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Dr. Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc - Head-Fi TV - Page 11

post #151 of 178

That is the whole point of 24 bit audio files, you get 144dB of dynamic range with uncompressed sound, if they were to master it any louder they would have to use compression. I have experimented creating binaural recordings and mixes with compression and it always compromises the spatialization effect; basically, compressed acoustic instruments sound unnatural, especially in 3D. Probably why binaural music never became popular.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

I love the binaural touch, but does anyone else think that the Chesky albums are all produced with too low of gain?  The volume, compared to everything else in my library, is extremely low.  I understand that contemporary music can be produced louder due to the loudness war, but the Chesky works are exceptionally low.

 

Perhaps Chesky could comment on why he chose the output / input levels of the albums?

post #152 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by miceblue View Post

I hope viewers don't fall into the whole HD/high resolution trap. HD audio (16+ bit/44.1+ kHz) provides no benefits to the end listener...so there's no point in wasting your money on the highest resolutions in that regard. The music itself (recording and mastering) is great on the other hand, and that matters far more than the resolution of the file, if that even makes an audible difference.

I also highly recommend Ottmar Liebert's "Up Close" album, which is another binaural album. I bought both the 16/44.1 and 24/96 versions of the album; don't waste your money on the HD version as it doesn't provide any sonic benefits over the Red Book standard version upon blind tests.

411x%2BdolmFL._SY300_.jpg
Yea OK
post #153 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffR714 View Post


Yea OK


He's correct, you should probably do some research on basic digital audio

post #154 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danz03 View Post
 


I understand this, but do we not risk possible clipping issues during amplification because of the large dynamic range?

post #155 of 178
JRiver for instance offers clip protection.
I don't use it much but it seems to do the trick...
post #156 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

I love the binaural touch, but does anyone else think that the Chesky albums are all produced with too low of gain?  The volume, compared to everything else in my library, is extremely low.  I understand that contemporary music can be produced louder due to the loudness war, but the Chesky works are exceptionally low.

 

Perhaps Chesky could comment on why he chose the output / input levels of the albums?

 

While I can't say what Dr. Chesky took-on as his approach, as someone who has done a fair amount of live binaural recording, I think I may have a little bit of insight on this one (though arguably, I could be completely wrong - I'm only surmising here).

 

If you really wanted to know in an absolute sense (about Chesky's tracks), you would have to look at the files in a DAW or editing software that would show you the dBFS levels versus time for each track; if then all of Chesky's tracks were something like - 10 to - 20 dBFS (regardless of the track number) then this would indicate that, for whatever reason, the mastering was done this way deliberately (i.e. comparatively quiet). On the other hand, if certain passages / movements are something like - 2 dBFS then you know that the track was mastered to be as hot as possible while avoiding any clipping. My guess is that a) much of the music lends itself well to dynamics (unlike a lot of 'popular' music), and or b) that popular music would, by contrast, have a near 0 dBFS maximum value (or worse, 'live its life' at 0 dBFS), but also, a very low crest factor (i.e. a rather low dynamic range), thus raising its apparent loudness (but at the expense of dynamics).

 

It's entirely possible that Chesky has chosen to maintain relative loudness in an ensemble of pieces.

 

For example, in a lot of the live binaural recording work that I have done, several pieces were performed, either as a stand-alone, or as movements of a larger work (Choir, Choral, Kirtan, multi-movement symphonies etc). In some cases, I have recorded performances where both a cappella and band / symphony performances have also taken place. So, in terms of dynamics, even absent any compression whatsoever, one must choose whether the tracks will be normalized (so that each is just a few dB down from full-scale) or kept at their respective level. Certain pieces (or movements) are meant to be pianissimo in order to bookend other parts of the composition, or performance, whether in mood, loudness, or both. Not coincidentally, this is why a lot of my recorded tracks up on soundcloud vary so much in terms of the dBFS levels; pretty much any of the choir stuff has been mastered such that the relative loudness of each song performed has been maintained (because they were performed in one venue, one night, track after track, as a complete show, I felt that this is how they should be presented - as a suite if you will). Likewise, for any of the Band or Orchestral pieces that I have posted, I have kept the movement-to-movement levels correct so that the dynamics (which incidentally are governed by the Composer as well as Conductor / Director) are maintained. 

 

On the other hand, and once again, speaking of tracks that I have engineered and mastered, there are some tracks that were performed along side of others (i.e. at a show), but because they are not released as part of an ensemble of tracks, their dBFS levels can vary wildly, or just the converse is true. That is, for certain things I have released from a given show, perhaps only a handful of tracks are posted - in this case, I may have viewed them sort of as 'singles', and so I wasn't worried about maintaining relative dynamics. In such an instance, raising the overall gain (of a quiet piece) to get its loudness closer to that of a loud piece makes a bit more sense, because the tracks are stand-alone in nature.

 

Think about it...

 

From an ensemble perspective (several tracks played in one setting), if you keep the relative loudness (in terms of dBFS) as they were, track to track, then the listener hears all of the relative dynamics. However, should someone choose to listen to one of the quieter performances, the next semi-loud performance will seem thunderous by comparison.

 

So, it's possible that he chose to keep the relative loudness of some tracks intact, thus making them seem way quiet in an absolute or relative sense. Remember though, for the overwhelming majority of the listening public, 99% do not know what natural dynamics really sound like, as almost all commercially released (read "popular") music is at least somewhat level-compressed, and not much of it is acoustic either.

 

Because one of the things that draws most people - certainly those whom choose to record using binaural mannequins and such - is the realism of binaural, realism remains at its core, so to ask someone who has engineered a binaural recording to employ level compression is a bit like asking an atheist to become fervently religious (or vice versa). Those who choose to record in binaural (using mannequin head microphones and the like) are already 'vectored' a bit differently than most people in the music industry in that they really want to produce an enveloping experience for the listener.

 

Thus, my guess is that Dr. Chesky was going for his vision of accuracy and fidelity, maintaining relative dynamics, and so on. At least, this would be my guess...though I could be completely wrong. It wouldn't be the first time, and it certainly would not be the last either.

 

Again...these are just thoughts and opinions. I am not acquainted with Dr. Chesky (regrettably) nor those who may have participated in the mixing and mastering, so all that I can do is relate things from my binaural-centric perspective and guess at what approach Dr. Chesky chose to use.

 

Mark

post #157 of 178
Technically 16/44 should be enough. So why is it that some well done 24/88/ 24/96, and 24/192 files sound so darn good?

(ducks)
post #158 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by originalsnuffy View Post

Technically 16/44 should be enough. So why is it that some well done 24/88/ 24/96, and 24/192 files sound so darn good?

(ducks)


Convert them down to 44.1/16 and they will sound the same.

post #159 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by originalsnuffy View Post

Technically 16/44 should be enough. So why is it that some well done 24/88/ 24/96, and 24/192 files sound so darn good?

(ducks)

This is perhaps one of the most hotly-debated aspects of this debate...and rightly so as it is at its core...

 

First, let me state this - what follows are my opinions.

 

A blind test would be best; if you know what you're listening to, you are automatically and by definition, biased. In my "day job" we do product sound quality assessment, and apart from playing the files back at their actual loudness levels (which is very, very important when assessing comparative sounds), we also 'sanitize' the identities of the files so that neither the jurors or the administrator knows what file belongs to what product.

 

Ultimately, if it can be shown that listeners can consistently (and with high statistical confidence) identify which is the high-res variant and which is the 44.1/16 variant, then the argument for high-res would seem to be supported. If it can't be shown to be significantly higher than chance (50/50, equivalent to guessing) then there's not much of an argument for high res files.  

 

OK, the grenade has been dropped...I'm ready to be attacked now...

 

Mind you, this is not a simple undertaking, for one could argue the temporal and spectral aspects play a huge role, and thus, such a study should probably look at various genre.

 

One other aspect of such a test would be to see if the results were similar as a function of loudness level. That is, run the test once with the headphones producing 'x' dB SPL. Then, re-run the test with the headphones producing 'x + n' dB, lather, rinse, repeat. It's a pretty big undertaking, and the kind of thing that's ripe for someone like a co-op student, intern, or (depending upon the depth), even part of a Doctoral thesis.

 

Also, if you really wanted to be fair and eliminate any artifacts borne of format conversion, the way you would do this would be to take all mics' signals into independent recording units and record that way (one set of analog signals feeding a 44.1/16 encoding scheme, and the other(s) feeding something like a 192/24, etc.). In other words, a mic signal goes to a distribution amplifier - each of those outputs go to independent recording systems. In this way, the same information and at the same time (i.e. the same performance) is acquired. Set recording levels identically. Mix them identically. EQ them identically, and Master them identically (choose the same reference -dBFS value for the peal level on the hottest track).

 

Or, if you prefer, skip the EQ step so that processing is minimized (but replicate the relative levels and absolute dBFS values) and then evaluate those end-product mixes. That's about as fair a comparison as I can envision.

 

Again, these are my opinions on the matter.

 

Mark

PS: I didn't add the link to the phrase "distribution amplifier" in the text above...odd. Anyway, if you're not sure what one is, there is a model that I know well called a DA-216 and later, a DA-216a. Both are (were?) made by Rane. Anyway, any low-noise distribution amplifier should do.


Edited by immersifi - 8/14/14 at 5:08am
post #160 of 178

I bought Dr. Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc (24/96 FLAC from HDTracks) based solely on the video review at the top of this thread.  I gave it a listen and was somewhat unimpressed.  Yeah, some of the spatial effects come through, but I found that rotation around the microphone was not as directional as expected.  Left front/left rear and right front/right rear sounded almost the same to me.  That's probably an issue with my expectations more than anything,  Similarly, it sounded to me that the up/down transition was not continuous - one foot from the floor sounded almost identical to four feet, although eight feet sounded higher than one foot.  This might be due to the differences between the dummy head's pinnae and my real live pinnae.

 

Past a certain point, the compression tests were redundant.  I get it, poor sound engineering can ruin music.

 

Overall, I was unimpressed with the "disc" and most likely won't be using it again.  Once finished with the disc, I switched back to listening to an Internet radio station.  I immediately had to remove my headphones because of the compression - it felt like the music was a vice clamping down on my head.  All was not lost on me.

 

Now I'm going to see if the county library system has any binaural recordings I can sample.  I've already put on hold Ottmar Liebert's album "Up Close."

post #161 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by liteon163 View Post
 

I bought Dr. Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc (24/96 FLAC from HDTracks) based solely on the video review at the top of this thread.  I gave it a listen and was somewhat unimpressed.  Yeah, some of the spatial effects come through, but I found that rotation around the microphone was not as directional as expected.  Left front/left rear and right front/right rear sounded almost the same to me.  That's probably an issue with my expectations more than anything,  Similarly, it sounded to me that the up/down transition was not continuous - one foot from the floor sounded almost identical to four feet, although eight feet sounded higher than one foot.  This might be due to the differences between the dummy head's pinnae and my real live pinnae.

 

Past a certain point, the compression tests were redundant.  I get it, poor sound engineering can ruin music.

 

Overall, I was unimpressed with the "disc" and most likely won't be using it again.  Once finished with the disc, I switched back to listening to an Internet radio station.  I immediately had to remove my headphones because of the compression - it felt like the music was a vice clamping down on my head.  All was not lost on me.

 

Now I'm going to see if the county library system has any binaural recordings I can sample.  I've already put on hold Ottmar Liebert's album "Up Close."

Just out of curiosity, what components were you using?

post #162 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by liteon163 View Post
 

I bought Dr. Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc (24/96 FLAC from HDTracks) based solely on the video review at the top of this thread.  I gave it a listen and was somewhat unimpressed.  Yeah, some of the spatial effects come through, but I found that rotation around the microphone was not as directional as expected.  Left front/left rear and right front/right rear sounded almost the same to me.  That's probably an issue with my expectations more than anything,  Similarly, it sounded to me that the up/down transition was not continuous - one foot from the floor sounded almost identical to four feet, although eight feet sounded higher than one foot.  This might be due to the differences between the dummy head's pinnae and my real live pinnae.

 

Past a certain point, the compression tests were redundant.  I get it, poor sound engineering can ruin music.

 

Overall, I was unimpressed with the "disc" and most likely won't be using it again.  Once finished with the disc, I switched back to listening to an Internet radio station.  I immediately had to remove my headphones because of the compression - it felt like the music was a vice clamping down on my head.  All was not lost on me.

 

Now I'm going to see if the county library system has any binaural recordings I can sample.  I've already put on hold Ottmar Liebert's album "Up Close."

You make an interesting point...

 

One thing that would be a very real eye-opener (or better, ear) would be to be able to listen to tracks that are well-known, but without all the compression (I'm talking about level compression) employed during mastering and or mixing. By that I mean, some tracks are heavily level compressed during mixing / mastering (and often toward a very specific aesthetic), but others...not anywhere near as much. I'm not even speaking about binaural here - just good old, straight-up two channel stereo (or mono for that matter).

 

The thing is...compression (again, level compression) can actually make certain songs and genres sound better than they would without it. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but in many cases, it's true. Mind you, I never do this in my live recording work as it is not one of my 'core beliefs' when it comes to live performances, but I'm in the minority in that respect.

 

Keep in mind that level compression and limiting were born of necessity (respecting the practical excursion limits of the vinyl as well as preventing over-modulation (limiting), or getting above the noise floor (compression). Throw-in the fact that few vocalists really understand proper singing and microphone technique, and you can see why compression became as entrenched as it has. Then there's the aesthetic side - sometimes, truth and accuracy are the last things that are wanted in a mix, and so logically, compression is used (along with other effects) to achieve that aesthetic.

 

In fact, we are so used to hearing level-compressed music in its various forms that, in some cases, I would wager that an uncompressed version (when compared to a level-compressed version) might actually be preferred to the compressed version, while in other instances, the exact opposite would occur.

 

Granted, I suspect you were speaking of compression borne of codecs (and not necessarily level compression), but I mention it because it's one of the things that unfortunately, most people are confused by. I'm not saying you don't "get it", but at the same time, for every person who knows the difference between level compression and codec compression, I would bet there are 50 who don't know there's a difference. This is my main, and major peeve with the film recently produced on the subject ("The Distortion of Sound"). The Producer could have and should have spent time explaining the difference, but the film never got there. What a shame, because it had 'star power' behind it, and yet, the core message (and reason) was lost in the name of celebrities engaging in a bit of self-indulgent postulating, most of which wasn't even remotely rooted in fact, merely opinion.

 

Sorry to have gone off-topic, but compression is out there (in the lexicon these days), but again, how many non-audio types know the differences?


Edited by immersifi - 8/16/14 at 10:28am
post #163 of 178
I meant what you are calling level compression, not codec compression. Once I got used to the uncompressed sounds of the disc in question and then switched to another source, the new source sound like a flat wall of sound. No depth, clearly compressed dynamic range, etc.

Sent from my Verizon LG G2 using Tapatalk
post #164 of 178

Most people on HeadFi (and most audio enthusiasts) are not sound engineers and therefore believe that all dynamic range compression is terrible and must be removed. There's a good reason it is used, and when used properly it can transform a mix. There's a reason the mastering process exists - raw recordings generally do not sound good.

post #165 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post
 

Most people on HeadFi (and most audio enthusiasts) are not sound engineers and therefore believe that all dynamic range compression is terrible and must be removed. There's a good reason it is used, and when used properly it can transform a mix. 

 

While I will agree with your statement in regards that sonic compression can in fact can really open up a mix and make it sound great, when used properly. Unfortunately over the past 15 years it seems that sound engineers have all graduated from the school of blast your ears and mangle the fidelity.  There is a HUGE difference between sonic compression, and heavy sonic compression which is found in 99% of my 14000+ songs in my library that were produced AFTER 2000. This is due to one reason; cheap and abundant low quality gear found in tech devices such as laptop speakers, tablets/smartphones, bluetooth devices, cheap pack-in ear-buds, and Beats (I had to throw that in). The greater quality the gear, the more apparent (modern) sonic compression is to ones ears. On my sub $100 headphones/IEMs I simply can not hear any distortion sonic compression creates, but as I move up the line from say my Atlas to my HD 598, compressed audio sounds like poo. Ok, not every compressed song sounds like total poo (i.e. Garbage and Queensryche sound great), but over all, and especially compared to anything recorded, mastered, and presented in 24/96+, compressed music on good gear is less than stellar. The loss of quality is noticeable and unacceptable, regardless if one used headphones or loudspeakers.

 

My 2 cents: If one thinks that Dr. Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demo disc is flat, unimpressive, or gimmicky, I suggest checking your gear or learn to listen and appreciate better.

 

:beerchug: 


Edited by Bansaku - 8/16/14 at 4:26pm
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