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Modern Vinyl "Masters" vs. CD--My Experience, It Really IS About the Music
RonaldDumsfeld
post Dec 8 2012, 01:47
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Impressive and thought provoking thread. Thanks Engelsstaub and all contributors.

QUOTE
I don't think the profit margins for vinyl are higher.


It's all very recent. You could always get represes of classic or cult albums on vinyl for significantly less than the CD. Now the vinyl is two or even three times the asking price of the CD.

The last straw for me was last year. I've been buying Ry Cooder on vinyl for over 40 years. The last one he wanted 35.
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Nessuno
post Dec 8 2012, 10:46
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Dec 7 2012, 17:42) *
Why are they hitting headroom limits on classical releases? Are they not doing tracking and production at 24bits or more? (the recording linked to was a recent DDD recording on DG)

Good point. Maybe the clipping was not in the 24bits (or whatever) single tracks, not even in the two channel master, but what if, to give the whole track a louder overall level (DG productions have typically a "spectacular" sound signature) and stil accommodate the whole dynamic without compression (full grancassa or timpani strokes listened or recorded at short distance could naturally approach pain threshold, ask the players!) the sound engineer applied a little more gain and when (if) down-quantizing traded for this a few samples of completely inaudible clipping? I wouldn't dismiss this as bad mastering, if the final result is still pleasing to listeners ears: preserved overall dynamic between pianissimo and fortissimo, good presence and clarity of various orchestral sections and no audible flaws.

A multi-microphonic production is far more complex than putting two or three microphones behind the whole orchestra and monitor for overs and sometimes the final result even if technically perfect, could be artistically a complete fiasco, with too much altered dynamics between various instruments, no spatial clues and a sense of big mess overall (it's okay to me to hear a triangolo clearly than live, but don't make it as big and near as the soloists piano!).

But now I'm getting off topic. Just a last remark: thinking along this topic at hand, I'm developing a great concern that, as we have evidence of different mastering between two delivery format for marketing reasons only, the same could happen on the same digital domain between 16/44.1 and those new hi-res formats.


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dhromed
post Dec 8 2012, 13:20
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In light of this thread, I de-sweep my earlier sweeping detracting statement about vinyl.

QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 7 2012, 22:44) *
It's simply not a good idea to levy broad generalizations based on a limited number of titles from an even more limited number of labels and genres.


So one reasonable thing to do is get together more albums and more LPs from the last decade from a wild variety of sonic styles, and compare. There probably aren't too many individuals with both the LP and CD for their entire collection, but when pooling our resources, I'm sure we can come to reasonable conclusions.
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Engelsstaub
post Dec 8 2012, 17:12
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Dec 7 2012, 18:47) *
...Now the vinyl is two or even three times the asking price of the CD.

The last straw for me was last year. I've been buying Ry Cooder on vinyl for over 40 years. The last one he wanted 35.


This is (19/20 times) unfortunately true IME as well. Vinyl is beginning to be seen as a niche-market for serious audiophiles (and hipsters laugh.gif ) so they're beginning to price the product accordingly. Part of it's due to vinyl's very low marketshare...they try to make up profits by making limited collectible pressings.


QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 8 2012, 03:46) *
...I'm developing a great concern that, as we have evidence of different mastering between two delivery format for marketing reasons only, the same could happen on the same digital domain between 16/44.1 and those new hi-res formats.


I could probably demonstrate that this is the case at least for the few DVD-As that I have. Katatonia issued a limited DVD-A for their latest album "Dead End Kings." It was my observation that the CD was +3 dB louder. The difference wasn't massive though. I've always suspected that this was the case with most DVD-As and SACDs.


QUOTE (dhromed @ Dec 8 2012, 06:20) *
In light of this thread, I de-sweep my earlier sweeping detracting statement about vinyl.

QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 7 2012, 22:44) *
It's simply not a good idea to levy broad generalizations based on a limited number of titles from an even more limited number of labels and genres.


So one reasonable thing to do is get together more albums and more LPs from the last decade from a wild variety of sonic styles, and compare. There probably aren't too many individuals with both the LP and CD for their entire collection, but when pooling our resources, I'm sure we can come to reasonable conclusions.


Thanks for that, dhromed. I think it's a common misconception so it shouldn't be seen as specific to your statement only. If somebody reminded me of all the incorrect (and sometimes downright asinine) things I've said on this forum we could have pages devoted to it. laugh.gif I don't think you intended to malign anyone...it's just what you legitimately believed.

Yours is a great idea. We should keep it going if possible. Just bump the thread with new examples or whatever admin or mods would see as appropriate. It wouldn't even matter if it took a few years to collect enough examples to start forming better conclusions IMO. As long as it's beneficial to the community.


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2Bdecided
post Dec 10 2012, 14:00
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QUOTE (mjb2006 @ Dec 7 2012, 10:20) *
I wouldn't be surprised if brickwalled recordings are sent to vinyl mastering houses on occasion, but as Engelstaub said his original post, that's probably the exception rather than the rule.
I don't think you have any evidence for this either way. There are certainly plenty of examples of both, and not enough careful assessment to even determine which is the majority, never mind the "exception rather than the rule".

Cheers,
David.

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Engelsstaub
post Dec 10 2012, 18:30
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I had to go back nearly ten years (in pressing dates) to find an example in my collection where the CD is equal to or better than the LP. I included a sample of it in the uploads forum.

I have no empirical evidence other than my own experience thus far...but I would confidently say that, regarding modern rock and metal, one is almost guaranteed not to get a "better" CD with regards to the topic at hand. The only recent pressing I have of a non rock or metal LP and equivalent CD is the 2009 remaster of Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique." Interestingly enough that CD is not bad at all and the LP is little if any real improvement.

Included in the last upload were also samples from Krisiun and Ensiferum. The former very obviously favors the LP while the latter does more moderately (IMO of course.)


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Gecko
post Dec 10 2012, 20:11
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I just had a quick listen to the "Heathen Throne" sample and apart from the HF boost on the LP version they sound about the same to me.

In light of the second figure in Axons's blog entry linked earlier, a look at the waveforms reveals hard limiting artifacts in both version. See for example the following time codes (the tracks are slightly offset):
CD: 25.153s
LP: 24.341s
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greynol
post Dec 10 2012, 20:20
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BTW, just because a straight line in a waveform might not be horizontal does not mean the master was not clipped. An all-pass or high-pass filter can cause such a slope, as examples. Does anyone find it convenient that a record stylus is high-pass in nature?

This post has been edited by greynol: Dec 10 2012, 20:22


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Blueshirt
post Dec 10 2012, 20:39
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Dec 10 2012, 18:30) *
I have no empirical evidence other than my own experience thus far...but I would confidently say that, regarding modern rock and metal, one is almost guaranteed not to get a "better" CD with regards to the topic at hand. The only recent pressing I have of a non rock or metal LP and equivalent CD is the 2009 remaster of Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique."

Yeah, I can see where you are coming from. I only really listen to loud music, which I accept would mask many of the deficiencies of vinyl. So even though I am aware that CDs should sound superior, more often than not, with the equivalent releases on CD I don't notice much difference at all, although some modern metal/rock CDs do tend to distort a heck of a lot more at high volume. I wouldn't say that the vinyl is ever superior, as I assume that the CD and vinyl would come from the same digital master, so logic tells me that it shouldn't be. However, at times, for my ears the vinyl is certainly more pleasing.

As I prefer collecting vinyl anyway, I don't really care if it is technically the best or not, I leave that for others to debate. But I think these producers of modern CDs have a lot to answer for with the way that they are mastering releases. (Metallica's Death Magnetic was a terribly mastered album, which did the CD format no justice at all... I never even bothered with the vinyl version of that album, as I was so disgusted with how that CD sounded played loudly!)
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Engelsstaub
post Dec 10 2012, 21:25
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QUOTE (Gecko @ Dec 10 2012, 13:11) *
I just had a quick listen to the "Heathen Throne" sample and apart from the HF boost on the LP version they sound about the same to me.
...


Thanks for giving it a listen and your input.


QUOTE (Blueshirt @ Dec 10 2012, 13:39) *
...I think these producers of modern CDs have a lot to answer for with the way that they are mastering releases. (Metallica's Death Magnetic was a terribly mastered album, which did the CD format no justice at all... I never even bothered with the vinyl version of that album, as I was so disgusted with how that CD sounded played loudly!)


I lost interest in Metallica (like many) quite some time ago, but I understand that Rick Rubin just basically Rick Rubined that release. laugh.gif I have the last Slayer record on vinyl which he produced and I'm pretty sure it's just the same compressed sounding master that could be heard on the CD. (I can't be certain as I've never needledropped the record to compare it...but it does say Rick Rubin on the jacket.)

That Krisiun record makes me very grateful to own the record though.


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GeSomeone
post Dec 10 2012, 22:03
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Dec 8 2012, 17:12) *
I could probably demonstrate that this is the case at least for the few DVD-As that I have. Katatonia issued a limited DVD-A for their latest album "Dead End Kings." It was my observation that the CD was +3 dB louder. The difference wasn't massive though.

In this particular case you cannot compare them. There is no real stereo mix on the DVD-A, just a downmix of the 5.1 (and the first pressing had that wrong too). Apparently there was no higher than CD resolution stereo mix available when the DVD-A was authored.
So here we're looking at a different mix and mastering between CD and DVD-A. However I must say that the dynamics were surprising for a recent rock album.


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Engelsstaub
post Dec 10 2012, 23:20
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Well that's disappointing to hear.

I'm glad you mentioned it though. I would have never known.


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WernerO
post Dec 11 2012, 09:04
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QUOTE (greynol @ Dec 10 2012, 21:20) *
BTW, just because a straight line in a waveform might not be horizontal does not mean the master was not clipped. An all-pass or high-pass filter can cause such a slope


True enough. You can load the worst shredded track into an editor, attenuate it a bit, apply a steep high pass at 20Hz, and suddenly the graphs looks compressed no more.

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Engelsstaub
post Jan 4 2013, 19:08
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I'm bumping in the interest of continued relevance and eventual conclusions.

I was really hoping others could contribute examples as well as almost all of my modern vinyl falls into nearly one genre. The only exception is The Beastie Boys' 20th anniversary remaster of "Paul's Boutique." I have both the LP and the CD, and that is the only example of the CD being equal (in lack of DRC) to the LP in my observation.

I have a few more that I could contribute (one from Paradise Lost's "Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us," but I can assure you the conclusion would be for the vinyl in those cases. I haven't been transferring any new vinyl lately as I'm anticipating acquiring a new TT, cart, and sound card.

In any case I'd like to update some more findings on that In Flames record. I tested the vinyl against the CD with the TT DR Offline Meter to ascertain a measurement of dynamic range. These are the findings and seem to support what hilloyge and I believe. (It seems both "masters" suffer from DRC, but I contend that the vinyl suffers less.)

CD

CODE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Analyzed folder: /Users/Jay/Music/Vinyl Rips/Vinyl Rips/In Flames/Sounds of a Playground Fading
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DR3        -0.10 dB     -5.61 dB     01 - Sounds of a Playground Fading.wav
DR4        over        -5.19 dB     02 - Deliver Us.wav
DR4        -0.10 dB     -5.49 dB     03 - All For Me.wav
DR4        over        -4.95 dB     04 - The Puzzle.wav
DR5        -0.10 dB     -6.12 dB     05 - Fear is the Weakness.wav
DR4        over        -5.71 dB     06 - Where the Dead Ships Dwell.wav
DR8        -1.10 dB     -11.22 dB     07 - The Attic.wav
DR3        -0.10 dB     -5.24 dB     08 - Darker Times.wav
DR5        -0.10 dB     -6.19 dB     09 - Ropes.wav
DR4        -0.10 dB     -4.56 dB     10 - Enter Tragedy.wav
DR7        -0.10 dB     -12.58 dB     11 - Jester's Door.wav
DR3        -0.10 dB     -5.50 dB     12 - A New Dawn.wav
DR4        -0.10 dB     -6.40 dB     13 - Liberation.wav
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of files:    13
Official DR value:    DR4

==============================================================================================


LP

CODE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Analyzed folder: /Users/Jay/Music/Vinyl Rips/Vinyl Rips/In Flames/Sounds of a Playground Fading
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DR11        -0.32 dB     -13.69 dB     02 - Sounds of a Playground Fading.wav
DR12        -0.45 dB     -13.52 dB     03 - Deliver Us.wav
DR11        -1.40 dB     -14.13 dB     04 - All For Me.wav
DR11        -1.15 dB     -13.00 dB     06 - The Puzzle.wav
DR11        -1.61 dB     -14.41 dB     07 - Fear is the Weakness.wav
DR11        -1.24 dB     -14.16 dB     08 - Where the Dead Ships Dwell.wav
DR11        -5.32 dB     -18.57 dB     10 - The Attic.wav
DR11        -0.31 dB     -13.08 dB     11 - Darker Times.wav
DR12        -0.66 dB     -14.20 dB     12 - Ropes.wav
DR11        -1.19 dB     -12.91 dB     13 - Enter Tragedy.wav
DR12        -2.56 dB     -20.79 dB     15 - Jester's Door.wav
DR10        -0.75 dB     -13.22 dB     16 - A New Dawn.wav
DR11        -0.98 dB     -14.29 dB     17 - Liberation.wav
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of files:    13
Official DR value:    DR11

==============================================================================================


I can keep uploading thirty-second samples too, but I'm wondering if that's always a completely adequate way of analyzing the DR of an entire song or album.


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gnypp45
post Jan 4 2013, 22:35
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I haven't read this thread in detail, but I would suggest looking at the data in other ways as well.

I therefore took the liberty of running the "Ropes" samples through the LTS MasVis program (freeware). Indeed the crest factor of the allpass filtered signal increased substantially (by some 6 dB) in the CD version. This usually correlates well with situations where the 2-channel mix has undergone destructive loudness maximation. In the case of the LP version next to nothing happens with the allpassed crest factor, which suggests that it was not much dynamically compressed as a 2-ch mix.


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DVDdoug
post Jan 4 2013, 23:04
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QUOTE
Indeed the crest factor of the allpass filtered signal increased substantially (by some 6 dB) in the CD version. This usually correlates well with situations where the 2-channel mix has undergone destructive loudness maximation. In the case of the LP version next to nothing happens with the allpassed crest factor, which suggests that it was not much dynamically compressed as a 2-ch mix.
Or.... Maybe it suggests that the pre & post RIAA equalization along with the mechanical filtering of the recording & playback heads is doing something very-similar to your allpass filter. wink.gif

Your all-pass filter can muck with the relative phase relationships at different frequencies and make the file "appear" more dynamic without changing the actual sound. The vinyl process is very-likely doing the same thing, but with additional analog noise & frequency response errors introduced. So, "vinyl processing" is likely to change (degrade) the sound more than a digital all-pass filter.

P.S
I am NOT denying that some vinyl records may be better-mastered than the digital version. I'm just saying (repeating what others have said) that there MAY be another explanation for "better looking" and "better measuring" waveforms.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 4 2013, 23:15
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Engelsstaub
post Jan 5 2013, 00:37
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I'm not even sure what proof we still require that demonstrates what I contend is currently going on: that, more often than not, masters are being destructively normalized in application to digital formats but not for vinyl. Yes, some of them perhaps were mastered with DRC already. But the situation is aggravated further by what I believe is the music industry making sure modern digital files are all equally "loud."

By ear, the In Flames example is a bit more subtle than some of the blatant examples I've submitted. It "sounds better" to me and some others. David said he thought it sounded about the same after some manipulation. My software, used to measure dynamic range, indicates a considerable difference. I'm not familiar with gnypp45's method but he's claiming it indicates what is already obvious to most of us.

I mean this earnestly and am not trying to be a smartass: what's it going to take to get the aforementioned absolutist language of the wiki entry changed to more honest and neutral wording? I already feel I've overstated my case. The fact that it's still somehow not convincing is a bit disheartening.

I want to be clear in that I'm in no way trying to crap on digital. I honestly wish that the current industry would stop making the digital versions sound inferior to the vinyl ones. Even if one does prefer vinyl, he or she can't get even half the music he/she wants anymore on that format. I'm seeing, from my own modest collection of modern LPs, more than just some. It looks like a real trend.

So I guess my question now is this: is the TT DR Meter not a trustworthy application for measuring dynamic range? If it is it shows a moderate to considerable difference in all of these albums which I've taken samples from. I used the In Flames one here because it was one of only a couple that one or two members said they didn't perceive the difference.


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DVDdoug
post Jan 5 2013, 01:34
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QUOTE
So I guess my question now is this: is the TT DR Meter not a trustworthy application for measuring dynamic range?
I don't know... But apparently, gnypp45 has demonstrated that an all-pass filter can increase the true-mathematical dynamic range without altering the musical content or the sound. (Of course, you usually have to lower the volume of the digital file to create headroom for the new-increased peaks.)

If the vinyl signal-chain does the same thing, you would expect to see more than a 6dB improvement from a less-compressed vinyl master, since you can get up to 6dB just from the process.... Although, I'm not sure if 6dB is the limit from this kind of filtering... Maybe you can get more...

As gnypp45 suggested, the all-pass filter should have little or no effect on "natural" totally-uncompressed audio (if you can find such a thing).

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rgtb
post Jan 5 2013, 09:39
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Jan 5 2013, 00:37) *
I'm not even sure what proof we still require that demonstrates what I contend is currently going on: that, more often than not, masters are being destructively normalized in application to digital formats but not for vinyl.

this is an outrageous claim. last year, there were 4.6 million vinyl records sold in the US. that number is tiny. just to give a point of reference: a single track (gotye feat. kimbra Somebody That I Used to Know) sold more units digitally (it had 6.8 million paid downloads).

given vinyl is such a small market niche, why would anyone pay the price for a separate master for vinyl? why leads you to this strong conjucture that "more often than not, masters are being destructively normalized in application to digital formats but not for vinyl?"
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Kohlrabi
post Jan 5 2013, 09:47
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Jan 5 2013, 00:37) *
I mean this earnestly and am not trying to be a smartass: what's it going to take to get the aforementioned absolutist language of the wiki entry changed to more honest and neutral wording? I already feel I've overstated my case. The fact that it's still somehow not convincing is a bit disheartening.
It's an open wiki, you can edit it freely. You can change the wording directly, or suggest a new wording in this thread, which can then be tweaked. IMHO, after reading this thread, there should only be the mention that a vinyl master may or may not be different, and nothing about the relative frequency of one or the other, since I guess nobody did a thorough enough sampling across multiple genres.

I just now changed the wording to be more neutral, please read it and change it accordingly. I also removed the suggestive bold-facing from this paragraph.

QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Jan 5 2013, 00:37) *
So I guess my question now is this: is the TT DR Meter not a trustworthy application for measuring dynamic range? If it is it shows a moderate to considerable difference in all of these albums which I've taken samples from. I used the In Flames one here because it was one of only a couple that one or two members said they didn't perceive the difference.
DR rating also depends on genre. There are some genres which are less or more dynamic in nature and by design. Though in the genres you mentioned so far (metal, alt rock, rock and so forth) DR does matter, and it has been ignored for quite a while.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Jan 5 2013, 09:48


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Nessuno
post Jan 5 2013, 10:51
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QUOTE (rgtb @ Jan 5 2013, 09:39) *
given vinyl is such a small market niche, why would anyone pay the price for a separate master for vinyl?

Vinyl market is a niche, but as a whole, SW plus HW, a very high gain one. Don't look only to mass numbers, but to the return of selling a single piece of hardware. And it's an industrial niche still surviving on old technology instead of converting its production to something different or simply disappear.
I don't see so strange that someone is willing to pay for making a vinyl release sound different, and maybe as a side effect, actually even better to "cultivated" ears. Maybe they're not willing to rely on audiophile rewiewers's words only... wink.gif

As an example, give a look at the price tag of gears and even record releases on this site, amongst many others.


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Engelsstaub
post Jan 5 2013, 12:01
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QUOTE (rgtb @ Jan 5 2013, 02:39) *
...
given vinyl is such a small market niche, why would anyone pay the price for a separate master for vinyl? why leads you to this strong conjucture that "more often than not, masters are being destructively normalized in application to digital formats but not for vinyl?"


I think I made it perfectly clear 1.) in an earlier response to you, in this same thread, that I do not believe there is a separate master for vinyl. 2.) You even quoted me stating it, albeit less emphatically, again. Again...what seems to be happening (in my observation) is that the same master is having more gain applied to it than that of the vinyl. This gain is causing destructive and irreversible normalization. This introduces even further clipping as everyone here has already observed in at least most of the examples I've submitted. You stated here in this thread as well all the way back in November that "I rarely encounter a modern record where it is obvious that it came off a different master than the CD counterpart." 3.) My immediate response to you was the same thing.

In order to continue any productive discourse with you, I need to understand if you're being willfully ignorant for the sake of argumentation or if you're having a comprehension problem based on difficulties with a second-language or whatnot. I don't want to waste any more of your time and I certainly don't need you wasting mine. It's aggravating.

Are you even listening to any of these samples? I don't know what the word conjucture means, but if you're calling my observations conjecture then that conjecture is based on observations from every last record I've bought and recorded digitally.

I must have been extraordinarily lucky to have bought so many records in a row that indicate what I'm already saying. I'd be happy to hear your contributions of examples of LPs that are equally clipped as their CD-counterparts since, as you've insisted previously, you're listening to vinyl counterparts of CDs you have.


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Engelsstaub
post Jan 5 2013, 12:10
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QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Jan 5 2013, 02:47) *
...It's an open wiki, you can edit it freely. You can change the wording directly, or suggest a new wording in this thread, which can then be tweaked. IMHO, after reading this thread, there should only be the mention that a vinyl master may or may not be different, and nothing about the relative frequency of one or the other, since I guess nobody did a thorough enough sampling across multiple genres.

I just now changed the wording to be more neutral, please read it and change it accordingly. I also removed the suggestive bold-facing from this paragraph.

...There are some genres which are less or more dynamic in nature and by design. Though in the genres you mentioned so far (metal, alt rock, rock and so forth) DR does matter, and it has been ignored for quite a while...


Thanks for changing it, Kohlrabi. I honestly didn't know I could just change it myself. The change was already discussed in this thread and greynol even suggested more neutral wording.

I know it's unfortunate that pretty much the only examples of modern vinyl I can contribute are from "heavier" genres. On the bright side: perhaps it's more interesting and productive/relevant as such (considering that "theoretically" genres like metal ought to be more dense and less dynamic than some others. I don't know...)


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hlloyge
post Jan 5 2013, 16:02
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I think that there is one mastering proces where the first edition is made for vinyls, and then applied some gain to get the same master louder for digital/cd distribution.
But that is, by my measure, different master, although they aren't made by two different processes from mixing to mastering.
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Engelsstaub
post Jan 5 2013, 17:02
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Jan 5 2013, 09:02) *
I think that there is one mastering proces where the first edition is made for vinyls, and then applied some gain to get the same master louder for digital/cd distribution.
But that is, by my measure, different master, although they aren't made by two different processes from mixing to mastering.


You're probably right. I just can't call it a "master" because certain posters and even the wiki seem adamant that a "separate master" is going to cost big money and apparently that is why what is obvious to us so far is just impossible.

I find it exceedingly ironic that a HA wiki entry entitled "Myths (Vinyl)" perpetuates even more myths with statements like this: "Alternative masters for vinyl cost money, and mastering is a significant cost of producing a record."

...because apparently taking ten minutes in iZotope RX2 or Adobe Audition to add destructive gain to the CD master to the point of clipping is going to be an expensive and time-consuming process. [sarcasm] This is, of course, completely ridiculous as nobody thinks that applying a special EQ-curve like RIAA to the master going on a record is going to cost big bucks and thus prevent the recording industry from doing it.


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