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Why is so many old recordings bright?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Noticed that a lot of old music is terribly bright.

Patsy Cline, Linda Thompson for example even my DX 1000 get a hot treble???
Extremely poor mics or?
post #2 of 21
...or a lack of middle ear resonances EQ?

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/how...torial-413900/

Middle ear - Wikipedia
Quote:
The middle ear allows the impedance matching of sound traveling in air to acoustic waves traveling in a system of fluids and membranes in the inner ear.
I don't know what "old" means to you, or those artists you mentioned...but I listen to a lot of music from the 70's, and nothing's brighter than it should be here.
post #3 of 21

What source

Quote:
Originally Posted by oqvist View Post
Noticed that a lot of old music is terribly bright.

Patsy Cline, Linda Thompson for example even my DX 1000 get a hot treble???
Extremely poor mics or?
Are you listening to these "older" recordings on Vinyl or CDs???? It's more then likely not the Studio Equipment, most used tube mics, tube tape machines and only the best mixing boards that engineers would drool over now........As for the "Older" records, They're some of the best sounding Lps I have in my collection.........
post #4 of 21
There are many possibilities as to why old recordings can sound bright.

If they are really old, like transcription discs or 78's, it is probably due to bad mastering choices made by the sound restoration engineer and mastering engineer. It has become a bad habit to no-noise the hell out of such recordings instead of judiciously choosing the playback equipment and playback curves and settings. Bad choices and the use of noise reduction results in a pinched or thin sound. It has been my experience that a well transferred 78 or transcription disc can sound really, really good - nothing at all like the stuff most people think when they hear 78RPM.

If they are more modern - anything from the tape era - it can be due to playback machines, pre-amps, bad mastering, etc. There are many reasons why a recording can sound bright. The primary blame should go to the mastering engineer as the mastering engineer has the final call on the sound quality. Patsy Cline & Linda Thompson should sound warm and life-like - not bright at all. Based on the artists you posted, I'm inclined to think that it is due to bad mastering choices by the mastering engineer.

A good example of the mastering engineer's influence are the RVG remasters. Some of those titles have 4 different masterings or more. Check out the RVG of Blue Train. Compare the RVG Blue Train to Ron McMaster's mastering of Blue Train. Then compare both of those to the XRCD mastering. Then compare those to the recent Analogue Production release as mastered by Steve Hoffman. They all came from the exact same tape and yet they all sound radically different. Why? Different mastering engineers! Same thing with "Cool Struttin'" by Sonny Clark.

The most modern recordings, digital recordings, sound analytical and are usually missing a bit of warmth straight from the source. However, they should not sound bright either.

In short - whether it's an old transcription disc or a modern digital recording - the result of what we hear is directly influenced by the mastering engineer. It's all in the mastering. The biggest influence on what you hear isn't really your system...it's the mastering.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
I borrowed the cds from our beautiful library. They have pretty much all the old classics you could dream on and a lot of new music as well. Crazy place. So I don´t really have much information about the recording.

It´s CD and named Patsy Cline Walkin after midnight. Looks like some greatest hits collection. It sounds as mentioned bright and not real at all. I find that to be an issue with lot of these older gems though some is excellent too.
post #6 of 21
I have noticed used records can sound different than a brand new record, but in general, I think the older stuff the style of the time for the mixing and mastering was to go bright. Probably due to being aimed at being played on the radio, but I am just speculating really.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well yes these are indead very used with scratches all over the place generally. People just don´t know how to take care of these cds it seems
post #8 of 21
Modern recordings (modern being say 1995 to present) do have more punch and separation in the bass. Most likely due to improvements of (and now overuse of) dynamics compression and similar tools in mixing and mastering.

Older recordings can have a woolly or bloomy kind of bass that doesn't have good separation of the bass guitar, kick drum, toms and the lower registers of the guitars. Anyone who has listened to older MFSL CDs knows that sound. Modern recordings do better, but often at a price. I don't consider those older recordings to be bright or bass lite generally (though there are some exceptions like Van Halen OU812). The bass is still there. Just not punchy and separated. Then again, our listening choices might not overlap so you're listening to stuff that I'm not and are hearing a different sound than me.

LFF might be able to explain why the old school sound was like that in the bass and what compressors and other tools can do to make modern recordings (and modern remasterings) more punchy and separated in the bass when the compressors and other tools are used properly (ie not just for loudness). I think the older recordings were partly hamstrung by the technology of the period not being able to do better/different.

I still generally prefer listening to the older original recordings for pre 90s era and older music rather than remasters. Remasters have rarely done better other than being more "exciting" to listen to. Certainly not better for enjoying and getting to hear what good audio equipment is capable of.
post #9 of 21
another unlikely possibility is that early CDs did sometimes use RedBook's pre-emphasis - never seen today - maybe your playback chain bypassed the required de-emphasis?

others have blamed early CDs created from the LP mix - and may have highs boosted in anticipation of Vinyl's FR - not remastered for digital's perfectly flat FR
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post
another unlikely possibility is that early CDs did sometimes use RedBook's pre-emphasis - never seen today - maybe your playback chain bypassed the required de-emphasis?
Good point. I didn't think of that possibility, which is odd because I obsess over properly ripping pre-emphasis CDs. Listening to a pre-emphasis CD without doing the proper de-emphasis is unnaturally bright. Very much so.

But in reality there are very few CDs that actually have pre-emphasis. More common for classical, not very common for rock.

Computer playback will bypass the de-emphasis unless you are doing analog out from the CD-ROM drive. Some home CD players don't do de-emphasis now.
post #11 of 21
I have yet to find a commercial CD-DA that's got pre-emphasis, but yes sure...some very early releases maybe.

I remember trying it ages ago on a standalone CD burner in a studio, and it made the trebles really unbearable.
post #12 of 21
I think newer recordings have more bass information because cost of watts is lower and a lot of people have 100 watt amps. Whereas in the past the higher cost of watts led to recordings that didn't tax the smaller rated amplifiers of the past.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post
I think newer recordings have more bass information because cost of watts is lower and a lot of people have 100 watt amps. Whereas in the past the higher cost of watts led to recordings that didn't tax the smaller rated amplifiers of the past.

I like a free thinker.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ford2 View Post
I like a free thinker.
LOL!
post #15 of 21
After listening to a sample provided by the OP, I can confirm the bad sound is a result of two things:

1. A poor transfer job
2. Horrible mastering

I can tell it's a poor transfer job because of the noise involved.

The horrible mastering job speaks for itself. It has a wonky fake stereo effect and it just sounds plain bad. It's sad when records companies don't care enough to make a proper release.
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