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Big-label mastering engineers donít understand lossy formats, Article about Mastered for iTunes
Kohlrabi
post Mar 27 2012, 09:12
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Just found this article via twitter, circled among mastering "engineers" (in fact Heba Kadry reposted it, the girl who mastered the latest Mars Volta album, which reaches -12.79 dB on my RG scans, and is generally mastered in a horrible fashion).

This further backs my impression that most of them don't have a single clue of what they are doing. The section about the mastering practices of Rubin and Meller are especially eye-opening to me. Masterdisk "engineers" also apparently are now out to rape the Rush back catalogue. Further down they cite phase-reverse tests to prove AAC files are different from the original (wow, REALLY?).

The good thing is, I can use this article to decide which releases to avoid in the future. But I'm really at a loss what we can do beside that. I'm really fed up with mastering "engineers" destroying music releases.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Mar 27 2012, 09:17


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2Bdecided
post Mar 27 2012, 09:35
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I think you're being a little harsh on the article.

One thing amazed me though...
QUOTE
Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering, who is known for his objectivity and diligence, said "Ö[Another] important addition is the realization that the act of AAC encoding can cause clipping where there was none on the original PCM .wav or .aiff file"
This is news to a diligent mastering engineer? Has he just stepped out of a time machine from 1996?!


I haven't looked into "mastered for iTunes" - it seems strange to "need" to EQ a track to compensate for the effects of an AAC encoder running at 256kbps.

Cheers,
David.
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Kohlrabi
post Mar 27 2012, 09:44
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 10:35) *
I think you're being a little harsh on the article.

I'm a little anxious right now, because I tried to listen to "Noctourniquet" by The Mars Volta and got all angry. cool.gif

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 10:35) *
I haven't looked into "mastered for iTunes" - it seems strange to "need" to EQ a track to compensate for the effects of an AAC encoder running at 256kbps.

Please understand how these people roll. They don't understand perceptual encoding. They don't understand that AAC encodes merely are intended to sound like the original. I guess they sit in front of their mastering software and see that the waveforms differ, and then start to fiddle with the stream they send into the encoder until the waveforms match better. I have no definitive proof of that, but the phase-inversion comparison gives me the strong impression that this is the case.

Just to make it clear, I don't intend to give disrespect to mastering engineers or engineers in general, just to the breed which completely abandoned, or never acquired, understanding of digital audio, and still sprout their bullshit all over the internet, and keep destroying legit good music. They are a disgrace to the engineering community.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Mar 27 2012, 09:50


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Fandango
post Mar 29 2012, 05:14
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@greynol: Oh, here it is explained by a guy named Bob Ludwig, he says some funny things along the way but I think the concept behind "Mastered for iTunes" should be somewhat clearer now. Whether it's the only processing "Matered for iTunes" is capable of remains unclear, I guess.

QUOTE (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue58/ludwig.htm)
4: Speaking of compression, many people believe you cannot get a download to sound good no matter what you do. I disagree, not that I feel the overall dynamics of a download can equal that of an LP (or can they)óbut I play a great deal of downloaded music at home through a decent DAC and system, and I'm surprised at how good it can sound. Do you master things differently for iTunes for example?

Bob Ludwig: Apple has begun a new initiative called "Mastered for iTunes" which greatly improves the sound of iTunes AAC encodes without changing a single piece of hardware on the 250,000,000 players in the field. It can be so dramatic you can easily hear the difference between the new and old technology on your little laptop speakers.

Instead of ingesting the music from a CD rip or 16-bit file, the new system uses 24-bit master files for the encode. The AAC encoder can make use of bits 17-24. An important addition is the realization that the act of AAC encoding can cause clipping where there was none on the original PCM .wav or .aiff file. In classical music this encoder induced clipping can occur at the occasional climaxes or in a typical over-compressed pop/rock recording, many times a second. Apple has created tools to log the number, severity and time of each clip so the mastering engineer can lower the level of the 24-bit master by fractions of a dB and the clips and resulting distortion from them is eliminated.

It is a complicated answer, but a 24-bit AAC encoded file can thus sound better and measure better in certain cases than a normal 16-bit Compact Disc, which unfortunately has been regarded as the gold standard for sound in these comparisons.


Well, I'm not that into the matter of lossy encoding, but can't you just make a 16bit master that is not that freaking loud and brick-walled and have the same effect at the end? The whole "Mastered for iTunes" fad is like a cruel joke when the industry is putting out crap like this:

QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 10:44) *
I'm a little anxious right now, because I tried to listen to "Noctourniquet" by The Mars Volta and got all angry. cool.gif

So you only got a little anxious and angry? Why didn't you scratch your eyes out, poked your eardrums and shredded your skin when listening to this joke of an album?

When I tried listening to it, it sounded as if something was wrong with my speakers, like if a driver was dead. Or as if my amplifier was broken. No kidding. Of course I knew they weren't but...

People see for yourselves, this is one of the worst DR meter results if not the worst, I've seen:

CODE
foobar2000 1.1.11 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2012-03-29 05:47:45

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Analyzed: The Mars Volta / Noctourniquet
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DR         Peak         RMS     Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR4       -0.20 dB    -6.74 dB      4:49 01-The Whip Hand
DR5        0.00 dB    -6.04 dB      5:11 02-Aegis
DR3        0.00 dB    -3.91 dB      4:22 03-Dyslexicon
DR2        0.00 dB    -4.44 dB      6:43 04-Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound
DR3        0.00 dB    -4.90 dB      4:44 05-The Malkin Jewel
DR3        0.00 dB    -4.95 dB      4:16 06-Lapochka
DR4        0.00 dB    -6.11 dB      7:26 07-In Absentia
DR3        0.00 dB    -5.51 dB      3:58 08-Imago
DR3        0.00 dB    -4.53 dB      3:33 09-Molochwalker
DR4        0.00 dB    -7.72 dB      4:25 10-Trinkets Pale of Moon
DR3        0.00 dB    -4.94 dB      3:54 11-Vedamalady
DR4        0.00 dB    -6.38 dB      5:39 12-Noctourniquet
DR3        0.00 dB    -5.75 dB      5:36 13-Zed and Two Naughts
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks:  13
Official DR value: DR3

Samplerate:        44100 Hz
Channels:          2
Bits per sample:   16
Bitrate:           1003 kbps
Codec:             WavPack
================================================================================

headbang.gif Mastered for iTunes my ass, that's like putting a cherry on top of a pile of shit.

PS: The Dynamic Range Meter results for Ms. Kadry's latest work are worse than Frances the Mute (DR7), Amputechture (DR6) and The Bedlam in Goliath (DR6).


This post has been edited by Fandango: Mar 29 2012, 05:23
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skamp
post Mar 31 2012, 10:59
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QUOTE (Fandango @ Mar 29 2012, 06:14) *
PS: The Dynamic Range Meter results for Ms. Kadry's latest work are worse than Frances the Mute (DR7), Amputechture (DR6) and The Bedlam in Goliath (DR6).


She blames it on the artists:

QUOTE
an artist's vision for their album is sometimes not my decision even if it ends up going against what you think is right


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Posts in this topic
- Kohlrabi   Big-label mastering engineers donít understand lossy formats   Mar 27 2012, 09:12
- - evereux   QUOTE Appleís 256 kbps AAC files are supposed to s...   Mar 27 2012, 09:26
- - skamp   They obviously think what they do is teh shit. Nor...   Mar 27 2012, 09:32
- - 2Bdecided   I think you're being a little harsh on the art...   Mar 27 2012, 09:35
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 10:35) I ...   Mar 27 2012, 09:44
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 09:44) Jus...   Mar 27 2012, 10:55
||- - DonP   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Mar 27 2012, 05:55) QUOT...   Mar 27 2012, 12:38
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 09:44) I...   Mar 27 2012, 14:10
|- - Fandango   @greynol: Oh, here it is explained by a guy named ...   Mar 29 2012, 05:14
|- - skamp   QUOTE (Fandango @ Mar 29 2012, 06:14) PS:...   Mar 31 2012, 10:59
- - KMD   Thats round the wrong way, the article said the ...   Mar 27 2012, 10:14
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (KMD @ Mar 27 2012, 05:14) Thats r...   Mar 27 2012, 17:15
- - Porcus   I bet the people behind Monkey's Audio will wa...   Mar 27 2012, 11:15
- - RobWansbeck   Vlado Meller is reported as saying : ď The high...   Mar 27 2012, 16:11
- - greynol   http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st...   Mar 27 2012, 16:14
- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 27 2012, 03:35) I ...   Mar 28 2012, 23:39
|- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 15:39)...   Mar 29 2012, 03:12
||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 28 2012, 21:12) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 14:24
||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 06:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 15:22
|||- - krabapple   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:22) So t...   Mar 29 2012, 17:14
||||- - greynol   QUOTE (krabapple @ Mar 29 2012, 09:14) Yo...   Mar 29 2012, 18:03
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 09:22) Your...   Mar 29 2012, 17:18
|||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:18)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:39
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 11:39) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:49
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 12:49)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:02
||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 06:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 15:37
|||- - krabapple   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:17
|||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 09:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 17:32
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 12:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:00
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 16:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:26
||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 29 2012, 12:26) QU...   Mar 29 2012, 18:52
||||- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 10:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:58
|||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 29 2012, 12:58) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 19:02
|||||- - greynol   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:32)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:04
|||||- - Canar   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 10:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:04
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:52)...   Mar 29 2012, 19:37
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 17:52)...   Mar 30 2012, 10:19
||||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Mar 30 2012, 04:19) It...   Mar 30 2012, 17:19
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:19)...   Mar 30 2012, 19:06
|||||- - TrustScience   That's true. I did make a couple clarifying ed...   Mar 30 2012, 20:13
||||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 17:19)...   Mar 31 2012, 10:33
||||- - krabapple   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:19)...   Mar 31 2012, 21:59
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 10:37) QUOT...   Mar 29 2012, 18:19
||- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 16:45
||- - krabapple   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:10
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 09:24)...   Mar 29 2012, 17:48
||- - TrustScience   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 29 2012, 11:48) The...   Mar 29 2012, 18:02
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 29 2012, 13:02)...   Mar 29 2012, 18:13
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 18:39)...   Mar 29 2012, 04:29
||- - greynol   QUOTE the Mastered for iTunes process uses a healt...   Mar 29 2012, 04:46
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (Canar @ Mar 29 2012, 04:12) QUOTE ...   Mar 29 2012, 04:34
|- - IgorC   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 28 2012, 19:39)...   Apr 6 2012, 23:17
- - greynol   I read the paper by Apple back when we first discu...   Mar 29 2012, 05:23
- - Fandango   Ah, it has been discussed before and Apple actuall...   Mar 29 2012, 05:30
- - greynol   I provided a link already. Go to the first post i...   Mar 29 2012, 05:35
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 06:35) I pr...   Mar 29 2012, 05:51
- - saratoga   I think the most damning thing about the mastered ...   Mar 29 2012, 05:53
|- - Fandango   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 29 2012, 06:53) Ess...   Mar 29 2012, 06:04
- - greynol   As I said in the dedicated discussion, Apple is ad...   Mar 29 2012, 05:59
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 29 2012, 00:59) As I...   Mar 29 2012, 06:12
- - greynol   RE: Big-label mastering engineers donít understand lossy formats   Mar 29 2012, 06:30
- - 2Bdecided   It's what happens when the art-world and scien...   Mar 29 2012, 09:36
- - drewfx   Perhaps interviewing someone with a background in ...   Mar 29 2012, 19:02
- - greynol   When I am in a position to improve something of mi...   Mar 30 2012, 16:49
|- - TrustScience   QUOTE (greynol @ Mar 30 2012, 10:49) When...   Mar 30 2012, 17:40
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (TrustScience @ Mar 30 2012, 12:40)...   Mar 30 2012, 19:13
- - greynol   I'll try not to make this a long post as I...   Mar 30 2012, 20:47
- - saratoga   At least from my point of view (and as I mentioned...   Mar 30 2012, 21:41
|- - db1989   QUOTE (saratoga @ Mar 30 2012, 21:41) And...   Mar 30 2012, 21:53
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (db1989 @ Mar 30 2012, 16:53) QUOTE...   Mar 30 2012, 22:23
- - greynol   Aside from db1989's point in the next post whi...   Mar 30 2012, 21:52
- - greynol   Since others are piling on while admittedly not ad...   Mar 31 2012, 22:14
- - Axon   Perhaps TrustScience would have found our reaction...   Apr 1 2012, 17:26
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 1 2012, 18:26) In that ...   Apr 1 2012, 18:09
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 1 2012, 19:09) Warr...   Apr 1 2012, 22:06
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (knutinh @ Apr 1 2012, 23:06) QUOTE...   Apr 1 2012, 22:22
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 1 2012, 23:22) My p...   Apr 2 2012, 09:00
|- - skamp   QUOTE (knutinh @ Apr 2 2012, 10:00) let u...   Apr 2 2012, 09:15
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (skamp @ Apr 2 2012, 10:15) iTunes ...   Apr 2 2012, 12:31
- - krabapple   It's possible that calling famous mastering en...   Apr 2 2012, 07:17
- - Kohlrabi   The notion that mastering engineers who deliberate...   Apr 2 2012, 13:07
|- - db1989   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 2 2012, 13:07) I al...   Apr 2 2012, 13:25
- - Kohlrabi   Thank you very much, db1989. That was what I had i...   Apr 2 2012, 13:48
- - db1989   Great!   Apr 2 2012, 13:50
- - absinthe33   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Mar 27 2012, 10:12) Jus...   Apr 2 2012, 15:22
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (absinthe33 @ Apr 2 2012, 15:22) br...   Apr 2 2012, 16:08
|- - absinthe33   QUOTE (dhromed @ Apr 2 2012, 17:08) QUOTE...   Apr 2 2012, 23:04
|- - splice   QUOTE (absinthe33 @ Apr 2 2012, 15:04) .....   Apr 2 2012, 23:52
- - 2Bdecided   Some lossy codecs can introduce audible temporal s...   Apr 2 2012, 15:28
- - skamp   Heba Kadry again: "While Im all for setting a...   Apr 4 2012, 15:23
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (skamp @ Apr 4 2012, 16:23) Heba Ka...   Apr 4 2012, 22:29
|- - splice   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Apr 4 2012, 14:29) ... ...   Apr 5 2012, 01:33
- - 2Bdecided   ...which leads back to Justin's latest article...   Apr 4 2012, 16:25
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 4 2012, 16:25) ......   Apr 5 2012, 11:24
- - stephan_g   ^Agreed. A "decent stereo", btw, include...   Apr 5 2012, 16:30
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 11:30) Why...   Apr 5 2012, 18:04
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 16:30) ^Ag...   Apr 5 2012, 18:43
- - stephan_g   Don't know about that, but I was just browsing...   Apr 5 2012, 21:56
- - markanini   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 21:56) Not...   Apr 6 2012, 02:01
- - krabapple   QUOTE (stephan_g @ Apr 5 2012, 16:56) Not...   Apr 6 2012, 20:28
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