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Samples: More mastering is sometimes better?, than almost no mastering at all
2Bdecided
post Jan 30 2013, 13:34
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I chose to "remaster" this track because, while it's a beautiful recording, it has very little compression. This style of music is often heard with far more compression, especially on the radio, and I wanted to see if it sounded more "normal" to my ears with more compression. I think it does, though I still prefer the original. See/hear what you think.

Original:
Attached File  strong_a.mp3 ( 654.47K ) Number of downloads: 174


Various, mostly increasing, levels of "remastering":
Attached File  strong_b.mp3 ( 686.2K ) Number of downloads: 116

Attached File  strong_c.mp3 ( 612.5K ) Number of downloads: 127

Attached File  strong_d.mp3 ( 712.42K ) Number of downloads: 109

Attached File  strong_e.mp3 ( 683.32K ) Number of downloads: 116


Excessive remastering (though no clipping):
Attached File  strong_f.mp3 ( 723.45K ) Number of downloads: 134


All remasters have been loudness-matched to the original using fb2k's EBU R128-based ReplayGain scanner.
All done by a person with no experience in this area (i.e. me!) using free tools (Cool Edit Pro and the WinAMP plugin Stereo Tool)

If anyone wants to try themselves, here is a lossless copy of the original:
Attached File  strong_a.flac ( 2.56MB ) Number of downloads: 117


Track is "That's What Makes You Strong", performed by:
Keith Greeninger — vocals / acoustic guitar / percussion
Dayan Kai — vocals / steel & nylon string guitars / dobro / piano / flute / cajon
Steve Uccello — stand up bass
Jim Norris — drums & percussion
Recorded and mastered by Cookie Marenco in DSD.
From the album "Make It Rain",

Original is track 1 from here: http://keithdayan.downloadsnow.net/
I downloaded the (paid-for) DSD file and downconverted it myself to 88.2/24 using fb2k foo_input_sacd. I peak normalised the result. (The peak doesn't lie within the posted 30 second sample). I resampled to 44.1/16 using CEP, and called this the "original" for all the above.

While almost everything from Blue Coast Records is "audiophile" quality (though the reverb sounds obviously artificial to me), this track included audible distortion and audible clipping (though not within the 30 seconds I have posted).

I think if you heard strong_f.mp3 many times, and then heard strong_a.mp3 for the first time, it would sound very strange. Yet strong_a.mp3 is the most natural/real sound of all the above.

Cheers,
David.

P.S. apologies for the cruel and unmusical cutting of this track down to 30 seconds.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jan 31 2013, 13:02
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bug80
post Jan 30 2013, 14:38
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I took a quick listen, thanks for opening this nice topic.

These examples show that mastering - if applied correctly - can really bring out details in music.

And you would overdo it, the details would disappear again.

Question: did you master these yourself? And if so, how? Is it only compression, or EQ-ing as well?

This post has been edited by bug80: Jan 30 2013, 14:39
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2Bdecided
post Jan 30 2013, 17:03
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I used the 2:1 single band compressor in Cool Edit Pro, but multiple times with filtered audio, then summed the result, to give a poor man's multi-band compressor.
I also used WinAMP Stereo Tool, the (real!) multiband compressor (pre amp +6dB), and the stereo expander.

One, the other, or both, in various amounts, were used for the clips I uploaded.

I didn't apply any separate EQ, but misusing multi-band compression in this way does change the EQ.

Cheers,
David.
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LithosZA
post Jan 30 2013, 17:43
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All of them sound good to me. I prefer A
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2Bdecided
post Jan 30 2013, 18:42
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I don't think I'd be too surprised to hear any of them on a commercial CD (except maybe a(!) and f), though the EQ of at least one of the others is a bit dodgy.
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Nessuno
post Jan 30 2013, 19:25
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I do prefer version A: things start to come too much "in your face", so to say, moving towards F.
I also have to say version A itself sounds a little unnatural to my ears, for being a recording of a small acoustical ensemble. Maybe it's because of this Extended Sound Environment stuff (to be honest I only have listened with headphones, I'll try from speakers).

This post has been edited by Nessuno: Jan 30 2013, 19:27


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Engelsstaub
post Jan 31 2013, 01:57
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I guess I'd have to go with A as well.

This type of music is far easier on my ears when badly mastered or clipped than the usual loud stuff I listen to...so the differences don't seem quite as significant to me.


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2Bdecided
post Jan 31 2013, 10:39
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jan 30 2013, 18:25) *
I do prefer version A: things start to come too much "in your face", so to say, moving towards F.
I also have to say version A itself sounds a little unnatural to my ears, for being a recording of a small acoustical ensemble. Maybe it's because of this Extended Sound Environment stuff (to be honest I only have listened with headphones, I'll try from speakers).
Thanks for the link - I hadn't seen that article. So the performance is in one room, but the reverb is from speakers in another room! (i.e. an echo chamber). I know that is how most classic recordings were done, but it's not a typical audiophile approach - those recordings usually take place in a decent room, and capture the sound of the performers in that room.

To be fair, most of the stereo mixes sound far more "normal" (i.e. good; they don't have phasing or placement issues) than you might expect from some of those descriptions.


Thanks for the replies everyone. Given the consensus that (A) is best, I guess I won't be giving up my day job wink.gif

(A) does seem to have a certain magic - a certain quiet to it - tht makes you want to listen more. I might still put (F) on my mp3 player.

Clumsy visual analogy: imagine these people are performing on a dimly spot-lit stage: the more compression is added (without clipping), the more it sounds like someone has turned more lights on, and you can see more. Yet somehow it is not appropriate to have so many lights on - gentle spot lights on the singers is sufficient.

To me it's quite a different effect starting with (F) and working track-by-track back to (A), compared to starting with (A) and working forwards track-by-track to (F).

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jan 31 2013, 10:50
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Nessuno
post Jan 31 2013, 12:53
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To follow up with this analogy: it seems to me like taking a photo of the performance with stage light only (A) and then working on the raw file to produce a somewhat oversaturated HDR version (F). The funny thing is that with music you obtain this effect by actually reducing the dynamic range... wink.gif


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2Bdecided
post Jan 31 2013, 13:07
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jan 31 2013, 11:53) *
To follow up with this analogy: it seems to me like taking a photo of the performance with stage light only (A) and then working on the raw file to produce a somewhat oversaturated HDR version (F). The funny thing is that with music you obtain this effect by actually reducing the dynamic range... wink.gif
True - I guess you do with photos too though - in HDR, you are actually squashing the real DR to be visible on a (reduced DR) medium.

It does seem to change the performance too though. The guy on the right sings very quietly at times, to great emotional effect (especially in the start of the middle of the full track) - this is lost even with a moderate amount of compression.

This experiment has opened my eyes/ears to the fact that so many of the audible differences that people attribute to remixing, reverb, EQ, microphone placement and even a different performance (never mind vinyl vs CD vs whatever) can be created with a "bit" of multi-band compression.

I would love to hear more "raw" recordings. Even on audiophile labels, they are quite rare (and the sleeve notes sometimes lie wink.gif ).

Cheers,
David.
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