IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
Navigating the Loudness War, [moved from CD Hardware/Software (ToS #6)]
ultraviolets
post Jun 13 2013, 06:10
Post #1





Group: Members
Posts: 2
Joined: 13-June 13
From: Toronto
Member No.: 108630



Hi Tekkies. All too unqualified audiophile in budding here.

When buying CDs, what kind of information do I need to look for that will ensure that it is a high quality recording? I am specifically wary of albums mastered during the advent of the CD which, I've read, sounded inferior to their vinyl predecessors at the time due to poor sound engineering. The "Loudness War" phenomenon is another thing to worry about. Am I missing anything?

The only navigational guideline for the former that I have encountered is to avoid CDs that were produced in the early 80s. I find this to be too vague to be effective. As for the latter, I don't even know where to start.

Is there anything apparent on an album itself that will give clues about the quality of the recording? Are there any databases that could assist this process?

Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Kohlrabi
post Jun 13 2013, 08:21
Post #2





Group: Super Moderator
Posts: 953
Joined: 12-March 05
From: Kiel, Germany
Member No.: 20561



Regarding loudness war, of course no music label would mark their CDs as defective by design, so there is no label on it. Though clues like "Produced by Grammy Award winning producer Rick Rubin" are probably not intended to, but very useful to identify horrible CDs. Some music shops (if they still exist) allow you to listen before buying, you might identify bad production by that. In general, try-before-you-buy would be a good approach, as you would do with any product which has known oft-occuring defects. You might also refer to the DR-database, since the dynamic range as calculated by them is a sign of brickwall mastering, which is one of the most apparent signs of bad production.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Jun 13 2013, 08:25


--------------------
Audiophiles live in constant fear of jitter.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
lameboy
post Jun 13 2013, 10:06
Post #3





Group: Members
Posts: 43
Joined: 3-September 08
Member No.: 57866



IMO the most dynamic and natural CD reissues of older material are from approx. '89 to '93. Maybe extend that to '95. After that the Loudness War kicks in gradually.



--------------------
XLD // FLAC // LAME
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
skamp
post Jun 13 2013, 10:14
Post #4





Group: Developer
Posts: 1343
Joined: 4-May 04
From: France
Member No.: 13875



The DR database has the advantage of providing an objective measurement that's more or less reliable [citation needed]. CD's from the 80s also usually sound better, because the loudness war hadn't really started yet. For everything else, it's just word of mouth stuff, but then that's entire subjective.

In my experience, most remasters are just the original content with aggressive compression applied (Run-DMC - Raising Hell comes to mind), but there are exceptions, like the Doors Remasters from 2007 (DR11 on average) or the Jethro Tull - Aqualung remaster (DR13) from last year (they sound incredible, though they weren't just remastered, they were remixed as well). Some artists also make it a point of properly mixing and mastering their work, like Steven Wilson (who remastered Aqualung) or John Frusciante (listen to The Empyrean, DR11!). So I suggest that you spend some time on music boards and collect opinions about everyone's great finds.

Caveat about the Dynamic Range Meter: it doesn't always work properly on vinyl rips, allegedly because of clicks and pops that artificially inflate the DR score. The most recent example of that is the vinyl release of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (~DR12 IIRC), which I (successfully) ABXed against the CD, and also compared in Audacity. The vinyl sounded like it had some high frequency cut-off, and despite it's largely superior DR score, it didn't sound (nor look) like it had more dynamic range. The CD sounds really good, despite its lowish DR score of DR8 (I recommend it).

This post has been edited by skamp: Jun 13 2013, 10:23


--------------------
caudec.net
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
skamp
post Jun 13 2013, 10:16
Post #5





Group: Developer
Posts: 1343
Joined: 4-May 04
From: France
Member No.: 13875



QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Jun 13 2013, 09:21) *
Regarding loudness war, of course no music label would mark their CDs as defective by design, so there is no label on it.


Conversely, there's the Turn Me Up label, but I don't remember ever seeing it on a CD.



This post has been edited by skamp: Jun 13 2013, 10:18


--------------------
caudec.net
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
ultraviolets
post Jun 13 2013, 19:59
Post #6





Group: Members
Posts: 2
Joined: 13-June 13
From: Toronto
Member No.: 108630



Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. I've posted the same topic on other forums before and the replies were never as thoughtful as the ones from hydrogenaudio. You guys really know your stuff.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
TomasPin
post Jun 13 2013, 20:22
Post #7





Group: Members
Posts: 167
Joined: 5-June 13
From: Argentina
Member No.: 108508



QUOTE (skamp @ Jun 13 2013, 06:14) *
Caveat about the Dynamic Range Meter: it doesn't always work properly on vinyl rips, allegedly because of clicks and pops that artificially inflate the DR score. The most recent example of that is the vinyl release of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (~DR12 IIRC), which I (successfully) ABXed against the CD, and also compared in Audacity. The vinyl sounded like it had some high frequency cut-off, and despite it's largely superior DR score, it didn't sound (nor look) like it had more dynamic range. The CD sounds really good, despite its lowish DR score of DR8 (I recommend it).


Thank you very much. I had been wondering whether the results for vinyl rips on that site were correct, as it didn't seem right that each version would ALWAYS be made from different masters, especially on that particular album. I had the same feeling as you but didn't have a proper rip of the vinyl version (and time) to test. So thanks again.

On topic, don't know if the OP has been there already but on the Steve Hoffman Forums they usually discuss different album releases with emphasis on the sound and which one "sounds better". Proceed with care though, as their claims tend to be unjustified... Yet they may point in the right direction.

This post has been edited by TomasPin: Jun 13 2013, 20:39


--------------------
A man and his music: http://tubular.net/
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
DVDdoug
post Jun 13 2013, 21:05
Post #8





Group: Members
Posts: 2441
Joined: 24-August 07
From: Silicon Valley
Member No.: 46454



QUOTE
Caveat about the Dynamic Range Meter: it doesn't always work properly on vinyl rips, allegedly because of clicks and pops that artificially inflate the DR score.
There was also some discussion in another thread about what happens with the RIAA pre/post equalization and the electrical-mechanical conversion effects effects of the cutting head & playback cartridge. You effectively get an all-pass filter which shifts the phase differently at different frequencies while keeping the overall frequency response flat (or as flat as is possible with analog vinyl).

The all-pass filter ends-up affecting the peaks, basically making half the peaks larger and half the peaks smaller. This does not affect the sound, loudness, or perceived dynamics, but some peaks are higher (up to 6dB, I think). So apparently, you can get a 6dB "improvement" in measured dynamic range with no change in the sound of the dynamics. i.e. If the peak of one "wave" (one cycle) in a file is increased or decreased by 6dB, your ear/brain cannot hear it.... Your brain sort-of takes a short-term average and a longer-term average.... Making some peaks "randomly" higher and other peaks lower doesn't change the short-term or long-term perceived loudness.

This "false" increase in dynamic range on vinyl only happens when the original is compressed. It's related to how the various frequency components are limited together when you compress. If you shift some of the frequency components around in phase (and time), the average will be the same but some peaks will be higher and some peaks will be lower because different frequency components are compressed/limited at (very-slightly) different times.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jun 13 2013, 21:15
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
TomasPin
post Jun 13 2013, 21:34
Post #9





Group: Members
Posts: 167
Joined: 5-June 13
From: Argentina
Member No.: 108508



Thanks for the explanation. Could that "false" increase in dynamic range be corrected in some way? Perhaps applying another all-pass filter to compensate? I'm just curious now...

Edit: I'm afraid this is going kinda off-topic. Apologies to the OP. Perhaps a moderator could split the discussion...

This post has been edited by TomasPin: Jun 13 2013, 21:38


--------------------
A man and his music: http://tubular.net/
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 18th April 2014 - 10:54