Can tube sound be replicated via plugins?
Jul 17, 2017 at 8:50 PM Post #106 of 179

Orestes1984

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I understand where you are coming from, playing a record does involve more of our senses which can give a more enjoyable experience. It is very much a personal thing though, for some it is an immersive experience while others, it detracts from it. Although I maintain a very decent vinyl rig, I find the whole ritual of finding the record, thoroughly cleaning it, enduring through the inevitable crap tracks and changing the side over to be a PITA. It doesn't help that I'm more of a playlist type of listener as there are very few albums apart from concept albums that I like listening right through.

Inevitably some tracks are good others are bad, I understand the pain in queuing a track up, its quite the annoyance really if the track you actually want is somewhere in the middle of a record. I choose my artists selectively and don't listen to a lot of compilations. To me if an artist can't put together an album that isn't half decent to listen through then I nix that off having it on vinyl. At the same time, just for the fun of it I've been building in some automation to my 50 year old tube amp and have hooked up an Apple TV 3 to my amp but that's a process in itself. It sounds OK, it could sound better. It's getting round to finding $700 to spend on something like a Chord DAC

I have digitised most of my records (the rare ones and those which have the better masterings than the CD or hi res version) and they sound identical to being played on my donor T/T, but now with the flexibility of creating my own playlists. The point you make about digital conversion of 60s Jazz is interesting. I don't know why the label would want to brickwall this type of music as the dynamic are important to this genre. Unfortunately there is a lot of 50s/60s music that the labels put minimal effort for the CD remaster, probably because there isn't enough of a market to justify the time and expense. One really has to do some homework to find the good ones. I was listening to DCC Elvis 24 Karats compilation CD the other night, it is one of the few Elvis CDs which make use of the format and therefore, do sound better than the vinyl versions.

Inevitably as you digitize audio from tape which has a lower overall bandwidth as a medium and less headroom for discrepancies in high and low frequencies you kind of do brick wall it anyhow. Changing the gain levels during the normalisation process eventually follows the same process as "brickwalling" and so you follow the same pathway as everyone else surely but slowly.

Loudness_Wars_TEMP.png


The problem with tape vs vinyl, is inherently records from that era have a decibel limit of about 60db. When you go and try to digitise it and adjust it for a modern CD listening space of about 75-85db (with peaks) this is what inherently happens... You no longer have nice looking peaks in the wave form of your music you just have garbage. Eventually you just end up with "A SOLID BRICKWALL" and it sounds like "Schiit Audio."


Now before we had these things called CDs this concept of frequency normalisation for lower DB speakers simply was far less prevelant. If you wanted to go louder you bought a more powerful amp that was that lickity split, because most producers realised it sounded like a fart in a can. Today, knowingly or unknowingly we put up with it, unless of course you listen to Giorgio by Moroder, or you get a really good modern jazz album such as Melody Gardot's My One and Only Thrill which has full dynamic range without any normalisation tricks.

I'd suggest if you do start digitising your vinyl, you don't try to go the cheap root of normalisation and just leave it alone for what it is. You might realise there is an inherent quality in vinyl as a medium at the same time.
 
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Jul 18, 2017 at 6:02 AM Post #107 of 179

pinnahertz

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1. Inevitably as you digitize audio from tape which has a lower overall bandwidth as a medium and less headroom for discrepancies in high and low frequencies you kind of do brick wall it anyhow. Changing the gain levels during the normalisation process eventually follows the same process as "brickwalling" and so you follow the same pathway as everyone else surely but slowly.

The problem with tape vs vinyl, is inherently records from that era have a decibel limit of about 60db. When you go and try to digitise it and adjust it for a modern CD listening space of about 75-85db (with peaks) this is what inherently happens... You no longer have nice looking peaks in the wave form of your music you just have garbage. Eventually you just end up with "A SOLID BRICKWALL" and it sounds like "Schiit Audio."


2. Now before we had these things called CDs this concept of frequency normalisation for lower DB speakers simply was far less prevelant. If you wanted to go louder you bought a more powerful amp that was that lickity split, because most producers realised it sounded like a fart in a can. Today, knowingly or unknowingly we put up with it, unless of course you listen to Giorgio by Moroder, or you get a really good modern jazz album such as Melody Gardot's My One and Only Thrill which has full dynamic range without any normalisation tricks.

3. I'd suggest if you do start digitising your vinyl, you don't try to go the cheap root of normalisation and just leave it alone for what it is. You might realise there is an inherent quality in vinyl as a medium at the same time.

1. You're saying that the process of normalization is the same process as "brickwalling". This is absolutely not correct. Normalization does not cause distortion at all, it's simply a gain adjustment that sets the maximum peak in the track to whatever maximum level you want it to end up at, typically a bit just below 0dBFS. It's a fixed gain change only, and does not introduce distortion, and doesn't change the original peak to average ratio/crest factor at all. "Brickwalling" is a dynamic process that alters gain based on peak level on a dynamic basis. It changes the peak to average ratio, or crest factor, and involves the combined processes of compression, peak limiting and deliberate clipping. Brickwalling always increases distortion. The resulting maximum peak from the brickwalling process can be set anywhere, but is usually pretty close to 0dBFS. The brickwalling process is intended to make a track sound louder by increasing its average level beyond what it originally was by reducing peak levels.

2. There is no such a process called "frequency normalization". There is loudness processing, and the worst is the aforementioned brickwalling. Loudness war processing is not done for "lower dB speakers" (there aren't any such thing), it's done because of the perception that "louder is better", which to some extent is true, but taken to the extreme is not true.

I hate to break it to you, but My One And Only Thrill has been fully normalized! Its maximum peak hits a fraction of a dB below 0dBFS. You can't do that accidentally, it's been normalized, and probably just a bit peak-limited too. And that's actually a good thing. It's been done in a way that maximizes the peak level without changing the dynamic range. The attached graph shows a very impressive DR, but peaks landing right up at 0dBFS (at the cursor, for example), quite a few of them.

my_one_and_only_thrill2.jpg


3. Anyone digitizing vinyl will likely want to normalize, which is a simple gain change to take the maximum peak in the file to a level you get to pick, usually somewhere just below 0dBFS. I like -1dBFS.
 
Jul 18, 2017 at 8:42 AM Post #108 of 179

Orestes1984

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You're saying you can get extra gain out of nothing? Are you Jesus, or do you just like to make water out of wine... The fact is that tape/vinyl was output for a maximum of 60db. At one moment you're saying you don't like the effects of gain, and distortion from a valve amplifier. The next minute you're openly promoting the use of gain to deliver a higher DB rating. Right... I'm gonna back away from this thread slowly because you can't seem to even make your mind up.

NB: As the pretty picture happens to show the process of brickwalling didn't happen over night. It happened over a period of time as the pretty picture shows you above.

Secondly there are a range of different rated amps and speakers to say that there isn't is blatantly a-load-of-nonsense... It would also so happen that during that period in the 1980s we entered into this muddy pile of crap you seem to be adamantly denying where manufacturers started mainstreaming high powered amplifiers, and speakers to run with those systems. We went from a period where people though 30watts a side was a moderately loud speaker/amp combination to one where we expected 100watts and then kids found out about things like PMPO.

You might want to check up about that.
 
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Jul 18, 2017 at 10:13 AM Post #109 of 179

castleofargh

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maybe instead of reacting like that, you could try to read properly without the "this is war, he's trying to get me" bias. :wink:
bringing the entire signal up by the same gain value to get the peaks closer to 0dB doesn't brickwall anything. it doesn't have to involve dynamic compression, or to clip anything.
you might just have a good deal of headroom set as a precaution while recording an analog source, to avoid clipping it. but now in the digital domain it's easy to see where the peaks are, so there is no reason to keep all that extra headroom anymore which only makes the song annoyingly quieter. so you decide to add some gain while leaving a little headroom for intersample clipping for example. or you could also use replaygain and make sure it's properly set so the result doesn't clip. in anycase this has nothing to do with brickwalling.
 
Jul 18, 2017 at 10:23 AM Post #110 of 179

Orestes1984

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Quite the opposite really, if you read the article that I linked, there is a firm reaction against this practice at the moment. In fact a series of recent releases such as Daft Punk's Random Access Memories went through this recently and they decided they weren't going to brick wall. Also, there is only so much gain to be had on a tape before you have nothing else other than distortion and there is simply no more data anymore. Even in the Motown era "hot" mixes would be normalised for about 70db and that was about as much as you could reasonably expect out of a tape.

Aurally, naturally you can also hear the difference where there is plenty of headroom and good dynamic range and I don't need to sit in front of a desk after all these years to actually hear the difference between a good recording and a lousy one. It of course helps where I am using a set of LS3/5A reference monitors in my 2channel space at the moment, but... It's not that difficult really. There is a hard limit even with digital files where eventually there is nothing left but distortion also, and when you start with a tape master there is even less headroom before you're brickwalled.

The revolt is real, even Apple is pushing against it with Apple music which detects brickwalled recordings and normalises the gain back to somewhere closer where it should be. Please take the time to reintroduce yourself to Paranoid by Black Sabath on Spotify if you want to hear something that is really terrible. I don't need to bother with an oscilloscope although I probably well could just for fun. It's horrible...

I've seen it in studios with my own eyes, even back in the 90s, I thought compression was horrible, its even more horrible now we've reached a point of over saturation which is why I can't stand the vast majority of mass produced music these days, and its also why I show a strong sense of disdain towards most modern day producers with an "it'll be alright if we just do this instead" attitude.

If anyone had pushed some of these more recent examples I've cited to the nth degree by comparison they would be distorted to hell or lacking in bass or both at the same time. It's all about degrees of stepping away from the ledge and resuming recording practices that are a bit more "normal" again.
 
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Jul 18, 2017 at 10:59 AM Post #111 of 179

castleofargh

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so I post to explain that changing the global gain doesn't have anything to do with brickwalled music, same thing @pinnahertz explained in his previous post, and you reply that brickwall is bad and that some people are against it...
now I don't know if you're straw-manning or if you just don't know what you're talking about.

also, I've already asked a few times on a few topics and you clearly don't care, but how about trying to talk about a subject in a related topic? this one is about VSTs to mimick tube sound. we have many topics about loudness war and concerns about compression.
if you just like to jump from one topic to the next, try https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/objectivists-board-room.769647/ . it's a forum not a message board, think about the poor guys who will come reading a topic to get some answers, just to realize that half the posts are off topic. :frowning2:
 
Jul 18, 2017 at 11:08 AM Post #112 of 179

pinnahertz

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1. You're saying you can get extra gain out of nothing? Are you Jesus, or do you just like to make water out of wine...
2. The fact is that tape/vinyl was output for a maximum of 60db. 3. At one moment you're saying you don't like the effects of gain, and distortion from a valve amplifier. The next minute you're openly promoting the use of gain to deliver a higher DB rating. Right... I'm gonna back away from this thread slowly because you can't seem to even make your mind up.

4. NB: As the pretty picture happens to show the process of brickwalling didn't happen over night. It happened over a period of time as the pretty picture shows you above.

5. Secondly there are a range of different rated amps and speakers to say that there isn't is blatantly a-load-of-nonsense... 6. It would also so happen that during that period in the 1980s we entered into this muddy pile of crap you seem to be adamantly denying where manufacturers started mainstreaming high powered amplifiers, and speakers to run with those systems. 7. We went from a period where people though 30watts a side was a moderately loud speaker/amp combination to one where we expected 100watts and then kids found out about things like PMPO.

You might want to check up about that.

1. In the future, please choose a different analogy, something more appropriate.

2. No, tape does not have a hard 60dB DR. Tape DR depends on tape formula, speed (and resulting EQ), and track width. Tape saturates slowly and along a frequency dependant curve. Then there's tape noise reduction, like Dolby A and Dolby SR which, in the case of SR, stretched tape's DR to that of 16 bit digital.

3. I've never said I don't like the effects of gain. I did say I don't care for the distortion from a valve amp. I'm not promoting anything relating to gain, I am explaining the difference between brickwall loudness war processing and normalization.

This image shows your tune has been normalized, but it's dynamics have not been compromised, though likely have been changed a little:
my_one_and_only_thrill2.jpg


This image shows what brickwall loudness war processing looks like (different piece).
closer_leq_1a.jpg


Note the similarity that both show peaks landing at 0dBFS (normalization). Note the differences: the bottom one shows far less dynamic range, and lots of very hard peak limiting.

4. Your picture shows the history of common brickwall loudness war processing, I'm not disputing that. But you are using the term "normalization" incorrectly, and the picture does not show the resuls of normalization only.

5. I have not said there isn't.

6. That period would have been the transition time of the late 1960s to first half of 1970s. We had 700W consumer amps by 1973. I don't know what "muddy crap" you're referring to, but amp power and speaker efficiency has nothing to do with the loudness war or it's processing.

7. Actually, PMPO was rampant in specs in the 1960s, then disappeared as trade regulations relating to power amp specifications were refined. Kids didn't discover it, it was taken away. You can't define the loudness of a system by stating it's a 30W amp/speaker combination and not state speaker efficiency too. Terms and usage seems to be the issue here.
 
Jul 18, 2017 at 3:27 PM Post #113 of 179

bigshot

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Normalization is just raising the peak level to a specific limit, usually just below the maximum peak level that doesn't distort. It doesn't alter the sound. It only raises the volume.

Hot mastering is an entirely different thing. That involves chopping the sound off and letting peaks go into distortion.

Compression is something different again. That involves altering the dynamics, either by attenuating the peaks, or bringing up the quiet stuff. No distortion here. Only altering of dynamics.
 
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Jul 18, 2017 at 4:56 PM Post #114 of 179

pinnahertz

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Normalization is just raising the peak level to a specific limit, usually just below the maximum peak level that doesn't distort. It doesn't alter the sound. It only raises the volume.

Hot mastering is an entirely different thing. That involves chopping the sound off and letting peaks go into distortion.

Compression is something different again. That involves altering the dynamics, either by attenuating the peaks, or bringing up the quiet stuff. No distortion here. Only altering of dynamics.

The tools used for hot mastering are a bit more involved than just clipping (what you called chopping the sound off and letting peaks go into distortion). Often a multi-band limiter is used first, followed by a fast peak limiter, followed by a clipper. The multi-band limiter can get more limiting action done without as much audible artifact. Then peaks are actively limited by the peak limiter, then the faster peaks can be clipped off by a clipper with characteristics from very hard to tube-amp-like soft. In any case, as you said, it's not normalization. And a side point, this kind of processing is not reversible after the fact, where simple compression can be undone to some extent.

This next bit is a very...VERY fine point, but having designed compressors, I thought I'd share something you might find interesting. Compression actually can, usually does, add distortion. It's a function of attack and release time, which if they happen at a rate that approaches the period of an audio waveform, tracks the waveform a bit and up comes distortion. You can reduce it by slowing release, or using a release gate. You can make it worse by speeding release and increasing the compression ratio/slope. Try adding compression to a low frequency sine wave in Audacity noting the resulting spectrum, then speed up release and watch what happens. The faster you release, the higher the distortion.

A technique I've used in analog designs to work around this is to use a relatively fast release time, but freeze the release action for a brief interval that is equal to the period of the lowest frequency I didn't want to distort. When you do that distortion goes away completely at that frequency. The release gate action has a very different audible quality than a straight release. Another technique is to use logarithmic attack and release curves, essentially what dbx does, calibrating release in dB/sec. Works way better than a linear voltage/sec release law.
 
Jul 18, 2017 at 10:40 PM Post #115 of 179

bigshot

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Back in the 70s I had a dynamic expander. It was a processor that expanded the peaks to make LPs sound punchy like 45s. I still have it and it still works great. Too bad it isn't HDMI though.
 
Jul 19, 2017 at 2:51 AM Post #117 of 179

bigshot

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I think it was a Pioneer
 
Jul 19, 2017 at 11:32 AM Post #118 of 179

castleofargh

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I'm guessing the issue is that there is no way to know how the compression was applied. so there is no actual way to reverse the process without having a lot of extra information that we probably can't get.
do tube amp alter the dynamic in any way(aside from clipping behavior)?
 
Jul 19, 2017 at 12:43 PM Post #120 of 179

bigshot

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Transducers can affect the transient dynamics.
 

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