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Recording quality?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

Any of you finding they have trouble accepting the observation that some recordings you just can't enjoy due to their technical quality?

I listen mostly to electronic music and there's plenty of great recordings out there. Even a regular podcast, as long as the mix consists of decent recordings, can be more than fine. Sadly, I've had complete commercial albums that had terrible technical audio quality, where there's hardly any sound stage and all the elements and instruments are just dumped straight in front of you. I've also had tracks where the quality is mostly good, but there's one or two samples used that stand out in a bad way. When it's the cymbals, it is sometimes fully able to kill the enjoyment of the track.

I've had to say goodbye to quite a few recordings I used to like, which I can still listen to through my speakers and have no issue with. But I've found myself grown sensitive to the HD650's rendering of music to the point where I just get annoyed by those recordings that sound too tinny and narrow. I don't want to, I mean I would like to be able to enjoy those songs. It's just that I can't.

 

The talk about 16 bit or 24 bit, 128 kb/s or FLAC can be pretty interesting, but the one thing I dread the most is finding out the recording quality is bad. How about you guys? Was just wondering for instance if you've experienced this as an issue and with what genres you find it most troublesome.

post #2 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post

Any of you finding they have trouble accepting the observation that some recordings you just can't enjoy due to their technical quality?

I listen mostly to electronic music and there's plenty of great recordings out there. Even a regular podcast, as long as the mix consists of decent recordings, can be more than fine. Sadly, I've had complete commercial albums that had terrible technical audio quality, where there's hardly any sound stage and all the elements and instruments are just dumped straight in front of you. I've also had tracks where the quality is mostly good, but there's one or two samples used that stand out in a bad way. When it's the cymbals, it is sometimes fully able to kill the enjoyment of the track.

I've had to say goodbye to quite a few recordings I used to like, which I can still listen to through my speakers and have no issue with. But I've found myself grown sensitive to the HD650's rendering of music to the point where I just get annoyed by those recordings that sound too tinny and narrow. I don't want to, I mean I would like to be able to enjoy those songs. It's just that I can't.

 

The talk about 16 bit or 24 bit, 128 kb/s or FLAC can be pretty interesting, but the one thing I dread the most is finding out the recording quality is bad. How about you guys? Was just wondering for instance if you've experienced this as an issue and with what genres you find it most troublesome.


It's all in the mastering.

 

I eventually got fed up collecting sub par recordings and decided to fix them myself. It's sad when so many recordings are actually recorded well, mixed well and then get turned into turds during the mastering phase. Incredibly frustrating!

post #3 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post


It's all in the mastering.

 

I eventually got fed up collecting sub par recordings and decided to fix them myself. It's sad when so many recordings are actually recorded well, mixed well and then get turned into turds during the mastering phase. Incredibly frustrating!


Interesting. How does one go about doing the mastering themselves? Correct me if I'm wrong but that doesn't seem like something the average person can do..?

post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post
 where there's hardly any sound stage and all the elements and instruments are just dumped straight in front of you.

This is listening on headphones, right ?

Unless the recording was Binaural ORthe mix was ALSO  made to sound good on headphones ..

That's just the way it is !

A good example would be Quincy Jones Michael Jackson productions .. They sound almost as good on headphones as on 'real' speakers !

post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKG240mkII View Post

This is listening on headphones, right ?

Unless the recording was Binaural ORthe mix was ALSO  made to sound good on headphones ..

That's just the way it is !

A good example would be Quincy Jones Michael Jackson productions .. They sound almost as good on headphones as on 'real' speakers !

 

Thank you for your reply.


I tend to think it's more a matter of degree to be honest.

Some songs have a very good soundstage, very wide so to speak, where you can clearly tell the entire "width" of the headphone is used. Then there's the tracks that have a narrower sound stage, tracks that put the mids in front of you rather than coming from left/right, tracks that use a mixture of good and bad quality samples. Generall, it seems that tracks that put certain elements in the middle without any directional cues are the ones that sound the worst. For instance, when I hear mediocre sounding bass, it's also usually true that it's placed dead center. Mostly, whenever it seems to have directional ques, it also means it sounds good.

I'm trying to figure out connections and the logic behind it, but it's pretty hard to do (and even harder to explain :)).

 

What you say about the Michael Jackson productions - I would think that those are just generally great recordings, and not that they're primarily made with headphone usage in mind. I think if a recording is of great quality, then it will sound great either with speakers or headphones. Ofcourse, there will always be exceptions. Also, I may be totally wrong ofcourse. That has however definitely been my experience.


Edited by Nirvana Woman - 12/30/12 at 5:38am
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post


Interesting. How does one go about doing the mastering themselves? Correct me if I'm wrong but that doesn't seem like something the average person can do..?


You need the appropriate equipment and knowledge. I certainly feel that with adequate training and proper ear training, any person can do it. It takes time, patience, and skill. It took me about 6-7 years of constant practice before I was comfortable offering my services for hire.

post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post

Any of you finding they have trouble accepting the observation that some recordings you just can't enjoy due to their technical quality?

 

 

I have trouble accepting that. I find that if the musical content is sufficiently captivating I can ignore just about any kind of technical issue.

 

Anybody who listened to commercial AM (pirate radio, Radio Luxembourg) in the UK in the 60's and 70's will know what I'm talking about. We got a bit frustrated when the audio faded out completely, but it had to be really bad before we gave up listening. Like, big chunks missing.

 

That's why I find the whole audiophile business so frustrating and, IMO, pretentious. Good quality reproduction is nice, but as far as I'm concerned it's not the be-all and end-all when it comes to enjoying recorded or broadcast music.

 

w

post #8 of 48
My music collection goes back over 100 years. I have modern digital recordings, and acoustic recordings done in 1907. The music is what matters to me. That said, even an acoustic record from 1907 can be well recorded. Balance is more important than fidelity.
Edited by bigshot - 12/30/12 at 3:44pm
post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post


It's all in the mastering.

 

I eventually got fed up collecting sub par recordings and decided to fix them myself. It's sad when so many recordings are actually recorded well, mixed well and then get turned into turds during the mastering phase. Incredibly frustrating!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post


Interesting. How does one go about doing the mastering themselves? Correct me if I'm wrong but that doesn't seem like something the average person can do..?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LFF View Post


You need the appropriate equipment and knowledge. I certainly feel that with adequate training and proper ear training, any person can do it. It takes time, patience, and skill. It took me about 6-7 years of constant practice before I was comfortable offering my services for hire.

Your reply would seem to imply that you have some way of correcting bad mastering after the fact, but what you are really suggesting is that someone learn how to properly master.  

 

There's pretty much nothing that can be done to un-do certain mastering processes once they're done, in particular those processes used to fight the "loudness war".  

 

Learning to properly master is certainly worth while, but won't have any impact on the existing poorly done material unless you get the unlikely opportunity to re-master from the original tapes or files before the damage was done.

post #10 of 48
It's possible to do a bit of equalization and a little dynamic expansion after the fact. But I look at my collection of rock music and tally up all the time it would take and just listen to classical and jazz instead.
post #11 of 48

I listen to a lot of rap and hiphop and I have albums since the time bitrates don't matter and I'm using cheap headphones and speakers. Moving to a little more hi-fi setup I get so annoyed by the sampling quality and the mastering. It's really a dealbreaker when the music you love has bad mastering and recording.

It's like, when you begin to hear with a new pair of ears, you can't revert back to those times again.

 

Such a bummer....

post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

It's possible to do a bit of equalization and a little dynamic expansion after the fact. But I look at my collection of rock music and tally up all the time it would take and just listen to classical and jazz instead.

That would be true of masters of pop/rock/country of 25 years ago or so, certainly not true today.  Loudness processing is now multi-band compression and limiting with each band having different time constants, aggressive peak limiting and then clipping.  With all that going on, you just can't un-do it unless you know exactly what was done, how much, at what thresholds, time constants, crossover frequencies, etc.  And, you really can't un-do clipping, aside from what some plug-ins would have you believe.

 

Jazz and Classical audiences have always been more demanding of quality, so that kind of thing doesn't happen as much with those types of music.

post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post

I listen to a lot of rap and hiphop and I have albums since the time bitrates don't matter and I'm using cheap headphones and speakers. Moving to a little more hi-fi setup I get so annoyed by the sampling quality and the mastering. It's really a dealbreaker when the music you love has bad mastering and recording.

It's like, when you begin to hear with a new pair of ears, you can't revert back to those times again.

 

Such a bummer....


This is exactly what I was referring to. Glad (or well actually I should say sad) to hear I'm not the only one :).

post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post

Moving to a little more hi-fi setup I get so annoyed by the sampling quality and the mastering. It's really a dealbreaker...

 

 

So what do you draw from that? The intrinsic quality of the performance is not sufficient to carry the day. ...or, to put it another way, it was crap before, but now you can hear clearly that it's crap.

 

Seriously, I'm not trying to ignite a controversy here, but you can go and listen to an old Django Reinhart recording from the '40s, and still marvel at the artistry of the man. It's not stereo. It's got hiss and crackle. The bass is missing by today's standards...    ...but your feet still tap and you groove to the rhythm and you marvel at the sophistication and unexpectedness of the harmony and the intricacy of the melodic invention. It would be nicer, perhaps, if you could magically transform the quality to match today's standards, you might not want to listen to it all day, every day, but what modern recordings do you want to listen to all day, every day?

 

You may feel sad about these things, but it's just part of growing up, musically.

 

Here's something from another virtuoso of the past:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvfm9yJpewQ

 

w

 

Even an atheist can read the bible...

 

1 Corinthians 13:11

 

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by wakibaki View Post

 

So what do you draw from that? The intrinsic quality of the performance is not sufficient to carry the day. ...or, to put it another way, it was crap before, but now you can hear clearly that it's crap.

 

**snip**

Yeah it was crap before, and it is still crap now. Only difference is back then I have no idea how good audio can go.

Audio gear is just like fairy berries. Once you ate fairy berries, you wouldn't want to eat anything else anymore. Everything else tastes bland.

 

A lot of old songs are mastered and vinyl pressed beautifully, which is why now I'm starting my journey to vinyl.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nirvana Woman View Post


This is exactly what I was referring to. Glad (or well actually I should say sad) to hear I'm not the only one :).

I believe this happens to a lot of us. You're not alone.

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