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. Marty T

    Marty T Stereo Fan

    And of course there is the quality of the systems on which we're playing these samples back. I like to figure that my laptop - with not very expensive M-Audio audio interface (under 200 clams) to mid-level Denon receiver - is correcting (read 'not capable of deciphering') the difference that you are hearing so night and day - when in fact a super high-end set up is gonna be more revealing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  2. Marty T

    Marty T Stereo Fan

    Yes, garage bands in my teens and "Dad bands" currently. This is why I have no faith in Neil Young's opinions on what format produces best sound - having read an article from his guitar tech a good 20 years ago who mentioned that he couldn't stand 20 feet in front of Neil's amp due to the intense volume.
     
    lemonade kid likes this.
  3. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    The thing that really surprises me is that Tim and I both listen on Sony monitoring headphones (different models of MDR series). Ordinarily, I agree with his assessments - yet I hear a noticeable difference and he doesn't. It could just be my familiarity with the music, since I've played this song so many times.
     
    Marty T likes this.
  4. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Yeah, RMS numbers are pretty much meaningless when it comes to loudness depending on bass levels vs a person belting it out. I get identical RMS numbers after first EQ'ing the brass and applying a limiter to the Chicago tune posted above and forget I didn't increase the bass which makes the brass more harsh, thin and louder. I add the bass and the RMS number stays the same. It sounds louder and fuller so RMS numbers are just an overall guide on whether you'll need to reach for the volume knob.
     
  5. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    My laptop is on its way out, it crashes regularly if I try to play WAV files outside of Firefox (weirdly). I did the editing on a computer with a horrible sound card which is why I only went by RMS. I have a new laptop on the way, it should have been here by now but the seller needed one last part for it which got stuck in the mail. I'll try to do a better comparison once I get the new laptop.

    At any rate, though, I do find it odd that, even on the sample I posted, I hear a difference and you don't, even though we're using similar headphones, and I usually trust your judgment regarding compression (based on past threads). Funny how this stuff works. Maybe I'm just too attached to the music!
     
  6. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    If that's the case that it's dependent on how good a system is on whether differences are heard A/B'ing, then there's no point in discussing and trusting sound quality claims on any musical content in this entire forum.
     
  7. Grant

    Grant Cranky! It'll happen to you too, kids!

    Location:
    United States
    You can un-brickwall a file with software, and maybe even improve the apparent sound a bit, but you can never completely undo the damage. That said, I use iZotope RX Standard for doing it.

    I'll normalize the file to 100%, then use the de-clipper, the use phase correction if it reads more than 2%, then normalize to -.2 db. It's all done in 32-bit,
     
    mBen989 likes this.
  8. GodBlessTinyTim

    GodBlessTinyTim Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Would someone please care to post a brickwalled and non-brickwalled version of the exact same song for direct comparison?
     
  9. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Not sure how to address your sound card issue on whether that's the problem because I've never had sound card problems on all four of my Macs I've had since I got into digital imaging and audio starting back in '98.

    You might go buy the lack of anyone here hearing loudness differences from compression in your sample. I never use compression because it's just too complicated and I'ld rather just use an EQ to get the sound relationship I want though I'm not a professional and understand why pro's would use it. I just edit existing CD music and if it goes over zero db in 32bit Floating point in Audacity, I just apply Amplify and bring the loudness back to a comfortable listening level with a limiter. I don't hear compression artifacts with that approach.
     
  10. InStepWithTheStars

    InStepWithTheStars It's a miracle, let it alter you

    Location:
    North Carolina
    I don't do my own compression either. These are two separate masters done by Dave McNair, one with full dynamic range and one compressed (by him). I thought it would illustrate our host's "pressed against a window" analogy quite well, but several people have stated that they didn't hear a difference.
     
  11. Marty T

    Marty T Stereo Fan

    I don't follow that logic. There is a reasonable dependence on system quality when making a judgement on sound samples. A cheap '60's cassette deck, with severe roll-off at 11Khz, poorly set azimuth and lotsa wow and flutter issues, is not going to do a great job in revealing the difference between two recordings - even if those differences are significant but in higher frequency ranges. Fortunately, my more up to date system has been good enough to detect a great number of differences in sound quality - just not this particular example.
     
  12. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    We're talking about A/B'ing on headphones which are as near field as you can get compared to listening on speakers. That's how we keep everything the same so if that can't be trusted due to audio supply chain hardware my point is logical.
     
  13. Marty T

    Marty T Stereo Fan

    And I have been able to hear difference in various versions of the same recording using headphones on my system. There are a number of folks who will say their super high end system is capable of revealing nuances the average system does not. If you are saying that is just not the case, alright. I don't know as I don't have such a setup.
     
  14. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Christmas song by Nat King Cole...

    Not brickwalled

     
  15. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Christmas Song by Nat King Cole Brickwalled...



    Just noticed this has reverb and the one above is in mono, no reverb

    But it does show what loudness done wrong sounds like. Listen for the harmonic distortion in the strings.
     
    GodBlessTinyTim likes this.
  16. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    I hear differences between what I hear on headphones vs the open cabin of my car with the windows rolled down with new and improved Polk 5x7 speakers I recently installed on the back dash of my Nissan sedan. I hear audio textures and harmonics like fuller low end on tim-tom drums that are thin on headphones, but I can hear tim-tom bell tones on my Sony cans depending how hard they're hit.

    The remaster of Rush's Power Windows album as an example. Except on this album Getty's vocals are way obscured in parts where the reverb is cranked up which sound the same on both listening environments.
     
    Marty T likes this.
  17. GodBlessTinyTim

    GodBlessTinyTim Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The non-brickwalled version is unavailable for me, but I think I know what you mean with the strings on this one. In some parts they sound like an incorrectly programmed synthesizer. Thanks.
     
  18. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    See if this one lets you access it, non-brickwalled...

     
    GodBlessTinyTim likes this.
  19. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Here is a quite nice example (Radiohead) where the uploader made their own uncompressed mix in comparison to the brick-walled release (compressed is first):



    A good real-life-example of different masters of Smells Like Teen Spirit, though only a small snippet:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf8DET7ILR4
    Comparison starts at 0:22 and has the uncompressed and the compressed in one go; changes in the middle

    A nice overexaggerated example; warning: in the middle it's very loud because it's not yet volume-matched:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
    George P likes this.
  20. JCRW

    JCRW Forum Resident

    How about this one as an example: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium. The video does a comparison of the brick walled CD mastered by Vlado Meller vs the dynamic vinyl release mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray. This is what a lot of modern music releases have the potential to sound like if proper care is taken at the mastering stage.

     
  21. Grant

    Grant Cranky! It'll happen to you too, kids!

    Location:
    United States

    You guys aren't going to like this, but I would have preferred the SH/KG version with a little more top end added. Free choice.:)
     
    Pentior likes this.
  22. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Steve will probably agree, since the sound quality in this 2009 Youtube-video is quite bad and does not reflect his work :D I already noticed that with the CD-version (which, though very compressed, also sounds a lot better "in real life" than in this video).
    Youtube got a lot better over the years. Back then they cut off many high frequencies.

    Edit: Or maybe the uploader messed up the SQ ^^
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  23. Crawdad

    Crawdad Detroit Rock Citizen

    This is being posted on my Facebook page. Giving you full credit of course.
     

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