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Author Topic: Compression and Clipping on TLOS - is it that bad?  (Read 41229 times)
dogear
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« Reply #100 on: September 13, 2008, 01:46:03 PM »

BillyC - I hope Ike didn't get you. Good luck to you!!
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« Reply #101 on: September 13, 2008, 02:18:25 PM »

Well, those waveforms aren't bad at all, all things considered. Yes, Goin' Home is extreme, but if any song on the album should look that way, it's Goin' Home.
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« Reply #102 on: September 14, 2008, 01:34:40 AM »



(above) Midnight's Another Day....very nice

(below) Going Home. I said all along I preferred the live rendition. Maybe this is why?

You have to be careful with these sorts of comparisons of course, as these two images show: 1) Going Home full, 2) Going home but only the first few bars or so.



Some songs just don't have much in the way of dynamics, and some have more than diagrams such as these suggest!  Smiley
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« Reply #103 on: September 14, 2008, 09:01:51 AM »

Beach Boys fans are the toughest fans walking the earth  Grin
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« Reply #104 on: September 14, 2008, 03:07:47 PM »

Quote
BillyC - I hope Ike didn't get you. Good luck to you!!

Didn't get me, but it destroyed my apartment and everything in it.
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« Reply #105 on: September 14, 2008, 05:17:01 PM »

Beach Boys fans are the toughest fans walking the earth  Grin

I bet Bob Ludwig thinks so...
Bob emailed me last week to ask how BW fans were liking the new record.
I sent him links to the Blueboard thinking he might actually want to read the criticism and thinking that was cool of him, etc..

He replied,
 
Quote
quote Bob Ludwig removed as requested by the poster.

So that's what I have to contribute to this thread.  I do think BB/BW fans are tough, but good tough.

cheers, phil
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 11:20:12 PM by SMiLE-Holland » Logged
Jonathan Blum
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« Reply #106 on: September 14, 2008, 06:00:47 PM »

...and as someone for whom my pristine vinyl copy of Surfer Girl still sounds as good as anything I can place on my expensive turntable, I'm very glad I haven't bought TLOS. Such a shame.

...See, comments like that just make me think of something my grandmother said, when I was being a teenage snob about something or other.  "Well," she said, "that just means I enjoy more things than you do.  So I win."  :-)

I do think some people, especially those with a specialist mindset, tend to confuse distaste with discernment.  Me, I can hear a difference in sound and style between "Surfer Girl" and "Morning Beat"; what I don't do is hate one because it's not like the other.

Or in another example, I'm not keen on the jagged-edged vaguely-'80s-ish guitar on "Your Imagination", I much prefer the way "Goin' Home" gets a less-processed hot sound.  But that doesn't make me wish I didn't own "Your Imagination" -- that would be serious nose-cutting-face-spiteing time.  Kinda like dissing Paul McCartney's best-written and -performed album in a decade or two because you can't get past the mixing...

Regards,
Jon Blum
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« Reply #107 on: September 14, 2008, 06:04:37 PM »

Beach Boys fans are the toughest fans walking the earth  Grin

Beach Boys fans:  loud, highly compressed with a limited dynamic range, but still peaking way in the red.  :-)

Cheers,
Jon Blum
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« Reply #108 on: September 14, 2008, 08:03:33 PM »

Well the comment from Bob Ludwig is very telling.  So are the waveform screenshots.  I loaded tracks into Sound Forge and saw pretty much the same thing you folks see here.  While TLOS may have been cut somewhat "hot", it was not brickwalled.  To my own ears, the sound of the CD did not offend, though it didn't win an audiophile prize either.  It was OK.  I would have preferred an HDCD master, but then I'm a snob.  From what Bob Ludwig tells us (and he is right about this), if he got a hot mixdown from Brian and Scott, he couldn't "cool it down" in the mastering.  He could have made things worse in the mastering process, but he tells us he did not, and there's no reason to doubt him on that.

That doesn't explain the complaints from other posters, though.  Maybe it's something in the final mix rather than the mastering that  bothers?  (Could be).  Or would this record sound better in hi-rez 24/96 format*, which might remove some of the harshness these folks are reporting?  Dunno.  I must say I'm fresh out of surmises.  Interesting that the reports are that the LP sounds fairly smooth. 

*I would not expect EMI to do this, but some labels do sell FLACS of hi-rez masters in downloads that, once decoded,
will be in full hi-rez format.  Also I am assuming that's the format of the TLOS final mixdown.
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Jim McShane
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« Reply #109 on: September 14, 2008, 09:05:54 PM »

It sounds more to me like Ludwig is "grading on the curve". His enthusiam for the product is underwhelming, to say the least. It sounds to me like he's saying something like "it isn't that bad - and even if it is, it isn't my fault". That hardly qualifies as a ringing endorsement. But since he's declared we are all ignorant and part of the great unwashed masses I guess we've been put in our place. Our opinion doesn't matter.

But the CD sounds like crap to me - I don't care what he says. Who's at fault? I don't know, and frankly I don't care.

BTW, if you want to see the "evolution" of Bob Ludwig's mastering, just follow the link I posted below:

http://www.chicagomasteringservice.com/loudness.html

Read this linked page, then look at the images below. Even the "best" of them (MAD) has issues, and Going Home is disgusting. I've heard people say how the BG vocal "swell" was so much more powerful on the demos - well look at the graph and you can see where the level was limited. Some of the power was simply squashed down since there wasn't adequate headroom for it.

Dr. Tim, how can you look at "Going Home" and say it wasn't brickwalled?? I know "brickwalled" is a relative term, but you would have to agree the recording is very heavily limited wouldn't you (even if you don't describe it as brickwalled)?



 
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« Reply #110 on: September 14, 2008, 09:36:14 PM »

...and as someone for whom my pristine vinyl copy of Surfer Girl still sounds as good as anything I can place on my expensive turntable, I'm very glad I haven't bought TLOS. Such a shame.

...See, comments like that just make me think of something my grandmother said, when I was being a teenage snob about something or other.  "Well," she said, "that just means I enjoy more things than you do.  So I win."  :-)

I do think some people, especially those with a specialist mindset, tend to confuse distaste with discernment.  Me, I can hear a difference in sound and style between "Surfer Girl" and "Morning Beat"; what I don't do is hate one because it's not like the other.

Or in another example, I'm not keen on the jagged-edged vaguely-'80s-ish guitar on "Your Imagination", I much prefer the way "Goin' Home" gets a less-processed hot sound.  But that doesn't make me wish I didn't own "Your Imagination" -- that would be serious nose-cutting-face-spiteing time.  Kinda like dissing Paul McCartney's best-written and -performed album in a decade or two because you can't get past the mixing...

Regards,
Jon Blum
I love this post.
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Dr. Tim
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« Reply #111 on: September 14, 2008, 10:26:14 PM »

Yeah "Goin' Home" is pretty squashed, it almost qualifies, but there is some residual dynamic there, and more on other tracks.   I guess I set the standard for true brickwalling higher than you:  no let-up, even passages with, say, acoustic guitars are jammed up to 0.0 dB all the way.  Examples:  anything mixed by Tom Lord-Alge (Weezer, Bowling for Soup), that new Metallica, or Fountains of Wayne's "Traffic and Weather" (which is wearying to listen to though I love the songs and arragements dearly).

Listening to TLOS again and paying attention this time I did note a trebliness to the mix which might be what's irritating the rest of you.   A lot of sibillance around 8-9 kHz, especially the percussion.   Was that what sounded good to them?  (Probably yes). Or did it creep in when they downsampled the master to 16 bit/44.1kHz?  (I'm told by the Sterophile people that it sometimes happens in that process). If that's the problem it really isn't a mastering issue in the sense of a deliberate choice; it may be a by-product of preparing the master for CD manufacture.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2008, 10:32:33 PM by Dr. Tim » Logged

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« Reply #112 on: September 15, 2008, 02:41:24 AM »

I love this discussion, both sides of it. Everyone is making valid points. i am learning a lot (mostly about why my old vinyl LPs sound better than modern music).

You might not have heard of Six By Seven, but their last album makes a point of mentioning the mastering:

http://www.sixbyseven.co.uk/symptoms/

Please note: to keep the dynamic of this record, we have not compressed the final mix. This means that your CD will probably be a bit quieter than most other cd’s. We think that too much of the dynamic is sacrificed in order to push the volume up on most CD’s nowadays and leave it up to you to just turn the volume up on your system. We are not in competition with anyone else on the jukebox.When it goes from quiet to loud, we really want you to feel the difference, like you would at a gig!
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« Reply #113 on: September 15, 2008, 03:08:48 AM »

Me again. I just read the Chicago Mastering article. Fascinating. There's a link on that page to a Rolling Stone article about High Fidelity issues (i didn't know RS did "music" articles anymore...!)

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17777619/the_death_of_high_fidelity

And it had this quote from Kim Deal, that backs up AGD's point:

This is what I think is happening: Everybody has iPods, so you can't get them that loud. So they have a algorithm called a "finalizer" — it's not that new, but the way people are using it is new — and it makes your music sound louder. People will ruin their records and CDs. I was really stunned by the CD the guy gave me when I listened to it at home — it sounded crazy! It was like, abort mission! Supposedly it sounds fine on your iPod, but if you take the CD and put it on your hi-fi CD player you can hear the digital clipping. It's a big news story over in England."
— Kim Deal, on mastering the new Breeders album, Mountain Battles

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absinthe_boy
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« Reply #114 on: September 15, 2008, 05:10:03 AM »

Even using common software such as Nero....if you make your own audio recordings and use Nero to create an audio CD, it gives you the option of "normalising" all the tracks...basically what it does is look for the peaks and for each individual track boost the peak to make it 0dB. Honestly, has the art of setting faders deserted people? sh*t, I've been able to do that since I was a kiddie.
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« Reply #115 on: September 15, 2008, 07:12:35 AM »

If we're going to blame a villain, blame the right one.  The "normalize" button is not the villain.  All it does is scan the entire track, finds the loudest peak moment, then raises the volume of that peak to 0.0dB, thereby raising the volume of the entire track by that same amount.  So if the original track's loudest moment was at -2.0dB, normalizing would raise the volume of the entire track by 2.0dB to get to 0.0dB - but the rest of the track levels would remain where they were proportionally.  It's a helpful tool and I use it all the time.

I'd forgotten about that damn "finalizer" button - the Kim Deal quote reminded me.  That is your culprit, and her explanation of why it's so popular makes a lot of (non)sense.  That box is also easy to use, as I recall the TC finalizer has any number of pre-set algorithms in it, all of which can be used to exquisitely ruin your songs so that they all sound just as loud as everything else on your iPod while you're at the Nascar track.
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The Heartical Don
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« Reply #116 on: September 15, 2008, 10:48:38 AM »

At this point I would like to express a heartfelt thanks to everyone who chimed in with their expertise. I started the thread and could not foresee that there would be so much awesome knowhow in all the follow ups... thanks guys and girls, and please continue in the same vein.
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« Reply #117 on: September 15, 2008, 08:29:13 PM »

I love this post.

Glad someone does.  :-)  Thanks!

Cheers,
Jon Blum
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absinthe_boy
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« Reply #118 on: September 16, 2008, 12:32:32 PM »



Top = CD

Bottom = vinyl

Vinyl transcription made by myself...decent equipment...(not a USB turntable!)

Track = Midnight's Another Day.
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Jim McShane
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« Reply #119 on: September 16, 2008, 01:16:41 PM »



Top = CD

Bottom = vinyl

Vinyl transcription made by myself...decent equipment...(not a USB turntable!)

Track = Midnight's Another Day.

THANK YOU!

Now I feel safe buying the vinyl. That's much more like it!
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« Reply #120 on: September 16, 2008, 01:17:39 PM »

fascinating.
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absinthe_boy
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« Reply #121 on: September 16, 2008, 01:27:43 PM »



Top = CD

Bottom = Vinyl

Track = Going Home

You my draw your own conclusions.
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absinthe_boy
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« Reply #122 on: September 17, 2008, 03:46:53 AM »

For the record, the vinyl is a PCM wave file sampled at 96Khz 16-bit. The CD is a rip to PCM-Wave of a friend's CD and not the mp3 file I was working with earlier.

In both cases the waveforms have been normalised at 0.0dB....and this last factoid makes the differences more interesting. Definately no headroom on the CD. Leaves me in no doubt that the CD has been compressed.

To my ears, the vinyl LP is certainly not the best I have heard....but it is a long way from the worst. For a Brian Wilson production it is acceptable...by almost any other artist it would sound great. I didn't get to listen to the CD in ideal conditions but it sounded better than most modern music but not as good as the vinyl....which is what I would expect anyway.

As for someone pointing out that normalising can be useful...yes it can, but if you take a bunch of tracks which were written and played with the intention of some being quieter than others...and then normalise, you are ruining the composer's intentions. Dynamic range exists not only within one song but within an album. Who wants the quiet middle largo movement of a lovely concerto being normalised to 0dB ?
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« Reply #123 on: September 17, 2008, 09:28:13 AM »

CDs are always compressed. Since when I don't know, but I'd say since some time in the sixties and definitely in the seventies. The mastering process always involves some EQ and some compression, so to say that the TLOS CD is definitely compressed is clearly true.

Normalising can be useful in that it means that the loudest part of your tracks will be the same across your entire album. Audio tracks are more than likely normalised individually long before the mix-down anyway.
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« Reply #124 on: September 17, 2008, 09:56:37 AM »

CDs are always compressed. Since when I don't know, but I'd say since some time in the sixties and definitely in the seventies. The mastering process always involves some EQ and some compression, so to say that the TLOS CD is definitely compressed is clearly true.

Normalising can be useful in that it means that the loudest part of your tracks will be the same across your entire album. Audio tracks are more than likely normalised individually long before the mix-down anyway.

I have to tell you - CDs weren't released to the public until the early 80s. You couldn't buy a CD before then. The CD standards weren't even proposed by Sony and/or Philips until 1980. The first CD machines on the consumer market hit in late 1982.

If you'd like to read more about it pick up a copy of Ken Pohlmann's book "The Compact Disc Handbook, 2nd Edition". I think Amazon has it.
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