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Why do CDs need to be mastered differently to Vinyl?

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Simple question. Do CD's need to be mastered differently to vinyl, and if so why?

I am listening to a CD now that sounds flat, lifeless and uninvolving. If it was vinyl I know it would struggle NOT to sound dynamic and full of foot tapping emotion.

When a song is mastered properly for CD it does sound good on my system, so I know its not a problem with my system.

So is there something extra or different in the mastering process of a CD that is required to give it that bit of vinyl like life and dynamics?
post #2 of 47
and it's only gonna get worse, because now the ipod's are being capped due to EU laws...and the only solution for kids to still be able to blast their ears off is to make the CD mastering even louder

I read a story of a mastering engineer who always asked his customers whether they wanted their stuff loud as hell or still "musical" sounding...more often than not, ppl went for the latter but ended up calling him a few days later like "hey! how come it's not as loud as XXXX ???"

the human ear thinks that louder = better, and the less dynamics the more efficient lossy compression gets...good thing they essentially release crap these days
post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
So is that why they need to re-master a lot of CD's to get them to sound good?
post #4 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark_Jump View Post
Simple question. Do CD's need to be mastered differently to vinyl, and if so why?

I am listening to a CD now that sounds flat, lifeless and uninvolving. If it was vinyl I know it would struggle NOT to sound dynamic and full of foot tapping emotion.

When a song is mastered properly for CD it does sound good on my system, so I know its not a problem with my system.

So is there something extra or different in the mastering process of a CD that is required to give it that bit of vinyl like life and dynamics?
CD's do need to be remastered a bit differently because of the physics involved in playing vinyl. It can't be too loud or else the needle will jump out of the groove and most engineers sum everything below 50Hz to mono to save on groove space. Also, most vinyl releases are actually mastered by competent engineers and because it's seen as a niche market, the producers/company/artists tend to back off and let the mastering engineers do a better job.

You're completely right in that it's not your system. It's the bad mastering on most CD's.


Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
and it's only gonna get worse, because now the ipod's are being capped due to EU laws...and the only solution for kids to still be able to blast their ears off is to make the CD mastering even louder

I read a story of a mastering engineer who always asked his customers whether they wanted their stuff loud as hell or still "musical" sounding...more often than not, ppl went for the latter but ended up calling him a few days later like "hey! how come it's not as loud as XXXX ???"

the human ear thinks that louder = better, and the less dynamics the more efficient lossy compression gets...good thing they essentially release crap these days
Sadly...this is very true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark_Jump View Post
So is that why they need to re-master a lot of CD's to get them to sound good?
Usually remastered CD's sound worse.
post #5 of 47
well, there's some good remasters(dustygroove?)...it all boils down to the target public and the manager's expectations...I've got many recent reggae/deep funk/jazz/soul remasters that sound mind blowing(Thank you "Mr Dithering" from the original master tapes ), and not loud as hell.

OTOH, mastering is here to make the sound more balanced, clearer/clearer and "tighter"....multiband dynamics compression is very much required in most cases to avoid dullness, but sparsely...again, everything' deadly, nothing's deadly, it all depends on the dose.

and if anyone ever wondered what that "mastered by nimbus" meant on many older CD's hub: “Mastered by Nimbus” CDs question. - SH Forums

here's a good paper from Bob Katz: Secrets of the Mastering Engineer
post #6 of 47
LOL.. the rematered CD's sound worse is just so......TRUE
post #7 of 47
Although lots of remasters have better balance and tonality than the original thin and digital sounding masters, they also suffer from clipping due to too much loudness which I really hate. I remember my first clipping cd back in the mid 90s and thought it was a factory defect. I thought getting another copy would fix the problem. Little did I know that this was a sign of things to come. The sad part was that the cd got high marks for sound quality in some british hifi mag.
post #8 of 47
CD remastering varies.

Some like Dire Straits are quite an improvement. The Cranberries have done a good job. Check out Beatles, stereo and mono versions.

But the (SACD yet!) remasters of Genesis (I'm thinking early years here) are too compressed and bright, such that the better drum presence and detail definition in general are lost to me --it is unlistenably bright, and without dynamics, the crecendos and thundering pedal points, and Mellotron swoons. What a missed, botched opportunity.
post #9 of 47
I suggest reading "Perfecting Sound Forever" which has plenty of info on the history of mastering for CD and vinyl. Vinyl doesn't have the dynamic range of CD, and the loudness of CD was originally not there. It wasn't until the 90s that engineers decided to hit the limits and beyond. In my library I've got incredible sounding CDs and lousy CDs. I've also got incredible vinyl and lousy vinyl. There are limitations to the media, but mostly you can blame the folks doing the mixing for the sound.
post #10 of 47
There are certainly at least SOME instances where recent vinyl releases have used the original analog tapes as the source, where the CD releases did not.
post #11 of 47
Did listen to an 80s stereo vinyl on a 70s Califone turntable. Sounds flat and muddy. Of course the cartridge is as old as the turntable, so.
There are some good CDs with excellent dynamic range (Megadeth - Countdown to Extinction), but these days new albums are compressed unlistenably (Death Magnetic, anyone?).
post #12 of 47
The answer is to give recording engineers headphones and speakers that exacerbate common recording mistakes/abuses. The Ultrasone pro 900 is a good candidate. Static, crackle and compressed noises sound like your head is being swarmed by flying insects, and the hollow midrange, tinny highs and choked bass will feel like fingernails down a chalk board with very smiley-curved music. If anyone ruins a record using such a phone, he should be put in a mental asylum where he can't do anymore harm.
post #13 of 47
guys, it's hardly ever the mastering engineer's fault...he's only obeying orders, customers want it loud or they'll get their mastering done somewhere else.
post #14 of 47
I was just joking anyway. Not like anyone involved in ruining a generation of music will be brought to justice. They'll just be the ones being lauded for ending the dark ages of thumpy drums and robot voices just like corporations are being praised for inventing organic food and saving the environment today.
post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
guys, it's hardly ever the mastering engineer's fault...he's only obeying orders, customers want it loud or they'll get their mastering done somewhere else.
I think this hits the proverbial nail on the head. It's been "survival of the loudest" on radio for 30+ years, and the proliferation of mp3 players has exacerbated that trend. If you want your music to be exposed to a larger audience, it has to stand out from the crowd, hopefully in the first 6-7 seconds of the song. Aspiring musicians are simply rational marketplace actors pursuing their self interest when they order their mixing engineer to crank it up.
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