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DCC Archive NO-NOISE question for Steve Hoffman

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sam, Oct 17, 2001.

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  1. Ian

    Ian Active Member

    Location:
    Milford, Maine
    So it's safe to assume he also used it on the further expanded "Live At Leeds". Almost makes you kinda hope Shel Talmy never lets "My Generation" go.
     
  2. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Sadly, we Who fans are going to have to accept the sad fact that henceforth all Who releases are going to sound like ****, at least until Jon Astley passes away (morbid as that sounds).

    And if there is a God, Mr. Astley will end up in a special corner of hell, where his task will be to spend all eternity attempting to remove the noise from Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.
     
  3. Mart

    Mart New Member

    How ironic [​IMG]
     
  4. Mart

    Mart New Member

    Personally, I'd like to see a happy medium. EG: noise gated around -78dB for starters.

    I enjoy black a background because it is a naturally vivid canvas in which to paint. I also enjoy details as it conveys the authentic texture of the instruments. I've come to believe there's got to be a happy medium of compromise between the two combating philosophies.

    Sometimes I get a CD that sounds like a tape. What the hell is that all about? It captured the sonic signature of the tape medium. I didn't buy a CD to listen to a tape. I wanted to listen to the band recorded onto the tape. So, IMHO, the line is defined by whatever best suspends my disbelief that this is a recording. IMHO, this can’t be done by either philosophy taken to the extreme. OTOH, we need these eccentrics. Ironically, it is these vary idealists that push the envelope IME.

    I believe no gating would be dumb since everything below, -90dB would be digital dithering. This artificial nature would make it audible. I also believe most modern recordings are too gated which makes all the instruments sound like they were synthesized. Somewhere somebody has to have a moderate solution. I'm thinking that technology maybe our friend here. The obvious solution would be to record & mix the tack in DSD, or compress the sound onto the tape & re-expand it while playing.

    However, we’re dealing with a fixed master tape. One solution may be a frequency dependent noise gate. (I think that’s how Dolby does it except they include frequency dependent compression) IOW spectrum analyze the master tape noise & run the sampled data through a digital EQ where the frequency response may be still flat but each band is initially gated separately according to the tape hiss response. Just a thought …

    [ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: Mart ]
     
  5. jroyen

    jroyen Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    There should be a symposium on 'Mastering in a Digital Age.' Steve Hoffman should be in attendance and give this very speech on No-Noise. Any Sonic Maximizers and Cedar rackmounts should be confiscated at the front door. Jon Astley and Peter Mew should be given front row seats. A scarlet N should be placed on each of their lapels. An audiologist should be on-hand to treat them both for the possible early stages of no-noise-induced hearing loss.
     
  6. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    A symposium on 'Mastering in a Digital Age' sounds like a good idea but I think it'll fall mostly on deaf ears. We're talking about tons of ego's who all think they know how to cook the best chicken soup! Sadly, tape hiss has been identified and targeted (ala marketing) to the average consumer as a bad/evil thing. I'm sure most listeners weren't even aware of it until it was pointed out. Other evils are mono, analog, older recordings (therefore inferior), etc. People have a lot of excuses why they need to improve a recording and put their own stamp on it. Sometimes it's needed, sometimes not (Buddy Holly's stuff). I'm not sure what people hear when they listen to music? I guess since most top 40 music is mastered with tons of compression and high freq boost then people like a sort of razzle-dazzle illusion of "in your face" type of sound. Boosting treble (Bose created it's own eq universe) seems to give the fake illusion of more clarity (like adding "sharpness"/noise to a picture to give the fake illusion of more detail)? How do we hear tones?? We know noise reduction changes tones/timbre/space but what do average listeners hear? I'm suprised that a lot of older Sinatra generation listeners didn't notice the very different sound of the CD's (the doctored ones) compared to what they heard when it was new. Again, what are people hearing? Is it a blurry, wall of sound or certain familiar characteristics?? I think Steve is very true for saying that he can only master things to his own taste (and we enjoy it) because how do you second-guess what a mass of people would like?? I've fallen way off the subject but anyway...

    Todd
     
  7. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    The Curb era Bellamy Brothers recordings (that was the label that they were on in their heyday) were well mastered to begin with and there is barely any hiss on the original tapes as the Curb Greatest Hits collections in print do come from the master tapes. The Curb Greatest Hits Vol. 1 CD does sound like it was mastered right from the tapes which it was.
     
  8. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Another point (hopefully sticking to the subject)... I have tons of first pressing vinyl from the 50-60's (jazz, blues, rock, etc.) and most of them sound brilliant. This most of us know already. I just cannot understand what the big defects are in these recordings that merit all this hype and implementation of massive "restoration". I was listening to a few Ella Fitzgerald "Hi-Fidelity" recordings a few days ago and they were very, very enjoyable. My wife didn't stand up and demand that we switch the records off because the "hiss" (hardly any) and etc. was destroying her ears. I just don't understand the need...

    Todd
     
  9. Angel

    Angel New Member

    Location:
    Hollywood, Ca.
    This is for Mart:

    You mentioned just using No-Noise when the volume goes below a certain threshold.

    Well, that was the original idea when the system was introduced at Capitol Studios back in 1987. But, of course, human nature being what it is, each engineer has his (or her) own idea what that threshold should be! Well, you can imagine what happened: The No-Noise button started "creeping up" more and more until an engineer could brag that "tape hiss has been vanquished!".

    Well, so has most of the music; those delicate musical overtones that give our ears "clues" that we are listening to LIVE instead of recorded. (A Quote from the Bible of Steve).

    What Steve has also said several times in print, is that once a device is in the system, even if it is used very gingerly, it STILL degrades the sound, just by being "patched in" to the mastering chain. In order to use Sonic Solutions or any other noise reduction program, the raw music has to be "dumped" to a digital workstation. Fine for mass produced CD's (although I wish it didn't have to happen), but not for top of the line Audiophile product.

    On a $30 DCC CD, one of the reasons I am paying that price is to be assured that the music WAS NOT dumped to a digital workstation. The temptation is just too great to use not only noise reduction, but that really grainy and unmusical digital EQ.

    I do the same thing at a health food market when I pay extra money to buy organic carrots. No DDT and other poisons added.

    Not a great comparison, but.... ;)

    [ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: Angel ]
     
  10. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Mart, the problem is simply that the original recording medium was analog tape, so If I spend $30 on a DCC disc I expect to hear a tape of a performance. Sometimes tape doesn't have a black background. Too bad. I want what's on the tape, hiss, if it's there, and all.
     
  11. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    Going back to my Bellamy Brothers post, there is a slight hiss on "You Ain't Just a Whistlin' Dixie" (particularly at the beginning) on the Curb Greatest Hits Vol. 1 CD. It is so slight one barely hears it at all, so why use noise reduction? Steve is right that noise reduction is the "work of the devil."
     
  12. J Epstein

    J Epstein Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    CamarillO;
    Sorry, Camarillo, I missed this question a few weeks ago. I was fortunate to receive a copy of the Centennial box as a birthday gift and so I have indeed heard the remasters on that set. They are many miles better than the Blanton-Webster and Black/Brown/Beige sets. There are some incredible transfers from the early 78's that just crackle - not with surface noise, but with excitement. Check out the "Double Check Stomp" as an example.

    The tracks that are common to both sets are very revealing - there is always more surface noise on the Centennial versions and there is always more music, too.

    Chicken **** and chicken salad.

    -j

    [ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: J Epstein ]
     
  13. Mart

    Mart New Member


    IME I found that insertion distortion into the signal stream is usually there in the analog relm. Once in the digital relm most (not all) manipulation towards the ideal has little to no artifacts. The princple artifact is the descretization. I feel if you're going to have a digital signal one can tweak it in that relm. Physical devices that phase & smearr are very audible. OTOH, virtual devices that number crunch are quite clean if you don't clip.

    This was part of my point. Also, it seems possible to automate the frequency dependent noise gate. One could just spectrum analyze the blank areas of the master in question. Take that curve as a frequency dependent noise floor to then gate. Thus, avoiding the absolute -30dB no-noise gate crap.

    To each his/her own. I would agree if I were buying vinyl. However, once I've accepted a digital source with all the limitations that imposes, I was hoping for all the benefits that acoompany that medium.

    [ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: Mart ]
     
  14. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    yeah, but that only works if you have a nice, clean, well recorded tape or a digital recording.
     
  15. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Oh yeah? Go to the BSN site. A lot of guys there are going ape**** over fake stereo mp3s.

    <STRONG>
    Unfortunately, I don't see anyone caring, or even knowing that what they are hearing was run through NR. People have this idea that just because something is digital, it should be dead silent.

    [ November 21, 2001: Message edited by: Grant T. ]
     
  16. Mart

    Mart New Member

    I think we've stumbled upon a miscommunication. I was referring to accepting the distortion imposed by discretizing an analog signal. If we're to accept that error, we might just as well take full advantage of the digital medium where you can restore any frequency response & dynamic range without phasing or smearing of the signal like what commonly plagues analog processing. Once in a digital medium, I find it bizarre to ignore the potential. EG: One can manipulate the signal to restore any dynamic compression imposed by the recording engineer to accommodate a lower fidelity medium of yesteryear.

    Now if I were referring to buying an analog format like vinyl, I’d agree that I couldn’t do any better than to reproduce the master tape exactly.
     
  17. FabFourFan

    FabFourFan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Yes, you may remember that one of the versions of SUMMER IN THE CITY from that old thread was from a Priority cd, where it was processed with FDS.

    Needless to say, the FDS'd version of the track sounds completely different from (and worse than) the other 8 versions. It's so bad.
     
  18. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    ...but it *smells* terrific.

    (Sorry.)
     
  19. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belpre, Ohio
    Mart says: "One can manipulate the signal to restore any dynamic compression imposed by the recording engineer to accommodate a lower fidelity medium of yesteryear."

    Mart,
    Steve Hoffman said this about mastering:
    The Louvre in Paris, France is loaning me the Mona Lisa. OK. So they send me the Mona Lisa and I get excited and decide to invite all of my friends over to see it. Now, am I going to take the Mona Lisa outside and show it in the direct sunlight so it looks all old and crackly? Or am I going to set it up inside with the right kind of lighting. It’s all in the presentation. That’s what I do in mastering. It’s taking the original and polishing it so it can sound the best it can sound."

    Under you scenario, he would send it out and have someone restore it and fix all of the cracks and re-paint the bad spots and make it look brand new-- only it isn't brand new. Same thing with a 25 year old master tape- noise and all. It isn't new, so why should it be altered to make it sound like it is.
     
  20. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well, that *is* what they do for restoration of paintings. Sometimes it's done better than others.

    I'd liken the above situation more to click removal or balance adjustment due to a dropout in one channel (ie, Hwy 61).
     
  21. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Belpre, Ohio
    True Luke, I re-wrote my answer about 6 times and I left out when I said new...I meant new- like painted yesterday with the new brighter paints of modern technology rather than what was originally on the canvas at the time it was painted.
    Sorry I wasn't clear--and I agree with what you said about Highway 61.
    Doug
     
  22. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Mart, how much do you understand and/or work with digital sound? I work with it everyday doing restoration.
     
  23. Mart

    Mart New Member

    Admittedly, I don't work on sound. I do do numerical processing to generate numerical data, post processing thereof, & numerous processing of raw digital data everyday.

    BTW, do you know what happened to my Mona Lisa response? I'd hate to retype my explanation to no avail.
     
  24. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    I think the key idea to all remastering/restoring/etc. is to treat the original work with the respect it deserves. Don't try to turn a dog into a cat. Stay with the intent of the artists and don't try to out do them...

    Todd
     
  25. Mart

    Mart New Member

    That was precisely my point in my missing Mona Lisa response to Dough. It looks as though I'll have to repost a facsimile to the original.

    -----------------------
    My analogous thoughts were if you were to do a museum grade lithograph of the Mona Lisa. You'd simply clean off the original & make the best copy possible in this analog continuum. Here less is more.

    However, since we're discussing the equivalent of a flatbed scanned rendition. I say you can take advantage of the digital medium to do a high resolution sampling & fill in the cracks & restore the color of the paint that Leonardo applied. That way you're restoring the art back into the artist's creation. It's just as the artist intended it to be perceived. [​IMG]

    IMHO, the sound engineer often was forced to manipulate music to fit it on a limited medium. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure many did the best they could, but do we owe more homage to the recording engineer's creativity in manipulating a medium than the artists who created the masterpiece? (I feel like it would be analogous to a grainy black & white photograph of the Mona Lisa being considered more famous than the painting. So, as a matter of tradition we all should view it in black & white?) I believe no greater honor would be to restore their masterpieces to their intended glory.

    Can this lead to power mad remixes? Absolutely, but I brought it up here where because I believe that impossible of Steve. We know he can hear. Know what I mean? [​IMG] I feel people of his ilk should be empowered with all the equipment possible to do so, but that's me.
     
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