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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. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    That's where we are opposites, Mart. I don't believe in tinkering around with the sound to make it sound modern/cleaner/"better". And, digital cannot perform ALL of these miracles without artifacts and/or some kind of damage to the original sound. I do not believe in second-guessing the "intent" of the original record makers. Unless they tell us, there is no way we can really know what was in their heads. And, besides, the noise and other anomalies of analog tape recording is part of the musical recording itself. To clean up the noise where it exists on the original tape is changing the sound for the worst.

    The only place *I* will use NR is on disc dubs. I can take down the surface noise and leave the tape hiss that's on the LP under the music. If I don't hear the tape hiss after cleaning up the surface noise I know i've overdone things. The software I use is very good at restoration duties.

    As far as disc dubs are concerned, I don't know what Steve or some of these other pros have heard/used to cloud their opinions, but perhaps the NR they heard is either outdated, bad, or overused.

    I would never NR a tape! I might gate the ends a bit, but that's it. If there is hiss in the music, so be it. I find a better source if I can. There are guys that filter all the frequencies down to 800kHz and then use artificial means to restore the lost high-end!!! Horrible!!
     
  2. Mart

    Mart New Member

    Granted Grant, you'd need to sample the signal in DSD or equivalent resolution. Then, if you need a major boost because some schmuck cut things off at 8kHz at 4th-order, you may only be able to only restore up to 12kHz at 8th-order before further boosting would reveal the tiny S/N dynamic range or amplify discretization errors. However, does that mean the half octave isn't worthy of restoration?

    Also, a lot of supposed tinkering need not be guess work. In many instances, we have access to the instruments they chose to use. We can compare how they sound live versus what is recorded. Analysis of these fingerprints can reveal what was originally manipulated or what aging has done.

    Hell, what if some schmuck took the original tracks & made the 8kHz trimmed mastertape. If all tapes are accessible, do a high-rez sampling of all the above. Then, you can analyze what the original mixer did & replicate everything the mixer did minus the 8kHz truncation.
     
  3. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    How about if we just let Steve Hoffman tell you what is wrong with that.
     
  4. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Mart,

    I understand the concept that one day with technology could have a hologram recreating a performance of Nat King Cole note for note and move for move. This hologram may even be programmed and learn to perform new compositions. The thing is it isn't and never will be Nat King Cole. There will be something that will always make it a facsimile. I think this may be true for computer anylasis and reconstruction of missing elements in sound. The tone will not ring true. At first it may sound convincing but that wears off (think of how fake top-notch special effects in films look in older films as audience evolve and can see beyond the illusion). Manipulation of a tone is an illusion in one way or another. A computer mimicing the careful hands on faders from the past may recreate the movements but maybe not the "human" touch. I don't know...

    Todd
     
  5. Mart

    Mart New Member

    1st, let me say that I appreciate the patience you guys are showing while discussing this. Usually, in other forums, someone has degraded the discussion to derogatory comments by now. So, thanks. It hasn't gone unnoticed. I appreciate. Now, back to the subject.
    [​IMG]

    Yes, this can happen as well as some effects that look artificial immediately like most CGI. However, we still have plenty FX movies that stand upto time )EG: "Ten Commandments(1956)", "Planet of the Apes(1968)", "Ben Hur(1959)" ... hmm do I detect a pattern? nah). Hell, even the original "Ben Hur(1926)" has some aspects of the chariot race that remains brilliant. So, should we just stop trying?
    :confused:

    I still like the idea of a reproduction, while I too would probably hate the idea of some hologram playing stuff he never recorded except as a novelty item. What we have here is a record of what exactly transpired. You're not making any music. You're reconstructing it. You can determine how much contribution each track donates with time. Then, smooth the the raw data to mimick anamatromic movements. You haven't synthesized anything. You haven't done anything artificial to the sound in order to restore it. If in the future we can restore it further with even less intervention, I say sure. Hey, maybe someday we can negate tape noise to reveal a few more dBs of music below 1dB of S/N that lay audibly masked to date. Plus, of how many albums do we own copies? I don't object to restoring more music, but I do object to abusing the right to restore less. Big difference. Know what I mean?
    [​IMG]
     
  6. rjp

    rjp Senior Member

    Location:
    ohio
    No-noise is the worst. All one needs do is listen to the 25th anniversary edition of "Aqualung". nuf said :mad:
     
  7. Mart

    Mart New Member

    But, if you read my posts, I was proposing high-tech precision & extremely judicious trimming of the noise so as to leave as much healthy tissue behind as possible, not a draconian slaughter imposed on your most no-noise CDs. Thus, you're not sterilizing the album by teching it to death because you're only operating on the noise. So, just as a surgeon, we should do no harm when we remove distortion. :p
     
  8. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    You still come out with an artificial sound. Would you get it if Steve H. explained it?
     
  9. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    <<I was proposing high-tech precision & extremely judicious trimming of the noise so as to leave as much healthy tissue behind as possible, not a draconian slaughter imposed on your most no-noise CDs. >>

    To draw on your analogy, you seem to suggest that it is possible to simply trim away noise without affecting the "healthy tissue". Steve Hoffman would argue that the very act of trimming away the bad flesh actually contaminates the healthy flesh. In short, no noise doesn't bring out the original sound, it changes it. In the future, we may very well have a noise reduction system that only eliminates tapes hiss but leaves all the amience and analog warmth unaffected. But what most people on this list say is that NoNoise ain't it.

    You might want to listen to the Van Morrison Veedon Fleece CD reissue. We're talking hiss city. There's hiss all over that CD. But I remember reading in ICE that the original producer or engineer was involved in the reissue and did extensive comparisons between the no-noised and non-no-noised tapes and concluded that as bad as the tape hiss was, no-noising it only made things worse, because it removed more than just the hiss.

    I think the point Steve has been trying to make is that tape hiss is rarely a significant problem on original master recordings and that even on the noisier tapes, proper mastering techniques (e.g., careful eq'ing, tape head adjustment) ought to bring hiss down to manageable levels. In short, if you're using no-noise, you either need to find a better source tape or you need to make better use of analog domain mastering techniques.
     
  10. Mart

    Mart New Member

    I don't know. Has Steve personally seriously experimented with judicious trimming? Even if it were possible to trim the noise while restoring some of the formerly masked music without making the sound synthetic, would Steve want it or does he believe that the distortion of the recording medium is part of the “music” even though the band itself never made that “sound”?
     
  11. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    I suspect that Steve would not be inclined to fix any distortion that was inherent in the original recording, since that would probably require remixing and, in any event, would substantially alter the original sound. Steve doesn't have any problem if the people responsible for the original recording want to change it, he just doesn't want to substitute his judgment for theirs. And I really can't blame him.

    But if the distortion was added through faulty mastering, that's an entirely different issue.
     
  12. Mart

    Mart New Member

    I'm “usually” talking about the sonic signature of the tape medium that precludes one's suspension of disbelief. Now, most DCC's seem to either mask it or fix it by using “the” master instead of subsequent copies. However, this was one of my principle concerns in this thread.

    OTOH, I've bought bad recordings that have plenty of hiss & other artifacts that instantly make them coasters (EG:Bing Crosby:“Merry Christmas” that sounded like an abused LP). These have made me wonder why these still exist in this day & age.

    Finally, regarding remixing, what if the original tracks are just as bad shape as the master? Here I find the concept of processing just as bad as doing nothing. In these circumstances I keep both copies & wish for a compromise. OTOH, if like Jefferson Airplane:“Surrealistic Pillow” where the treble was attenuated upon mixing, what's wrong with reconstructing the original mixing process of the engineer & dispense with the offensive low-pass filtering?
     
  13. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Mart,

    Ditch Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' because of "hiss & other artifacts"?? I can live with the imperfections because it's a beautiful song (next it'll be Mel Torme). Every recording/playback medium (same as life) has it's eventual brick-wall. People 10-20 years from now (on the new DCC board) will be saying how inefficient SACD's were (yada-yada). I think the first and most important core quality of any recording is the performance/arrangement (I'd listen to Nat King Cole even if the last surviving recordings were on a rubber band). Distortion and imperfections are sometimes just life (and sometimes intentional). The key thing is not to alter the integrity of the original sound (Wasn't Pete Townsend warned about a certain "defect" in one of his earlier pop tunes). The desire/temptation to improve something usually destroys it (look at Michael Jackson, poor sod). I like Steve's approach very much. Find the best source, play it back on the correct equipment, listen carefully and do as little as what needs to be done (depending on the recording). He's said many times that the Buddy Holly recordings needed very little work. I have those MCA CD's and they sound fantastic (real). I also have several other CD and LP reissues and they don't sound so hot (what were they smoking?). Maybe too much improving? I guess what I'm trying to say is that as humans we always want to mess with things (usually out of ego or to get approval) that are fine the way they are (plastic surgeons don't believe this). Let the shadows remain (lots of people turn the black level on TV's all the way up because they think they need to see everything/how can a killer hide?). Please don't use your computer to alter Buddy's nose...

    Todd
     
  14. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    I think Surrealistic Pillow is one of the exceptions Steve has given to his no remixing rule. The stereo mix suffers both from a lack of high frequencies as well as an overabundance of echo.
     
  15. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    Steve said it best, as you have to understand the logic is black or white. His quotes are foggy now, as it's late in the day but...

    If it doesn't sound like the master tape, good or bad, then it doesn't sound like the master tape. Steve's talent is bringing the sound to us using the technology it was made from, to the technology we use at home. The rest is holy-hell-persistance of getting the master itself. You may not get it right away, but you will someday.

    This is what Steve has banked on. It's worked for him slowly and strongly. If distortion exists on the master tape, let the labels take it out. I'd like the prvilidge of hearing it as it is. There is a sweetness and honesty in the sound. It's undeniable. It may not be this week or even this year, but Mart, someday, you'll turn up a DCC CD and appreciate it in ways you'd never fathom, inherint distortion or not. For now, enjoy the good music where it takes you.

    If it ain't the real thing, then it's something else. Go search a bit for "Diane"(??)'s reference to what Steve mentioned. Someone at MCA said it very well, and it's his mantra.
     
  16. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Mart, maybe you need to load up some audio editing software on your computer and play around with your "trimming" idea to see what we all mean. That is why I asked you if you had ever worked with digital audio.
     
  17. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    You can forget about a "Surrealistic" remix.
     
  18. Mart

    Mart New Member

    Where do I get 192/24 recordings with which to play, since standard 44.1/16 PCM format are by design already at minimum rez. They leave no room in which to play withou inducing horrible round off errors.
     
  19. Mart

    Mart New Member

    OTOH, I recall Steve saying unacquivically on an interview that the Ampex machine he uses adds something extra to the master tape. So, we're not really listening to the master but rather the motto should be modified to listening to the master tape played on the Ampex machine (in some cases whether it was recorded that way or not). Now, you might unfortunately perceive this as splitting hairs but in a delightfully eccentric data source, keeping track of the hairs is essential.

    Also, don't get me wrong. I'm not intending to bad mouth anyone. If that's how it sounds, I'M VERY SORRY!!! :( Like I said, that's NOT my intention. I enjoy DCC products. I was just hoping for even better.

    My intention was to acknowledge the limitations of a digital format while simultaneously acknowledging its potential resource for tweaking away anything that detracts from the “breath of life”. In that way one COULD possibly take on the Michelangelo approach to mastering & remove all the excess rumble to reveal the statue hidden inside. I'm NOT asking for the source to compensate for system shortcomings, mine or anyone elses. I was instead suggesting that maybe diagnostic software COULD correct some master tape problems.
     
  20. Mart

    Mart New Member

    Can you guys expound upon your differences in opinion?
     
  21. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    I should have added that a remix isn't likely, as the multitracks have gone missing.
     
  22. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    Sure. The mono master for "Surrealistic" is gone. The multis are also gone. The stereo mix is an abomination awash in echo. The mono is better in this regard, although not exactly an audiophile delight itself.

    Steve has said in the past that if he *could* have, he would have remixed "Surrealistic" to stereo and kept it similar to the spirit of the original mono mix.

    Although the mono mix has finally surfaced on the recently released stock CD (and box set), it is apparently a clone of the gold RCA CD that was out a few years back. It will do, but the preference is still for an original mono LP. Finding a nice clean copy at a reasonable price, however, can be a real challenge.
     
  23. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Yup, this proves that you have no experience or knowledge with working with digital audio.

    Any recording with tape hiss will certainly not have been recorded in 192/24. We are talking about tape, remember?
     
  24. Mart

    Mart New Member

    So, you plan on digitally manipulating a downloaded analog recording without ever sampling it? Neat trick on so many levels you must tell me how you do that. [​IMG] We all know a PC is the wrong device to do any sampling as its OS overhead produces sampling rate irregularities as anyone who uses a PC as a data collection device will tell you.
     
  25. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    I think you ought to quit while you're still trying to catch up. You total ignorance in this area is glaring!

    If you had read my post you would have seen where I suggested that you download AUDIO SOFTWARE, not an analog file.

    I'm wondering if you aren't getting things wrong on purpose.
     
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