• 06-02-2004, 02:15 PM
    WmAx
    SACD vs. CD - Unfair competition?
    SACD vs. CD - Unfair competition?

    I have made note of two albums that were released on both SACD and CD. The albums were mastered in DSD(SACD native format) and primarily intended to showcase DSD.

    (1) Tierney Sutton - Dancing In The Dark (CD version, Telarc)

    (2) Mahler - Symphony No. 6 in A minor (CD version, Telarc)

    Both of these albums were found, by me, to have audible sections of clipping on the CD versions. I did not analyse the SACD releases. I don't have the SACD versions nor do I have a SACD player. However, I still suspected this may be purposeful.

    The point of this post is to question if the proclomations of people claiming SACD is audibly superior to CD format, even when both are used in 2 channel mode, have any validitiy.

    Let's consider the following points:

    (1) I can not find a scientific research project demonstrating audibly benefits to humans of a wider bandwidth then CD offers.

    (2) I can not find definitive research of SACD vs CD releases, to find alternative explanations.

    (3) I can not find reason for larger then 16 bit wordlength for audio playback, especially when properly dithered, which can effectively remove the quantitazation noise and allow the theoretical limit of CD of 96dB to be approached and/or met.

    This thread is primarily a result of the alarming(my perspective) response I recieved from the cheif audio production engineer from a major audiophile record compnay.

    Company: Telarc
    Represenative: Michael Bishop

    In the following email is posted in it's entiretey. My full name has been edited. No other changes:

    Quote:

    Dear Chris,

    I forwarded your email to our Chief Engineer and I've copied his reply to
    you in the email below:
    Thank you for your email regarding CD-83592 Dancing in the Dark.

    I checked the waveform example of the piano "distortion." In my opinion,
    what is seen there is the peak limiting and "soft clipping" imposed in the
    CD mastering process on this particular release. The piano is not
    distorted. If that was the case one would see jagged artifacts around the
    piano level "peak" rather than the level simply stopping 0.10 dB from the
    peak. Of course, this does not mean that such a high peak will not cause
    distortion on some playback systems. That's entirely possible and is
    something out of our control.

    The Tierney Sutton "Dancing in the Dark" CD release is put up side-by-side
    with Diana Krall and Norah Jones releases and other similar jazz vocal CDs.
    Like it or not, those CDs are quite heavily compressed and limited (much
    more so than the Sutton CD) and have very high apparent volumes. They also
    exhibit an even more pronounced cut-off of peak levels. Since Tierney's CD
    will be put in multi-disc CD players alongside these other CDs, we have to
    make sure her CD stands at least a chance of being as "present" as the
    competition and still maintain as much of the dynamics of my original mixes
    as possible. It's a very delicate balancing act. Certainly compromises
    are made, just as in any other mainstream CD that has high apparent volume
    level. I know one would find much more aggregious level compression taking
    place on most mainstream CDs than what you would find on "Dancing in the
    Dark."

    If you are interested, the DSD stereo and surround programs on the SACD
    release of "Dancing in the Dark" (SA-63592) do NOT have this competitive
    compression imposed on the audio. The DSD programs represent what I
    recorded in the mixes from the sessions without the compromises needed on
    the CD-only release. However, the CD layer of the SACD is exactly the same
    as the CD-only release. To access the DSD programs, one needs the
    appropriate SACD player which is available at major electronic retailers
    starting at around $200 USD, although I never recommend that one gets the
    "bottom-of-the-line" player.

    I offer that you may trade your CD-only release of "Dancing in the Dark"
    for the SACD release. Please contact Ms. Kelly to arrange this trade.

    I hope you have the opportunity to hear the DSD program of this release.
    That is, after all, the source I had recorded at Ms. Sutton's sessions and
    the pcm CD is a derivative of that source.

    Thank you again for your email and interest.

    Michael Bishop
    Chief Recording Engineer
    Telarc International Corp.




    "WmAx"
    <wmax@linaeum.com
    > To
    <comments@telarc.com>
    05/14/2004 04:29 cc
    PM
    Subject
    Tierney Sutton - Dancing In The
    Dark - Quality Control?





    Greetings. I have purchased Telarc CD-83592 (Tierney Sutton - Dancing In
    The Dark).

    I am alarmed to find multiple sections on the CD to have audible distortion
    due to levels reaching 0 dB(1.0) on the recording. One example, for
    reference, is that several sections of track 10 have distorted peaks of the
    piano. Here is a screen capture of track 10. This is not an exclusive
    occurance limited to this shot. Just an example for your reference.

    Was their an error when some of the CDs were mastered for production? If
    you have versions that are not defective, I would appreciate a replacement
    CD. The one I have IS defective. The distortion levels are very audible and
    thus annoying.

    http://www.linaeum.com/images/sutton_clip.jpg

    Thank you.

    -Chris XXXXX
    Let's examine a few points.

    -Claims soft clipping/limiting, that should not be audible distortion.

    This is not entirely accurate. The sudden transient change(distortion) of the waveform to a plateu MUST result in harmonics not related to teh original waveform.What Bishop is referring to is that the clipped section does not display an oscillating artifact. INdeed, in example of a pure square wave, severe pre and post ringing is visible on the waveforms under analysis(resultant from the limitiations of the format). However, this clipped form on these tracks, while not as abrupt as maximal transient, is still a sudden, drastic change from the linear progression of the original waveform that results in audible distortion(s). See the url I submiteed as the end of my initial email to Telarc for a visual confirmation. This waveform results in audible distortion in every playback device i have access. It also persists when I reduce absolute levels of the clipped waveforms and then play them back on hardware.

    This reply from Mr. Bishop, if accurate, means that CD versions, even from this known audiophile record company, are being compromised. This is my definition of unfair competition.

    Is this a standard behaviour for other record companies of CD/SACD versions? I can't answer that question. It does seem to be the behaviour of at least one company, according to their own admission(s).

    It's especially hard to swallow the admission that they are raising overall loudness levels and allowing artifacts and other negative side effects to arise, because they are 'competeting' with other albums. I had believed that Telarc would not lower their quality purposefully in order to join the 'stupid' race to loudness. I was wrong, apparently.

    It is further confusing what he means by competition. I have asked him to clarify in my reply email sent today. However, if he means radio broadcast levels, then his argument is invalid. Music that is radio broadcast is compressed/limited before broadcast in order to maintain optimal signal/noise ratio from the transmitter stations. Does he mean that consumers are so stupid(even audiophiles who largely buy from his compnay) that they think a louder CD is better? That's hard for me to believe. I'de like to see a study on this speculation.

    I recommend contacting the company and complaing about this practice. That may be the only recourse.

    -Chris
  • 06-02-2004, 03:04 PM
    Woochifer
    If true, this is reminiscent of the early CDs from audiophile vinyl labels like Sheffield Lab who were pressing CDs while asserting the superiority of their vinyl releases. Almost everyone who did A/B comparisons between Sheffield's LPs and CDs would immediately note that the LP versions sounded much better, and thus conclude that the LP was a superior format. However, it turns out that the direct-to-disc LP pressings were mastered in real time off the board feed (and in some cases, straight from a stereo tube mic with no mixing board), while the CDs were mastered later on from an analog backup tape. These CDs still sounded good because the recordings were done with no mixing or overdubbing, but the analog tape used for those recordings had audible noise (the LP pressings had an audibly lower noise level). A more fair comparison would have obviously been to encode the CD in real time at the same time, but companies like Sheffield Lab were more interested in making their point about analog superiority than putting out something for a fair comparison.

    More recently, Groove Note has put together more appropriate comparison sets. They did some direct-to-disc sessions mastered onto 45 RPM vinyl, and the board feed was simultaneously encoded in DSD and issued on SACD. That would be more of a fair comparison since it represents the best possible playback for both formats.

    On more than a few occasions, I've heard that the CD layer on a SACD/CD hybrid has audible flaws that aren't necessarily format driven. I know that some record companies want to migrate the market over the SACD because of its built-in copy protection and the potential for consumers to repurchase discs in order to take advantage of the higher resolution format and surround mixes. But, I speculate that they might be trying to stack the deck by deliberately monkeying around with the CD mixes. It's like they know that a lot of consumers will want to do A/B comparisons between the CD and SACD layer, and the last thing they want to hear is a flurry of customers complaining that they can't hear any difference between the CD and SACD versions.

    A more interesting comparison for the recordings that you noted would be to compare the CD-only version with the CD layer from a hybrid release from Telarc. If those same flaws are present in the CD-only version, then it's obviously not something deliberate on Telarc's part. But, if they are different and the hybrid CD layer has flaws not present on the CD-only version, then that's a flatout fraudulent business practice and no one should support that.
  • 06-02-2004, 03:10 PM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    A more interesting comparison for the recordings that you noted would be to compare the CD-only version with the CD layer from a hybrid release from Telarc. If those same flaws are present in the CD-only version, then it's obviously not something deliberate on Telarc's part. But, if they are different and the hybrid CD layer has flaws not present on the CD-only version, then that's a flatout fraudulent business practice and no one should support that.

    If you read the entire letter from Mr. Bishop, as I posted, he clearly states that he compromised the CD format. He states that the CD layer on the hybrid disc and CD will be the same. He stated that if I want uncompromised version of album, I will have to obtain use the SACD layer. He seemed honest(too honest! :-)).

    -Chris
  • 06-02-2004, 04:34 PM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Chris,
    Perhaps there are some things that will help you understand why there are some differences between the CD and SACD versions of some Artists titles.

    1. As radio stations automate most of their operations, CD's have become the playback medium of choice. The possible wide dynamic range of CD's has a great possiblity of overloading the gain and output stages within a antenna array. So in order to keep this from happening, the overall volume of the CD is mastered as close to maximum level(0db) as possible, and the dynamic range is limited to prevent overload during peaks. This is a very common practice and most all CD's(with the exception of classical titles) have some degree of compression or limiting.(in some cases its rather extreme). This practice did not begin with the CD layers of DSD disc's, but has been employed for years now on almost all commercially released pop, jazz, gospel, and rock CD's

    Quote:

    (1) I can not find a scientific research project demonstrating audibly benefits to humans of a wider bandwidth then CD offers.
    First I do not think the main object of higher sampling rates is larger bandwidth. I think it is the increased amount of sampling done inband. AES did sponsor a couple of listening test with music recorded at both 44.1khz and 192khz earlier this year. The results were mixed and inconclusive. Some heard more air, cleaner more defined instrument reproduction and better imaging, and some heard absolutely nothing.

    Quote:

    (3) I can not find reason for larger then 16 bit wordlength for audio playback, especially when properly dithered, which can effectively remove the quantitazation noise and allow the theoretical limit of CD of 96dB to be approached and/or met.
    Unfortunately the maximum volume of some recorded instruments can exceed 96db when no compression or limiting is employed. The sound of a full orchestra with percussion often does exceed 96db. By using longer word lengths you increase the the maximum available level, and can record full dynamic range(no limiting or compression) and still have headroom left over.

    Quote:

    This reply from Mr. Bishop, if accurate, means that CD versions, even from this known audiophile record company, are being compromised. This is my definition of unfair competition.
    This is a VERY misleading statement. The practice of recording and mastering commercial titles "hot"(close to maximum level) is not new at all. This practice has been done for as long as I can remember. To say that the CD version are "compromised" shows a lack of understanding of how radio, television and other forms of distribution of media works. If you try to playback an unlimited CD over the airwaves, massive distortion and overload will most certainly occur. In order to prevent that, measures must be taken such as limiting and compression. Multichannel SACD are not played back over the air. So no such compromise at the mastering level have to occur on these disc. Limiting and compression are used for the benefit of the playback medium, not to prevent a fair comparison with SACD

    Quote:

    It's especially hard to swallow the admission that they are raising overall loudness levels and allowing artifacts and other negative side effects to arise, because they are 'competeting' with other albums. I had believed that Telarc would not lower their quality purposefully in order to join the 'stupid' race to loudness. I was wrong, apparently.
    Chris, the music industry is a competitive industry. Telarc would be stupid not to do what they are doing because ALL of the record companies that release jazz, pop, rock, gospel, neo soul and everything else under the sun are doing it. Some CD utilize very little compression, and some use quite a bit. If all of your competitors were doing this practice(no matter how wrong you think it is) don't you think it would be smart to do the same. This is much like snack foods competiting for shelf space. The more colorful packages get notice, the plain ones do not. That is how competition works.

    While it may be disturbing to you, As Michael has stated, this is an industry wide practice. It is unfair(and certainly shortsighted) of you to single out Telarc practices as evil and sinister without shining a light on the whole industry. Telearc didn't invent this practice, it is just following the form that was created ages ago. If you are going to be disturbed, be disturbed with the record industry, radio and television. These compromises are done because of the limitations of broadcast equipment, not to cheat someone out of an even comparison with SACD.
  • 06-02-2004, 05:04 PM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    1. As radio stations automate most of their operations, CD's have become the playback medium of choice. The possible wide dynamic range of CD's has a great possiblity of overloading the gain and output stages within a antenna array. So in order to keep this from happening, the overall volume of the CD is mastered as close to maximum level(0db) as possible, and the dynamic range is limited to prevent overload during peaks.
    This would make sense on the surface. Hoewver, it does not make sense, considering that the radio station has compressors/limiters that will make all music play at similar loudness regardless of what the original CD contained. This is according to Bob Katz and other sources I have read. It even seems that some program directors at radio stations may be ignorant as to what their own on-air compression/limiting hardware does to the music.


    Quote:

    Unfortunately the maximum volume of some recorded instruments can exceed 96db when no compression or limiting is employed. The sound of a full orchestra with percussion often does exceed 96db. By using longer word lengths you increase the the maximum available level, and can record full dynamic range(no limiting or compression) and still have headroom left over.
    I specified playback. For recording purposes, it is wise to use a higher bandwidth and longer wordlength, to allow for further flexibility/failsafe. However, in playback, it is not possible to use 96dB in any home environment, excepting some extremely efficient horn speaker setups. The noise florr of the average quiet room is approx. 35-40dB. In order to effectively use that 96db, -96 needs to start at the noisefloor. 40+96=136dB peak. Such SPL is not realistic in home playback circumstances. It would be impossible to use this total range in any commercial recording, unless you specifically targeted people with large line arrays and large horn speakers as your only customers. Anyone else would have to turn down the gain on their preamp to the level that any quiet/subtle audio would be lost in the noise floor of the environment, less they want to damage their speakers.


    Quote:

    To say that the CD version are "compromised" shows a lack of understanding of how radio, television and other forms of distribution of media works.
    Note: Mr. Bishop is the one who decided to call his CD versions compromised. I'm just agreeing with him. :-)

    Quote:

    If you try to playback an unlimited CD over the airwaves, massive distortion and overload will most certainly occur. In order to prevent that, measures must be taken such as limiting and compression.
    That's why the stations have their own compression/limiting systems. This jsut can't happen, it seems.

    Quote:

    Chris, the music industry is a competitive industry. Telarc would be stupid not to do what they are doing because ALL of the record companies that release jazz, pop, rock, gospel, neo soul and everything else under the sun are doing it.
    I disagree. Especially considering Telarc is supposedly a company that specializes in high quality recordings. Besides, I don't buy that the average consumer is quiete that stupid. You should read Bob Katz's take on compression, etc. on http://www.digido.com/


    Quote:

    . This is much like snack foods competiting for shelf space. The more colorful packages get notice, the plain ones do not. That is how competition works.
    Hmm. I agree completeley! But, the heavily compressed music is the plain white packages in my perspective. I am one that believes dynamics of teh music, voices, etc. are what lends a lot of emotional reaction to the audio.

    Quote:

    While it may be disturbing to you, As Michael has stated, this is an industry wide practice.
    The industry needs to reform this practice.

    Quote:

    It is unfair(and certainly shortsighted) of you to single out Telarc practices as evil and sinister without shining a light on the whole industry.
    It's a result of their willingnes to admit their CDs are compromised on purpose. I'll gladly post letters from any othe company that is willing to admit the same. The purpose here is to possibly get more people to complain to the companies, perhaps help get this rediculous practice changed.

    What's unfair, is that I am being forced to by a new format and player because of the ignorance of others ruining the sound quality. Not a fault of the medium, itself.

    Quote:

    These compromises are done because of the limitations of broadcast equipment, not to cheat someone out of an even comparison with SACD
    I can't agree. It seems that according to many professionals, the stations use their own compression/limitig equipment to regulate the loudness/dynamics. Doing so on the Cd for this purpose, is thus rediculous, redundant and unwarranted. Besides, he specifically stated it's becuae he wants the CD to sound a loud as the other mainstream CDs in a Cd changer. He says it right in the email.

    -Chris
  • 06-02-2004, 07:27 PM
    mtrycraft
    Very interesting admission by Telarc. I thought they would be the last to compromize. I was mistaken. Oh, my.
    Dissapointing.
  • 06-03-2004, 01:17 AM
    maxg
    Everyone seems to regard compression as the ultimate evil these days. Not me. I listen to classical CD's in the car a lot - this is very problematic. If they have not compressed the sound sufficiently I spend the entire journey turning the volume up to hear the quiet passages and down to save my ears in the louder passages. (Try it yourself - get a Deutche Grammaphon Dvorak 9th - Karajan. Play from the beginning - for me it is 30 seconds of silence followed by a loan french horn and then on audible music - or 30 seconds of delicacy, a bearable horn and then a ceresendo of kettle drums at around 1 minute in that could blow my eardrums inside out).

    Now I am prepared to accept a lesser compression for home use - but nothing like the ranges you guys are talking about. 96 dB range - are you all insane?? My noise floor in my living room is, I guess, something around 35-40 dB (my meter goes down to 50 only - it is below that). when listening, at night, wife and baby asleep, I want something that goes from said level upto around 80 dB MAXIMUM!! - say a 40 dB range. Greater than that and I will never be able to listen to music again. Come to that - 96 db range over a week and I may never be able to listen to anything ever again - except through a hearing aid.
  • 06-03-2004, 03:50 AM
    kexodusc
    Wholy $hit WmAX, I'm some glad you're not my accountant :)
    Man, I just buy CD's and listen to them, I've never actually e-mailed a company.

    I should e-mail Pink Floyd, and the Rolling Stones and ask them what the bloody hell THEY are doing compromising their music these days!!!

    Excellent post!!!
  • 06-03-2004, 07:13 AM
    N. Abstentia
    It's redbook CD..there have to be compromises. Deal with it, or buy an SACD player.
  • 06-03-2004, 07:16 AM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by maxg
    Everyone seems to regard compression as the ultimate evil these days. Not me. I listen to classical CD's in the car a lot - this is very problematic. If they have not compressed the sound sufficiently I spend the entire journey turning the volume up to hear the quiet passages and down to save my ears in the louder passages.

    I understand. However, their is no reason to ruin the CD. You can purchase automobile CD players that have built in compressors for just this purpose!

    Here is one example:

    http://www.crutchfield.com/S-dssxsdS...o&i=130DEHP760

    Quote:

    Compression and BMX Functions: Using the "COMP" (compression) and "BMX" functions, you can adjust the playback quality of the CD player. Each function may be set to one of two levels or off. The "COMP" function compresses the audio signal to eliminate distortion caused by the imbalances between the loudest and softest sounds when played at high volumes


    -Chris
  • 06-03-2004, 07:47 AM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    It's redbook CD..there have to be compromises. Deal with it, or buy an SACD player.

    Please elaborate. This is vague commentary. One can only speculate as to what you specifically mean based on this reply.

    -Chris
  • 06-03-2004, 09:47 AM
    N. Abstentia
    Redbook CD does not have as much bandwidth available as SACD, therefore compromises must be made.

    That's like getting dial up internet and complaining that it's slower and drops packets as compared to a 512k broadband pipeline. Of course it will, the technology is not as good.
  • 06-03-2004, 10:06 AM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    Redbook CD does not have as much bandwidth available as SACD, therefore compromises must be made.

    I do not care to go into detail of this subject in this thread. However, I can not find any audibility research projects(that hold up under scrutiny) that support your assertion that a broader bandwith is needed for purposes of audibility. Your comment seemingly has little to do with the immediate subject of the thread. The main issue is allowance of the signals to clip and/or compressing them severely. These factors discussed in relation to the sample CD in the firt post, for example, were not limitations of the medium, but results of purposeful decisions when mastering the CD. The scope of these effects discussed in not an issue of sample rate(bandwidth), but of wordlength(number of bits). The CD at issue, for example, uses 41dB RMS(calculated not useing the first second or last second, due to the 'fade outs') in one of teh more 'demanding songs' of the 96dB(assuming proper dithering and low noise levels) range available on RBCD. For your reference, every 6dB in ampliltude equal twice the linear value realtive to the last reference. Therfore, 47dB is twice the level of 41dB, 53dB is twice the value of 47dB(53dB is 4x the value of 41dB), 59dB is twice the value of 47db(57dB is 8x the value of 41dB!), etc. etc. etc. The CD in question, for example, used but a tiny fraction of the available dynamic range available. Even if the dynamic range did exceed was is capable on RBCD(thought, this is not feasible, see my reply to Sir Terrence), then proper compression/limiting of the peak signals would have prevented the audibly harsh clipping. However, the file was not even properly compressed to operate in the level range it is operating within. Therfor, their is no valid reason as far as I am concerned, to allow the clipping distortion to exist.

    -Chris
  • 06-03-2004, 10:18 AM
    kexodusc
    Yeah good point, not fair to compare purposely poisoned Redbook CD's, to carefully mastered SACD's.
    IMO (no science) SACD's sound better, and the difference can be quite noticeable. Not sure how you'd prove that.
    But that doesn't matter, higher bandwidth aside, multi-channel capability alone gives a clear and dominant advantage to SACD's over Redbook CD.

    I agree with the frustration though. The switch to SACD should be market driven, not manufacturer imposed by purposely compromising competing products.
    At the very least, there should be a "new" standard for CD's that exploits it's full potential, before everyone is forced to buy a new player.
  • 06-03-2004, 10:42 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    This would make sense on the surface. Hoewver, it does not make sense, considering that the radio station has compressors/limiters that will make all music play at similar loudness regardless of what the original CD contained. This is according to Bob Katz and other sources I have read. It even seems that some program directors at radio stations may be ignorant as to what their own on-air compression/limiting hardware does to the music.
    Chris, you are not correct in your assertions. Compressors and limiters in radio stations only deal with the maximum peaks in loudness. They don't make every CD the same loudness as you assert. Everyone who has every done any recording that is bound for radio stations know that there must be a compressed/limited radio mix, or your mixes are subject to the not so clean sounding brute force compressors or limiters the station utilizes. I personally have done a radio mix, television mix, and unlimited, uncompressed mixes because I didn't want my product(or my clients) subject to the equipment the station would use to limit the volume of my mixes. Any good engineer worth his salt would.

    Chris the music industry right now is in the middle of a level war. Everyone is trying to make their product heard louder than the rest. This is an INDUSTRY WIDE problem that the community has basically discussed to death.

    Check out this link on a recording forum I visit:

    http://www.recording.org/postt18054.html

    As you can see, this is what the clients want, and we deliver. Michael was not making his decision in a vaccum. The producer(even if that is himself) has to make decisions that extend beyond just mega-quality for audiophiles. Its a tough balance and tough decision.

    Quote:

    disagree. Especially considering Telarc is supposedly a company that specializes in high quality recordings. Besides, I don't buy that the average consumer is quiete that stupid. You should read Bob Katz's take on compression, etc. on http://www.digido.com/
    Telarc is not immune to competition just because the specialize in producing high quality recordings. What good is it if they don't sell. The decision to make whatever compromises one has to make are sometimes partially market driven. If Telarc only made recordings that past mustard with you, it would go out of business. Just like in any other business competition drives the music business. If one record company produces mixes that are louder than other record companies, the consumer will thing this record companies mixes are better. I don't consider that average consumer as stupid as much as I consider them uninformed. Remember, when DVD's first came out, there were no pan and scan movies on that format. Also most DVD's soundtracks Dolby Digital 5.1 was encoded at 384kbps as opposed to the now widely used 448kbps. As more and more non videophiles began purchasing DVD's and buying HTIB, and with the emergence of Dts on DVD, DD data rate went up, and pan and scan was introduced to DVD's. This is the way the market is. A great many more time than most will admit, marketing drives the format, and not quality.

    Quote:

    Hmm. I agree completeley! But, the heavily compressed music is the plain white packages in my perspective. I am one that believes dynamics of teh music, voices, etc. are what lends a lot of emotional reaction to the audio.
    I agree with you here. However the average consumer does NOT agree with us, or we would not be discussing this issue.

    Quote:

    It's a result of their willingnes to admit their CDs are compromised on purpose. I'll gladly post letters from any othe company that is willing to admit the same. The purpose here is to possibly get more people to complain to the companies, perhaps help get this rediculous practice changed.

    What's unfair, is that I am being forced to by a new format and player because of the ignorance of others ruining the sound quality. Not a fault of the medium, itself.
    Do you REALLY think anyone is going to be as honest as Michael and admit they have been pushing levels at the sacrifice of quality? I don't think so. As long as marketing dominates, quality will suffer. This is the state of the music industry currently, whether we like it or not. The clients want it loud, if you want to stay in business you must meet the clents needs. That is what business is all about.

    Chris, I think your analysis of the technical side of this equation is spot on, however your perspective on the broader picture in somewhat shortsighted and lacking in depth. To get a album sold requires the combination of talented artist+ good performance+good engineering+good marketing+the ability to play well on a wide range of equipement and environments=sales. To meet these goals compromise is necessary, less compromise is optimal.
  • 06-03-2004, 12:18 PM
    Feanor
    Audiophile-targetted recordings usually sound better ...
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WmAx
    SACD vs. CD - Unfair competition?
    ...

    Than mass-market equivalents regardless of the distribution media.

    To my ear the SACDs I own sound better than my typical CD. At the same time, I'll conceeded that the reason is not necessarily the inherent superiority of distribution medium itself, (SACD), nor the technical process, (DSD). Now we have some evidence from Telarc that it is recording practice that is to blame, at least in many instances.

    Personally I very, very strongly suspect that the supposed superiority of vinyl over CD is entirely due to recording practice.

    CD recording practice started off bad and remains bad -- we might well complain. That said, I have many excellent CDs though I am mainly a classical rather than a pop listener.
  • 06-03-2004, 01:03 PM
    skeptic
    "Unfortunately the maximum volume of some recorded instruments can exceed 96db when no compression or limiting is employed. The sound of a full orchestra with percussion often does exceed 96db. "

    An obviously bogus arguement because it is not the absolute loudness of the sound which is challenged but its dynamic RANGE. This is the DIFFERENCE between the loudest and softest passages of music. Concert halls are often designed with an absolute nose threshold of 27 db weighted. This means that when there is no other noise like the rattling of papers or coughing, the sound level is 27 db absolute or below. If the loudest passage is 97 db, then a sound recording/reproduction system of 70 db is adequate. This is well within the range of the RBCD system. It's funny that so many people claim that vinyl recordings sound better because they are less compressed but their range is only in the vacinity of 50 to 60 db at best. Unless both the cds and SACDs are made by the same engineers using the same setup and exploiting both systems to their best advantages, comparisons of the limitations of recordings, even what are supposed to be the same recordings are meaningless.
  • 06-03-2004, 01:07 PM
    skeptic
    I have many very fine cds I enjoy both DDD an ADD. Deutche Gramaphone does an excellent job most of the time. Phillips is very good too although I must admit that there are more flaws in their discs than most other labels. These flaws however seem to me to be the result of poor quality control, not bad recording practice which IMO is also usually excellent.
  • 06-03-2004, 02:22 PM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    "Unfortunately the maximum volume of some recorded instruments can exceed 96db when no compression or limiting is employed. The sound of a full orchestra with percussion often does exceed 96db. "

    An obviously bogus arguement because it is not the absolute loudness of the sound which is challenged but its dynamic RANGE. This is the DIFFERENCE between the loudest and softest passages of music. Concert halls are often designed with an absolute nose threshold of 27 db weighted. This means that when there is no other noise like the rattling of papers or coughing, the sound level is 27 db absolute or below. If the loudest passage is 97 db, then a sound recording/reproduction system of 70 db is adequate. This is well within the range of the RBCD system. It's funny that so many people claim that vinyl recordings sound better because they are less compressed but their range is only in the vacinity of 50 to 60 db at best. Unless both the cds and SACDs are made by the same engineers using the same setup and exploiting both systems to their best advantages, comparisons of the limitations of recordings, even what are supposed to be the same recordings are meaningless.

    Skeptic, where do you get your facts, From bubble gum wrappers? First, the noise(not nose) threshold of concerts halls vary all over the map. There are no absolutes as you state. No concert hall is a replica of another. Secondly The peak loudness of a large scale concert hall performance can exceed a short term 110db's in the hall itself depending on were you are listening from. So all of your numbers are meaningless and incorrect.

    Also one has to take into consideration were the person/microphone sits relative to the musicians/source. Sitting in row 15 may produce 97db, but on stage at microphone level you may be getting 105-110db's.
  • 06-03-2004, 03:24 PM
    skeptic
    27db NIC is an AIA standard. Even with a max of 105 db, that still leaves 78 db dynamic range, well within the capabilities of RBCD but well beyond vinyl.
  • 06-03-2004, 03:56 PM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    27db NIC is an AIA standard. Even with a max of 105 db, that still leaves 78 db dynamic range, well within the capabilities of RBCD but well beyond vinyl.

    Problem, the standard might well be 27db, but there are some halls that are quieter, and some that have more noise than that. Also 105db is not a potential maximum, it can be anywhere from 5-10 dbs higher than that. It depends on many variables, too many to name at this point.
  • 06-03-2004, 05:22 PM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Chris, you are not correct in your assertions. Compressors and limiters in radio stations only deal with the maximum peaks in loudness. They don't make every CD the same loudness as you assert. Everyone who has every done any recording that is bound for radio stations know that there must be a compressed/limited radio mix, or your mixes are subject to the not so clean sounding brute force compressors or limiters the station utilizes.
    It would appear that it is a misconception to believe that audio content to be distributed to the staton needs to be highly compressed. Perhaps a perpetuated myth of sorts.

    Based on the following sources(i have read others, but these two are the most authoritive IMO), I can only conlude that a CD, for example, that has absolute levels pushed to the limits and features high comporession will be reduced by the station processors. A correctly recorded CD will be compressed, and reduced in dynamic range, and overall levels will remain the same as the 'pushed' audio disc when compared. It seems that authorities suggest that the highly compressed audio disc will actually suffer significant degradation since it wil be subjected to another stage of compression before it is transmitted.

    Roy Orban(CEO/Cheif Engineer of Orban Electronics(designs and manufactures most of the equipment used to equalize teh levels for radio stations before it is transmitted) stated this in the manual of the Optimod FM 8400 Broadcast Audio Processor:

    Quote:

    There is a myth in the record industry that applying 'radio-style' processing to CDs in mastering will cause them to be louder or will reduce the audible effects of on-air processing. In fact, the opposite is true: these CDs will not be louder on air, but they wil be audibly distorted and unpleasant to listen to, lacking punch and clarity. We hope that the record industry will come to it's senses when it hears the consequences of these practices on the air.
    Bob Katz(a mastering engineer known for producing high quality works):

    Quote:

    Program directors should realize that the sound on their office CD player has little to do with the disc's on-air quality. PD's may think the loudest record they hear is the best, but they forget that when it gets to the air, on-air processors will squash it (drop the volume) more than other records. Producers are afraid that the PD will reject their record if they have to turn up the volume. But by now, hot CDs have put the PD's volume control at the bottom of its travel, so where dowe go from here? Well, let's get the program directors to make decisions on the merits of the music, not on its loudness character. One way to solve that is to install a compressor in the PD's audition system, one that'll squash music as much as his radio station does.
    I am open to reading information from other authorities, to possibly change my view of this matter. However, Roy Orban is pretty high up the food chain, considering he makes/designs most of this equipment. I don't automaticly believe anyone, but (1) I am not willing to investigate the equipment and standards in place and calculate the actual effects - i am just not THAT interested (2) It seems that Mr. Orban should be an accurate source of information considering his relation to this matter.


    Quote:

    Check out this link on a recording forum I visit:

    http://www.recording.org/postt18054.html

    As you can see, this is what the clients want, and we deliver. Michael was not making his decision in a vaccum. The producer(even if that is himself) has to make decisions that extend beyond just mega-quality for audiophiles. Its a tough balance and tough decision
    Thank you. This was a very interesting thread. I found reading the perspective of various professional to be enlightening.


    Quote:

    I agree with you here. However the average consumer does NOT agree with us, or we would not be discussing this issue.
    Quote:

    Chris, I think your analysis of the technical side of this equation is spot on, however your perspective on the broader picture in somewhat shortsighted and lacking in depth. To get a album sold requires the combination of talented artist+ good performance+good engineering+good marketing+the ability to play well on a wide range of equipement and environments=sales. To meet these goals compromise is necessary, less compromise is optimal.
    I do admit that I am making a good deal of speculation on what I think is fair and unfair. I understand the business pressures, too. However, I was upset that a known audiophile company was found to be doing the same thing as the mainstream pop record companies. This thread is a way of venting, for me. :-)

    -Chris
  • 06-03-2004, 08:31 PM
    mtrycraft
    Everyone seems to regard compression as the ultimate evil these days. Not me. I listen to classical CD's in the car a lot - this is very problematic.

    Yes, it is. Maybe that problem should be solved with the CD players designed for cars? Such as built in compression?

    If they have not compressed the sound sufficiently I spend the entire journey turning the volume up to hear the quiet passages and down to save my ears in the louder passages.

    And when you play that CD on ypour expensive system at home, or the audiophile does, what do you think will be the response? Wow, what a great recording?

    [(Try it yourself - get a Deutche Grammaphon Dvorak 9th - Karajan. Play from the beginning - for me it is 30 seconds of silence followed by a loan french horn and then on audible music - or 30 seconds of delicacy, a bearable horn and then a ceresendo of kettle drums at around 1 minute in that could blow my eardrums inside out).

    No need to try. I know the issue a car offers with a noise floor of about 65dB +/- you will miss a whole lot. Why would I want that compressed CD playing at home? No life in it, nothing resembling the performance. Maybe one should listen to the radio in the car?

    Now I am prepared to accept a lesser compression for home use - but nothing like the ranges you guys are talking about. 96 dB range - are you all insane??

    Some time in the not too distant past I read where the most dynamic classical recording at the time only had a 70dB +/- . What he ws discussing is that the peaks were clipped, compresses, distorted. Not needed, even if they design it to your 35-40 dB noise floor.


    My noise floor in my living room is, I guess, something around 35-40 dB (my meter goes down to 50 only - it is below that). when listening, at night, wife and baby asleep, I want something that goes from said level upto around 80 dB MAXIMUM!! - say a 40 dB range.

    And when they are away at grandma, you cannot enjoy the benefits of a more realistic performance:) I don't have that problem so why should I be limited?

    Greater than that and I will never be able to listen to music again. Come to that - 96 db range over a week and I may never be able to listen to anything ever again - except through a hearing aid.

    Not so. The the 96 dB would cover the peaks that happen infrequently only. Your average listening level is whatever is comfortable to you. Short peaks would not harm your hearing.
  • 06-03-2004, 08:32 PM
    mtrycraft
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    It's redbook CD..there have to be compromises. Deal with it, or buy an SACD player.


    Red book allows for 96 dB dynamic range. Nothing to deal with but the recording practices.
  • 06-03-2004, 08:35 PM
    mtrycraft
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    Redbook CD does not have as much bandwidth available as SACD, therefore compromises must be made.

    That's like getting dial up internet and complaining that it's slower and drops packets as compared to a 512k broadband pipeline. Of course it will, the technology is not as good.


    You must have misunderstood the original post. the issue is not that CD has insufficient dynamic range whereas SACD does not. The issue is that the CD recording is degraded below the CD specs, distorted, clipped on purpose, not because of the limits of CD.
  • 06-03-2004, 11:44 PM
    maxg
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    Everyone seems to regard compression as the ultimate evil these days. Not me. I listen to classical CD's in the car a lot - this is very problematic.

    Yes, it is. Maybe that problem should be solved with the CD players designed for cars? Such as built in compression?

    If they have not compressed the sound sufficiently I spend the entire journey turning the volume up to hear the quiet passages and down to save my ears in the louder passages.

    As ever the solution involves me spending yet more money I see. Take the existing system out of the car and replace it with one that compresses. The radio is looking to be a more appealing option.

    And when you play that CD on ypour expensive system at home, or the audiophile does, what do you think will be the response? Wow, what a great recording?

    Sorry - play a CD on my audiophile system at home? Not me - I have vinyl for that!

    [(Try it yourself - get a Deutche Grammaphon Dvorak 9th - Karajan. Play from the beginning - for me it is 30 seconds of silence followed by a loan french horn and then on audible music - or 30 seconds of delicacy, a bearable horn and then a ceresendo of kettle drums at around 1 minute in that could blow my eardrums inside out).

    No need to try. I know the issue a car offers with a noise floor of about 65dB +/- you will miss a whole lot. Why would I want that compressed CD playing at home? No life in it, nothing resembling the performance. Maybe one should listen to the radio in the car?

    My thoughts too

    Now I am prepared to accept a lesser compression for home use - but nothing like the ranges you guys are talking about. 96 dB range - are you all insane??

    Some time in the not too distant past I read where the most dynamic classical recording at the time only had a 70dB +/- . What he ws discussing is that the peaks were clipped, compresses, distorted. Not needed, even if they design it to your 35-40 dB noise floor.

    Agreed

    My noise floor in my living room is, I guess, something around 35-40 dB (my meter goes down to 50 only - it is below that). when listening, at night, wife and baby asleep, I want something that goes from said level upto around 80 dB MAXIMUM!! - say a 40 dB range.

    And when they are away at grandma, you cannot enjoy the benefits of a more realistic performance:) I don't have that problem so why should I be limited?

    When they are away at Grandma I do indeed turn the volume up. But even here I never exceed 100 dB peak at my listening position. I am not saying you should be limited - I am saying that I do not regard compression as the evil everyone here seems to think it is (if done well of course). Might be nice if either the limited or non-limited CD recordings would say as much on the packaging. I have an SACD recording from Telarc of the 1812 that is littered with warnings. Kinda nice to have.

    Greater than that and I will never be able to listen to music again. Come to that - 96 db range over a week and I may never be able to listen to anything ever again - except through a hearing aid.

    Not so. The the 96 dB would cover the peaks that happen infrequently only. Your average listening level is whatever is comfortable to you. Short peaks would not harm your hearing.

    [i] As an absolute peak value I understand that. But if I am listening to a recording at, say 80 db average level, quiet bits at 40 - then volumes could regularly go over 110 and that is not good for ones hearing. The odd peak going upto a theorectial 136 is indeed irrelevent (and impossible on my speakers anyway).
  • 06-04-2004, 04:14 AM
    skeptic
    It's interesting that vinyl, the darling of audiophiles compressed much classical music out of necessity due to the limitations of the format. Compression is not what so called audiophiles disdain regardless of what they say, it is lack of compression they don't like. When you listen to classical music with a truely wide dynamic range, you have to sit quietly and be attentive or you will miss much of it. If you are far more preoccupied with your sound system than with the music itself, this can be a real problem.

    When I listen to classical music in my car, there is a lot of switchable compression from the Sony/JBL/Ford sound system that came with it. Even on a cruise when I am listening through headphones, I use an old Sony car Discman D 808K which offers three levels of compression. The excellent performance of digital compression at a very affordable price allows you to enjoy the most you can get out of classica music under less than ideal listening conditions. ICs provide this performance for pennies when it used to cost thousands of dollars. And I for one am very grateful for it. For pop music, compression is not necessary. Dynamic range is usually very limited, often to within 10 db or so.
  • 06-04-2004, 04:25 AM
    skeptic
    Of the thousands of classical compostions I have on recordings I own, I cannot think of one that lies outside of the capabilities of the dynamic range offered by the RBCD format. If there is compression, it is invariably on a recording that was originally made in the analog format and was beyond the capability of analog tape. What are some of the compositions which have the greatest dynamic range which could challenge the RBCD format? Off the top of my head, perhaps Bach Mass in B minor, Tchaikowsky's 4th, 5th, and 6th sysmphonies, Turandot, perhaps some large Organ works, maybe Saint Seans Organ Concerto, Holst's The Planets? Even all of these seem to have been very well recorded digitally by someone or other and within the dynamic capabilities of RBCD. One thing is certain, to have any chance of exceeding the available range, you have to have a work which is scored for unusually massive forces and is uses them in ways that takes it from ppp of individual voices to fff+++ of the entire ensemble. These are relatively few and far between.
  • 06-04-2004, 05:37 AM
    N. Abstentia
    Sounds like some folks can't actually enjoy listening to music because they're too worried about the techincal aspecs of it. That must suck.

    Don't like that CD? Return it and get your money back. Can't do that? Sell it on Ebay. No use in making a federal case over it.
  • 06-04-2004, 08:47 AM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    N. Abstentia]Sounds like some folks can't actually enjoy listening to music because they're too worried about the techincal aspecs of it. That must suck.
    Audible clipping, making fuzz sounds is just not apprciable by myself. Maybe such a defect would not bother you?
    Quote:

    Don't like that CD? Return it and get your money back. Can't do that? Sell it on Ebay. No use in making a federal case over it
    That's right. Everybody knows that when you turn your back to a problem and ignore it, it gets better all by itself.

    -Chris
  • 06-04-2004, 10:31 AM
    skeptic
    If you reject recordings which are less than technically excellent by today's standards, you have cut yourself off from some of the greatest performances ever recorded. These are in many genres of music, not just classical but jazz and pop as well. It's unfortunate that at the time many of the greatest known performers who ever lived were able to make recordings, the technology wasn't very good by the standards of the current state of the art. There will undoubtedly come a day when the recording and playback of music is far more advanced than anything we now know. It would be a shame if people weren't interested in the best of today's recordings because of the technical flaws they will see in them. It's sad that for some people these old recordngs can't be just enjoyed for what they are rather than rejected for what they aren't.
  • 06-04-2004, 11:12 AM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    If you reject recordings which are less than technically excellent by today's standards, you have cut yourself off from some of the greatest performances ever recorded. These are in many genres of music, not just classical but jazz and pop as well. It's unfortunate that at the time many of the greatest known performers who ever lived were able to make recordings, the technology wasn't very good by the standards of the current state of the art. There will undoubtedly come a day when the recording and playback of music is far more advanced than anything we now know. It would be a shame if people weren't interested in the best of today's recordings because of the technical flaws they will see in them. It's sad that for some people these old recordngs can't be just enjoyed for what they are rather than rejected for what they aren't.

    I openly admit that I am not able to tolerate extreme examples of poor recordings, regardless of the music that is contained within the recording. I am able to tolerate moderately bad examples, if the music is of very high quality(subjectively too me, of course). Hard hitting distortion such as in this Tiereney Sutton CD is beyond my tolerance. Hey, I am willing to look over the annoying compression on this release. The sound of digital clipping distortion? Me, I just can't stand that sound. Too me, I guess this is kind of like fingernails on a chalkboard to some people.

    -Chris
  • 06-04-2004, 11:12 AM
    Pat D
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    Very interesting admission by Telarc. I thought they would be the last to compromize. I was mistaken. Oh, my.
    Dissapointing.

    I remember reading something a long time ago, probably Larry Klein in Stereo Review, that a number of CDs will show short term clipped peaks on an oscilloscope--though how much is audible is another question. I believe some of the cannon shots on Ein Straussfest, with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Telarc CD-80098, were said to be clipped. But it was still a great sounding CD the last time I heard it.
  • 06-04-2004, 11:24 AM
    N. Abstentia
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WmAx
    Audible clipping, making fuzz sounds is just not apprciable by myself. Maybe such a defect would not bother you?

    That's right. Everybody knows that when you turn your back to a problem and ignore it, it gets better all by itself.

    -Chris

    Don't like it? Don't buy it.

    Hitting my head with a baseball bat bothers me, so I quit doing it.
  • 06-04-2004, 11:50 AM
    Feanor
    Perhaps my best-sounding CD is a Philips
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by skeptic
    I have many very fine cds I enjoy both DDD an ADD. Deutche Gramaphone does an excellent job most of the time. Phillips is very good too although I must admit that there are more flaws in their discs than most other labels. These flaws however seem to me to be the result of poor quality control, not bad recording practice which IMO is also usually excellent.

    I'm refering to Philips: 456575, Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra Sz 116 / Ivan Fischer & Budapest Festival Orch.

    In this case, though, the quality is due to the recording methods I'm certain. The recording portrays the sound of a real ensemble performing in an actual space. So few producers and engineers even attempt to that, it seems to me!

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I attribute the failure to too many, too closely-placed microphones plus complicated mixing and equalization. Fewer, carefully placed mics works better judging by the likes of the Mercury Living Presence recordings for example. From your seat in the concert hall you don't get the same sound as a mic placed a foot away from the violin will pick up -- very different mix of direct and reflected sound for one thing.
  • 06-04-2004, 12:37 PM
    skeptic
    I bought Dave Brubeck's disc "Time Out." It's not so much the over equalized recording that bothers me, it's all the clams he hit. He played like a nervous goose in cut one "Blue Rondo a la Turk." Bad playing is worse than bad recording every time. At least that's the way I see it. Sometimes you can't have everything and if you are too picky, you wind up with nothing.
  • 06-04-2004, 01:20 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Thanks Chris!!
    I have, nor had, any plans to buy or support SACD or DVD-A and now I am even more intent not to ever support them out of principle. If it is true that consumers have to bare an inferior product so a recording can be played over the air is an outrage. With multi layers or other technology this shouldn't be necessary. Most radio stations are putting their music in computer anyway. They don't care about any sound quality. And I totally disagree with the statement Telarc shouldn't be singled out. Them and Sheffield tout themselves as being superior recording and sound quality. If they are just another commercial CD company then they misrepresent themselves which is also fraud. What about these guys who paid big bucks for a solid gold disc? They certainly thought they were buying something special. Telarc and so called "superior or audiophile" companies like them who put out an inferior product under the guise of high quality are guilty as hell of fraud and deception and even more so than your average recording company. When you buy Kid Rock you may not expect an audiophile recording but when you buy Telarc you do. I think it is time consumers quit letting these companies in our pockets at their will. If I knew in the 80's that vinyl could sound like I hear it now on my Rega turntable, I wouldn't have jumped on the CD bandwagon, at least until they quit pressing it. My collection is large enough with vinyl and CD that I fully intend not to go with another format. Especially, one that is being forced on the public with deception. If you don't want to believe it is deception that's on you, but it is at least sabotage to the compact disc and it's potential sound quality.
  • 06-04-2004, 02:21 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Furthermore
    Why would consumers jump on the SACD bandwagon when this format could go down the same path as CD, in regard to too high levels and inferior quality? I think Chris brought up a very valid question. Why wouldn't Telarc a so called "audiophile" recording company want a recording to sound it's very best on whatever format? Unless they have another motive. I found Bishop's excuse extremely lame. Either you like Sutton or you don't. What does Krall or Jones have to do with me buying Sutton? It's BS. I personally wrote Bishop a nastygram and my whole perspective has been compromised
  • 06-04-2004, 04:24 PM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WmAx
    It would appear that it is a misconception to believe that audio content to be distributed to the staton needs to be highly compressed. Perhaps a perpetuated myth of sorts.


    No, I don't think so. The quality of radio stations compressors/limiters all over the world varies. Most of them do not sound very good, and can really change the flavor(and timbre)of a mix. The harder these limiter/compressors have to work, the worse they sound. So the smart thing to do is to master the CD using GOOD compression/limiting so as to limit the need for limiting/compression at the radio station level. This way you know it what it will pretty much sound like when played over the air.

    Quote:

    Based on the following sources(i have read others, but these two are the most authoritive IMO), I can only conlude that a CD, for example, that has absolute levels pushed to the limits and features high comporession will be reduced by the station processors.
    If that were the case, then nobody would request that we push the levels. Also doing a mix especially for radio stations will require less use of the stations limiter/compressor. In the long run this makes the product sound better over the air.

    Quote:

    A correctly recorded CD will be compressed, and reduced in dynamic range, and overall levels will remain the same as the 'pushed' audio disc when compared. It seems that authorities suggest that the highly compressed audio disc will actually suffer significant degradation since it wil be subjected to another stage of compression before it is transmitted.
    A mix that is sent to the station uncompressed will be at the mercy of the stations compressor. As I have previously stated, the quality of these compressors/limiters are all over the map. It may sound fairly decent coming from one station, and like crap from another. If the product sounds like crap, then that equals to lost sales. No recording/mastering house/engineer can afford that to happen too many times.

    Quote:

    Roy Orban(CEO/Cheif Engineer of Orban Electronics(designs and manufactures most of the equipment used to equalize teh levels for radio stations before it is transmitted) stated this in the manual of the Optimod FM 8400 Broadcast Audio Processor:

    Bob Katz(a mastering engineer known for producing high quality works):
    I am VERY familar with Bob Katz, he is very well respected within the industry. Roy Orban's word can only be taken where his products are concerned. There are many products on the market that do what his does. If a station has other products, then all bets are off with his word. One thing you find out pretty quickly in this industry is that everyone has an opinion, and everyone seems to have a rebuttal.


    Quote:

    I am open to reading information from other authorities, to possibly change my view of this matter. However, Roy Orban is pretty high up the food chain, considering he makes/designs most of this equipment.
    Orban electronix is just one company of many that makes good broadcasting equipment. I would not call myself a formost expert on radio broadcasting equipment.

    Quote:

    I don't automaticly believe anyone, but (1) I am not willing to investigate the equipment and standards in place and calculate the actual effects - i am just not THAT interested (2) It seems that Mr. Orban should be an accurate source of information considering his relation to this matter.
    I think his opinion is one of many I have heard. Since this is not my area of expertise, his word is just as good as any.

    Quote:

    Thank you. This was a very interesting thread. I found reading the perspective of various professional to be enlightening.
    No prob. I just wanted you to see how frustrated we engineers get when we have to make compromises to satisfy our clients. We have a tough balancing act between quality and customer satisfaction. I think that is often overlooked by quality conscious consumers like yourself.

    Quote:

    I do admit that I am making a good deal of speculation on what I think is fair and unfair. I understand the business pressures, too. However, I was upset that a known audiophile company was found to be doing the same thing as the mainstream pop record companies. This thread is a way of venting, for me. :-)
    -Chris
    Chris, I really understand your frustration. Put yourself in my shoes, I work really hard to do a high quality mix, then have to make compromises due to the media source its going to, and to please my client. Most of the time the client is happy, but I am not.
  • 06-04-2004, 06:23 PM
    WmAx
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Why would consumers jump on the SACD bandwagon when this format could go down the same path as CD, in regard to too high levels and inferior quality? I think Chris brought up a very valid question. Why wouldn't Telarc a so called "audiophile" recording company want a recording to sound it's very best on whatever format? Unless they have another motive. I found Bishop's excuse extremely lame. Either you like Sutton or you don't. What does Krall or Jones have to do with me buying Sutton? It's BS. I personally wrote Bishop a nastygram and my whole perspective has been compromised

    What exactly is a nastygram?

    Here is my reply to Mr. Bishop, that was sent after I recieved the email that is posted in teh beginning of this thread:

    Quote:

    Thank you for the reply from Mr. Bishop. I will take advantage of the SACD
    trade that was offered. I would prefer a refund, of course, since I do not
    own a SACD capable play device. Please let me know what steps I need to
    take. BUt please forward the rest of this message to Mr. Bishop:

    REPLY To Mr. Bishop:

    "I checked the waveform example of the piano "distortion." In my opinion,
    what is seen there is the peak limiting and "soft clipping" imposed in the
    CD mastering process on this particular release..."

    " The piano is not distorted... If that was the case one would see jagged
    artifacts around the
    piano level "peak" rather than the level simply stopping 0.10 dB from the
    peak."

    "Of course, this does not mean that such a high peak will not cause
    distortion on some playback systems. That's entirely possible and is
    something out of our control."

    The highly audible distortion remains in all of these following cases: (1)
    playing CD in all players I have access (2) ripping waveform to computer,
    playing back through soundcard (3) reducing maximum level slightly of the
    waveform in a waveform editor, playing back on soundcard.

    Indeed, I believe this is easily preventable. Simply could have (1) limited
    the peaks (2) reduced absolute levels before downsampling(this is the proper
    method)

    "The Tierney Sutton "Dancing in the Dark" CD release is put up side-by-side
    with Diana Krall and Norah Jones releases and other similar jazz vocal CDs.
    Like it or not, those CDs are quite heavily compressed and limited (much
    more so than the Sutton CD) and have very high apparent volumes. They also
    exhibit an even more pronounced cut-off of peak levels. Since Tierney's CD
    will be put in multi-disc CD players alongside these other CDs, we have to
    make sure her CD stands at least a chance of being as "present" as the
    competition and still maintain as much of the dynamics of my original mixes
    as possible. "

    I don't understand. Competition of what? I simply do not believe consumer
    are this stupid to put a CD into the player and believe the quiter one is
    'bad' compared to the louder one. (1) You mean radio play? If so, this is
    not valid. Radio broadcast music is heavily compressed/limited before it is
    transmitted. As far as I know, this is a universal standard. Diffeernt
    levels on the CD istels will not manifest itself on broadcast end-use. (2)
    The telarc consumer, i would speculate, is more discriminating then the
    average consumer. I can not see this trickery as being effective.

    I think Bob Katz has some very good points on this issue:

    http://www.digido.com/portal/pmodule_id=11/pmdmode=fullscreen/pageadder_page_id=93/?PHPSESSID=8a7653fe7dab1838c00ed4aeb7310fc8

    "It's a very delicate balancing act. Certainly compromises
    are made, just as in any other mainstream CD that has high apparent volume
    level. "

    I'm sorry to see such things happening with what I always considered a
    label(telarc) that prioritized ultimate sound quality.

    "I know one would find much more aggregious level compression taking
    place on most mainstream CDs than what you would find on "Dancing in the
    Dark."

    Yes. Why I always trusted Telarc to have high quality. I guess I have to
    change this view in response to this email.

    "If you are interested, the DSD stereo and surround programs on the SACD
    release of "Dancing in the Dark" (SA-63592) do NOT have this competitive
    compression imposed on the audio. The DSD programs represent what I
    recorded in the mixes from the sessions without the compromises needed on
    the CD-only release. However, the CD layer of the SACD is exactly the same
    as the CD-only release. To access the DSD programs, one needs the
    appropriate SACD player which is available at major electronic retailers
    starting at around $200 USD, although I never recommend that one gets the
    "bottom-of-the-line" player."

    I have a CD player that functions perfectly. It is rediculous that I must
    purchase a new format player to get versions of the albums that ARE NOT
    purposefully degraded.

    "I hope you have the opportunity to hear the DSD program of this release.
    That is, after all, the source I had recorded at Ms. Sutton's sessions and
    the pcm CD is a derivative of that source."

    I have paid close attention to the playback formats, and associated
    scientific research(NHK labs study, Ooashi nueroscicnce study and the
    original 1978 optimal bandwidth study(JAES). Besides the multi-channel
    format and copy protection(not advantage to consumers, only for record
    companies) I don't see any yet confirmed advantage to the added bandwidth. I
    also don't see how 16 bit wordlength is limiting for audio playback,e
    speciallly when combined with modern dithering techniques. Even if it was a
    problem, seems that these PURPOSEFULLY compromised and compressed versions
    of music supercede this issue.

    Thank you for responding.

    -Chris XXXXX
    THis email was sent right after I recieved the initial reply. I should have been more specific when i referenced the suggestion of limiting. I also should have referenced time markers in a sample track that are, indeed at 0dB, not 0.1 as he asserts. I consider this an oversight/error on my part. However, I was 'steamed'. You are never as coherant when hot headed.

    -Chris