Good recordings vs Bad recordings

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Mag

Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« on: 25 Apr 2018, 07:21 am »
Many audiophiles are low level listeners and probably prefer recordings that sound good at low volume. These aren't necessarily good recordings. Crank up the volume and they distort badly.

A good recording has to be transparent, not sound like it has a veil over it. Secondly, it may sound lacking at low volume, but crank it up loud and it doesn't distort. Instruments and vocals sound natural.

A cd recording however will distort at approximately 98 decibels, sacd approximately 117 decibels. This is the limits of the medium and not necessarily a bad recording.

I find most stereo recording to be hot, they are something like 1 to 4 volt output, and I can see it clip my multi-channel processor in multi-channel mode. That's why I have many concert dvds because generally they are smoother recordings meeting the THX standard of 2 volts and don't clip my processor. :smoke:

maty

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #1 on: 25 Apr 2018, 08:05 am »
The true problem is the loudness war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

And that now they are barely time in the recording studio. Everything is rushed and spend the least at studio.

I almost do not listen to modern recordings, let alone commercial music!

http://dr.loudness-war.info/

What logic does it take to spend a lot of money on a stereo system if it is used to listen to bad recordings?

FullRangeMan

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #2 on: 25 Apr 2018, 08:14 am »
Ray Kimber posted at the defunct SACD.NET forum he said years ago his Iso-Mike recordings (DSD64) used no compression, I bough some of the firsts SACDs from the catalogue and these recordings sound quite amazing, very different from usual commercial SACD.

JLM

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #3 on: 25 Apr 2018, 11:18 am »
Recordings have nothing to do with distortion at different playback sound pressure levels (spl).  That would be more of a function of your ability to hear and overloading of the amp/speakers.

The CD/98 dB you reference is the headroom (between overload distortion and noise floor, and is also the dynamic range limitation of the medium).  As very quiet places still have 30 dB of background noise and the threshold of pain is 130 dB, the headroom of CD should be adequate for all but the specification hounds.

"Hot" recordings are the fault of the producer, which results in the loudness war maty mentioned.  This is also a function of the maximum output from the CD player or DAC and is a problem with vinyl (limited by the 'wiggle' of the groove/stylus).

Mag

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #4 on: 25 Apr 2018, 11:54 am »
Recordings have nothing to do with distortion at different playback sound pressure levels (spl).  That would be more of a function of your ability to hear and overloading of the amp/speakers.

Sorry if I'm not understanding your statement correctly, but as I understand it, I would have to disagree.
I'm thinking specifically of compressed recordings that are tolerable at low spl but not high spl. And Jesus Christ Superstar where the vocals are slightly distorted, again tolerable at low spl but not high spl.

So the distortions are already inherent in the recording regardless of equipment used.

mix4fix

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #5 on: 24 Apr 2019, 04:38 pm »
Does the overall "start" of the loudness war coincide with listening habits or music trends?

Meaning, if it started "X" amount of years ago, what was the music like at that time an/or how were people listening? MP3s on iPod'd earbuds? Styles of music at that time? Etc.

audioengr

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #6 on: 24 Apr 2019, 08:52 pm »
The system has to do with distortion, not the tracks.  It may seem like highly-compressed tracks have more distortion when loud, but the distortion is the same.  What happens in most systems is that the dynamic capability improves at higher levels, making a poor track sound worse.

Good examples of uncompressed tracks can be found at bluecoastrecords.com  I use many of these for reference and at shows.

Examples of highly compressed tracks include Santana Supernatural and most recordings of Bruno Mars.  It's a shame because I like Mars....

Steve N.

maty

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #7 on: 24 Apr 2019, 09:20 pm »
Does the overall "start" of the loudness war coincide with listening habits or music trends?

Meaning, if it started "X" amount of years ago, what was the music like at that time an/or how were people listening? MP3s on iPod'd earbuds? Styles of music at that time? Etc.

And the reissues too.

Yesterday,

The Who - Quadrophenia (1973), Vinyl, Track Record, Germany

https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/music/6958-playing-listening-post5769727.html

-> http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/year?artist=The+Who&album=Quadrophenia


Elizabeth

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #8 on: 24 Apr 2019, 10:12 pm »
I upgraded last year. To Magnepan 20.7 speakers (from 3.6) speant a lot on AC tidbits, and a new SACD/DAC, which I use 99.9% of the time as a DAC.
Now my speakers are a year old, and broken in, I have to say ALL (99%) of CD recordings sound very good. The few which sound bad are typically 1950's 'live' recordings using amateur techniques.
There are a few others which the limitations of the equipment also show. Some Classical recordings in particular are not as clear.
(I do not listen to much CURRENT Rock and Roll or Pop music. So my exposure to the extreme effects of compression are very limited. Though I do own a few, which are rather disgusting, but not bad sounding.)
I am listening to Miles Davis, before Coltrane.. Sound is immediate, fresh, alive. 1950's..
These guys could be in my living room!
With the recent new stuff, nearly every recording sounds AMAZING.
Three primary parts I would say brought this to be. The Speakers. No question. The 17 Furutech AC duplex for the system, and finally the Duelund CAST midrange resistors.

Just to state: I have ZERO complaints about recordings. They ALL seem (a few just good) to a lot pretty good to a lot really amazing...

mix4fix

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #9 on: 26 Apr 2019, 04:50 pm »
What I am curious is when the loudness started, and what music or trend was associated with it? Obviously, something made the engineers do this. Why?

On a side note, I think people are to worried about sound quality and don't just enjoy the music at hand. At least my personal view is that most modern music does not interest me (on an art level) but when I do find something I like I enjoy it to the max (not caring about sound quality).

timind

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #10 on: 26 Apr 2019, 07:29 pm »
What I am curious is when the loudness started, and what music or trend was associated with it? Obviously, something made the engineers do this. Why?

On a side note, I think people are to worried about sound quality and don't just enjoy the music at hand. At least my personal view is that most modern music does not interest me (on an art level) but when I do find something I like I enjoy it to the max (not caring about sound quality).
Read the Wikipedia link Maty posted. It's a good explanation of what and why this is done. The graphs are a perfect illustration.

Elizabeth

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #11 on: 26 Apr 2019, 07:33 pm »
The loudness war has always been about airplay. Whether over the air AM/FM or streaming.
The IMMEDIATE first impression is all that matters to get the person to stop changing whatever and continue listening. The loudest possible is the most likely to get that to happen. All other consideration have no value.
And it has been going on since radio started. Just of late, with the extra power of digital compression it has gotten much worse.
I have mostly old CDs.. so not too bad. A few recent Rock CDs are super compressed.
« Last Edit: 26 Apr 2019, 10:26 pm by Elizabeth »

Mag

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #12 on: 26 Apr 2019, 09:49 pm »
I don't have a good explanation for why I dislike the current day popular music so much, streamed through the PA system at work. I suspect it may be auto-tune on the vocals, though I don't really know what that sounds like, but it is some form of compression.

 I don't hear in the vocals a well trained singer with perfect pitch like for example Flashdance by Irene Cara as she's dancing around on stage. Or numerous other singers from past hits that could actually sing.

Every genre has its share of crap music and the current music is no different. It just that there is something about it that irritates my subconscious mind. :|

Elizabeth

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #13 on: 26 Apr 2019, 10:31 pm »
The current state of modern Rock is a kind of droning drivel. Where the same basic chords are played over and over and over with no real talent in the music. All the content is 'in the words' which are also delivered in the same droning... I despise it. Kind if like 'Shoe gazing' but way worse. 
Of you go by the top sellers top downloads etc for current star Rock groups, 2/3 ... heck, 4/5 of them play in this manner.

Bob2

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #14 on: 27 Apr 2019, 12:32 am »
I suspect it may be auto-tune on the vocals, though I don't really know what that sounds like, but it is some form of compression.

Take a listen to Cher "Believe".  Auto-tune was used as a goof and she said "leave it in". Seems most people liked it.

mix4fix

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #15 on: 27 Apr 2019, 01:46 am »
That song is annoying and overplayed.

So, we can blame her for ruining today's music?

Freo-1

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #16 on: 27 Apr 2019, 02:38 am »

Lately, the only recordings I actually purchase are SACD Classical of current vintage, which are pretty much done in Europe, with a few exceptions.  They are hi res, and sound very good.  For my main system, I convert them to PCM, which arrives at the Devialet 400 as 88KHZ and 22 to 24 bit.  There are some recordings where they almost sound like you are in the hall.  Also have a Mac setup with a dedicated DSD input via a DIN cable, and that sounds better than straight CD as well.


For good recordings, check out the AIX catalogue.  They have some great demo discs to show off your system. 


Most of the current pop/rock recordings are pretty bad sonically.  The older legacy recordings can sound pretty good (check out the Sinatra recordings from Capitol), but you can't get hi-res from a non hi-res source.  Audiophiles often get sucked into this.  Honestly, streaming most current pop/rock from you tube is more than adequate. 




Bob2

Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #17 on: 27 Apr 2019, 10:38 am »
That song is annoying and overplayed.

So, we can blame her for ruining today's music?

No argument with you there. Just pointing out a blatant example of auto- tune.

mix4fix

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Re: Good recordings vs Bad recordings
« Reply #18 on: 27 Apr 2019, 07:32 pm »
According to the article, it seems like it has been happening for a long time in order to make Pop records more in interesting. But, I think the real problem is when they switched to digital.

So, does that mean that analog IS better than digital?