You are here

Log in or register to post comments
Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
Dynamics and Dynamic Range

A lot of ink is being spilled all over a bunch of threads that have migrated way off topic for the Forum that they currently exist in regarding the effects of compression and musicality. Threads evolve and take on new directions as new posts bring new issues into the general topic, but I thought it would be more useful to simply refrain from drifting even further off the topics more in-line with the particulars of the given Forum and start a new thread with regard to dynamics and musicality with respect to the use of Dynamic Range Compression (DRC).

This isn't an attempt to introduce anything new into what is already well documented and commented upon, but rather an attempt to simply condense into one thread a much broader discussion on DRC and its use in audio recordings.

John Atkinson, in an "As We See It" commentary from 1999, took issue with Carlos Santana's, "Supernatural" sound quality. http://forum.stereophile.com/asweseeit/177/index.html
The commentary generated quite a few letters, all worth reading and contained in the link above.

"Musically, Supernatural isn't bad, but the sound is a different story. Most of the cuts are compressed to hell. They sound loud when played at low levels, but when you turn up the volume the relentlessness of the sound, the total lack of dynamic light'n'shade, have you turning it down again.

Recordings like Supernatural are anti-hi-fi. There is nothing more to be gained from playing them back on anything with greater pretensions than a boombox. They're also anti-musical, in my opinion. If everything is at the same level, then how can there be any musical interest? If listeners are thrilled by the occasional loud climax, that doesn't mean that sustained loudness is continually thrilling—sorry, Red Hot Chili Peppers fans!" JA, from the commentary.

This is pretty much my opinion on the Bob Dylan recording, Modern Times. Well, this can be the thread to continue those types of discussions and perhaps add some links for further reading on the subject to keep from pulluting a bunch of more specialized Forums.

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
dynamic range

I think this is a good thing cause the threads can get pretty side tracked not by anyone person really but more certain questions that make things take off another way.

As far as Modern Times goes, you and I see this differently. Not that compression is not an issue cause we all know it is, but where we differ is the equipments responsibility in this. As far as I know Stereophile nor any other high end audio magazine has looked into chassis or over built cabinet distortions, and to be honest how could they?

If your going to talk about the lack of dynamics you need to include all the causes and not just what is done in the studio, for there is a lot of dynamic range being lost with the components, speakers, cables and the room.

All the articles in the world on studio compression is not going to touch on the dynamic loss all components with chassis are facing or a room that is out of balance or a speaker that has it's cabinets pitch sent upward. These are factors that cause a much larger loss in dynamic range than the compression in recordings do. We have tested this and so can anyone. It may make me unpopular to say this among people who have not explored these issues but among people who have they will tell you what I am.

As far as wanting to hear recordings that produce more dynamics, I think you will hear all of us agree. Where we need yet to explore is how far our systems are from recreating the dynamic ranges they should be producing and are not.

I also think we need to discuss studio dynamics vs home dynamics which I don't see people talking about either. I see people talking about a big topic from only a few points and not the whole. The compression that you guys are showing in the loudness wars is only one part of dynamic range problem, and your not going to understand the other parts till you explore these issues. Maybe this means we build a test studio and playback room which I'm willing to be a part of, but when a topic like this is discussed on the narrow path instead of the whole picture it comes down to good and bad based on what, a system that is not playing the whole picture?

There comes a time my friend where we as an industry need to have a place to explore the big picture and do away with just talk and a few youtube samples. Where is our Stereophile reseach facility. I think it's time we have one don't you?

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
Sure, gear makes a lot of difference

But, the logical place to start is at the beginning. Dynamic range that doesn't exist at the beginning isn't going to exist at the end. My view is that everything matters...just in varying degrees of importance to achieve good sound. The single most important thing in achieving good sound is having a recording that sounds good.

DRC, at the extreme levels being used to produce recordings for the consumer to use as source material is making it impossible to achieve good sound unless they choose better source material in some other format. In many instances, you can't get good sound no matter what because there is no good recording to be had of a particular performance.

It's important to know why too much DRC makes it impossible for a recording to EVER sound good if the things that sound good have any meaning to the listener. It's because it doesn't exist on the recording to begin with. It was removed from the recording that ends up on the disc. If the master has the goodies on it, the disc can be reissued with quality sound at some point, but not the one that you hold in your hands.

I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree and need things explained to me in very simple terms for me to absord these sorts of technological issues. The Dummies series of books were written for guys like me...and even those aren't dumbed down enough. So, here is a good walk through the issue written by a guy that is capable of penetrating even my thick skull. http://www.dr-lex.be/info-stuff/loudness_wars.html

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Houston, we have a problem. And it's not just DRC.

Dynamic range of CDs, ALL CDs is compromised in many ways just inherently by the way CDs work. These are design issues, physical and electronic issues. The more one addresses these issues the more likely he will be to assess Modern Times positively. The less one addresses these issues, the less likely he will be to assess Modern Times positively. In order to appreciate what I'm driving at here one must first try not to think of CDs as Perfect Sound Forever and second forget that Ones are Ones and Zeros are Zeros.

CDs are frequently out of round and flop around inside the CD transport during play. This causes the laser servo mechanism to work overtime, hurting the sound. This is why it is important to ensure the CD is absolutely level during play! since if it is not spinning level it exacerbates this tendency to wobble and flop.

Scattered background laser light gets into the photodetector and produces jitter. The photodetector cannot discriminate between real signal and the scattered light. Scattered light is in the visible and invisible portions of the spectrum.

Vibration of many types produces jitter. These types include structureborne vibration, CD transport Motor, transformer vibration, airborne vibration.

Magnetic interference from transformers in proximity to audio signal paths such as internal wiring, etc.

RFI produced by semiconductor chips inside the CD player.

The CD develops a static electric charge and magnetic field while spinning. Both the static charge and the magnetic field affect the laser reading of the data since the laser is electromagnetic in nature and should be removed periodically with an ionizer and demagnetizer, respectively.

Thus, those who address at least some of those issues INHERENT in the whole CD experience hear Modern Times differently, apparently VERY DIFFERENTLY, from those who do not address at least some of these issues. It is because the CD is inherently flawed, not because of dynamic compression. What the uninitiated are listening to, dare I say it?, is a blurred, distorted, compressed, noisy replica of "the real thing."

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Great link, Catch22....

Thanks!

I hope everyone takes the time to read it.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
How big of a difference

Hi Guys

How big of a difference is what my focus is on. I would think that we all are pretty up on the loudness wars aren't we, or is that something that is still up for debate?

When I'm reading these articles I'm thinking to myself "are these guys still trying to get the point across". I think the loudness wars was something that we started talking about in the 90's and accepted that this was a part of the modern music scene for better or worse. I didn't know this was still up for debate. And as for myself being in the studios and using compression I hope you don't think that I am unaware what compression is, or is this meant for others?

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Meant for any serious music lover.....

I don't see any intent to point fingers at you, Michael.
For myself, I see this issue as one we should all be V aware of.
But when compression is used for any other reason than artistic intent, it hurts us all.

This should be an issue we, as serious lovers of music, can enthusiastically rally around, regardless of our personal preferences.
It should be a universal rallying call for all music lovers to stand up as consumers and demand a minimum standard of quality in the product we are spending our money on.

Why the hell should we have to construct systems that massage bad recordings to make them listenable?
Do not treat the symptom, cure the disease!
Why the hell should they exist at all?
Especially today, when technology makes producing decent soundings masters easier than ever in the first place.

Just because it has been going on for a while makes it no less relevant.
What is relevant is that we still, after all these years, have to suffer it.

If we as consumers do not exercise our power of purchase to change the status quo then, just as with politics, we end up with government we deserve.

It is about educating anyone & everyone who listens to music.
It is about teaching them what is possible with even the most fundamental production techniques and what a significant difference it makes.
A difference that can easily be heard with the use of less than optimal formats or equipment like mp3 & a set of earbuds.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
The links are provided for context and learning

The thread was started for the reasons already mentioned. Hopefully, the thread will continue to evolve into something useful and interesting. For those that take the time to read some of these things, they might gain a little understanding.

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
Churchill could have been talking about DRC

"A single glass of Champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced: the imagination is agreeably stirred; the wits become more nimble. A bottle produces the opposite effect."

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
Q & A

"Why the hell should we have to construct systems that massage bad recordings to make them listenable?
Do not treat the symptom, cure the disease!"

Why are the mass production companies coming out with products that play both and sound better than the high end with both?

There's more to this disease than compression.

"Whey the hell should they exist at all?
Especially today, when technology makes producing decent soundings masters easier than ever in the first place."

I don't know. Technology is an interesting bird, and if it would have been me I would have made components better instead of making compression more. But I have a feeling this is going to turn around, and I have a feeling the lower price products are going to bump the expensive ones out of the market.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Hope you don't think me too messianic
Catch22 wrote:

"A single glass of Champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced: the imagination is agreeably stirred; the wits become more nimble. A bottle produces the opposite effect."

Pretty sure I have a good idea what you are hearing, what level of sound you've got. You know, in the best case scenario.

:-)

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
This topic is not about components....

...or the technology.

It is about the crap people are willing to accept when they either do not understand or do not care what they are paying for.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
OP

OP what is this thread about? I see you guys mentioning components so what's the deal? Are we talking about dynamic range or just a small selected part of it? I'm happy to go talk on other threads, but wasn't clear that this was to be a one way street without a range of thought.

One thing you do need to consider though is the compression is being made by components and technology. It also sounds like Bill or maybe even you (I don't know) are trying to justify being able to call something crap at will just because it doesn't sound good on your systems. If that's the case and I hope it's not, that's pretty weak if I may say so, and extremely limited and narrow.

If you two are trying to start the narrow listeners club let me know and I'll gladly back out. There's plenty of text space I see up here, and am willing to respect yours if this is what your saying. There's plenty of people to talk to about the music they can play rather than to those about the music they can't.

As I have said I'm all about creating more dynamic range, but the issue is bigger and should be look at as a whole because if not there are other problems that arise, but maybe Bill doesn't want to see those.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
I'm cool with whatever direction the thread goes

As far as I'm concerned, anyone can bring whatever they want into the discussion. I might even start a thread as a sort of "12 Step Program" for audiophiles where we can acknowledge we actually like some bad records and help each other recover.

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
LOL catch I'm dyin

Oh man lol, OMG, that about killed me! Isn't it the truth, we need 12 step programs in this hobby bad.

that was beautiful!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Recovery
Catch22 wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, anyone can bring whatever they want into the discussion. I might even start a thread as a sort of "12 Step Program" for audiophiles where we can acknowledge we actually like some bad records and help each other recover.

I have a sneaking suspicion both sides are just a little bit guilty of not listening to the other side. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there is much more on a CD than there appears to be when playing CDs right out of the jewel case on systems that are not tweaked, you know, opriminized for sonic performance, isolated, demagnetized, elevated, enhanced, whatever you wish to call it. in fact, there is almoost no relation to the real sound, the actual sound, captured on the data on the CD. Most CDs are actually very good sounding on the right system, surprising so. Most if not all of the objections many people have to selected CDs (like Modern Times) are not IN the actual recording at all! It all has to do with HOW the CD is played back!! WITH HOW THE DATA IS READ... Hel-loo!! This is what separates advanced audiophiles, the audio insiders, from the rest of the pack.

"An ordinary man has no means of deliverance." Old audiophile expression

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

tmsorosk
tmsorosk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 21 hours ago
Joined: Dec 5 2010 - 12:34pm
Supernatural

I know there was a fair bit of talk about the compression on Supernatural but it was one of the top selling albums of all time in the era. i found it's sound quality about average for a CD, the two record set was better.

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
If i put bad wine.....

...in my Riedel wine glass.....

....it still tastes like bad wine.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
bad wine

uh, right. it only makes good wine taste good. its like magic. :-)

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
wkhanna wrote:
wkhanna wrote:

...in my Riedel wine glass.....

....it still tastes like bad wine.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

That pretty much sums it up nicely from my perspective. Should anyone wish to satisfy themselves that this is of paramount importance in achieving good sound, it's an easy enough thing to do by purchasing or borrowing a recording that is presented in both the uncompressed and compressed versions. Most people probably already have the recordings in both formats if they own any compilation CDs that overlap some of their original discs and they could certainly find out if they do by visiting the Dynamic Range Database http://dr.loudness-war.info/ and use the search feature to select two versions of the same recording for comparison...one compressed and one as originally issued.

From my personal point of view in using the database, the point of no return for most recordings in the rock genre is around the 9-10 db area. This is somewhat subjective and very dependent on the style of music, but I've not found a single recording that dropped below 8db on their scale that I found to be even interesting at all to listen to.

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Sour Grapes...

Thank you, Geoff, for reinforcing my point.

GI = GO
Regardless of whether or not the ‘vessel’ contributes to the result.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Sweet lemon
wkhanna wrote:

Thank you, Geoff, for reinforcing my point.

GI = GO
Regardless of whether or not the ‘vessel’ contributes to the result.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

That's funny since you actually proved my case. Do you not think I know the state of affairs of the sound at chez Bill?

:-)

"Jerry, you see everything, don't you?" Babu to Jerry Seinfeld

Geoff at Machina Dramatica

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Actually....

....it is known as "Casa Guillermo" in these surrounding villas ; )

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
appearances

I think the thing that bugs me in this debate is that a couple times I have asked "what have you done to try to make it sound better". Just playing and saying it's bad has never been anything that I have been able to get away with in the pro or home world, and so for me it doesn't do it when an audiophile says, I played it, and it's bad. Again not trying to be untrusting of someones listening system but I'm not allowed to get away with loose statements, and it makes me take note if one guy can make it sound good and another can't. There's no weight there. I'm incline to go with the good sound guy especially if he can talk about certain parts within the recording that I hear as well. Also someone showing me graphs that I have no idea where they came from or the conditions of the tests means as little as the guys saying I played it.

No doubt we all are screaming for more dynamics, but if we are basing our wishes on not even trying to get the most out of a paticular recording or knowing how to go about this, it makes me question the comments. Let me give you an example.

If I'm listening to a piece of music and it is lacking dynamics, I can make adjustments in the room with floorstanding acoustical treatments to get more gain out of some of the pressure zones in the room, giving me a lot more dynamic range. I look at the persons system and don't see any floorstanders and say "he has not learned how to increase room dynamics" and so at least in this one area I can see that he has not givin the recording a thorough testing. There are a few of these things similar to this that pass through my mind in this debate. Hearing someone say "you can't get it if it's not there" and yet I'm seeing they haven't tried the obvious (to me at least) shows me that the statements are being said but not tested.

I don't say this loosely BTW, I walked into my room and tested it on this particular recording. There were many changes I could make to the presentation including bringing out each instruments dynamics. So yes, we want more dynamics, but sorry no, I don't see the attempt to get all the info that is there. So to me saying it isn't there without doing at least the testing I have doesn't hold the proof I would look for.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

iosiP
iosiP's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 hours 21 min ago
Joined: Jan 12 2014 - 4:41pm
Nonlinear behavior of pressure zones?
michael green wrote:

If I'm listening to a piece of music and it is lacking dynamics, I can make adjustments in the room with floorstanding acoustical treatments to get more gain out of some of the pressure zones in the room, giving me a lot more dynamic range.

AFAIK, dynamic range is the ratio between the highest and the lowest SPL (if we're talking about the final results, i.e. the sound). How can modifying a pressure zone change one of these values but not the other?

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
pressure zone

Hi Costin

here ya go to get started http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t200-understanding-acoustical-pressure-z...

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
You make an important point that needs understanding

Hey Michael, when you stated above: "I think the thing that bugs me in this debate is that a couple times I have asked "what have you done to try to make it sound better". Just playing and saying it's bad has never been anything that I have been able to get away with in the pro or home world, and so for me it doesn't do it when an audiophile says, I played it, and it's bad."

This certainly deserves an answer and it's important that I answer this in a way that is understandable. I'm going to try and use a visual way of trying to convey what I'm talking about.

Let's say that somebody made a movie in color and then somebody else decided to release it in black and white. It's still a movie with the same actors, the same sets and the same words, but it has had the realism of using the color taken out of it. You might decide to do your best and adjust the visual settings of your tv in a way that allows you to enjoy watching the movie more than simply watching it with the settings of your tv remaining where they were before.

I might put the movie on and immediately notice that it has no color because the color has been taken out of the video that I have and decide that no amount of adjusting on my tv is going to put it back in and wonder to myself why in the hell somebody took the color out...with no interest what-so-ever in trying to adjust for the limitations imposed by the movie I'm holding and simply pick out another movie to watch...that has color.

To take it further, I might discover that the original release of the movie on videotape HAS color and decide to seek out the one with color and I would really be wishing I had a way of knowing which version I was buying before making my purchase.

No amount of tuning is going to put the color back into the movie if it doesn't have it on it. The degree to which the person watching the movie finds color essential, especially when they are used to seeing movies in color will always have to remain with the person doing the watching.

I really do hope this helps you to understand the degree of importance that some of us place on dynamic range existing on the media to begin with.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Innocent question regarding Modern Times

They say compression is used because it makes the music sound louder and makes the music pop more when listening to the song on the radio or through cheap headphones on iPods.

Well, here's my question.

Part 1. Did the engineers who compressed Modern Times do it to make the recording more appealing for radio listening and headphone listening? If that's true it doesn't make sense since Dylan's music is not exactly what you'd call radio material, if you know what I mean, not like Justin Bieber. Nor is the iPod generation a big Dylan fan base by and large. So where is the advantage for compressing the dynamic range for Modern Times? Notice I'm not saying it's NOT compressed, just wondering if there is some sonic advantage to compression we are overlooking.

Part 2. Is the vinyl version of Modern Times compressed? If so, has compression of the vinyl version been measured? It has been reported the vinyl version of Modern Times sounds quite superior to the CD. If true, does that mean the vinyl contains an uncompressed recording or is this just another case of vinyl being a superior sounding medium (for the non tweak inclined, anyway)?

The vinyl version of Moden Times is available on Amazon. Link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Times-Vinyl-Bob-Dylan/dp/B000GRTREC

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
It is the master that matters....

....not the format.

The vinyl is made from a different master.
This is not an issue about which format is better.
The vinyl master has less compression applied, so it sounds better.
The CD could made to sound just as good IF it were made from the same master as was used to make the vinyl.

Modern Times Vinyl:
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/34988

Modern Times CD:
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/1908

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Appearances are ......

Micheal,

In response to your post entitled Appearances;

Changing the ’dynamics’ of the room has nothing to do with what we are addressing here.
And what you are doing certainly is not helpful to someone using headphones or iem’s.

We are not just labeling a specific release as ‘bad’ simply because it has low dynamic range.
We call it bad because another release derived from the V same original master can sound so much better on ‘any’ system when it has not had its dynamic range compressed.

& you do not need a graph to prove it.
We prove this every day on our systems.
It can be proven with mp3 & earbuds.
Simply play the two versions on anything you wish & listen.

We, or at least I, am not screaming for necessarily more dynamic range in all music, just asking that it not be decreased for any other purpose than actual artistic intent during the mastering process.

Once the music is made & purchased, then you, I & everyone is free to do what we want with it.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Thinking out of the box
wkhanna wrote:

....not the format.

The vinyl is made from a different master.
This is not an issue about which format is better.
The vinyl master has less compression applied, so it sounds better.
The CD could made to sound just as good IF it were made from the same master as was used to make the vinyl.

Modern Times Vinyl:
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/34988

Modern Times CD:
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/1908

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please -

You wrote,

"This is not an issue about which format is better."

Yes, it is, at least to some extent. We know the CD can be made to sound quite good, considerably better than the untreated CD/untreated room "out of the box" CD. Michael and I both were able to do this. And independently I might add and using two entirely different methods and systems. Wow, talk about Stove Piping to the rescue!! What this means, if I can be so bold, is that anyone listening to the out of the box CD is not listening to the recording AS IT WAS ENCODED ON THE CD. The reason I say that is what I've been saying all along - there is too much noise and distortion introduced by all the inherent problems I've been describing in the digital playback process to make a valid judgement regarding the CD under scrutiny if it is played "out if the box" (untreated) in an UNTREATED room or on Headphones with out of the box CD and out of the box electronics. To put it more succinctly, the experiment with The Modern Times CD demonstrates in no uncertain terms the importance of treating (or tuning if you prefer) the room, the equipment AND the CD.

Michael and I, who are advanced listeners and advanced Tweakers and/or Tuners, demonstrated this very clearly.

(Guests) Let's do the Stove Pipe again.
Let's do the Stove Pipe again.

(Narrator) It's just a jump to the left.

(Guests) And then a step to the right.

(Narrator) With your hands on your hips.

(Guests) You bring your knees in tight.
But it's the pelvic thrust...
That really drives you insane
Let's do the Stove Pipe again.
Let's do the Stove Pipe again.
Let's do the Stove Pipe again

Geoff Kait
Machina Erotica

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
the TV

Hi Catch

Using the same picture painting you are to describe where the listeners are on this matter. Where the guys like yourself would say this is going from color to black & white, the guys on the other side of the fence are saying this is more of a TV setting adjustment. Both in color but the adjustment range on this video is lessoned or different depending on how much compression is used and how. For example, instead of having the ability to adjust the color from plus 10 to minus 10 it's now more like only being able to adjust the color from plus 8 to minus 8 but thicker within that change. But not only has the TV features changed but also the size of screen, and that changes everything seen.

The info in the recording is still there except for the extremes, so we shouldn't go paint the picture that the recording has disappeared, it's there. The instruments haven't gone anywhere. There right there where they always have been. The difference is their extremes have been cut off, just like when the extremes are cut from vinyl on the low end. Keep in mind compression has always been there (cutting the live dynamics down to where it won't blow voice coils). Compression on digital chops off the very top and raises the very bottom, of the dynamic range. There are several machines that do different tricks that the engineer can use to flavor, but this really isn't anything new, just new in the sense that engineers can go over board (but this is nothing new either). Similar to this is when Phil Spector created the "wall of sound". Some people freaked out and others thought it was the greatest recording event ever.

Engineers are always going to be playing with the signal, but from where I am, there's a completely other issue to this. I'm not talking about what isn't there, but what is there that we need to be able to bring out. People saying they have systems that won't play a "bad" recording because their system is too revealing is just not the case. Our systems should be able to play anything and we should make them so they can recover that 90% of the music that experts say that the typical high end system is still not exposing.

My focus is making more transparant stereo systems, by using the room and setting free the audio signal (gaining that 90%). What I have found is that the typical audiophile system is only playing a small part of the recorded music. If people are playing systems that are only playing 10% of the recording we have bigger fish to fry in this industry than what the boys are doing in the studios.

Also what the boys should be showing you with these graphs and playing back for you is not the side of this so you can hear the compressed signal, but the other side, what has been chopped at the extremes. They should do this with digital and they should do this with vinyl so you the listener can hear what has been chopped out. Some are making this sound like there is all this music being cut out of the recording, but that's not what is happening. If you heard this from the other side you would be surprised. After the cut in the peeks what is there is being made to fit the media as it always has as times change, and the popular forms guide the market, and with this should be pressings for the person who wishes to hear a more dynamic picture. I don't think any one disagrees here, but a system not being able to play what "is" there into that other 90% to me is a much bigger deal. The more a system can play in other words the less you worry about the compression. You can hear it but your getting so much more of the signal that it's not really that big of a deal. That's why you have some guys saying "what are you guys talking about". These people are hearing more of the signal as a whole, and in doing so are seeing things that the other guys aren't and so the compression is not really all that disturbing.

Lets go back to the TV thing for a second. Look at it this way. If someone is looking at a 20" TV and the other guy is watching a 110" screen, the guy with the huge screen is not so worried about these other problems. He's thinking about tuning in the focus and a whole new ballgame that needs done, including getting use to having things bigger than life. He's seeing things that the guy with the 20" will never see to start with even though the signal is the same.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
Where are you screaming Bill?

Hi Bill

You should give references to the other places you are making the fight known for more dynamic recordings. I make my fight known for more dynamic playback systems here and on TuneLand and when invited other places, and it makes a difference. Do you have a web or other places you want us to look at joining you in the cause. I certainly am up for more dynamic recordings. But my side of things is to help people with helping systems recover the dynamics. We are all talking about more dynamics and it is very important that we talk about the whole. It may not be your personal wish to talk about the equipment end, but the OP has said let this thread go to any area where dynamics are the issue.

I appreciate your view and desire and would ask you do the same with mine, or anyone else's side of the net.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Can you hear me now?
wkhanna wrote:

We, or at least I, am not screaming for necessarily more dynamic range in all music, just asking that it not be decreased for any other purpose than actual artistic intent during the mastering process……..

……Once the music is made & purchased, then you, I & everyone is free to do what we want with it.

No screaming from me.

And no disrespect to your opinion or method was ever intended or implied, Michael.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Color vs Black & White

I realize I'm being a little bit argumentative here, but just wish to point out that Black and White movies can actually have a whole lot of dynamic range which is a measure of the difference between the whitest white and the blackest black in photographic terms. In fact that's the reason many directors, cinematographers, whatever choose black and white for the film since is can actually have MORE dynamic range than some color films. A short list of black and white films with outstanding dynamic range include but are not limited to The Third Man, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Hud, Metropolis, The Seven Samurai, Paths of Glory and Pleasantville.

Cheers,

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
agreed that listening is proof

Hi Guys

I think this thread is very healthy in it's views. It shows the different parts and pieces that people go to when a topic is started. The important part to note is that there are some who have put on "Modern Times" (as a specific) and call it a bad recording, and others who see it as a fine recording. I'm sure that all of us would listen to this piece of music and come up with completely different sounds as well as likes and dislikes. This is the part of the hobby that I find special, and where one persons sound may to them be not up to the standards of high end, the next person on the list may see something completely different. Neither one is going to convince the other, until they both get into exploring on their own system and then the two (or 200) sides to this start to draw closer with the understanding that we all have a side to look at.

My side is being able to make variable listening changes to any recording, after making the system as minimalistic as possible and opening up the soundstage as big as it can get then tuning it to a desired setting. Others may have a totally different approach that they feel suits them better. Some are more bothered by compression because of their particular system setting and others don't see this as big of a deal because of theirs. The key I think is to look at each others systems and explore why theirs has a different take on the same recording. Why do some show this or any recording in a good light and others in a bad.

To make this happen so we can see each others point of view I feel we should reference these recordings together as much as we can and actually be talking about what we are hearing instead of spending most of our time in the spin factor which all of us could do if this was about talk rather than doing. "I don't like this sound because" may make no sense at all to the person who is hearing it differently. We need to get passed that one is correct and the other is not, and move on to what are you hearing and is there anything you can do about it if bad to you? Not saying here it is and doing nothing, as this is not really the way of the audiophile explorer. We need to treat our recordings whatever they are with the same amount of care that we put into our systems to begin with. I say this because I know not one of you have simply thrown the system in the room and turned it on. All of you have shaped the sound. And so with that, I proposed to you who do not like the sound of this recording or any other to try some simple shaping of any kind and watch how this recording responds. It will respond, and that should be the catalyst too get the wheels turning.

Someone on here is hearing something you aren't. At first that statement might bug you and seem judgemental, but try to not look at it that way, cause you as well might be hearing something they they aren't for the good. The goal here is to add the positives, and make improvements to our systems we listen to. You might want to say you have heard this recording at it's best already but that really is pretty weak and I guarantee someone is getting more in some area. How much more is only found out through listening and comparing. I wouldn't be saying this if I was not hearing something that sounded good from this recording or any recording. If you want a michael fact. When I went from this recording the "amused to death", Modern Times sounded better until I made the adjustments needed to let Rogers recording break through and open up. What does that say?

Why don't you guys look up Amused to death on your dynamic rating scale and we will talk about this.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
That's as good as anything other than the same recording

For comparison purposes. Amused to Death also represents a good example of what kind of dynamic range rock CDs had before the compression got so out of hand. It's not as wide as some and not as low as some and is a good example of a happy medium for the genre...disregarding the Q sound.

Amused to Death has an average of 13db of dynamic range as a whole for the album. Some tracks a little more, some a little less.
Comparing Amused to Modern Times and we see that Modern Times has an average of 7db of dynamic range, again, some tracks a little more, some a little less.

If we were comparing amplifiers, that would be the equivalent of comparing an amplifier producing 50 watts with an amplifier producing 200 watts if you consider that it takes a doubling of watts to produce 3db increases in spl.

Since we aren't comparing amplifiers, but rather dynamic range as measured over time and amplitude we can say that Modern Times has about half the dynamic range of Amused to Death. To put that in some sort of perspective as to how this effects the music, imagine listening to Amused to Death after you tune it to your prefered state of listening and hearing all the delicate and quiet nuances of sound amplified by double...and then doubled again while the high level sound remains constant.

To use the visual analogy about color television, imagine you have set your television's color saturation levels to watch Amuzed to Death and then plop in the Modern Times. Because of compression, Modern Times automatically saturates your color level by double...and then double again. Only with Modern Times, you can't adjust this color level because that color level has been preselected for you by the disc. However, you are free to tune and tweak your tv in order to compensate for the predetermined saturation level of color just so long as you don't adjust the color control.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Dynamic range vs loudness
Catch22 wrote:

For comparison purposes. Amused to Death also represents a good example of what kind of dynamic range rock CDs had before the compression got so out of hand. It's not as wide as some and not as low as some and is a good example of a happy medium for the genre...disregarding the Q sound.

Amused to Death has an average of 13db of dynamic range as a whole for the album. Some tracks a little more, some a little less.
Comparing Amused to Modern Times and we see that Modern Times has an average of 7db of dynamic range, again, some tracks a little more, some a little less.

If we were comparing amplifiers, that would be the equivalent of comparing an amplifier producing 50 watts with an amplifier producing 200 watts if you consider that it takes a doubling of watts to produce 3db increases in spl.

Since we aren't comparing amplifiers, but rather dynamic range as measured over time and amplitude we can say that Modern Times has about half the dynamic range of Amused to Death. To put that in some sort of perspective as to how this effects the music, imagine listening to Amused to Death after you tune it to your prefered state of listening and hearing all the delicate and quiet nuances of sound amplified by double...and then doubled again while the high level sound remains constant.

To use the visual analogy about color television, imagine you have set your television's color saturation levels to watch Amuzed to Death and then plop in the Modern Times. Because of compression, Modern Times automatically saturates your color level by double...and then double again. Only with Modern Times, you can't adjust this color level because that color level has been preselected for you by the disc. However, you are free to tune and tweak your tv in order to compensate for the predetermined saturation level of color just so long as you don't adjust the color control.

Not sure I go along with your math. The dynamic range of a recording is not up for grabs by getting a bigger amp. Otherwise the loudness wars wouldn't be an issue. I think you might possibly be confusing loudness with dynamic range. Of course, loudness as it pertains to the loudness wars is not the issue, it's dynamic range. Modern Times is not loudness challenged. I also do not agree that 13 dB is double the dynamic range of 7 dB, it is quadruple the dynamic range, since dB is a log scale.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Dynamic range vs loudness
Catch22 wrote:

For comparison purposes. Amused to Death also represents a good example of what kind of dynamic range rock CDs had before the compression got so out of hand. It's not as wide as some and not as low as some and is a good example of a happy medium for the genre...disregarding the Q sound.

Amused to Death has an average of 13db of dynamic range as a whole for the album. Some tracks a little more, some a little less.
Comparing Amused to Modern Times and we see that Modern Times has an average of 7db of dynamic range, again, some tracks a little more, some a little less.

If we were comparing amplifiers, that would be the equivalent of comparing an amplifier producing 50 watts with an amplifier producing 200 watts if you consider that it takes a doubling of watts to produce 3db increases in spl.

Since we aren't comparing amplifiers, but rather dynamic range as measured over time and amplitude we can say that Modern Times has about half the dynamic range of Amused to Death. To put that in some sort of perspective as to how this effects the music, imagine listening to Amused to Death after you tune it to your prefered state of listening and hearing all the delicate and quiet nuances of sound amplified by double...and then doubled again while the high level sound remains constant.

To use the visual analogy about color television, imagine you have set your television's color saturation levels to watch Amuzed to Death and then plop in the Modern Times. Because of compression, Modern Times automatically saturates your color level by double...and then double again. Only with Modern Times, you can't adjust this color level because that color level has been preselected for you by the disc. However, you are free to tune and tweak your tv in order to compensate for the predetermined saturation level of color just so long as you don't adjust the color control.

Not sure I go along with your math. The dynamic range of a recording is not up for grabs by getting a bigger amp. It is what it is. Otherwise the loudness wars wouldn't be an issue. I think you might possibly be confusing loudness with dynamic range. Of course, loudness as it pertains to the loudness wars is not the issue, it's dynamic range. Modern Times is not loudness challenged, it's dynamic range challenged. I also do not agree that the dynamic range of Modern Times is about half that of Amused to Death, it is 1/4 the dynamic range since dB is a log scale.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
The math is almost certainly wrong

It's about bringing the quiet up to the level of the loud within the recording. If I were attmpting to make the quiet portions of Amused to Death up in level by 6db, thus narrowing the dynamic range to a level more like Modern Times, it would be like using a 200 watt amp over a 50 watt amp to achieve those 6db levels. That was my point that I probably did a crappy job of trying to make to illustrate that 6db of dynamic range ain't exactly nuthin!

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
read it wrong

Hi Bill

Sorry, read it wrong. I thought you were calling us to do a man march on the capital.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
Amused

Was tuning on Amused for a little. I love this recording!

Ok, where are we here?

Do you guys have the info on how and who did the dynamic ratings?

I also agree, that the loudness talk and the dynamic range talk is getting a little too close to the blender. Sounds like we ought to make a field trip to the studio.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
Some links to help define......
Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
Oh boy, are we really going to introduce lossy compression?

LOL, we might want to save the SoundOnSound link for after we wear ourselves out from DRC. Just kidding, it's all good.

wkhanna
wkhanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 hours 4 min ago
Joined: Jul 13 2007 - 1:46pm
My bad....

I actually did not intend to post that link.

Insert red-face smiley emo here.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

Edit: the off-topic link has been removed.

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
Here's the link for the Dynamic Range Database

http://dr.loudness-war.info/

This database has been around for awhile and is growing rapidly. To use the database to find out the dynamic range of a recording, simply look at the top and enter the artist in the first bubble and the album in the second. If you want to simply search by artist, use only the first bubble and all the available albums from that artist that have been sampled will appear.

If you see a blue bubble with a tick within it next to the album, that indicates that the album has additional measurements based on each track and you can click it to get a little more focused data results. Make note when searching that you will likely find the same album listed several times if it's a popular sample. Also note that it may be the same album reissued with a different date. Those albums will almost always indicate a higher level of compression from the original release. Somebody obviously decided to jump on the compression bandwagon and crush the original version to keep up with the loudness race and then reissue it as "Remastered" or some such.

The bars at the top that indicate the numeral values assigned with either "bad, transition or good" are not that far off the mark in my experience, though you always have to keep in mind that those numerical values represent the level of compression for all genres of music and vary in meaning to the extent that Hanna mentioned above in that heavy compression could actually be the intended expression of the artist and so value is in the ear of the listener...with the exception that really only applies to a very small percentage of artists and genres...like Grunge artists or death metal.

The numbers indicate the dynamic range as measured in dB.

There are a lot of software programs that do this and since the database is collected from all over the world by all kinds of people, you have to accept that it has the same sort of limits that a site like Wikipedia has.
However, most all programs in use now are using numerous samples over the entire track...if not the entire track itself. This is the way to make this data meaningful as I can illustrate with a simple example that was presented in a previous link way up at the beginning of this thread.

If I were to make a recording of a car horn blowing for ten seconds...with a 1 second pause within that time, I could say that the dynammic range of that recording was 96dB if I was using the limits contained within the CD format and the horn was pegging the scale. It measured as low as 0dB when paused and 96dB when blowing. That would obviously not indicate a dynamic range that would portray the recording in any useful manner.

A more useful method would be to take numerous samples of the recording over time and display the level of the samples as averaged. This is the method currently in use. Provided the software was competently written, and I have no reason to dispute it given how widely available and extensively used it has become for both pros and hobbyists, the values indicated should have a high degree of accuracy, especially when numerous measured data from numerous people are all indicating similar if not exact readings...and that is the case from my experience. We're talking tens of thousands of entries by last count.

I hope you find it useful, Michael.

Oh, one more thing. The DR, DR min and DR max are indicating, in order, the rating of the album, the minimum of any track on the album and then the maximum of any track on the album.

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
The Database and one way I use it

If I'm looking to buy a recording like Diana Krall's "Love Scenes", I can look at the database and see that it's available in several versions from several years. Most likely, this is some sort of "Remaster" in the later years, or perhaps a lossless file that was downloaded and measured. In any event, I can look through the database and instantly know that if I'm going to spend the money in hopes that I get the most listenable, or at least the least objectionable version, then the 1997 release is the way to go. This doesn't mean that I might not like the 2003 release, or that the measurments should be taken as gospel, but it improves the likelihood that I'm going to get a superior version.

With older rock and blues stuff, it's even more useful...and the classical database is getting more attention all the time.

geoffkait
geoffkait's picture
Offline
Last seen: 20 min 22 sec ago
Joined: Apr 29 2008 - 5:10am
Perceived Dynamic Range vs Real Dynamic Range

As fate would have it, the perceived dynamic range that most audiophiles experience is actually less than the measured dynamic range measured for a particular CD for the reasons I have already elaborated, I.e., the shortcomings of the CD player and how it reads the data, the other limitations of the player that are almost too numerous to list and the room limitations which are also too numerous to list here. So, the unsuspecting audiophile who is expecting to hear 7 dB of dynamic range whilst spinning the Modern Times CD is probably hearing only 4 dB of dynamic range -- or less! The actual dynamic range inherent in a CD has to be extracted from the noise and distortion that is the nature of out of the box playback through hard work, and every dB is a battle. So I'm not terribly surprised when folks report how bad these compressed CDs sound; 4 dB or 2 dB dynamic range would most likely sound rather bad, indeed.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

michael green
michael green's picture
Offline
Last seen: 6 hours 5 min ago
Joined: Jan 10 2011 - 6:11pm
the test

What I'm asking is what is the test itself? And who's doing the test, and on what, and with what?

I'm seeing and have seen all these results but I don't see any pictures of the labs these are done in. I probably missed that part somewhere. I'm in studios showing what we are recording while we are doing it, but that is done during the recording and goes through several stages. I hope I'm being clear, but what I want to know is where is the source (recording) coming from and who are the guys conducting the tests and with what equipment?

thanks

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

Catch22
Catch22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 13 hours 47 min ago
Joined: Nov 21 2010 - 1:58pm
That, I can't tell you, Michael

But, as JA mentioned in the quote that I linked and presented at the top of this thread, he was curious and thought it warranted further investigating...and it has most certainly been investigated and commented upon by recording engineers and the public to the point that it's been made perfectly clear what is going on and why. And it ain't about trying to produce HiFi recordings...it's as JA remarked, anti-HiFi.

I really wouldn't get too hung-up on the numerical value or the terms "bad, transitional and good" that are used and simply consider them as red flags of caution or simply measurements that supplement your listening experience. I mean, for example, you've been tuning your system to play Amused to Death and once you get it there and at the levels that you like to listen to it, simply swap the disc with Modern Times, Supernatural, Red Hot Chili Peppers or some other well known, highly compressed record and play it without adjusting your volume control. When you realize how much damn louder they are, you know they've been compressed. Records should make us want to turn them up...not fly out of our chairs to get to the volume control.

I'm more than willing to present any evidence that I come across, as I have already done with the link for "dummies" mentioned at the top of the thread, (no, that's not pointed at you, but at me as I said in the post with the thread) but, the curiousness to read it has to be up to you just as the curiousness to tweak has to be with the guys you're trying to reach. If I were looking to improve my stage, for example, I'd be all over you like white on rice on how to do it.

toledo
toledo's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 35 min ago
Joined: May 12 2014 - 1:50pm
What's a man to do

I have been lurking awhile to see where this discussion will lead. We are discussing the causes and symptoms of bad source material but I am left with the sad conclusion that there is a lot of good music that is being neglected due to this compression issue. I may be overstating this and perhaps this source material is cursed but also listened to .. I hope so ...

If not, what allows the material to be listened to? Michael has outlined that the variable tuning world can tune their systems to allow this music to be enjoyed.

To those not able to tune, what are the alternatives? Leave this music on the table. Petition the music industry to change its ways. Switch to vinyl.

The way I see it...you gotta play the hand you were dealt, the best way you can.

Pages

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading