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Better mastered music could be on the way!

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Craig M.'s picture
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This was posted in Cno's DS thread, and contains what I think is some very interesting information. 

 

To quote Hugh Robjohns, the technical editor of Sound on Sound magazine, the way music is mastered could be going to change and the 'loudness wars' could be nearing their end! 

"And the thing we need them to do is to adopt the ITU-R BS1770 loudness metering standards that are now being implemented across the TV industry worldwide, and will be introduced to the radio industry in the next few years. That should have the desired effect on the music industry as they will quickly discover that hyper-compressed mixing sounds as weak and feeble on the radio and TV as it really is! By 'normalising' audio material to the 'loudness' rather than the 'peak' level, everything gets better! Hyper-compressed material sounds weak, feeble and boring, while dynamic material sounds lively, natural, powerful (when appropriate) and interesting... and that's exactly what you want."

 

The full thread is worth reading, and some may find it informative (the replies are from recording industry professionals) but the above is what I find really exciting.  Bring it on! cheer   And thanks to Neuphonix for highlighting it.

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AlmaataKZ's picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Very good! Hope it happens.

sometimesuk's picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Hi, I'm the bloke who started the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-loudness-wars-and-release-high-... and although myself and others, on the sound on sound forum, couldn’t agree on whether its possible to get anything sounding better than CD, we all agreed that the loudness wars have to end. This link explains: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

Its worth pointing out that, its my understanding, that adopting the loudness metering standard, mentioned above, will only affect t.v and radio broadcasts. It will not effect the way music is produced, which is why they are still trying to campaign to make it compulsory by law. This is another reason, why I think it’s important people showed they support for change and signed the petition.

If people got together change will happen, it’s just getting people’s attention. The petition has made it to Stereophile website, which has helped loads. If you go to the petition web page, you can read peoples comments and see its caught the interest of people all over the world.  http://www.stereophile.com/content/petition-better-sound

So far no interest by What Hifi, its either escaped their attention, they feel they can’t support it in any way as they feel it will affect their inpendence, or they just don’t care about music.

There are lots of people posting here asking for advice on how to upgrade / improve their system. If the records were improved in the first place, this would be the best upgrade anyone could ask for!

 

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

sometimesuk wrote:

Hi, I'm the bloke who started the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-loudness-wars-and-release-high-... and although myself and others, on the sound on sound forum, couldn’t agree on whether its possible to get anything sounding better than CD, we all agreed that the loudness wars have to end. This link explains: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

Its worth pointing out that, its my understanding, that adopting the loudness metering standard, mentioned above, will only affect t.v and radio broadcasts. It will not effect the way music is produced, which is why they are still trying to campaign to make it compulsory by law. This is another reason, why I think it’s important people showed they support for change and signed the petition.

If people got together change will happen, it’s just getting people’s attention. The petition has made it to Stereophile website, which has helped loads. If you go to the petition web page, you can read peoples comments and see its caught the interest of people all over the world.  http://www.stereophile.com/content/petition-better-sound

So far no interest by What Hifi, its either escaped their attention, they feel they can’t support it in any way as they feel it will affect their inpendence, or they just don’t care about music.

There are lots of people posting here asking for advice on how to upgrade / improve their system. If the records were improved in the first place, this would be the best upgrade anyone could ask for!

 

Hey,

I just wanted to say cheers for starting something, I admire your proactive spirit. Went ahead & signed the petition straight away, wasn't quite as concerned with the spelling (mine leaves a little to be desired at times!) as others, but hey eveyone's concerns are valid.

I've recently purchased a new LinnDS and have definitely been enthused by the whole 24bit thingy. Have bought some older music that I don't already own & trying to get the studio master if available.

After following through the link you sent me on sound on sound I guess my thinking changed slightly, I was largely ignorant of the use/need for 24bit in the recording process. It's been fascinating just digging into it a bit more & learning.

So at this point in time I think my purchasing strategy for music files will be something like this:

1) For older music that I don't already own I will consider 24bit files, but would probably just go for 16bit as that was all that most were mastered in. 

2) For music that I already own I will not be bothering to find any 24bit replacements.

3) For new music as it comes out I will consider 24bit, but again I would have to hear some appreciable difference to spend the extra.

I have about 2tb of music in various formats. My ears can easily percieve the difference between lossless & lossy. But I'm not so sure about 16bit/24bit. I THINK I do, but that could just be my ongoing case of confirmation bias playing tricks on me again. I doubt it would stand up to a blind test?

Thanks again for putting it out there. At the very least it has helped raise awareness & that can't be a bad thing Smile

 

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

AlmaataKZ wrote:

Very good! Hope it happens.

+ 1

Craig M.'s picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

sometimesuk wrote:

Its worth pointing out that, its my understanding, that adopting the loudness metering standard, mentioned above, will only affect t.v and radio broadcasts. It will not effect the way music is produced, which is why they are still trying to campaign to make it compulsory by law. This is another reason, why I think it’s important people showed they support for change and signed the petition.

I don't think you've understood their point.  If the compressed music starts to sound rubbish on TV and radio after the introduction of the new loudness standards, the record companies will have to start asking for it to be mastered differently.  Which is what we want, music that hasn't been murdered during mastering.

sometimesuk wrote:

There are lots of people posting here asking for advice on how to upgrade / improve their system. If the records were improved in the first place, this would be the best upgrade anyone could ask for!

No argument from me there.  I haven't signed the petition for 2 reasons: 1, I'm not keen on putting that many personal details onto a website I know nothing about.  2, I don't actually want or see the point of 24 bit music (for the reasons the SoS guys gave), I just want well-mastered 16 bit music to be available on cd.  I don't download, I buy cds and rip them.

 

I have signed up for the 'Turn me up' campaign, however.

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Craig M. wrote:
I don't actually want or see the point of 24 bit music (for the reasons the SoS guys gave), I just want well-mastered 16 bit music to be available on cd.  I don't download, I buy cds and rip them.

I have signed up for the 'Turn me up' campaign, however.

+1

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sometimesuk's picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Fair. Enough. Just so you know though, change.org does have a privacy policy, and no one sees your personal details (including me) other than your name, city and country.

Have a listen to the different files on here and let me know what you hear!

http://soundkeeperrecordings.com/format.htm

I've also joined the "turn me up" site - we have common goals. I just think a petition is a good way to show numbers.

 

Craig M.'s picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

I'll try to compare those files on Sunday.  The missus is watching TV at the moment, if I started comparing it right now I might not live long enough to reach the end of the first track!  I've compared in the past, with a download from HDTracks that I downsampled on the computer myself, but I don't mind trying again.  Is there any info about how the files were downsampled?  I know there are certain rules to be followed if it's to be done properly and, forgive my cynicism, I notice that site has a vested interest.

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Honest answer I dont know. I'm taking it as granted, that he says they are from the same master track.

If you find a site with test files on though, let me know.

 

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

sometimesuk wrote:

Hi, I'm the bloke who started the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-loudness-wars-and-release-high-... and although myself and others, on the sound on sound forum, couldn’t agree on whether its possible to get anything sounding better than CD, we all agreed that the loudness wars have to end. This link explains: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

Its worth pointing out that, its my understanding, that adopting the loudness metering standard, mentioned above, will only affect t.v and radio broadcasts. It will not effect the way music is produced, which is why they are still trying to campaign to make it compulsory by law. This is another reason, why I think it’s important people showed they support for change and signed the petition.

If people got together change will happen, it’s just getting people’s attention. The petition has made it to Stereophile website, which has helped loads. If you go to the petition web page, you can read peoples comments and see its caught the interest of people all over the world.  http://www.stereophile.com/content/petition-better-sound

So far no interest by What Hifi, its either escaped their attention, they feel they can’t support it in any way as they feel it will affect their inpendence, or they just don’t care about music.

There are lots of people posting here asking for advice on how to upgrade / improve their system. If the records were improved in the first place, this would be the best upgrade anyone could ask for!

 

 

Sounds like you have had quite a few debates on CD sound ? Can I add my penny’s worth.When CD first came out I bought into it straight away. So from around 1984 to 2011 CD was mostly what I purchased. The collection went into thousands all in alphabetical order on special wall units. The CD’s played through a high end Linn ikimi cd player.A turntable was purchased a few years ago, in 2011 I decided to upgrade the stylus at my local dealer. The dealer asked if I would like to hear the latest DS players from Linn. So I sat with him for over two hours listening to music played through a DS player. Good salesman this because he knew I would have been blown away. He played on a Linn ikimi CD player some tracks then transferred these same tracks to the DS player. The difference was remarkable  clearly the DS playing the same 16bit recordings as the CD player sounded better in every way. Of course the DS would have a better Dac. The real key to a DS player over a CD player is error correction which every CD player suffers from. The other is moving parts. In  a DS player there is no moving parts no error correction.

Had a huge dilemma on my hands here I am with thousands of CD’s and a small fortune spent over the years. All of a sudden I have heard music playback take a huge leap forward from down loading. The gap for me was too big to ignore on sound quality because that is what enjoying music is all about. Spent many months transferring all my CD’s to a NAZ. Sold off the whole cd based system along with the CDs and went for my current system. 24bit recordings are another step ahead of 16bit , it’s not hard to work out there is more information on 24bit to 16 bit.

Is the CD dead ? It all comes down to demand and for the moment demand for CD is still there. Also it’s a hard sell to convince many consumers not to have a physical format in their hand. However with the younger generation downloading in high numbers the future dose look bright for the DS player. Companies like Sony must be tearing their hair out at the thought. With downloads you don’t need a record company the artist can do it directly. The latest Muse album can be downloaded in 24bit direct from them as an example. One format that will never die is the vinyl album.  All my opinion of course.

 

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sometimesuk's picture
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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

I'm also in the process of ripping my CD's but have decided to keep them and store them.

I think there will always be a role for Record Labels, as an individual artist you would need huge resources to make yourself known and get out there. Record Labels can offer this support. 

I think, online retailers should be more worried, as I don’t understand why Record Labels don’t setup their own online store selling their own artists material.

 

P.S - Letter of the Month for Hifi Choice! (Before the title got changed to state outright, what I thought was implied)

 

 

 

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Neuphonix wrote:

My ears can easily percieve the difference between lossless & lossy. But I'm not so sure about 16bit/24bit. I THINK I do, but that could just be my ongoing case of confirmation bias playing tricks on me again. I doubt it would stand up to a blind test?

If you want a track that I believe is good for highlighting the difference between bit rates, you should try:

Ian Shaw......A case of you (Album - Drawn to all things)

You can download this one track as 320 Kbps / 16 bit / 24 bit from Linn, and its very simple nature allows you to hear right into the recording, and concentrate on the different elements. 

I say this, as I've tried it .....and on my system, the difference can be heard as you up the resoultion.

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Mirren Boy wrote:

 24bit recordings are another step ahead of 16bit , it’s not hard to work out there is more information on 24bit to 16 bit.

sorry man, but the only advantage hi-rez gives you over Red Book is higher dynamic range - 24 bit vs. 16 bit, and the dynamic range already offered by modest Red Book is more than anybody ever used so far. and also ability to capture high frequency information, which is useless anyway. I dare you to make an effort and report if you can even hear above 18kHz, let alone 40kHz or more. moreover, high frequency signal will wreck your amp. worst case scenario here (which is not so much unprobable) will manifest in increased intermodulation distortion level being already audible. the thing is that the information contained within audible spectrum is digitised in the same manner no matter the format. this fact derives from quantisation theory - science - and not hearing test. if comparing hi-rez to Red Book you'd better make sure the mastering is identical because they often like to use compressed master for the Red Book and that's cheating obviously. but I surely can understand how bigger number speak to our imagination. I got myself fulled myself before.

IMO the only true benefit of hi-rez over Red Book is that you could use non-oversampling conversion together with shallow analog filtering not worrying yourself you'll gonna hit a wall of aliasing distortion or you'll have to attenuate audible range by some -3dB.

EDIT: I'd only like to add that my point here is that what we need is good quality recordings with loundness normalisation allowing for some 25dB dynamic range. regardless if it's hi-rez or not.

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

Mirren Boy wrote:
Spent many months transferring all my CD’s to a NAZ. Sold off the whole cd based system along with the CDs

Hopefully you do know that if you kept any rips of the CDs you sold, technically that's illegal (as is ripping in the first place, but I can't think of one copper who wouldn't turn a blind eye to that as long as it's for personal-use only). Just sayin'..not making a big deal of it, before once again I get accused of being the forum's resident sanctimonious law-enforcing whipcracker.

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RE: Better mastered music could be on the way!

CnoEvil wrote:
If you want a track that I believe is good for highlighting the difference between bit rates, you should try:

Ian Shaw......A case of you (Album - Drawn to all things)

You can download this one track as 320 Kbps / 16 bit / 24 bit from Linn, and its very simple nature allows you to hear right into the recording, and concentrate on the different elements. 

I say this, as I've tried it .....and on my system, the difference can be heard as you up the resoultion.

If they really do sound different there must be some other reason. They wouldn't sound different due to the compression used at those high bit rates.

Try converting the 24bit track into a 320kbps MP3 yourself using LAME. You won't be able to hear any difference between the original 24 bit file and the 320kbps MP3 file.

If you really do think that you can hear a difference between the LAME converted MP3 file and the original then prove it to yourself by doing a blind ABX test. Using Foobar with the ABX plugin will be helpful for this.

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