Music Into Noise: The Destructive Use Of Dynamic Range Compression part 2

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fyi the main engineer at this place is the best mastering engineer in the US; people say "no records are made w/o range compression now" but it's not true - if he mastered it, the mastering is great even if the original production sucks. I don't think pop lovers will find much to love on their list of credits but as far as good mastering goes there are a couple of houses people can turn to if they actually want their record to sound good.

xp yeah, there's always a different master for vinyl - just slightly different though, has more to do with cutting the lathe than with anything you could hear on the files. The European pressing of the most recent Aerosmith album incidentally is hand-to-God the best cutting I've had in 20 years on the job, it sounds fucking fantastic.

pathos of the unwarranted encore (underrated aerosmith bootlegs I have owned), Friday, 28 October 2011 14:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha i hate farmer's market evangelists too. farmer's markets stress me out even more than supermarkets.

i don't know how "the music you love = dog shit" ISN'T an insult tbh? i find a lot of your claims completely weird and extreme - nick saying he feels ILL when he listens to compressed music! - and y'know, i just don't feel that or hear that in any way. it's a bit batshit.

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 14:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

also i realise i am in the minority in this particular thread - even though other posters have chipped in in support, so i'm not alone even here - but MOST MUSIC LISTENERS DO NOT HEAR THIS/DO NOT CARE

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 14:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's inaccurate to say most music listeners don't hear it; EVERYONE hears it! The "DO NOT CARE" part is way more defensible.

he carried yellow flowers (DJP), Friday, 28 October 2011 14:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

by "not hearing it" i mean "i can't tell when it's reached egregious levels or not"

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 14:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

i honestly don't think everyone hears it, that's insane

Crackle Box, Friday, 28 October 2011 14:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

my gf listens to a track and after one listen will know the melody and all the words. if i then play her the instrumental version of the song, she wouldn't immediately recognize that it's the same song. she finds it insane that i don't hear the words to things.

Crackle Box, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Lex got what I meant; the original position is analogous to saying "I've never German" while watching archival footage of Hitler's speeches. You're talking about something that is an intrinsic component of the sounds you are listening to; recognizing/identifying it is a different question from hearing it.

he carried yellow flowers (DJP), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

i am pretty close to your gf on that crackle box - unless an instrumental is really striking it'd take a lot more listens for me to recognise it in isolation than to remember the words/melody - it always astonishes me when people say "oh i just don't listen to lyrics" - like how can you not, they're RIGHT THERE!

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

plenty do though. Some people prefer the music. Some are more into lyrics and some prefer both.
Sometimes the lyrics are completely unintelligible or so bad you just don't want to know them!

Armand Schaubroeck Ratfucker, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't really listen to lyrics most of the time.

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

you don't listen to dance music for lyrics. Especially those ones with the terrible vocal hooks. And lets be honest, there's not much metal that has lyrics you value like you would a Dylan or someone.

Armand Schaubroeck Ratfucker, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeh it's not so much words vs music, more a mode of listening type thing

Crackle Box, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

of course, good lyrics do stand out in any genre. But most lyrics aren't that great.

Armand Schaubroeck Ratfucker, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

Which may be part of the thing, here - vocals recorded without any compression at all sound absolutely fucking weird and freaky. We're so used to compression on the human voice that we think of it as the 'natural' sound of recorded singing (with autotune etc as the 'unnatural' sound). If Lex foregrounds lyrics and vocals in his listening, he's not goign to pick up on other stuff.

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

Lex, when you watch a film, do you typically find yourself paying attention to the plot, or to the camerwork / set design / framing, etc etc?

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

um, the acting?

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

then the plot, then the camerawork. give a fuck about set design - i remember my parents always gushing over the sets of certain period dramas and i never understood that, it was like they didn't care about the characters or the storyline

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's all that stuff... audio spacial awareness, spectral awareness, listening to details vs the whole, where your imagination goes when you listen, what inner reference point you're using when you do listen, how you "feel" the rhythms/melody/harmony

and then how does this affect what you choose to listen on, how loud you listen, how picky you become about that sort of thing

i remember when i couldn't recognise intervals, or anything more complex than basic triadic harmony. it now seems completely mental that i couldn't tell the difference between different 7th chords because it happens naturally, i don't have to think

Crackle Box, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

People listen to and watch things for different reasons.

jon /via/ chi 2.0, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

Emma has difficulty recognising some actors from one film to the next; I have difficulty predicting lionear plot developments unless they're signposted texturally. It leads to us each being 'fooled' by different kinds of twists - Em was UTTERLY BAFFLED by the reveal in The Prestige, whereas I recognised Bordon from the first moment I saw him. People and their braisn are very different. None of us are necessarily 'wrong'.

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is all true, so why all the "better listener"/"what you enjoy is dogshit" implications underlying your arguments? and the refusal to accept that some people don't notice it or don't care?

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

I honestly am not reading any "what you enjoy is dogshit" under anyone's arguments. What I'm reading is that some people, itt, are rightfully arguing that there is a huge difference between "don't hear it" and "don't care". You are hearing it, but your not caring about it isn't wrong.

jon /via/ chi 2.0, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

shakey mo and aerosmith have both explicitly equated liking compressed music to eating dogshit, and deej flat-out refuses to believe that anyone doesn't notice it

lex pretend, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

I missed shakey's post, but I think you're reading too much into aero's dogshit reference, tbh.

jon /via/ chi 2.0, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is all true, so why all the "better listener"/"what you enjoy is dogshit" implications underlying your arguments? and the refusal to accept that some people don't notice it or don't care?

Dynamic change really enhances/improves music! I don't think you would argue against this?

he carried yellow flowers (DJP), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeh i don't like this "better listener" "you should hear this if u r a critic" stuff

i think one of the reasons i enjoy reading lex's stuff is that he talks about things i never notice, don't know anything about

Crackle Box, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

lex you have argued on this thread that DRC basically doesn't exist, that it cannot be discerned/distinguished/noticed. This is wrong.

unorthodox economic revenge (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

Yeah, lex, I think you'd be better off planting your flag in the "I DON'T CARE ABOUT DRC" than trying to argue that it isn't noticable or w/e.

jon /via/ chi 2.0, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha i remember someone once saying that they'd heard sting's dreary and trite new album as it sounded on the original playback in the studio, and it sounded AMAZING, and i remember thinking I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN IN A WAY THAT MAKES STING'S RECORD AMAZING

mark s, Friday, 28 October 2011 15:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol

he carried yellow flowers (DJP), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

hahaha

Sick Mouthy (Scik Mouthy), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

lex, i feel like you might be conflating "music" + "recordings" a little bit? no one is slighting your taste, just the way some of these recordings are presented to the listening public. i like & listen to lots of records where i don't like the mastering job, it doesn't ruin the music for me but i might still like to hear a different master.

xxxxp

this is unusual for batman. (Jordan), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

lex you have argued on this thread that DRC basically doesn't exist

Dr. C doesn't exist? All that stuff about the tea lady was made up by a sock? Ah humanity!

An Outcast From Time's Feast (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 28 October 2011 15:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

no wonder that team always lost the rugby match on boxing day

Armand Schaubroeck Ratfucker, Friday, 28 October 2011 16:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

shakey mo and aerosmith have both explicitly equated liking compressed music to eating dogshit, and deej flat-out refuses to believe that anyone doesn't notice it

― lex pretend, Friday, October 28, 2011 10:32 AM (2 days ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

?? i just said that you hear it, you just dont know what it is that you're hearing

The boyboy young jess (D-40), Sunday, 30 October 2011 05:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

like, you might not recognize it AS drc but it is nonetheless, drc

The boyboy young jess (D-40), Sunday, 30 October 2011 05:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

Thinking that the movie analogy could be extended out a bit to explain why this is an issue to some. Lots of people love, say, The Blair Witch Project for the story/concept, but at the same time just LOATHE the production on it. Does the production get in the way of the story? Probably not. But is it hard for people to watch? For many people, absolutely. Or, to use an example that's a bit less glaring, same with a bunch of J.J. Abrams movies - once you're attuned to his lens flare technique, you might start noticing it more, and for some people it's an irritation. But a lot of people will watch his films and never ever notice that as say that they're absolutely great, and not get why some people look at them and shake their damn heads every time it happens on the screen.

I suppose a more direct analogy would be the increasing use of the cyan/orange colour correction in so many films these days. Most people won't be consciously aware of this when they're watching the films, but guaranteed that there are a number of people out there that find them absolutely unwatchable. The people that enjoy the films aren't wrong, but to deny that it's happening is ridiculous.

Sean Carruthers, Sunday, 30 October 2011 17:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

BTW before anyone pounces I realize that these examples aren't perfect - the camera work in Blair Witch is probably more akin to miking, and lens flares are probably more akin to an effect that's applied to an audio signal. The colour correction is probably closest but not exact, because it'd probably be more akin to a part of the mixing process. Maybe someone else knows a more exact analogy here because the closest I'm coming here is bumping the picture saturation level all the way to the top, which would obviously look like shit to everyone, not just the attuned.

Sean Carruthers, Sunday, 30 October 2011 17:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

cropping the frame so it fits on tv

zvookster, Sunday, 30 October 2011 20:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

That's a good one.

Tim F, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

bumping the picture saturation level all the way to the top, which would obviously look like shit to everyone

I don't know dude, Godard rocked heavy saturation hard in parts of In Praise of Love. It looked pretty good to me.

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with compression, it's really nice to thicken up a mix but it does get abused to the point where it's just limiting sonic potential imo, that's the only thing to lament really.

historyyy (prettylikealaindelon), Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

color saturation rules fuiud

dayo, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with compression, it's really nice to thicken up a mix but it does get abused to the point where it's just limiting sonic potential imo, that's the only thing to lament really.

― historyyy (prettylikealaindelon), Sunday, October 30, 2011 4:38 PM (14 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

you're confusing things. there is something wrong with 'dynamic range compression' which is what we're talking about

The boyboy young jess (D-40), Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

cropping the frame so it fits on tv

― zvookster, Sunday, October 30, 2011 3:39 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

That's a good one.

― Tim F, Sunday, October 30, 2011 4:25 PM (28 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

this is the most OTM comparison -- pan & scan cinema is the movie equivalent, if there is one.

The boyboy young jess (D-40), Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean i suppose the real equivalent would be streaming netflix on a bad connection

The boyboy young jess (D-40), Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't know dude, Godard rocked heavy saturation hard in parts of In Praise of Love. It looked pretty good to me.

Sure, it CAN look good in doses (or as you say, "in parts"). But would you want everything you watch to always have the levels cranked ALL of the time? And even if you thought you DID, would your eyes and brain appreciate it?

Sean Carruthers, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

color saturation is definitely something you can want all of the time

dayo, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp Actually I think pan and scan is partly back to data compression, i.e. losing parts of the data that aren't seen as important to get the gist across. So I'm not sure it's really the analogue of DRC here.

Sean Carruthers, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

What I like about the "cropping" analogy is that both are a pragmatic solution to the demands of modern modes of consumption. Obv. there is a basic advantage to cropping the frame if you are watching a film on TV; just as heavy DRC makes sense for commuter and radio listening.

Tim F, Sunday, 30 October 2011 21:59 (2 years ago) Permalink


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