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LongtimeListener

Review - CD dynamics cut off by sound engineers therefore faulty by design

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Hi all,

 

Since my quest for better sound has worked well, I sadly discovered that not only the musical detail of my recordings is revealed but also the flaws on at least one of my recordings, too.

I am owning that CD since 2003 and, although it was always a bit rumbling for my taste, I was quite happy with it. It is a very nice interpretation of the piece which I like a lot.

 

Now with my enhanced sound system I suddenly could hear a noise that is not belonging to the sound scape an orchestra produces. This noise is present in both the CD and the rip I used for the investigation below.

 

I took the time to investigate the issue and discovered, that the CD does not cover the total dynamic range, rather cut off the dynamic in multiple places.

 

I have attached my investigations below.

 

You can already see in the Total View that the sound waves don't fit in the range. Zooming in reveals indeed that the sound dynamics are tampered.

 

I am in the process to approach the reputable producer of this CD for an explanation and see what their comment to this is.

 

In times where those companies are worried about piracy I always wonder, why they cannot provide pristine faultless music to those who pay for it. This is in my eyes a big selling point and I am amazed why those companies not picking up this opportunity.

 

Cheers

 

Track 28 Total View.jpg

Track 28 Detailed View.jpg

Track 28 Cut Off Sound Curve 1.jpg

Track 28 Cut Off Sound Curve 2.jpg

Track 28 Cut Off Sound Curve 3.jpg

Track 28 Cut Off Sound Curve 4.jpg

Track 27 Total View.jpg

Track 27 Cut Off Sound Curve 1.jpg

Track 27 Cut Off Sound Curve 2.jpg

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must agree, I played a paul McCartney cd pressed in the uk in 1986

the sound was wonderful

the same night I played a cd from 2006 of another very well known artist

a remaster of their 1990 cd

it was not listenable,

bass was non existent ,and I mean non existent, and for a rock band that is unusual

and that is not their only album that sounds that way !

the original mix and further remaster did nothing for its bottom end

if anything made it even more bright !!

a well known band like this should have mixed it somewhat better, one would think,

and the record company should have known how bad the mix was!

also some of their earlier efforts see's the vocals set so far back in the mix its hard to hear !

until you put it into mono and it stands out much better 

its a shame I like the songs ,but the sound is shocking ,so I play something else

 

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On 3/23/2018 at 5:25 PM, gonefishing999 said:

Cd's before 1994 will not have compression.

 

http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/about/

 

Peter

Nor will many made more recently. Let's not pretend that all of them have these issues. The majority of non pop/rock CDs are still pretty much OK (though why the hell do they need to restrict dynamics on solo classical guitar CDs, and I know of a couple?)

 

Some rock albums that score lower dynamics on remasters do so because the remasters have proper bass compared to the originals that have the bass mixed lower to match the LP, and these also should not be counted as "faulty".

 

Nor are CDs emasculated and mono'd in the bass, crippled in the high end, and massaged in the speed of dynamics so that the stylus will stay in the groove. It's not one way traffic, people.

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No answer, yet, from the company. They have usually a good name in the market. I will poke them soon again to make them explain what they have done to this beautiful recording....

 

 

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6 minutes ago, LongtimeListener said:

No answer, yet, from the company. They have usually a good name in the market. I will poke them soon again to make them explain what they have done to this beautiful recording....

 

 

There would be thousands of CDs that suffer from this. It's been a deliberate policy for years - read the link in post #3. 

 

I doubt very much if you'll get a response 

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10 hours ago, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

I doubt very much if you'll get a response 

Very much true. However, I think it is good to bother them with this as much as possible.

 

In the future I will check all my downloads and CDs for this and will return them to the merchant getting a refund.

That's all I can do really at this stage...

 

Cheers

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I remember reading an article somewhere about a recording engineer being interviewed by an audio magazine. He was surprised to learn that most audiophiles were hostile towards recording engineers. He thought that all he was doing was making the music sound better - isn't that what audiophiles want? 

 

Food for thought. 

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21 hours ago, Eggcup The Daft said:

Nor will many made more recently. Let's not pretend that all of them have these issues. The majority of non pop/rock CDs are still pretty much OK (though why the hell do they need to restrict dynamics on solo classical guitar CDs, and I know of a couple?)

 

Some rock albums that score lower dynamics on remasters do so because the remasters have proper bass compared to the originals that have the bass mixed lower to match the LP, and these also should not be counted as "faulty".

 

Nor are CDs emasculated and mono'd in the bass, crippled in the high end, and massaged in the speed of dynamics so that the stylus will stay in the groove. It's not one way traffic, people.

 

People complain that they can't hear the 'soft bits' in their car, hence why they'll run a bit of compression over the master.

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2 hours ago, LogicprObe said:

 

People complain that they can't hear the 'soft bits' in their car, hence why they'll run a bit of compression over the master.

I can't drive, doesn't worry me. I listen in a fairly quiet environment at home and don't need the quiet bits slung at me full blast. Also, I'm not against the "domestication" of large scale recordings where playing the loud bits at original levels would get you arrested.

 

But look at what we have in the original post of this thread. That isn't actually compression - the opening is quiet, and hasn't been hammered to be heard in a car or for radio (the other common excuse). It's just sloppy mastering, that one.

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The clipping on this CD is extremely extremely very mild, relative to many many other recordings.

12 hours ago, Keith_W said:

Food for thought. 

 

The charts posted "look" terrible.   Most people think it is more audible, and more terrible than it really it  (not the I'm advocating for it or anything) ....  but when you look at those charts you just can't help hearing it (and knowing it is bad)  ;)

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On 3/26/2018 at 7:27 AM, davewantsmoore said:

The charts posted "look" terrible.   Most people think it is more audible, and more terrible than it really it  (not the I'm advocating for it or anything) ....  but when you look at those charts you just can't help hearing it (and knowing it is bad)

Well, it is a classical music piece, it is very dynamic (Jospephs Legende, Staatskapelle Dresden, Giuseppe Sinopoli, P 2000). And there is a audible distortion which I have as a bit of FLAC file. I am just reluctant to upload it somewhere as I am worried somebody playing it damages his/her soundsystem and I don't want to be responsible for that. I certainly have sent it with my complaint to the company. No response so far ....

 

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4 hours ago, LongtimeListener said:

 it is very dynamic

 

Indeed.  with very dynamic content, the snippet you posted showing clipping, is very very standard stuff in mastering.    Such a short clip is not going to be audible at all...  Assuming the peak which was limited it quite large, then to leave it in would compromise the level of everything else.

 

If there's audible distortion in the playback "in general", then it's not because of the clipping you've highlighted.

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I think with the CD having a dynamic range of 120db, there is just no need to compress the dynamic range of a piece. In digital recordings is no technical background noise. Amplifiying over this whole range is perfectly possible...

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Posted (edited)

Dear LL,

 

Are you saying that you have only one CD that has a recorded flaw in its sound? I wish I was that lucky! I also wish I had even one LP that had as few as only one recorded flaw, tick or growl in its sound!

 

Nevertheless, like you say, it is indeed a pity that some LPs or CDs can have avoidable errors in the recording process. This one could have been avoided with some attention to detail in the level setting process. To correct it would have involved reducing the overall sound level of the CD, or at least this piece of music. I sometimes wonder if the overall sound level is also one of their targets during the recording process, to not have it so low that the music requires the volume of the hi-fi to be turned up by an enormous amount more than all of the other pieces of music, which would cause complaints from owners about how they destroyed their hi-fi system when they put on the next CD.

 

cheers

Grant

Edited by Grant Slack
'reporting process' should be 'recording process'. Sorry!

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1 hour ago, Grant Slack said:

I sometimes wonder if the overall sound level is also one of their targets

Yes, it is a consideration.

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On 29/03/2018 at 11:13 PM, LongtimeListener said:

I think with the CD having a dynamic range of 120db, there is just no need to compress the dynamic range of a piece. In digital recordings is no technical background noise. Amplifiying over this whole range is perfectly possible...

If the average level is set to low, then people will need to turn the volume dial up a lot, for the average level to not be too quiet  .... this will cause most playback systems to clip/compress when the peaks come.

 

For example.   If we have some, not horribly compressed music, it might have a peak to average ratio of 15dB.    If you play it at a solid volume, the average might be 85dB, with the peak level at 100dB.

 

... but if the highest peak was 30dB above the average, with the average level set to the same 85dB .... we're now talking about 115dB peaks... and this will cause even good hifi systems to complain.

 

 

That being said, I agree there is an opportunity to release alternate versions....  I suspect though they would want/need to charge more for said version .... and would be afraid of the "you're charing more for 'good' version" debate that this would trigger.

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On 30/03/2018 at 1:13 AM, LongtimeListener said:

I think with the CD having a dynamic range of 120db, there is just no need to compress the dynamic range of a piece. In digital recordings is no technical background noise. Amplifiying over this whole range is perfectly possible...

To achieve wide dynamic range with CD you need to look beyond ordinary recording equipment, as standard digital recording has

fairly severe limitations.  ftp://ftp.dbxpro.com/pub/pdfs/WhitePapers/Type%20IV.pdf    

 

To achieve wide dynamic range playback you need to be ideally using equipment which is balanced, but exceptional results

can be achieved with unbalanced where the attenuation method is properly considered, which typically includes dispensing

entirely in the audio signal path, with Mary Hallock-GreeneWalts Patent 1357773 of 1920 , the very outdated rheostat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potentiometer

 

Originally designed by Mary as a light switch it was intended not for audio signals at all rather the rheostat was invented as

means for operating the visual musical instrument the Sarabet   

https://hsp.org/blogs/fondly-pennsylvania/mary-elizabeth-hallock-greenewalt-and-the-sarabet

 

You have to ask yourself how this component ended up passing audio signals in hifi equipment,

when there are far better methods available.

 

 

 

 

   

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That article is 20 years old the proper design of ADACs has always been a huge consideration.

Today, mobile phone recorders far exceed the specs of digital recorders of the 80s.

CD itself is not to blame for poor dynamic range for it is poor/sloppy implementation that is the culprit.

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12 hours ago, LogicprObe said:

 

That article is 20 years old the proper design of ADACs has always been a huge consideration.

Today, mobile phone recorders far exceed the specs of digital recorders of the 80s.

CD itself is not to blame for poor dynamic range for it is poor/sloppy implementation that is the culprit.

So I can compare older technology to newer, can you name some (or any) CD's recorded with mobile phone recorders please.

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2 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

So I can compare older technology to newer, can you name some (or any) CD's recorded with mobile phone recorders please.

 

Here...............burn it to a CD.

 

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3173642/apple-ios/apple-music-just-released-an-album-made-on-an-iphone.html

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Unfortunately this artist via the platform he is using,  has chosen to have users subjected to

Digital Rights Management (DRM) which is technology that enables online video and audio services

to enforce that the content they provide is used in accordance with their requirements. 

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-drm?as=u&utm_source=inproduct

 

Described here: https://www.fsf.org/campaigns/drm.html

DRM is often written as "Digital Rights Management", but this is misleading,

since it refers to systems that are designed to take away and limit your rights. So, we suggest

you use the term "Digital Restrictions Management" instead. We also suggest "Treacherous

Computing" as a replacement for the misleading "Trusted Computing".

 

He could have instead published his recording as Creative Commons, and in the process

not have users like me,  subjected to DRM , which in order to just sample mobile phone recording 

I wisely chose not to do.

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/14-websites-to-find-free-creative-commons-music/

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

Unfortunately this artist via the platform he is using,  has chosen to have users subjected to

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

 

DRM in the Apple platform doesn't not prevent users from copying the music onto a CD.

 

The content is also available via many other vendors/platforms .... including ones which will provide lossless (ie 'CD quality') versions.  (Apple does not provide the audio in the same format as CD).

 

 

However, comparing this (the Steve Lacy demo) to something else from the past, would not likely be a sensible comparison of the 'technology' (formats, or converters) ....  because this music was made by signing the vocals into a telephone.   How the technology is used is likely to dominate what you hear.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, davewantsmoore said:

 

However, comparing this (the Steve Lacy demo) to something else from the past, would not likely be a sensible comparison of the 'technology' (formats, or converters) ....  because this music was made by signing the vocals into a telephone.   How the technology is used is likely to dominate what you hear.

On 13/06/2018 at 5:42 AM, LogicprObe said:

 

Today, mobile phone recorders far exceed the specs of digital recorders of the 80s.

 

I am unsure if there is any better way to use a mobile phone recorder

other than just pressing record at the right time. Older technology

IMO is likely to be still capable of proper audio recording. 

Vangelis is a good example of this where he used Type 1 DBX

companding for many recordings, simply because it sounded better. 

 

Steve Lacy's approach is warranted though, where inspiration for the

music piece required an immediate recording, but I am sure his listeners

may appreciate a proper studio recording. 

 

King Crimson as example took this approach

to a zenith point where on their live recording

"The Nightwatch" they announced the

performance was being recorded for their

next album, which was Starless and Bible Black.

Few musicians though are of this calibre,

most requiring many studio hours

to complete what they release.

 

Edited by stereo coffee

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4 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

Older technology IMO is likely to be still capable of proper audio recording. 

Yes.

 

... but your original point was that it is superior to 'modern' equipment.   This is in general quite incorrect.

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