Skip to main content
Topic: "Peak volume=100%" Bad news? (Read 5201 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Quote
CD doesn't have a low enough signal to noise ratio. The new DVD super audio is a huge improvement.

Reality check: CD was invented to be perfect sound without waste. The 90db signal to noise and dynamic range provides a noise floor that is lower than you can get from any analog source in the recording studio today. The air current in the room of the recording studio is louder than the noise floor on CD. When you use ANY microphone, you will pick up the room air noise. This means that CD already does a better job than we need it to. I already run into problems where CDs can record sounds too loud for analog equipment to safely amplify. If DVD audio is to be believed, then you could record a dynamic range wide enough to capture a jet engine's loudness. This is not possible to reproduce on current analog equipment without distortion and serious damage to your hearing. Again, CD is perfect. Current recordings on CD barely use any dynamic range. Most modern music has a "compressed" dynamic range. Constantly loud and rarely uses a sound below -15db on the level meter. This is a mastering problem. The mastering engineers master modern music for radio play to get their song louder than their competitors so people will pay attention when their song comes on. Take any 1980's or early 1990's CD and put it in your CD player, then listen to the volume. Now take a modern rock or pop music CD and play it. The volume of the modern music is always near or at the MAXIMUM peak level possible. The dynamic range squeezed out. Now, simply put in the older 1980's or early 1990's CD and turn up the volume on your stereo. You'll notice how much BETTER the older recordings sound. There is IMPACT in the drums. Details in the sound. It's more realisitic sounding overall. The older (but still modern) recordings are easier on your ears at louder volume and seem more natural. This is how the CD medium sounds at its best. Do not listen this way on PC or boombox speakers. You need a decent stereo or good headphones to hear the difference.


Most of you might know where this passage is quoted. For those of you who don't, we'll leave the source aside and concentrate on what's written here. Most of my CDs have a peak volume level of about 100%. All I want to know is whether what this passage says is really true. The few CDs with peak quality of about 80% do sound better. Is it really true or is it just a psychological phenomenon caused by my reading of this article? Please post your thoughts and if you are a sound engineer actively involved in the recording business, please mention so. That way, we'll get to know if this passage really holds any substance. Thanks. I love this wonderful forum and all you wonderful people who make this such a great place!! Bye. 

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #1
The peak level doesn't say if the music on the CD was compressed or not (and thus, is not related to the text you quoted). The peak is simply the highest (absolute) sample value found on the CD. Rather, a peak of 100% could simply mean that the CD was mastered to make full use of the available dynamic range (which isn't a bad thing). So my suggestions is, forget about the peak level, focus on what sounds good.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #2
Right, the peak level doesn't tell if the recording is near the top all the time, or just one second in the whole CD.

For me, it is not directly related to sound quality. I find hard to tell, blindly, if a recording is compressed or not. It sometimes depends on the music played. A unique voice with only one instrument will hardly sound compressed, even when it is, while a black metal track will hardly sound dynamic, even properly recorded, because it is intended to be performed without dynamics.

I hate the compression applied on Sinead O Connor - The Lion and the Cobra, because it is as if someone turned down the volume when she sings louder ! She whispers the beginning of the song, then progressively sings louder, and suddely unleashes her voice... you prepare to enjoy, and... nothing comes out of the speaker ! It's like if she stepped back 10 meters. She was whispering in your ear, and the second after, she sings from 10 meters away behind the speaker. Very frustrating. The sound in itself is very good, though.

More dynamics doesn't mean better sound either. In fact, I only own one dynamic recording : Grieg - Peer Gynt (highlights), conducted by Neeme Jarvi. I'm not used to such music, but the sound doesn't seem good to me.

AFAIR, The compression applied to the voices of Indiana Jones jr and sr in the last crusade (french version) is hilarous : a plane is chasing them, we can hear the engine in background. Sr says, distinctly and quietly "it seems to me that these people are trying to kill us". Jr replies, yelling in his father's ear in order to cover the noise of the engine "I know, father !". And their voices are mixed exactly at the same level...

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #3
>>>'The few CDs with peak quality of about 80% do sound better. Is it really true or is it just a psychological phenomenon caused by my reading of this article?'<<<

this statement is wrong. it is possible today to have crushing levels on your CDs with the use of "look-ahead" limiters. one must also remember that mastering engineers have the ability to set the ceiling with tools like L1 ultramaximizer. in theory, you could have a CD that is very loud and has a lot of dynamic compression, but there is a hard limiter thrown at, say, -1.5 dBFS (even though this is a very silly thing to do!)

if you rip this CD with EAC, it will report "Peak level: 85%". thank you very much. but now try to listen to the CD. it will sound rather loud, dull, and at some points, even distorted. the reason for the distortion: because the sound is so compressed, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of consecutive samples clip as a result of this, even though the track only peaks to -1.5 dBFS:



it is important to note that the clipping taking place at -1.4 dBFS as shown in this image will have the same devastating side effects (i.e. digital distortion) as clipping taking place when the signal exceeds 0 dBFS
Be healthy, be kind, grow rich and prosper

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #4
Quote
AFAIR, The compression applied to the voices of Indiana Jones jr and sr in the last crusade (french version) is hilarous : a plane is chasing them, we can hear the engine in background. Sr says, distinctly and quietly "it seems to me that these people are trying to kill us". Jr replies, yelling in his father's ear in order to cover the noise of the engine "I know, father !". And their voices are mixed exactly at the same level...

Is Indy out on DVD in France already?! 
Jeez, maybe I´ll have to go to the FNAC site...
I'm the one in the picture, sitting on a giant cabbage in Mexico, circa 1978.
Reseñas de Rock en Español: www.estadogeneral.com

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #5
From the passage I've quoted in the beginning of this topic, one might conclude that SACDs will never be popular as CDs today. To be honest, I would like to see it remain that way. Electronic companies are inventing the next "new" storage media even before the "old" one is a couple of years old. This way, the users are forced to migrate to newer media and thereby end up paying lots of royalty to the music companies. For exaple, PC users still use CD/CDR/CDRW for their storage needs. DVDRs/DVDRWs may become mainstream in a couple of years but a big electronics company has already announced that it's new media is all set to condemn the DVD into oblivion. This is ridiculous!! Anyway, how popular are SACDs around the world? I am yet to see one, and many people haven't even heard of them. How different are those from conventional CDs? What are its specifications (sampling rate, etc)? Finally,  will they ever become as popular as CDs are today? Please post your thoughts. Thanks.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #6
Quote
Is Indy out on DVD in France already?!  :o
Jeez, maybe I´ll have to go to the FNAC site...


I don't know... It's a memory from a ten years old TV broadcast.

Quote
How different are those from conventional CDs? What are its specifications (sampling rate, etc)? Finally,  will they ever become as popular as CDs are today? Please post your thoughts. Thanks.


SACD digitalizes the sound in DSD (Direct Stream Digital ?) instead of PCM (Pulse Code Modulation). There are no fixed samples, so sample rate and bit depht are no comparable. The bitrate is higher than CD.

Former discussion about SACD : http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....t=ST&f=1&t=3390

I I don't think it will be more popular than CD. More expensive, uncopiable, the only advantage is multichannel sound. They say the stereo sound is better, but at what price ? If it's true (and there is no evidence of it) wouldn't a CD player of the same price as a SACD player sound as good ?


"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #8
It's true newer albums are 'louder'. Just open a .wav of a new album in cooledit and check it out. It's been suggested that the reason for this is so they are as loud as possible compared to the other songs on the radio (err.. ok maybe). Anyway.. It's very obvious listening to albums that through the '90s they get louder and louder. Also most music that ends up on the radio (popular) is usually mastered to sound good on the radio and the most systems possible.. so.. most 'popular' music sounds sort of thin, treble-y and without too much dynamic range, and depending on the style, perhaps an overly emphasised mid-bass. Like as in.. In order to sell the most albums, they engineered to sound good on highest number of systems, ie, the crapiest ones. In fact I think the engineering and mastering on main stream albums is joke, and it's just to satisfy a demographic and/or keep those hit churning out, cookie-cutter style.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #9
Listen to the foo fighter's latest release. There is almost no dynamic at all. It is all loud all the time.  Part of why I like the music I like is because of the dynamics. When things are roughly equally loud or compressed it is hard to distinguish one sound from another. Whereas even on a track with a very loud overriding beat it is easy to pick out smaller quiet melodies hidden in the framework of the larger piece. That is half of the fun of listening to music. Actually listening that is. It is therefore at least my oppinion that pop music is not made to be listened to.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #10
Quote
Listen to the foo fighter's latest release. There is almost no dynamic at all. It is all loud all the time.

The same occurs with albums from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis and the last by Santana "Shaman". Adds I'm found a lot of samples that looks like the graphic showed above for Oustscape. 
MPC: --quality 10 --xlevel (v. 1.15s) (archive/transcoding)
MP3:  LAME 3.96.1 --preset standard (daily listening/portable)

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #11
Quote
Listen to the foo fighter's latest release. There is almost no dynamic at all. It is all loud all the time.  Part of why I like the music I like is because of the dynamics. When things are roughly equally loud or compressed it is hard to distinguish one sound from another. Whereas even on a track with a very loud overriding beat it is easy to pick out smaller quiet melodies hidden in the framework of the larger piece. That is half of the fun of listening to music. Actually listening that is. It is therefore at least my oppinion that pop music is not made to be listened to.

I encourage you to get a turntable and try some of the recent vinyl releases...

(1) They're probably mastered better, since different mastering (may) has to be done and they aren't aimed at radio airplay

(2) Analog clipping is much more tolerable than digital clipping (although if the same digital master is used for the record, you get the same problem).

Anyway... if you can try it out, then do try it out.  It might make some of that stuff listenable to you again.  And if you like much pre-1985 music, it's the best format IMHO.  When analog tapes are mastered for redbook CD, usually there's some hiss that the engineers cut out, with the result that a lot of life is sucked out of the music along with the hiss.  I've heard a lot of examples of that, so I never (anymore) buy digitally remastered stuff that was originally recorded analog.

The caveat is that you have to develop a tolerance for a few clicks, pops, etc.  After awhile you just tune it out easily.  And for some reason the music seems much more involving (can't be ABX'ed, so I'm just offering that as a personal opinion).

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #12
Quote
On the subject,

http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/...6256C2E005DAF1C

With reference to the article specified above, can somebody tell me the name of the software used to analyze the wavform files. I would like to analyze a few files to see which of them have been ruined during the mastering/re-mastering process. My problem is that I no longer have the source wav files from which I have encoded the MP3s and I would like to check if my MP3s exhibit similar traits to the "Vapour Trails" album mentioned in the article above. Does it help to analyze mp3s, since they are subjected to lossy encoding format, or is it necessary to analyze the original wav files only? Thanks.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #13
As most of you talk of the things you don't clearly and good understand and what's even worse, a lot of you share the opinion of someone, who's already addressed these problems, I demand you to read and learn from these links:

http://www.digido.com/portal/pmodule_id=11...der_page_id=18/
http://www.rane.com/note134.html
http://www.zenmastering.com/sound_advice.htm

Then you maybe would be better "in" and understand along, how difficult and serious are the problems you talking about in this thread...

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #14
Quote
outscape  Posted: Jan 28 2003 - 09:59 PM
this statement is wrong. it is possible today to have crushing levels on your CDs with the use of "look-ahead" limiters. one must also remember that mastering engineers have the ability to set the ceiling with tools like L1 ultramaximizer. in theory, you could have a CD that is very loud and has a lot of dynamic compression, but there is a hard limiter thrown at, say, -1.5 dBFS (even though this is a very silly thing to do!)

if you rip this CD with EAC, it will report "Peak level: 85%". thank you very much. but now try to listen to the CD. it will sound rather loud, dull, and at some points, even distorted. the reason for the distortion: because the sound is so compressed, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of consecutive samples clip as a result of this, even though the track only peaks to -1.5 dBFS:

it is important to note that the clipping taking place at -1.4 dBFS as shown in this image will have the same devastating side effects (i.e. digital distortion) as clipping taking place when the signal exceeds 0 dBFS


This kind of crap really happens... As it's impossible to have clips at -1.4 dBFS, this is an excellent example of shit... It's common on copy-protected CDs nowadays, anyway...

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #15
Quote
rohangc Posted: Jan 27 2003 - 11:23 PM
The few CDs with peak quality of about 80% do sound better.


Absolutely not true... the peaks have almost nothing to do with loudness...

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #16
Quote
Quote
rohangc Posted: Jan 27 2003 - 11:23 PM
The few CDs with peak quality of about 80% do sound better.


Absolutely not true... the peaks have almost nothing to do with loudness...

Rohangc speaks about his CDs.

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #17
Quote
As most of you talk of the things you don't clearly and good understand and what's even worse, a lot of you share the opinion of someone, who's already addressed these problems, I demand you to read and learn from these links:

You are right... the issues are (or can be) extremely complex.  Of course, you'd get better response with a "request" than with a "demand" 

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #18
Quote
Quote
As most of you talk of the things you don't clearly and good understand and what's even worse, a lot of you share the opinion of someone, who's already addressed these problems, I demand you to read and learn from these links:

You are right... the issues are (or can be) extremely complex.  Of course, you'd get better response with a "request" than with a "demand" 

Quote
You are right... the issues are (or can be) extremely complex.  Of course, you'd get better response with a "request" than with a "demand"


There was no offence meant, I mean it... it's just maybe because English is not my mother language 

"Peak volume=100%" Bad news?

Reply #19
Quote
There was no offence meant, I mean it... it's just maybe because English is not my mother language 

That's OK... I misinterpreted the "tone" of your post as a little angry, no harm done. 

 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2019