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Current CD mastering practices, And why I now buy so few new CD's.
Hancoque
post Sep 6 2005, 01:38
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I have another example for poor mastering. This is taken from Metallica's album St. Anger. I have marked the significant spots. The album really sounds like it looks there. I clearly heard a crackling sound at locations like the shown. 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.

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Hermit-ically Se...
post Sep 6 2005, 05:34
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QUOTE (Hancoque @ Sep 5 2005, 04:38 PM)
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.
*
Most people are idiots.
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shadowking
post Sep 6 2005, 09:00
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Till this day I cannot sit through St Anger. In contrast Paradise Lost CD's are ear candy - especially Symbol Of Life which came out around St Anger - its really crystal clear and dynamic around -7db

This post has been edited by shadowking: Sep 6 2005, 09:01


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Axon
post Sep 6 2005, 18:04
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Hancoque, do you have a link to that Metallica forum thread?
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Hancoque
post Sep 6 2005, 18:10
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They seem to have changed the forums. I can't access it anymore. I posted the image more than one and a half year ago. So I guess if the thread hasn't been deleted it has been long forgotten. wink.gif

This post has been edited by Hancoque: Sep 6 2005, 18:14
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Vanishing
post Sep 8 2005, 13:30
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I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak).
QUOTE
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon crying.gif .
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bug80
post Sep 8 2005, 13:36
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QUOTE (Vanishing @ Sep 8 2005, 02:30 PM)
I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak).
QUOTE
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon crying.gif .
*


I once worked with the L3, it is very agressive indeed, very hard to get subtle compression out of it.

I prefer the L2, which can be used very subtle in combination with a multiband compressor.
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Cyaneyes
post Sep 8 2005, 15:12
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QUOTE (Vanishing @ Sep 8 2005, 08:30 AM)
I just read a review of the new Waves L3 Multiband Maximizer at Mixonline (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_waves_multiband_peak).
QUOTE
The L3 - particularly the Multimaximizer - enables you to achieve the competitive loudness and tightly controlled in-your-face sound [...]

With that kind of attitude and "advances" in DSP technology there won't be an end to the loudness race anytime soon crying.gif .
*


I agree in principle, but in defense of the L2 and L3, neither one will allow clipping of any kind. Even if you crank the threshold way way down, there won't be any clipped samples like the Metallica examples posted above. I've used both, and I find that even though they suck the dynamics out and make the music sound flat if overused, they don't have obnoxious compression artifacts like some limiters/compressors.

I think the clipping in most music these days is a result of careless recording and/or mixing...
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Grey
post Sep 12 2005, 00:34
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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".
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Julien
post Sep 12 2005, 14:13
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QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 01:39 AM)
I have produced several CDs and been a participating musician in dozens. The practice of using large amounts of "global" compression (compression applied to the entire mix and not just particular tracks) is a phenomenon with roots back into the 70's.

Let me add something really quick and important here: totally uncompressed recorded music is relatively rare in the pop/jazz/folk world and has been for a long time.

The essential psychoacoustic problems being addressed are 1) scale and 2) noise floor. Issue 1 is the fact that most recorded music is not played at realistic performance levels - it is simply impractical for me to crank up my living room rig to even small ensemble levels without bugging half the neighborhood and myself as well. The spaces in which we listen to music are often utterly at odds with the original volume levels.

Compression, judiciously applied, allows music to be perceived as "full" and satisfying at substantially lower levels. Is it "real"? Well, no - but then, neither is a 7-piece band cranking away in my 15 x 25 ft living room being reproduced through 2 sound sources. At its best, compression is a compromise made to remedy the most basic compromise in the system - the fact that the music will NOT be played in original spaces at original levels. It will be coming out of 2 speakers in your home or car.

If anyone in this group is a musician, you can try some interest experiments. For example, I recorded a CD of 10 lullabies for my kids a while back. I did this on the cheap, just the way the kids hear me every night - 2 good condensors, a hard disk recorder, me and a Martin guitar, played live.

When the tracks were played back on good cans or speakers, they sounded great - just like the real thing. I trimmed up the beginnings and endings, burned a CD and popped it into the boom box in the kid's bedroom. My god, it was awful. At low volumes (the target use case) all detail was lost - only the vocals would jump out from the tiny box. The kids hated it.

So it pulled up the tracks again and applied global compression. I burned several discs to see which amount of compression would sound good for the kids. The answer: the one with a lot of compression. Listened to closely, the compression is obvious. But when heard at low volume on the boombox, it is great. Mission accomplished and lesson learned.

What was different from my live performances in the same room? A lot. Lower volume, limited frequency response, directional speakers, etc. The net result was that the music was better served by squishing it. Don't worry; I still play "live" most nights. Lately the kids like Gram Parsons songs.

The next thing is noise. The 70's saw the birth of real FM radio, 8-tracks and cassettes. This meant that the shift to "car listening" was underway, and the record companies obliged with increased compression. In a sense, they are right: uncompressed music in a noisy car is misery. The peaks take your head off while the music floor is inaudible. The trouble is, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem.

I agree that many recent pop recordings I have are excessively compressed, lifeless and grating. That to me is sacrificing one thing for another. But take heart; well recorded music is out there in spades as well. Lately I have been listening a lot to Sufjan Steven's excellent "Illinois" CD - wonderfully dynamic and spacious, not to mention GREAT songwriting and arranging.

And I'll bet that "Illinois" is using some compression - just not too much!
*



It is good to hear another point of view on the topic. I think that the audiophiles & engineers behind the www.loudnessrace.com project, even if their point is totally valid, tend to reject some things a little too quickly.

In order to fully enjoy a record that has lots of dynamics you have to setup a proper listening environement. What I mean here is that you will most likely never truly enjoy such a record on a $300 stereo in an appartment in a residential area where you cannot listen to the music at a fairly high volume.

When played at low volumes, such records will have you jump on the volume knob constantly if you want to hear the quiet passages. The problem increases greatly when the listening environement is noisy or when the playback unit has its volume output limited(In Europe, portable devices' output is limited to prevent hearing dammage).

I do not mean that super squashed records are more pleasant to hear, I just think that the increase in loudness had to happen because it is convenient for most of the listeners. The real problem is not the loudness in itself, it is the fact that this an irreversible process. Of course, you are free to rip the CD on your computer and apply heavy limiting to the audio to gain some RMS, but it is pretty tedious and not so easy for those with no audio-engineering background at all.

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.
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markanini
post Sep 12 2005, 14:56
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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've had this though many times, why can't the industy for example follow a reference gain standard of 89 dB SPL and let the listener choose if they want a 6 dB limiter on their playback equipment?
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Triza
post Sep 12 2005, 15:06
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Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
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esa372
post Sep 12 2005, 15:50
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QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 01:39 AM)
When the tracks were played back on good cans or speakers, they sounded great - just like the real thing. I trimmed up the beginnings and endings, burned a CD and popped it into the boom box in the kid's bedroom. My god, it was awful. At low volumes (the target use case) all detail was lost - only the vocals would jump out from the tiny box. The kids hated it.

[...]

The next thing is noise. The 70's saw the birth of real FM radio, 8-tracks and cassettes. This meant that the shift to "car listening" was underway, and the record companies obliged with increased compression. In a sense, they are right: uncompressed music in a noisy car is misery. The peaks take your head off while the music floor is inaudible. The trouble is, the cure is sometimes worse than the problem.
So, producers are mastering albums specifically to be played on boom-boxes and car stereos... dry.gif
That's awful! That's like making movies specifically to be watched on a cell phone!

I think your reference to compression being "judiciously applied" is key. It is certainly is a useful tool, but its applications are being painfully misused... creating music wich is (as you say) "lifeless and grating".



Here are some relevant excerpts from a 2003 interview with Steve Hoffman by Keith Hanlon for Tape Op magazine. The entire interview can be found here.


Steve Hoffman: Mastering for the Breath of Life
by Keith Hanlon

As a mastering engineer, Steve Hoffman has worked on many classic recordings, but very few of them would be considered a standard CD or LP release. After working at MCA on reissue CDs from Buddy Holly and The Who (among others), he entered the audiophile world. He is currently a free agent, working on SACDs for Audio Fidelity and LPs for S&P Records.

He made his name as the mastering engineer for DCC Compact Classics. Throughout the 90s, DCC specialized in producing 24-karat gold compact discs. They released gold disc versions of albums by The Doors, Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Miles Davis, and many others. Even non-audiophiles feel that these discs are the definitive versions. Indeed, the first time I heard his work on Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," I felt as though I was hearing what Dylan heard in the control room during playback.

Steve's trademark is what he refers to as the "breath of life" -- recordings that are dynamic and natural sounding. You don't have to have a $50,000 system to hear the difference.



Q. On your website, you specify your title as "Audiophile Music Restoration Specialist" instead of, say, "Mastering Engineer." Can you tell me what you think the difference is, and what you feel your job is?

A. That's a good question. I always like to use the word "audiophile" in there because nowadays a "mastering engineer" is someone who mangles the sound to the lowest common denominator. In other words, so that their CD is just as loud as everybody else's out there. Sort of the old, "my radio station is louder than your radio station" thing.

My personal opinion is that there has to be a bastion of good sound out there and many of my jobs entail much more than mastering. There's all different kinds of restoration from old records to old tapes to this and that. I didn't want to be lumped in with the mass of guys out there who just follow orders now and compress the hell out of everything.


Q. What do you mean by "just follow orders"?

A. I'm lucky because somebody who hires me is interested in getting the best sound they possibly can. Usually that is a record company that has an audiophile leaning. In other words, they are not worried about competing with the loudest CD out there. It's more of "what sounds the best on a $50,000 stereo?"

You'd be surprised at how bad most modern compact discs sound on really good equipment. It'll make your ears fall off after half an hour. When they hire me, they know that I'll keep the dynamic range intact, and try to add my trademark "breath of life" to everything.


[...]


Q. A lot of Tape Op readers are working with computers, or 4-track cassette machines. What should they consider when trying for a more natural sound?

A. They should take their fingers off the EQ buttons. I know it's tempting to EQ everything. But try and work on everything in it's natural state, because once something is EQed into the mix, it's there and you can't get rid of it. If you EQ the drums to sound really loud (in a mix), and you hear your mix on somebody else's monitors, and all of a sudden it doesn't sound as good as on your Mackie monitors, now what do you do?

Well, you keep all the signal processing until the very last minute, and only dial in one half of what you originally wanted to add. If you're going to add like 5db at 10,000 cycles to get the cymbals to go (makes a high end sibilant sound), back that off, down to two and a half. Cut it in half... you can always add more in mastering. But once it's on your mix, you're screwed. You cannot get rid of it.

The same with compression. You can always compress when you're mastering. Hopefully you can use some nice sounding analog compressors, not a merciless digital maximizer which kills everything.

The idea is… if you want your record to sound loud, there has to be a point in the record that is quieter than the loudest part or it will all sound quiet. Even the loudest loud will just sound quiet because that's not the way the human ear works. In order for something to sound loud, there has to be a little quiet part in there somewhere where your ear would go, "Oh that's quiet... whoa, it just got loud!" If it's all loud from beginning to end on every song, even the ballads, it's just not going to be effective.

No matter what you've read about that, ease off on the maximizer. Please! [laughs]


Q. What about the person that says, "Well, I listen to stuff in my car, on my boombox or my home stereo. Why should I care about the audiophile's point of view?"


A. There will be a day, when this person is now a rich and famous rock star, and he or she will be able to afford a really nice stereo. And when that happens, all the warts that made your mix sound good on that $100 boombox are going to be sticking out like a sore thumb. So what you want to do is plan for the future and not take everything to it's lowest common $100 boombox, just make sure that you leave some for someone with a really nice stereo. Like your mom's or dad's stereo. Try it on that. How does this sound on theirs? Does it sound too bassy or too bright? Is there bass? Does it sound exciting? If it doesn't, then obviously something is wonky with the mix.

Another thing I want to mention while I have this little soap box is never mix really loud. Mix at a lower volume. Mixes that are loud are thrown off by the equipment going into hypershock. You'll never get the right amount of bass. The bass always tends to distort loud, and it starts to sound louder, so you turn down the bass. But when you play it at a normal volume, there will be no bass. Your ear is totally compressing it as it's playing back and you're not getting the full picture. Try mixing it at a normal volume. If your mix sounds lousy at a normal volume then you're doing a lousy mix. Fix the mix. The end. [laughs] The readers are gonna hate me, but it's true! What can I say?

Repinted with permission.


...and here's another point:
QUOTE (Keith Hanlon)
Something else happened in the 90s. More people had CD changers, and they started to notice that an "old" CD was quieter than newer discs. They automatically assumed that was bad, because it was annoying to keep adjusting the volume.


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Julien
post Sep 12 2005, 16:41
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QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 03:06 PM)
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
*


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
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bug80
post Sep 12 2005, 17:03
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QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 03:13 PM)
QUOTE (BradPDX @ Aug 17 2005, 01:39 AM)
[...]

It is good to hear another point of view on the topic.
*


I don't think it is that much another view on the topic. I think we all know compression is necessary on virtually every record, we are talking here about overdoing it. For the people who don't know the history behind it all it may be nice reading, though. smile.gif

QUOTE (markanini @ Sep 12 2005, 03:56 PM)
I've had this though many times, why can't the industy for example follow a reference gain standard of 89 dB SPL and let the listener choose if they want a 6 dB limiter on their playback equipment?
*

I can think of some reasons for not doing that:

1) A compressor/limiter that does the job well (comparable with the equipment mastering studios use) is currently expensive.
2) Using a compressor/limiter correctly is an art by itself (it is not a matter of pushing the preset "rock", for example, every song needs its own amount of compressing and limiting).
3) Today, mastering becomes more and more part of the total production process. For example mixing engineers sometimes mix a record with the final mastering in mind. Second, mastering engineers sometimes make small adjustments to the sound mix during mastering. This all can't be done if you leave the limiting to the end user.
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Triza
post Sep 12 2005, 18:01
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QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 07:41 AM)
QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 03:06 PM)
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
*


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
*



Julien,

I just looked at the samples in EAC's WAV editor. I cannot tell if the samples "clipped" at 32767 or somewhat lower. Either way everything that is brickwall-limited is clipped in my dictionary. This was like that. On the top of that there was no dynamics. No quite passages even for a second. I hardly could finish the 1st track.

I am very sad the current state of play.

As for the boombox. The neighbour's stupid daughter had one. It drove me up the wall. I heard her stupid music all the time. I showed my arsenal to the neighbour. I have 2 monitor speakers, no subwoofer. I asked the neighbour if they hear me ever. They said never. No wonder. I do not need to churn up the system to hear all the details.
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Julien
post Sep 12 2005, 19:01
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QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 06:01 PM)
QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 07:41 AM)
QUOTE (Triza @ Sep 12 2005, 03:06 PM)
Julien,

Iteresting debate. Good points why compression is applied. Still I do not get why we need clipping. I just looked at Oasis new album. More precisely only the 1st track. It is not just overcompressed, but it is clipped beyond recognition. I think this is unforgiveable.

Triza
*


Thank you Triza.

Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record? Clipping occurs when the signal is over 0db Spl(the 0db level that you can see in your audio editor). Clipping should not happen when brickwall limiters are used at the end of the signal-chain when mastering, which is the case in nearly all cases. Nevertheless, it does not mean that no distorsion is occuring. Despite the brickwall limiter, you cannot push the signal over certain limits without distorsion. The sound will not be clipping, but it will sound awfully distorted. In fact, your sound will sound more and more like made of square-waves(you can even see it graphically).

When I meant high-loundness, I of course did not mean anything around -7db RMS.
*



Julien,

I just looked at the samples in EAC's WAV editor. I cannot tell if the samples "clipped" at 32767 or somewhat lower. Either way everything that is brickwall-limited is clipped in my dictionary. This was like that. On the top of that there was no dynamics. No quite passages even for a second. I hardly could finish the 1st track.

I am very sad the current state of play.

As for the boombox. The neighbour's stupid daughter had one. It drove me up the wall. I heard her stupid music all the time. I showed my arsenal to the neighbour. I have 2 monitor speakers, no subwoofer. I asked the neighbour if they hear me ever. They said never. No wonder. I do not need to churn up the system to hear all the details.
*



oh , ok. I see what you mean. I was refering to soft-clipping as opposed to hard-clipping. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
Neighbour's stupid daughters have been a problem for ages biggrin.gif
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no.667
post Sep 12 2005, 20:35
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QUOTE (PoisonDan @ Aug 10 2005, 07:29 AM)
Also, maybe it's because I don't buy that much "popular" (chart) music, but the amount of CDs I buy that sound really awful are a minority. And every now and then, a CD is released which still has an exceptional dynamic range (e.g.: "With Teeth" from Nine Inch Nails).
*


IMO Nine Inch Nails' sound is very good on their every album. Mr. Reznor just cares about things like that. For example With Teeth has been released in 3 versions - CD, SACD and DVDA.
Or "The Fragile"....that is a record which is totally not listenable in car...because of its complexity and dynamics.(well, it is listenable when u turn the volume really up:))
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Drexl
post Sep 12 2005, 20:36
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I don't remember where it was, but I remember reading something Noel Gallagher of Oasis said. It was something about how he pointed to a boombox, and said "yeah, but does it sound good on that?" He said nobody listens to music on big speakers.

Now I understand what he was talking about, unfortunately. sad.gif
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no.667
post Sep 12 2005, 21:01
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QUOTE (Drexl @ Sep 12 2005, 11:36 AM)
I don't remember where it was, but I remember reading something Noel Gallagher of Oasis said.  It was something about how he pointed to a boombox, and said "yeah, but does it sound good on that?"  He said nobody listens to music on big speakers.

Now I understand what he was talking about, unfortunately.  sad.gif
*

well,it's just connected to making profit:)not many people have really good stereos. the band-especially oasis-and the managers want to make money.to sell records.so they want it to sound loud etc. because those "stupid daughters" will buy it:)
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trebius
post Sep 12 2005, 23:54
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Ok now i'm new to the audiophile side of the audio scene though obviously I like my music. This is the waveform of I Predict A Riot by the Kaiser Chiefs...now surely that can't be good? Where is the music? It's just a wall of sound? It really does sadden me that this is what music these days is decimated to.

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Triza
post Sep 13 2005, 00:25
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Indeed. A bit OT:

The other interesting thing is that these bands are rubbish live as well. I do not go to concerts often , but I did 2 years ago, when I went to T-in-the-Park. I could not find any bands Greenday, Foo Fighters, The Hives were there) who could sing. The vocals were terrible. They were croaky, husky pooped-out. Everything was distorted beyond belief. (Some stupid blokes kept throwing various liquids into the crowd. too, but that is another matter.) Overall the bands were just on tour and try to grab as much as their can and naturally they were knackered and again the performance was terrible. The same goes for what I see on TV about Glastenbury (I hope I spell it correctly). Also these bands generally make a lot of noise by drumming and plucking everything their reach to hide their lack of skill. Their melodies are generally rather primitive. Straight from a guitar tutorial. I just cannot find the craftmenship.

Triza

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Cyaneyes
post Sep 13 2005, 19:35
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QUOTE (Julien @ Sep 12 2005, 11:41 AM)
Clipping is not excusable indeed. However, are you sure that "clipping" is really occuring on this record?
*


I just looked in Audition. There's some clipping, but not too bad.. only maybe 10-15 samples per drumbeat.. sad that that's considered "not too bad" compared with many albums these days... rolleyes.gif
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seannyb
post Sep 15 2005, 03:49
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Hard limiting / compression is only half the story when it comes to bad mastering practices, IMO. It's easy to load a track up into your favorite wave-editor and "oh snap!" at the zoomed out result, or zoom in and notice how "oh my god, four samples in a row are hitting -0dB!" or something, but from my experience that sort of analysis makes things sound worse than they really are. You can actually get away with some clipping and lots of limiting if you apply it well & use a good limiter (I like Ozone's for example... it prevents inter-sample clipping too, which I think someone was talking about earlier in this thread). I often say to myself after mastering a track "man, I could totally take a screenshot of this and put it up on Hydrogen Audio to have everyone lament at the state of mastering" -- when in reality it sounds fine or even the same (after 'replaygain') as the pre-hard-limited. Even limiting the peaks to an audible degree can make a more pleasing, less aggressive sound.
here's an example of some of not-my-music I mastered if you're curious (info / download).

>> Here are some relevant excerpts from a 2003 interview with...

I read the interview snippets and I rather feel the same way about some of the things. The advent of non-destructive mixing & mastering rather nullifies his argument to only to apply EQ and compression at certain stages (since if you do it right, all the signal processing you do should be reversible, or else you're living In The Past)...

...but what he said about mastering for bad systems is what I can agree with. It's not so much compression in itself, it's the whole thing of how some albums are mastered to sound great on boomboxes -- and conversely sound horrible like some sh-tty boombox on a really nice stereo! I'd like to listen to Daft Punk's Human After All album a little more if it didn't make my studio monitors sound like $3 sony headphones (as much as I like the Autechre-ish direction they're seemingly edging into). Daft Punk's music uses compression artifacts to shape its own weird aesthetic, so the compression/limiting doesn't bother me... it's the insanely overexpanded soundstage and distorted, wishy-washy 5khz-heavy hyped sound of it all that drives me absolutely insane. Where's the low bass? Where's the fidelity in the treble? Where's the richness? They threw it all out the window, cuz I'm sure the original mixes didn't sound like that!

>> IMO Nine Inch Nails' sound is very good on their every album. Mr. Reznor just cares about things like that. [...] Or "The Fragile"[...]

I haven't tried the re-released NIN stuff because my fandom has long since died off (I'm not a teen anymore), but The Downward Spiral and The Fragile and stuff are full of clipping errors. Usually you don't notice this cuz Trent's music is so noisy and distorted to begin with, but it's apparent on tracks like Even Deeper, there's this obvious and awful clippy pop on its bass kick. I second everyone in saying clipping is just inexcusable -- when it's audible that is. It's especially surprising for someone like Trent, who seemingly loves to shape and create texture and has (had?) his own record label and everything. I mean, come on.

This post has been edited by seannyb: Sep 15 2005, 04:14
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Triza
post Sep 15 2005, 13:29
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Well you can tell me whatever you want, but 16 bits, actually 15 because of the sign gives you 90 dB dynamics. One should be able to squeeze in a music which already has much less dynamics within this range. We do not need clipping. If we could get away without it in the early 80s, then there is no reason not to now either. If someone whats to compress it, it can be easily done with some circuitry or DSP, but the opposite is not true.

Sorry. Being an engineer this constant abuse of the audio CD format drives me up the wall. It is ridiculous that the tail wags the dog (ie CD-s are made for 50 pound sitty plastic disposable rubbish boombox). Well my answer is that I do not touch any new releases unless classical. I would be one of the life blood of the industry since I am actually happy and can afford to buy the CD-s and because I do not like unreliable quality and hassle of p2p systems.

Triza
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