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We want your ears! Looking for help to complete a research project.


jaysker

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My friend and I recently observed that really great analog recordings from the 70's sounded better on CD (or even .mp3) than any of the newer all-digital recordings. So, we set started a research project to determine why. Our theory was that whatever is special about good analog recordings, to some extent, is preserved when it's converted to digital. The logical implication here is that maybe it's possible to alter digital recordings to sound "analog". After a series of tests, we found something...something that is outside of the normal "why analog sounds better than digital" arguments. (eq, gain, compression, saturation, etc)

 

 

To test the clue, we developed a software application to make alterations to the sound of some digital recordings. We ran some tests and....wow! In just a few shorts months we have developed a sophisticated set of algorithms that pull the mask off of all-digital recordings. To us, this is potentially a game changer....which brings me to the reason for this post!

 

 

We have something that sounds really good to our ears and the ears of our pro-audio and musician friends. But we are interested in your opinion. We are hoping to find some volunteers that are willing to send us files for processing and give us feedback on the results. This is purely research - and totally free.

 

 

If you are interested, please contact me at [email protected]. We would love to get your opinion and see what you think!

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

Jayson Tomlin

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Hi Jayson,

 

Such things always interest me, but merely for the technical judgement I just like to perform and to next report about it. But what you wouldn't want is a negative report (at least that's what I think). En public btw.

And if you'd know my thinking about how to achieve the best possible results ... well, that is all about changing as few as possible. This now makes the chance for a "negative" close to 100%.

 

I guess it is up to you ...

 

Best regards,

Peter

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Hi Peter,

 

Thanks for the reply. I guess we are ready for whatever comments come, good or bad, and understand the risk. This is just research at the moment, but we think we have something worth trying out....and therefore worth the risk.

 

If you are interested, I would love to process one or as many files as you want to get your feedback...and we'll live with the results. We are specifically interested in all digital recordings (DDD).

 

I do already have files available for review if you wanted to take a listen.

 

Either way, thank you for the reply.

 

 

Hi Jayson,

 

Such things always interest me, but merely for the technical judgement I just like to perform and to next report about it. But what you wouldn't want is a negative report (at least that's what I think). En public btw.

And if you'd know my thinking about how to achieve the best possible results ... well, that is all about changing as few as possible. This now makes the chance for a "negative" close to 100%.

 

I guess it is up to you ...

 

Best regards,

Peter

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Interesting project, Jayson. I notice that you are interested in DDD files, which makes sense. But are you interested in good-sounding recordings, and if not, what kind of not-so-good-sounding recordings are you interested in?

 

If also seem to prefer older analog recordings, but I think that is more down to the engineering skills and the fact that there wasn’t as many electronics in the recording chain, and not whether they were recorded digitally. At least if we’re talking newer recordings. Bad in the early days of digital, harsh sound was more often an issue. Today, it’s more that many recordings often are un-dynamic and un-enganging. I’m thinking of classical music, I should add.

 

So is it the digitally harsh-sounding recordings of early digital you're after, or the modern-day average dull-sounding recordings?

All best,

Jens

 

i5 Macbook Pro running Roon -> Uptone Etherregen -> custom-built Win10 PC serving as endpoint, with separate LPUs for mobo and a filtering digiboard (DIY) -> Audio Note DAC 5ish (a heavily modded 3.1X Bal) -> AN Kit One, heavily modded with silver wiring and Black Gates -> AN E-SPx Alnico on Townshend speaker bars. Vicoustic and GIK treatment.

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Hi Jens,

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

We are looking for DDD recordings - the higher quality the better - both from a production and sonic perspective. It has been our observation that great (and I mean the really good ones) analog recordings transfer to the digital realm while preserving some of the magic that they originally had. We think we've found what that magic is and are attempting to add it to modern digital recordings. So far, we feel we have been able to breath life into stale digital...but we are looking for educated ears to tell us if this is what we think it really is.

 

 

Today, with modern equipment and great production techniques, I agree that it's possible to produce AMAZING digital recordings. We feel, however, that they can be even better....(deep, wide, detailed)..without the usual explanations or techniques, like eq, compression etc. This phenomena existed in the early days and from what we can tell, the entire industry just overlooked it, banking on the fact that digital was going to be better. This over site, in our opinion, is the very thing that allows the listener to really connect to the music. Entire industries were created to help digital sound better...but we think it can be fixed at the source - the file itself.

 

As for digital harshness, we feel that it doesn't have to be harsh...and after processing..it isn't to our ears.

 

 

Like I mentioned to Peter in the previous post, we would love to process one or as a many files as it takes and get your opinion.

 

Thanks again!

 

Jayson Tomlin

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Hi Jayson,

 

It sounds interesting... The first recording that comes to mind is Marillion's album Clutching at Straws. I believe this is the first commercial DDD-recording ever made (I could be wrong here). I believe it is a good candidate for your project, and I can supply you with a FLAC-copy for processing.

 

Just let me know how to do it.

 

Kind regards,

Peter

“We are the Audiodrones. Lower your skepticism and surrender your wallets. We will add your cash and savings to our own. Your mindset will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” - (Quote from Star Trek: The Audiophile Generation)

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Hi Peter,

 

I do monitor that inbox, but haven't seen anything show up other than thread replies.

 

Thanks for the suggestion and offer to help. You can also try emailing me at [email protected] if the other address doesn't work for you. I can then send you an FTP drop link.

 

Hi Jayson,

 

It sounds interesting... The first recording that comes to mind is Marillion's album Clutching at Straws. I believe this is the first commercial DDD-recording ever made (I could be wrong here). I believe it is a good candidate for your project, and I can supply you with a FLAC-copy for processing.

 

Just let me know how to do it.

 

Kind regards,

Peter

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You can also try emailing me at [email protected] if the other address doesn't work for you.

 

Hi Jayson,

 

Just used that one a few minutes ago now.

 

Thanks,

Peter

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Hi all,

 

I uploaded Clutching at Straws to their ftp-server.

 

I also asked Jayson per e-mail to post some info about his (and his friend's) background; given the topic, it would interest me to know about that. I would also like to ask Jayson how he and his friend ended up working on this; to me this does not sound like a "rainy Sunday afternoon" project...

 

Anyway, I am really curious how the result will sound.

 

Kind regards,

Peter

“We are the Audiodrones. Lower your skepticism and surrender your wallets. We will add your cash and savings to our own. Your mindset will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” - (Quote from Star Trek: The Audiophile Generation)

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Hi Jayson,

 

I have only listened to the second version you uploaded, but in all honesty I must tell you that, so far, I am not impressed. What I (subjectively) hear is an added base of noise, and what seems to be added noise that follows the amplitude. While I am sure this masks digital harshness, to me it sounds like the cure is worse than the problem... Sorry, but no cigar!

 

Kind regards,

Peter

“We are the Audiodrones. Lower your skepticism and surrender your wallets. We will add your cash and savings to our own. Your mindset will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” - (Quote from Star Trek: The Audiophile Generation)

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What I (subjectively) hear is an added base of noise, and what seems to be added noise that follows the amplitude.

 

Haha, no ... or maybe ...

 

Jayson, what you did there does not work out as intended. I will keep it "secret" for now, but you will be able to interpret it. ;)

 

First off, I am not seeking for more analogue sound. I also am not in lack of anything for digital and maybe that is an exception to most of the others. But what I mean to say is : the only chance you have is being destructive. Okay, I already told you that, but it happened for practice.

 

What you do is roughen the sound - not smooth it as you expected. Know photography ? same thing.

 

If you listen to Spanish Castle, then if all is right, in your version you will hear more of the attacks to the guitar strings than that you can hear the harmonics of it. Start with the processed version and set it really loud so you will know what will be hurting your ears first. After that play the original.

 

Or you did some more to it than I expect what happened, or there's an anomaly in it somewhere. Look at Bucephalis Bouncing Ball. And I mean "look" (and compare with the original). What you see happening in there is something which looks like aliasing; for what you did I don't really expect this to happen and if it is not that then it digs out invisible frequencies (because detailed) and emphasize them. And no, this was not your intention of course. Also compare by listening. First try yours and then try the original. Now you can hear how you completely changed the whole thing; Try to focus on the lower frequency metal and how it balances with the remainder. This balance is completely different in the original. Not something you intended.

 

"First time ever I saw your face" I added to see what would happen to something "not clean" in the first place. Well, see the guitar in the right speaker having turned into a stupid thing without any of the fragility in the original. But, when I just switched it off at the 1 minute mark, I heard something other Peter will be referring to. So listen to your version first and wait until the voice extends at 1:00 and hear the distortion. Quite severe I'd say. Now hop over the original and ... perceive that the distortion is there just the same BUT that your version emphasizes it. Nothing different from what I said in the beginning.

 

No need to agree and maybe you think your version sounds more analogue but for me it is the other way around and it does not "work" any more.

 

Hope you can do something with it !

Peter

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Haha, no ... or maybe ...

 

Jayson, what you did there does not work out as intended. I will keep it "secret" for now, but you will be able to interpret it. ;)

 

First off, I am not seeking for more analogue sound. I also am not in lack of anything for digital and maybe that is an exception to most of the others. But what I mean to say is : the only chance you have is being destructive. Okay, I already told you that, but it happened for practice.

 

What you do is roughen the sound - not smooth it as you expected. Know photography ? same thing.

 

Hi Peter,

 

I, just for kicks, did a digital extraction of one track Jayson processed and the original an hour ago. Your description "roughening up" is a better way to say it, but to me it sounds like the signal is mixed with noise. But there also is a clear added "noise-floor" that reminds me of tape-noise...

 

Kind regards,

Peter

“We are the Audiodrones. Lower your skepticism and surrender your wallets. We will add your cash and savings to our own. Your mindset will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.” - (Quote from Star Trek: The Audiophile Generation)

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Thanks Peter!

 

We will continue to refine and see what we come up with.

 

Hi Jayson,

 

I have only listened to the second version you uploaded, but in all honesty I must tell you that, so far, I am not impressed. What I (subjectively) hear is an added base of noise, and what seems to be added noise that follows the amplitude. While I am sure this masks digital harshness, to me it sounds like the cure is worse than the problem... Sorry, but no cigar!

 

Kind regards,

Peter

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Thank you Peter for the excellent feedback. Like I said in an earlier post, we will keep working and see what we can come up with to address your specific concerns. This is a research project and we are just in the beginning stages.

 

This is very helpful!

 

 

Haha, no ... or maybe ...

 

Jayson, what you did there does not work out as intended. I will keep it "secret" for now, but you will be able to interpret it. ;)

 

First off, I am not seeking for more analogue sound. I also am not in lack of anything for digital and maybe that is an exception to most of the others. But what I mean to say is : the only chance you have is being destructive. Okay, I already told you that, but it happened for practice.

 

What you do is roughen the sound - not smooth it as you expected. Know photography ? same thing.

 

If you listen to Spanish Castle, then if all is right, in your version you will hear more of the attacks to the guitar strings than that you can hear the harmonics of it. Start with the processed version and set it really loud so you will know what will be hurting your ears first. After that play the original.

 

Or you did some more to it than I expect what happened, or there's an anomaly in it somewhere. Look at Bucephalis Bouncing Ball. And I mean "look" (and compare with the original). What you see happening in there is something which looks like aliasing; for what you did I don't really expect this to happen and if it is not that then it digs out invisible frequencies (because detailed) and emphasize them. And no, this was not your intention of course. Also compare by listening. First try yours and then try the original. Now you can hear how you completely changed the whole thing; Try to focus on the lower frequency metal and how it balances with the remainder. This balance is completely different in the original. Not something you intended.

 

"First time ever I saw your face" I added to see what would happen to something "not clean" in the first place. Well, see the guitar in the right speaker having turned into a stupid thing without any of the fragility in the original. But, when I just switched it off at the 1 minute mark, I heard something other Peter will be referring to. So listen to your version first and wait until the voice extends at 1:00 and hear the distortion. Quite severe I'd say. Now hop over the original and ... perceive that the distortion is there just the same BUT that your version emphasizes it. Nothing different from what I said in the beginning.

 

No need to agree and maybe you think your version sounds more analogue but for me it is the other way around and it does not "work" any more.

 

Hope you can do something with it !

Peter

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Hi all,

 

I uploaded Clutching at Straws to their ftp-server.

 

I also asked Jayson per e-mail to post some info about his (and his friend's) background; given the topic, it would interest me to know about that. I would also like to ask Jayson how he and his friend ended up working on this; to me this does not sound like a "rainy Sunday afternoon" project...

 

Anyway, I am really curious how the result will sound.

 

Kind regards,

Peter

 

Hi Peter,

 

 

I'm Jayson's partner, Jeff. Here's some background on me:

 

 

I built my first working audio electronic circuit at age 10, and I got my first full-time job in audio in 1974. I'm an old fart and a lifetime audio geek.

 

 

In 1988, a friend and I started a company called Digital Audio Labs. We made the first CD-quality soundcard for the PC. It was used mostly by professionals, like in radio stations and project studios. I first met Jayson when he joined this company.

 

 

In 1998, I went to a sister company, Minnetonka Audio Software. I guided them into this new thing called "surround sound". We had one of the first surround sound workstations, we were the first company to license both Dolby and DTS surround sound technologies, and we were one of the few companies to make tools for authoring DVD-Audio and DSD.

 

 

In 2002, a friend and I started Sonic Studio, a company that inherited Sonic Solution's line of high-resolution digital audio workstations. Jayson was a part of this company from the start.

 

 

Currently I'm back at Minnetonka, and Jayson is here also. Our big business currently is software for processing movie sound for TV broadcast, something that came out of a cooperative effort we had with Disney.

 

 

I was around during the exciting 1970's when recording and playback were getting so good that the music sounded much like what I heard at live performances. Like a lot of people, I've been frustrated by the irritating harshness in all-digital recordings. If it's not a pleasure to listen to, do I care if everybody insists on it's technical precision? Jayson shared this frustration, and this is what led to our search to see if we can find out why analog sounds analog, and digital sounds digital, and to answer the the all-important question, can digital be made to reproduce what I hear when listening to live music?

 

 

Thanks so much for your feedback, Peter. It is very important to this project to get some independent ears to take a listen for us as we progress in this venture.

 

 

-Jeff

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