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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. TheSonicTruth

    Interacting with people who play mind-games and tell you that the bright object shining down from the sky at noon isn't the sun tends to do that to me.

    And I'm prod to be a PITA to so called big industry professionals. I know a lot more than some of you give me credit for, or care to admit.
  2. Davesrose
    Yet you've shown you have ignorance of sources you try to quote.
  3. KeithEmo
    I don't know where you got that from.
    They provided lots of statistics about the actual change that has been occurring...
    And then went on to explain what those changes mean in detail.
    All they refuted was some over-simplistic claims about the situation.
    They also made a major case for the claim that the change is not the result of flawed technology, or even human error, but is instead a deliberate "artistic choice".
    Therefore, rather than being "an example of technology devolving" is is simply an example of artistic tastes changing.

    Modern CDs have exactly the same dynamic range as vintage CDs...
    What ahs changed is that the engineers who mix them usually choose to squeeze the levels into a narrow part of that range a larger percentage of the time...

    In other words, if you compare a modern CD to a fifty year old album, in this context, neither is "recorded at poorer quality"...
    Both sound pretty much like the artist and recording engineer wanted them to sound...
    The main difference is that you and I PREFER the artistic choices made by most mixing engineers in 1970 to the choices made by most mixing engineers today.

    old tech likes this.
  4. TheSonicTruth
    "Modern CDs have exactly the same dynamic range as vintage CDs..."

    Of course they do - the format itself that is.

    What is put on them - then vs recently, does NOT. One would have to be either deaf, dead, or living in the Amazon rain forest to not recognize that.

    As far as technology and choice are concerned, I already know that it is artistic choice, albeit technically incorrect procedure that violates every fundamental of recorded sound. It is possible, with CD, to leave in as much of the original performance dynamics to blow out automotive speakers or living room windows - something previously impossible to contain on LP or even the best half inch studio tape.

    That latter scenario is not one I would condone, just to be clear. :D It's up to the artist to utilize as much of, or as little, of that *potential* DR as they want, and also up to you and i not to buy stuff at the hyper-squashed, super-loud end of that spectrum.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  5. KeithEmo
    Your last statement has some truth to it - although only in a very limited way - and only in a limited number of circumstances.
    In many cases, running an amplifier at a higher output level will cause it to "wear out" slightly more quickly, mostly because it will be generating a tiny bit more heat.
    Of course, the actual effect will be relatively small in most cases.
    (I don't drive my car every day at 50 mpH... even though I'm sure it wears out a tiny bit more quickly at 55 mpH.)

    However, the same is almost never true for input circuitry, or for the output circuitry on most preamps.
    In low-power applications, as long as you avoid overloading anything, the signal level has negligible effect, or no effect at all, on either circuit stress or life expectancy.
    (If the circuitry is operating in Class A then it would have no effect at all; if it's operating in Class A/B then it could have a tiny effect.)

    Yes, a power amp, and a speaker, both "have to work harder" when the average level is higher.
    However, that really isn't true for devices like CD players, DACs, and preamps.
    Either they can handle the highest peaks without clipping - or they can't.
    In fat, in almost all cases, even a moderate amoutn of clipping won't cause any harm - other than a nasty sound.
    (I said "almost" because there are a very few small signal circuit configurations where clipping can cause actual damage.)

    And, yes, when you're talking about SIGNAL levels, the level you concern yourself with is the maximum peak level...
    If your circuit cannot pass the maximum peak levels then it will clip on the peaks...
    If your circuit CAN pass the maximum peak levels without clipping, then it will also pass all lower levels without clipping.

    The only "real argument" against the current trend is that we find it to sound unpleasant and unnatural.
    (And that's enough for me to consider it to be "a bad thing"... but I will concede that as being merely my preference.)

  6. KeithEmo

    And there's one more thing which is worth pointing out - because it often causes this sort of confusin.
    It is true that various standards may specify a "0 dB reference level" that is well below clipping - in order to build headroom into the system.
    However, when you open a file in most audio editors, or create a new file, most default to showing "0 dB" as the clipping point (maximum digital level; "all ones").

    Therefore, in the context of consumer equipment, when comparing analog equipment to digital equipment....
    Most analog preamps have a defined "0 dB" level, which refers to the setting where their gain is 1, but you can exceed that level by a significant degree before clipping occurs.
    (So they could be said to have "headroom above 0 dB".)
    However, many digital audio editors, and most digital audio equipment, including most DACs, define their clipping point as 0 dB.
    (And they claim to neither have, nor have any use for, headroom above that.)

  7. KeithEmo
    What you're missing, and the point that article in SOS was attempting to explain, is that what you're talking about is NOT "dynamic range".
    Dynamic range is defined as "the difference between the loudest sound and the quietest sound".
    And, based on that defnintion, any song whose loudest peak reaches near 0 dB, and which fades down to the noise floor when it finishes, utilizes the entire dynamic range of the CD.
    (And, on both vintage and modern CDs, the majority of songs meet that criterion.)

    Therefore, by definition, modern CDs have the same dynamic range as always...
    What manifests itself as higher average loudness is NOT a reduction in dynamic range (according to the proper definition of that term).
    It is in fact a reduction in the crest factor (the average variation between the average level and the peak levels).

    I would also disagree with your claim that it is "a technically incorrect procedure that violates every fundamental of recorded sound".
    It certainly isn't a good way to achieve an accurate reproduction of the original... which would make it a bad idea if that's your gaol.
    However, as long as it achieves exactly what the artist or engineer intended, how can you claim that it violates some arbitrary "fundamental" of how recordings should be made?
    (I could just as reasonably claim that turning an amplifier up until it clips is "clearly poor practice - regardless of whether the guitar player wants to play "fuzz guitar" or not.)

    It is absolutely possible to make a recording on a CD that retains most of the dynamic range of the original performance.
    And, personally, I generally prefer recordings that are mixed that way.
    But I cannot unilaterally claim that choices made by a particular artist or recording engineer are "wrong" simply because I personally find them displeasing.

  8. old tech
    Not sure about wav files (do they have meta data?), but for all other formats it is easy peasy. Select the files, right click and then choose whether you want replay gain applied by track or album. There are options to choose the amount of gain.

    What I haven't worked out as yet (though admittingly haven't really tried) is how to apply gain to the actual file, rather than the meta.
  9. TheSonicTruth
    In the case of MP3, the amounf of playback gain to be applied gets stored in the metadata.
  10. old tech
    Yes, but I mean how to apply the gain to the actual file - for playback on devices that do not have replay gain.
  11. castleofargh Contributor
    once you have scanned some files in foobar so they have the gain metadata, you can right click -> "replaygain" -> "apply track replaygain to file content" or same with album replaygain. you will get a warning that it's not a reversible process so you might want to do that on a copy ^_^.
    or if you want you can add that operation while converting your files. when you use the "convert" tool in foobar(right click on selected files -> "convert" and the "..." so you have access to the options), in the processing option of the converter you can select which gain metadata you want applied and the file will be encoded with that(like it would for any other DSP you would add there like some EQ, crossfeed, or whatever). both give you the file at that gain instead of just a tag that something must understand and apply on the fly while playing the track. I do this all the time for files I put on my old and dumb DAPs.
    old tech likes this.
  12. old tech
    Thanks for that.
  13. castleofargh Contributor
    in case you're not too familiar with the rest either, or for others who will try, I would suggest to go in the preferences->tool->replaygain scanner and select some oversampling. it adds a lot of CPU usage(and in those hot days, it can be a real test for some computers), and make scanning the files really long. so maybe not go for the maximum oversampling, but a little bit can go a long way in determining a peak value that will account for most intersample clipping. it can be good on occasion to scan more accurately and then select "apply gain and prevent clipping according to peak" when choosing the replay gain options to apply. even without considering intersample clipping, limiting to peak will avoid clipping all the very dynamic stuff where replay gain will suggest boosting the gain(almost all classical music). of course then it won't sound as loud as the rest, some choices must be made here. an even perceived loudness, or no clipping ever even if most aren't noticed in practice.
    GearMe likes this.
  14. TheSonicTruth
    My Foobar was free. So while I can scan files to determine how much replay gain is needed, I don't have that "apply track replay gain" option.

    Also, I'm not really familiar with the mechanics of how the actual software applies the gain.
  15. castleofargh Contributor
    you don't have something like this?

    I guess it's possible as I've added too many stuff to foobar to count, but I don't see anything that looks like it would change the functions of replaygain. as comonents I have ReplayGain Scanner(well, replaygain) and ReplayGain override which I believe is to let me pick the replay gain action on playback depending on how I play my music(like if I select shuffle playback I can activate the per track gain but if I play by default I can use per album or nothing at all and I don't have to go switch myself every time).
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