Give Me Your Worst! Is Dynamic Range Compression Really the Devil? - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 102 Old 02-14-2020, 05:21 PM
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Some thoughts...

I worked for a great music school where I recorded and/or did live sound for concerts almost every day for 34 years. Most of the music I did was classical or jazz but some rock and even Gospel too. Musical scores have dynamics written (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamics_(music)). How a musician performs them is up to their interpretation. I would listen on stage and in the audience, put up mics and listen in the control room. I found the need to control dynamic range because the performers would sometimes be too soft and too loud, their dynamic range was too wide from an acoustical standpoint. Think about a solo piano. From the players perspective, they think they are interpreting the dynamic as written, sounds good to them. On stage close to the piano, it sounds good. Depending on where you sit in the audience, you might not be able to hear very soft passages if they are playing them too soft. So, it's always good to have a reality check to help get performance dynamics under control. Obviously, you can only get a piano to play so loud even if you bang on it mercilessly. If you are on stage in front of it, it can be pretty darn loud. Twenty feet or more away form it sitting in the audience, it's not too loud. As a producer/engineer, I often worked with musicians to help them control their dynamic range during the performance. Recording may be (is) different than live concert performance. Mic placement is chosen to capture the performance. Classical music does not generally use close miking and is recorded in concert halls. Pop/rock etc is usually close miked and done in recording studios. I have done both types and the need for dynamic range control varies depending on what is being recorded and the techniques used. One form of dynamic range control is "riding gain" on the console input fader. If the singer is singing too soft, push it up, if too loud, pull it down. Bruce Swedien (engineer for Michael Jackson) said he preferred this to using compressors (electronic devices to control dynamic range). I would do sound checks when close miking vocals and have the singer come in and listen. They would learn how to control their dynamic range and that helped a lot. When recording large orchestras, I would do sound checks and set levels so the peak passage of the entire concert would never be too hot (distort/clip the output bus of the mixing console). Analog tape was a forgiving medium but you needed to know how much level was too much (re: the O VU standard) and when the tape would saturate (distort). Recording to digital is not forgiving. O dB full scale is it. Go over and square wave distortion occurs. In the early days prior to using multitrack recorders and recording live to stereo, I would ride gain on channel faders for instrument balance and also on the master faders if it need to be pushed up pulled down. This is similar to live sound mixing, control mix balance and overall level. The audience should never know what the engineer is doing, if you hear a fader move, it's not subtle enough, lol.

Recording and live sound engineers use compressors on individual channels, sometimes for the sound, sometimes for the effect, sometime for subtle (or not so subtle) dynamic range control. Most rock/pop music you hear has been recorded via multitrack recorders and most tracks have probably been run through a compressor while recording and also during the mix.

What is being discussed in this thread is more about peak limiting for the purpose of making the mix appear "louder", i.e. the "loudness wars". This is normally done in mastering. I did a lot of mastering work too, I'll get into that next. Stay tuned...
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post #32 of 102 Old 02-14-2020, 05:31 PM
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Do not trust DR database! Their TT meter has issues.

In a perfect world we could label a song's dynamic range with a single number but that's like saying you could rate a car or a bottle of wine with a single number. NOPE! DR is a complex topic and you can't really boil it down to a single number, but since that's what people want the DR databass was formed based on measurements from the TT meter.

This mastering engineer, Ian Shepherd, explains one of the major issues based on his own work:


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post #33 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Are you familiar with the Floyd Toole “Circle of Confusion” presentation?

Studio recording set ups and studio rooms, and the mastering approaches used differ in a kaleidoscope of different ways. You can’t just say a band playing into a mic is best. *That* is oversimplistic.

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That's fine. And fair. Except for the part where you missed:

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Originally Posted by psuKinger View Post
I'm not familiar with that. And I'm not saying modern music *can't* or *doesn't* image. But I am a firm believer that by-and-large and overall, music (regardless of age) in which musicians stand in front of a microphone and all play together, rather than individually directly into a computer, result in a better, cleaner, more detailed image. All else being equal (equally talented post production engineers working on equally capable computers and using the same software), people playing together on stage, with a sense of directivity captured by the recording mic, will paint a better image IMO.

It was, from the outset, a simplification and generalization, that in my own personal (therefore small sample space) experience, has held true. I have eclectic tastes. I enjoy a wide range of music. And I have a pretty wide variety of gear available to me to listen to that music (8-zone whole-home audio setup, and multiple headphone systems for various purposes). And by and large, overall, and on average, it is my experience that this type of recording tends to result in my ability to recreate a clearer better *image* when I listen to it. "TIFWIW"

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post #34 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by psuKinger View Post
That's fine. And fair. Except for the part where you missed:









It was, from the outset, a simplification and generalization, that in my own personal (therefore small sample space) experience, has held true. I have eclectic tastes. I enjoy a wide range of music. And I have a pretty wide variety of gear available to me to listen to that music (8-zone whole-home audio setup, and multiple headphone systems for various purposes). And by and large, overall, and on average, it is my experience that this type of recording tends to result in my ability to recreate a clearer better *image* when I listen to it. "TIFWIW"

There’s no commonality among approaches in studio recording and mastering or anything close. To say nothing of mastering techniques which can emulate desired imaging and effects you desire; and they do. Any preference can easily have nothing to do with the style of recording you mentioned and have everything to do with the engineering process. Your favorite acoustic album could have been recorded into a near field mic, with heavy treated walls (thus no reflection) and engineered with digital and analog effects you find preferred.

We have no idea of the approach used in recording, nor the environment used. Unless by off chance the musician and engineers let all the details be known, and that’s highly unlikely. So at the end of the day we can only guess.

Again, review the circle of confusion by Floyd Toole. The product made in studio represent a kaleidoscope of decisions which can’t be predicted or simplified. What makes a soundstage or image “proper,” and musical production in general has the opposite of whatever you call a standardization.

There’s no point of reference you can point to and say I like recordings done this one kind of way. That’s basically saying I like the way Diana Krall recorded S’Wonderful, and nothing else comes close. That’s because the decisions differ track to track, album to album, musician to musician, engineer to engineer, studio to studio etc in astronomically different ways.

As I said above, there’s the general rule in audio production that Dr Katz calls the Acoustic Advantage (see below, watch all esp after 16 min mark). With digital production especially, and even on analog, acoustic music has much more room to play with in contrasting sounds. The loudness wars have made this worse. Carroll King albums sound louder than Metallica AND have their native acoustic advantage amplified so they sound even better.

I think this has more to do with your observation of “image quality” than a vastly over simplified idea of a sax blowing into a unknown number, position, gain, and quality of mics and bouncing off of walls of unknown treatment (or no treatment or outside) playing into production speakers of unknown quality that are in a different room of again, unknown treatment using an unknown amount of analog and or digital processing.




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post #35 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Matt has a pretty good demonstration of what it does to the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ
I must be insensitive, lol.... Obviously I hear a difference, that's indisputable. However, the drums still punch just as high, they just have a lot of louder sound around them. I suppose I can just "handle" a louder average level, I don't know.

So, yes, the average level obviously goes up, and yes I suppose that "makes" me want to "turn it down" (not really, I don't mind, haha). However, for me, the perception of the drum snap's peak (due to it being relatively less of an increase in loudness to the sounds around it) is the only difference in the snap. I still "feel" the snap, because it still snaps as loud.
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*snip*

What is being discussed in this thread is more about peak limiting for the purpose of making the mix appear "louder", i.e. the "loudness wars". This is normally done in mastering. I did a lot of mastering work too, I'll get into that next. Stay tuned...
Lots of great background in there! I look for to the next "installment".

That said, I wonder how much difference there is between mixing together stems whose origins are classic recording techniques for real instruments vs. this "brave new world" where a large portion of the sounds mixed into a track were created (as opposed to captured) digitally. I'm sure it becomes even more of a challenge to start mixing the two together. As we start doing that, I wonder how much dynamic range compression becomes necessary so we can "stuff everything in".
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
In a perfect world we could label a song's dynamic range with a single number but that's like saying you could rate a car or a bottle of wine with a single number. NOPE! DR is a complex topic and you can't really boil it down to a single number, but since that's what people want the DR databass was formed based on measurements from the TT meter.

This mastering engineer, Ian Shepherd, explains one of the major issues based on his own work:

https://youtu.be/n-AE9dL5FG8
Thanks for this post! It is interesting, too, his take on why the vinyl recording measures better (and I certainly wonder if the process to "vinylize" the track more to do with it than the playback chain -- both of which he notes as possibilities).
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*snip* CoC stuff *snip*
While I certainly agree with the Circle of Confusion and recognize how solving it could only help to increase the consistently good quality of our recordings, I still feel like a lot of modern music is recorded quite well. It may just be due to the fact that good gear has become much more affordable and newer artists have more access to it?
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
As I said above, there’s the general rule in audio production that Dr Katz calls the Acoustic Advantage (see below, watch all esp after 16 min mark). With digital production especially, and even on analog, acoustic music has much more room to play with in contrasting sounds. The loudness wars have made this worse. Carroll King albums sound louder than Metallica AND have their native acoustic advantage amplified so they sound even better.

I think this has more to do with your observation of “image quality” than a vastly over simplified idea of a sax blowing into a unknown number, position, gain, and quality of mics and bouncing off of walls of unknown treatment (or no treatment or outside) playing into production speakers of unknown quality that are in a different room of again, unknown treatment using an unknown amount of analog and or digital processing.

https://youtu.be/OKtfdbZTkNE

https://youtu.be/u9Fb3rWNWDA

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Know about the first video -- will watch the second and respond if I have anything to say. Thanks for this!


edit: ok, so now I understand your "acoustic advantage" comments. Funny, "large groups" are, I think, a pretty decent parallel to "lots of samples" or "spectrally complex". The more you have going on, it seems, the more you need compression to get it "all in". Am I misunderstanding?

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post #36 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:13 PM
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The loudness war is a lot older than Bob Katz realizes. If you listen to this 1960's song for example played back in Foobar2000 with the VU meters turned on [found in visualizations] you'll see 95% of the song says within a tight 4-5dB range. There's almost no punch, no contrast, no dynamics.


Compressors and limiters were alive and well in the 60s. Orban was a common one then.
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post #37 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
I must be insensitive, lol.... Obviously I hear a difference, that's indisputable. However, the drums still punch just as high, they just have a lot of louder sound around them. I suppose I can just "handle" a louder average level, I don't know.

So, yes, the average level obviously goes up, and yes I suppose that "makes" me want to "turn it down" (not really, I don't mind, haha). However, for me, the perception of the drum snap's peak (due to it being relatively less of an increase in loudness to the sounds around it) is the only difference in the snap. I still "feel" the snap, because it still snaps as loud.

Lots of great background in there! I look for to the next "installment".

That said, I wonder how much difference there is between mixing together stems whose origins are classic recording techniques for real instruments vs. this "brave new world" where a large portion of the sounds mixed into a track were created (as opposed to captured) digitally. I'm sure it becomes even more of a challenge to start mixing the two together. As we start doing that, I wonder how much dynamic range compression becomes necessary so we can "stuff everything in".

Thanks for this post! It is interesting, too, his take on why the vinyl recording measures better (and I certainly wonder if the process to "vinylize" the track more to do with it than the playback chain -- both of which he notes as possibilities).

While I certainly agree with the Circle of Confusion and recognize how solving it could only help to increase the consistently good quality of our recordings, I still feel like a lot of modern music is recorded quite well. It may just be due to the fact that good gear has become much more affordable and newer artists have more access to it?

Know about the first video -- will watch the second and respond if I have anything to say. Thanks for this!


There’s no lack of new recordings which are produced well, and no certainty that older ones won’t suck. I will say nearly all of newer productions could be engineered better, and most heavy music recording from 95-05 sucked ass; because of the loudness wars. I’m not sure of what good gear you are referencing, but that goes back to the circle of confusion where we have no clue what’s done in studio. You can’t “good gear” your way out of bad dynamic range.

I’ll cut to the chase, dynamic range definitely matters; always. It might sound good, but with more, it will nearly always sound better. A recording that is 20+ dB above will be better off at 6dB, nearly %100 of the time but 12% might be good enough for most folks. Sure there’s diminishing returns, and there’s only so much you can give to rock, country and pop before it won’t matter compared to jazz or the typical HiFi boutique piano lounge variety that people play to hear their systems. Ahem... acoustic advantage...

Fact of the day: The lack of dynamic range is the *ONLY* reason vinyl has come back.

Dynamic range and the lack of it due to the loudness wars isn’t superstitious audiophoolery. If the biggest audiophool clown you know professes concern with a recording that has ooor dynamic range then he’s right about that.


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post #38 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The loudness war is a lot older than Bob Katz realizes. If you listen to this 1960's song for example played back in Foobar2000 with the VU meters turned on [found in visualizations] you'll see 95% of the song says within a tight 4-5dB range. There's almost no punch, no contrast, no dynamics.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0



Compressors and limiters were alive and well in the 60s. Orban was a common one then.


I wouldn’t be surprised if that was from a 7” jukebox record which yes, was an early prelude as to what was to come. Records compressed and sound suffering but for different reasons.

I’m gonna guess Katz knows that, just saying.


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post #39 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Fact of the day: The lack of dynamic range is the *ONLY* reason vinyl has come back.
There are all sorts of reasons besides that. Haven't you heard about how digital "turns your music into stair steps" but analog sources don't and are a continuous line. At least that's what Bob Stuart at Meridian and Sony told me.


According to MQA, LP has the highest sound quality of all formats (except ANALOG reel-to-reel):


LP sells great with audiophiles because it is marketed to them.
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post #40 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
There are all sorts of reasons sides that. Have't you heard about how digital "turns your music into stair steps" but analog sources don't. At least that's what Bob Stuart at Meridian and Sony told me.



According to MQA LP has the highest sound quality of all formats (except ANALOG reel-to-reel):



The superstitious hipster audiophile will come up with all sorts of dunning Krueger vomit to justify why he thinks it’s better, but there’s an actual real reason why it can actually be better. But that requires actually reading and knowing about things outside pipes and lumberjack flannel.


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post #41 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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^^^ see my edit -- I think the "acoustic advantage" has parallels to some of what I've been trying to get across in my posts, maybe, if I'm understanding it correctly.


"Small groups" (spectrally simple music) vs. "large groups" (spectrally complex). The more you have to stuff in (spectrally complex, large groups, lots of stuff, not just a singer and a guitar but a whole suite of sounds) the more compressed (by necessity) things are. There is so much masking and overlap between sounds that while a drum may still have dynamics, it doesn't sound like it does next to everything else "next to it". I don't know how to say any of this with technically correct / accurate terms, but I don't think I'm far off -- if only I could express it better.



That said, my point has been, DR as measured may not matter. If I record the snap of a drum and it peaks, then layer a thousand other sounds on top, what happens to the snap of the drum? It still peaks, right? But, it has less "dynamics" because with everything else going on around it, it simply can't separate itself from the rest (unless you make all that stuff quiet).


I believe modern music tries to "position" all the different sounds (which are, as you've pointed out, better recorded via direct-in and best recorded in isolation, with hundreds of tracks, so the engineer can "put together a painting" where everything gets its own "hole" to "stuff it into"). This is made even easier with electronic genres that never actually capture anything, because they use samples or MIDI or whatever. But, the final result isn't going to "measure well" because the more you stuff into the box, the less it measures like it is dynamic (but the peaks are still peaks). However, because everything has its "position", you can find it in the mix and, at least over here at my place, when I find the sound and focus on it (say, I focus on the snare) it still snaps pretty good on a good recording even if the dynamic range is measured as "crap". There's just a lot more music "around it" or the engineer just elected to distribute the "contribution" more...equitably.


I suppose to some, this can sound "unnatural". But, rock music isn't "natural", neither is EDM, nor many other modern genres. And, often, if these metal bands played "naturally" in a garage, it'll sound like crap...it needs to be mixed carefully to sound good. But, it doesn't have any "acoustic advantage" because it's not "simple music".
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post #42 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
I wouldn’t be surprised if that was from a 7” jukebox record which yes,
I only own it from digital sources. The song is very compressed no matter where you get it from.
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The loudness war is a lot older than Bob Katz realizes. If you listen to this 1960's song for example played back in Foobar2000 with the VU meters turned on [found in visualizations] you'll see 95% of the song says within a tight 4-5dB range. There's almost no punch, no contrast, no dynamics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0

Compressors and limiters were alive and well in the 60s. Orban was a common one then.
Bob has been around a long time, I doubt there is much he doesn't know about the history of audio recording and mastering.

I took a class in vinyl disk mastering at The Institute of Audio Research in New York way back in 1974. They had a lathe and we got to cut a master lacquer. Limiters and EQ/high pass filters (in addition to the RIAA curve) had to be used to fit the information on the record. Master tapes sounded much better than what could be cut on a vinyl record. More dynamic, more low end, wider stereo image etc. We saw micro-photographs of failed attempts at cutting master lacquers, horizontal groove modulation that cut into the adjacent groove. We saw examples of material that would cause the cutter head to jump out of the groove it was cutting, out of phase information translates to vertical cutter head motion. A master lacquer disk cost about $50 then. You didn't want to screw up too many times.
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post #45 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 08:16 PM
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I'm quoting this post from the thread that spawned this one --



I'm not a mixing engineer, either, but there are so many plugins in Pro Tools these days that if the recording process is done well, I think they can "paint" a soundstage any way the engineer and band want. It really comes down to having well recorded "stems", IMO.



Indeed it does, in fact a buddy of mine plays drums and still likes to "prototype" his work with electronic samples -- he can compose it rather than play it over and over again. More, he usually winds up using the sampled music on the album because it turns out more complex than he can learn to play well in the available time-frame. This is something his band gets annoyed about when they go to play it live and he has to play it differently until he practices enough, lol.



That said, as mentioned above, if the individual "stems" are recorded well, the mixing engineer can do quite a bit in post! Part of that, certainly, involves creating soundstage and space. It may not (yet) sound as "natural" as something recorded with the aforementioned binaural mic techniques, but I'm sure they are working on it...the Pro Tools plugin market seems to be big!



I find Alice in Chains and Soundgarden music to image very well! I can point to all the individual instruments...maybe it's just the few tracks I gravitate to from those artists that I find good -- been a while since I listened, I'll take suggestions to compare/contrast. I love me some Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, too -- their Farewell concert disc is a personal favorite! However, the genre is different enough to make it hard for me to do more than see if the instruments seem to have similar separation and positioning...plus, I don't groove to them the same way (I don't find myself toe-tapping to anything by Alice in Chains like I would to, say, "Don't Stop" -- doubt it's because of the lack of DR in AiC, lol).


Lol! Not really related to the conversation but I had to laugh. Your buddy is basically using auto tune in drumming.
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post #46 of 102 Old 02-15-2020, 08:23 PM
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Like my DBX 117, Carver , and if I recall correctly Philips, both had CD players with built in compressors. Quite useful when the dynamic range of a piece is impossible to hear due to a less than ideal listening environment.
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post #47 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
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So, is it time for me to concede that "more dynamic range" will "always be better"?

How much dynamic range is enough? Even 24-bit digital can't record every sound that we humans can create. It has a dynamic range of around 140dB (and the best DACs today "can't even" play all that back). So, a shuttle launch...? Nope. We have to compress it. Right? Of course, we also don't want to play back a shuttle launch at full volume in our living rooms, lol!

Maybe the question isn't whether dynamic range compression is "evil", rather it's, "how much is too much and who makes that choice?" It seems to be, at least partially, an artistic choice. So, if it's compressed not because they just "want it to sound louder on average", but because they want every piece of their "music" to stand out equally...to "punch its own hole" through the soundstage, and that helps me to hone in on every single little bit of texture in the song...well, I'll take that picture just the same. But, so far, those tracks don't seem to measure well on the "little DR meter thingy", lol.

That said, I think there are more than just me in the thread thinking the DR meter is not a reliable way to discern whether something is "well mixed", right? So, that which remains is, if more is always better and things that measure "bad" are just...good, but "improvable"...how much further could the DR be increased? At some point, would the extra DR start adding "loudness" that just masks sounds causing me to perceive less "texture"?

That said, I can't assume this is a format limit. I must assume any kind of music we would ever want to create would "fit" into a 16-bit container, right? Katz, I think, said something about the crest factor of music being up to around 20dB, so that would say that 16-bit should be ok, right? At about 96dB dynamic range that gives some (needed) room. So, why, oh, why do so many engineers release "textured" music without putting in a little more..."effort"...for dynamic range when it can't be a format limit...can't it?

Maybe it is a delivery limit. Katz also mentions normalization a lot in the video. Would this be something like Roon's volume leveling? Could that plus some meta-data and a "dynamic tone-mapper" (dynamic compressor?) fed by meta-data in the file give us a delivery format that could be...well, "tone-mapped" into something good for cars, noisy environments, head-phones, noisy rooms, systems with less dynamic capabilty, night mode, etc...? All "mapped" into something they heard and approved.... Do we need such a thing (or do we have it)?

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post #48 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 09:00 AM
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So, is it time for me to concede that "more dynamic range" will "always be better"?

How much dynamic range is enough? Even 24-bit digital can't record every sound that we humans can create. It has a dynamic range of around 140dB (and the best DACs today "can't even" play all that back). So, a shuttle launch...? Nope. We have to compress it. Right? Of course, we also don't want to play back a shuttle launch at full volume in our living rooms, lol!

Maybe the question isn't whether dynamic range compression is "evil", rather it's, "how much is too much and who makes that choice?" It seems to be, at least partially, an artistic choice. So, if it's compressed not because they just "want it to sound louder on average", but because they want every piece of their "music" to stand out equally...to "punch its own hole" through the soundstage, and that helps me to hone in on every single little bit of texture in the song...well, I'll take that picture just the same. But, so far, those tracks don't seem to measure well on the "little DR meter thingy", lol.

That said, I think there are more than just me in the thread thinking the DR meter is not a reliable way to discern whether something is "well mixed", right? So, that which remains is, if more is always better and things that measure "bad" are just...good, but "improvable"...how much further could the DR be increased? At some point, would the extra DR start adding "loudness" that just masks sounds causing me to perceive less "texture"?

That said, I can't assume this is a format limit. I must assume any kind of music we would ever want to create would "fit" into a 16-bit container, right? Katz, I think, said something about the crest factor of music being up to around 20dB, so that would say that 16-bit should be ok, right? At about 96dB dynamic range that gives some (needed) room. So, why, oh, why do so many engineers release "textured" music without putting in a little more..."effort"...for dynamic range when it can't be a format limit...can't it?

Maybe it is a delivery limit. Katz also mentions normalization a lot in the video. Would this be something like Roon's volume leveling? Could that plus some meta-data and a "dynamic tone-mapper" (dynamic compressor?) fed by meta-data in the file give us a delivery format that could be...well, "tone-mapped" into something good for cars, noisy environments, head-phones, noisy rooms, systems with less dynamic capabilty, night mode, etc...? All "mapped" into something they heard and approved.... Do we need such a thing (or do we have it)?


“So, is it time for me to concede that "more dynamic range" will "always be better"?”

All things being equal, and to an extent of audibility

“How much dynamic range is enough? Even 24-bit digital can't record every sound that we humans can create. It has a dynamic range of around 140dB (and the best DACs today "can't even" play all that back). So, a shuttle launch...? Nope. We have to compress it. Right? Of course, we also don't want to play back a shuttle launch at full volume in our living rooms, lol!”

No, even 16 bit head room is 100dB. That can cover the spectrum of human hearing above the noise floor of a typical room or outside (60dB), and the height of human hearing to the threshold of pain and immediate damage with room to spare. 24 bit gives more but that’s not needed, but it’s useful in production and mastering for “elbow room.”

Any modern day DAC is perfectly capable. To reproduce a shuttle launch with accuracy is limited to power and speaker capability, not digital quantization.

“Maybe the question isn't whether dynamic range compression is "evil", rather it's, "how much is too much and who makes that choice?" It seems to be, at least partially, an artistic choice.”

Think of it as a drug. Katz explains exactly that and how DR went from a tool to basically outright abuse. Yes, there is an arms race of loudness, moreover producers largely pick masters, not the artist. Rock will typically want less DR than acoustic.

“That said, I think there are more than just me in the thread thinking the DR meter is not a reliable way to discern whether something is "well mixed", right?”

You’d have to ask them. It’s one of a myriad of tools in production but the argument is that it’s one thing that highly abused and for no good reason. Get it right and the remaining issues exist but aren’t nearly as wrong or unforgiving.

“So, that which remains is, if more is always better and things that measure "bad" are just...good, but "improvable"...how much further could the DR be increased?”

Katz video explained that. DR is more forgiving depending on material.

At some point, would the extra DR start adding "loudness" that just masks sounds causing me to perceive less "texture"?

No

“That said, I can't assume this is a format limit. I must assume any kind of music we would ever want to create would "fit" into a 16-bit container, right? Katz, I think, said something about the crest factor of music being up to around 20dB, so that would say that 16-bit should be ok, right? At about 96dB dynamic range that gives some (needed) room. So, why, oh, why do so many engineers release "textured" music without putting in a little more..."effort"...for dynamic range when it can't be a format limit...can't it?”

Huh? Lost me.

“Maybe it is a delivery limit. Katz also mentions normalization a lot in the video. Would this be something like Roon's volume leveling?”

When you take a program that is artificially made louder through compression and loss of dynamic range, but normalize the volume to everything else, it loses the one thing it could do better; play loud. Now it sounds like total dog mess. The hope is that if this normalization feature comes standard in streaming (default on) then the producers will put more dynamic range into recordings because being louder won’t help record sales; at least like it did.

“Could that plus some meta-data and a "dynamic tone-mapper" (dynamic compressor?) fed by meta-data in the file give us a delivery format that could be...well, "tone-mapped" into something good for cars, noisy environments, head-phones, noisy rooms, systems with less dynamic capabilty, night mode, etc...?”

Headphones are quieter, cars are quieter, noise canceling is a thing, so the need is less. Normalizing streaming would be a huge deal. But, this feature might have a place, like an Audyssey Dynamic volume, and maybe some streamers offer it. I’d hope it’s default off however.

“All "mapped" into something they heard and approved.... Do we need such a thing (or do we have it)?”

Most streaming services have normalization; the one caveat is that if it is default on or off. If it’s default off fewer folks will ever use it or know what it does. If it’s default on, then again, the hope exists.





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post #49 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 10:37 AM
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Try listening to this piece with one volume setting from start to finish without any added compression. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY TYPICAL CONSUMER LIVING ROOM. The quiet music starts at 17 seconds in.

If you cheat and adjust the volume along the way then you yourself are applying manual compression. This is called "riding the gain" and was the original form of compression before Orban et al made the machines to do it for us.

P.S. I bought this recording on BD audio but haven't listened yet. . . . Clever how on this LP version they record from the center outward so the loud climax doesn't suffer from inner groove distortion, one of vinyl's many maladies.
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If you listen to this 1960's song for example played back in Foobar2000 with the VU meters turned on [found in visualizations] you'll see 95% of the song says within a tight 4-5dB range. There's almost no punch, no contrast, no dynamics.
I'm not a rock music aficionado, but am hard of hearing. I expect my effective hearing aid / human ear dynamic range is in the 35 dB range, TOTAL.

I use Audacity to heavily compress music to play in my car, and appreciate all that it can do. I'd like to be able to accomplish similar functionality between my television and OLD HTR (SPDIF connected) for when my better half isn't home ... I make do when she is.

The engineer in me hates compressed, inherently distorted audio. The human in me appreciates it.
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I'm not a rock music aficionado, but am hard of hearing. I expect my effective hearing aid / human ear dynamic range is in the 35 dB range, TOTAL.

I use Audacity to heavily compress music to play in my car, and appreciate all that it can do. I'd like to be able to accomplish similar functionality between my television and OLD HTR (SPDIF connected) for when my better half isn't home ... I make do when she is.

The engineer in me hates compressed, inherently distorted audio. The human in me appreciates it.
Denon and Marantz AVRs with Audyssey room correction have Dynamic Volume, which is audio compression like you want. Not sure about other brands.
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It would be hard for me to add any relevant information that hasn't been covered by Bob Katz in his writing. However, I can add anecdotal real world experience based on my work as a recording and mastering engineer.

When mastering projects later in my career (post meeting Bob Katz), I used his reference monitor calibration method and a CD I found to sound great, Donald Fagen's "Morph the Cat". It has good spectral balance, low frequency extension, perceived loudness and dynamic range (for pop music).

I worked on a project that had been recorded many years ago that was released on vinyl (before CD's existed). The guy sent me the master tapes. I was familiar with the project, the studio where it had been recorded and mixed. The vinyl record didn't sound anything like the master tape I had heard in the studio. It took me many hours to figure out the problem, the disk mastering engineer screwed up big time. The studio used dbx Type 1 noise reduction and the record/playback calibration was way off. The record calibration was wrong and the playback calibration compensated for it so it sounded right in the studio where it was done. When it got to the disk mastering facility, the engineer used tones to set playback decode levels. I did the same thing when I started working on it, but it sounded awful. I finally adjusted the playback decode calibration by ear and had to do each channel individually. Once each channel was decoded properly, everything came into focus and sounded correct, it was a startling revelation. The difference between correct level setting via tones vs what was on tape was drastic and the difference between left and right channels was also a lot (like 9 dB!). What a disaster, I have no idea how many projects the studio did with the totally screwed up calibration. Anyway, it got somewhat easier after I found every track on the record had the same (wrong) encode/decode calibration. It got more difficult however, because each track was recorded in separate sessions over the course of several months. The differences in levels and spectral balance were pretty big. In total, I spent about twenty hours mastering the forty minutes of music on the CD. Using the Morph the Cat reference, I used EQ to get the spectral balance of each track to sound similar to every other track on the CD and the reference tracks. I then checked the peak levels of each track and set the peak level of the loudest song to hit 0 dB Full Scale. Every other song was then adjusted so its relative level made sense.

The method for doing this is simple. Find the loudest passage on the entire CD. Set playback volume where you like it. Don't touch playback volume, adjust the level of the song so the peak level on each track is good relative to the loudest passage on the entire CD. You should be able to sit and listen through an entire CD and never feel the need to adjust playback volume. A slow ballad with sparse instrumentation should not be as loud as an all out rocker with lots of instruments, right? Here is where novice engineers using "nomalization" fail. Normalizing level on individual tracks is not necessary or necessarily a good idea.

The loudness wars started with the introduction of the TC Electronic "Finalizer", a limiter that got in the hands of people who abused it. Students started bringing me their recital CD's (live recordings) complaining they weren't as loud as commercial CD's. We had to start doing some mastering to the live recordings to make them "louder". This of course messed with the well recorded product that had good dynamic range. A quick and easy plug-in used in our Digital Audio Workstations was Waves L-2 and L-3. Bob Katz recommended judicious use of it (there was a hardware box before the plug in). When you hear how a limiter destroys the natural dynamic of a crescendo, it is obvious. It keeps getting louder, but all of s sudden, it hits a wall and stops. A better method is to allow the natural peak dynamic of the crescendo to hit 0 dB full scale and use stereo parallel upwards compression to subtly raise low level passages so they are not too soft. In Bob's excellent book "Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science", he discusses micro and macro dynamics. A good mastering engineer listens to the overall CD from beginning to end and may ride level (gain) through a song (microdynamics) and also adjust level of each song so it sits right relative to the peak dynamic level of the entire CD (macrodynamics).

Where we all get screwed is when we bounce from song to song by different artists jukebox style when streaming. Here is where the circle of confusion comes into play, spectral balance is all over the place. And, the level of each track many be different based on the mastering.
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post #53 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 03:20 PM
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Try listening to this piece with one volume setting from start to finish without any added compression. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY TYPICAL CONSUMER LIVING ROOM. The quiet music starts at 17 seconds in.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKZ73wtBzcY

If you cheat and adjust the volume along the way then you yourself are applying manual compression. This is called "riding the gain" and was the original form of compression before Orban et al made the machines to do it for us.



P.S. I bought this recording on BD audio but haven't listened yet. . . . Clever how on this LP version they record from the center outward so the loud climax doesn't suffer from inner groove distortion, one of vinyl's many maladies.
So to prove a point you are posting a YouTube video that is compromised and compressed in its own right?...really?

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post #54 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 03:23 PM
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So to prove a point you are posting a YouTube video that is compromised and compressed in its own right?...really?
Since even this Youtube video successfully demonstrates my point, had you actually listened to it, yes.
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Since even this Youtube video successfully demonstrates my point, had you actually listened to it, yes.
Z you crack me up......if you think for one minute a compressed YouTube video proves ANYTHING then you need to go and edit every single post you have that spouts only a DBT level matched audio test proves anything....I'll wait...

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post #56 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 03:46 PM
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Since even this Youtube video successfully demonstrates my point, had you actually listened to it, yes.


What is your point btw?


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post #57 of 102 Old 02-16-2020, 04:07 PM
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^That some musical works such as Ravel's Bolero have such a tremendous dynamic range in their natural state that listening to it without any DR compression is extremely difficult, because in order to clearly hear the subtle details in the faint opening part above our typical ambient room noise [HVAC, computer, refrigerator, fans, street noise, etc.] we need to turn up our volume controls to a high point which may (possibly) even clip our amps when the loud ending comes along (or at least generate complaints from the neighbors). The reason I mentioned "typical consumer living rooms" earlier is because in a dead quiet room of say 10dbSPL, or less, this problem is somewhat alleviated, but only a handful of us are afforded such a dead quiet listening environment.

Mark Waldrep, Dr. AIX, mastering engineer and head of AIX records, is said to have a good, uncompressed version as well. Here in a comment [November 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm] he defends it:

"To those that think that “too much dynamic range can be annoying”, I would relate the following. The TAS 5-star review of my recording of the Ravel Bolero was faulted for having “too much dynamic range”. I was floored by the comment. What am I supposed to do…manually or automatically modify the dynamics being played by the orchestra or override the judgement of the conductor?"

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^That some musical works such as Ravel's Bolero have such a tremendous dynamic range in their natural state that listening to it without any DR compression is extremely difficult, because in order to clearly hear the subtle details in the faint opening part above our typical ambient room noise [HVAC, computer, refrigerator, fans, street noise, etc.] we need to turn up our volume controls to a high point which may (possibly) even clip our amps when the loud ending comes along (or at least generate complaints from the neighbors). The reason I mentioned "typical consumer living rooms" earlier is because in a dead quiet room of say 10dbSPL, or less, this problem is alleviated but only a handful of us are afforded such a dead quiet listening environment.



Mark Waldrep, Dr. AIX, mastering engineer and head of AIX records, is said to have a good, uncompressed version as well. Here in a comment [November 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm] he defends it:



"To those that think that “too much dynamic range can be annoying”, I would relate the following. The TAS 5-star review of my recording of the Ravel Bolero was faulted for having “too much dynamic range”. I was floored by the comment. What am I supposed to do…manually or automatically modify the dynamics being played by the orchestra or override the judgement of the conductor?"


Katz mentioned how this should be managed around the 15 min mark.


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There's a lot going on in this thread. I've read through all of the posts a couple of times, trying to figure out how to post something that will contribute constructively to the discussion. The problem I'm having is that there are more aspects to the whole "loudness wars" thing than are practical to try and address without writing a novel here. That said, I'll try to "compress" (ha ha) my thoughts down to something reasonable to digest. Before I dive in, I'll preface by saying that I'm speaking primarily about pop music. The classical and traditional jazz recording world is still (thankfully) pretty responsible about how they treat the mixing / mastering process. Rex would be much better suited to address what's going on in the classical genre than I am.



The loudness wars are real. They're here, they're likely not going away anytime soon and that's the world we live in. For reasons already mentioned here and a zillion other places, the music industry has embraced the louder = better mantra and seems to be pretty intractable about it. It's kind of like watching your hi def TV with the contrast adjusted so that it only shows various shades of gray.



The audio example from the Matt Mayfield video is good example of how increasing "loudness" can wreak havoc on a mix. it's important to listen past the obvious increase in average level and dig a little deeper. Not only has the contrast between soft and loud been diminished, the timbre of the track is changing also. Listen closely to snare drum. In the uncompressed version, the snare has a nice clean "pop" to it, in the compressed version, the sound of the snares on the bottom of the drum have been pushed up in volume, causing a gritty, crunchy sensation. The short reverb tail on the snare drum has also been pushed up in level, changing the ambience associated with the drum sound. The attack of the kick drum has also come up in level versus the body of the kick drum sound. It now has a more artificial sound to it, which I semi jokingly refer to as the "click drum". This sound is popular in speed metal, because it allows the kick drum articulation to cut through the wall of chain saw like guitars inherent in that genre. The tone of the guitar has gone from clean and glassy, to edgy and harsh (particularly on the leading edges of the notes) and any sonic space in the original that allowed separation between the mix elements has been filled with a fog of ambient noise. The point of these observations is that excessive compression doesn't discriminate. You tell it to smash the dynamics of the recording and that's what it does.



Many an engineer have been faced with the fact that their work is being dramatically altered after they've passed it on to the next step of the process. Imagine being a painter and having your work altered by someone who decided that you should have used brighter colors. So, what to do? If I know that broadcast compression, or aggressive compression in mastering is going to alter my mix, I'm going to adjust my mixing style to minimize the effect. I'll use more compression on individual instruments, I'll return effects like reverb and delay lines at a lower initial level so that post mix compression won't bring it up to a level that ruins the original intent or "vibe". I may EQ differently, knowing that massive compression will literally alter the tone of the track. I'll compress the master buss myself. The collective result of all of this, is that I'll be sending the mastering engineer a recording that already has less dynamic range than I would really prefer, but at least further downstream compression will do less damage to my mix. It's kind of an "I'll make this suck now, so it will suck less later" kind of approach.



That said, some genres of music are far more forgiving to excessive compression than other and many engineers have figured out ways to make "loud" recordings that still sound good. Clearly hard rock, metal, some hip hop and EDM are all genres that are rooted in what I call "sonic physicality". There's a certain weight and energy to the music that begs you to crank it up. These genres by definition usually have much less dynamic range than classical or acoustic jazz. While orchestral performances can have extreme dynamics, most modern rock music does not. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it can give a recording more power and more muscle. The down side is that when taken to extremes, the effect wears off after a while because (as was mentioned in the Matt Mayfield video), without soft, there can be no loud. While there is no true right or wrong when it comes to artistic endeavors, my fear is that the practice has become so ubiquitous, that lack of dynamic range is now considered a characteristic of some genres of popular music. In my estimation, that's not a good thing.


*Edit* just got a link to this article in my inbox as I was finishing my post. Synchronicity?


https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/pro-...T=652157945472

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post #60 of 102 Old 02-17-2020, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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*snip*
No, even 16 bit head room is 100dB. That can cover the spectrum of human hearing above the noise floor of a typical room or outside (60dB), and the height of human hearing to the threshold of pain and immediate damage with room to spare. 24 bit gives more but that’s not needed, but it’s useful in production and mastering for “elbow room.”

Any modern day DAC is perfectly capable. To reproduce a shuttle launch with accuracy is limited to power and speaker capability, not digital quantization.
I disagree -- a shuttle, at launch, is (say) 160db. If we wanted to accurately record and play back a shuttle launch and immediately there-after record a pin-drop in a quiet room on the same track, you couldn't play both back today in sequence, accurately, without touching your volume knob. I'm not saying this is a "problem" but it is likely true. If you didn't touch your volume, you'd hear hiss or some artifact of your gain stage during the pin-drop (i.e., it wouldn't be accurate) on even the best DACs or you'd hear the pin-drop way too loud (because you had to gain-up the shuttle launch to its "accurate" level).

Is this untrue?
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“That said, I can't assume this is a format limit. I must assume any kind of music we would ever want to create would "fit" into a 16-bit container, right? Katz, I think, said something about the crest factor of music being up to around 20dB, so that would say that 16-bit should be ok, right? At about 96dB dynamic range that gives some (needed) room. So, why, oh, why do so many engineers release "textured" music without putting in a little more..."effort"...for dynamic range when it can't be a format limit...can't it?”

Huh? Lost me.
I'm basically trying to determine why, if this isn't a "format limit", an engineer that is capable of producing music with "texture" can't similarly add dynamics with a little more "effort" in the recording/mixing process. I suppose, though, what I'm failing to grasp is the psychological component. The engineer (probably) "could" if they wanted to, but the artists "don't want it" because they hear their tracks are "softer" and want to "compete" and this is the "problem" just as much as (possible) technical ineptitude on the parts of the engineers.

Personally, I'm still thinking the "acoustic advantage" kind of explains it all...the more you "stuff in" the less dynamic range you're "allowed" to have. Modern music "stuffs a lot in"...at least that's how it seems to me with all the "texture" I hear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
^That some musical works such as Ravel's Bolero have such a tremendous dynamic range in their natural state that listening to it without any DR compression is extremely difficult, because in order to clearly hear the subtle details in the faint opening part above our typical ambient room noise [HVAC, computer, refrigerator, fans, street noise, etc.] we need to turn up our volume controls to a high point which may (possibly) even clip our amps when the loud ending comes along (or at least generate complaints from the neighbors). The reason I mentioned "typical consumer living rooms" earlier is because in a dead quiet room of say 10dbSPL, or less, this problem is somewhat alleviated, but only a handful of us are afforded such a dead quiet listening environment.
*snip*
I tried to make this point, several times, in the thread. Thanks for bringing it to a stark reality!

In fact, a recording like this may even be more argument for "HDR-like music" -- your "black-level" (the noise floor of the room) determines the lowest sound you can hear and if there is information in the track that is lower than that then you need to crank it up to hear it. But, at that level, the track may be capable of peaking above either your personal (don't want sound to get louder than XdB or my wife wakes up and puts me to bed, lol) or system limits. Meta-data in the track could help fine-tune the track on-the-fly for your personal "black-level" and "limits"....not too far off, IMO, of what HDR tries to accomplish for video (where the black-level is set by the playback device and room and the limits are set by your eyes and the playback chain's peak brightness).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
*snip*

Where we all get screwed is when we bounce from song to song by different artists jukebox style when streaming. Here is where the circle of confusion comes into play, spectral balance is all over the place. And, the level of each track many be different based on the mastering.
I would suppose this is true just as much bouncing between genre. However, I find that even when I bounce between many different genres, I can pretty much set my volume knob at a spot and, for the most part, listen all night to music from Slipknot to Halsey, to Of Mice & Men, to Korn, to DJ Snake and whatever else and not move it. I guess that's one "benefit" of "compressed" music with a pretty constant "average level". Whenever I feel the need to move the volume up, it's usually when I hit a song with "lots of dynamics" and then it's only because I still want it "loud", but now I have to "worry" when the "crescendo" comes and wakes my bloody wife up, lol.

So, could all these tracks sound "better" if they had more dynamics? Maybe, though, I'm still not sure how true it is, and they sound fairly dynamic to me, still, but, it's becoming ever more obvious that I must not be a "critical listener". Regardless, if they had more dynamics, I'd still pine for compression so I could set the volume and forget it.

That said, I'm still not quite sure if the "spectrally complex" argument I keep trying to make (and maybe it's nonsensical, and feel free to say so, lol) isn't part of the reason modern music "lacks dynamics". The more "spectra" I "stuff into the box" (the less "acoustic advantage" I have, assuming I'm interpreting that term correctly) the less dynamic things will measure...I'd say this is by necessity. I certainly know the EDM tracks I listen to have more going on than a singer-song-writer track!

Which is to say, I think I'm trying hard (and maybe failing) to separate the use of DRC (which is "bad") from the measurement of "poor" DR. Is it possible that DR "measures bad" even without ever using DRC on the track? Could it occur simply because there is so much "stuff in the box"? Can we make this "stuff" more dynamic without masking all the sounds? @ClawAndTalon says "no" more dynamic range wouldn't cause any "masking" of sounds. But, I'm suspect -- if I hear a gun-shot I'm less likely to hear a pin-drop after it. If I hear a loud snare-crack, the same can be said. Of course, certainly, I could be conflating two things, but if the artist wants you to hear all the "elements" of their track, having "loud bits" interspersed may make it harder. Not only that, but the "loud bits" would force their average levels down, requiring their typical audience to turn it up, and then the "loud bits" would be "too loud" in many cases (either causing the system to clip or the wife to awaken, lol). Worse, if those "loud bits" take you out of the tune and cause it to lose its "spectral balance".

Quote:
Originally Posted by garygreyh View Post
There's a lot going on in this thread. I've read through all of the posts a couple of times, trying to figure out how to post something that will contribute constructively to the discussion. The problem I'm having is that there are more aspects to the whole "loudness wars" thing than are practical to try and address without writing a novel here. That said, I'll try to "compress" (ha ha) my thoughts down to something reasonable to digest. Before I dive in, I'll preface by saying that I'm speaking primarily about pop music. The classical and traditional jazz recording world is still (thankfully) pretty responsible about how they treat the mixing / mastering process. Rex would be much better suited to address what's going on in the classical genre than I am.
I'm just happy you and others in the industry are contributing! Whatever you can post (hopefully) helps us all learn, and thanks for doing so! I'm going to clip out a few pieces of your post that I want to dive in more to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by garygreyh View Post
The audio example from the Matt Mayfield video is good example of how increasing "loudness" can wreak havoc on a mix. it's important to listen past the obvious increase in average level and dig a little deeper. Not only has the contrast between soft and loud been diminished, the timbre of the track is changing also. Listen closely to snare drum. In the uncompressed version, the snare has a nice clean "pop" to it, in the compressed version, the sound of the snares on the bottom of the drum have been pushed up in volume, causing a gritty, crunchy sensation. The short reverb tail on the snare drum has also been pushed up in level, changing the ambience associated with the drum sound. The attack of the kick drum has also come up in level versus the body of the kick drum sound. It now has a more artificial sound to it, which I semi jokingly refer to as the "click drum". This sound is popular in speed metal, because it allows the kick drum articulation to cut through the wall of chain saw like guitars inherent in that genre. The tone of the guitar has gone from clean and glassy, to edgy and harsh (particularly on the leading edges of the notes) and any sonic space in the original that allowed separation between the mix elements has been filled with a fog of ambient noise. The point of these observations is that excessive compression doesn't discriminate. You tell it to smash the dynamics of the recording and that's what it does.
Totally get this, in that track it seems like they just pulled up everything. I suppose that'd be the equivalent of what a mastering engineer would do to "ruin" the final mix. However, does all that go away when you're dealing with "stems" rather than a "final mix"? I mean, if you have a lot of "stems" and you can control every little bit of the (e.g., snare) because you've recorded it to four different tracks with close-mics all around it, and can completely "engineer" the way the snare sounds in the mix...well...then you may have to "compress" artistically to "fit" the snare in, but...you're not dealing with the whole track anymore.
Quote:
Originally Posted by garygreyh View Post
That said, some genres of music are far more forgiving to excessive compression than other and many engineers have figured out ways to make "loud" recordings that still sound good. Clearly hard rock, metal, some hip hop and EDM are all genres that are rooted in what I call "sonic physicality". There's a certain weight and energy to the music that begs you to crank it up. These genres by definition usually have much less dynamic range than classical or acoustic jazz. While orchestral performances can have extreme dynamics, most modern rock music does not. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it can give a recording more power and more muscle. The down side is that when taken to extremes, the effect wears off after a while because (as was mentioned in the Matt Mayfield video), without soft, there can be no loud. While there is no true right or wrong when it comes to artistic endeavors, my fear is that the practice has become so ubiquitous, that lack of dynamic range is now considered a characteristic of some genres of popular music. In my estimation, that's not a good thing.
I kind of disagree with the characterization. I think "lack of dynamic range" is subjective. But, I did ask at the outset of this thread, "how much dynamic range do we need." Still haven't received a good answer.... But, just as an example, if we have:

Two guitars, all the drums, the vocals (and possibly any other layered background vocals or just overdubs), bass guitar, and every single drum in the kit, then we had a handful of electronically generated sounds...well, seems like we have a "spectrally complex" mix and how do we still make the snares pop when it is competing with all the other sounds. How do you make sure you hear everything, while still allowing the, e.g., snare, to "cut through" and be "dynamic"? If you start making the snare "dynamic" as you want, I'd guess you have to start lowering everything else and then we're back to "when the user turns it up, they may clip, or hear the snare too loud".

I just don't think one can "have their cake and eat it"...without, anyway, some form of on-the-fly, end-user-controlled (based maybe on a calibration like "HDR") "compressor" which is "programmed" with "meta-data" put in the track by the mixer. This would allow the artist to hear their mix at several different "levels" on-the-fly. Further, my guess is that some tracks, like the piece Zilch posted, will require compression so every bit can be heard at a "comfortable" level that won't overtax certain playback chains or ears of their listeners.
Quote:
Originally Posted by garygreyh View Post
*Edit* just got a link to this article in my inbox as I was finishing my post. Synchronicity?

https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/pro-...T=652157945472
Quite possibly, lol.
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