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Current CD mastering practices, And why I now buy so few new CD's.
Acid8000
post Sep 16 2005, 05:36
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I just bought the 1994 remaster of Pink Floyd's The Wall, and I must say it sounds amazing compared to my other much more recent releases.


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Bob Speer
post Mar 4 2006, 07:30
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This post has been edited by Bob Speer: Mar 8 2006, 16:00
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dreamliner77
post Mar 4 2006, 07:51
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Gotta love that PIO got the last quote: http://www.cdmasteringservices.com/dynamiccomments.htm


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Martel
post Mar 6 2006, 17:14
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QUOTE (Hancoque @ Sep 5 2005, 04:38 PM)
... It's just sad that such a great bands produces such a crap. I posted that image in the official Metallica forums some time ago and there were many people that liked the "new" sound and didn't care about clipping at all.
*


I don't think so...
see http://www.zenial.nl/stats/vote.htm

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

edit: Perhaps it wouldn't be so pointless to do something like that here on HA (if the interface supports something like voting, of course)

This post has been edited by Martel: Mar 6 2006, 17:45


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Hancoque
post Mar 6 2006, 18:58
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QUOTE (Martel @ Mar 6 2006, 06:14 PM)
edit: Perhaps it wouldn't be so pointless to do something like that here on HA (if the interface supports something like voting, of course)
*
The Invision Power Board supports polls. smile.gif

Edit: After I opened the link I saw what kind of voting it actually is. That, of course, is not possible out of the box with the Invision software. I initially thought you meant something like "How do you like today's sound compared to the sound 10 years ago?".

This post has been edited by Hancoque: Mar 6 2006, 19:06
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Martel
post Mar 7 2006, 17:33
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QUOTE (Hancoque @ Mar 6 2006, 09:58 AM)
... I initially thought you meant something like "How do you like today's sound compared to the sound 10 years ago?".
*


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

edit: Still, some quick polls could be an interesting refreshment here... smile.gif

This post has been edited by Martel: Mar 7 2006, 17:36


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micmac
post Mar 9 2006, 07:31
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QUOTE (Grey @ Sep 11 2005, 05:34 PM)
QUOTE (RockFan @ Aug 8 2005, 10:50 PM)
In fact I wonder how much this has contributed to the stagnancy in sales over the last few years that the 'industry' whines about so frequently?


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

I've seen no effort on their part to address consumer complaints of high prices and poor quality. It's as if they're saying, "this is what you're going to pay for, whether you like it or not".
*



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

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

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

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

Thanks

mic

This post has been edited by micmac: Mar 9 2006, 07:33
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B.Fink
post Mar 15 2006, 16:33
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QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 02:13 PM)
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho

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PoisonDan
post Mar 15 2006, 17:46
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QUOTE (B.Fink @ Mar 15 2006, 05:33 PM)
QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 02:13 PM)
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho
*


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

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

And I agree with Julien, this is how it should be done (if we can't get rid of clipression in the first place, that is).


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Never_Again
post Mar 15 2006, 19:19
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Great idea, agreed. Where do I sign?
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Axon
post Mar 15 2006, 20:03
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I tried to make a similar proposal on SteveHoffman.tv, since there is allegedly a greater quantity of mastering engineers there. I think the idea went over their heads.

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

EDIT: It's also worth noting that compression began in the classical world, ironically, to reduce the dynamic range for vinyl releases, and that many classical releases nowadays are still compressed to please the palates of less critical listeners.

This post has been edited by Axon: Mar 15 2006, 20:14
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BradPDX
post Mar 15 2006, 20:07
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I don't think that the idea of onboard compression or expansion for audio playback devices is terribly good most of the time.

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

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

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

How about a new CD format encoded with specific compression/expansion parameters than can be decoded by the proper device? This would give producers the control they want with options. Just thinkin'.
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Axon
post Mar 15 2006, 20:18
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That's contingent on producers buying into the idea that compression/limiting is a "solved science". Near as I can tell, it isn't, and everybody has their own preferences for what software to use. A lot of them apparantly still use analog compressors!

Nevertheless, if this did come to pass, I'd guess it would only work as dynamic range expansion, not compression. That's because CD releases for this new format would still need to follow the lowest common denominator for rapid adoption to be successful, and that requires the compression to already be on the CD. The problem then becomes to discover a reversible compression algorithm. Ick.
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BradPDX
post Mar 15 2006, 20:42
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QUOTE (Axon @ Mar 15 2006, 12:18 PM)
That's contingent on producers buying into the idea that compression/limiting is a "solved science". Near as I can tell, it isn't, and everybody has their own preferences for what software to use. A lot of them apparantly still use analog compressors!
*


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

Good = Most musical behavior that is easy to achieve

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

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

Given that landscape, compression can be just another tool that helps scale the artistic content to the point of delivery.
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Triza
post Mar 16 2006, 02:53
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QUOTE (PoisonDan @ Mar 15 2006, 08:46 AM)
QUOTE (B.Fink @ Mar 15 2006, 05:33 PM)
QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 02:13 PM)
What would be way more interesting, in my opinion, would be that hi-fi manufacturers offer a switchable built-in limiter/maximizer in their stereos( a bit like the kind of maximizers you can find in radio stations) and portable devices. It would please the audiophile and the casual listener alike. The technology wouldn't be so complicated to implement.


I think my X-Fi sound card has something like that. It is called 24bit "Crystallizer", lol.
With some recordings, especially heavily compressed heavy rock it kind of adds dynamics, so e.g. Metallica sounds better with it on then off to me.
It is surely not a real alternative to proper mastering tho
*


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

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

And I agree with Julien, this is how it should be done (if we can't get rid of clipression in the first place, that is).
*



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

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

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

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

Triza

This post has been edited by Triza: Mar 16 2006, 02:55
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eZze
post Mar 16 2006, 04:21
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this is my first post here...
i was reading about all this "clipping" situation and noticed that someone said :
"the maximum sound level on a CD is 0 dB"

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

how can this happen if the maximun sound level on a CD is 0 db??
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Lyx
post Mar 16 2006, 06:08
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QUOTE (eZze @ Mar 16 2006, 04:21 AM)
this is my first post here...
i was reading about all this "clipping" situation and noticed that someone said :
"the maximum sound level on a CD is 0 dB"

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

how can this happen if the maximun sound level on a CD is 0 db??
*

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


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