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Can Bad Recordings sound Good?


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4 hours ago, wwc said:

Any album by electric guitarist Bill Frissel who uses different Fender solid bodies would be hard to find offensive.

Oh, I bet I could find it offensive!

now, amplified hollow body guitars as used in a number of jazz ensembles by famous guitarists like Mundell Lowe. That’s OK, amplified hollow body guitars don’t sound like solid bodies.

George

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On 6/1/2020 at 11:45 PM, fas42 said:

 

Okay, this is where I'm going to say the problem is with the playback chain, then ... I find it offensive too, when a rig shrieks at me, or makes me aware, in a bad way, of the high frequencies. But that problem disappears, for that specific recording, if the distortions, the non-linear ones, have been got under control - I have experienced this subjective behaviour for decades; so I feel I've got a pretty good handle on what's going on.

 

The high treble energy in a recording creates an 'intensity' in the sound - it should never come across as being disturbing, irritating, unpleasant. This is why I have an ongoing disagreement with John, about "feralA" - competent playback never sounds distorted, unless intentionally part of the mastering - but it may be fatiguing, because a lack of dynamic range, over compression, removes all the light and shade in the music; we humans are not designed to be constantly pummelled by sound, 🙁.

 

 

Fact: some recordings are "difficult" - I have a pile of them here, ready to throw at any system that I'm working on; or that I may go and have a listen to. These allow me to immediately identify the signature distortions of a setup; once I'm aware of what it's "doing wrong", then I can hear the same damage being done to everything put on, even though this will be far more subtle with "good" recordings.

As mentioned in post #242 I thought of a very simple test to shed some light on the above.

 

I mentioned earlier that I did not like the treble in Neneh Cherry's Outre Reisque Locomotive.  Is this a bad recording?  Is it in fact non-linear distortion in my system?  

 

Unfortunately I have no way of measuring non-linear distortions in my system, but I did try a simple test changing just one variable in the chain, the listener.

 

I had to hand another human being, with a different brain and ears to my own.  I asked her to listen to the subject track, I did not want to prompt  too much, but I did hint by saying "listen to this, tell me what you think it sounds like, not the music as such, but more the production and mix".  As an aside, my listening victim here is a musician of sorts, and can play acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass.  As it happens, she knows very little about hifi, but I do know from visits to dealers, A/B testing equipment and similar, she does have a very good ear for picking up subtle details and differences.

 

Anyway, I played the track, the comment I got back was "some of the electronic sounds are a bit too prominent in the mix, taking away from the vocals a bit."  We discussed this for a bit, and it was clear that this observation was not related to the particular aspect of the track that annoys the hell out of me, specifically the synthesized snare drum type sound.  

 

Then to an experiment.  You can set a Devialet amp so that the remote control knob adjusts treble.  As the amps display is not visible from the listening position, this forms a kind of blind test.   I played the track again, my blind test victim adjusted treble up and down, and eventually settled on her preferred level.  Remarkably (and probably a bit of a fluke), the amps display showed treble at the normal 0.0dB adjustment.  (I have tried this test myself on a number of recordings myself, I normally get within 1dB of 0.0, but on this particular track prefer maybe -3dB)

 

Now here is a bit I found interesting, I pointed out that the thing that annoys me in the track is the  synth snare sound.  I asked my blind testing victim to try the track again, this time adjusting the treble until the snare sound was "about right".  This time, the amps display showed a preferred level of -3dB.  Interesting that the preferred level of treble changed, just by influencing the focus of the listener.

 

So if the system does suffer from non-linear distortions, it would seem maybe I am more sensitive to these than others.  As it happens, I have for years been annoyed by overly bright mixes, in every system I have ever owned or listened to, I am definitely personally sensitive to this.

 

As an aside to all this, I have heard a system identical to mine in two other rooms.  There is a audio dealer about 30 miles from me that stocks both Devialet and the KEF Blades.  They have a very large demo room, the Devialet / Blades sound quite different in there.  They then have their "medium" sized demo room.  By coincidence, this room is has an almost identical width and height to my own living / listening room, although my room is a little longer.  I have listened to the Devialet Blade combo in the "medium sized" demo room on very many occasions.  The Devialet / Blade combination in that room sounds very similar to what I have at home, but I have noticed that the dealers set-up does sound a little "darker" than my own.  Why?  Well, maybe the length of the room is a factor, but I suspect the main reason for this is the dealers room has far better room treatment to my room at home.  

 

I have been thinking about some time and money on the room.  Thinking about my own apparent treble sensitivity and the fact that the dealers room seems tp mitigate this to a degree, I can only think this is a good idea.  Can good rooms make bad mixes sound better?  I suspect yes.

 

Some of the above is a little off topic, but getting back to the "Can bad recordings sound good" topic, I think the answer to the question depends massively on what subjectively annoys a particular listener within the subject recording.

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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This post is just for a bit of fun.  Much talk of bagpipes in this thread, and I have to confess that I am not a great fan of the bagpipe sound.

 

However, I stumbled across this the other day, and I rather enjoyed it:

 

 

So can bad instruments sound good?  Maybe if burred in a dense acid house mix.

 

@gmgraves  - I have strong suspicions that you will not like the above track!  As it happens, you have written a lot in this thread that I fully agree with, despite the fact we do not share the same musical preferences, it's all good.

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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5 minutes ago, Confused said:

As mentioned in post #242 I thought of a very simple test to shed some light on the above.

 

I mentioned earlier that I did not like the treble in Neneh Cherry's Outre Reisque Locomotive.  Is this a bad recording?  Is it in fact non-linear distortion in my system?  

 

Unfortunately I have no way of measuring non-linear distortions in my system, but I did try a simple test changing just one variable in the chain, the listener.

 

I had to hand another human being, with a different brain and ears to my own.  I asked her to listen to the subject track, I did not want to prompt  too much, but I did hint by saying "listen to this, tell me what you think it sounds like, not the music as such, but more the production and mix".  As an aside, my listening victim here is a musician of sorts, and can play acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass.  As it happens, she knows very little about hifi, but I do know from visits to dealers, A/B testing equipment and similar, she does have a very good ear for picking up subtle details and differences.

 

Anyway, I played the track, the comment I got back was "some of the electronic sounds are a bit too prominent in the mix, taking away from the vocals a bit."  We discussed this for a bit, and it was clear that this observation was not related to the particular aspect of the track that annoys the hell out of me, specifically the synthesized snare drum type sound.  

 

Then to an experiment.  You can set a Devialet amp so that the remote control knob adjusts treble.  As the amps display is not visible from the listening position, this forms a kind of blind test.   I played the track again, my blind test victim adjusted treble up and down, and eventually settled on her preferred level.  Remarkably (and probably a bit of a fluke), the amps display showed treble at the normal 0.0dB adjustment.  (I have tried this test myself on a number of recordings myself, I normally get within 1dB of 0.0, but on this particular track prefer maybe -3dB)

 

Now here is a bit I found interesting, I pointed out that the thing that annoys me in the track is the  synth snare sound.  I asked my blind testing victim to try the track again, this time adjusting the treble until the snare sound was "about right".  This time, the amps display showed a preferred level of -3dB.  Interesting that the preferred level of treble changed, just by influencing the focus of the listener.

 

So if the system does suffer from non-linear distortions, it would seem maybe I am more sensitive to these than others.  As it happens, I have for years been annoyed by overly bright mixes, in every system I have ever owned or listened to, I am definitely personally sensitive to this.

 

As an aside to all this, I have heard a system identical to mine in two other rooms.  There is a audio dealer about 30 miles from me that stocks both Devialet and the KEF Blades.  They have a very large demo room, the Devialet / Blades sound quite different in there.  They then have their "medium" sized demo room.  By coincidence, this room is has an almost identical width and height to my own living / listening room, although my room is a little longer.  I have listened to the Devialet Blade combo in the "medium sized" demo room on very many occasions.  The Devialet / Blade combination in that room sounds very similar to what I have at home, but I have noticed that the dealers set-up does sound a little "darker" than my own.  Why?  Well, maybe the length of the room is a factor, but I suspect the main reason for this is the dealers room has far better room treatment to my room at home.  

 

I have been thinking about some time and money on the room.  Thinking about my own apparent treble sensitivity and the fact that the dealers room seems tp mitigate this to a degree, I can only think this is a good idea.  Can good rooms make bad mixes sound better?  I suspect yes.

 

Nice bit of 'research' ... 😉

 

5 minutes ago, Confused said:

 

Some of the above is a little off topic, but getting back to the "Can bad recordings sound good" topic, I think the answer to the question depends massively on what subjectively annoys a particular listener within the subject recording.

 

For some situations I definitely agree - I can think of two straight off: fake vinyl noise completely out of character with the actual technical quality of the recording; and 'audiophile' remastering which dumbs down, makes bland, the satisfyingly rich mix of the original version - these are indeed subjectively annoying ... for me.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Rather more serious than my Acid Folk post, John Dyson posted this on another thread.  

 

 

Very interesting in terms of being a 1940's recording.  Any thoughts anyone?

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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11 hours ago, Confused said:

Rather more serious than my Acid Folk post, John Dyson posted this on another thread.  

 

 

Very interesting in terms of being a 1940's recording.  Any thoughts anyone?

 

Nominally sounds good ,,, but the everyone in, brass "power chords" are heavy going - don't know whether it's the processing, or the original quality of the soundtrack - but this would require an extremely clean playback chain for the crescendos to work. I have a couple of versions of this track, by the man himself, and the sound does work on these, given sufficient refinement of the rig.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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INRE topic, every time i try something new in my audio chain, i always go to eva cassidy fields of gold.

Her voice just pulls you in like no other artist i have ever heard, but there are usually 1 or 2 "shrilling" moments...don't know if its the recording or just her voice, but that one or two notes kind of kills the song....wondering if have a tube preamp might help.

I don't know if she has any really good recordings...seems like most out there are amateurish recordings, which is a shame she never signed with a major label....

 

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1 hour ago, beerandmusic said:

INRE topic, every time i try something new in my audio chain, i always go to eva cassidy fields of gold.

Her voice just pulls you in like no other artist i have ever heard, but there are usually 1 or 2 "shrilling" moments...don't know if its the recording or just her voice, but that one or two notes kind of kills the song....wondering if have a tube preamp might help.

I don't know if she has any really good recordings...seems like most out there are amateurish recordings, which is a shame she never signed with a major label....

 

Try this:

 

Screenshot_20200608_221807.jpg

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1 hour ago, beerandmusic said:

INRE topic, every time i try something new in my audio chain, i always go to eva cassidy fields of gold.

Her voice just pulls you in like no other artist i have ever heard, but there are usually 1 or 2 "shrilling" moments...don't know if its the recording or just her voice, but that one or two notes kind of kills the song....wondering if have a tube preamp might help.

I don't know if she has any really good recordings...seems like most out there are amateurish recordings, which is a shame she never signed with a major label....

 

 

Would a tube pre-amp help with some types of recording?  Maybe, there are some interesting results from Archimago's recent "is high harmonic distortion in music audible" blind test.  Some of the results indicate that harmonic distortion may have some euphonic properties.  I know from performing the test myself that my reaction to the 3.2% (be that positive or negative) was dependant on the sample track used, and what specifically I was listening too in the track.  So, as a cheaper option to buying a tube preamp to try, why not try running a few chosen tracks though the Distort software, adding a touch of THD, and see how it sounds.  This could be a very interesting experiment if tried on a selection of "bad" recordings, or recordings with specific issues.

 

I have no idea what this might do to Eva Cassidy's "shrilling" moments, but it might be an interesting experiment to try.  Plus, if the results are terrible, it saves you the cost of the tube preamp!

 

https://distortaudio.org/

 

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/01/internet-blind-test-is-high-harmonic.html

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/05/blind-test-results-part-i-is-high.html

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/06/blind-test-results-part-ii-is-high.html

 

 

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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17 minutes ago, Confused said:

 

Would a tube pre-amp help with some types of recording?  Maybe, there are some interesting results from Archimago's recent "is high harmonic distortion in music audible" blind test.  Some of the results indicate that harmonic distortion may have some euphonic properties.  I know from performing the test myself that my reaction to the 3.2% (be that positive or negative) was dependant on the sample track used, and what specifically I was listening too in the track.  So, as a cheaper option to buying a tube preamp to try, why not try running a few chosen tracks though the Distort software, adding a touch of THD, and see how it sounds.  This could be a very interesting experiment if tried on a selection of "bad" recordings, or recordings with specific issues.

 

I have no idea what this might do to Eva Cassidy's "shrilling" moments, but it might be an interesting experiment to try.  Plus, if the results are terrible, it saves you the cost of the tube preamp!

 

https://distortaudio.org/

 

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/01/internet-blind-test-is-high-harmonic.html

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/05/blind-test-results-part-i-is-high.html

https://archimago.blogspot.com/2020/06/blind-test-results-part-ii-is-high.html

 

 

Yea, i read his article....very good, and it actually emphasized my own thinking about "why try so hard to find the perfect hardware", when no hardware sounds better for all things.  Sometimes I think about buying speakers that sound better for "rock" as my "jazz" speakers sound like crap for rock.  And sometimes I like a Schiit dac better than a dsd dac.    I am not much of a "DIY'r"...i am probably not a true audiophile.  I am too lazy and my time is too precious, so i doubt i will try the software, mainly due to laziness and time.  I spend too much time writing messages in the forums to do all my work and thinking for me (grin).  I actually think I have more fun writing in the forums than i do listening to music...(grin)...but every now and then i will get off my ass and try something new, as long as it is easy...i am usually less than "wowed" with any "so called improvements" considering any time i spent....hell, I still have a components in the box I bought over a year ago for an atmos system and run audyssey eq....crap i still have to clean the backyard and the garage first....i hate moving.

 

Oh yea, i bought optical crap and an isolation transformer a couple years ago, that are around here somewhere....

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24 minutes ago, Rexp said:

Try this:

 

Screenshot_20200608_221807.jpg

 

I have that...and yes, if i recall it is a better recording...do you know more about that specific recording or?

 

That has one of my better songs of her...as a matter of fact, thanks for reminding me...i need to add it to the best youtube videos.

 

 

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10 hours ago, beerandmusic said:

INRE topic, every time i try something new in my audio chain, i always go to eva cassidy fields of gold.

Her voice just pulls you in like no other artist i have ever heard, but there are usually 1 or 2 "shrilling" moments...don't know if its the recording or just her voice, but that one or two notes kind of kills the song....wondering if have a tube preamp might help.

I don't know if she has any really good recordings...seems like most out there are amateurish recordings, which is a shame she never signed with a major label....

 

It's particularly annoying around 47 seconds in. Perhaps this track/ album would be a good candidate for John Dyson's DNHRDS Decoder (Dolby-A decoder) ?

 

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 13-11-2020

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11 hours ago, beerandmusic said:

INRE topic, every time i try something new in my audio chain, i always go to eva cassidy fields of gold.

Her voice just pulls you in like no other artist i have ever heard, but there are usually 1 or 2 "shrilling" moments...don't know if its the recording or just her voice, but that one or two notes kind of kills the song....wondering if have a tube preamp might help.

I don't know if she has any really good recordings...seems like most out there are amateurish recordings, which is a shame she never signed with a major label....

 

 

This recording is gold 😁, in your armoury of evaluation 'tools' - it has some 'difficult' bits, and that's telling you exactly where your system is at ... when you make changes, and that part of the track comes over effortlessly - then you can give the improvements tried a tick ... 🙂.

 

As I've said many times, audiophiles have a strange back to front view of quality, in their world. Take cars, and their suspensions - I was just recently watching a YouTube video of a car nutter, who bought 2nd hand cars ... he wanted to get feedback as to how good the suspension was, and he had a piece of road which had multiple train tracks at the crossing, as his 'difficult' bit ... not bad, he says, when his new acquisition sails relatively smoothly over it.

 

In the bizarro world of audio enthusiasts, an excellent piece of kit would shake the vehicle, and hammer your backside, at every join between road and track - "See, I can tell exactly the width and depth of each imperfection, by how unpleasant the ride is - this is, a ... good ... thing !!" 🙄. And so they make a point of only going on roads which never, ever could possibly have railway crossings ... could get a bit boring, that 😉

 

I would be 100% certain that the Eva recording is perfectly fine ... capable playback would have zero problems with it - which is exactly the marker that the refinement of the rig is at a suitably high level ... who needs measurement gear, to tell one how good it is? 😜

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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2 minutes ago, fas42 said:

This recording is gold 😁, in your armoury of evaluation 'tools' - it has some 'difficult' bits, and that's telling you exactly where your system is at …

Sorry Frank, but  NO System change for the better is going to correct this problem.

The difficult bits on this track sound less shrill on her album " Eva Cassidy - Live At Blues Alley 1998"

 

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 13-11-2020

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11 minutes ago, sandyk said:

Sorry Frank, but  NO System change for the better is going to correct this problem.

The difficult bits on this track sound less shrill on her album " Eva Cassidy - Live At Blues Alley 1998"

 

Wrong, Alex ... this is precisely how I evolve a rig towards an acceptable status - at the beginning, when I first put it together, 1 in 10 recordings have lots of "shrillness" and other assorted nasties in them - down the track I get it to 1 in 100 ... and the end goal is 1 in 100,000,...  😉.

 

You see, I never allow my ego to get in the road of improving things ... it's never, "My system is so fabulous that it tells me everything that's wrong with the recordings made by others ... rather, it's what the creations by other people can tell me, give me feedback, as to where what I have can do better ... this way, I always come out a winner ... three decades of using this approach has given me quite a bit of experience as regards whether it works or not, 😜.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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20 minutes ago, fas42 said:

 

Wrong, Alex ... this is precisely how I evolve a rig towards an acceptable status - at the beginning, when I first put it together, 1 in 10 recordings have lots of "shrillness" and other assorted nasties in them - down the track I get it to 1 in 100 ... and the end goal is 1 in 100,000,...  😉.

 

You see, I never allow my ego to get in the road of improving things ... it's never, "My system is so fabulous that it tells me everything that's wrong with the recordings made by others ... rather, it's what the creations by other people can tell me, give me feedback, as to where what I have can do better ... this way, I always come out a winner ... three decades of using this approach has given me quite a bit of experience as regards whether it works or not, 😜.

 

Have you spoken with your therapist about your low self-esteem issues?

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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44 minutes ago, sandyk said:

Sorry Frank, but  NO System change for the better is going to correct this problem.

The difficult bits on this track sound less shrill on her album " Eva Cassidy - Live At Blues Alley 1998"

 

I agree, unless you would consider perfect shrill better than distorted shrill (grin), and likely the more you better your system, the more annoying the video would be.  The only thing that could make it better is to make it less accurate with others have suggested "distortion". 

 

I actually just realized, i posted the wrong video that i meant to post...i meant to post fields of gold, but posted over the rainbow.

here is fields of gold.

 

It's a shame she never got some good recordngs before she died of cancer (she never realized her fame in her life and reaching #1 charts in UK even though she is native to US)....i even just read about the Live at blues alley had many problems too...including noise due to some lighting on day one, and day two she had a cold, and they ended up piecing together the album with other "better recordings".   I only had it on mp3, So I just bought "NIGHTBIRD" which include her complete recordings during those 2 days.... just bought a copy on ebay.... I have probably bought less than 10 cds on ebay, but I wanted "nightbird"...it even comes with a dvd, which i am also very curious as to.

 

 

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15 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

 

I agree, unless you would consider perfect shrill better than distorted shrill (grin), and likely the more you better your system, the more annoying the video would be.  The only thing that could make it better is to make it less accurate with others have suggested "distortion". 

 

My experience is quite other ... when recording playback makes the vocals shrill at some point, this is always a sign that the distortion of the replay chain is too high - it intermodulates with the intensity of that moment in the piece ... and it becomes unpleasant.

 

Just think of a situation when you are close to someone, live, who is singing powerfully ... they go for a note or sing loudly at some point; this may "pressurise the room", or be very intense in its subjective impact. This is precisely what happens with competent playback when the "big stuff comes!", in the track - if you wince, instead, then this is a giveaway that the rig is not doing its job properly.

 

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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1 minute ago, fas42 said:

 

My experience is quite other ... when recording playback makes the vocals shrill at some point, this is always a sign that the distortion of the replay chain is too high - it intermodulates with the intensity of that moment in the piece ... and it becomes unpleasant.

 

Just think of a situation when you are close to someone, live, who is singling loudly ... they go for a note or sing loudly; it may "pressurise the room", or be very intense in its subjective impact. This is precisely what happens with competent playback when the "big stuff comes!", in the track - if you wince, instead, then this is a giveaway that the rig is not doing its job properly.

 

 

logic dictates that if you "improve" on a system that compensates for a bad recording, that you will degrading it for better recordings.

 

It is also a reason, imho, people shouldn't get too caught up in spending countless hours trying to squeeze out 2% better, because more than likely, they will end up with more music that sounds slightly worse (smile)....back to beer.

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