Dolby A and some early CDs
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old tech

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I've been following the thread in the link below regarding the reasons why some CDs produced in the 80s and early 90s sound thin and trebly. We already had discussions about some of the early CDs with pre-emphasis which won't sound right if played on a player that does not do de-emphasis, or the CD is lacking the pre-emphasis flag or if the files are ripped and played back without de-emphasis being applied.

This thread though reckons that a lack of Dolby A decoding can explain quite a bit of it, usually through carelessness (eg not noting that Dolby was used on the master covers or not checking). There are some files posted of various CD uploads (such as ABBA), before and after Dolby A decoding emulating software was applied. The difference is stark.

The question for those of you in the industry back in the day, to what extent is this an issue?

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/mastering-forum/1265710-about-dolbya-why-seems-lurk-consumer-realm.html
 
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pinnahertz

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I've been following the thread in the link below regarding the reasons why some CDs produced in the 80s and early 90s sound thin and trebly. We already had discussions about some of the early CDs with pre-emphasis which won't sound right if played on a player that does not do de-emphasis, or the CD is lacking the pre-emphasis flag or if the files are ripped and played back without de-emphasis being applied.

This thread though reckons that a lack of Dolby A decoding can explain quite a bit of it, usually through carelessness (eg not noting that Dolby was used on the master covers or not checking). There are some files posted of various CD uploads (such as ABBA), before and after Dolby A decoding emulating software was applied. The difference is stark.

The question for those of you in the industry back in the day, to what extent is this an issue?
I've read that guys postings in several other forums. He's clearly on a mission, and claims incredible historical insight into mastering operations on one had, but which he has also admitted to not being intimately acquainted with either. What he has done is created a software emulation of the Dolby A decoding process that seems to be fairly accurate.

I won't debate the subjective merits of Dolby A decoding applied to some recordings. The results are open to subjective opinion. But I will not accept that the sound found on so many recordings is the result of wide spread ignorance that the master was Dolby A encoded. That specific occasional error, sure, possibly, particularly in the video world where certain 1" machines had internal Dolby NR that got left on (or off) without anyone paying attention to how the tape was made, sure that happened. We used to hear it on the air. However, in the audio and music world, for that irresponsible error to be so wide spread I find preposterous. Just to get Dolby NR to work right you printed a "Dolby tone", a unique sounding level alignment tone, at the head of the tape that ran long enough to tweak levels so the meter on the Dolby unit pointed to the calibration dot with a dB or so. And the tape reel and/or box was always clearly marked as "Dolby A", with many studios using the pre-printed stick-on yellow labels supplied by Dolby, specifically to prevent an error in playback. The radical sound difference was well known and to be avoided. Any mastering engineer worth his pay would also recognize in seconds of listening that a tape was Dolby A encoded and take action. I maintain the results we have on CD today were intentional, not wide spread irresponsible and ignorant engineering.

However, not much of that matters now. If you like the results better when they guy's software is used to "decode", then decode it. It's sort of like making a tone control adjustment, there's no real arguing right or wrong anymore if it's an individuals preference.
 
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old tech

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However, not much of that matters now. If you like the results better when they guy's software is used to "decode", then decode it. It's sort of like making a tone control adjustment, there's no real arguing right or wrong anymore if it's an individuals preference.
Thanks for that insight. I was skeptical of his claims mainly because to my ears, most 1980s and early 1990s CDs sound great (there are exceptions of course related to poor quality sources or productions as there is with any format) and if it was widespread, why isn't it more widely known and acknowledged. The ABBA Gold CD example he provides does to my ears sound better with the decoding, whether that is because it actually was transferred with Dolby A encoding or it just makes a bad production sound better it certainly was an improvement (and that 1992 ABBA Gold CD is widely acknowledged as poor quality sound).
 
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stonesfan129

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I won't lie. I really like the sound on some modern CD remasters despite how some people feel about them. I think now that the loudness wars thing has kind of cooled off, brickwalling isn't as bad as it used to be. For example, a few I really like are Cream/Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica. I'm sure some are probably not as good as they can be, but many to me sound leaps and bounds better than the original CDs which sound thin and trebly.
 
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