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[i]Please Help Me![/i]: Waveform vs Envelope:

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by TheSonicTruth, Sep 26, 2018.
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  1. TheSonicTruth
    Please read through this thread via Google Groups:


    It's come up again: The regulars on Rec.Audio.Pro(duction) insist I don't know how to distinguish a "waveform from an envelope" when referencing a piece of audio visualized.

    I know what each are: a waveform shows individual waves(squiggles), and an envelope is the outline of the peaks of all those squiggles.

    The debate - check that - the nit pick, among those guys, is at what point, at what level of magnification, does a waveform become an envelope??? It's driving me nuts because it bothers them so, which detracts from the topic of thread.

    Which, by the way, you are free to comment on in here, or in there if you have a Google acct. The topic is if clipped audio can cause damage to transducers, specifically tweeters. Which raises the question: Is over-compressed, and/or brick-wall limited audio bad for sound reproduction equipment?
  2. bigshot
    When you acordian down a whole bunch of sound, the shape that displays on the screen less and less reflects what it actually sounds like. You can’t fit that much info on the screen at once. As a simple example, if you look at a wide view of a complete album side all at once, it looks like a string of sausages. If you blow it up to just a second of sound, you will be able to see much more. You will be able to see modulations or clipping that isn’t evident in the wide view. The closer you get to a waveform, the more you can tell about it. The wide view is broad strokes intended to be used by the editor to navigate to different parts of the song. It isn’t intended to be a tool in analyzing sound quality. Does that make sense?

    Clipping doesn’t hurt transducers unless the transducers are overdriven to the point of clipping themselves. It’s the giant signal being pushed through them that damages speakers. You can take recorded clipping and put it through at a normal volume and it won’t bother the speakers a bit. It will just sound awful. Over compressed sound doesn’t hurt speakers any more than dynamic sound at the same volume would.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  3. TheSonicTruth
    I guess if you have a string of songs(album) across the DAW on a monitor, that would constitute an menvelope, right?

    I guess the question I should ask is: If one entire song - 3 to 5 minutes long - occupies the full width of your DAW on your monitor, are you looking at a waveform or an envelope? To it's neither here nor there and detracts from the conversation I posted that link to.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  4. bigshot
    I'm not sure how the term "envelope" applies here, but I can say that the display of 3 to 5 minutes worth of audio on a single screen is a broad generalization. You can see the overall layout of the song, but it doesn't come close to telling the whole story. An experienced engineer would look at a lot more than just the shrunk down waveform to judge sound quality. I've personally seen dynamic recordings look like a knockwurst when I shrunk it down.
  5. TheSonicTruth
    Well, the regulars in that thread I posted aren't much help: 'None': "You're too dumb to know the difference between them!". Others: "It's been explained to you, many times, by more than one participant". I don't think there is one absolute point at which the individual waves coalesce into an all-encompassing "envelope".
  6. bigshot
    I think you might have exceeded their patience. My point is though that you can't judge sound quality from a squashed down waveform. That is like judging a book by looking at the edges of the pages all pressed together when it's shut.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  7. TheSonicTruth

    True. One could have a relatively spaced-out waveform and it could still sound dense, due to arrangement or spectral composition. But if it extends all the way to full scale from beginning to end you know preetty much what you're getting - and what's likely been done to it. lol!

    That Usenet group seems to have the attitude of 'If you don't get it the first time, you're on your own!'. Username 'None' is particularly nasty, calling me everything from "dumbfu*k" to "short-bus retard", and it's IP suggests it resides somewhere in Massachusetts, above Boston. None also claims to know me, but of all the people I've come across in a lifetime I've never experienced anyone that nasty! Hence 'it' when I refer to it. No human could spew forth such intensity of verbal sewage. That it knows where I live, work, and went to school is also kinda creepy.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  8. bigshot
    The purpose of a waveform isn't to judge the overall quality of a mix. It isn't suited for that. The purpose of a waveform is to detect momentary anomalies, like clicks and pops or clipping. The more you compact it down, the less information it conveys.

    I'll be honest with you and say that I think I can understand why they are reacting like that. You have a tendency to keep trying to divert discussions to the same subject over and over, even if it doesn't apply to what is being discussed. When someone who really knows their stuff fills you in on the facts, it doesn't stick. You're back in a few days on the same subject and it's as if you never heard what they told you. I can see how it would eventually wear on people who don't have a lot of patience.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  9. TheSonicTruth
    To be honest, the 'loudness wars' are a passion of mine in music production, even if they are something most individuals in the chain, from the artist, to the recording & mixing, and mastering engineers, would rather not discuss and in some cases even acknowledge exists.

    So waveforms to me are a forensic tool in analyzing if an original song was altered in any way. Look at my profile pic: Very often the waveform on the right is what results when tracks from a remastered CD is ripped to a DAW. And I know I can't be the only person on earth aware of it, or that cares, because there are dozens of websites devoted to the phenomenon.
  10. castleofargh Contributor
    so this topic is just for you to complain that someone somewhere was mean to you. do you really need a topic on headfi for that? do we?

    you don't say? :deadhorse:
    I didn't read the conversation, but I'll go on a limb and guess that it's your latest idea of a tool you could misuse for your anti compression mission. if so I'd say the same thing I said to you on several similar situations. just say that you don't like when there is a lot of compression on a track. stop misinterpreting the results of objective tools as it forces us to disagree with you because pseudo objectivity is wrong. those tools have other roles, and each album is different even from a creative point of view. looking at whatever graph where you can see a correlation between compression and whatever the tool is doing, will end up with the unfair people saying that you're wrong because you are.

    you should really stick to showing stuff like your avatar. 2 masters of the same album, and say that you don't like the one with more compression. make a topic like that, where people could post pics from audacity or whatever and discuss which master does what. that would convey your message honestly and maybe even end up helping people in trying to purchase the right master thanks to the information brought up. that much is clean and rational. but with everything else, you keep shooting yourself in the foot and forcing even people against the loudness war(which is almost everybody, at least on principle), to fight you over all your over generalizations and misinterpretations of otherwise perfectly fine tools.
    there is such a thing as bad activism! we have examples everywhere of people pushing so hard no matter the circumstances, and with so much biases that we have no other choice but to distance ourselves from their message no matter how legit that message is. and when you try to be pseudo objective about compression, you're doing it wrong. every time!
  11. TheSonicTruth
    I am not against *all* compression. I am against what I consider to be over-use of it in the production of modern(post-2000) popular music albums, and in the production of so-called 'remaster's of legacy(pre-1990) songs, albums, and compilations.

    But this thread is about when to use the term 'waveform' and when to use the term 'envelope' in the context of discussing music and its appearance in a DAW screen. I believe there is no single point at which a waveform representation of a selection of sound becomes an envelope. It just. depends.
  12. bigshot
    Well now you know for sure. If I remember correctly you've been told that you can't judge sound quality by looking at the display on the screen several times over the past few months. And an "altered signal" isn't necessarily a poorer quality signal. Compression is a tool whose effectiveness depends on the skill of the engineer applying it. There is good remastering and bad remastering, and the quality of remastering depends on more than just compression... noise reduction, equalization, level adjustment, and other forms of sweetening are involved too.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  13. TheSonicTruth
    I can judge by the display on the screen that it is going to sound different. If the 'orig vs remaster' image in my avatar represented a DAW screen, it is clear that the two versions will sound different. Inferiority or superiority of one against the other is another story. I choose the original/not remastered versions simply because I feel it is closer to the original artistic intent.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  14. bigshot
    Wel,, you are dead wrong and don't know what you're talking about then. I'd explain, but you don't listen.
    bfreedma likes this.
  15. TheSonicTruth
    I figured you'd say that. To suggest that two different looking waveforms(two DIFFERENT masterings) of the same song recording should sound the same spells out what you are: an industry pundit.

    Back on blocked for you and bye! I'm done wasting my time with people like this.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
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