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John Dyson

The original 'harsh' digital sound...

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Hah!!!   On Hoffman, some poor soul was complaining about the quality of one of their Roger Whittaker CD...  Happily, they posted a snippet, and I responded (on the forum) with a decoded copy.  These examples are 100% common -- these are REAL, SIMPLE TO RESOLVE, MASTERING ERRORS.   This is a perfect example of the 'Harsh digital sound', but it does come in all forms, with all kinds of other corrective EQs.   This was fairly egregious though...

(The .flac is the original, the mp3 is decoded -- it is good enough to illustrate what is going on.)

 

John

 

River Lady Sample-decodedA.mp3 River Lady Sample.flac

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John, I had a listen to those Whittaker samples, but the sound of my current laptop is too poor to make any judgement, 😉. Yes, the remastering makes the listening easier on a rougher playback; but this isn't the approach I would use, of course.

 

Again, there is absolutely nothing intrinsically 'harsh' about digital recordings, from any era - it's less than competent playback that makes them so; because the distortion artifacts in the treble become too much for the brain to deal with.

 

If the assumption is that people will always have less capable playback systems, then it makes sense to dull the recordings down - but this is a huge project, if you consider the number of recordings out there. From my POV, it makes far more sense to develop the playback mechanism to the point where any recording in its 'natural' state is perfectly acceptable, as a listening experience.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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21 minutes ago, sandyk said:

 

Frank

 Your brain must be rapidly wearing out from overusing it to automatically correct for all these well documented problems for you " on the fly" You must be throwing an awful lot of Processing power at these recordings to make them sound acceptable to you.

 

People who suffer from this on normal audio rigs call it, "listener fatigue" ... 😜

 

The beauty of making the rig competent enough is that the "bad stuff" is now so low in its subjective impact that the brain finds it trivially easy to discard - I have so many recordings that sound staggeringly execrable on normal hifis, which then come up trumps when the rig is adequately, yes, 'sorted' ... my poor ol' brain don't know nuthin' about these terrible technical problems those recordings have - it just says, to me,  "I likee ... or, that sounds awful!!" 😄


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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6 minutes ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

I submit that early "harsh" digital sound (CDs in the 80s) rescued Michael Fremer from obscurity and gave him a raison d'etre.

 

Sad, but probaby true...

Even though there have been merits to the vinyl (digital phobic) technology, I suggest that much of the legitimacy to the digital phobic movement had been  supported by the ongoing mismastering (not only lack of DolbyA decoding) of almost all of the old CDs.

 

I have moved from the mindset that 'many' of the old CDs were poorly handled, to the FACT that 'most' of the old pop material was poorly mastered onto CD (and even today, onto other digital realms.)   As I have become more and more confident of the DA decoder (here, speaking as a tool, not pushing it at all), and able to do more and more precisely accurate decodes, I am able to support the idea that the current digital presentation of the '60s through early 90's music is fairly badly corrupted.  That is, it is almost impossible to reproduce the actual and expected sound of that old music.

 

Except in the earliest days of the DA decoder, I am 100% definitely not suggesting that end users normally try to do their own DA decodes, as it 1) requires exceptional technical competence and patience -- even of this select audience, maybe a subset might be capable of RELIABILY getting good resuts*, 2) requires significant time and effort to prepare the recordings for subsequent listening, 3) distracts terribly from enjoying the music.  (When I might claim that a subset of these readers might be capable, I am not including the training needed, which further diminishes the set of individuals willing to do the decodes.)   I am DEFINITELY willing to help train others to use the decoder in consumer situations, but frankly *using the name in vain*, I doubt that is anyone who has the willingness or time... 

 

Even though Frank might incorrectly dismiss the significant quality advantage from time to time, he IS right about the folly of expecting end users to do their own decodes, but that IS NOT my goal here...  In fact has NEVER been my goal whenever viisting this forum -- my interest is 1) the enjoyment of personal interaction, 2) inform people that they are being cheated.  * If someone WANTS to know how to do the decoding that I can do, I am not standing in their way, and willing to help.  I believe that it is evil, and a misery loves company attitude to dismiss the notion that someone might want a better sound, willing to do the decoding, and benefit from that.  I don't naysay, and that kind of attitude is just a big downer!!!!

 

People like you, Mr Cogley, and others who might be reading this -- we gotta help to pressure distributors and make known the travesty being perpetrated on us all.  Most importantly, let them know that WE KNOW about the 'fraud' perpetrated against the customers.  My goal is to create enough outrage that maybe the distributors will 1) start knowing that they are selling inferior goods, 2) once they know it, it is irresponsible to continue KNOWING that they are selling inferior product.   Baby powder, for example, didn't act in the way that a normal competent consumer would expect, nor are the CDS being produced correctly....

 

We *somehow* need to let them know, that our quest is not for superior quality -- that isn't really needed, but instead want what is implied by CD quality.  roper practices NEED to be used in mastering so that the product CAN present the 44.1k/16bit (or better) quaity that we have been paying for.

 

I know that a lot of people might disagree with this opinion of mine -- but if I had the choice of properly mastered 320kbps mp3 and garbage/non-mastered 44.1k/16bit material, and had no way of processing the 'incomplete garbage' myself -- just give me the mp3, because it sounds MUCH better.  Of course, I am personally happy that the inferior mastered material gives me a hobby, and I can produce results that are probably better than a normally mastered (by 'proper practices') CD would have been.
 

Joh

 

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1 hour ago, John Dyson said:

I have moved from the mindset that 'many' of the old CDs were poorly handled, to the FACT that 'most' of the old pop material was poorly mastered onto CD (and even today, onto other digital realms.)   As I have become more and more confident of the DA decoder (here, speaking as a tool, not pushing it at all), and able to do more and more precisely accurate decodes, I am able to support the idea that the current digital presentation of the '60s through early 90's music is fairly badly corrupted.  That is, it is almost impossible to reproduce the actual and expected sound of that old music.

 

John, you are getting rather extreme here ... "the current digital presentation of the '60s through early 90's music is fairly badly corrupted" - so, you're saying a whole industry has made a mess of things, for 30 years ... and no-one else has noticed ... interesting, 🤨.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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1 minute ago, fas42 said:

 

John, you are getting rather extreme here ... "the current digital presentation of the '60s through early 90's music is fairly badly corrupted" - so, you're saying a whole industry has made a mess of things, for 30 years ... and no-one else has noticed ... interesting, 🤨.

Yes, that is what I am saying.  Just on random chance, a friend asked me for a decoded copy of  ONJ Soul Kiss...  Of course, I had to search thourgh my collection -- I found two copies...   One was the original DolbyA NON-DECODED CD as originally sold (and it decodes nicely, by the way), and also one of those EVIL recent remasters, with very little dynamic range.   This seems to happen on every recent sample.   Note that I have found SOME CDs done correctly, but those are fewer given my selection set of purchases in the midwest USA or in my cherry picking of 'elite' non-USA copies.   (That was back when I would willy-nilly spend money on recordings...)

 

If you have an old CD, very likely it is DolbyA undecoded, a new CD is either over compressed or hyper compressed.

 

John

 

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To add to the list from George, I wonder what part poorly implemented SMPS at the recording and production stages  has to play in more recent releases. Tubed electronics used Linear PSUs without the need to use very low ESR filter capacitors to remove  HF SMPS ripple and harmonics .SMPS can be very good , and Low noise, but they  need to have an Output impedance that isn't lower in the 100kHz area for a proper tonal balance.

The same applies to recent Ultra Low noise voltage regulators such as the LT3045, where incidentally, the Semiconductor manufacturer makes no claims for their suitability for Hi Fi, although they can be made more suitable with additional larger value normal electros in parallel, or at their input such as after a conventional Bridge rectifier.

 

Alex


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 18-06-2019

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3 hours ago, John Dyson said:

Yes, that is what I am saying.  Just on random chance, a friend asked me for a decoded copy of  ONJ Soul Kiss...  Of course, I had to search thourgh my collection -- I found two copies...   One was the original DolbyA NON-DECODED CD as originally sold (and it decodes nicely, by the way), and also one of those EVIL recent remasters, with very little dynamic range.   This seems to happen on every recent sample.   Note that I have found SOME CDs done correctly, but those are fewer given my selection set of purchases in the midwest USA or in my cherry picking of 'elite' non-USA copies.   (That was back when I would willy-nilly spend money on recordings...)

 

If you have an old CD, very likely it is DolbyA undecoded, a new CD is either over compressed or hyper compressed.

 

John

 

 

Agree with you about the current style of dynamic compression - and, remasters. But that is a different issue from the original CD releases, back in the 80's and 90's.

 

'Killer' test tracks for me are 60's Motown - in the sense that these were recorded with probably the worst combination of technology of the time, instrumentation, and mastering decisions ... getting one of these to present well is hard work, and something I only try after major tweaking has been done.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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2 hours ago, fas42 said:

 

Agree with you about the current style of dynamic compression - and, remasters. But that is a different issue from the original CD releases, back in the 80's and 90's.

 

'Killer' test tracks for me are 60's Motown - in the sense that these were recorded with probably the worst combination of technology of the time, instrumentation, and mastering decisions ... getting one of these to present well is hard work, and something I only try after major tweaking has been done.

There are probably some labels that did CDs correctly, I am mostly speaking of stuff like Queen, The Cars, Simon&Garfunkel, the Carpenters, and pop material like that -- when first coming out on CD.   Material like Motown might be different, but I do have some Michael Jackson (was he motown during the Thriller days?) that is DolbyA...   Even Sheffeild Labs CD release of 'Ive got the music in me' is DolbyA encoded.  (In the case of Nena 99 Red Balloons and the Sheffeild Labs noted above, they are pure DolbyA -- really hard on the hearing.)  Most 'DolbyA' material that I normally find has been EQed to be more tolerable to listen to.

 

The hard part, and something right now that I am working with somebody on - is dealing with material that I don't know what it is supposed to sound like, and not knowing the EQ that was used...  Especially with the DHNRDS, where it avoids creating distortion, it is difficult to find artifacts from mis-decoded material.  (The only distortion created by the DHNRDS is when adjacent bands gains don't match where they should be, and it creates a kind of harsh, grinding distortion, almost like the ABBA sound.)

 

John

 

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@John Dyson you wouldn't happen to have a list of half-decent analogue master to CD transcriptions that you could share with the community, would you?

I'd gladly chip in with a $1 or 2, even though we don't seem to enjoy the same kinds of music. 😋


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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I will happily privately share some material with people on this forum -- only after people like my 'golden ear' friend and myself don't claim too many defects.  There is the important matter of not interfering with sales/etc, but people who already have the material in one form or another, some casual sharing might be nice.  Sometimes,  The decoding process is approximate, but we are slowly but surely making the approximation more exact. 

 

Digression, side-note:  about the 'approximate' nature of decoding consumer material, and the reason why we need to test the result of the decoding effort:

When the material is created, it is played from whatever tape format, and that tape recording almost always was DolbyA encoded.  Then encoded DolbyA sound can be partially 'hidden' by judicious use of equalization.  If they only do 'equalization', and nothing else, it can be reversed, therefore put the recording back into a normal DolbyA encoded state.  The 'equalized' vs 'decoded' sound is often very inferior.

There are two aspects of this 'approximate' recovery effort -- correctly choosing the corrective EQ, and correctly choosing the calibration level.   The calibration level is the EASY part -- no biggie, but the corrective EQ has a LOT of variables, and in many cases there are suboptimal settings that seem nearly correct, but are in fact very much in error.   The big challenge for decoding is the EQUALIZATION -- and is one reason why decoding using the very very superior DHNRDS DA decoder can still result in suboptimal results -- my choice of EQ can be in error.   My hearing is easily fooled (it is variable based on numerous parameters, and I have no hearing above 14kHz, and lots of tinnitus) -- so EQ can be a major challenge.  On a typical recording, there are at least 12 variables needed to make the EQ correct, but luckily most recordings have a similar EQ shape, so is not impossible.

 

The reason for this stance (trying to be careful with the quality) is that I dont' want to 'stutter' releases to people, it just gets confusing -- and reduces enjoyment for the listener.  I am happy to share some 'golden stuff' though.  I am NOT the kind of person who won't share, but mass sharing can/will cause problems.  So, if there is material that you are interested in,  esp if you already have a digital copy with 'problems', or a vinyl copy that has 'problems', let me know.  I can clean up most of those 'problems' with the decoded versions...

 

I would NEVER charge money as I am only sharing different versions of the same recording with friends who might already have defective (undecoded/poor quality) copies (for whatever purposes.)  I do not own the recordings, only my decoding software and effort, and I give my effort (and effort of those who help me test) away for free.

 

Just send  me a private message, and let me know what you might be interested in, and as we (myself and those willing to help test) create 'golden' material, we can discuss methods of transport.   Money is NOT an issue, there are so many reasons why exchanging money would be wrong.

 

The decoding software itself (which I am sure most people here aren't interested in)  is a professional product (intended only for the most picky professionals), but I do give out temporary-licensed copies of the decoder gratis.  (usually 2-3 month licenses, and I'll always renew.)   I need to do something to keep a viable professional market for the decoder, but I don't think that most people would be interested in the decoder -- pain in the butt to use for decoding the consumer material.  It is EASY for pros to use, however -- the recordings aren't all screwed up like consumer material is.

 

 

 

 

 

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