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New Vinyl and Compression, NOT a vinyl vs digital thread
indybrett
post Feb 10 2012, 16:55
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In general... would vinyl versions of recently mastered audio also suffer from over compression? I suppose the answer would change as we worked our way back in time.

I have a decent turntable that isn't being used, and was contemplating getting vinyl versions of things like Metallica's Black Album, and even more recently mastered music if the audio is less "squashed" than the CD version.

I found this thread, but it covers a lot more than the one simple aspect I'm asking about.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=722028

Edit: grammar

This post has been edited by indybrett: Feb 10 2012, 19:56


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mixminus1
post Feb 10 2012, 18:01
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"It depends." wink.gif

Of the handful of new(er) releases that I have on both vinyl and CD, most are pretty obviously from the same digitally-limited/brickwalled master (Lady Gaga's "The Fame", Depeche Mode's "Playing the Angel", Portishead's self-titled album).

The only one that has appreciably less compression on the vinyl (certainly visibly, and occasionally audibly) is Radiohead's "King of Limbs."


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indybrett
post Feb 10 2012, 21:02
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Feb 10 2012, 12:01) *
most are pretty obviously from the same digitally-limited/brickwalled master


Well... crap.


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MichaelW
post Feb 10 2012, 23:30
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I guess that's what you'd expect with modern releases, and Lady Gaga is a good example: if any artist has creative control, she has, and she also clearly has talent (even if I don't like her style of music). That assault on the ears is what she wants. I think some people have found that some vinyl releases of older music haven't been compressed to the same extent as "re-mastered for CD" releases, but the modern aesthetic is the modern aesthetic, and it's meant to sound, err, challenging; cf. the reception of Beethoven.
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indybrett
post Feb 10 2012, 23:42
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I was hoping that the massive amounts of compression would happen later in the recording/engineering process, and that they would go back to a point earlier in the process for the source material used to master the vinyl version, because it make even less sense to use that crap for an analog medium. What was I thinking, lol?

This post has been edited by indybrett: Feb 10 2012, 23:43


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pdq
post Feb 11 2012, 00:29
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Actually it makes MORE sense to use dynamic range compression for an analog medium due to its smaller dynamic range compared to digital.
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indybrett
post Feb 11 2012, 00:36
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I thought I remembered reading something in the past that the whole compression crap started as a result of being able to push the signal to 0db with compact discs. Something they either couldn't, or wouldn't do with analog. It's also entirely possible that I misunderstood the article, and it was many years ago.


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mzil
post Feb 11 2012, 03:08
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QUOTE (pdq @ Feb 10 2012, 18:29) *
Actually it makes MORE sense to use dynamic range compression for an analog medium due to its smaller dynamic range compared to digital.

Agreed.
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My understanding is that heavily, overly compressed rock music is a byproduct of how FM radio advertising money is distributed:
A radio station's ad money is reflected by how many listeners they have, and a squished dynamic range is a trick method of getting a further broadcasting signal. No, it doesn't REALLY increase the range, however people at the very fringe, say 50-60 miles from the tower, can easily hear the sound over the then elevated (background) noise floor of FM transmission at that range, whereas that exact same elevated noise floor from a similar station broadcasting on top of a song that has a lower average loudness, will seem hissy, objectionable, and make one change the station looking for a new song!

The radio station which can prove they have 500,000 listeners during the morning commute gets a lot more advertising money than the station which can only document they have 300,000 listeners.

Although they all probably routinely compress on their own, as well, the music which comes to them pre-compressed by a recording engineer who didn't simply dial in a generic and fixed amount of compression, like the station's sound room ONLY can, but instead used a variable amount per song, where they engineer could tweak the results after comparing several tested versions, wins.

This post has been edited by mzil: Feb 11 2012, 03:11
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indybrett
post Feb 11 2012, 04:00
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I'd always heard that it was because louder wins on the FM dial with respect to compression. Perhaps that is consistent with what you are saying.

Interesting...

This would be a good topic to explore, but should probably be split off from the original if we desire to continue.

This post has been edited by indybrett: Feb 11 2012, 04:01


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slks
post Feb 11 2012, 11:49
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All the vinyl albums of newer music I have (pressings from 2003 - 2011 of music originally released during that period) seem to be pressed from the exact same mix as the CD. Certainly they don't sound like they have any less compression than the CD version. I wouldn't be surprised if they simply pass the CD audio to the cutting lathe, applying nothing more than the RIAA equalization curve.

Be aware that comparing the waveforms of CD rips to vinyl, that the audio has gone through an additional round of D/A then A/D conversion. That could make the peaks from the vinyl rip appear, visually, higher since they don't hit a digital 0 dB limit like the CDs. But the music isn't actually any more dynamic, the slightly higher peaks are just artifacts of the signal being passed through a DAC a few more times.

One of my vinyls from a lesser-known band actually seems to be mastered from an MP3 (!) as is the CD version. Spectrograms of both appear to have characteristic signs of MP3 compression, such as the 16 kHz cutoff. I didn't actually hear any artifacts, but I can post sample clips and spectrograms here for you to look at if you're interested. It seems like the band just made an MP3 mixdown in Adobe Audition (or whatever software they used) and e-mailed those MP3s to the pressing plant, saying "Press vinyls and CDs from these files."


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Porcus
post Feb 11 2012, 15:44
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QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 11 2012, 03:08) *
My understanding is that heavily, overly compressed rock music is a byproduct of how FM radio advertising money is distributed


... and I just don't understand: why don't they make radio mixes, when they have since forever (well ... since the dawn of prog rock and > 3 minute tracks) made radio edits?

Do (American) radio stations actually go to the CD store?


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slks
post Feb 13 2012, 01:39
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Radio isn't the only reason, in fact it's become even less of a reason now in the digital age. The real reason they make CDs as loud as possible is that when a properly-recorded, dynamic track comes up on shuffle right after a compressed/brickwalled track, it's going to sound "too quiet". When people put their iTunes libraries on shuffle, or make mix CDs, tracks from different releases get played side-by-side. Unless you have put in effort to ReplayGain everything (which most people aren't going to do), a dynamic track is going to sound too quiet.

The reality is that 19 out of 20 releases are too loud, and any CD that gets put out is going to be competing directly with overly loud recordings. That's why producers feel such a need to maximize the volume. That's the origin of the term "Loudness War".

I think it's got very little to do with the radio. Stations run their entire broadcast through compressors, anyway. The radio is always going to be compressed, regardless of how the song itself is mixed.


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dumdidum
post Feb 13 2012, 08:50
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QUOTE (slks @ Feb 13 2012, 01:39) *
When people put their iTunes libraries on shuffle, or make mix CDs, tracks from different releases get played side-by-side. Unless you have put in effort to ReplayGain everything (which most people aren't going to do), a dynamic track is going to sound too quiet.

itunes uses sound check, a proprietary alternative to replaygain.

QUOTE
I think it's got very little to do with the radio.

publishers don't want their songs to be less loud than the competition on compilations, on the radio, on TV, on youtube (?), in the samples potential buyers listen to prior to making a purchasing decision, etc. i don't think it has anything to do with a concern about loudness differences when people put their itunes libraries on shuffle. most media players nowadays implement something along the lines of replaygain.

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indybrett
post Feb 13 2012, 14:17
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Getting back on topic... wink.gif

Does anybody know of a list online (or even their own) of vinyl releases that are appreciably better than their digital counterparts? All I can find when Googling is sites that want to debate the vinyl vs. cd argument.


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