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Those of you who believe measurements aren't the whole story, do you have a hypothesis why that is?

kemmler3D

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Imperfect recordings may have far more flaws than merely frequency issues (which is all you can correct). you will never ever make a bad recording perfect. you may just subjectively tune it to your personal preference.
I was just reading an article about vintage hi-fi gear bought at Radio Shack, and funny enough they mentioned an expander. This is like the dynamic range compressors they use in the studio, but in reverse. In theory you could use one to add DR back to a track in a relatively harmless way... but you'd have to change the settings for every track. So theoretically, dynamic range is also correctable... to an extent. Still, with digital tools being what they are today, I wonder if you couldn't just automate that part... hmm.
 

pablolie

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I was just reading an article about vintage hi-fi gear bought at Radio Shack, and funny enough they mentioned an expander. This is like the dynamic range compressors they use in the studio, but in reverse. In theory you could use one to add DR back to a track in a relatively harmless way... but you'd have to change the settings for every track. So theoretically, dynamic range is also correctable... to an extent. Still, with digital tools being what they are today, I wonder if you couldn't just automate that part... hmm.
You'd need some sort of reference... even settings on original recording equipment involved and such... and an established reference on how to correct that.
 

Blumlein 88

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I was just reading an article about vintage hi-fi gear bought at Radio Shack, and funny enough they mentioned an expander. This is like the dynamic range compressors they use in the studio, but in reverse. In theory you could use one to add DR back to a track in a relatively harmless way... but you'd have to change the settings for every track. So theoretically, dynamic range is also correctable... to an extent. Still, with digital tools being what they are today, I wonder if you couldn't just automate that part... hmm.
I had one of these 3 band DBX units. Expansion was adjustable up to 50%. I didn't really find it useful other than helping a bit with tape hiss on my RTR.
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Blumlein 88

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Not to mention that if you turned them up too much they'd audibly "breathe" when they did their thing.
That was definitely a problem. Seemed worse on LP, maybe ticks and pops upset it. Seemed less an issue on tape though on some recordings it could happen. You needed to set the transition level correctly.
 

tmtomh

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That was definitely a problem. Seemed worse on LP, maybe ticks and pops upset it. Seemed less an issue on tape though on some recordings it could happen. You needed to set the transition level correctly.
One of my most memorable early audio experiences was visiting a showroom with my father when I was about 13, and listening to a setup that included one of those DBX expanders, plus a bunch of other processing gear, some giant amps, and two enormous Klipshorns caulk-sealed to the room's corners.

Retrospectively, I'm guessing the sound was a hot mess from a neutrality perspective, but man, the overall sonic impact of all that stuff is something I'll never forget!
 

Robin L

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That was definitely a problem. Seemed worse on LP, maybe ticks and pops upset it. Seemed less an issue on tape though on some recordings it could happen. You needed to set the transition level correctly.
All the DBX gear I've heard/used subjectively had "breathing" artifacts. Had a really fine Yamaha cassette deck with a DBX noise reduction option, also had one of those DBX dynamic range expanders. Both had audible artifacts that bothered me a great deal. That Yamaha deck (dual capstan, three heads, a knob for adjusting bias by ear) sounded best with metal tape, recorded at very high (well into the red) levels. As one could monitor the recording while recording one could tell when the tape overloaded. Took a lot of signal to get it to overload with metal tape.

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richard12511

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For about 5 years I had access to sound rooms with up to ~40 pairs of speakers in the bookshelf room, 10 pairs of speakers in the high end room (~$2K to about $10K speakers) and the midrange room was ~20 pair. The entire operation was switched so I could switch over instantly and compare integrated amps, receivers and big power blocks. The speakers where very distinguishable and with a little help from the operator adjusting the volume control for efficiency compensation and one could get a very good idea what was what. Because the amps where switched too one could again match the power output and then compare and the result was the differences where very small between most of them. Some stood out as being a little better sounding and as well one could test for power output differences to see what a 120W/ch amp versus a 40W/ch receiver or a 80W/ch integrated etc sounded like max'd out to see the max differences. Those are the power zones that I now use as reference. 40, 80, 120 Watts per channel are the ~numbers which will show some difference in max output and sometimes sound quality too. The other thing I came to believe is that I didn't really know which amp sounded better in many situations because they simply sounded different and I had no test gear etc to meter out the causes or determine empirically why they sounded different. So choosing a amp now for me became a matter of thump ability, SPL output capability and overall clearness of the sound.
That sounds like a really cool setup to have :). Speakers are always easy to tell apart, but I still often find it tough to decide I like better.
Normalized is the operational word here for sure. Going flat out with no tone adjustment changes does result in the significant differences between large and small speakers but I do admit there have been bookshelf speakers that where pretty darn good. I'm thinking expensive models of Celestion, KEF, ENERGY, Mirage etc.
Oh for sure. Letting them run full range will heavily steer preferences towards the larger(and usually more expensive) speakers.
 

Doodski

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Speakers are always easy to tell apart, but I still often find it tough to decide I like better.
I've owned and test driven a lot of speakers and as they sound different one tries to choose the best for them but what I noticed is that if one becomes accustomed to a set of speakers they sound great and the others sound off so it's really a matter when choosing their favorite speakers to keep that in mind. For instance I had a pair of MB Quart speakers and the top end is to die for as it is right up my alley in brightness, sharpness and snappy attack on the cymbals and such. After having those in my living room for some time everything else sounded flat and boring. Same goes for KEF, ENERGY, Polk, Mission and others. It was a matter of getting adjusted to the sound of each pair of speakers and then they sounded great for each pair even though in the sound room they all sounded so different. So I know where you are coming from... LoL.
 

richard12511

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I've owned and test driven a lot of speakers and as they sound different one tries to choose the best for them but what I noticed is that if one becomes accustomed to a set of speakers they sound great and the others sound off so it's really a matter when choosing their favorite speakers to keep that in mind. For instance I had a pair of MB Quart speakers and the top end is to die for as it is right up my alley in brightness, sharpness and snappy attack on the cymbals and such. After having those in my living room for some time everything else sounded flat and boring. Same goes for KEF, ENERGY, Polk, Mission and others. It was a matter of getting adjusted to the sound of each pair of speakers and then they sounded great for each pair even though in the sound room they all sounded so different. So I know where you are coming from... LoL.

I can second this experience.

For a personal anecdote, the last blind(wasn't totally blind for me) listening event I participated in had 2 really well designed(Harman style) high end speakers in the mix. I found that when I switched from A to B, B almost always sounded wrong, but inevitably I would start to like the sound of B more and more over the course of a minute or so, but when I switched back to A, now A sounded wrong :facepalm:, and then the cycle repeats.
 

kemmler3D

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You'd need some sort of reference... even settings on original recording equipment involved and such... and an established reference on how to correct that.
I had one of these 3 band DBX units. Expansion was adjustable up to 50%. I didn't really find it useful other than helping a bit with tape hiss on my RTR.
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Yeah I don't think these would be useful to "repair" overly compressed tracks without attack / release and ratio settings. As in theory you're trying to undo compression, you would need to undo it with the correct timings and levels.

Realistically you'd probably need to do it multiband, because there's a good chance they did it multiband in the studio. So do the job 3-5x per track, very carefully. Not exactly a relaxed listening session kind of thing.

That said, it would be a fun experiment to try "fixing" an overly compressed track, but I think coming up with settings that don't sound weird would probably take half an hour per song. So, not really practical unless they can come up with some kind of AI tool to do it.
 

Blumlein 88

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Yeah I don't think these would be useful to "repair" overly compressed tracks without attack / release and ratio settings. As in theory you're trying to undo compression, you would need to undo it with the correct timings and levels.

Realistically you'd probably need to do it multiband, because there's a good chance they did it multiband in the studio. So do the job 3-5x per track, very carefully. Not exactly a relaxed listening session kind of thing.

That said, it would be a fun experiment to try "fixing" an overly compressed track, but I think coming up with settings that don't sound weird would probably take half an hour per song. So, not really practical unless they can come up with some kind of AI tool to do it.
It cannot be undone. Multi band compression, different attack/release settings on each track of multiple tracks. And more, much more. No way to undo the final result. Pipedream.
 

gwing

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Not to mention that if you turned them up too much they'd audibly "breathe" when they did their thing.
That's probably an fairly intractable problem if the expansion is dynamically calculated. Maybe if we had a new audio format that included data on the compression applied we could have equipment that read that data and corrected compression to whatever we set as a preference.

Edit - just read the above post. Different compression on tracks before mixing would indeed be difficult beyond any realistic hope of fixing.
 

Verig

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That's probably an fairly intractable problem if the expansion is dynamically calculated. Maybe if we had a new audio format that included data on the compression applied we could have equipment that read that data and corrected compression to whatever we set as a preference.

Edit - just read the above post. Different compression on tracks before mixing would indeed be difficult beyond any realistic hope of fixing.
It would be sweet if labels offered two versions. "Radio friendly" and "for real speakers". But then again sometimes very compressed sound is what was aimed for artistically. It's always easy to blame very commercial music but I have plenty of ug records which are non better even though they'll never sell beyond hundreds.
 

Basic Channel

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It would be sweet if labels offered two versions. "Radio friendly" and "for real speakers". But then again sometimes very compressed sound is what was aimed for artistically. It's always easy to blame very commercial music but I have plenty of ug records which are non better even though they'll never sell beyond hundreds.

Arguably the “radio friendly” version should have less dynamic compression.

 

MRC01

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Imperfect recordings may have far more flaws than merely frequency issues (which is all you can correct). you will never ever make a bad recording perfect. you may just subjectively tune it to your personal preference.
It's not limited to just frequency response. For example, some recordings have instruments hard-panned to the L or R channel, which is unnatural and annoying on headphones. Crossfeed makes them sound more natural.

Regarding frequency response, it's only one factor but it goes a long way toward making inferior recordings more enjoyable. Getting a preamp with tone controls opened up portions of my collection that I didn't listen to because the recordings were so bright they gave me a headache. It's great to experience this music, and taming the excessive treble revealed other parts of the music it was masking.

I was just reading an article about vintage hi-fi gear bought at Radio Shack, and funny enough they mentioned an expander. This is like the dynamic range compressors they use in the studio, but in reverse. In theory you could use one to add DR back to a track in a relatively harmless way... but you'd have to change the settings for every track. So theoretically, dynamic range is also correctable... to an extent. Still, with digital tools being what they are today, I wonder if you couldn't just automate that part... hmm.
Nice idea, but color me skeptical because there are several different settings studios use when applying dynamic compression and you'd have to know them all to reverse it properly. Otherwise you're not getting closer to the recording, but going further from it.
 

kemmler3D

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Nice idea, but color me skeptical because there are several different settings studios use when applying dynamic compression and you'd have to know them all to reverse it properly. Otherwise you're not getting closer to the recording, but going further from it.
Yes, It's probably not possible to fully reverse engineer a compression setting without access to the original settings. But for the truly slammed mixes I think you could let a little air back in without full knowledge.

And, strictly speaking, even "restoring" dynamic range is getting further from the delivered product either way.

I don't think this is a serious idea for fixing mixes, but it would be interesting to see how well you could get it to work.
 

atmasphere

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Yes, It's probably not possible to fully reverse engineer a compression setting without access to the original settings. But for the truly slammed mixes I think you could let a little air back in without full knowledge.

And, strictly speaking, even "restoring" dynamic range is getting further from the delivered product either way.

I don't think this is a serious idea for fixing mixes, but it would be interesting to see how well you could get it to work.
You'd also want to know if compression was even used. We never used it mastering LPs in our studio. I hate using it in recordings, although there are times when it can bring out certain musical timbres.
 

kemmler3D

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You'd also want to know if compression was even used. We never used it mastering LPs in our studio. I hate using it in recordings, although there are times when it can bring out certain musical timbres.
I would say that if you can't tell whether compression was used, there's no need to try and reverse it. :)
 

Robin L

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I would say that if you can't tell whether compression was used, there's no need to try and reverse it. :)
The recordings I now make are amateur recordings of an amateur group; various adults playing for elementary school assemblies. I plug a handheld digital recorder into the tape output of a Mackie board used for the PA at the school, set the recorder for 24 bits and 44.1 sampling and leave plenty of headroom. When I later edit the songs from the assembly, I always apply compression. This allows the vocals to stand out as they should. It's not a lot of compression and it doesn't sound unnatural.

I would guess that the end product that a mastering engineer receives would have the dynamics manipulated in a way that is most musically useful. Most likely, if the engineer of the original project has done their job properly, any additional manipulation of dynamics would not be necessary. Of course, with so much modern music, the folks in the front office would demand additional compression because "the market demands it".
 
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