Give Me Your Worst! Is Dynamic Range Compression Really the Devil? - Page 3 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #61 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
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.
Yeah, but after you go to your audiologist, she will inform you that you have hearing loss and should never listen to that again. But I guess if you have the right system, you could up your game (and hearing loss) and attempt to playback a volcano explosion after that:

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The Krakatoa explosion registered 172 decibels at 100 miles from the source.
http://nautil.us/issue/38/noise/the-...rth-four-times
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post #62 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post
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?

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.

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).


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".


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.

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.

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.

Quite possibly, lol.
Is there any way to post simple audio clips on this forum, without them being embedded in a youtube clip for example? This would be helpful in explaining some of these ideas. I'll return to the thread again when I have some free time. I have some work related things to tend to this evening.
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post #63 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by raistlin65 View Post
Yeah, but after you go to your audiologist, she will inform you that you have hearing loss and should never listen to that again. But I guess if you have the right system, you could up your game (and hearing loss) and attempt to playback a volcano explosion after that:

http://nautil.us/issue/38/noise/the-...rth-four-times
I did follow the statement up with, "I'm not saying this is a 'problem'", . I totally realize it is "not" necessary...just expressing the limitations, not saying whether they "matter" or not (and I agree, they "don't" for "practical" purposes).
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Is there any way to post simple audio clips on this forum, without then being embedded in a youtube clip for example? This would be helpful in explaining some of these ideas. I'll return to the thread again when I have some free time. I have some work related things to tend to this evening.
I don't think you could post them directly to the forum; you could try to zip them and attach the zip to a post. However, it's possible the forum uses size limits that would prevent it.
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post #64 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 02:00 PM
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@DreamWarrior

The shuttle launch is 160 dB max, if the recording is level matched at 60 dB, the ambient sound of outside the launch pad, and your living room, that gives 16 bit a more or less perfect fit. Your volume knob being the aspect that makes it work.

The problem comes, sometimes, as pointed out with classical recorded in a really nice theater that is ambient 30dB, and they record it. You can’t hear the first 30 dB of content without jacking up the volume, and potentially clipping something on transients. But, if you mind the volume and don’t care that won’t hear it at reference volume it does sound really good.


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post #65 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 02:02 PM
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Dynamic Range Compression/Limiting is a necessary tool in audio engineering that is easily abused but when judicially applied it crafts a cohesive and exciting aural experience.

With my own anecdotal preference I tend to prefer music tracks with a minimum of 12-16dbs of average loudness. I do not have a specific maximum preference just depends on how things are mixed.

My go to examples of how remastering for the sake of loudness really muddles and destroys the experience of the music are with the remastered KMFDM back catalog. They squashed the albums averages by half or more. 5-7dbs now for the remastered albums.


Pick up copies of the original and remastered releases of say Angst, Naive - HTG, NIHIL Xtort, or Symbols and the differences are pretty obvious once the tracks get underway. Lots more distortion and elements become less distinguishable from one another in part because they are all nearly equally as loud; never mind whatever additional EQing was done.

Are mixes for the original albums perfect for my tastes? Not necessarily. The NIHIL album has a more pronounced top end whereas Angst or Xtort seems pretty balanced to my ears.

On their newest album the standard release is about 6-7dbs but the LP is about 12-15dbs and the record does sound much better but the EQ for the top ending is a bit fatiguing for me with certain tracks in particular, whereas other tracks not as much.


Loud playback and overly compressed music hurts my ears, even at lesser volumes, and exacerbates my tinnitus.

Engineering and mastering for audio is like seasoning with cooking, there are good practices with reasonable amounts but with latitude for preference and depending on the dish sometimes it calls for more of one thing or another but there reaches a point when there is indeed too much. Less can indeed be more.
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post #66 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 02:16 PM
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Audiophile: "Wow, with my mega watt amps, ceiling-tall horn based concert speakers, and my dead quiet, underground listening bunker, this amazing new DAC I just bought let's me fully appreciate the full dynamic range of the 24-bit recordings I had commissioned of the last Space Shuttle launch!"

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post #67 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
@DreamWarrior

The shuttle launch is 160 dB max, if the recording is level matched at 60 dB, the ambient sound of outside the launch pad, and your living room, that gives 16 bit a more or less perfect fit. Your volume knob being the aspect that makes it work.

The problem comes, sometimes, as pointed out with classical recorded in a really nice theater that is ambient 30dB, and they record it. You can’t hear the first 30 dB of content without jacking up the volume, and potentially clipping something on transients. But, if you mind the volume and don’t care that won’t hear it at reference volume it does sound really good.


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"Your volume knob being the aspect that makes it work" -- my volume knob makes it work on one end of the spectrum, and ruins the other, no? If I wanted accurate 160dB shuttle playback, I would have to gain up my signal chain to get 160dB out for "accuracy" (my choices to "gain up" are anything from more sensitive speakers to bigger amps having more gain, etc). But, the pin-drop part won't be heard because it would be swamped in the "signal chain noise" thereafter (presently, anyway, as I haven't heard a component that can be gained up super high without having some random white-noise even when no signal is present). The alternative is to compress so both sounds "fit", but the pin-drop has to be louder (or the shuttle softer). That's my point. I don't think I can "fit" both a 160dB shuttle launch and "pin drop" in the same track without compression or riding the volume (either manually or "meta-data" that automatically does it for me). Thus, a 160dB shuttle launch, IMO, "doesn't fit" (it can just be "compressed" to fit and then gained-up in playback to be level-accurate).

Simply put, if I determine that, for this recording, the "full scale" signal is 160dB, then with 96dB of dynamic range, for 16-bit, the quietest sound (which will be, presumably, swamped in the digital noise floor or noise floor of the equipment when gained up so 160dB is what the 0-point sounds like) will be around 64dB -- very audible, especially in a quiet room.

If, however, I determine that I want to record a "pin-drop" in a quiet room (at, say, 40dB), then I only have 96dB of dynamic range to work with, so my "shuttle launch" is never going to "fit".

Am I just stupid, here?
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post #69 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 03:00 PM
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The claim from ASR and others we need 120dB DR is baloney.

Play this at the loudest you are willing to for your hearing safety (and your speakers saftey) and see how quiet you really need for a room with your ambient noise:

Dynamic Range Test


16 bit technology is just fine for music distribution so CD has all that we need. Music production may need better, for various reasons, but we don't.
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post #70 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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*confused* -- am I super dumb, lol? I have 96dB (less, really) to work with, and how loud a "digital full scale" signal is played depends on where my volume is set. To make that 160dB, I have to set the volume to have sufficient gain to translate "digital full scale" to 160dB (given a certain spectra used to calibrate, anyway, which may or may not make my shuttle launch 160dB, I suppose it'd depend on the calibration sound's spectrum as related to the launch's). Either way, once my volume is set there, the softest sound that can be replayed is also set (by 16-bit, and my signal chain's noise floor, and this includes the DAC). It's not...*ahem*...rocket science, lol.

If that lowest sound (either due to 16-bit and its noise floor's limitation or my gear) is less than "pin-drop" then my claim that both "can't fit" is 100% accurate. Now, we just have to find where to position the blame (and, given the 96dB range of 16-bit, I think we have one answer...but the limitation is everywhere, no signal chain has 160dB or even 140dB (in fact, no more than about 120dB) of dynamic range, because that's a DAC limt, which is probably a physics limit that we may not be able to exceed in electronics).

Is any of this "relevant" -- I suppose not. But, it sets a hard-limit on what's "possible" (and then we can discuss whether or not it matters, and in that case, I'd agree it really doesn't...no one wants to record a shuttle and a pin-drop in the same file, and it wouldn't matter if we could, because once we listened to a 160dB shuttle launch we may never be able to hear a pin-drop again, lol).
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The claim from ASR and others we need 120dB DR is baloney.

Play this at the loudest you are willing to for your hearing safety (and your speakers saftey) and see how quiet you really need for a room with your ambient noise:

Dynamic Range Test


16 bit technology is just fine for music distribution so CD has all that we need. Music production may need better, for various reasons, but we don't.
Agree, 16-bit with proper dither is fine for distribution (of music). NOT FINE for distribution of accurate playback of ANY sound humans can produce (without adding gain and increasing the noise-floor).
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post #71 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 03:22 PM
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Agree, 16-bit with proper dither is fine for distribution (of music). NOT FINE for distribution of accurate playback of ANY sound humans can produce (without adding gain and increasing the noise-floor).
I know where to buy movies and music which fit that first sentence, but where do I go to buy the category of recorded sounds you mention in the second sentence and how many of these recordings do you currently own?
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post #72 of 122 Old 02-17-2020, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I know where to buy movies and music which fit that first sentence, but where do I go to buy the category of recorded sounds you mention in the second sentence and how many of these recordings do you currently own?
, maybe NASA? I'm using "stupid examples" to make my point, lol. I think you may agree with me, but if not, I want to know where I'm being even "stupider", lol. Plus, I've already said it "doesn't matter"...but, it does set our technical limits and our current technical limits are not going to allow "super quiet" and "super loud" to exist concurrently in a signal chain (beyond 120dB, about, of dynamic range, the limits of our present DACs). That's "not a problem" depending on what you're trying to "accurately" play back and what your noise floor is...you know this, I know this....and it's especially not a problem with "music", but...I was "told" I could "accurately" record and play back a 160dB shuttle launch with 16-bits of dynamic range, still don't agree. I'm fine being wrong, I just want to know where I'm screwing it up so I can learn.
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Using a DBX 2:1 compressor and expander system, such as my old 224, you can record pretty much any dynamic range you want. It squishes whatever range you have, 100dB in this diagram, within the confines of the thermal noise of the recording gear itself, into half of its original size so it wll fit onto your recording medium (including, for example, 16bit audio). Then upon playback it doubles it to bring it back.

[People don't realize it but if you've ever heard a stereo NTSC TV broadcast you were hearing this process. I think they might have won an Emmy for it.]

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Using a DBX 2:1 compressor and expander system, such as my old 224, you can record pretty much any dynamic range you want. It squishes whatever range you have, 100dB in this diagram, within the confines of the thermal noise of the recording gear itself, into half of its original size so it wll fit onto your recording medium (including, for example, 16bit audio). Then upon playback it doubles it to bring it back.

[People don't realize it but if you've ever heard a stereo NTSC TV broadcast you were hearing this process. I think they might have won an Emmy for it.]

I did say "accurately", there is no free lunch; I presume using DBX isn't going to result in a 100% lossless compression/expansion of 100% the signal. I mean, I know my dad loved DBX when recording his CDs to tape (don't ask, lol, he was crazy, haha[*]) but it didn't make them sound like CDs.

[*] my dad DJ'ed on the side, but never wanted to bring his CDs (despite he was DJing and they cue faster, but...he was "crazy", I did mention that) with him for fear they would get stolen. So, for the longest time, he would record a bunch of "mix tapes", index them in a printed spreadsheet, and use them to DJ. Someone wants a song, he'd toss them the book, pull out the tape, cue to the point marked in his book, and put it on (all to avoid his CDs being "stolen", I never understood...but...crazy, haha).
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That some musical works such as Ravel's Bolero ...
Listen to the Cincinnati Pops conducted by Eric Kunzel 1984 CD "Star Tracks". There is a warning not to raise level to hear beginnings unless you are prepared to "ride the gain".

I have, and very much like, that disc.
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People involved in recording use recorders with 140dB of dynamic range because you cannot get back what you lose. And even then it's possible to get the levels wrong and clip on recording (considered a disaster - you cannot get back what was clipped, and it may not be possible to re-record).

The very best recorders use 32 bit now - and often with floating point. 32 bit itself gets you 192dB of dynamic range, while floating point is basically so damn large you don't have a level knob - you just record and it won't clip. The recorder internally may attenuate to keep levels within the input range of the hardware, but that attenuation is then reversed when writing the sample values to storage so you get the actual values.

We joke because a nuclear blast 1m away hits around 200dB. So when aliens come to our dead planet, they will have a perfectly recorded nuclear blast including the eerie silence afterwards.
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post #78 of 122 Old 02-18-2020, 12:01 AM
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People involved in recording use recorders with 140dB of dynamic range because you cannot get back what you lose..
Always best to have more than you need, sure, but:

- the performance they are recording doesn't have anywhere near that sort of range, except for these "pin drop vs. space shuttle launch recorded in an anechoic chamber" duets I hear are all the rage these days

- the microphones, even multi-thousand dollar studio grade ones, often have an SNR only about half that

- the field microphone preamp/mixer will be just a tad better than the mic's SNR {their industry fudges spec sheets just like the consumer field does, so you really need independent third party measurements to be sure}
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post #79 of 122 Old 02-18-2020, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
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*snip*
- the performance they are recording doesn't have anywhere near that sort of range, except for these "pin drop vs. space shuttle launch recorded in an anechoic chamber" duets I hear are all the rage these days
*snip*
I have that one .

But, seriously, though...with modern electronics, have we reached (at about 120dB) the dynamic range limits due to thermal noise? If so, it really doesn't matter what the recording media can hold, that's our limit, right there, at playback.

I still know that it's enough to record anything "practical". Now, can we return to our regularly scheduled program regarding why recordings with such terribly measured DR can sound good, lol.

Also, more interestingly, given we have mixers in here, is what "tricks" are being used to "stuff" all the "texture" in while still providing an incredibly "sculpted" image. Because, as I have said quite a few times, I'll take this "texture" over dynamic range any day! It may not be as "natural", but pretty much everything I listen to is not natural. If I want to listen to a symphony, I'll go to a hall, and my system at home sounds damn good playing a symphony back, but it will not sound like a live event in a hall because (writes novel here).
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post #80 of 122 Old 02-18-2020, 11:32 AM
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.

But, seriously, though...with modern electronics, have we reached (at about 120dB) the dynamic range limits due to thermal noise?
Much, much less than that if using music/sound recorded with a microphone. Here's the latest version of the classic Neumann 87, a studio reference mic costing about $3600 ,we all have heard countless recordings from:

~70dB signal to noise ratio CCIR, depending on selected pickup pattern
~80dB dB A-weighted

Of course if your music never existed as sound traveling through the air, i.e. electronic, then no mic SNR limitation occurs. Then the thermal noise of the electronics and the bit depth of the recording technology become the bottlenecks.

Human hearing has bottle necks too, but it depends on things like exposure time [I always stick to OSHA guidelines], NIHL [noise induced hearing loss] ethics boards, and did we hear the Space Shuttle launch before or after the pin drop part of the duet?
Once exposed to loud sound our sensitivity to faint sounds is completely shot for hours, so we had better hear the pin drop first, before the Space Shuttle launch, and renting out the multi-million dollar anechoic chamber to hear the pin drop (or snail eating lettuce?) isn't going to be cheap. . . plus, where do we fit the space shuttle rocket in such a room?

There's also the bottle neck of sound in air. At some point, I vaguely recall 200dBSPL to 240dBSPL, air molecules stop working right. They bash into each other so violently they cause nuclear fusion explosions or something like that, I forget. jj johnston explained it here once.

I would think there is a lower limit too where the wiggling of one air molecule isn't enough to excite the ones next to it to propagate the sound. They simply ignore the trembling one.

Humans stop hearing around -6 dBSPL, we think but can't be sure, because the ambient noises of one's own heartbeat and digestive tract peristolsis (sp?) mask any fainter sounds.

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Much, much less than that if using music/sound recorded with a microphone. Here's the latest version of the classic Neumann 87, a studio reference mic costing about $3600 ,we all have heard countless recordings from:

~70dB signal to noise ratio CCIR, depending on selected pickup pattern
~80dB dB A-weighted

Of course if your music never existed as sound traveling through the air, i.e. electronic, then no mic SNR limitation occurs. Then the thermal noise of the electronics and the bit depth of the recording technology become the bottlenecks.
I listen to a good bit of music that likely never existed in air. Also, I'm inclined to believe that modern recording techniques (for the music I listen to, at least) are moving more towards near-field mic'ing and capturing tons of tracks to layer them (maybe even use them to separate the "noise" from the instrument, e.g., drums where you may want to capture just the snare, but will be capturing lots of other drums, too, with a mic, all the other non-snare drums are "noise"...this interests me, too, but...that's something else for another time).

Regardless, I would guess as long as the mic can meet the DR needs of the instrument, then we're good, I suppose. Of course, I still haven't gotten a "good answer" for what the required dynamic range is to record a drum or piano or saxophone "accurately" -- I'd guess 70dB will do, though?

Plus, like someone else pointed out above, "auto-tune" for instruments is becoming a bigger thing. Drum samples have become insane! MIDI drums are certainly a thing, and they aren't going away, either. I contend that this isn't a "bad thing" for recordings, but...I'm "dumb", lol.
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Human hearing has bottle necks too, but it depends on things like exposure time [I always stick to OSHA guidelines], NIHL [noise induced hearing loss] ethics boards, and did we hear the Space Shuttle launch before or after the pin drop part of the duet?
not gonna let that go, eh? That's ok, I can take the ribbing...so long as I'm "technically right", and I believe I am. I think I've admitted how little my technical correctness matters in the "real world", so....yeah .
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Once exposed to loud sound our sensitivity to faint sounds is completely shot for hours, so we had better hear the pin drop first, before the Space Shuttle launch, and renting out the multi-million dollar anechoic chamber to hear the pin drop (or snail eating lettuce?) isn't going to be cheap. . . plus, where do we fit the space shuttle rocket in such a room?
Funny guy...but, I know about masking noises...I think I've posted as much in this thread, too...you know, regarding why adding more dynamic range may actually "hurt" "texture" because loud followed by soft makes soft less audible. I'm sure you know this premise is also something lossy compression leverages, too.
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There's also the bottle neck of sound in air. At some point, I vaguely recall 200dBSPL to 240dBSPL, air molecules stop working.
I would think there is a lower limit too.
That's interesting...are we "over-compacting" air, and then what happens?

I'm sure there is some lower limit, I mean, even our ears have a lower limit -- certainly I feel as if I can hear my blood flow whilst in an anechoic chamber; that's a definite human limit. But, I'd figure something sets similar limits in the physical world -- thermal noise?
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I listen to a good bit of music that likely never existed in air. Also, I'm inclined to believe that modern recording techniques (for the music I listen to, at least) are moving more towards near-field mic'ing and capturing tons of tracks to layer them (maybe even use them to separate the "noise" from the instrument, e.g., drums where you may want to capture just the snare, but will be capturing lots of other drums, too, with a mic, all the other non-snare drums are "noise"...this interests me, too, but...that's something else for another time).

Regardless, I would guess as long as the mic can meet the DR needs of the instrument, then we're good, I suppose. Of course, I still haven't gotten a "good answer" for what the required dynamic range is to record a drum or piano or saxophone "accurately" -- I'd guess 70dB will do, though?

Plus, like someone else pointed out above, "auto-tune" for instruments is becoming a bigger thing. Drum samples have become insane! MIDI drums are certainly a thing, and they aren't going away, either. I contend that this isn't a "bad thing" for recordings, but...I'm "dumb", lol.

not gonna let that go, eh? That's ok, I can take the ribbing...so long as I'm "technically right", and I believe I am. I think I've admitted how little my technical correctness matters in the "real world", so....yeah .

Funny guy...but, I know about masking noises...I think I've posted as much in this thread, too...you know, regarding why adding more dynamic range may actually "hurt" "texture" because loud followed by soft makes soft less audible. I'm sure you know this premise is also something lossy compression leverages, too.

That's interesting...are we "over-compacting" air, and then what happens?

I'm sure there is some lower limit, I mean, even our ears have a lower limit -- certainly I feel as if I can hear my blood flow whilst in an anechoic chamber; that's a definite human limit. But, I'd figure something sets similar limits in the physical world -- thermal noise?
Hello again. Stopped by to see what's new in the thread. I'll be back to address some of your other questions when I have a little time Just very busy right now. It's an interesting and sometimes amusing discussion. Cheers.
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post #83 of 122 Old 02-18-2020, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello again. Stopped by to see what's new in the thread. I'll be back to address some of your other questions when I have a little time Just very busy right now. It's an interesting and sometimes amusing discussion. Cheers.
I'll take "interesting and sometimes amusing", lol.

I'm just glad to have more knowledgeable participants than me, whenever they can participate and I certainly understand "busy"!
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Why am I beating a dead horse? At this point, I think I'm trying to "agree" that more dynamic range is "always" better (I still don't, I'm inclined to believe it is an artistic choice). However, I suppose we can all agree "dynamic range compression" as used in some recordings is evil. But, some isn't all, and DRC may still be a "necessary evil" for some genres / styles (in which case, is it really "evil" when used "properly"). Maybe if I were to re-title the thread, it'd be, "is having a low DR "score" evil". Whatever....

Regardless, I would like to continue to learn from industry pros like @garygreyh the subtleties of DRC, how and when it can be used "correctly" and how it may impact the mixing process and final mix. It may even turn out to be a "good thing" for some music...seems I don't seem to mind it when done "well". Thus, ultimately, no matter what you or anyone says, I find much modern content to sound fantastic despite its measured-as-low DR. I still care to get to the bottom of this and I'm still not ready to place all the blame for a low DR measurement strictly on DRC.

I also want to get to the bottom of how much DR is "enough" (for music), shall we just use the crest factor of "average" music? I don't know if that's adequate...not all music is "average". What is good DR for a rock concert where all guns are ablaze? What happens to the DR when you keep adding more and more to a mix and how can a good engineer compensate if not with DRC?

Finally, whether or not certain "styles" (those that lack an "acoustic advantage", maybe) are "doomed" to lack DR as we add more and more "texture" to music (in order to preserve the artistic intent, possibly?). Did you even bother to check out any of the "horrible" Sunn O))) tracks from the disc linked in the original post -- it has a dynamic range score of "2" and certainly it "drones" (that's the style), but there is so much spectral content it's like a wall of sound with tons of different "texture" coming at you throughout the sound-stage. This is probably an artistic choice...but if all you used was the DR measurement you may write it off. And, while I think we've "concluded" that the DR measurement isn't a good arbiter, I'd still like to know more.

You are free to stop participating, but please don't post things whose intentions I can only believe are to kill the thread or proclaim it dead like you did above (with your /thread comment that I said nothing about).

I still think we (and especially I) have something to learn in here. If you don't, peace. Maybe this thread is bordering on philosophical at this point, but I enjoy a good philosophy discussion, too. If it dies, it dies...whatever...don't push it over the cliff, please.

Other idea, I can peace out of this forum all together and find somewhere else to learn. Seems that would work for everyone, too. Maybe I'll head over to gearslutz or something....
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Why am I beating a dead horse? At this point, I think I'm trying to "agree" that more dynamic range is "always" better (I still don't, I'm inclined to believe it is an artistic choice). However, I suppose we can all agree "dynamic range compression" as used in some recordings is evil. But, some isn't all, and DRC may still be a "necessary evil" for some genres / styles (in which case, is it really "evil" when used "properly"). Maybe if I were to re-title the thread, it'd be, "is having a low DR "score" evil". Whatever....



Regardless, I would like to continue to learn from industry pros like @garygreyh the subtleties of DRC, how and when it can be used "correctly" and how it may impact the mixing process and final mix. It may even turn out to be a "good thing" for some music...seems I don't seem to mind it when done "well". Thus, ultimately, no matter what you or anyone says, I find much modern content to sound fantastic despite its measured-as-low DR. I still care to get to the bottom of this and I'm still not ready to place all the blame for a low DR measurement strictly on DRC.



I also want to get to the bottom of how much DR is "enough" (for music), shall we just use the crest factor of "average" music? I don't know if that's adequate...not all music is "average". What is good DR for a rock concert where all guns are ablaze? What happens to the DR when you keep adding more and more to a mix and how can a good engineer compensate if not with DRC?



Finally, whether or not certain "styles" (those that lack an "acoustic advantage", maybe) are "doomed" to lack DR as we add more and more "texture" to music (in order to preserve the artistic intent, possibly?). Did you even bother to check out any of the "horrible" Sunn O))) tracks from the disc linked in the original post -- it has a dynamic range score of "2" and certainly it "drones" (that's the style), but there is so much spectral content it's like a wall of sound with tons of different "texture" coming at you throughout the sound-stage. This is probably an artistic choice...but if all you used was the DR measurement you may write it off. And, while I think we've "concluded" that the DR measurement isn't a good arbiter, I'd still like to know more.



You are free to stop participating, but please don't post things whose intentions I can only believe are to kill the thread or proclaim it dead like you did above (with your /thread comment that I said nothing about).



I still think we (and especially I) have something to learn in here. If you don't, peace. Maybe this thread is bordering on philosophical at this point, but I enjoy a good philosophy discussion, too. If it dies, it dies...whatever...don't push it over the cliff, please.



Other idea, I can peace out of this forum all together and find somewhere else to learn. Seems that would work for everyone, too. Maybe I'll head over to gearslutz or something....


I just f-ing with you, Dream...


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I just f-ing with you, Dream...


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I'm sure you fooled him...this forum has gotten too serious on people... especially a select few members...you know who you are.Im all for learning and he is right to take things the way he did.

Stay around dream... ignore the members that don't seem genuine.

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. . .That's interesting...are we "over-compacting" air, and then what happens?
Heat

DR compression is not a necessary evil, rather a powerful tool used on practically every production. My background is engineering based and I to had the privilege of knowing Mr Katz. One of my first questions to him was:

“why should i put a variable attenuator my perfectly calibrated mixing room i.e.

-20dBFS = 83-85 dBSPL +/- (.1 dB)

and

-20dBFS = 1.23V rms = +4 dBu

“if i lower the in room target dBSPL, my mix engineer will in turn compress their mix

I kid you not, his word for word reply was:

Your f-in right

Bob Katz’ whole K-metering system is contrived on this ear / room interaction.

79 to 81 mix room (dBSPL) calibration does result in really nice DR with just the right amount of overall DR management.
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Why am I beating a dead horse? At this point, I think I'm trying to "agree" that more dynamic range is "always" better (I still don't, I'm inclined to believe it is an artistic choice). However, I suppose we can all agree "dynamic range compression" as used in some recordings is evil. But, some isn't all, and DRC may still be a "necessary evil" for some genres / styles (in which case, is it really "evil" when used "properly"). Maybe if I were to re-title the thread, it'd be, "is having a low DR "score" evil". Whatever....

Regardless, I would like to continue to learn from industry pros like @garygreyh the subtleties of DRC, how and when it can be used "correctly" and how it may impact the mixing process and final mix. It may even turn out to be a "good thing" for some music...seems I don't seem to mind it when done "well". Thus, ultimately, no matter what you or anyone says, I find much modern content to sound fantastic despite its measured-as-low DR. I still care to get to the bottom of this and I'm still not ready to place all the blame for a low DR measurement strictly on DRC.

I also want to get to the bottom of how much DR is "enough" (for music), shall we just use the crest factor of "average" music? I don't know if that's adequate...not all music is "average". What is good DR for a rock concert where all guns are ablaze? What happens to the DR when you keep adding more and more to a mix and how can a good engineer compensate if not with DRC?

I don't think you're necessarily beating a dead horse. I do think that you haven't (to this point) gotten the answers you're looking for to the original questions you asked. In my first reply in this thread, I was attempting to explain what excessive compression / limiting can do a finished mix using the Matt Mayfield audio example. Since the example is already posted for everyone to listen to, it's an easy way for readers to listen a little closer to what was happening "inside" the mix, and not just noticing the obvious increase in general loudness. The biggest offenders are "remasters" of classic albums, that already sounded great and have basically just been pumped up in volume and low frequency energy in order to "sound more modern"? To me, it's mostly a vehicle to get people to re-buy something they already own, in the hopes that it will somehow sound better than the original. All too often, they do not.



Let's get back to a couple of your early questions...


Is dynamic range compression evil? Not always, and it's a necessary component of music distribution. It always has been. The physical mediums of vinyl and tape have limits on how much DR is available. Broadcasts have to fit into the bandwidth allotted to the broadcaster. Digital recording provides much more usable dynamic range. The irony of this whole situation is that, in an effort to have their music "pop" relative to everything else, only a small percentage of the available dynamic range is being utilized. As the loudness wars have been an issue for quite some time, engineers have adjusted the way they record and mix music to minimize the negative effects that substantial compression / limiting can have on the finished product. In other words, the material is recorded and mixed with far less dynamic range than is available, so that less compression / limiting is needed at the mastering stage to get the relative loudness levels up. Consequently, there are plenty of great sounding pop recordings that achieve good fidelity without having a large dynamic range. I would be interested in what @Rex Anderson could add about the state of DR in the classical world, and if they suffer from the loudness wars to any real extent.



On another note, mastering engineers, (good ones anyway) hate receiving overly compressed mixes as it ties their hands in what they can do to bring out the best in the material. Mastering (like recording and mixing) is part science and part art. The "art" part of that process is naturally more subjective than the science part.



Another question you asked was how much DR do we need? The answer is "it depends" (that's actually the answer to almost every audio related question in one way or another). It depends on the delivery medium in use, it depends on the genre of music being recorded, it depends on the intent of the artist / producer and it depends on the listeners idea of what sounds good to them and what their expectations are. I generally avoid the conversations that so often take place on these types of forums, that end up in the weeds, talking about the theoretical limits of everything. The "pin drop vs. shuttle launch" tangent is a good example. I live and work in the real audio world, not the theoretical one. I'll likely never record or play back the sound of a pin dropping, and I'll likely never record or playback a shuttle launch - and certainly not with an accurate rendering of it's real world SPL. As of today, here on planet Earth, if you want to accurately reproduce the sound of a shuttle launch, you're gonna need a space shuttle. It's not happening, (well, I suppose if you created a mountain of high output concert PA speakers the size of a Holiday Inn, you could get there, but not under any realistic scenario and certainly not in an average home), so to be blunt, I don't care if it's theoretically possible. It has no impact on my ability to do my job, or enjoy the work of others. As SPL rises, the amount of power required to increase SPL goes up substantially. The line between what's possible and what's practical does at some point, become an issue. People seem to forget that the dB scale is exponential. With regards to DR in the recording process, technologically, we're already in good shape if we're talking about recording musical performances (yes there are outliers like Bolero, etc). We have the bit depth to capture the dynamic range of music for all practical purposes.



Of course, it's everyone's right to discuss and debate these types of things, and I'd never suggest that they shouldn't. After all this is a forum for audio enthusiasts and lot's of enthusiasts enjoy discussing these concepts. It's part of the hobby. To each his own. I enjoy music. Playing it, recording it, mixing it and making a living being involved with it. Speakers, amps, recorders, microphones are all tools that I use to do my job. Because my ability to make a living depends on these tools, I have to be very careful about which ones I spend money on, Consequently, I spend more time figuring out things like truck space, weight, return on investment, durability and contract rider acceptance, than I do audio theory and theoretical limits of current technology.



With regards to the DR website (or whatever it's called)...



It seems like enough people must care about this, or there wouldn't be a website. I personally don't care. The only thing I need to determine if I think something is good, is me. I suppose there's some value in comparing different pressings of vinyl or different mastered versions of the same album, if that's what floats your boat. I have to say, that's just not me. I just don't give a rat's @ss if the new Duran Duran remaster has 3dB less dynamic range than the original. It's not my work, I didn't create it. If I listen to something and I like it, that's all that really counts. If I listen to something and I don't like it, I know why I don't like it. (Matt Mayfield audio clip is a perfect example of what I don't like about excessive compression). If the DR website can help folks choose a certain version of a recording, then it has value to them. I've somehow managed to continue to enjoy listening to music and watching movies despite knowing "how the sausage is made". Having a low DR scores only matters if it matters to you. Anyone that tries to dissuade you from your personal preferences under the guise of "educating" is out of line in my estimation. Audio equipment exists to reproduce sound. Some of it does a better job of it than others, but if the equipment you own provides you with a result that you're satisfied with, then I say enjoy the music you like, and enjoy the movies you like and if you enjoy learning more about how recordings are made, and how audio stuff works, then enjoy all of that too.

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The DR compression I’m talking about has nothing to do with DR bottlenecks (analogue or digital) but rather when implemented correctly, mild compression adds a barely perceptible aesthetic to a given mix and definitely has merit.

We capture audio at higher resolutions (bit depth and rate) for good reason. There will be a benefit when the DAW (digital audio workstation) takes this digital payload up to 64 bit on its internal mix bus (probably linearized data at this point and not logarithmic). Capture at 16/44.1 would suffer this upstream process. Also it’s paramount for proper dithering back down to 16/44.1 release format. When all is done properly the end-to-end production is effectively transparent.

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