cd architect w/noise reduction

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by reddb, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. reddb

    reddb Guest

    is this mastering software any good? if not can someone refer a good mastering software around the same price as the cde architect
     
  2. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Red,

    CD Architect is mainly an excellent CD burning program. It may offer plug-in effects, but those are really just as an extra incentive to get you to buy the program.

    As for a mastering program, I'm not sure why such a product is even needed. What you really need are a good EQ and compressor, and maybe a few other effects. In practice, there's no difference between a single program that offers all of those features, and a plug-in pack that offers them individually.

    --Ethan
     
  3. kylen

    kylen Guest

    I use Magix Audio Cleaning Lab 2004 - believe it or not - to throw together a CD real quick. I don't send that kind of thing out to get 'pressed' but it's quick and sounds good. It handles 24 bit imports, allows an insert per track as well as a master insert and has native effects, graphic eq, compressor (upward compressor - easy!), limiter. Some of the effects are a bit amatuerish but guess what - I'm an amatuer - he he I can hear too so I don't use the ones that don't add beauty. The multiband-limiter I usually use a small bit.

    I've got CD architect too, like Ethan says - it's more geared toward the actual burning of the red book CD.

    If you're referring to the part of mastering that includes the re-balancing of EQ & dynamics & loudness then the tools I'm currently using this week (it varies) in the garage here are at:

    voxengo.com (VST) - eqs, compressors, limiters
    izotope.com (DX) - Ozone3, dither, clipper
    har-bal.com (standalone) - eq

    Free VST Tools (check KvR web site for many free discussions also):
    http://www.kjaerhusaudio.com/classic-series.php free EQ, compressor, limiter of pretty good quality.
    elementalaudio.com - Inspector. Free spectrum analyzer.

    Good Home Mastering ! :)
    kylen

    PS Even though some of the tools could squish the dynamics out of everything - if you just push into them a dB or so they leave plenty of dynamics !
     
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I don't think you can beat WAVELAB for mastering.

    -IMHO-
     
  5. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    I did some pretty extensive testing of programs that I already had (including CDArchitect - both 4.0g and the 5.0 demo) and discovered that none of them produced a CD or image file that sounded like what I was hearing while mastering. What's more, CDA 4.0 and 5.0 don't even sound alike!

    Per the recommendation from another ME, I ended up buying Samplitude 7 Classic. It is, by far, a much better mastering platform than CDA and I have run a number of tests which confirm the complete null between the original file and the load-back from the CD-R. In other words, what you hear is what you get.

    You can add track indexes and burn a CD directly from the timeline so you won't need any other program.

    Check it out. Crossgrades are reasonable.
     
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    There has been a lot of positive comments about this program from members of the Mastering Web Board. http://webbd.nls.net:8080/~mastering

    It has however been proven, by many people with ears that I trust, that having "the complete null between the original file and the load-back from the CD-R." is not the only measure of how a great a CD sounds. There are other factors that are unmeasurable that also contribute to the final "sound" of the CD.

    I am glad you are satisfied with the Samplitude 7 Classic.
     
  7. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    Agreed. I also discovered that Samplitude offered a much more open and transparent sound than the other programs I was using - especially in the upper freqs. In comparison, the top end sounds "smeared" in the other progs.

    My point with the null issue was only to state that Samplitude produces masters that equal your efforts.

    What other factors are you referring to? I'm curious to know....
     
  8. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Tom,

    > having "the complete null between the original file and the load-back from the CD-R." is not the only measure of how a great a CD sounds. There are other factors that are unmeasurable <

    I cannot agree with that. If the original and the copy null out completely, then they are exactly the same. Any perceived difference is, by definition, imagined. Bits are bits, and when handled correctly they never change. Ears and the brain, on the other hand, are organic and their perception can change wildly from one second to the next. This is why science relies on double blind tests, and not on the opinion of even the most highly esteemed of experts.

    --Ethan
     
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    There are differences. Here are a few info blips from the net. There are a ton more. Even though a CD is bit by bit compared to another they can sound different depending on a lot of factors. Hope this reading proves useful.

    If you need more information I would be happy to supply it.

    From Stereophile magazine....

    <snip>

    Both my CD-R master and the DAT clone I'd made of it nulled totally against the 16-bit archive data, revealing that I had not made an error in the master preparation. However, not only could I not null the production data against the archive, the production master was longer by one video frame (1/30 of a second) every 20 minutes of program. This appears to show that the mastering engineer either a) used a sample-rate converter, or b) converted my carefully prepared data to analog, then reconverted it to digital using a 16-bit ADC with a sample clock running very slightly slower than mine (by just 1.2Hz!). What was incontrovertible was that all my careful work to preserve as much as possible of the 20-bit original's quality had been for naught.


    As well as indicating the dangers of entrusting your work to the hands of others with different agendas, this story is interesting in that all the changes made to my data were at such a low level—30dB or more below the analog tape hiss—that proponents of "bits is bits" would argue that, whatever the mastering engineer had done, the differences introduced should have been inaudible. Yet what had alerted me to the fact that the data had been changed was a significant change in the quality of the sound—a degradation that I heard even without having the originals on hand for an A/B comparison!


    "Bits is bits"? In theory, yes. In practice?


    From the Net

    Suppose you extract the audio track from the copy, and it's an exact binary match of the track you wrote from your hard drive, but the CDs don't sound quite the same. What then?

    Most people don't notice any difference between originals and duplicates.

    Some people notice subtle differences, some people notice huge differences. Some say CD-R is better, some say worse. While it's true
    that "bits are bits", there *are* reasons why CD-Rs may sound different even when the data matches exactly.

    The manual for a popular CD unit reportedly states that the drive uses 4x oversampling when playing back pressed CDs, but switches to 1x for CD-R.This affects the quality of the D/A conversion, and can make an audible difference.

    It has been suggested that the D/A conversion process in the CD player is more susceptible to "jitter" when reading CD-Rs, because the clocking of the bits isn't as precise. A quality CD player will compensate for this automatically. (Note: this kind of jitter is different from the DAE kind
    of jitter described in section (2-15).) About halfway down on the page at
    http://www.digido.com/jitteressay.html are some comments about the quality
    of playback being dependent on how a CD-R is recorded.

    Others have asserted that *any* two CDs, pressed or otherwise, will sound slightly different.

    Some people believe that audio CDs should be recorded at 1x, while others have asserted that, for various technical reasons, 2x is better. Certain kinds of media may work best at specific speeds.

    An extremely technical introduction to CD reading is available at
    http://www.tc.umn.edu/~erick205/Papers/paper.html.This may shed some light on why reading audio CDs is difficult.

    If you are finding noticeable differences, try different media, a different player, and a different recorder. There is some evidence that different brands of media and recorders may work better for audio, but in the end it's a highly subjective matter.

    Some people say CD-Rs sound worse, some
    people say they sound better.

    Back to my thoughts

    There are simply too many people whom I respect that think that its not all bits are bits.

    A good site for checking out more information is http://www.digido.com which is Bob Katz's site on mastering. (he wrote a great book on mastering)

    Additional info from Alan Silverman on the Mastering Webboard

    Sounds like the familiar clocking difference conundrum. The apparent "loss" of top end may actually be indicative of a better clock in the Sony. Less jitter is sometimes perceived as less top end because there is a little less grit.Test the integrity of the Sony feed by burning a CD-R in the DAW, play it dig out of the Sony back into the DAW, and null against the original. If it nulls, then the difference in sound is probably clocking.


    From Bob Olhsson on the Mastering Webboard

    One is except for the fact that if the audio isn't as bright, chances are it's a better clock. External clocking virtually always results in more jitter than internal. Some people like various flavors of audible jitter but none of it is going to be heard in the final CD. Meanwhile, any signal processing choices made within the context of listening to the jitter of the month WILL be heard and may indeed not sound nearly as good when it's clocked out using a typical CD player.

    Back to my thoughts

    Jitter and clocking are factors that will make a CD sound different in different players even if you have a bit by bit comparison that says they are identical.

    Not all CD players are created equal. Not all CD burners are of the same quality and not all CD media is created equal. Been there done that.....

    Hope all this helps.
     
  10. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Thomas,

    All of your points have merit, but not one of them addresses the issue at hand!

    > This appears to show that the mastering engineer either a) used a sample-rate converter, or b) converted my carefully prepared data to analog <

    Well, duh. Sure, if you resample or copy to analog and back, the data changes. The author even acknowledged he was then no longer able to null the files.

    > Suppose you extract the audio track from the copy, and it's an exact binary match of the track you wrote from your hard drive, but the CDs don't sound quite the same. What then? <

    Then have a friend help you do a blind test so you can prove to yourself it's all in your mind.

    > It has been suggested that the D/A conversion process in the CD player is more susceptible to "jitter" <

    That too is totally unrelated. The question is not if the same data sounds different when played on different CD players or through different sound cards. You said that two files can null but sound different. I assumed you meant when played through the same gear, no?

    > Others have asserted that *any* two CDs, pressed or otherwise, will sound slightly different. <

    If they null when extracted they are the same and will sound the same.

    > Some people believe that audio CDs should be recorded at 1x <

    Yeah, well some people believe a lot of crazy things. That's hardly evidence. Double blind testing is the only way to validate this stuff, and anything less is simply guessing. I don't care if it's Bob Katz or Bob Ohlsson or Bob your cousin's pet goldfish. BTW, that's called arguing from authority which is a classic logic error: Claiming that "So and so is an expert and he says..." does not address the issue in any way.

    > Jitter and clocking are factors that will make a CD sound different in different players even if you have a bit by bit comparison that says they are identical. <

    Again, that's not what's under discussion. And if that is what you meant, then we should start a new thread about why some digital devices sound different than others. That is totally unrelated to whether bit for bit copies can sound different when played through the same hardware, which is all I was addressing.

    --Ethan
     
  11. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Ethan has at some point right here.

    But this isue is very complicated and has many aspects!!
    If you can make a copy that contains exactly the same code as the original then it "should" sound the same as the original.
    But this is not the case when you are burning a CDR, you will not get the excact same code down on the CDR or even if you get the same code down on CDR, then it will not be played as the same code afterwards.
    Generally CDR's sound best(closest the the original code) on the drive that burned the CDR.

    I think Ethan that this isue has to come up when talking about digital copies! especially digital "perfect" copies, theres no such thing as a perfect copy i think...
     
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Ethan,

    All good points.

    I guess I was trying to say that even though you can burn a bit by bit "copy" of a CD it may not sound the same as the original off the DAW when you listen to the copy off a CD player and the original off the computer.

    This was the original statement I was replying to, which I now see was a loaded statement...

    "Per the recommendation from another ME, I ended up buying Samplitude 7 Classic. It is, by far, a much better mastering platform than CDA and I have run a number of tests which confirm the complete null between the original file and the load-back from the CD-R. In other words, what you hear is what you get."

    ******The question here is how was he listening to the "copy"?******** that is where this becomes a loaded question.

    Any DAW worth its salt should burn a bit for bit copy of what you have on your computer. PERIOD. If it does not then I would not use it. If this is the case they should sound the same IF and only IF you play them both the copy and the original back from your hard drive though the same D to A converter after importing the copy back to the computer (and even this could be suspect depending on the way you do it).

    If you are playing the same material though the computer and also through a CD player then they are going to sound slightly different since there are different D to A converters in the computer and in the CD player and the CD player will be using some error correction and may playback CDRs differently from the way it plays back commercially "embossed" CDs.

    In my setup even digital sounds slightly different when coming from my Denon CD player and comparing it to the original coming off my computer even though I am using the SPDIF outputs of the Denon into the Benchmark DAC-1 and the AES outputs from my RME audio card into the same unit. I have always assumed that this is because of the error correction going on inside the Denon that is not going on inside my computer.

    As a mastering engineer I am exposed to all types of D to A converters on a daily basis and no two of them sound EXACTLY the same. I currently use the Benchmark DAC-1 as my reference and am very happy with it. I previously used a Mark Levinson and was, at the time, very happy with that unit as well.

    The DAC becomes your reference EVEN THOUGH the two units sound slightly different. I used them both (at different times) to listen to what I was mastering and made mastering decisions based on what I was hearing though the unit. Does that make the mastering I did with one wrong and with the other right? I don't think so.

    The two units both sound different and handle audio in a different way. Is one better than the other?. After all they are both D to A converters so following conventional "digital" logic they should both "sound the same". I also don't think this is the case.

    It goes to personal feelings for the type of sound that you like or the one that is closer to what you "think" it should sound like or the one that sounds the most neutral. There is, to my way of thinking, no such thing as a perfect DAC but the Benchmark is very close.

    I don't want to get into the whole "digital is digital therefore it has to sound the same" since we all know that is not the case.

    I think we are on the same page just different paragraphs.

    Hope this helps.
     
  13. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    OK, I'll reply to my own post to clear things up...

    The original post was about whether or not CDA is a good Mastering platform or not. My response to that question was nothing more than to share my experience with the tests that I had run for myself in finding out if that was true or not.

    What I found was that I could take the same wav file and play it within several different prgms in the DAW (same monitoring source, etc.) and that file would sound (sometimes radically - enough for mastering) different when played by the different prgms. Furthermore, when that file was rendered or bounced, or whatever your prgm calls it, it sounded different yet again.

    This led me on a quest for a prgm that would yield "true" results in the final product. That quest lead me to Samplitude7. I took the same project and exported its contents in 4 different ways and compared it to the results of the same project exported in 3 different ways on other pgrms (including CDA).

    The 4 ways out of Samp7 are:
    1-Mixdown (bounce to disk)
    2-Real-time render (bounce to disk during playback)
    3-Burn CD directly from the EDL (then loadback)
    4-Capture playback from one instance thru digital I/O of same soundcard to another instance

    3 ways out of other prgms:
    1-Render (bounce to disk)
    2-Burn CD directly form the EDL (then loadback)
    3-Capture playback from one instance thru digital I/O of same soundcard to another instance

    When placed and aligned on the EDL and phase reversed, all 4 of the exports from Samp7 nulled perfectly against each other. The exports from the other prgms did NOT null with the exports from Samp7 nor did they even null with each other or even with themseles. The project's routing structure was identical in each of the pgrms and any plugs used were identical and used the exact same settings.

    Heck, when I did just a listen test between CDA 4.0 and CDA 5.0, they didn't even sound the same during playback from the DAW (much less sound the same as any other pgrm playing the same wav file).

    The point: the question was asked if CDA is a good mastering platform. Based on my experiments, I have to answer "No!".

    When you say that any DAW worth it's salt can produce a bit-for-bit master.....that is exactly the point I'm trying to make; except its not the DAW, its the program running on the DAW. So, I guess what I'm saying is, CDA is NOT worth it's salt.

    Did I clear up my mess...?
     
  14. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Henrik,

    > theres no such thing as a perfect copy i think <

    Recording to a hard drive certainly is error free. I appreciate that CDs are fragile, and the error recovery can come into play and sometimes reconstruct the data with errors. But copying to stable media always works perfectly. And CDRs don't necessarily have errors either. For example, when you burn a Wave file onto a CDR it will be written exactly every time.

    The real issue is that audio CDs write 14 bits for every 8 bits of data, and data CDs write 16 bits for every 8. That gives more redundancy and so any error correction, if needed, can be more complete.

    In practice, I've been burning CDs since a 4x burner was the state of the art. I have always used TDK media because I have never, ever, not even once, had a CD not sound exactly like the original wave file.

    --Ethan
     
  15. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Thomas,

    > it may not sound the same as the original off the DAW when you listen to the copy off a CD player and the original off the computer. <

    Yeah, that could probably be due to using different D/A converters.

    > "Per the recommendation from another ME, I ended up buying Samplitude 7 Classic <

    As I understand it, the burning program has nothing to do with the accuracy of the burned data. Rather, all the program does is hand off the bit stream to the burner, and the burner's firmware does the actual burning. Even more important is the media, and the uniformity of its coating.

    > It is, by far, a much better mastering platform than CDA and I have run a number of tests which confirm the complete null <

    If a CD burned with CD Architect doesn't behave exactly the same as one burned through Samplitude I will be astonished. And I'll mail you $100. But you'll have to prove it in a double-blind test with me present as a witness! :D

    > I have always assumed that this is because of the error correction going on inside the Denon that is not going on inside my computer. <

    I assume all audio CD error correction works the same and uses the same algorithm. Since the same algorithm is used to encode the error recovery data, it stands to reason that the recovery algorithm would have to be the same too. Otherwise you'd have to play back CDs in the same brand drive that burned them, and we know that's not the case.

    --Ethan
     
  16. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Jeff,

    > Did I clear up my mess...? <

    No mess! :tu:

    And I really can't dispute your experience. CD Architect does have some options to change levels and do other stuff, so is it possible your tests prepared the files differently?

    If I get a chance I'll test CD Architect - I'm using version 5.0 - to see if a song that's burned and then extracted can null or not.

    --Ethan
     
  17. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    Guys,

    I may be a hard nosed SOB, but I freely admit when I'm wrong. I hereby withdraw my $100 offer. :D

    I just burned a CD in CD Architect and extracted the file using both CD Architect and Easy CD Creator. When I tried to null either extracted version with the original Wave file, some trebly content remained. I know I set up the nulling correctly because I was easily able to null the two extracted copies against each other. And when I changed the volume of one extracted track against the other extracted track, the level came up with no change in basic tone. As opposed to the trebly sounding "leakage" when nulling against the original.

    I want to do some more testing, though the only other CD burning programs I have are Easy CD Creator and a fairly recent version of Nero. But I'll try those two and report back when I get a chance.

    --Ethan
     
  18. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    For a long time I have noticed that the same material sounds slightly different when played back in Wavelab, Sound Forge and Cool Edit Pro (now Audition). I was never sure why and I have asked a lot of questions of the tech support people but never received a creditable reply.

    All the sound parameters are set up the same (where possible) and of course I am using the same sound card DAC, amplifer and speaker for all the listening tests.

    I am fortunate in that I have a great room and really great speakers to listen on but I have always been puzzled as to the difference in sound from the different programs.

    I am not talking major difference but audible ones just the same.

    Anyone here have an input?
     
  19. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Firstly, I'll point to this link that Michael Fossenkemper put up a while back. Pretty informative stuff with graphs and such other scientific proof to back it up, while dispelling a couple of urban legends.

    Secondly, I'd like to just throw in my two cents about the whole "same bits, different sound" debate.

    True, it's been proven that different CD-Rs can sound different from the original, depending on the signal chain and other mystical factors that come about from the same player.

    The sound may be different. The representation of the media may be different. (Heck, run the same eight-fourteen on the same data and the representation can come out different)

    However, the key factor here is that *IF* the exact, identical bit-for-bit data can be recovered from these different media types, it's the same. Well, it is to me, at least.

    Even if all these factors that come into play cause a difference in sound, the gear that you run the music through still interpret it the same way.

    A definitive state, as is our digital tracks in question here, is that - If Data A is run through Process B to get Data C, it will ALWAYS result in Data C after undergoing Process B, no matter how different Data A may look, smell or taste to outside observers.

    Anyone have any thoughts to add to this? I'm always willing to discuss, and I admittedly have problems expressing myself correctly on the first try.


    Edit:

    Thomas- Now THAT's weird... Do update us if you ever find out what gives.

    Just curious, what sample rate/bit depth is your sound card capable of, and what sample rate/bit depth is the media you're monitoring?
     
  20. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    The difference between the programs is their audio engine. They do not do a direct copy from source to destination. some have a very tiny buffer and some have a huge buffer. some go through their digital audio engine (what ever that entails) and some do not. some will and won't even in the same program depending on what you do to a file. For example, in waveburner, if you import a 16/44.1 file and do absolutely nothing, it does not run the audio through it's audio engine. If you trim the file or put any kind of fade on or volume adjustment, then it does. Some will dither and others truncate. when you do a null test, you have to truncate the file and not dither it because dither is random noise so what your getting in the null test is probably the difference in dither or it could be the program's audio engine. It would be interesting to find out what's involved in a programs audio engine to see how it manipulates the data.
     

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