Poor cd quality - guilty artists?

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OzarkTom

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #40 on: 22 Apr 2018, 03:04 pm »
I always thought Adele was bad too, but sounds pretty good with my latest set-up. Best of Abba was much worse, but finally now tolerable.

Most(all) metal bands are still bad.
« Last Edit: 22 Apr 2018, 04:29 pm by OzarkTom »

Russell Dawkins

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #41 on: 22 Apr 2018, 06:04 pm »
This is very interesting to me Russell.  I always enjoy your posts as a window into the professional world.  So recording engineers despise audiophiles?  And audiophiles despise engineers that compress dynamics and destroy sound staging?  Seems like a system designed for failure.  Yet I have a library full of wonderful recordings.  Somebody didn't get the memo?  Thanks again for your insights.

No, I'm not saying audiophiles are despised in the engineering fraternity at all. Tolerated with bemusement, maybe—especially if you have had any personal experience with the immense power of expectation bias in subtle comparisons between different sounds.

An extreme example of audiophilia gone awry would be the system employing every tweak know to man—highest res source, cryo'd 99.9999% silver interconnects with silk dielectric, oriented in the 'correct' direction and of the 'correct' length (yes, there has been debate about that) feeding a preamp and power amp of pedigree with machine-turned 1/2" thick faceplates, feeding speakers with very wrong tonality, inadequate dynamic capability and wrongly positioned in a bad sounding room through very expensive and thick speaker wires carefully elevated off the floor.

That, or variations on that scenario.

In other words, the view is that 'audiophiles' are concentrating on the trees and missing the forest—obsessing about minutae and not addressing the big flaw. The speakers and the room.

The desire of most recording, mixing or mastering engineers, I think it's fair to say, is to provide the client and the listening public with a sonic experience that will thrill, delight or impress them, depending on the intended audience. That can only be accomplished by the artful manipulation of just a few variables, the most important (apart from the music and the performance) being the mix itself. How much of what do you put where in the panorama, and how do you adjust the tonality and dynamics of each element? Like stage makeup—if done well, the process is invisible.

To make all these decisions accurately (so that the resulting sound works on the greatest number of playback systems) what is needed at the mixing stage is accurate monitoring—particularly as pertains to the speakers and the room.

To satisfy the speaker needs the powered speaker has proven to be more effective than the passive speaker and, more recently, the type of powered speaker where the signal either enters in the digital domain or is converted internally to digital so that elaborate digital sound processing  (DSP) can be employed. This eliminates many of the pitfalls of the analog crossover in passive speakers. Steep crossover slopes are easy, without the nasty phase rotations intrinsic to analog crossovers, enabling sonic accuracy over a wider listening window, and accurate adjustments to the linearity of frequency response are also easy—and travel through capacitors is unecessary.

As to the room, professional acousticians are employed in the big budget rooms and room correction EQ has become more common. Many use the Trinnov system for this.

Anyway, the bottom line to this diatribe is that sound engineers do care very much about good sound, are not deaf for the most part and want to produce a result which brings pleasure to the greatest number of people listening on all manner of gear, from earbuds to monster systems, and to do this they concentrate on their monitor systems; both speakers and rooms.

dB Cooper

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #42 on: 22 Apr 2018, 07:32 pm »
This thread is all over the place.

As I understand it, the original question was what artists put out bad sounding music.

From there we somehow made it to arguing about obsolete recording and archiving formats.

My answer to the original question is, virtually all of them. However, it's not primarily the artist's fault. It's the producers, the record companies, and, in the end, the listeners. All of these have determined that 'Loud sells'. So 'Loud' is what they put out. A typical pop recording has maybe 5dB of dynamic range. That (aside from the fact that virtually all new pop sucks) is why I listen almost exclusively to Jazz and Classical. These have usually been deemed unworthy of The Big Push by the labels, so they tend to be abused less on their way through the production pipeline. If you've ever heard recordings done with minimal or no compression, it's a vastly different experience. An entire aspect of the language of music- dynamic contrasts- has been eliminated for commercial reasons. Pretty sad, really. But not really attributable to individual artists for the most part, IMHO.

OzarkTom

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #43 on: 22 Apr 2018, 10:23 pm »
This thread is all over the place.

As I understand it, the original question was what artists put out bad sounding music.

From there we somehow made it to arguing about obsolete recording and archiving formats.

My answer to the original question is, virtually all of them. However, it's not primarily the artist's fault. It's the producers, the record companies, and, in the end, the listeners. All of these have determined that 'Loud sells'. So 'Loud' is what they put out. A typical pop recording has maybe 5dB of dynamic range. That (aside from the fact that virtually all new pop sucks) is why I listen almost exclusively to Jazz and Classical. These have usually been deemed unworthy of The Big Push by the labels, so they tend to be abused less on their way through the production pipeline. If you've ever heard recordings done with minimal or no compression, it's a vastly different experience. An entire aspect of the language of music- dynamic contrasts- has been eliminated for commercial reasons. Pretty sad, really. But not really attributable to individual artists for the most part, IMHO.

Agreed.

If we all had the original master tape with a master tape machine, their would be no complaints on any artist. But that is impossible.

Russell Dawkins

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #44 on: 22 Apr 2018, 11:06 pm »
Agreed.

If we all had the original master tape with a master tape machine, their would be no complaints on any artist. But that is impossible.

Don't forget the master 'tape' is no longer a tape, but more likely to be multiple files in a folder, and that what you are hearing at home is more or less what the mixing engineer produced by mixing the many tracks from these tracks down to the 2 or so tracks you hear. The mastering engineer works from the stereo (or 5.1, or whatever) master the mixing engineer creates. Most of the damage, if damage is done, is done at the mixing stage, so what you are suggesting does not make sense, actually.

Do you follow me?

In other words, the 'master', if made in the last 50 years, is almost never a stereo pair but a multitrack tape or file. Typically, the mastering engineer does not change the sound hugely—what you hear as consumers is close to what the mixing engineer produced, mostly as a stereo file.

dB Cooper

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #45 on: 22 Apr 2018, 11:06 pm »

An extreme example of audiophilia gone awry would be the system employing every tweak know to man—highest res source, cryo'd 99.9999% silver interconnects with silk dielectric, oriented in the 'correct' direction and of the 'correct' length (yes, there has been debate about that) feeding a preamp and power amp of pedigree with machine-turned 1/2" thick faceplates, feeding speakers with very wrong tonality, inadequate dynamic capability and wrongly positioned in a bad sounding room through very expensive and thick speaker wires carefully elevated off the floor.

That, or variations on that scenario.


A little tour through the 'Systems' sections, I'm sorry to say, reveals the above approach to be not only common but perhaps even prevalent. But let's be real, it's often more about conspicuous consumption and status for many than it is about sound.

But the recordings we started out discussing are expected to be played on cheap earbuds or 'smart speakers', so maybe we're all tilting at windmills here...
« Last Edit: 23 Apr 2018, 04:36 am by dB Cooper »

DTB300

Re: Poor cd quality - guilty artists?
« Reply #46 on: 23 Apr 2018, 12:54 am »
..... The mastering engineer works from the stereo (or 5.1, or whatever) master the mixing engineer creates. Most of the damage, if damage is done, is done at the mixing stage, so what you are suggesting does not make sense, actually.
Great point....