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Dynamic range, loudness war, remasters.

EdTice

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Yeah, me+1 ... (damn those guilty pleasures)
Weren't you part of the Columbia House "club"? That's my excuse for any CD that I no longer want to admit to purchasing. I forgot to mail back my post card saying I didn't want it!
 

TBone

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Weren't you part of the Columbia House "club"?
LOL ... thx ... great justification for the rest of my madonna, maria and britney (sadly 1 demo LP) "collections" .
 

EdTice

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LOL ... thx ... great justification for the rest of my madonna, maria and britney (sadly 1 demo LP) "collections" .
Mariah is actually a pretty good singer when she remembers the words!
 

krabapple

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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.

Maybe where you were -- but all my friends --early twenty-somethings, all firmly middle class with working class parents, all rock music fans, not wealthy ...had them. It was at all not unusual in the USA in the 1980s, and I seriously doubt only 1% of the adult population possessed what was considered a totally normal 'stereo system' at the time.

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.

Sorry, but that's simply wasn't true, until the *1990s*, when 1) digital compression came into use and 2) portable players and headphones were the rage. (Prior to that we did have portable 'Walkman' cassette players and headphones, but that did not spark a loudness war because the digital technology did not exist)

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

By 1998 there were absolutely many cheaper options than that.

There weren't 300k people in the US at the time who could afford an "actual standalone receiver."

You are so wrong it's funny. How much do you think a basic mass market receiver cost back then? They weren't AVRs, they weren't feature loaded. A preamp and an amp and a tuner in one. Volume, bass end treble tone controls , balance, and maybe a 'loudness' button is what you got. Connectivity for a pair of speakers , a cassette deck, a turntable, and 'aux' (and later ..'CD').

Man, I lived through it. I even sold gear at a 'Best Buy' type discount electronics store in NYC (Crazy Eddie!) for a few months in the mid '80s. You could buy a 'stereo' at Sears, Kmart too.... The cost of CD players was initially high, but came down rapidly. You certainly didn't have to be rich.
 
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EdTice

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Maybe where you were -- but all my friends --early twenty-somethings, all firmly middle class with working class parents, all rock music fans, not wealthy ...had them. It was at all not unusual in the USA in the 1980s, and I seriously doubt only 1% of the adult population possessed what was considered a totally normal 'stereo system' at the time.



Sorry, but that's simply wasn't true, until the *1990s*, when 1) digital compression came into use and 2) portable players and headphones were the rage. (Prior to that we did have portable 'Walkman' cassette players and headphones, but that did not spark a loudness war because the digital technology did not exist)



By 1998 there were absolutely many cheaper options than that.



You are so wrong it's funny. How much do you think a basic mass market receiver cost back then? They weren't AVRs, they weren't feature loaded. A preamp and an amp and a tuner in one. Volume, bass end treble tone controls , balance, and maybe a 'loudness' button is what you got. Connectivity for a pair of speakers , a cassette deck, a turntable, and 'aux' (and later ..'CD').

Man, I lived through it. I even sold gear at a 'Best Buy' type discount electronics store in NYC (Crazy Eddie!) for a few months in the mid '80s. You could buy a 'stereo' at Sears, Kmart too.... The cost of CD players was initially high, but came down rapidly. You certainly didn't have to be rich.

In 1990, you could buy the Aiwa CSD-XL202: (a model I had) for $149 per this article from the Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/arch...argains/edf09803-5386-4d9d-aa11-50517c468b16/

You can still find them used on eBay but they all have the disclaimer that the "CD skips." Of course I think I had problems since day one. I remember being visibly angry when trying to exchange a CD at the local chain retailer that wouldn't play on my system but played on theirs.

In retrospect, the disc was probably fine.

If you'd like to find one on eBay with a purportedly working CD player and send it to Amir for measurement, well, I'd love to see the result!

No, you didn't have to be rich to buy that (as clearly we weren't. It was only a few years prior that having enough heating oil for the winter was a concern).

I didn't say that good receivers weren't *available* or even *approachable*. If you want to mass-market a CD, it has to be able to play well in 80% of the players that are actively in use.

Note: The one on eBay right now wasn't mine, I don't think. "One touch recording" was a "feature" where you could accidentally erase your favorite mix tapes. I had a big silver plastic sticker that I added to mine so I didn't accidentally do that.

Sure there were plenty of adults (30 somethings who I considered to be astonishingly old) who had better audio systems and they were happy to repurchase their Neil Diamond collection on CD. But they weren't buying Led Zeppelin remasters (1990 version) (which sounded like crap) or Guns and Roses Appetite for Destruction or Mariah Carey Glitter.

The walkman came out in 1981. The CD eclipsed cassettes in 1991. CDs were capable of more dynamic range but were mastered with less.

I'm not saying that other factors didn't come into play. But DACs were *very* weak back then. 8x oversampling was the marketing buzz. You couldn't tell with those noise floors.

Amir has an Mark Levinson No 360S from that ERA. Comparable to today's DACs. Cost $4500 MSRP. The McIntosh MCD7000 was $1500 just for the CD player. Nevermind amps and speakers.

Heck if your components were in a cabinet, the cabinet itself would have been $500.

And back then there was no good way to really compare audio equipment. there was no Google, and no AudioScienceReview. Fore very decent CD player that got sold, there were ten cheaply made ones sold in Sears and Kmart.
 

beagleman

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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
CD for several years was NOT compressed at all. Not sure what you mean. It had nothing to do WITH CD, but simply studio technology and remasters, which were still a ways off, more like in the late 90s timeframe.
 

Weeb Labs

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I'm not saying that other factors didn't come into play. But DACs were *very* weak back then. 8x oversampling was the marketing buzz. You couldn't tell with those noise floors.
This is incorrect. In fact, the very first commercial CD player (Sony CDP-101) made use of the CX20017, which exhibited a noise floor of about -90dB. Subsequent hardware performed quite similarly
 

j_j

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I'm not saying that other factors didn't come into play. But DACs were *very* weak back then. 8x oversampling was the marketing buzz. You couldn't tell with those noise floors.

Ok, I tested a variety of CD players back when what we had was the CDP101 and the Magnavox/Philips SL2020. (multiple units of each, too, and ran some subjective tests comparing the two, etc, in an ABC/hr DBT format. Yes, one of the CD players was detectable, and was found very soon after to have a bad DAC chip <duh!>. That particular unit had a garagequeen reputation, it blew up its power supply 3 weeks after being bought, blew its' control board promptly when it was back from repair, and then blew its output amp a year after that, and was given to a college student.)

CDP101 made it to 15.5 bits. Yes, I can and did measure this. Distortion was present, but it was down at least 60dB from the signal, and was all coming from the output filter.

SL2020 was a bit wiftier, depending on frequency, noise floor was between 14.5 bits and 16 bits, but there appeared to be some issues with slewing at high frequencies. Since it was oversampled, its output filter was a bit better behaved, ***BUT*** it had a notable problem going down past 15 bits in that there was some kind of arithmetic weirdness that you could hear if you turned the gain up 60dB with low level signals on the CD. Because of the low-level weirdness, there was distortion evident only with low level signal inputs (under 3 bits of signal, mostly). This distortion went away (not masked, disappeared) at high levels. Had to be bad arithmetic/rounding somewhere. Don't ask me, I wasn't going to pay to strip the mask and read the microcode.

Sorry. Been there, done that. Some of the later players were crap, yes.

But for NONE OF THEM was overdone compression necessary. No, not ever, even for the crappy ones that came later. The problem with those was almost always the output amplifier and the cap used to isolate from the single-ended DC supply.

Many of the portables had bad ground isolation from the digital part, yes. That's much later.
 
F

freemansteve

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Films & DR.
Friends and family watched Dune and The Green Knight a few weeks back. Oled, 4k, decent sound system. Great films, but everyone was exhausted by straining to hear quiet conversations and seconds later being deafened. Next time I run these films (and others) I will extract the audio and run it through a normalisation process on PC, and add it back to the film as an alternative soundtrack. There's not much music I have, or would bother listening to if the DR of it was as irritating as films have become. Possibly a major reason for me playing so little classical these days; just too tedious making sure my clothes don't creak or squeak in the quiet bits.

And then TV shows, especially US shows. It's bad enough not hearing what is being said by actors who mumble fashionably, but then the makers add in loud music or crazy background sounds to make it worse! So in a way it seems over-compressed!

It's all madness. I'm off to play my guitar with its 8kHz bandwidth and 50dB s/n on a good day (yes I know that is not DR).
 

MRC01

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Films & DR.
Friends and family watched Dune and The Green Knight a few weeks back. Oled, 4k, decent sound system. Great films, but everyone was exhausted by straining to hear quiet conversations and seconds later being deafened. ... Possibly a major reason for me playing so little classical these days; just too tedious making sure my clothes don't creak or squeak in the quiet bits. ...
I really enjoyed the wide dynamic range of the recent Dune movie. For me, it added a whole new dimension to the experience, unlike most movies and music that are dynamically squashed. Each to his own!

The problem is that compression is a 1-way thing. Once you compress it, you've lost information and it can't be undone (unless you embed cues in the data stream, like HDCD does). So music and movie audio recording/mixing/mastering should not compress the music -- or at least apply compression with a MUCH lighter hand than they do today. People who want to squash the dynamic range can do so on playback. Many car stereos and audio players have this as a built-in feature.
 
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freemansteve

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I won't lose anything in a film - I can just add my additional and improved soundtrack to the file and select it on playback.
My stereo cannot normalise on playback.
 

MetalheadRich

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Luck is good, but it's possible to measure your tracks as well. However, allow me to start from the pedantic side. We should try to distinguish between content and the reproduction system. "Dynamic range" could be reserved for the latter: A ratio expressing the highest level (magnitude) vs the lowest level a system conveys.

To reduce ambiguity, use a different terminology about the content, like we say "height" about an object and "clearance" about where the object might fit. Peak-to-Loudness Ratio (PLR) is a defined way of expressing micro-dynamics (squashing) in music, and it also relates to peak level vs average level, rather than peak vs noise floor.

To measure your own tracks, visit http://musictester.net/demo and drag files (WAV, AIFF, AAC, MP3 etc.) into the window. One or more tracks may be compared (and listened to) side by side, see attached. It's free to use, and the four columns measure the parameters specified. "PLS" means Peak-to-Loudness Short-term, based on the most squashed 10 secs of the track (black line in the histogram). By switching "Normalization" to "Loudness", you can listen to music at equal Loudness, e.g. two different versions of the same track.
Is there any way to buy a full-fledged Music Tester app?
 

danadam

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I found followig video pretty instresting, even though I am not into electronic music.

He says that the first version is -11 LUFS and the second -6 LUFS, but after downloading the youtube stream and cutting 1:22-length parts from 32:28 and from 34:10 I get:
Code:
  Loudness,     LRA
-17.2 LUFS,  4.6 LU, b1.flac
-17.0 LUFS,  4.1 LU, b2.flac
And after normalizing to 0 dBFS:
Code:
  Loudness,     LRA
-12.6 LUFS,  4.6 LU, c1.flac
 -9.4 LUFS,  4.1 LU, c2.flac
 
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dasdoing

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He says that the first version is -11 LUFS and the second -6 LUFS, but after downloading the youtube stream and cutting 1:22-length parts from 32:28 and from 34:10 I get:
Code:
  Loudness,     LRA
-17.2 LUFS,  4.6 LU, b1.flac
-17.0 LUFS,  4.1 LU, b2.flac
And after normalizing to 0 dBFS:
Code:
  Loudness,     LRA
-12.6 LUFS,  4.6 LU, c1.flac
 -9.4 LUFS,  4.1 LU, c2.flac

intresting, but the LUFS reading is referenced to the whole song. not sure how the integrated reading get's higher on the full song though, if what he calles solo are the loudest parts
 

600_OHM

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

Not the one I listen to. It is basically a *licensed* LPFM / streamer. Being LPFM, it has no commercial support, nor will it ever. That means that no marketing department is going to hold sway over how to run his compander, streaming setup in any way that promotes a marketing demographic - because there simply is none being non-commercial, yet licensed.

And the source material is always chosen for mostly original high-DR.

The hint here is that you may want to seek out your LPFM stations who do likewise, and stream if you aren't in the local area, who have total control over their on-air / streaming quality. Some just do it, and don't visit forums much. :)

Or maybe when these licenses come up every now and then, start your own - or perhaps there is one struggling near you that is willing to change hands.

I waited to mention this last, so as not to appear as a plug, but just something representative of what not being beholden to any commercial interest is like:

KHUG 97.5 / streaming .. Classic rock (eclectic mix usually) during the day, and after about 8pm, R&B and Blues till morning. Give it a listen, and see what you think:


Again, this is not meant to be a plug - there can be many others who do something similar, but you don't know it. Searching the LPFM outlets may also reveal a stream if you aren't a radio nerd like me who actually *does* listen ota with my own tuners.


There is no guarantee though that LPFM'ers are actually interested in quality (some don't stream) - so you'll have to search them out or see if they have the same values as say the aforementioned KHUG does.

Maybe you have your own genre you really care about and wish to do something similar!
 

600_OHM

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SCAM WARNING!

Note that the above is about LEGIT LPFM stations, and *not* a pirate station who throws an antenna on top of his garage and flips the switch.

It means REAL broadcasting gear, which usually costs $$ all by itself, in addition to hidden costs such as site-rental for the gear (you don't own the land the tower is on, and pay for rack-space in those building, electricity to run it, the infrastructure costs to remotely control and maintain it within FCC specs and so forth.)

But scams abound from those tying to offer "packages" of crap trying to bypass the regs.


All this for just your limited-range audience? (unless you also stream) Is it only for vintage-tuner audiophiles? Not really.

From an audiophile standpoint, the true FM geeks will run tuners that are SDR, or software defined, (like in most vehicles these days) rather than demodulate the analog FM signal through discrete componentry. NO - not talking HDR here - just analog FM.

Straying off topic: many of the SDR chips in modern tuners come from Silicon Labs. Basically no smearing / time shifts / group delay yadda yadda from analog componentry. It runs like this:

Analog FM signal > SDR chip > analog out. Believe it or not, something as cheap looking like a little *modern* CCrane "Skywave" portable radio has one. Take the headphone output and put that into your $1K amp. Just don't look at the setup. :) Just be sure its in music mode where they don't mess with EQ.

So if you have the means or support, you CAN do something about FM radio, and show the big boys how it's supposed to be done without all the marketing interference.
 
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