Playback of recordings with TOO MUCH dynamic range, what do you do?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Khorn, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fortunately I haven’t run into this problem many times. You start playback of the program material and set the volume for a comfortable listening level. The chosen level doesn’t have to be that loud, just enjoyably revealing. Then, all of a sudden the recording peaks to the point it seems like it might drive you through a wall or give you a heart attack!!

    Fortunately I’ve only run into this a few times but it does seem that recordings can be produced with too much dynamics for most home listening situations. Anyone else ever run into this?
  2. ribonucleic

    ribonucleic Forum Resident

    SLC UT
    In the very early days of CDs, Telarc put out a recording of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring conducted by Loren Maazel that it sort-of-boasted would destroy your speakers if you didn't respect its stunt-level dynamic range.
    SOONERFAN and The FRiNgE like this.
  3. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    I have a remote, and use it. :D
  4. Otlset

    Otlset free-range audiophile

    Temecula, CA
    I love shocking dynamics that scare the s**t out of me on first listen, like this one did! I play it as a showpiece disc now for dynamic range for unsuspecting guests.

    The Pinhead, dmckean and Ntotrar like this.
  5. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    I just played Telarc's Saint Saens Organ Symphony with Ormandy and the last movement almost blew my speakers!!!
    Remote control saved the day, as usual.
    The FRiNgE and Ntotrar like this.
  6. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Definitely a good thing when this happens!

    Usually happens to me several times through Orff's Carmina Burana. Tchaikowski's Sixth Symphony, as well (first movement).
  7. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Ultimate proof that it takes all kinds.
    showtaper likes this.
  8. Jeff57

    Jeff57 Forum Resident

    Never had it happen. But I would love to experience it.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  9. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 District Champ

    This is how I feel about The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. The quiet parts are a whispers then is suddenly goes to sreaming and right back to a whisper.

    It bugs me and the solution is I don’t listen to it very often.
  10. Gretsch6136

    Gretsch6136 Forum Resident

    Not so much with music, but I get this problem all the time with movies. Dialog in the centre channel mix low, I turn up the volume to hear what's being said, and then BOOM the special effects kick in and my walls are rattling.

    I don't understand why modern music is made with almost no dynamic range but movies are made with maximum range.
  11. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Question: is the OP really talking about dynamic range? Or is it just that the "average" level gets stepped-up part way through the song? I can think of a few songs that make such a "loudness" shift - as the whole character of the song changes - part way through. But is that really dynamic range as we should know it?

    To me dynamic range is the difference between softest and loudest components of the music at every given instant / at any given instant. In jumping from a lower average level to a higher average level part way through a song, the dynamic range may not have changed at all. (Maybe it has; maybe it hasn't.)

    During higher average louder passages perhaps the dynamic range is even reduced?

    Jut noodling out loud.

    SandAndGlass, Hubert jan and PhxJohn like this.
  12. lwh1

    lwh1 Forum Resident

    Kent, England
    Didn't the classical label BIS also carry a warning about the dynamic range.
    SteelyTom and Fiddlefye like this.
  13. Dr. J.

    Dr. J. Forum Resident

    Memphis, TN
    My Telarc disc of Star Tracks has this warning: "WARNING! SPECIAL SYNTHESIZER INTRO & CLOSING. Lower levels are recommended for initial playback until a safe level can be determined for your equipment." I did not read this until afterwards: I damn near $hat myself.
    The FRiNgE, Ntotrar and lwh1 like this.
  14. wgriel

    wgriel Forum Resident

    bc, canada
    Agreed - I've had issues with too much dynamic range in movies (barely audible dialog followed by ear-damaging special effects) but it's not been a problem with music that I can recall.
  15. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Not To Old To Rock And Roll

    Tri-Cities, Tn.
    I have collected Telarc disks for years and there are a few that push the limit. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Oveture comes to mind.
    Dave S, Kristofa and Gramps Tom like this.
  16. Khorn

    Khorn Forum Resident Thread Starter

  17. Jack Flannery

    Jack Flannery Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    I bought that when it came out. Had a HK ST8 at the time. The tonearm jumped 1/4” when the cannon shots happened. Brutal.
    Ntotrar likes this.
  18. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    Simply compressing such recordings in “Adobe Audition”, for example, to the compression ratio I wish. And within the “useful signal” levels range to be compressed, leaving all the levels below the “useful signal” threshold not compressed.
  19. ZenArcher

    ZenArcher Forum Resident

    Durham, NC
    Funny, I've never heard live, unamplified music with too much dynamic range... what is it about a recording that can make that a problem?
  20. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    I notice most comments here are about classical music, which by its very nature has wider dynamic range than other genres. That's about all I listen to, and because I'm an apartment dweller, I sometimes have to "ride" the volume with the remote control. At home, it's not so bad, but I find it almost impossible to listen in a car. You get it loud enough to hear it above the road noise, then WHAM! A crescendo sends you over the edge. I've often wished there were a dynamic-range compressor or something available.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  21. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    You've heard a 120 dB maximum sound pressure level orchestra, choir and soloists playing and singing all together forte-fortissimo at home? Really funny…
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  22. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Not To Old To Rock And Roll

    Tri-Cities, Tn.
    My Ford has a compression setting for audio but it’s only ok. More useful is the speed sensitive volume control. Faster equals louder. It’s moot anyway the real music in the car is derived from the 32 valve quad cam V8 and Borla cat back exhaust. Speaking of dynamic range!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  23. JakeMcD

    JakeMcD Forum Resident

    The answer is: Turn it up.

    Jim N. likes this.
  24. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Connecticut, USA
    Like others have said I have only experienced what I feel is too much dynamic range with a few classical discs. The Planets and Mahler Symphony No. 1 come to mind.
  25. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    A nice limiter would control this. It has a soft slope to bring down the dynamic level of the loudest portions. It does not limit the loudest parts to one fixed maximum level (brickwalling), it has a slope that still leaves loud and louder but decreases that range. For example, where the original loudest 10db range would be, a limiter softens that 10db range into about a 2db range, with still a little difference of loud and louder in that range. That allows you to bring the general volume 8db up.

    I wonder why there is not some simple consumer device for this. I keep an old Marantz cassette deck just for its superb limiter (the one I have is unusable for cassettes, unreliable transport).

    Looking just now, I find ONE limiter which might be usable for this, the Rolls SL33b, sold mainly for consumer or small pro use and consumer priced. I don't have it, and never heard of it until right now.

    Rolls Corporation - Real Sound - Products SL33b Stereo Program Limiter

    Top and front:

    The user reviews and questions and answers are interesting

    The industry pros have $5000+ units to do this and may be chuckling at this topic and this answer, but there is a need for this in the home, particularly with TV now. This is not a compressor which compresses the entire range, which can sound weird, this is a limiter which softens the loudest 10db or so, which is probably not noticeable or just barely. The pros also sometimes pride themselves on such showoffy recordings, but sometimes those are just unlistenable at home. Most recordings use limiters of one kind or another and have for 70 years.

    That Telarc 1812 is actually listenable, not a showoff extravaganza, through a decent limiter.

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