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Loudness War Victory

Ian Shepherd discussing the 2012 Green Day Remaster .

Comments

BobRogers Mon, 10/22/2012 - 19:08

I started listening to this on laptop speakers, and of course heard very little difference. There is a lesson in that. So many listeners today are using low fidelity playback in rather noisy environments. The compressed version is arguably more useful/provides a better listening experience/is "better sounding" in that situation. With a switch to consumer-level headphones the differences are easier to hear, but they aren't huge. I certainly prefer the uncompressed version, but I understand the consumer appeal of the compressed version.

Another takeaway is that the mastering for this song is very well done. It may be compressed more than I like, but there is still some life and definition there. Yes, this type of music makes it easy to tuck a little clipping into the mix without anyone noticing, but whoever did this is better at it than most. Most squashed to hell records song a whole lot worse that this. I wonder if this "victory" in the loudness wars won't turn into a defeat? Are artists going to listen to this and say, "I can get a 5dB louder record and sound THAT good? I'm in!"

audiokid Mon, 10/22/2012 - 19:58

Good points.

The one that gets me most excited is being penalized if your master goes over the mentioned threshold, and how the brick walled master drops in level compared to the one with more transients. If that was enforced, what a victory. But I wonder if someone would find a way to fool the censor. I doubt it would be an analog function that takes care of that.
But wouldn't this be wonderful.

I don't know about you but I have spent hours trying to get something just slightly louder, knowing damn well I'm killing it to get there. And what a joke putting all the energy into the volume over sonic mastering. Like you say, a bit of rasp sure hides some of the ugly.

Something that I've noticed (that could turn into a really interesting topic) is how much louder electronic music can get with less distortion in comparison to a track with even one "real" acoustic instrument in it. The more first generation acoustic information in a song, the harder I find it is to compete without killing it. There isn't the transients in electronic music like their is in acoustic sounds. And the more times you sample it, including ADDA, it starts looking like a brick, or sounding more digital per-say. In a resent topic over at Track Talk, I proved in a Null test to myself that I could make my analog mix sound digital in a few conversions. But you can't do it the other way around.

Spend enough years as I have with samples and you soon realize why electronic music is an attraction. The wall of sound at volume setting 2 sells. And like you say, most people don't hear the transients so the next question is, are we sonic martyr's or business men. How do the purest compete when this is what sells.

Two decades of samples being perfected or recycled, no wonder music is all washed together today. But the new generation doesn't even know this has happened. Its loud but there isn't anything real left. And so, the music keeps evolving, out with the old, in with the new. Its very interesting to me, including the psychology of sound.

I would love to hear what others think about " electronic vs acoustic mastering loudness levels?

TrilliumSound Tue, 10/23/2012 - 05:45

Agree!

BobRogers, post: 395043 wrote: I started listening to this on laptop speakers, and of course heard very little difference. There is a lesson in that. So many listeners today are using low fidelity playback in rather noisy environments. The compressed version is arguably more useful/provides a better listening experience/is "better sounding" in that situation. With a switch to consumer-level headphones the differences are easier to hear, but they aren't huge. I certainly prefer the uncompressed version, but I understand the consumer appeal of the compressed version.

Another takeaway is that the mastering for this song is very well done. It may be compressed more than I like, but there is still some life and definition there. Yes, this type of music makes it easy to tuck a little clipping into the mix without anyone noticing, but whoever did this is better at it than most. Most squashed to hell records song a whole lot worse that this. I wonder if this "victory" in the loudness wars won't turn into a defeat? Are artists going to listen to this and say, "I can get a 5dB louder record and sound THAT good? I'm in!"

DrGonz Tue, 10/23/2012 - 06:17

I am a not a Mastering engineer or even close to being a professional recording engineer. I sure hear a difference on my shure headphones. The difference is funny because you still think the clipped version has more impact on the total sound of the track. I think we have been brainwashed by the loudness wars. It's as if your getting a quick one w/ little regard to your emotions or your ears. In the long run you will feel used and you will suffer a sonic head ache. That's how I feel about electronic music too. It's not fulfilling to me in the long run but at first is mesmerizing! I am not saying it is bad, but just that after some time I need the old school approach again to get my bearings back again.

I have never mastered any track that was more than -11db RMS ever and never will make anything ever louder than that... That was my rule a while back and has been ever since. If I see a brick wall forming then I feel I am only being lazy and not committed to the listener. If the listener does not agree well then maybe they are deaf by now? Even at -11db I see a wall forming and that wall is much better than a wall at -6db.

I usually wind up with masters around -15 to -11db and find that to be a scale of normalcy in a reality based production sense. I am afraid to join the loudness wars and actually used the topic in a public speeking class in college. You should have seen the people's faces listening to my public speaking exercise!! They had no clue at all what I was trying to explain but it was a great time spent analyzing the loudness wars. I think I made at least one person in that room go research the loudness wars and that was enough for me. That one person was involved with film and that is probably why it was even an interesting speech to them.

I am really happy to see something in the industry that is taking into account what is the rule of thumb to mastering for loudness. Guidelines should be set to keep the dynamics of music still alive. Electronic musicians would agree too but it will only make sense to them in about another ten years.

Kurt Foster Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:22

i can hear the difference on my laptop speakers and it's not small.

i prefer the sound of the HD less compressed/less clipped version although the results are nothing new for me. i have always thought that smashing masters to get louder ruined them sonically.... on the other hand anything Billy Joe Armstrong writes and sings is tops to me and i would listen to it no matter how smashed it was. rock on Green Day and thanks to Ian Shepard for doing this and thanks to Chris for posting it for our enjoyment. this made my day ... so don't shoot me just yet.

Kurt Foster Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:36

BobRogers, post: 395077 wrote: The difference between small and not small is all a matter of perspective...or haven't you ever had a woman tell you that.duh

wadda mean there Bob?

seriously, it wouldn't take a trained ear to hear it. i think the difference is very plain to even a novice. i guess my laptop speakers must be good ones! :biggrin:

NOW you can just shoot me!!!

mmmmmmph! arrrrrgh! suicide ahhhhhhhhzh*t!

audiokid Tue, 10/23/2012 - 11:51

re Remy's Neve on pruemix.net: http://recording.org/pro-audio-gear/53526-remys-old-neve.html

I found this scrolling through and thought this was appropriate to this thread:
And to add, my life changed after I got the Dangerous Monitor ST. You don't know what you're missing until you get the Monitor ST or second best, the SPL 2381.
http://sphotos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/294866_285935251426465_1787462600_n.jpg

 

Attached files

TrilliumSound Wed, 10/24/2012 - 14:51

Yes I did. It is not always the case (lots of variables) but yes, in my experience, electronic music could often get louder (apparent loudness) compared to "real instruments" music without affecting the original sound, shapes and vibes.

audiokid, post: 395074 wrote: Richard,

Regarding my comment on electronic vs acoustic mastering loudness levels, have you ever compared your master's (example: metal, jazz) to a remix of club music?

Sent from my iPhone

e-mixmaster Wed, 11/14/2012 - 06:42

audiokid, post: 395047 wrote: Good points.

Two decades of samples being perfected or recycled, no wonder music is all washed together today. But the new generation doesn't even know this has happened. Its loud but there isn't anything real left. And so, the music keeps evolving, out with the old, in with the new. Its very interesting to me, including the psychology of sound.

I would love to hear what others think about " electronic vs acoustic mastering loudness levels?

I agree totally with the above thinking, and led me to believe that new producers and engineers have to be well educated about real sound and psycho- acoustics. It is a shame how the industry is becoming more un-aware of basic concepts about sound engineering.

Please do not get me wrong as I know there is a lot of good professionals around, but there is a lot also, of amateurs doing pseudo electronic music with mono thematic ideas with in the end are simple seven minute loops with little music in them really. With no feel what so ever.

About the acoustic vs electronic question, I really think it is hard to compete with really fast envelope sounding kicks, and there is a lot of already mastered and processed material that has to go to a master bus again to be compressed again during mastering and so on. Acoustic sounds have to be treated as such. Good miking techniques and all that. Blumlein array, fig 8, MS recording... sadly this is all becoming sort of unknown things.

I have done a lot of different styles of music as a producer and artist, and sometimes I have been really disappointed with the mastering sound itself, even form well respected mastering houses. It appears to me that the only thing I received in return for the money was a lot of boost on hi mids and a lot of soft limiting.

I personally love analog vintage like equalizing, like E.A.R stuff, Neve, etc (who does not?) and I think plugins are really away from that "sound", but sadly it is becoming a standard. Since they are easily accessible, there is an existing grow of myth and black mastering and mixing techniques that is spoiling the art of sound.

Best regards to all

https://twitter.com…

 

Audiofreek Sun, 12/09/2012 - 08:51

While watching this CLA vid of a 48 track master session "Holiday",one can clearly see he definately like to hit the compression hard enough to produce some 2nd order harmonics from the gear.Also it looks like some of the audio is being run through 1/4" tape at 7 ips on an old pioneer reel to reel.This guy is definately about driving the gear to the brink to bring out distortion.
I think this may be part of the reason why "American Idiot" gets picked on,as there is deliberate audible distortion on alot of the elements in the mix that only get more emphasis during overdriving brick wall limiters during mastering.
While it's clear to see the clipped the peaks in the CD master in Wave Lab,that's not at all unusual these days

anonymous Sun, 12/09/2012 - 13:53

audiokid, post: 395040 wrote: Ian Shepherd discussing the 2012 Green Day Remaster

He's skeptical about there being an improvement moving from 16 to 24 bit?! For a stereo mix??!!

For the A/B test he'll downsample a Green Day (you wouldn't expect pop-punk to sound loud & trashy?) 24 bit file (remastered at higher resolution exactly how?) to 16 bit... then resample the 16 bit file by attenuating it by a non-integer dB/bit value? Then upload the results to youtube for one to mull over...

___

16 bit is indistinguishable from 24 bit?

If you mix at -24dBtp with no compression on the mix bus at all... oh you'll hear the difference alright.

In 16 bit maintaining a strong level is especially important considering that 1/2 of the resolution of LPCM is in the loudest 6dBs below clip, you get quite a bit more resolution if you use the loudest possible levels. As you get quieter, the amount of quantisation becomes increasingly harsh and distorted.

You get nasty obviously audible artefacts creeping in at around 11 to 8 bit, and becoming very pronounced around 6 or 7 bit, so if you're frequency masking those artefacts out with loud broadband sounds such as heavily distorted guitars, you may not be able to audibly pinpoint these things. Those artefacts do sound rather like the distortion you get from a transistory marshall amp, the "valvstate" series. However, just because the meter level is reading a big level, doesn't mean that quiet elements of the mix aren't being pixelled out. 16 bit running at -48dBtp the bitrate is only 8 bit, so any sounds running close to that threshold in the mix will have those artefacts, and be audibly horrible. Complex sounds such as reverb tails should be present in a mix at those levels *relative* to the loudest possible sound, so even peaking at 0dB resolving that level of detail is off the cards. Running 24dBtp headroom and having clean subtle reverb at -40dBfs is just not an option at 16 bit.

Single decimal figure bitrate – 9 bits or less – have a weird distorting/noise-gate effect. Hip-hop producers from the 80s and early 90s used the low bitrate (12bit) of the EMU SP12 / SP1200 sampling drum machines for the "crunch", and the foot-room resolution issues in that machine were such that it required each voice output to have an analog voltage-controlled envelope filter to filter out the mashing hiss on note tails (also used creatively to put "fatness" into the beat). You can use 14 bit or 12 bit as a processing effect on snare drums, it takes out all the reverb and makes it sound like there's more snare chain and crunch in the sound, and rig up a synth-filter to do the job of taking out the digital ripping noise in the note-tails. Artefacts can be employed.

Can't hear the difference between digidesign 882s and 888s?! 16 bit is *just fine?!*.

Here's some artefacts that I just generated by nulling a jazz record (this isn't copyright infringing... the music is *gone* if you do this, bet y'all $50 that you can't guess what track this once was) against a low-bitrate version at the same level (5 bit – right in the sweet spot of nasty), so that only the aberrations are left over. X Desk that thing that sounds like a whiplash is actually a solo piano and later in the sample a bit of piano and double bass.

The advantage of 24 bit is that these harsh, crunchy aftefacts are not audible on the resynthesis and playback systems of today, since they're masked out by a typically 80dB signal to noise of the analog circuitry and speakers and room the converter is liable to be running into. 24 bit converters have "foot room" beyond the typical dynamic range, keeping the artefacts from being heard. There is much less audible tizzy crunch. Also, the number of audio levels, and hence the amount of detail that the mix can hold is a substantially increased – specifically every bit of 16 bit has 256 steps in 24 bit. That's 256x the detail. Even with a pristene 110dBfs of dynamic range, that's 18 bits. At the very floor of detail that can be resolved, the resolution at the noise floor is 6 bit. You don't need to dither 24 bit, since the noise in the analog stages will most likely take care of that for you.

Try getting a decimator on a linear 24 bit mix with no compression, and A/B against 24 bit setting the decimator to 20, 16, 12 bit, and then 8 bit, and see what happens. A slow, dissonant piano or guitar piece with a lot of loud and quiet bits will be particularly revealing, but it should also be quite obvious on drums – or anything with dynamic range. In both the case of amplitude resolution and sample frequency, as resolution increases, the improvements are subject to the law of diminishing returns.

However, I'm sure that if you could give me some 24 bit PCM converters that had 256x the sample rate – 11.2MHz – they'd sound better than 44.1.

96k is about as much better than 44.1 as 17 bit converters would be better than 16 bit converters. It's still relatively close to the threshold of audible artefacts (in the case of sample rate having a Nyquist limit in excess of the highest frequency people can hear).

Ideally one wants to be many orders of magnitude over that threshold, so that there are say hundreds of datapoints per cycle of a 20kHz wave, allowing one, for example to represent multiple non-periodic high frequency waveforms over the top of each other, with different phase differences through each channel of playback. That sort of detail is important for sound localisation and separation of one sound source from another in the mix.

I'm of the opinion that there is an argument for pushing levels on 16 bit or CD because of the resolution issues and what happens to the quietest parts of the mix. 16 bit is not a format with a lot of foot-room. Use dither? That hissing least significant bit arguably just makes matters worse, to really override those issues and get a consistent hissing background you have to use so much dither that it makes compact cassette appear to have a really desirable S/N.

Obviously there's no good in pushing stuff into the sausage shape, and obliterating all peaks, but 16 bit should not really be considered a high fidelity format, it hasn't got the dynamic range. There will be a compromise at one end or the other, quiet or loud, it's a balancing act.

But y'know. CD is an 80s format. In digital-years that's worse than dog years. CD is related to the SNES and ZX Spectrum. It's very surprising that it's still around. Just goes to show you who runs the electronics / media companies, and the trickle-down of technology is heavily influenced by the drive to retain control. Customer needs and product quality are *secondary* to maintaining corporate territory. Hence a lot of stuff happens that makes no sense for the customer or the market http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendor_lockin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectionism etc.

eg:

In the late 1980s, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lobbied against the introduction of DAT devices into the U.S Initially, the organization threatened legal action against any manufacturer attempting to sell DAT machines in the country. It later sought to impose restrictions on DAT recorders to prevent them from being used to copy LPs, CDs, and prerecorded cassettes. One of these efforts, the Digital Audio Recorder Copycode Act of 1987 (introduced by Sen. Al Gore and Rep. Waxman), instigated by CBS Records president Walter Yetnikoff, involved a technology called CopyCode and required DAT machines to include a chip to detect attempts to copy material recorded with a notch filter, meaning that copyrighted prerecorded music, whether analog or digital, whether on LP, cassette, or DAT, would have distorted sound resulting from the notch filter applied by the publisher at the time of mastering for mass reproduction. A National Bureau of Standards study showed that not only were the effects plainly audible, but that it was not even effective at preventing copying.

This opposition by CBS softened after Sony, a DAT manufacturer, bought CBS Records in January 1988. By June 1989, an agreement was reached, and the only concession the RIAA would receive was a more practical recommendation from manufacturers to Congress that legislation be enacted to require that recorders have a Serial Copy Management System to prevent digital copying for more than a single generation. This requirement was enacted as part of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which also imposed taxes on DAT recorders and blank media.

Of course, Yetnikoff is singing a different tune these days

Ahem and whatever happened to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Stream_Digital ...?

anonymous Mon, 12/10/2012 - 05:41

In my opinion, it's all in the context of the audio - the style, the intended usage, etc.

For those balls-to-the-wall club/house tracks, where the main goal is simply to jam a dance floor, there's no real need to protect any dynamic range, because there isn't really much dynamic range there to protect to begin with.

On the other hand, take a track by a singer/songwriter artist - someone like James Taylor for example - and it's all about the dynamics.

I've just finished a project where I agreed to assist a friend to "master" a project from a band he is in; it's a bluegrass thing (actually more of a "newgrass" style), and the reason I put the word master in quotation marks in the last sentence is because:

1.) I'm not a true mastering engineer, (and I told him up front that I wasn't, and that that the best thing they could do would be to have a real M.E. do the work, but they didn't wanna pay for it, sooo...) and
2.) I didn't have access to the gear that most authentic mastering engineers and mastering labs have.

In the end, against my friend's strong suggestion - and mine as well - the rest of the band opted for a hyper-limited, super squashed track... because to them, their only criteria was that it be loud and that they be able to put it next to a professional release and have it equal in volume.

Sonic integrity - like EQ and dynamics - meant absolutely nothing to them. They couldn't have cared less how it sounded in terms of tonal attraction or dynamic range that is inherent with acoustic instruments.
All they cared about was the volume. If getting the volume to their acceptable level meant sacrificing tone and dynamics, so be it.

In the end, you have to do what the paying client wants (and they didn't pay much, by the way LOL).

Although, I did ask that they not use my real name on the album liner notes, and I had absolutely no hesitancy in telling them why.

In my humble opinion, of course.

anonymous Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:12

People should be pointing the finger at poor quality systems with limited dynamic range and headroom, which requires people to turn stuff up.

Whether it's poor quality car sound systems, CD's 50dBfs dynamic range, weak headphones amplifiers in various devices, rubbish boomboxes, rubbish computer sub & satellite speakers, rubbish plastic hi-fi systems with 12W 4 inch woofers etc, the issue is quality and quantity of sound, both are very limited for the typical listener. The solution of today is to do work on the master to override these crippling limitations, which isn't the ideal place to do the work. Half the time there's some extra processing being done by the playback device, "Mega T bass" etc. The restrictions are largely based upon decades of manufacturing cheapness.

Were everybody to own a decent quality playback system, they'd not find such an improvement in the overcooked master. As it is, 95% of the people receiving mainstream material are feeding low-res digital files into really rubbish playback systems which don't go loud enough (and have no bass).

It is actually a result of the chronic lowering of costs and increasing of profits in the electronics manufacturing industry. The people who own even reasonable quality playback systems are a minority.

____

Dance music is a different matter. PAs are really high quality these days. If you overcook a master that's going out to be played through d&B, Funktion One, Meyersound or EAW, it won't sound better for having a lot of compression, it'll just sound muddy, hurt the audience's ears and end up getting turned down.

audiokid Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:50

Since owning my hybrid system and hearing such beautiful sounding mixes now, my worst nightmare (and where all my time is being wasted) is when I have to upload my mixes in a pool of other crap tracks that have been smashed to zero transients.

If the majority in the pool are all 8 db louder than my pristine track, will the audience take the time to turn up my song? If they do, it will clearly sound better but if they don't, it sounds duller at the low volume my sound system is set to for "the majority".

Regarding a PA system.. If a sound system is set-up and eq for the "majority" and you toss in a song full of dynamics and full bandwidth, will blow the system per-say or sound out of place, whacked etc. Am I wrong I'm wrong?

There needs to be a standard because we are being forced to accept the lowest common denominator. And sound systems and general population are evolving all over the world to accommodate smashed and compressed music. The radio in my town sounds like ass. Everything reminds me of the days of AM radio all over again. Lets hope for someone to start "FM" again. Remember that?

To shift into a related discussion about limiting now and to talk about what I am learning.

Has anyone tried Pro L from FabFilter? The limiter is awesome, best I've used. But, its forces me to think like the "majority" once again. It appears to be designed for smashing. No analog limiting system is as fast as this is.

So when I actually take advantage of its capabilities, it does some weird stuff to the transients of lush analog full bandwidth masters. Too much information there.
But if I think ITB and design my sound with the intention to smash my music, plan ahead during my mixing stage with this limiter on ( example: DAW>DA>analog> AD to second computer which is the Mastering DAW> Pro L Limiter on the 2-bus> studio monitors) , smashing my music ends up sounding better "louder". You are able to hear everything they way it will sound smashed online.

So what I'm saying is, I have been able to make my masters louder ( better sounding) using that plug-in active early in the mixing stage while monitoring the master at the end of the chain. Its terribly painful doing this. I hate it. I hate how we are being forced to think "smart stupid" . Its a trend not only in music, but with everything around the world now.

audiokid Mon, 12/10/2012 - 13:18

At the end of the day,

All the lush gear I have invested in all gets turned into crap online digital music. I'm mean, who is playing even CD's anymore, and that was bad enough! How do we sell music to the world?
Playing the stupid game and learning to be one step ahead is sort of fun but its wearing off.
The greatest advantage having this all now becomes personal pleasure. Its like driving a Ferrari on a highway set at one speed with no hills or corners though.

FWIW, the more analog you go, the further away you place yourselves between the end result. Whichis why hybrid is choice for hi Fidelity sound.
If music doesn't change for the better in the next few years, however, I may be selling everything and buying a bigger boat.

anonymous Mon, 12/10/2012 - 13:39

The point is that the gramophone behemoths since the advent of digital technology have been a sinking ship. Their disagreement with digital was lossless copying, and that's when they logged out of the future. The idea that profitability or value in the record business is related to profit margins from a manufacturing perspective is the fallacy which is killing them. The record business should not be confused with the music business.

As we move to pure media – records that don't need pressing – and the encoding system of the playback device is running *software* stored as binary data, it will be possible to think of the 'record' being shipped as a piece of software, not a piece of data, and include the EQ and dynamics as working code, rather than having to render that into the data, and for the "record" to adapt itself to the playback device intelligently.

One thing I really believe is that music does not respond well to mediocrity. Unfortunately if music isn't *really* good, captivating, then it's boring / annoying. These days the valuable, quality musical experiences that people have are very, very rare, and that is killing the music business.

Thing is, for there to be quality sound, you have to eliminate the playback bottlenecks.

At the moment, the best market for audio in that sense is in the live setting, and the majority of "live" or "club" music performances are actually of recorded music. The capabilities of a contemporary PA exceed anything we've ever had before, especially from a domestic speaker system.

The other good market (where they care about sound quality) is film.

The domestic market, 'rock/pop' is reaching rock bottom. One of the best indicators of what's happened becomes visible looking at Altec Lansing speakers from the 1970s compared to today. They could have made today's speakers in the 1970s, but nobody would have bought them. In the manufacturing scene, today you'll find that pretty much every single studio converter box, CD player, car headunit or domestic hifi is actually a cocktail of IC chips made by one of three or four companies. What we're really seeing today is stealth monopolies, which is why it's possible for the quality to drop massively, the prices go up, and sales continue (allegedly) unabated. The manufacturing is where the money is. The customers don't (currently) have any available alternatives which will provide better quality sound in their local shopping center, the entire shelf of consumer electronics says "sorry, it's gonna sound pretty dire" and if you take the stuff apart, you'll find the same culprits within. It's like the mafia, they've taken over the whole neighbourhood. The myriad and hugely powerful influence of private equity firms and semiconductor conglomerates manufacturing in the far east is the root issue. This isn't just happening to domestic sound playback devices. It's happened to most major consumer markets. From medical drugs to your dinner to your shoes, the catalogue of seemingly different brands belie a monopoly grip on the raw materials and capital goods which go into producing them. Thing is, if big business operates by gouging out money–value-profitability that way, diminishing the quality across the board by an aggregate of monopoly control over resources and profit extraction from each brand via various company-vampirising financial instruments or "investment funds" (bain capital, Mitt Romney, I'm talking about the likes of you), it doesn't kill just one company, it kills the entire market. It isn't just the music business, the music business is but a tiny microcosm of what is happening to every "industry" or marketplace.

Nonetheless, there are notable examples of record companies that avoid pandering to the frankly crippling issues of post-80s "consumer-grade" ie "rubbish" or "junk-food" sound quality. Whether it's Chesky records or Warp records (who sell 24/96 Wav files via their marketplace website X Desk), you won't find them shrinking or losing double-digit percentages of their market share every quarter.

It should be noted that the sort of labels that care – and whose customers care – about sound quality are also typically interested in the artistic quality of the actual music. They're in the music business.

anonymous Mon, 12/10/2012 - 19:58

Audiofreek, post: 397628 wrote: It's a You Tube world now.

YouTube is not massively interesting. It's OK for how-tos and people chattering away, but it's not much cop for media, not much in the way of art up on youtube. Would have to be fairly punk, lo-fi. The quality is pretty ugly, the frame rate and the sound are particularly weak. Youtube is true postmodernism, it refers to things, but it is not a thing in itself. You can show somebody a record, or a movie clip, but it's only a low-res reference, a photocopy or a synopsis.

There was an HD site a while back, 2008, with genuinely amazing quality of image and sound, powered by DivX called Stage6, but the hosting fees of sending out all that Hi-Def content ($1m per month) killed them off quite rapidly.

Google, youtube's owners, are proper plumbed into datamining the world, they do quite a lot of well-paid work for certain intelligence agencies, and their main source of revenue is the near-monopoly on search and advertising. They've got the budget to build massive datacenters all around the world and not flinch.

If you look at how Rockefeller monopolised the oil industry, that's similar to what's going on right now. In fact, the term "information superhighway" was coined by a Rockefeller institute researcher in the 1970s.

Standard Oil monopolised the oil business by using the railroads. Oil was priced very low, but the *transport* of oil, something that he had invested heavily in, that is where the money was made.

Same with the Internet today. The consumer's subscription fees are entirely dedicated to *transport* of data, the "well owners" ie artists or labels, they bear the expenses of "drilling" the content assets, but they don't see any of the revenue from the sale (subscription fee charges) of providing unrestricted access to content. If it was possible to publish media with no barriers to audience consumption/participation and get $0.01 for every stream, there would be no problem. Put that at $0.10, you'd see a publishing explosion, a goldrush of people trying to release cooler and better media. But no, there are no royalties. The internet is free? It's expensive. Money to publish, and bills to subscribe. Run a webserver serving 20MB to a million visitors a day at your peril, that'll have a pricetag. Who is the man in the middle, charging both sides? Telecommunications companies. Cable-renting landlords.

This is currently eating away at most media companies that rely on sales rather than advertising revenues, and their assets (copyrights & publishing) are being bought at knock-down rates by those companies (eg Universal/Comcast/GE) that are heavily invested in the ISP business. ISPs are currently not paying any royalties. This will change over time, but you can be sure that if certain groups get their way it'll work out much like the old record deals, the content creators will see very little of the true revenue. Spotify's remuneration rates are genuinely humorous, plus with the facebook log-in tie-in, you've got big brother listening over your shoulder, profiling who you are, where you live, where you work, how much money you make, and figuring out what musak to put in the Gap to incite you to buy more sweatshop jeans.

What we're seeing happening at the moment, it's the monopolisation of the media business by large corporations which have their fingers in many pies, not just media. When the revenue streams are finally connected up to the ownership of the copyrights, certain companies that have been buying the rights to everything from the beatles back catalogue onwards at knock-down prices, they'll be sitting on a substantial revenue stream.

However, the issue with the Internet isn't actually the paying of royalties, that wouldn't be so hard to arrange. It's the surveillance and censorship that corporations really want to get into. The idea of a genuinely free global press where anybody can blow the whistle on highly profitable multi-$bn malpractise... that could be very bad for business. The idea of independent journalists making personal fortunes by so doing... unthinkable.

Telcos... they're historically a different animal to Record Companies...

...on July 10, 2008 the US Congress capitulated in granting blanket legal immunity to the administration and the telecoms industry for conducting potentially illegal domestic surveillance of consumer telecommunications networks...

anonymous Tue, 12/11/2012 - 06:26

YouTube is not massively interesting. It's OK for how-tos and people chattering away, but it's not much cop for media, not much in the way of art up on youtube. Would have to be fairly punk, lo-fi. The quality is pretty ugly, the frame rate and the sound are particularly weak. Youtube is true postmodernism, it refers to things, but it is not a thing in itself. You can show somebody a record, or a movie clip, but it's only a low-res reference, a photocopy or a synopsis.

And sadly, most people don't care.

There's "us" and then there's "them".

We have all spent years honing our craft, our ears, our listening skills, our knowledge.... spending the equivalent to second mortgage for gear that allows us to do our jobs better and to get a better sound -all in search of the fidelity pot of gold.

There have been many gems along the way. Steely Dan's Aja. Peter Gabriel's So. Sting's Dream Of The Blue Turtles. All musical treasures and benchmarks that not only sounded great from a musical writing and performance point of view, but which were also sonically incredible for their time, and in some cases, still are.

Today, it's all about what you can get for free and how fast you can get it. Youtube fills that niche, for the most part. While not everything you could ever want is available, very little is unavailable.

Also, there's a sense of "entitlement" in many of today's listeners. They feel as though music should be free. They see absolutely no problem in getting music without paying for it. (Whether that is right or wrong is for another debate.)

The most popular listening systems right now are through earbuds, most of which are under $10.

The days of someone building a hi-fi system with top-notch components and speakers and putting Abbey Road on the turntable to listen to it in its entirety are long gone. No one is home anymore to listen, anyway. They grab their iphone, or their ipod, they use cheap earbuds or they connect a mini plug to their car's audio system.

Albums hold little interest. It's a singles world now. Playlists rule. And because of this, people want all the music to be exactly the same volume level. Dynamics? Most don't have a clue as to what that word even means, and if they do know, few care.

I'm dealing with a mastering job right now where the only thing that matters to the band is that they are loud, that they compete with other releases in terms of volume only. Tone and dynamics? Nope. Fidelity? Sonic integrity? Don't know, don't care. Here's your paycheck....forget all that other stuff - mash the shit out of it and just make it LOUD.

And it can be very frustrating when the work that we've done gets reduced to the lowest common denominator, But... we keep trying to do our best... because we don't know what else to do.

We critique all we do with a fine-toothed comb, listening for subtle nuances and frequencies that most won't hear...we present our work to other engineers we respect, in the hope that maybe someone else's trained ears and knowledge can provide insight to something that we may have missed.... searching for that warmth, that space, that depth, that silk...and holding ourselves to a higher standard, because to intentionally set out to do anything sub standard goes against everything we've ever learned or have been taught.

In my humble opinion, of course.

bouldersound Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:42

audiokid, post: 397619 wrote: Regarding a PA system.. If a sound system is set-up and eq for the "majority" and you toss in a song full of dynamics and full bandwidth, will blow the system per-say or sound out of place, whacked etc. Am I wrong I'm wrong?

It varies, but most of the people I know don't tune their systems to sound good with the "majority" of music. If they use music they generally go for especially good recordings that challenge the system's spectral and dynamic limits. Bigger systems are set up with test tones and so it's relatively objective. Of course those would be checked with good recordings.

Live music often has way more dynamics than recorded music. Modern music styles require more LF output and extension. Lots of PA systems can handle your recordings and do them justice to the degree possible given the adverse conditions of live sound.

anonymous Sat, 12/15/2012 - 13:56

bouldersound, post: 397660 wrote: It varies, but most of the people I know don't tune their systems to sound good with the "majority" of music. If they use music they generally go for especially good recordings that challenge the system's spectral and dynamic limits. Bigger systems are set up with test tones and so it's relatively objective. Of course those would be checked with good recordings.

Most modern PA controllers have sophisticated limiting built in, but at ratings such as 2kW per 15" driver, you shouldn't need to be hitting the limiters. Aside from that, dynamically the system should be linear in both frequency response and dynamic response. The horrible practises of ringing out PAs with a 1/3 octave graphic or running compressors on the master outputs to try to boost the levels are becoming a thing of the past. Digital amps and computer-designed speakers will go as loud as you could want with room to spare. Wedges and microphones are much better these days, automatic feedback-killers, controlled dispersion front of house speakers etc. Most PAs run linear.

bouldersound, post: 397660 wrote: Live music often has way more dynamics than recorded music. Modern music styles require more LF output and extension. Lots of PA systems can handle your recordings and do them justice to the degree possible given the adverse conditions of live sound.

Outdoors these days is the best sound quality going pretty much anywhere. No reverb, no reflections, no issues. Infinite Baffle. Need a lot of power outdoors, though.

audiokid Sat, 12/15/2012 - 14:04

bishopdante, post: 397775 wrote: Most modern PA controllers have sophisticated limiting built in, but at ratings such as 2kW per 15" driver, you shouldn't need to be hitting the limiters. Aside from that, dynamically the system should be true. The horrible practises of ringing out PAs with a 1/3 octave graphic or running compressors on the master outputs to try to boost the levels are becoming a thing of the past. Digital amps and computer-designed speakers will go as loud as you could want with room to spare. Wedges and microphones are much better these days, automatic feedback-killers, controlled dispersion front of house speakers etc. Most PAs run linear.

Outdoors these days is the best sound quality going pretty much anywhere. No reverb, no reflections, no issues. Infinite Baffle. Need a lot of power outdoors, though.

Some places indoors sound pretty damn good, too. Royal Festival Hall, London South Bank Center springs to mind.

Interesting to learn about PA's these days. Back in my day, we definitely tuned the PA for the room and the band. Nobody moved around like today either. Die if you touch that mic! 1/3 octaves between each stack, cross-overs and amp levels were all adjusted to fit the space and crowd, heat etc. Running CD on breaks didn't sound right if the PA was tuned for the room with mic's on. Some rooms needed freq pulled because of live mics.

Bottom line. The PA was adjusted for the room , standing waves, temperate changes etc, not the mic per-say or the console. Mics and the console settings stayed relatively flat or the same everywhere we traveled.

I can't imagine doing it any different. Thats what all the fun was about!

bouldersound Sat, 12/15/2012 - 18:39

With older PA gear response was traded away for output and durability, but the uneven response made them feedback prone. You try to fix it with 1/3 octave eq but the filters are still too wide to hit the peaks precisely. A lot of cheaper PA speakers are still like this.

You still have to make concessions for the situation, but speakers start out with flatter response right out of the box compared to older PA stuff, and stay clean to higher SPLs. Digital parametric eq can fix problems surgically that would have been impossible to fix with 1/3 octave graphic. On top of that even small systems can have high quality crossovers with alignment delay and protective limiters. PA systems these days can sound pretty darn good if they're set up and operated effectively.

audiokid Sat, 12/15/2012 - 19:19

To add, I used 24db 4 way stereo active crossovers back then and found that playing with the cutoffs for both sides of the house helped nail those hots spots in a more natural way. Needed less extreme EQ that way. But there were trade-offs in response. If the room was hot I'd shift the points to where the speaker or horn rolled off more naturally. Then turned down the amps until the crossovers points were flatter, then graphed the rest, usually increasing 3db gradually to taste.
I used various EQ's over the years. One in particular that worked well was the Orban 672 between the crossover and power amps. It definitely helped pin down the feedback on a few gigs. Those were the days.

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