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Dynamic range, loudness war, remasters.

j_j

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actualy it doesn't matter for radio, since radio stations aditionaly compress the hell out of everything

Indeed, and the people who make those compressors have asked mastering people to compress less, because it makes the final squishing out of all enjoyment even harder.
 

dasdoing

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Indeed, and the people who make those compressors have asked mastering people to compress less, because it makes the final squishing out of all enjoyment even harder.

I remember back in the 90ies they woud go as far as having some kind of normalization in the chain. the intro of a pop-song would be loud, and when bass kicks in the song gets noticebly quieter. that must have been anoying even for the worst of the worst ears
 

mkc

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this is a good find, gave me some new insights.
I originally had the impression that if a piece has low DR it's bad, but seeing through some more I begin to wonder though, if a piece is meant to have, say some background audio throughout the track, then it seems that the DR will naturally be low, no?
If so would it still be considered bad?
 

Andysu

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soundmixer that mix garbage trash movie sound mixes on what which dubbing stage, theatrical mix than afterwards tamper with the soundtrack mix to do a garbage trash near field for some garbage trash soundbar. That's my answer to loudness and movie soundmixer garbage trash mixed on those garbage trash bragging garbage dubbing theatres.

dynamic range is tamped with
stereo width tampered with
frequency response tampered with
LCR tampered with
surround tampered with
LFE.1 tampered with
 

dasdoing

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this is a good find, gave me some new insights.
I originally had the impression that if a piece has low DR it's bad, but seeing through some more I begin to wonder though, if a piece is meant to have, say some background audio throughout the track, then it seems that the DR will naturally be low, no?
If so would it still be considered bad?

DR is a prety bad indicator of quality lol
Darude Sandstrom probably has a good DR beause of that more silent part....but is crushed
 

DanielT

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Tip,

Basic review but still. I thought it was good. You who write in this thread probably already know the history. :)

 
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mkc

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DR is a prety bad indicator of quality lol
Darude Sandstrom probably has a good DR beause of that more silent part....but is crushed
yeah I realized that after thinking about it a bit, good tracks with no silence will probably still have low DR.
Trying to get the loudness part of this whole ordeal right now, gotta make sure I don't go deaf.
 

j_j

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yeah I realized that after thinking about it a bit, good tracks with no silence will probably still have low DR.
Trying to get the loudness part of this whole ordeal right now, gotta make sure I don't go deaf.
There's quite a bit of dynamic range in the Telarc Berlioz Requiem, 2nd track!
 

MRC01

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Another big one is Mahler Symphony 1, 2nd movement. 14 minutes of quiet followed by a FFF crescendo to wake up the audience. The Birmingham/Rattle recording on Warner rates a DR-20 with RMS -32 dB relative to peak.
 
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EdTice

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That's mostly true. Here's an example of an exception that proves this rule: https://play.primephonic.com/album/3760195734520
So disappointing, because that's a great performance ruined by excessive dynamic compression.
Other than these rare examples, classical music is blessedly outside the blast radius of the loudness wars.
As far as I know, classical music CD are never DR compressed and if done it would be a huge mistake, I guess.
They can be compressed, but usually mildly or not at all because such music is targeted to a different audience. Most classical music lovers will probably listen through a proper hi-fi system rather than on crappy earphones on the subway.

Since this thread has been bumped...

Classical music listeners won't listen through headphones on the subway *because* of the dynamic range. There are periods where the music is below background noise where you aren't even sure what is playing followed by ear-damaging loudness.

When CDs first came out, they were largely played on two-channel playback equipment with high noise-floor DACs that were terrible by today's standards. The most common playback system was a bookshelf or boombox style equipment that cost what was about a weeks pay for most people. The volume controls manually attenuated the DACs. By mastering "hot" (and forcing the volume to be turned down for the same SPL), this kept the DACs running near peak and improved the overall audio quality for the vast majority of listeners. Early classical CDs that attempted to preserve DR sounded worse than cassettes because the DACs weren't up to par. The "hot" mastering lead to optimal gain staging and better playback for those who didn't have systems that costs several months' income.

Pop/Rock started mastering hot from day one maybe because of historic loudness wars. Classical mastered in a way that sounded great if you had insanely expensive equipment out of reach of most people. Even today what sounds good on a system capable of 100dB of SINAD when using digital volume control will not sound nearly as good on a system barely capable of 60dB. 60dB systems are probably still more common. Why would one not master for that market?

Given that music is now mostly digital, it would be nice if there were multiple masterings based on the capabilities of the playback equipment but even that might backfire as those who buy the "audiophile grade 10,000 music-power high-end system" at Walmart for $499 will select the wrong version and complain that the track sounds like crap.

I don't really like THX home-theater specs in that we suddenly have only 28dB speaker amps available (which require a 120dB DAC to sound good at the 60dB that I prefer to listen) but at least there is a spec. The redbook standards defined the storage medium but not the playback capabilities of the equipment.
 

TBone

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When CDs were introduced, I anticipated that music (style and production ) would become more dynamic to take advantage of the wider dynamic range...

the majority of early rock/pop CD are consistently more dynamic than the remasters. The same can be said for LP. Sadly, near every remastered LP i have purchased in the last 10 yrs includes additional compression when compared to the orig LP/CD, often by a considerably margin.

the vinyl cutting and playback process (including the RIAA recording & playback EQ) changes the wave shape and introduces phase shifts. That affects the way the peaks line-up making some peaks higher and some peaks lower. A similar thing happens when you make an MP3. That doesn't affect the sound of the dynamics, but if you measure the crest factor (peak to average ratio) the vinyl will "measure" more dynamic than the CD (made from the same master) because of the new higher-peaks. A lot of people are fooled into thinking the vinyl has wider dynamic range because of those measurements. And, blind listening isn't that helpful because you can always tell the vinyl (from the noise).

Well, i often tell visitors that i redesigned or tweeked my analog rig to measure as close to the best digital 16/44 ver. as possible. The majority of vinylheads cringe at that very statement, until they go quiet after hearing the rip ...

the above statement concerning >DR on vinyl has not been my experience, and I've been ripping, comparing, measuring & graphing rips for over 2 decades. Peaks often line up perfectly, AS THEY SHOULD!

Now, don't get me wrong, vinyl has many MANY issues. But, without any reservation, vinyl done right (rarer than u may imagine regardless of $) shows little dynamic compression when compared to the same mastering on CD or tape.

In fact, if very high DR values (>15) in my tt system often register slightly lower (~0.5bB) in comparison. That said, i have measured countless rips that measured incorrectly, plus or minus.

It's just a matter of taste. Dark Side Of The Moon seems dynamic (compared to most rock recordings) but I don't think it's as dynamic as classical or jazz... I do enjoy the dynamics of some rock recordings... I like to hear the drums & cymbals "pop out" instead if being mushed with the rest of the music.

even the best DSOTM ver.measures dynamically average at best, even compared within PF extensive catalog of LP,CD,Hrez recordings.

I don't find myself adjusting the volume control in the car with Pink Floyd ...

Compressed music is perfect for noisy environments, but IMO has no place within a top grade stereo system.

As far as Led Zep is concerned, i have gone on an extended search for the best DR & subjectively pleasurable recordings. All are measured in comparison, both in terms of freq.response and compression. In fact, over the weekend i finally had a chance to compared the infamous "RL" (esp side 2) copy of LZ2 to the other originals, and CDs. It really is difficult (but not impossible) to find higher DR LZ recordings on digital, most are either compressed loudness, or the peaks are cut/limited. Even the early LP remasters were significantly more dynamic than many page/marino remasters, those IMO r best suited andthe boat, car or jack-hammer environments.
 

TBone

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The absolute best Led Zeppelin recording I have ever heard is the DVD-Audio disc "How the West Was Won". It is a live performance and very well engineered. The more quiet and delicate Zep songs that I really enjoy do indeed get quiet enough that the sounds of the audience become immersive. When I get goose-bumps I know it's a good recording!
DVD HTWWW may in fact be the best overall LZ recording in terms of dynamics and/or lack of compression. iirc the dvd offers nice DR values, but i dont remember if the CD version had the same values ...
 

krabapple

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Since this thread has been bumped...

Classical music listeners won't listen through headphones on the subway *because* of the dynamic range. There are periods where the music is below background noise where you aren't even sure what is playing followed by ear-damaging loudness.

When CDs first came out, they were largely played on two-channel playback equipment with high noise-floor DACs that were terrible by today's standards.

I think you overstate the case. What mattered then and now most, is 'was it audible'?

AVvXsEjEr6ax23fqegoNJqMgC-YyZBTqlCHHeM1wOuIidTeiTqHMi5Nlnpj_egxLQjTFnoT5AUqR4IDauMUlls85sUncrMJhKfQbELXfbc6rFANfYqQm1Osyc6O_r8S2_fz99sH2TDuryon12fVPmKEoRRX6_nIETApvHWdx5yzXQqWmsrdF5JxA2PQGd8OD=w640-h180





The most common playback system was a bookshelf or boombox style equipment that cost what was about a weeks pay for most people. The volume controls manually attenuated the DACs. By mastering "hot" (and forcing the volume to be turned down for the same SPL), this kept the DACs running near peak and improved the overall audio quality for the vast majority of listeners.

But mastering 'hot' -- via use of digital compression -- didn't start happening until around the early 90s.

(It also ran the risk of more 'intersample overs', which was a thing for awhile. How CDPs handled those varied.)

Pop/Rock started mastering hot from day one maybe because of historic loudness wars.

Again, no, early CDs actually often had just one or a very few 'peak' sample across the whole album.

Classical mastered in a way that sounded great if you had insanely expensive equipment out of reach of most people.

It sounded pretty great even on a mass market 2-speakers + receiver system back then. Like mine. The main production issue was (is) that with *really* dynamic content -- from whisper-quiet to triple forte -- few home listening environments were (are) quiet enough to allow listeners to hear both the quietest and the loudest parts comfortably without fiddling with the volume knob.
 

EdTice

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It sounded pretty great even on a mass market 2-speakers + receiver system back then. Like mine. The main production issue was (is) that with *really* dynamic content -- from whisper-quiet to triple forte -- few home listening environments were (are) quiet enough to allow listeners to hear both the quietest and the loudest parts comfortably without fiddling with the volume knob.

You must have had better mass-market equipment than me. I had what I think (from memory) was Sony CFD series semi-portable equipment. I wasn't that into classical but I bought some to play on my fancy new equipment. I had to turn the volume know up much louder than for pop/rock and the classical sounded like crap. Maybe I just made terrible choices in mass market equipment!
 

krabapple

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Sony CFD 'semi portable'? Something like this?

90s-BIG-SONY-CFD-560L-Boombox-Ghetto-blaster-CD.jpg


That's a glorified boombox. It's silly to generalize about early classical CD sound (or any CD sound) based on those. Though I quite enjoyed outdoor/beach listening on my old Panasonic boomer with its 'super bass' button. And I did play classical music discs/tapes on it too.

I'm talking about an actual standalone receiver, like a Technics, Sony, etc, a CD player (which at one point was a 'Realistic' portable discman type), and two actual speakers on stands or floorstanding, a typical home system that was particularly 'portable' (though I could and did deploy them 'offsite' for parties).
 

TBone

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Hi skymusic20,

Was in your shoes some 5 years ago, ended up throwing to the garbage most of my CD collection and I started over.

Kept mine, although many of my cd are compressed, some of my best sounding/measured cd in terms of DR are early 16bit DAT masters.

1 story i like to tell (remind) audiophiles who consider vinyl superior ...

At a stereo convention in the mid eighties, i remember nearly every room was playing Tracy Chapman's first LP, the CD ver had not been released yet on mass. Vinylheads went all syrupy over the sound quality, no matter what tt/arm/pre combo was used, it always sounded dynamic. It should have, bc it was and remains a very dynamic album.

This was at a time when LP ruled, and CD was considered evil and bright sounding by vinylheads ... and the fact the origin was a 16bit master was not communicated.

That LP went viral amongst vinylheads that year, often used in demo's as a demonstration of vinyl DR/sound capabilities.

Then the CD arrived, and it was much the same sounding (orig CD ver is my benchmark for this album, and a true test of any LP vinyl system capability when measuremed in comparison).

...

Dynamic capability is the key to expressive "real" sounding music, the medium is just the messenger, regardless of system capability.

IMO DR certainly is farrrr more a meaningful measure of "quality" than measuring redundant distortion at -90dB.

Compressed DR has been proven to have a strong correlation with listening fatigue. This extra loudness / brightness will eventually result in listening fatigue, especially if your speakers are on the bright side.

Yes, very true, in my system, compression just sounds boring bc it never builds as live music should.
 

EdTice

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Sony CFD 'semi portable'? Something like this?

90s-BIG-SONY-CFD-560L-Boombox-Ghetto-blaster-CD.jpg


That's a glorified boombox. It's silly to generalize about early classical CD sound (or any CD sound) based on those. Though I quite enjoyed outdoor/beach listening on my old Panasonic boomer with its 'super bass' button. And I did play classical music discs/tapes on it too.

I'm talking about an actual standalone receiver, like a Technics, Sony, etc, a CD player (which at one point was a 'Realistic' portable discman type), and two actual speakers on stands or floorstanding, a typical home system that was particularly 'portable' (though I could and did deploy them 'offsite' for parties).
I didn't have that exact model but something similar. You are making my point for me without realizing it. What you are call an "actual standalone receiver... and two actual speakers on stands" was something that maybe only 1% of the population (at that time) could afford.

If you wanted to sell CDs to the 99%, you had to make them sound good in equipment that approximated the device pictured above. And that meant compressed dynamic range all very near 0dB because the DACs could only produce something tolerable for -10dB to 0dB. Anything quieter than that came out as noise.

In 1998, the DM-3 cost about US$600 which was about median weekly income in the US.

There weren't 300k people in the US at the time who could afford an "actual standalone receiver." "Ray of Light" sold 300k copies the first week. That wouldn't have happened if you needed $1k of equipment to play it! Rock/Pop had to be mastered such that it would play well on equipment that cost $200-$300
 

EdTice

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Sony CFD 'semi portable'? Something like this?
Remember this was the same time in history when Blockbuster wouldn't carry any widescreen releases in their store because who wants those stupid horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the screen!
 
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