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CD-R and Audio Hardware => Audio Hardware => Topic started by: Mach-X on 2013-07-04 08:41:57

Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-07-04 08:41:57
Topic sums it up. In my home theater I picked up some vintage paradigm mk3se's as since the first time I heard paradigm speakers I was a fan. Using a pair of atoms for surround. I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc, and whenever I listen to any of this on my system I can't stand the sound. It's lifeless with overbearing mud. When watching a dvd with dolby digital, or playing pop music like Madonna's celebration double disc set, the audio is sublime with bass that punches you in the chest, and when somebody jangles keys in a movie it sounds like it's coming from _over there_. Is metal just badly produced? Is it _supposed_ to sound so muddy? My favorite metal albums like Master of Puppets or Whitechapel's A New Era of Corruption just sound aweful.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-07-04 11:14:26
In my experience the production of metal music is generally very bad. "Mud" pretty much hits the nail. I have several albums where there is excessive clipping, overzealous dynamic range compression, very badly separated stereo/instruments and weird equalizing. This simply comes with the territory.

Sometimes I regret having listened to properly mastered albums, that really takes some of the enjoyment out of listening to poor productions.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: me7 on 2013-07-04 11:56:35
it always depends on the specific album. There is no genre consisting of only good or bad sounding albums.
You mentioned Death Metal and Deathcore, these genres emerged after the loudness war started. After 1990, audio quality of CDs began to decline so there are probably Death albums that sound bad.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-07-04 11:58:47
What about artists like Opeth, Mach-X? How do they sound?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2013-07-04 12:19:50
Quote
I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc, and whenever I listen to any of this on my system I can't stand the sound.


Quote
My favorite metal albums like Master of Puppets or Whitechapel's A New Era of Corruption just sound aweful.


I don't get this. What did you listen to your favorite albums from your favorite genre on in the first place  that made it your favorite?

Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-07-04 12:29:33
If you could upload some samples, we could determine if these sound like crap. It's possible your previous system was so terribly colored that it made a lot of music sound different from what it should be.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: probedb on 2013-07-04 12:44:43
It depends. You can't generalise. Some bands like Boris really want it to clip because that's how they want it to sound. Some metal is well produced and some isn't just like many other genres of music.

Master Of Puppets sounds fine to me, always has done.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-07-04 13:06:25
And if you're playing something like SunnO then you don't get to complain.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2013-07-04 13:11:10
Maybe it's neither. Maybe it's the acoustics of the room that are making it sounding muddy.

I know of a few systems where light classical music or pop music sound great, but perform poor with metal, just because it extensively uses frequency bands that other genres don't. The metal-characteristic of using double bass drum is something that might not work very well with your system or room.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Andavari on 2013-07-04 19:54:42
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838596 date=1372923717]I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc,[/quote]

Some of it can also depend upon when it was released because there's and endless amount of in particular Death Metal albums from the late 1980s through to the early 1990s that weren't recorded on the best equipment (probably a money issue).

One Thrash Metal album that instantly comes to mind which to me is intolerable on any equipment (home stereo, headphones, etc.,) that has that "mud" and "overboosted bass" sound is 'Exodus - Force Of Habit (1992)' - from the original 1992 CD no less, and I'd fear a remaster.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: TomasPin on 2013-07-04 21:24:16
[sarcasm]
You could always give Death Magnetic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Magnetic#Criticism_regarding_production) a try, one of the best sounding albums of our era.
[/sarcasm]

What did you listen to your favorite albums from your favorite genre on in the first place that made it your favorite?


Maybe in suboptimal equipment or in a portable player? I often have more tolerance for compressed albums while listening on my iPod than when using my dad's Hi-fi, for instance.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: smok3 on 2013-07-05 01:43:57
if most of that genre is produced like sample 2 here
https://bash-o-saurus-rex.googlecode.com/gi...ample-scans.txt (https://bash-o-saurus-rex.googlecode.com/git/bash/user_bin/r128-example-scans.txt)
then it is possible to expect the sound in pretty "muddy" or should i say "boring sound".
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-07-05 10:24:00
if most of that genre is produced like sample 2 here
[ASCII-style analysis graphs]
then it is possible to expect the sound in pretty "muddy" or should i say "boring sound".


To quote a certain somebody, "Do you listen with your eyes?"
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: smok3 on 2013-07-05 11:44:42
To quote a certain somebody, "Do you listen with your eyes?"

I know what you are saying and you are right, it is just my (limited) experience that things with LRA < ~4 are really not worth bothering my ears with.

p.s. Also I happen to know some people from this genre and they are all pretty deaf from years of playing over-loud music, so in this specific case/genre i would actually suggest them to use R128 measurements throught the production and redo everything with such a small LRA.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-07-05 12:43:41
I know what you are saying and you are right, it is just my (limited) experience that things with LRA < ~4 are really not worth bothering my ears with.



Earlier I mentioned Opeth, because they're in the death metal genre relevant to MAch-X's interests, but the production is absolutely wonderful. I wonder what that kind of loudness graph would look like for some of their tracks?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: smok3 on 2013-07-05 13:46:08
Well try it, any r128 scanner will/should return an LRA value, (the graph is mostly irrelevant and its there due to me playing with gnuplot).
edit: or find a track on youtube and post a link here and ill draw some pretty ASCI graphs (if that is allowed per forum rules).
edit2: here is one;
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/7953236.../opeth_r128.txt (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/79532365/r128/opeth_r128.txt)
(Note: the clipping meter is highly primitive, it is not the "true peak" meter & clipping can be there due to lossy compression)

edit3: the r128 script is here http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=100496 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=100496) if you want to play around (Only tested on Debian).
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-07-06 00:18:54
Yes, I believe room acoustics are part of the issue because they don't sound so bad at low volumes through headphones. My living room is all hard floor and painted walls. So I eliminated the center speaker and turned off dolby pro logic, letting the mk3se's shine on their own and everything is substantially better, thanks for all the replies. As to 'what did I listen on before' it was all sub optimal so everything just sounded bad. It's the old hifi rabbit hole, once you've heard better, what you have no longer sounds any good.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: slks on 2013-07-06 07:37:04
In my experience, some genres (like metal) are a lot more sensitive to timbral variations from speakers than other genres (like pop or dance).

There's probably some psychoacoustic principle behind it. Maybe having the signal more evenly distributed across a wide frequency range does it? With your typical heavily distorted metal guitar you've got everything from ~150 hz to 6 kHz+ at pretty much the same dB level. Some bands will add a "scoop" EQ filter to it - if your speakers' frequency response already has a "scoop", now you've got TWO scoops and it'll sound off.

Edit: Having a center speaker (for a total of 3?) would add a further compounding weirdness, due to the comb filter effect from when the speakers' output combines at given points in the room. Dolby Pro Logic can only further muddy the signal at that point! Generally I stay away from "sound enhancements" of that sort. I used to have a surround sound setup I played everything though, I've found it better to reserve that for true multichannel content and play stereo content from 2 speakers as intended!
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2013-07-06 14:21:59
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838596 date=1372923717]Topic sums it up. In my home theater I picked up some vintage paradigm mk3se's as since the first time I heard paradigm speakers I was a fan. Using a pair of atoms for surround. I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc, and whenever I listen to any of this on my system I can't stand the sound. It's lifeless with overbearing mud. When watching a dvd with dolby digital, or playing pop music like Madonna's celebration double disc set, the audio is sublime with bass that punches you in the chest, and when somebody jangles keys in a movie it sounds like it's coming from _over there_. Is metal just badly produced? Is it _supposed_ to sound so muddy? My favorite metal albums like Master of Puppets or Whitechapel's A New Era of Corruption just sound aweful.[/quote]

Sounds like you may need a good subwoofer.  Heavy metal generally has a lot of mid bass.  I can't believe that Atoms can do much with it.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: shadowking on 2013-07-06 14:30:07
In my experience bringing speakers closer to one another and increasing their distance from the wall gives a tighter and more accurate sound (less imprecision and muddy sound) . This is similar to headphones but without the soundstage quirks they introduce.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Hotsoup on 2013-07-06 16:59:48
Earlier I mentioned Opeth, because they're in the death metal genre relevant to MAch-X's interests, but the production is absolutely wonderful. I wonder what that kind of loudness graph would look like for some of their tracks?

I was about to mention that metal on my home system is also hit and miss, but like dhromed mentioned, Opeth (especially Ghost Reveries) sounds great on it. So I've always assumed it came down to production and mastering. Master of Puppets is an old favorite from my youth, but it doesn't really stand out on my main system either while Slayer's South of Heaven, from around the same time period, sounds pretty damn good. Dream Theater also sounds good. I also tend to agree with Arny about the mid-bass because my car speakers are jacked up in those frequencies and all my metal has a nice "crunch". So maybe in your home theater you could tweak the EQ a bit for metal.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Porcus on 2013-07-09 10:50:07
Yeah, there is often quite a bit of mid-bass that might create booms in your room etc., and besides, there are quite a few lesser productions out there. (Nevermore: “Enemies of Reality”, anyone?)

Curious that Opeth should be mentioned; back in the mid-nineties, the attitude was that Dan Swanö made good productions, and quite a few of us were surprised to hear from Swanö himself that he quit out of dissatisfaction. Now listen to the sound of the first two Opeth albums vs the next few, I think that represents one trend of production in Swedish death.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Martel on 2013-07-14 20:54:06
I'm facing this problem all the time when upgrading my audio stuff. Only a small portion of my metal collection (mostly Doom/Black/Death metal) is well recorded/mastered.

But what I find worse than sounding muddy (low fidelity) is too much treble. It renders some high end (full treble range/sibilant) equipment unusable (ear-splitting).

So I usually end up testing with Eric Clapton, Bryan Adams and some other pop albums I keep because they are reasonably recorded and the musical content is somewhat bearable.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ferday on 2013-07-14 22:38:05
Check out metal-fi.com for metal reviews that take the sound seriously and as part of the review

There is some superbly recorded metal, just like any genre
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: shadowking on 2013-07-15 09:47:53
Try Paradise Lost Draconian Times . I cannot think of an album that has better sound in any genre.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Dave@Metal-Fi on 2013-07-16 23:31:55
Thanks for mentioning us ferday! The truth is that the vast majority of metal records sound mediocre to appalling. Issues with room setup can definitely exacerbate the problem, but the recordings themselves are still a huge part of the issue. That's the reason I helped start Metal-Fi. Metal usually sounds like garbage and it doesn't have to. Every album we review we measure with the TT Dynamic Range meter. 99% of them are DR5 or DR6 - loudness war casualties. A really good sounding album needs to be a minimum of DR8, and what we really like to see are double digits. Unfortunately what this means if you're a metal fan is that you pretty much have to buy a turntable. Not because of any "analog warmth" nonsense - these albums are cut from 24/48 or 24/96 digital masters, but because the vinyl versions aren't brickwall mastered and thus typically have double the amount of dynamic range as their CD counterparts.

Full dynamics usually improves even poorly mixed metal albums, and when you have a really well recorded and mixed album like Enslaved's RIITIIR that's been completely squashed, when you take that away on the vinyl which is DR11 instead of DR6, the results are fantastic.

If you think a particular metal band's album sounds like crap, tell them. A lot of bands still don't really understand this issue, and they think that people genuinely want an album where everything is stupid loud and sounds horrible. I used to blame the mastering engineers for smashing everything to hell, but in many cases they don't like it any more than I do, but they have to earn a living and the customer is always right.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Martel on 2013-07-17 08:02:43
But will they care about opinion of few? The masses need to start chanting "we want more dynamic range" for anything to change (and it would be even better for the masses to actually understand what DR is good for and what it is going to improve for them). It's the masses where revenue comes from, not individuals.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Porcus on 2013-07-17 08:22:00
For a band to throw in a “raw, less produced” version in the for-fans-only “deluxe” edition, likely costs much less than polishing up live tracks for bonus ... so what the holy Hell are you waiting for?

[quote author=Dave@Metal-Fi link=msg=839657 date=1374013915]like Enslaved's RIITIIR that's been completely squashed, when you take that away on the vinyl which is DR11 instead of DR6[/quote]

And a few of their other releases ... http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?...artist=Enslaved (http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=Enslaved)
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: _if on 2013-07-17 11:02:37
[quote author=Dave@Metal-Fi link=msg=839657 date=1374013915]Unfortunately what this means if you're a metal fan is that you pretty much have to buy a turntable. Not because of any "analog warmth" nonsense - these albums are cut from 24/48 or 24/96 digital masters, but because the vinyl versions aren't brickwall mastered and thus typically have double the amount of dynamic range as their CD counterparts.[/quote]
I bet that easily the majority of those records are sourced from similarly mastered tracks as the corresponding CD. The inaccuracies inherent in playing and recording vinyl act to exaggerate peaks and thus artificially inflate DR Meter values. I have encountered several times people on the Internet raving about how much better a record sounds than the CD of the same album when I know for sure they were produced from the same mastering (like Bob Dylan's recent albums, which have hilariously/frustratingly been held up as transformative and oh-so-great-sounding on vinyl, compared to the "fatiguing" CDs).

Here's a rather simple way to check. Load a track from the CD into any audio editor and zoom in and find a peak that clips. The larger the flat line is the better. Then load the same song from the vinyl recording and don't be too impressed by the "more natural" appearance of many peaks sticking out above others in varying degrees. Locate the same place that you found the clipped peak on the CD version and look at it. It definitely won't be flat anymore, but it will likely be a curved line with less complexity than the stuff surrounding it – a straight line that has been bent. If this is so, that's a tell-tale sign the record has been pressed from the same bad mastering job, whether or not it was 24/96. If you don't see that, and if the same can be said for other places where there was clipping on the CD version, congratulations, you probably have a record that indeed was mastered better. If you do find the clipping, you'll probably also see that if you volume match like with ReplayGain and compare the two waveforms, the vinyl recording looks superficially different in peaks, but the average volume will be the same throughout (which it wouldn't be if you matched volumes and one was really different, like less compressed) and the brickwalled form is still there under the misleading peaks.

There are many times with vinyl that the music gets changed in the process of getting that recorded sound to you. The engineer at the pressing plant may have to to roll off high frequencies to prevent overheating of the cutting lathe, especially on very loud material. The pressing, I would guess, is not going to give an exact 1:1 representation of the waveform anyway. Your phonograph cartridge surely does not have a flat frequency response, and so is boosting and cutting different frequencies, acting like an EQ, and simply equalizing moderately a brickwalled recording is likely to boost the DR Meter's rating a couple decibels. There's also turntable rumble and vinyl artifacts like tracking distortion and treble distortion as the arm moves closer to the center of the record. The signal is then sent, analogue (i.e. imperfectly, to some degree) to an amplifier that probably has its own tonal coloration, and if you're recording that's another device with its own characteristics. So finally, you end up with your recorded file, and those flattened peaks don't come out so flat anymore, but the damage is still there, even if it has been masked. Other people could probably even point out sound-altering steps in the vinyl chain I missed.

It's true, the record may well sound better even on an album that's produced from the same master as the CD, but that's probably because you (that is, generic you, not necessarily you in particular, Dave) prefer the EQ that's effectively been done to it  and a similar result could be achieved by playing the CD with an EQ curve approximating your cartridge's. Often it's a bass and treble boost, which makes drums and cymbals sound more present and most other things seem a bit nicer.

I see in your Katatonia vinyl review you talk about the spectrum analysis showing frequencies up to about 60 KHz and so conjecture the album was likely recorded at 176.4 KHz or higher. It may have been, but that doesn't mean the record was mastered from that. Vinyl also tends to exaggerate the high frequencies in a spectrum analysis. I think you'll find most digital recordings made with studio microphones intended for music (as opposed to recording bats and stuff where it needs to have a really high frequency range) are going to have frequencies related to the music topping out below the 60 KHz point, in my experience in the ~30 KHz range, occasionally, weakly, up to about 40 KHz. If you see strong harmonics going up that high from a record, it's likely analogue distortion.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: pisymbol on 2013-07-17 11:42:29
[quote author=Dave@Metal-Fi link=msg=839657 date=1374013915]Unfortunately what this means if you're a metal fan is that you pretty much have to buy a turntable. Not because of any "analog warmth" nonsense - these albums are cut from 24/48 or 24/96 digital masters, but because the vinyl versions aren't brickwall mastered and thus typically have double the amount of dynamic range as their CD counterparts.

I bet that easily the majority of those records are sourced from similarly mastered tracks as the corresponding CD. The inaccuracies inherent in playing and recording vinyl act to exaggerate peaks and thus artificially inflate DR Meter values. I have encountered several times people on the Internet raving about how much better a record sounds than the CD of the same album when I know for sure they were produced from the same mastering (like Bob Dylan's recent albums, which have hilariously/frustratingly been held up as transformative and oh-so-great-sounding on vinyl, compared to the "fatiguing" CDs).

Here's a rather simple way to check. Load a track from the CD into any audio editor and zoom in and find a peak that clips. The larger the flat line is the better. Then load the same song from the vinyl recording and don't be too impressed by the "more natural" appearance of many peaks sticking out above others in varying degrees. Locate the same place that you found the clipped peak on the CD version and look at it. It definitely won't be flat anymore, but it will likely be a curved line with less complexity than the stuff surrounding it – a straight line that has been bent. If this is so, that's a tell-tale sign the record has been pressed from the same bad mastering job, whether or not it was 24/96. If you don't see that, and if the same can be said for other places where there was clipping on the CD version, congratulations, you probably have a record that indeed was mastered better. If you do find the clipping, you'll probably also see that if you volume match like with ReplayGain and compare the two waveforms, the vinyl recording looks superficially different in peaks, but the average volume will be the same throughout (which it wouldn't be if you matched volumes and one was really different, like less compressed) and the brickwalled form is still there under the misleading peaks.

There are many times with vinyl that the music gets changed in the process of getting that recorded sound to you. The engineer at the pressing plant may have to to roll off high frequencies to prevent overheating of the cutting lathe, especially on very loud material. The pressing, I would guess, is not going to give an exact 1:1 representation of the waveform anyway. Your phonograph cartridge surely does not have a flat frequency response, and so is boosting and cutting different frequencies, acting like an EQ, and simply equalizing moderately a brickwalled recording is likely to boost the DR Meter's rating a couple decibels. There's also turntable rumble and vinyl artifacts like tracking distortion and treble distortion as the arm moves closer to the center of the record. The signal is then sent, analogue (i.e. imperfectly, to some degree) to an amplifier that probably has its own tonal coloration, and if you're recording that's another device with its own characteristics. So finally, you end up with your recorded file, and those flattened peaks don't come out so flat anymore, but the damage is still there, even if it has been masked. Other people could probably even point out sound-altering steps in the vinyl chain I missed.

It's true, the record may well sound better even on an album that's produced from the same master as the CD, but that's probably because you (that is, generic you, not necessarily you in particular, Dave) prefer the EQ that's effectively been done to it  and a similar result could be achieved by playing the CD with an EQ curve approximating your cartridge's. Often it's a bass and treble boost, which makes drums and cymbals sound more present and most other things seem a bit nicer.

I see in your Katatonia vinyl review you talk about the spectrum analysis showing frequencies up to about 60 KHz and so conjecture the album was likely recorded at 176.4 KHz or higher. It may have been, but that doesn't mean the record was mastered from that. Vinyl also tends to exaggerate the high frequencies in a spectrum analysis. I think you'll find most digital recordings made with studio microphones intended for music (as opposed to recording bats and stuff where it needs to have a really high frequency range) are going to have frequencies related to the music topping out below the 60 KHz point, in my experience in the ~30 KHz range, occasionally, weakly, up to about 40 KHz. If you see strong harmonics going up that high from a record, it's likely analogue distortion.
[/quote]

I also think when you have a DR6 CD and a DR11/12 vinyl, this isn't just cartridge EQ.

Most of the engineers, labels, and artists I've talked too use a different master for the vinyl even if the Redbook one isn't bricked. Do they have too? No. But they do.

The fact is in the metal hemisphere, you got a better shot of getting a less brickwalled master with the vinyl release than the CD. The main reason for this is politics, not technology.

Many metal artists don't CARE about the vinyl release sounding loud so engineers are given leeway to master for sound instead of volume. Remember, many many times, it's the artist putting pressure on the engineer to turn the volume up due to ignorance.

Moreover, smaller record-focused labels are typically outsourced by bigger ones to do the vinyl release, Again, in these circumstances, the engineer is free to do the right thing based on the original recording. All the ones I've talked too use the original digital or analog recording and re-master. Yea, there is Back on Black that use Redbook clipped master, but that's well understood.

Most of the big big labels (CM, Nuclear Blast) do exactly what you describe, they pay for one master and it get it pressed to Redbook and wax - now the LP sounds even WORSE because of the inherit weaknesses of the format. Do they care? No, because the LP is more of a collectible than anything else for them (given the low numbers they are pressed).

Btw, the above isn't a case to buy vinyl or dust off your old TT either.

It's simply the unfortunate consequence of the Loudness War. And with metal, its really bad.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: _if on 2013-07-17 12:58:18
True, I hadn't considered how things might be different in the smaller metal scene compared to the way big label stuff gets handled. Even still, this kind of thing needs to be verified by close inspection on a case-by-case basis, because people regularly have untrue assumptions of the existence of new masters when they're listening to vinyl. If you don't know about the many things that get in the way of perfect, flat reproduction on vinyl of the master it was made from, it can seem downright reasonable to assume it's a different master because it can sound so different by the time it reaches your ears.

Just as easily as you could say that, because metal artists/labels are a more niche and dedicated group, they put more care into it, you could say they also usually have less money and resources and so are less able to afford a whole new master for a vinyl release.

In regards to a DR rating of 6 for the CD versus 11 or 12 for the record likely not being caused just by cartridge EQ: it may not be just that, but with the combination of it and some other factors that I named, it certainly is possible. The very first song I did a comparison of from stuff I already had on my hard drive was The Strokes' "Under Cover of Darkness", which the DR Meter rates a 6 on the CD, but gives the recording from the 7" single release a 12. I have done the clipped peak/average volume test, and, indeed, the record is surely the same (loud) master. I can give screenshots and the DR logs, if you want. The recording certainly does sound different, but that's not the mastering's merit.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: maggior on 2013-07-17 14:33:18
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838709 date=1373066334]Yes, I believe room acoustics are part of the issue because they don't sound so bad at low volumes through headphones. My living room is all hard floor and painted walls. So I eliminated the center speaker and turned off dolby pro logic, letting the mk3se's shine on their own and everything is substantially better, thanks for all the replies. As to 'what did I listen on before' it was all sub optimal so everything just sounded bad. It's the old hifi rabbit hole, once you've heard better, what you have no longer sounds any good.[/quote]

That makes sense.  My experience with using processing like dolby pro logic is that it enhances the sound at lower volumes and with acoustic music.  Crank the volume or play metal or techno, and it starts to sound bad.  I can just imagine how muddy it would make "dense" music like metal.  That fact that is sounds good through headphones makes sense too since that elminates dolby pro logic as well.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: psix on 2013-07-18 10:25:01
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838709 date=1373066334]Yes, I believe room acoustics are part of the issue because they don't sound so bad at low volumes through headphones. My living room is all hard floor and painted walls.[/quote]
I don't really know anything about anything, but I'd add carpets, thicker-than-paper wallpaper and maybe even (wooden/composite) bookshelves and paintings just to reduce echoes in general and to get a tighter, more intimate, even muffled, soundscape. It might add some unwanted corners and reflections, but hard surfaces are a real killer, at least for my tastes. I don't think any audio is produced with the specific intention of being listened in echo-y places, so you might even improve your TV and DVD experience.

Pop is essentially very simple or harmonic and classic music is intended for, or at least is due to strict rules of harmony very suitable for, echo-y places. They don't suffer as much. They might even gain something. Metal on the other hand, especially extreme metal, is, in a way, fairly broad, organic* noise carefully corralled to produce a specific soundscape and harmonies and is therefore very sensitive to disturbances. It requires control. At concerts not doing proper soundchecks kills the sound for metal and even more so if the venue isn't suitable. To me, a lot of grindcore (whether you want to classify it as metal or not) is unlistenable live because it's such a noisy genre and most of the time simply degrates to pure noise. For some reason, they don't control the sound, possibly because of bad venues, poor soundchecks, lack of a good sound guy, lack of effort, lack of proper equipment, general sloppiness, misguided punk attitudes, etc.

*) Organic as opposed to the constructed noises used in electronic music, which due to only having specific frequencies is less affected.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Engelsstaub on 2013-07-18 12:07:39
...
Most of the big big labels (CM, Nuclear Blast) do exactly what you describe, they pay for one master and it get it pressed to Redbook and wax...


Those two labels you mentioned are very forthcoming IME when asked about specific masterings for vinyl. They've straight up told me and others, in more than one instance, when the master was the same between a specific title's CD and vinyl pressing. Sometimes they are and sometimes they are not.

I'm not an engineer but I have a really hard time wrapping my head around this oft-repeated line of "extra cost for separate master" thing. In talking to some bands (the ones that actually know) and my own admittedly limited experience it seems much of the "mastering" (brickwalling and whatever) is taking place as a final step.

Anecdotal: I was recently involved in the funding of a tribute/compilation CD. Most of the bands (mostly extreme forms of metal) submitted their master tracks as 24/48 or 24/44.1. (4 of 17 submitted "master tracks" as 16/44.1.) About 75% of the submissions sounded to me very dynamic and measured better than DR 10. The remaining tracks that were pre-compressed, nearly-bricked, and loud as all-hell were all of the ones submitted at Redbook and a few others. The so-called "mastering" was done by a singer from the most well-known band involved in the project on his computer and completed in less than a day. All he did was normalize (and ruin) the other songs to make them sound stupid-loud like his and the few other bricked submissions.

He actually called what he did "mastering" (which I suppose in a sense it was...the term is very generic now) when all he did was add destructive gain to the majority of the files to match the loudness of the pre-bricked ones. Nothing expensive or even time-consuming about that process. Even I could have done it in iZotope in less than a half an hour.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: CatsEyeRecords on 2013-07-18 13:09:46
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838596 date=1372923717]Topic sums it up. In my home theater I picked up some vintage paradigm mk3se's as since the first time I heard paradigm speakers I was a fan. Using a pair of atoms for surround. I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc, and whenever I listen to any of this on my system I can't stand the sound. It's lifeless with overbearing mud. When watching a dvd with dolby digital, or playing pop music like Madonna's celebration double disc set, the audio is sublime with bass that punches you in the chest, and when somebody jangles keys in a movie it sounds like it's coming from _over there_. Is metal just badly produced? Is it _supposed_ to sound so muddy? My favorite metal albums like Master of Puppets or Whitechapel's A New Era of Corruption just sound aweful.[/quote]

I think it entirely depends on the mixing behind it, there are some metal albums I've listened to that really suit that muddy/badly EQed style, and then there are others that sound amazing because it's been produced right... I think the main problem with a lot of these bands is they get too excited too quickly and end up making a mess of what could have been something potentially amazing. Take Jiezuberband for instance (not really metal), they waited until they could hit a proper studio before recording and it was one of my favorite album releases last year (It's called Sound of The Sun and I highly recommend it ). But then there are albums like "RnFnR" the Slash album, all the songs are completely different and most of them are mixed differently, it depends on what sound you're going for but all in all in my opinion you should never settle for something badly produced unless you intend for it to be that way.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-09-12 00:39:06
Actually it really had nothing to do with the 'loudness war', something I think is a little overblown by people using spectral analysis instead of ears to listen to music. (exception being death magnetic which is audibly distorted, but that doesn't bother me all that much I like the sound in the context of that album), rather it was my live non-carpeted living room that was the problem, as well as putting the mk3se's in the corners of the room. I've now switched to a pair of atom monitors, and everything is very nice now.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ExUser on 2013-09-12 01:01:58
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=844547 date=1378942746]Actually it really had nothing to do with the 'loudness war', something I think is a little overblown by people using spectral analysis instead of ears to listen to music.[/quote]The antipathy towards the loudness war began with people using nothing more than their ears. Please don't propagate this kind of ignorance. Just because you can't hear it doesn't mean it isn't incredibly obvious to those of us who hate it.

There are people here who can ABX 320kbps MP3 reliably on all kinds of samples. I can't, but that shouldn't be used to imply that the people actually ABXing are just using spectrograms.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: db1989 on 2013-09-12 01:06:51
As well as evidence for the insinuation that lots of people complaining about the loudness war assess its effects spectrally, I’d like a citation for the accompanying implication that said effects tend to manifest in that domain.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-12 02:12:05
I'm skeptical of people who post DR values to proclaim something is shit, but still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Then there are those who pile-on after the post who probably never heard the actual content.  This can definitely be classified as propagation of ignorance.

I'm also annoyed with the broad-brushed color code associated with DR values, especially if it isn't genre-specific.

Let's also remember that there can be a world of difference between multi-band DRC and basic limiting which DR values won't reveal.

Tools are good things, so long as they aren't misused.  Unfortunately they get misused.  I see it with waveform plots, frequency response plots and spectral graphs.  Why would it not happen with RG and DR values?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: markanini on 2013-09-12 02:26:41
I'm skeptical of people who post DR values to proclaim something is shit, but still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Then there are those who pile-on after the post who probably never heard the actual content.  This can definitely be classified as propagation of ignorance.

I'm also annoyed with the broad-brushed color code associated with DR values, especially if it isn't genre-specific.

Let's also remember that there can be a world of difference between multi-band DRC and basic limiting which DR values won't reveal.

Tools are good things, so long as they aren't misused.  Unfortunately they get misused.  I see it with waveform plots, frequency response plots and spectral graphs.  Why would it not happen with RG and DR values?

Scepticism of DR values is more warranted for vinyl sources.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-12 04:03:25
Most definitely!  I didn't even go there.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2013-09-12 05:29:40
Let's also remember that there can be a world of difference between multi-band DRC and basic limiting which DR values won't reveal.

+1

Besides, while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Engelsstaub on 2013-09-12 07:06:09
...while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.


I don't. Even the new Gorguts album (DR9) sounds great for that sort of music. The latest Pallbearer album sounds so great on CD (DR10) that I am content not to waste my money on the vinyl. All three Colosseum albums were mastered very well and measured about the same...they all sound pretty good for a funeral-doom band with vocals that nobody could decipher without a lyric-sheet. These and other "extreme" bands didn't shit up their releases with a DR3 master like Immolation did with their last album.

BTW/in general and not to you in particular: that last Immolation album "Kingdom of Conspiracy" sounds way better on vinyl. The measurement is DR10.. I'm no expert, and I've been known to be wrong before, but I'm thinking that when a CD is DR3 and the LP is DR10 it's not just some "vinyl/cartridge EQ" making it measure that differently. The DR analysis is a helpful guide but I also use my ears. Sometimes the CD sounds better in my limited experiences too. I just call it as I hear it.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-09-12 07:32:27
Quote
The antipathy towards the loudness war began with people using nothing more than their ears. Please don't propagate this kind of ignorance. Just because you can't hear it doesn't mean it isn't incredibly obvious to those of us who hate it.

There are people here who can ABX 320kbps MP3 reliably on all kinds of samples. I can't, but that shouldn't be used to imply that the people actually ABXing are just using spectrograms.


When did I imply that nobody could abx 320kbps mp3?

Quote
Besides, while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.


100%. I will take, for example, a modern Whitechapel album over an older weak sounding Testament album for those very reasons. When using something with low output such as a clip+, the louder albums work better as opposed to having to crank up the volume on a quieter one to the point of noise/distortion.

What bugs me is the FIRST THING somebody did when Black Sabbath put out the single 'God is Dead?' for their new album is run it through an analyzer and proclaim it sounds bad. The song isn't even a loud song other than a few parts, I doubt there is even anything remotely audible IN the song to make it sound 'bad' 'compressed' 'brickwalled' or whatever.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Martel on 2013-09-12 07:40:28
Some metal arrangements have a heavily distorted electric guitar playing throughout the whole song. It's hard to achieve any decent dynamic range measurement in that case. But that does not mean it has to sound bad.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: _if on 2013-09-12 07:56:47
... I'm thinking that when a CD is DR3 and the LP is DR10 it's not just some "vinyl/cartridge EQ" making it measure that differently.

There are ways to be fairly certain about that. If you upload 30-second samples of each version of a song, I and probably others will take a look and listen.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Engelsstaub on 2013-09-12 09:17:56
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=844588 date=1378967547]...I will take, for example, a modern Whitechapel album over an older weak sounding Testament album for those very reasons. When using something with low output such as a clip+, the louder albums work better as opposed to having to crank up the volume on a quieter one to the point of noise/distortion.

What bugs me is the FIRST THING somebody did when Black Sabbath put out the single 'God is Dead?' for their new album is run it through an analyzer and proclaim it sounds bad. The song isn't even a loud song other than a few parts, I doubt there is even anything remotely audible IN the song to make it sound 'bad' 'compressed' 'brickwalled' or whatever.[/quote]

Not trying to be a wiseass but has it occurred to you that it's impossible to illustrate what we individually hear over the internet? The analysis helps convey what we're talking about. It's not perfect. We all perceive things differently, but it's as close as we can get without uploading samples and having polls. You're making an awfully unnecessary assumption when you say that someone just proclaimed it bad after running it through an analyzer. Rick Rubin produced that album and there's a pretty general consensus that he's been messing up and brutally clipping albums for some time now.

As a person who's been listening to Testament since their very first album I can tell you that I'm glad they didn't remaster stuff like "Practice What You Preach" to sound loud at low-volumes on your Clip+. I still listen to that at least once a month and I turn it up and enjoy the dynamics.

I don't believe you are alone in your opinions about loudness-mastering though. A lot of people don't care about the dynamics and want everything to be the same volume as everything else is these days. If that were not so we wouldn't be having this discussion about the Loudness War.  (I would really like to know how you think turning up an "old" Testament album is causing noise and distortion. I'll bet I could pick out plenty of distortion from your Whitechapel album at moderate volume.)
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-09-12 09:28:22
Besides, while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.
I don't understand why Metal in your PoV doesn't need dynamics. Most of the time this kind of music is heavy on drums, and those need a lot of DR to sound well and defined. If it's possible, why not use the dynamic range?

[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=844588 date=1378967547]100%. I will take, for example, a modern Whitechapel album over an older weak sounding Testament album for those very reasons. When using something with low output such as a clip+, the louder albums work better as opposed to having to crank up the volume on a quieter one to the point of noise/distortion.[/quote]You should really use a compressor DSP in your playback chain. IMHO (heavy) compression should mostly happen on the consumer end.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: probedb on 2013-09-12 10:59:54
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=844588 date=1378967547]I will take, for example, a modern Whitechapel album over an older weak sounding Testament album for those very reasons. When using something with low output such as a clip+, the louder albums work better as opposed to having to crank up the volume on a quieter one to the point of noise/distortion.[/quote]

That's a bizarre comment, you've basically said you're happy with over compressed albums and that the loudness war thing is a good thing 

Also it sounds like you need a headphone amp, the Clip+ has quite a good headphone stage and shouldn't have issues that you describe. With RG on I'm as happy listening to The Berzerker as I am something like Damnation by Opeth. I don't want albums to be loud unless they're meant to sound that way, artists like Boris for example really turn everything up.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Juha on 2013-09-12 11:28:53
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=838596 date=1372923717]Topic sums it up. In my home theater I picked up some vintage paradigm mk3se's as since the first time I heard paradigm speakers I was a fan. Using a pair of atoms for surround. I am a fan of of deathcore/death metal/thrash, etc, and whenever I listen to any of this on my system I can't stand the sound. It's lifeless with overbearing mud. When watching a dvd with dolby digital, or playing pop music like Madonna's celebration double disc set, the audio is sublime with bass that punches you in the chest,

...[/quote]

Do you mean stereo music in a surround system (is the surround speaker system a matched set and room correction done ?)? If yes then how it sounds as plain stereo?


Juha
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ExUser on 2013-09-12 16:33:21
[quote author=Mach-X link=msg=844588 date=1378967547]When did I imply that nobody could abx 320kbps mp3?[/quote]My point was simply that the flawed reasoning you used to dismiss the Loudness War is the same sort of flawed reasoning that I've seen used before to dismiss high-bitrate ABX.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2013-09-12 19:18:08
Besides, while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.
I don't understand why Metal in your PoV doesn't need dynamics. Most of the time this kind of music is heavy on drums, and those need a lot of DR to sound well and defined. If it's possible, why not use the dynamic range?

Maybe I'm just misinformed, but I've heard a few comparisons comparing early albums of certain bands with newer ones. I remember this one best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE) It is supposed to show dynamic range going down, but I really can't enjoy the old ones but do enjoy the new ones. I think it's mainly because of the drum sound, which is, as said, affected the most by DRC. It's not a fair comparison by far, as their playing probably improved, but this isn't the only one.

The thing is, this discussion started with heavy metal sound bad on a certain reproduction system (I've had similar problems, I think it has to do with metal music and the extensive use of cymbals exposing certain weaknesses in speaker systems) and as of the second post, it was mostly about dynamic range and bashing metal music. I've to say, I generally enjoy metal music and never felt the (lack of) dynamics to be a problem.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-12 19:33:57
Those first Maiden albums sound thin.  I've never liked them because of it.  It has little if nothing to do with the dynamic range, however.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: rohangc on 2013-09-13 04:59:54
Greynol, what is your take on the remastered versions of the first Iron Maiden albums?
I presume you are talking about "Iron Maiden" and "Killers", or are you referring to albums that followed these two?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-13 05:47:11
I think Number of the Beast is every bit as bad. I've never heard the remasters.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Martel on 2013-09-13 07:53:21
My impression is that over-bassed albums were not so common before (second half of?) 90s. Better thin than ridiculously thick, IMO.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-13 12:42:16
Do you have a working definition of what is the Goldilocks zone for bass that applies to people without compromised frequency response?  What is the reference level?

Would you mind citing a few releases that to you have the correct amount of bass?

Myself, I've been having trouble listening to a some hard rock/heavy metal from the '70s shuffled with similar music from the '80s and up to the present. Granted, I do think some titles are too thick and don't like the way they sound when played at 85 dBSPL.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: julf on 2013-09-13 18:59:22
Granted, I do think some titles are too thick and don't like the way they sound when played at 85 dBSPL.


85 dBSPL? Clearly your amp doesn't go to 11!
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: DARcode on 2013-09-13 23:27:24
Dunno how relevant it can be, but 80's Megaforce productions weren't muddy at all and modern metal era Andy Sneap ones are very good too, as far as death goes the original Sunlight Studios sound and today's numerous imitations are way ahead of all Morrisound products, just my 2 cents.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-09-14 03:57:37
Do you have a working definition of what is the Goldilocks zone for bass that applies to people without compromised frequency response?  What is the reference level?

Would you mind citing a few releases that to you have the correct amount of bass?

Myself, I've been having trouble listening to a some hard rock/heavy metal from the '70s shuffled with similar music from the '80s and up to the present. Granted, I do think some titles are too thick and don't like the way they sound when played at 85 dBSPL.


For me, greynol I find both to be poorly done, ie Kiss of the 70s or those maiden albums too much bass guitar with no true bottom end with muddy mixes. 80s stuff like ratt, warrant or even the much ballyhooed Holy Diver are unlistenable to me because of the papery thin production. Holy Diver is just horribly underproduced due to Dios well known ego and desire to have his vocals way above everything else. Perhaps this is why, at my "ripe old age" of 35, I'm thouroughly enjoying the same "metal core" as the "kids". Stuff like Lamb of God and Whitechapel. Fully realized bottom end with well placed "bass drops", nice thick guitar tone, and mixed loud enough that my clip+ doesn't have to strain for decent volume. If those are "brick walled" I don't hear it and don't care if analysis says they are. They still sound better than the majority of metal produced during the lp era. Sabbath and zeppelin are the exceptions to that rule, somehow they "got it right".
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Martel on 2013-09-14 09:45:31
Anathema's Eternity sounds OK to me as does Dimmu Borgir's Stormblast. I consider Paradise Lost's Icon to be a bit thin, Draconian Times is about right. Sepultura's Roots is overbassed.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Boiled Beans on 2013-09-14 20:13:10
Get Rage Against the Machine's 1992 S/T album. Not the 2012 Vlado Meller remaster!

Wikipedia even says "The album is known for its high production values, which are almost to the strictest audiophile standards. Some audiophile sites and magazines even go as far as using the album — in particular the song "Take the Power Back" — to test amplifiers and speakers."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rage_Against_...ine_%28album%29 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rage_Against_the_Machine_%28album%29)

IMHO, audio highlights of "Take the Power Back" are the kick drum thumps and bass guitar at the beginning of the song, the crystal clear cymbals during the chorus, and the bridge near the end of the song.

Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell sounds great as well (Get the 2010 remaster).
The ballads on Metallica's Black Album are not too bad. But those aren't death metal.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-14 20:30:07
>Rage Against the Machine's 1992 S/T album

Not that I care anywhere near as much as a lot here seem to care, but, at the very least, this album has quite a bit of peak limiting.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-09-14 20:42:26
Besides, while I like 'dynamic range' with classical music, jazz etc., I don't care about little dynamic range with metal. Metal is (in my ears) not supposed to sound refined, I like it this way.
I don't understand why Metal in your PoV doesn't need dynamics. Most of the time this kind of music is heavy on drums, and those need a lot of DR to sound well and defined. If it's possible, why not use the dynamic range?

Maybe I'm just misinformed, but I've heard a few comparisons comparing early albums of certain bands with newer ones. I remember this one best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMNJEC1G-fE) It is supposed to show dynamic range going down, but I really can't enjoy the old ones but do enjoy the new ones. I think it's mainly because of the drum sound, which is, as said, affected the most by DRC. It's not a fair comparison by far, as their playing probably improved, but this isn't the only one.
The quality of the recording process/setup of the instrument is of course even more important than dynamic range, they likely used a better recording studio and engineer. A poor mastering job can just void that advantage.

The thing is, this discussion started with heavy metal sound bad on a certain reproduction system (I've had similar problems, I think it has to do with metal music and the extensive use of cymbals exposing certain weaknesses in speaker systems) and as of the second post, it was mostly about dynamic range and bashing metal music.
That's because (IMHO!) most metal music is mastered (and sometimes even recorded) very poorly, and the deficiencies in playback equipment are mostly irrelevant. I just wanted to answer the question in a straight way. I think nobody has attacked certain artists or the genre as a whole. I enjoy metal music too, but that doesn't mean I'm fine with the production values. Hell, the opposite is true, I'd be all for better production of music I enjoy.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Hotsoup on 2013-09-14 21:02:20
>Rage Against the Machine's 1992 S/T album
Not that I care anywhere near as much as a lot here seem to care, but, at the very least, this album has quite a bit of peak limiting.

That album came out right at the peak of my teenage angst. I thought it sounded spectacular at the time and was (and still currently) oblivious to any sonic "flaws". Wasn't that recorded at Sound City? I wonder how much the recording venue influences the rest of the production chain, ie how it gets mastered and so on. I have no idea.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2013-09-15 09:45:05
[...] and the deficiencies in playback equipment are mostly irrelevant. [...] I enjoy metal music too, but that doesn't mean I'm fine with the production values.

I've just uploaded two samples here: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=102660 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=102660)

I don't think a comparison gets any more fair than this one. I took two songs from my collection which feature a fade-out to infinity that was applied before limiting and tried to match volume through the sample. The first few seconds are 'brickwalled', the last part has a lot of dynamic range. To be honest, I don't feel there's a big difference between them (I don't have a real preference I think) so when only considering DRC, I wouldn't say definciencies in playback equipment are irrelevant. Of course, there are other aspects of mastering that are at play, that's why I think this comparison is as fair as it gets when referring to DRC.

I'd like to hear what other people think of it. Maybe I'm somehow not sensitive to DRC or just ignorant?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: dhromed on 2013-09-15 12:26:49
I can't discern anything really obvious in those samples either. I think I can intuit the point where the fadeout starts, but it's not as obvious as for example a cut or a glitch.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: TomasPin on 2013-09-15 22:00:13
To be honest, I don't feel there's a big difference between them

Me neither. Interesting experiment though, It serves as a showcase for how much is lost in this DRC craze... I'll try this on some of the compressed albums in my collection later and see if I find something to cry for.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-09-16 05:23:19
I cannot really hear a huge difference either, though to me it'd be more interesting to have a brickwalled and a non-brickwalled version for ABX comparison. Knowing that the first part is brickwalled makes me listen more intently for differences.

Still the cymbals on either track sound atrocious, and especially the "Mercenary" track sounds mostly like pure noise without any definition of instruments at all (intentionally?), though I feel that the kick drum and toms might sound a bit better in the latter part. But again, that's probably just me knowing about how this track was created.

Nevertheless, this shows that lack of DRC doesn't magically make a track sound good, interesting.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: greynol on 2013-09-16 05:34:47
Perhaps someone can scan their collection for an HDCD album that utilizes peak extension.  Maybe not fully brick-walled, but it will give you access to content that uses soft-limiting when not decoded.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2013-09-16 16:26:49
I cannot really hear a huge difference either, though to me it'd be more interesting to have a brickwalled and a non-brickwalled version for ABX comparison. Knowing that the first part is brickwalled makes me listen more intently for differences.

Yeah, but as I am not experienced in mastering (i.e.: I don't have a good limiter plug-in for whatever DAW) I thought this would be the thing closest to such a comparison.

Quote
especially the "Mercenary" track sounds mostly like pure noise without any definition of instruments at all

I really start to question how and through what you are listening, that track is my absolute favourite... There is no accounting for tastes.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-09-16 17:12:08
I really start to question how and through what you are listening, that track is my absolute favourite....
Listened through my KRK KNS-6400s. Again, I would have surely misliked that production on any of my cans. And that I was able to see the nearly square waveform in the foobar2000 wave seekbar didn't help, either, expectation bias kicking in.

There is no accounting for tastes
Of course taste is a major factor, if I'm in the mood I can even stand the mastering on Mastodon or Meshuggah albums. Keep in mind that I don't criticize the music, but the production. But then, this is also a matter of taste.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Mach-X on 2013-09-17 07:29:34
Sepultura's Roots is overbassed.


Maybe so but still one of the greatest ever!
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2015-02-05 17:25:44
[...] and the deficiencies in playback equipment are mostly irrelevant. [...] I enjoy metal music too, but that doesn't mean I'm fine with the production values.

I've just uploaded two samples here: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=102660 (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=102660)

I don't think a comparison gets any more fair than this one. I took two songs from my collection which feature a fade-out to infinity that was applied before limiting and tried to match volume through the sample. The first few seconds are 'brickwalled', the last part has a lot of dynamic range. To be honest, I don't feel there's a big difference between them (I don't have a real preference I think) so when only considering DRC, I wouldn't say definciencies in playback equipment are irrelevant. Of course, there are other aspects of mastering that are at play, that's why I think this comparison is as fair as it gets when referring to DRC.

I'd like to hear what other people think of it. Maybe I'm somehow not sensitive to DRC or just ignorant?

Sorry to resurrect the thread, but it seemed better to reply here than elsewhere.

I'm not sure I hear any difference (maybe, maybe not), but I certainly don't hear a huge difference.

I suspect that there was plenty of DRC applied across the individual tracks and the whole mix before the fade out was applied. I think gain and peak limiting was added after the fade out was applied. Hence the whole sample has DRC, but only the start has peak limiting.

Looking at your graph, it looks like the peak limiting is only a few dB. I would expect that to be slightly audible, but not in-your-face.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2015-02-05 21:50:34
If what you say is indeed true, it shows once again that the DR measurement is pretty much useless: it jumps from 3 and 4 to 10. Seeing the way the algorithm is build though, implies that the designers specifically geared it towards 'punishing' peak limiting, as it doesn't seem to measure long term dynamics. Quite a few of my recordings that haven't been touched by DRC get 'transitional' DR ratings, mainly because the large number of musicians ensure that the RMS-to-peak ratio is much close to 1 than for most other kinds of music.

So, this brings the question to mind: which kind of DRC is considered problematic? Removing long term dynamics (crescendi etc.), short term dynamics (< 1s) or ultra-short term dynamics (peak limiting) and why?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: JabbaThePrawn on 2015-02-06 00:49:23
I don't have much metal in my collection, but Dream Theatre albums are usually good-sounding.

Then again, mood plays a part - I bought the first King's X album and really didn't like it at first, but played it again a month or so later and 'got' the sound they were going for.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-02-06 08:52:33
Oddly enough, I've found that some of the albums I considered to be over-compressed are actually more enjoyable now that I've upgraded to a set of Beyerdynamic DT-880 headphones from the AIAIAI TMA-1s I had before.

I would have thought the more prominent treble and 'leaner' sound signature would make them sound more harsh, but the exact opposite happened. They also seem to encourage to keep the volume at a sane level, whereas with the AIAIAIs it was like they always wanted to play louder. Which makes sense, since they have completely opposite sound signatures (bright vs. bass-heavy).

So I guess it's not always better for equipment to "smooth out" uneven recordings, at least not for me.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ajinfla on 2015-02-06 13:32:45
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions. Maybe they record with Cel phones?

cheers,

AJ
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-02-06 14:48:10
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions. Maybe they record with Cel phones?


I wouldn't be surprised. Black metal and the crustier genres of punk seem to pride themselves on deliberately lo-fi (or no-fi) production. I guess they think it makes them more hardcore and noncommercial or something.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2015-02-06 17:37:38
I wouldn't be surprised. Black metal and the crustier genres of punk seem to pride themselves on deliberately lo-fi (or no-fi) production. I guess they think it makes them more hardcore and noncommercial or something.
Which is ironic, since the big commercial productions are just as bad.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Fabith on 2015-02-06 18:17:50
to me is the same when i listen some "Rap" or Hip-Hop albums: The bass and drums sounds so hard and flat!
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: JabbaThePrawn on 2015-02-06 22:45:41
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions. Maybe they record with Cel phones?

cheers,

AJ

Possibly the worst SQ of any band I heard was Hatebeak, a metal band that featured a parrot as lead vocalist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak)
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ajinfla on 2015-02-07 00:40:50
Possibly the worst SQ of any band I heard was Hatebeak, a metal band that featured a parrot as lead vocalist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak)

Some of the best metal I've heard in a long time, thanks. 
Shame they're gone.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2015-02-07 06:05:03
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions

Why not say you just don't like metal?
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-02-07 08:43:33
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions. Maybe they record with Cel phones?

cheers,

AJ

Possibly the worst SQ of any band I heard was Hatebeak, a metal band that featured a parrot as lead vocalist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatebeak)


I take it you've never heard any TRVE KVLT black metal? Like "recorded in a basement on a Fisher Price tape recorder" black metal?

Darkthrone - Summer Of The Diabolical Holocaust (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6szVj15KBUQ)

And it gets worse than that.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2015-02-07 10:30:59
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions

Why not say you just don't like metal?
Maybe the opposite is true, because he likes metal he's annoyed by bad sound quality.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ajinfla on 2015-02-07 11:40:35
Maybe the opposite is true, because he likes metal he's annoyed by bad sound quality.
^^^^
This

cheers,

AJ
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2015-02-07 15:15:00
Maybe the opposite is true, because he likes metal he's annoyed by bad sound quality.

I just don't like the statement, because it implies that a quarter of my music collection is of abysmal quality, i.e. utter garbage. That, in turn, sounds like snobbery. I'd say, this is a matter of tastes: liking or not liking the way 'most metal' (whatever that means) is processed.

I just want to know what is considered 'bad quality'. Is it the distortion due to excessive peak limiting? Is it some sort of DRC? Is it EQ applied? Is it the balance between different instruments that isn't right? Except the first one, those are really a matter of taste.

Some examples of songs I really like
Nightwish - Scaretale (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QNIWAdvSVw): has some peak limiting distortion (which I only noticed just now, because I listened for it)
Mercenary - Lost Reality (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ov5SSVobm0): one of my favourites for ~ 8 years now, has no dynamics at all except for the very beginning
Amaranthe - Trinity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2e_3ZnJcTE): has quite a pronounced EQ
Equilibrium - Snuffel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Cp3JOMt1xU): balance might be a bit bass-heavy

But still, I can't see how the 'sound quality' of any of these can be rated 'abysmal' on any scale at all. These songs never fail to excite me, which is in the end, what this music is about for me.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on 2015-02-07 19:08:28
The SQ of most metal is abysmal, with rare exceptions. Maybe they record with Cel phones?


I really never liked heavy metal much until I set aside my LP playback system and changed over to digital.

Other system enhancements such as a subwoofer and moving up to speakers that are cleaner with higher SPLs has helped.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2015-02-07 19:27:45
Maybe the opposite is true, because he likes metal he's annoyed by bad sound quality.
I just don't like the statement, because it implies that a quarter of my music collection is of abysmal quality, i.e. utter garbage. That, in turn, sounds like snobbery.
What's wrong with that statement? It's not a personal attack. A good portion of music I really, really like is of abysmal sound quality. I sometimes fantasize how it would sound if it had not been touched by Vlado Meller and his cohort. Seriously, because I like it I'm even more appalled by shoddy production. Having bought a better pair of headphones made the situation even worse. Maybe listening with speakers again and a good sub like Arny suggests help. But then again hearing ability changes over time, too (no offense to Arny), so my preference might change, too. Apparently all the audiophool old people like the same horrible masters in "hi-res" now, though they didn't like when they were released on CD.

I just want to know what is considered 'bad quality'. Is it the distortion due to excessive peak limiting? Is it some sort of DRC? Is it EQ applied? Is it the balance between different instruments that isn't right? Except the first one, those are really a matter of taste.
The usual suspects, bad EQ, tremendous amounts of DRC and clipping, and in turn general loudness. Some (CD-era production) albums I have hardly have 10 bits of dynamic range (as tested by inspecting dropped bits in LossyWav), with really weird choices in the EQ department.
More generally, anything which doesn't sound like a real band playing instruments (on albums where this was most certainly the aim), anything without dynamics, or anything where instruments are completely swamped in noise is bad sound quality to me. Metal (and friends) has a plethora of examples, Meshuggah, Metallica, Lamb of God, Mastodon, System of a Down, etc. But I don't really see the point of mentioning examples, because certainly there are very bad examples, and some good examples. Maybe you are lucky because you like the good ones, or you're just not annoyed by stuff other think to be a deficiency. That's fine, I mean you said it yourself:
These songs never fail to excite me, which is in the end, what this music is about for me.
Sometimes I wished I could be happier again listening to RHCP or The Mars Volta.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Hex144 on 2015-02-07 20:19:15
Of course taste is a major factor, if I'm in the mood I can even stand the mastering on Mastodon or Meshuggah albums.

Mastodon were supposed to sound like they were recorded on the equipment available in the Paleolithic. 
QOTSA, for example, have much nicer-sounding drums, with more "definition" to them, even if their songs routinely measure RG values of -12 dB (and drums are supposedly the first to be affected by DR compression).
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2015-02-09 10:50:28
A good portion of music I really, really like is of abysmal sound quality.
Ditto.

I think DRC, and for that matter outright distortion, mean you can play music more quietly and/or on lesser equipment, and it has more of the impact it would have if played louder and/or on better equipment. However, when actually played louder and/or on better equipment, it would usually have more impact with less DRC and distortion on the track.

I'm sure many genres would sound pretty hopeless as pure unmastered tracks. I'm not arguing for no DRC. The sound is created in the production, and DRC is a part of that. However, I think the degree of DRC and distortion and various other production decisions would be different if it was aimed at loud playback on excellent equipment, rather than quieter playback and/or lesser equipment.

That was true even before the loudness war.

Add the loudness war on top of all that, and the production decisions to compete in this war make the music sound worse under most circumstances IMO. The absolute best sound (even the absolute best maximally distorted sound) isn't necessarily generated by smashing the complete mix up against digital 0dB FS. You'd probably smash individual tracks in the mix up against something else. But not usually digital full scale.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: shadowking on 2015-02-09 12:26:15
Heavy metal can sound good. Unfortunately most of what comes to mind is before the 2nd and current phase of the loudness war.

Some examples:

Pantera - cowboys from hell - 1990
Metallica - 1991
Paradise Lost - Draconian Times - 1995 (may have been remastered since)
Paradise Lost - Symbol OF life - 2002
Sins Of Thy Beloved - Lake of sorrow - 1998
Lacuna Coil - EP - 1997
Lacuna Coil - unleashed memories / halflife EP - 2000
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Palladium on 2015-02-09 15:21:43
Heavy metal can sound good. Unfortunately most of what comes to mind is before the 2nd and current phase of the loudness war.

Some examples:

Pantera - cowboys from hell - 1990
Metallica - 1991
Paradise Lost - Draconian Times - 1995 (may have been remastered since)
Paradise Lost - Symbol OF life - 2002
Sins Of Thy Beloved - Lake of sorrow - 1998
Lacuna Coil - EP - 1997
Lacuna Coil - unleashed memories / halflife EP - 2000


IMO, the production-wise Metallica sounds terrible after MoP. Same for Dream Theater: Images and Words and Metropolis II even though they aren't classified as heavy metal, whoever produced such an abomination needs to be fired.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: ktf on 2015-02-09 18:33:31
What's wrong with that statement?

The confusion between an opinion and factual matter. At Hydrogenaudio, I'm used to people taking care in formulating their responses. However, for some reason, this thread is littered with people overgeneralizing and stating opinions as facts.

I like the way current metal is produced. I like the way Meshuggah and System of a Down sound. Apparently quite a few people here don't like it, but instead of stating that they don't like it, the production is said to be wrong. In my view, that is simply stating an opinion as a fact.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-02-09 19:39:27
What's wrong with that statement?

The confusion between an opinion and factual matter. At Hydrogenaudio, I'm used to people taking care in formulating their responses. However, for some reason, this thread is littered with people overgeneralizing and stating opinions as facts.

I like the way current metal is produced. I like the way Meshuggah and System of a Down sound. Apparently quite a few people here don't like it, but instead of stating that they don't like it, the production is said to be wrong. In my view, that is simply stating an opinion as a fact.


I can certainly accept the mastering of most metal as it is currently, but it could definitely be a lot better, still.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2015-02-09 23:41:57
I like the way current metal is produced. I like the way Meshuggah and System of a Down sound. Apparently quite a few people here don't like it, but instead of stating that they don't like it, the production is said to be wrong. In my view, that is simply stating an opinion as a fact.
It's not wrong production, it's intentionally or accidentally lo-fi, overly loud, and full of distortion in many cases and in other cases it's not. If some people think that's good or OK, fine, but I (and some others) think that's bad. It most certainly is often not capturing the way instruments or people sound like in real life performances, which I would consider a sign of a quality production. What other purpose does recording something serve, than being a good representation and reproduction of something which was worth to preserve? Bad production (as by the definition above) tells me that the performance in question apparently was considered by some not worthy to be preserved in its full impact or intent. A recording is a statement of dedication, love, and respect for your own work as an engineer, and the work of the artist(s).
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: probedb on 2015-02-10 08:52:30
If some people think that's good or OK, fine, but I (and some others) think that's bad.


However, it is still your opinion, which is fine. It's the way the artist wanted it to sound. Just because you disagree with it does not make it wrong or bad.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-02-10 09:00:43
Either my tastes have drifted towards metal/hard rock with better mastering, or maybe the situation is improving in general.

For instance, the latest Opeth album "Pale Communion" is quite well-mastered by Steven Wilson. Similarly, all three albums by the Swedish retro-metal band Graveyard are very well mastered in my opinion.

Graveyard also does silly neat multicolored and transparent vinyl releases, and when I bought their latest album "Lights Out", the folder insert was hand-signed by all four band members. Stuff like that and good mastering really goes a long way to make a positive impression.
Title: Does Heavy Metal sound bad or is it my speakers?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2015-02-10 10:05:05
However, it is still your opinion, which is fine. It's the way the artist wanted it to sound. Just because you disagree with it does not make it wrong or bad.
Faults in recordings can be intentional artistic decisions. Or they can just be faults in recordings.

They can even be both. Things can happen ("go wrong") and the artist likes the result and keeps it.


If you accept complete artistic freedom, then anything is subjectively acceptable and there is only opinion. People have done much stranger and more extreme things in the name of art than make distorted recordings of music.

Someone drew a parallel with putting intentional distortion on guitars. If you are a classical guitar player, that's wrong. I don't think metal would get very far without it. The person implied that modern CD mastering is just another new sound that old people object to.

I would argue that it's different. I bet many metal bands use the same guitar distortion effects at live shows as on their CDs. However, I doubt they're smashing the live mix against digital 0dB FS with the same SW/equipment used for CD mastering before putting it out through the PA. The former is part of their sound. The latter is a compromise used to release CDs in 2015.

I think in that situation you can objectively identify when someone is compromising their sound, even if they make grand statements about that compromise being part of their artistic vision. Great artists can still be full of BS, and it's fine to call them on it.


Then again, I can buy into the idea that the sound of a distorted CD is somehow emotionally closer to the powerful clean sound of a well done live concert than a "clean" sounding CD could ever. Even then, I think digital clipping and modern mastering is the wrong way to get close. You can get a fuller sound with other tricks, while staying away from 0dB FS.

Cheers,
David.
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