 September, 2005, 10:49:34 PM
Hard limiting / compression is only half the story when it comes to bad mastering practices, IMO.  It's easy to load a track up into your favorite wave-editor and "oh snap!" at the zoomed out result, or zoom in and notice how "oh my god, four samples in a row are hitting -0dB!" or something, but from my experience that sort of analysis makes things sound worse than they really are.  You can actually get away with some clipping and lots of limiting if you apply it well & use a good limiter (I like Ozone (http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/)'s for example... it prevents inter-sample clipping too, which I think someone was talking about earlier in this thread).  I often say to myself after mastering a track "man, I could totally take a screenshot of this and put it up on Hydrogen Audio to have everyone lament at the state of mastering" -- when in reality it sounds fine or even the same (after 'replaygain') as the pre-hard-limited.  Even limiting the peaks to an audible degree can make a more pleasing, less aggressive sound.
[span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%']here's an example (http://www.seanny.net/appelsap-remastered-streamversion.m3u)  of some of not-my-music I mastered if you're curious (info / download (http://www.seanny.net/appelsap.html))[/span].

>> (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=36142&view=findpost&p=326472) Here are some relevant excerpts from a 2003 interview with...

I read the interview snippets and I rather feel the same way about some of the things.  The advent of non-destructive mixing & mastering rather nullifies his argument to only to apply EQ and compression at certain stages (since if you do it right, all the signal processing you do should be reversible, or else you're living In The Past)...

...but what he said about mastering for bad systems is what I can agree with. It's not so much compression in itself, it's the whole thing of how some albums are mastered to sound great on boomboxes -- and conversely sound horrible like some sh-tty boombox on a really nice stereo!  I'd like to listen to Daft Punk's Human After All album a little more if it didn't make my studio monitors sound like $3 sony headphones [span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%'](as much as I like the Autechre-ish direction they're seemingly edging into)[/span].  Daft Punk's music uses compression artifacts to shape its own weird aesthetic, so the compression/limiting doesn't bother me... it's the insanely overexpanded soundstage and distorted, wishy-washy 5khz-heavy hyped sound of it all that drives me absolutely insane.  Where's the low bass?  Where's the fidelity in the treble?  Where's the richness?  They threw it all out the window, cuz I'm sure the original mixes didn't sound like that!

>> (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=36142&view=findpost&p=326504) IMO Nine Inch Nails' sound is very good on their every album. Mr. Reznor just cares about things like that. [...] Or "The Fragile"[...]

I haven't tried the re-released NIN stuff because my fandom has long since died off (I'm not a teen anymore), but The Downward Spiral and The Fragile and stuff are full of clipping errors.  Usually you don't notice this cuz Trent's music is so noisy and distorted to begin with, but it's apparent on tracks like Even Deeper, there's this obvious and awful clippy pop on its bass kick.  I second everyone in saying clipping is just inexcusable -- when it's audible that is.  It's especially surprising for someone like Trent,  who seemingly loves to shape and create texture and has (had?) his own record label and everything.  I mean, come on.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Triza on 15 September, 2005, 08:29:30 AM
Well you can tell me whatever you want, but 16 bits, actually 15 because of the sign gives you 90 dB dynamics. One should be able to squeeze in a music which already has much less dynamics within this range. We do not need clipping. If we could get away without it in the early 80s, then there is no reason not to now either. If someone whats to compress it, it can be easily done with some circuitry or DSP, but the opposite is not true.

Sorry. Being an engineer this constant abuse of the audio CD format drives me up the wall. It is ridiculous that the tail wags the dog (ie CD-s are made for 50 pound sitty plastic disposable rubbish boombox). Well my answer is that I do not touch any new releases unless classical. I would be one of the life blood of the industry since I am actually happy and can afford to buy the CD-s and because I do not like unreliable quality and hassle of p2p systems.

Triza
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Acid8000 on 16 September, 2005, 12:36:32 AM
I just bought the 1994 remaster of Pink Floyd's The Wall, and I must say it sounds amazing compared to my other much more recent releases.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Bob Speer on 04 March, 2006, 01:30:28 AM
Text removed by author
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: dreamliner77 on 04 March, 2006, 01:51:00 AM
Gotta love that PIO got the last quote:  http://www.cdmasteringservices.com/dynamiccomments.htm (http://www.cdmasteringservices.com/dynamiccomments.htm)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Martel on 06 March, 2006, 11:14:38 AM
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... It's just sad that such a great bands produces such a crap. I posted that image in the official Metallica forums some time ago and there were many people that liked the "new" sound and didn't care about clipping at all.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=325282")


I don't think so...
see [a href="http://www.zenial.nl/stats/vote.htm]http://www.zenial.nl/stats/vote.htm[/url]

edit: And, obviously, i am not alone in my thinking...

edit: Perhaps it wouldn't be so pointless to do something like that here on HA (if the interface supports something like voting, of course)
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Hancoque on 06 March, 2006, 12:58:10 PM
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edit: Perhaps it wouldn't be so pointless to do something like that here on HA (if the interface supports something like voting, of course)[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=369642"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
The Invision Power Board supports polls.

Edit: After I opened the link I saw what kind of voting it actually is. That, of course, is not possible out of the box with the Invision software. I initially thought you meant something like "How do you like today's sound compared to the sound 10 years ago?".
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Martel on 07 March, 2006, 11:33:30 AM
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... I initially thought you meant something like "How do you like today's sound compared to the sound 10 years ago?".
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=369678"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


There is no need for such a voting, since most reasonable people at HA would conclude that the "modern sound" (=square signal rulez) is utter crap. 

edit: Still, some quick polls could be an interesting refreshment here...
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: micmac on 09 March, 2006, 01:31:36 AM
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In fact I wonder how much this has contributed to the stagnancy in sales over the last few years that the 'industry' whines about so frequently?


What's sad is that the "industry" assumes that the entire decrease in sales is due to music piracy.

I've seen no effort on their part to address consumer complaints of high prices and poor quality. It's as if they're saying, "this is what you're going to pay for, whether you like it or not".
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=326341"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Mmh, I've never thought about it this way.

I have ever been into music since I heard the "Brothers in Arms" album (Dire Straits) way back in my dads car (~1985). And I've been spending lots of money on audio cds since.
But since a few years my rock cd shoppings have very much decreased. I'd buy an album and didn't like it. The next time I'd think twice before buying one and so on. I kept telling myself that I just disliked contemporary music. Even new cds from bands I very much liked before I couldn't listen to.
On the other hand I bought more classic cds (Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Scarlatti ...). I thought maybe it's because the older you grow you come to appreciate such music more and more.

But it seems classical music doesn't get compressed/limited/messed with/whatever before it leaves the mastering studios. So maybe there's still good rock music but I can hardly listen to it because of its bad sound.

I always suspected that the decrease in sales isn't only because of P2P etc., but also because of the quality of music lessened over the years. But I now see that one has to differentiate a bit more. There's music and there's sound quality. If either one of them is bad it could lead to decreasing sales.

Thanks

mic
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: B.Fink on 15 March, 2006, 10:33:50 AM
Quote
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: PoisonDan on 15 March, 2006, 11:46:54 AM
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Quote
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=371729"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It seems you misunderstood Julien, it's quite the opposite: he suggests a feature that will decrease the dynamics (so it will sound worse to audiophiles).

With this approach, the original CDs would have great dynamics and sufficient headroom to avoid clipping. And when this "feature" is enabled, the volume will be raised considerably, giving the loud, hot and compressed sound that today's kids are used to.

And I agree with Julien, this is how it should be done (if we can't get rid of clipression in the first place, that is).
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Never_Again on 15 March, 2006, 01:19:58 PM
Great idea, agreed. Where do I sign?
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Axon on 15 March, 2006, 02:03:15 PM
I tried to make a similar proposal on SteveHoffman.tv (http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=73986), since there is allegedly a greater quantity of mastering engineers there. I think the idea went over their heads.

The basic issue they raised was that there still are perceived to be artistic and implementation differences in compression/limiting, and that producers are never going to be content with a button that users can push to squash the music. They may not even be content with a knob that goes to 11. But I personally don't buy that yet.

EDIT: It's also worth noting that compression began in the classical world, ironically, to reduce the dynamic range for vinyl releases, and that many classical releases nowadays are still compressed to please the palates of less critical listeners.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: BradPDX on 15 March, 2006, 02:07:50 PM
I don't think that the idea of onboard compression or expansion for audio playback devices is terribly good most of the time.

The reasons are not complex - most pop recordings incorporate multiple levels of compression applied uniquely to different tracks in addition to frequency-band dependent compression applied to the final mix during Mastering. Given that we only have the 2-track master on CDs, there is no effective way to "undo" all this non-linear processing.

Likewise, if one were to have relatively uncompressed CDs and the option to apply compression "on the fly" there would still be problems due to the multiband nature of truly listenable compressed music. It would require a fairly sophisticated scheme that would be unlikely to work well from on CD to another. This probably explains why, despite the abundance of inexpensive audio processing technology, such features have not made their way into every car CD-deck (where it arguably belongs).

Most compression applied to end-products sounds pretty bad - much worse than the type that can be applied during recording and mastering. This is largely due to the "one size fits all" approach that is practical. I know that when I record/produce albums it is always a painstaking effort to match each track with appropriate leveling, EQ, etc.

How about a new CD format encoded with specific compression/expansion parameters than can be decoded by the proper device? This would give producers the control they want with options. Just thinkin'.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Axon on 15 March, 2006, 02:18:07 PM
That's contingent on producers buying into the idea that compression/limiting is a "solved science". Near as I can tell, it isn't, and everybody has their own preferences for what software to use. A lot of them apparantly still use analog compressors!

Nevertheless, if this did come to pass, I'd guess it would only work as dynamic range expansion, not compression. That's because CD releases for this new format would still need to follow the lowest common denominator for rapid adoption to be successful, and that requires the compression to already be on the CD. The problem then becomes to discover a reversible compression algorithm. Ick.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: BradPDX on 15 March, 2006, 02:42:49 PM
Quote
That's contingent on producers buying into the idea that compression/limiting is a "solved science". Near as I can tell, it isn't, and everybody has their own preferences for what software to use. A lot of them apparantly still use analog compressors!
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=371763"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Quite so. I have primarily used modern vacuum tube compressors in recording, because they worked really well and sounded very good.

Good = Most musical behavior that is easy to achieve

I wish to stress that compression in audio recording is a VERY longstanding practice that can yield excellent results when done well and with restraint. When overdone, that is a different story, and I agree with several posters that many recordings of recent vintage fall into that unfortunate category.

Let us not forget the utter contrivance that is recorded music. We are taking an event that occurs in time and space, capturing partial data with point sources (mics), combining the partial data electronically, then representing the output with only two different point sources (speakers) in some unknown environment (your home, car, etc.). The best that I hope for both as a producer/musician and as a listener is that it is enjoyable and conveys the emotional intent as best as can be. Any hope that it might sound "real" is at this point a pipe dream.

Given that landscape, compression can be just another tool that helps scale the artistic content to the point of delivery.
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Triza on 15 March, 2006, 08:53:19 PM
Quote
Quote
Quote
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=371729"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It seems you misunderstood Julien, it's quite the opposite: he suggests a feature that will decrease the dynamics (so it will sound worse to audiophiles).

With this approach, the original CDs would have great dynamics and sufficient headroom to avoid clipping. And when this "feature" is enabled, the volume will be raised considerably, giving the loud, hot and compressed sound that today's kids are used to.

And I agree with Julien, this is how it should be done (if we can't get rid of clipression in the first place, that is).
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=371739"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I have a Yamaha AV Receiver (RX-V650). It has a feature called something like "nighttime listening". Essentially it does compress, so a sudden shoot-out in a movie will not wake up a neighbours.

The fundamental problem is that the music industry targets the masses who do not have these hardly existing thingies. Hence it is unlikely that it will gain momentum.

While we are at this Mike Patton I love you, but God damn you! Your Mit Gas by Tomahawk has -10 .4 dB album gain. You are a God, then act like a God. You have your own label, too. Do something.

My Hifi is still unpacked. My laptop is audiowise crap, so it is difficult to judge the quality, but I bet it could be more punchy. I almost cry. In fact I do....

Triza
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: eZze on 15 March, 2006, 10:21:22 PM
this is my first post here...
i was reading about all this "clipping" situation and noticed that someone said :
"the maximum sound level on a CD is 0 dB"

i just ripped one of my cds and looking at the VU meter saw a few +1.12 on the peal level.

how can this happen if the maximun sound level on a CD is 0 db??
Title: Current CD mastering practices
Post by: Lyx on 16 March, 2006, 12:08:29 AM
Quote
this is my first post here...
i was reading about all this "clipping" situation and noticed that someone said :
"the maximum sound level on a CD is 0 dB"

i just ripped one of my cds and looking at the VU meter saw a few +1.12 on the peal level.

how can this happen if the maximun sound level on a CD is 0 db??
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=371845"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

MP3 is a *lossy* compressor - which means it alters the audiodata. For a solution, search for they keyword "replaygain" or check the info on the wiki.