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Dead Can Dance’s "Anastasis," Brickwalled?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I’ve been a fan of Dead Can Dance for a long time. So, writing this post is disheartening. 

 

Over the years, as my appreciation for music (and the equipment I use to listen to it) has evolved, I have paid increasingly more attention to the quality of the engineering of the audio itself. One method I use to do this is to view the waveform of a song by opening it in Audacity. 

 

As you can see from the attached images, “Opium,” from Anastasis, appears to be brick-walled. This waveform is typical of most of the songs on DCD’s latest album. For comparison, I’ve included the waveform of “The Host of Seraphim,” and earlier DCD song. 

 

Is this an example of the loudness wars at work? If so, I find it very disheartening to see a band with a reputation of high quality standards succumbing to this practice.

 

 

 

post #2 of 8

Yup.

 

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

So, here's a question...

Since the Anastasis album appears to be a casualty of the loudness war, would the vinyl version of this album be different from the digital version? (As a note, the waveform image of "Opium" shown above is from the 24/96 digital WAV file from the USB edition of the album).


Edited by AndrewZander - 3/14/13 at 6:23pm
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewZander View Post

So, here's a question...

Since the Anastasis album appears to be a casualty of the loudness war, would the vinyl version of this album be different from the digital version? (As a note, the waveform image of "Opium" shown above is from the 24/96 digital WAV file from the USB edition of the album).

It might.  There are no rules to this.  Since there are different maximum limits for vinyl, there would mostly likely be at least somewhat different mastering.  It's still possible to brick-wall on vinyl, but it's harder to do.  But it depends on at what point of the entire chain of events the brick-walling happened.  Sometimes recording engineers do it because they think their clients will want it, then the mastering engineer has nothing to work with.  

 

You can test this by using the free Dynamic Range meter here:

PC version

Mac version

 

By the way, Dynamic Range Day is March 22.  Celebrate by not playing that recording.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply!

 

I don't see where I can download the Dynamic Range meter, though. 

post #6 of 8

If you have foobar2000 just right click - ReplayGain - Scan. It's more accurate because it's based on EBU R128. Dynamically uncompressed tracks will show something like +8 dB (which means the track is too silent on average) and highly compressed tracks will show something up to -12 dB (which means way too loud, extremely compressed).

 

That's just loudness though, not dynamic range. But assuming the tracks are peak normalized (maximum sample value = 1.0) it's an indicator of how much compression was used.


Edited by xnor - 3/15/13 at 3:40pm
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

If foobar2000 was available for Mac, I'd like to try it out. Is there a Mac alternative?

post #8 of 8

The Mac DR meter is available and free.  The thing about using Foobar with the ReplayGain scan (EBU R128) is that it's a loudness-based figure only, as xnor pointed out, not dynamic range.  It's actually important too, but the DR meter actually shows more about how compressed and limited the material is.

 

Try this link for the Mac download:

http://mac.softpedia.com/get/Audio/Dynamic-Range-Meter.shtml

 

The other interesting tool that I use is AudioLeak, which is an Leq based evaluation system.  What's nice about that is, you get a graph of peak level, unweighted Leq, and weighted Leq vs time.  The curves together represent dynamic range and loudness, with the data indicating the peak or average levels for the entire file.  There's a free version as well.  Leq presents a figure that corresponds to the equivalent loudness of a continuous signal, even though the measured signal is not continuous.

 

http://www.channld.com/audioleak/

 

Bear in mind that because AudioLeak is based on Leq (Equivalent continuous loudness), and the DR meter is essentially similar to the K-sytem (K-14), so they will read somewhat differently, though in no case will the general trend of both meters not agree. You may see higher peak to average ratios with Leq than DR.  

 

The advantage of using the DR meter is that there is a growing database of DR measurements of popular recordings based on that meter, so for evaluating processing in recordings as each relates to the world in general, it's probably better.  My feeling is the Leq system may reflect reality a bit better, but it's a small point.

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