SH Spotlight People always ask me: What does brickwalled digital compression sound like?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, May 23, 2003.

  1. Espen R

    Espen R Forum Resident

    I'm new to this thread and I 100% agree with Steve, digital compression does never sound good, it only creates distortion.
    George P and Peter Pyle like this.
  2. Espen R

    Espen R Forum Resident

    I've many times wondered about why record labels/artists/management have an idea that added distortion to their music ( digital compression) is good and something that the audience want.
    Like all Supertramp CD-remasters in the last 20 years that has sounded terrible distorted. But suddenly they changed their mind and released a 40'th anniversary Ray Staff mastering of Crime of the century with a full dynamic range. Why did they do that? I mean, why did they remove the part of the mastering that they for 20 years defined as "something good'?
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
    Jarleboy and Bob_Rush like this.
  3. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Marlboro , ma. usa
    I will be doing a lot of Copy/paste of this one ...... A+++
  4. JamieLang

    JamieLang Forum Resident

    Nashville, TN
    While I love the analogy...."digitally" isn't helpful for the layman. While I understand it's technically digital look ahead limiting with adaptive envelopes allowing this processing to be....tolerated. And that if an ME limits themselves to only using analog mastering tools, it's hard to achieve this kind of face on glass....i use another body part in my explanations, but....still pressed on glass. ;)

    ....also since "digital compression" often is confused by the layman with what is technically data compression (mp3) which has a different but less lousy set of side effects....

    I usually use "digital limiting"--which, again engineer terms compression and limiting are degrees and speeds of the same process....laymen don't need to know it's the same tool, as it functionally doesn't do the same thing. Avoids the mp3 data compression misunderstanding and technically IS more specifically the problem (IMO/E at least)....
    2xUeL likes this.
  5. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher

    Queens, NY
    I like that members (including myself) are interested specifically in the difference between analog and digital compression (I understand that limiting is merely an extreme type of compression but I agree with @JamieLang that 'limiting' is probably a more accurate choice of word here ;)).

    Can we talk about analog limiters back in the day? What were their ratios? Were they merely 10:1 or did they get as crazy as 100:1?? On a side note, I have noticed that the ratio knob on modern dbx compressors maxes out at 'infinity-to-1'--which I always took to mean, 'it's a really high ratio' lol. But I suppose that the ratio for most (all?) digital limiters is theoretically 'infinity-to-1'.

    It would also be cool to know what types of ratios were applied to various masterings for vinyl back in the day...?
  6. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher

    Queens, NY
    Also, this might be best for another thread, but I've always wondered how vinyl mastering works with an analog limiter in consideration of the fact that there is no 'hard ceiling' for the peaks as there are in the digital realm. I remember reading something in the Geoff Emerick book about the EMI mastering engineers making bets to see who could get their mastering the loudest without creating a skip...fascinating! Does a lathe adjust the width of the 'track' for the groove 'intelligently' as it goes or is it (was it) a fixed width from the start of a side to the finish? If this is getting too technical, anyone have a link explaining it?
  7. JamieLang

    JamieLang Forum Resident

    Nashville, TN
    Well....mastering limiters from the analog day aren't going to be my knowledge pool-nor mastering for vinyl as when that was being done for my collaborators--I simply hated the process because vinyl was SO lossy. By definition--low frequencies removed and mono'd....limiters applied where CD didn't need them. What an irony-- I have 80s CDs that are MORE dynamic than their vinyl I buy vinyl masters because they're typically more dynamic than the CD master.

    FWIW--the change in tech is that the digital limiters use the process buffer (they don't work in real time) look ahead and self adjust attack and release times to the coming peak. This makes it much more "transparent" to do WAY more limiting. I use quotes, because while the given limited peak changes less--removing all the peaks and shipping a near (digital) full scale RMS out the DAC isn't transparent at all.
  8. hello people

    hello people Forum Resident

    But louder is better right? Right??
  9. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Kansas City - USA
    I don't like the sound of highly digitally compressed music. But that sound is not the worst of it for me. The thing that really gets to me is how I feel while listening to it. It is hard for me to put this into words but I'll try.

    There is a feeling of tension. It is felt most intensely in my head. It increases with the playback volume and the with the time that I am exposed to digitally compressed music. When I turn such music off, I feel this tension leaving my body.

    It took me a while to recognize this phenomenon. For some time, I was experiencing it subliminally and all I knew was something I really didn't like was happening with the sound. Eventually I noticed how I was feeling. It is quite a vividly uncomfortable sensation. I find it hard to imagine that I am the only one that has this reaction, but perhaps I am.
  10. Kevin j

    Kevin j The 5th 99

    Seattle Area
    flaming lips on cd
    El Rich-o and Ivan Aaron like this.
  11. Marty T

    Marty T Stereo Fan

    For those satisfied with a visual description of an aural calamity, this is as compelling as I've seen.
    darvit likes this.
  12. jeffrey walsh

    jeffrey walsh Forum Resident

    Scranton, Pa. USA
    Will it ever cease to exist in the future or are we screwed?!
  13. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    I can put up with it. It's bad, only not THAT bad for extreme rock subgenres like black metal (a Dark Funeral CD is usually 5-5-5 , and I love them) where it can even suit the style. My gripe is the lower end uses a lot of juice from the amp to keep up with the rest of the spectrum.

    Now brickwalled Alan Parsons (which I also love) would hurt my ears. Not disagreeing with your clever analogy though:righton:
    Jarleboy likes this.
  14. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    It sounds like crap, and it’s completely unnecessary.

  15. Evethingandnothing

    Evethingandnothing Forum Resident

    It makes the music sound bigger, when in reality it's smaller. Thus it is an illusion. After a while mine ears get tired & confused and it just sounds like tripe.
    Incamera likes this.
  16. TonyCzar

    TonyCzar Forum Resident

    PhIladelphia, PA
    "Hey, you guys! Oh! My Nose!"
  17. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Follower of Hi-Fi

    New Mexico USA
    "Shear volume" may be a typo but it actually works perfectly.

    TonyCzar likes this.
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Jules Shear volume, the best kind..
    BZync, anth67 and Stone Turntable like this.
  19. Incamera

    Incamera Active Member

    Wicklow Town
    I have the Buddy Holly Original Mastertapes CD. Try playing Peggy Sue at 11. The percussive breathy delivery pounds your breast. The explosive guitar break shocks. It is all listenable. I do not think that it has been abused in mastering.
    Jarleboy likes this.
  20. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    Got it.

    And thanks.
  21. Thievius

    Thievius Blue Oyster Cult-ist

    Syracuse, NY
    So next time I encounter someone who doesn't understand squashed dynamics, I should smash their face into a window. Cool!
    nick99nack likes this.
  22. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    You are right that the From The Original Master Tapes CD is better sounding compared to The Buddy Holly Collection.
    Jarleboy likes this.
  23. Incamera

    Incamera Active Member

    Wicklow Town
    I could not listen to Clockwork Angels through even once. It caused me pain. Let us return to Rivendell.
    newelectricmuse likes this.
  24. old45s

    old45s MP3 FREE ZONE

    My introduction to audio compression was hearing the first 2 minutes of Thick As A Brick on AM Radio.
    Bought the LP and I kept reaching for the volume control turning it up, then down, then up..... sounded so different.
    Decided to slot a cheap Behringer Audio Limiter Compressor into my HiFi system to experiment with.
    That was 20 years ago... never really use it much these days but the results I did get were much 'warmer' than compression in the digital realm.

    What really p_s's me off is when a 70's CD Compilation comes out with old forgotten hard to get singles (that have never been on CD before) recorded from the 'original' master and they have been brickwalled. Well meaning people have gone to all the trouble of getting permission and sourcing the original masters only to have the song vandalised by the engineer(s). It breaks my heart. Have we got the bluetooth speaker/mobile phone/on the 'go' generation to thank for this?
  25. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

    There is kind of loudness deal that's been going on since the days of the 45rpm single's heyday.

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