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Angry_Games

The Loudness War (aka why music cd's sound like crap these days)

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Thasp, the limitations you describe is more of a "hardware" issue. I'm fed with Bach since I was I child, and Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers (I used to visit Shostakovich's own hall - "The great hall" - and listen to his or other's music). With the right equipment - it doesn't have to be awfully expensive - you'll have absolutely no problem with a lack of dynamic.

 

If CD is more "real" than vinyl is questionable. Vinyl has the advantage of being the same from pressing the media to playing it; the disk is spinning in the exact same pace all the time. CD on the other hand has advantages, but it needs a lot of altering to play correctly: a crucial part of a CD player is the clock, which controls the rotation per second. The rotation per second has to be adjusted constantly because of the differences in speed between edge and center. Hence a good CD player, even based on this single criteria, isn't cheap.

 

A good option is actually to rip a CD with correction software to a hard-drive, and play the music from the hard-drive. In this way you circumvent the whole rotation-of-the-CD-issue. There's some really good combo CD/Hard-drive players on the market. However now we're moving up to a more expensive level.

 

A side note: both CD (or any similar media) and vinyl are both analog; different techniques both attempting to reproduce an analog (equivalent of the original) sound. I still can't understand why the industry started to mess up the terms.

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I've been following this thread with interest.

Some very useful comments have been made by everyone.

 

Angry's comments on compression/limiting, as well as the distortion caused by waveform clipping, often result in a terrible sounding bit of music.

 

And I respect Thasp's thoughts on CD sound being "honest" in that it also reflects the limitations of many recording studios (and noise issues that are present).

 

Both concerned about how the recording is made prior to pressing.

 

KimTjik's post raised a number of issues concerning the playback of the CD.

A CD player starts playing the disc from the center (not the outside) at a speed of 500RPM and then slows to 200RPM as it approaches the outside rim. So yes the clock is extremely important.

 

CD Players have really become a commodity it today's market, and entry level players just often can't do the job correctly (sonically). Error correction so that the beam is properly focused is extremely important, and difficult to accomplish. Scratches or blemishes to the reflective surface (on the label side) can give readout errors to the ones and zeros (lands and ridges). And then throw in the conversion of Digital back to Analog. DACs (digital to analog converters) are available in huge range of costs and performance.

 

Lot of stuff to go wrong from input to output.

 

Nice read if you'd like to know more about the ins and outs of CDs:

http://www.cdman.com/technical/howdocdswork1.html

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I remember when Red Hot Chilli Peppers "One Hot Minute" was released in '95, it was mastered so "hot" it distorted on every system it was played on. It had to go back to mastering and get re-released a little bit lower than the first time.

 

Besides, most of the idiots at the record labels don't really know how a record is made anyway.

 

Example: The other day I was sitting in the shop working on a few things and one of the assistants came in laughing his a5s off. I asked him what was so funny and he showed me an e-mail from the label to the producer on the session. In the e-mail, the record label idiot was making reference to a rough mix that was sent in for review and his response was, "can you make the highs last longer than the low's on the guitar parts?"

 

WTF? make the highs last longer than the low's? And these are the guys telling us what sounds good? Riiiiight.

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WTF? make the highs last longer than the low's? And these are the guys telling us what sounds good? Riiiiight.

 

Lol i wish i had £1 for every time time i've heard a "suit" say that.

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A lot of engineers are happy to ruin the music if that's what is asked of them. There's so much to keep track of in big sessions(and track must be kept quickly since when anyone questions their confidence in you, the session might as well be over), that the last thing he cares about is arguing with anyone about what sounds good.

 

If the record label and producer don't care about the music, why should the guy recording it?

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i never thought I'd say this, but I truly miss the vinyl...(for the same reason I keep going back to tube amplifiers over solid-state...there's no comparison between analog and digital for warmth and depth)

 

Oh man a fellow tube file, I never knew you loved tubes man...

 

 

Tubes are the choice to enjoyable sound... Yup Cd's do sound harsh, modern recordings are maxxed out in recording levels to keep with high radio volume levels. Red book does not sound too bad if you reclock your cd player and add a tube output stage..

 

I am still looking at getting some SET amps next year based on either the Monkey circuit or Parafeed topology..

 

Been round the block with amps, built SS amps of real enviable quality rivalling any $10k amp out there, but they all have that characteristic leading edge sharpness, due to high levels of feedback, that's why 'S' sounds like 'SSSS'..

 

There's just something about DH Triodes, that just beggars belief...

 

regards

Raja

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Redbook doesn't sound bad if the people know how to make a recording..

 

There was a comparison done between a ton of amps including a $300 panasonic 6 channel receiver, and no one could tell the difference between that or the NADs, Rotels, when they were working within their limits. I will find a link by later today, or I'll delete this part of the post if I can't. Try it yourself though, get an AB test setup going where you can switch instantly and have someone else do the switching, and you'll never ever hear a difference when the amp is working within its limits between a used Adcom GFA 555 and a krell.

 

That was solid state, with tubes only one $6K amp matched the panasonic in blind testing, because it had neutral output without harmonic distortion.

 

As far as the "SSSS", that has nothing to do with the solid state amp. It is recorded that way. There are many recording engineers who wish they had the technique to preserve the quality of the voice in a cheapo recording environment while not recording excessive SSSS. You say a word with an SSSSSSSSS right next to a mic, if you're recording digitally you'll even see it on screen. :)

 

The tube amp may take it away, but the solid state amp is not adding it in.

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This is a cool thread, I'm actually enjoying what I learn here.

 

I used to hit a ton of concerts when I was younger and I would judge a band by the difference between the recording and the live show. The very best of the best for keeping the music true in both areas was WASP and AC/DC, the worst was Motley Crue..

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Redbook doesn't sound bad if the people know how to make a recording..

 

There was a comparison done between a ton of amps including a $300 panasonic 6 channel receiver, and no one could tell the difference between that or the NADs, Rotels, when they were working within their limits. I will find a link by later today, or I'll delete this part of the post if I can't. Try it yourself though, get an AB test setup going where you can switch instantly and have someone else do the switching, and you'll never ever hear a difference when the amp is working within its limits between a used Adcom GFA 555 and a krell.

 

That was solid state, with tubes only one $6K amp matched the panasonic in blind testing, because it had neutral output without harmonic distortion.

 

As far as the "SSSS", that has nothing to do with the solid state amp. It is recorded that way. There are many recording engineers who wish they had the technique to preserve the quality of the voice in a cheapo recording environment while not recording excessive SSSS. You say a word with an SSSSSSSSS right next to a mic, if you're recording digitally you'll even see it on screen. :)

 

The tube amp may take it away, but the solid state amp is not adding it in.

 

I have heard the difference various amounts of global and closed loop feedback as well as settling times have on the leading edge definition of sounds on SS amps, to me they make a difference, as well as higher amounts of standing bias into class A..

 

 

These are the points I bow out of threads, it's all opinions and experience, I have my own and will stick with it.

 

regards

Raja

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The very best of the best for keeping the music true in both areas was WASP and AC/DC,

 

AC/DC always made shure it sounded the same, despite the label. Their attitude always was "if they don't like it, they can get f****d" ,They were more important than the label, and they knew it. So to them, things got done their way, or they did'nt get done at all.

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As much as I love my vinyl there's a single huge problem with it. It wears out every time you play the media. I don't care how much you spend on hardware, the needle in the groove causes wear and it changes the media with every play.

 

That said, give me properly engineered digital media all day every day cause it sounds the same every time it's played.

 

I had the extreme pleasure of working at Studio In The Country with Jim Odom on a few albums. Jim is the founder and president of PreSonus which some of you live music guys will recognize. http://www.presonus.com/

 

Jim is an artist and engineer with a genius intellect and and artists ear. I learned exactly why some music just sounded better and how to make it happen.

 

I translated what I learned from him into my work on the road and in nightclubs. By selecting equipment properly and providing a generous amount of headroom, my club and arena work was constantly praised as top-notch.

 

I'm currently pressing Jim to start work on a home theater/audio line to satisfy my tastes.

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