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CJSF's picture
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Compresion . . . ?

Over the past few months one has split listening fairly equaly between CD, Spotify and Vinyl, as one who generaly prefers analogue, I am puzzled . . . One is getting a pleasant listening experiance from all mediums? True, not all albums are good, but the good'ns are a pleasure. So, why do I seem to go againts the trend, the general concensus is a 'downer' on CD and Spotify, with vinyl, unacceptably noisey to the modern ear and the mechanical peculiarities being a faff and dificult to set up.

Ignor viny for now. A dilemer I puzzled over, then one had a spark, compression is the enamy of all modern recording for the masses, encouraged by poor reproduction methods and marketing engines of the recording industry.

Most of my listenig is from recordings that pre date 'excesive compression as standard'. So I have CD's that are good, even very good, I have a lot that are dogs as well! Most of my Spotfy listening is also old, 1980's and befor. There is always talk of the sample rate . . . ? sorry I cant hear a problem, I use the 'Unlimited' service, which I find excelent in all respects. There are poor offereing, but the good stuff I put on my play list, which is quite long. Some that dateing back to the 40's, most have been remasterd, but not all, sensative remastering I find very listenable retaining reality and atmospere that is not on modern compresion flattened recordings.

The way I see it, modern recording are so often compressed for the benefit of media, these are then offered for down load, still compressed . . . they then have their praises sung by the down loaders, saying that the verious down load mediums are so good, but they are still compressed? . . . requiring volume to get any dynamic into them. Compresion chops dynamic . . . ?

True, some artists seem to undrstand and issue what appear to be less compressed albums? I buy very little modern music, generaly not to my tast and often lacking in clarity, another problem of compression?

Vinyl is a special case, out moded as a reproduction method, they say? . . . but IMHO, still superior if the recording is a good'un, the turntable is set up right and of resonable quality, quality in the rest of the system is applicable to whatever medium is used. Vintage vinyl pre dates excess compresion as standard, I'm taking 25+ years as vintage. Modern vinyl, from what I read is variable, some is 'me to, band wagon foda' not worth the effort, or the price, some is a genuine attempt at quality . . . all is expensive, some excesivly so I believe.

CD's, I'm not sure, I have a few modern silver frisbies that I like a lot, a good few that are OK if I feel lazy or thats the only one avaliable. But the good'ns are very good, different, but very good. Something I have noticed, the introduction of full valve amplification into my system has seemed to help, especialy on Spotify and some CD's?

One has no technical explanation for the above, they are 'observation and thoughts'. I am sure there will be loads of reasons why not, and that I am talking out of my ****. Be that as it may, the facts for me are; some excelent quality music can be had on Spotify and CD, there are dogs in all mediums including vinyl and we need to be honest with ourselfs as to what is good and what is a dog, may even be, 'why is it a dog'?

There you go, coments and your eperiances. . . ?
CJSF

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

I tend to agree about compressed recordings it is not just cds though. If you look on site like DR database you will see many went for compression about 10 years ago. There are some good modern recordings that are not compressed usually on small labels like Telarac, Lost Highway etc. I do find it very annoying that many 50s cds sounds vetter than ones recorded 50 years later because some in the music industry think they sell more.

As for vinyl that went downhill in the mid 70s due to the oil crisis and LPs got a lot thinner and poorer quality, I got fed up taking scratched lps back Is topped buying them, anyway music for me went downhill as well. Then about early 90s started buying cds and hifi again. 

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

To be fair, music is mastered for the market it is aimed at, and in that respect, it always has been. It is not a new process. Pop-music in the 60s was mastered for AM radio and mono Dansettes with ceramic cartridges, while enthusiasts of classical music and MOR loungecore from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Ray Conniff, James Last, Ted Heath and Bert Kaempfert got immeasurably better sound quality, sometimes from the same labels and studios.

Nothing epitomizes the 'mastering for the market'' principle more than Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. It was just the contemporary equivalent of today's production techniques that are aimed at the iPod generation.

Wwhat surprises me more than the poor quality of new recordings are some digital remasters of classic 60s/70s albums. Predominantly they are going to be purchased by an older audience who are buying the album (possibly for a second or third time) for SQ reasons, yet the engineers sometimes see fit to compress and crush the recording to death, for an audience which largely does not want to hear it like that.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

I don't think it is the engineers who are to blame.

 

And we all know the music industry is about selling music not so much music quality, thats why some groups/solo artists get more promotion than others.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Thanks for the replys guys, glad I'm not the only one who thinks that we are being lead by the nose?  Sad that there are only a few of us, the rest it would seem are happy extolling the vertues of high bit rates and 'compressed recording' , dont make a lot of sence to me :?  The phrase 'cart befor the horse' comes to mind.  In the meantime I will continue surching out the few modern un compressed gems and thumbing through my local charity shops vinyl collections.

By the way, stumbled across an interesting album on Spotify last night, Richard Lindgren - 'Memento - best of + rare & unreleased', good late night listening, very laid back and simple presentation, full of 'presence and feeling' . . .

CJSF

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Well there is plenty on the internet about it, just google loudness wars. Here is one article 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/winning-loudness-wars

 

And this site test for DR

http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=&search_album=

 

One problem now is itunes.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

BigH wrote:

Well there is plenty on the internet about it, just google loudness wars. Here is one article 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/winning-loudness-wars

 

And this site test for DR

http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?search_artist=&search_album=

 

One problem now is itunes.

 

We all know the problem exists BigH . . . what I feel is significant, the fact that compression degrades the sound, the amount of waffling on line about sampling and bit rates, what is better or worse. Tthe fundimental of modern over compresion which kills dynamics never gets a mension.  Its like an ostrich, stick head in sand, it will go away . . . it dont . . . it simply reduces the quality of a modern recording that is over compressed, of which there are many!

Who is kidding who . . . give me 'the good old ways', simple, musical and pleasurable, I dont care about bit rate, sample rate, what matters is, am I enjoying it, does the music do any thing for me.  I dont have to chase my tail trying to get a decent sound with new amps or fancy cables, my changes are the simple urge to improve on an already good sound, getting 110% from what exists, the its time to move on to the next level.

Whats the point in changing cables, speaker or amplifier if the source sound is below par, cant ad what is not there in the first place, basic princaple: 'rubbish in, rubbish out' . . . In this case it can be 'rubbish in, even worse rubbish out'. If the source sound is poor and compromised in the first place, how can you judge what comes out as good at the other end?  A phrase comes to mind . . . 'rose coloured glasses'?

CJSF

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Yes I agree most are missing the point about bit rates etc. The problem is most music is now heard as mp3 or from itunes, spotify, really the hifi end of the market is very small and probably getting smaller. Itunes are supposed to be doing some high quality issues, not sure if they have started or not as I never use itunes. I don't think DR is everything, I heard some cds that have good DR but sound bad, very bright, heavy bass etc. I agree that the source music is the most important thing and then probably the listening room, all this twaddle about cables is well down the list.

Having tried out some problem cds on some expensive kit they were not much better so going forward I will be careful about what I buy. I'm beginning to see why Audiophiles buy the records they do. As I have Spotify I don't buy that much anymore.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

BigH wrote:

I don't think it is the engineers who are to blame.

 

Well literally they are to blame: they generate the digital master which we download or buy on CD.  But I appreciate they are under instruction from a higher authority (aren't we all).  The point I was making, when it comes to remastered classics, they're completely misjudging what their target-audience wants.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Aye, but who / what is this 'higher authority'? 

I'm not in the camp that thinks all 80s-era CDs are wonderful because of their decent DR - to my ears, early CDs sound very tinny and bass shy.

But the current vogue for 'bass-at-all-costs = mega compression' is getting daft, especially when it is actually possible for contemporary recordings / remasters to have decent bass-weight and good DR - eg, clickety and click  :?   

 

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

I agree 100% with everything you said in your opening post CJSF.

 

One thing I would add is that the best sounding vinyl in my collection comes from 12" singles - most of which come from the 1980's.

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

lindsayt wrote:

...

... the best sounding vinyl in my collection comes from 12" singles ...

+1

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

6th.replicant wrote:

Aye, but who / what is this 'higher authority'? 

I'm not in the camp that thinks all 80s-era CDs are wonderful because of their decent DR - to my ears, early CDs sound very tinny and bass shy.

But the current vogue for 'bass-at-all-costs = mega compression' is getting daft, especially when it is actually possible for contemporary recordings / remasters to have decent bass-weight and good DR - eg, clickety and click  :?   

 

 

My previous life was the 80's 6th.replicant, I agree, those early CD were very hit and miss, I have some gems, looking at a few last night . . . and some were disasters.  The same, sadly, can be said of most things in life, good, average and bad, gon are the days when 'true quality' was the watch word, we expected value for money, it was honerable, a matter of pride to give value . . . 

You have put your finger on it, 'bass', oh boy, why, I have some great recording that have bass when it is called for, my speakers, although not large, deliver the goods to a satisfying level . . .Perhaps there in lies another all embrasing fact of life, is to much expected from lifes pleasures in general?  So much can be fabricated and falsified these days, money is parted with for falshoods . . . buy an antique, discover it is not the genuine artical, not a happy customer . . . I realy am sounding old now :?

CJSF

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

6th.replicant wrote:

Aye, but who / what is this 'higher authority'? 

Well I'm guessing because I don't fully know he process, but I'd hazard a guess that the record labels must have some input, because they want  their artists' matierial to stand out and sell well. But sometimes it will be the mastering-engineers themselves who are chosen specifically for their mastering techniques (their 'sound') which meets what their customer (eg the label etc) wants an album or track to sound like.  Sometimes it will be the band themselves, I guess, but l imagine that's less true for remasters of historic works than it is for current material.
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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Agree with most of the above. I think it is the large record labels that are mostly to blame although I hear some artists have asked for louder recordings. I find it is not surprising that the best sounding records produced today are from small record companies or where the musicians have some control. 

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RE: Compresion . . . ?

Hi,

Is there a web site that lists albums and/or recordings stating whether compression has been implemented, or the average Dynamic Range of a recording.

This would be very useful for people to know which recordings are optimal.

Regards,

Shadders.

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