Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by KoopaChaloopa, Sep 19, 2023.

  1. KoopaChaloopa

    KoopaChaloopa Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Del Rio Texas
    Is "record sibilance" the term used for when a record sounds bad? Out of the 200+ records that I own, there are around 10-15 that sound bad on the last track of a given side. Is that what "sibilance" is? I describe it as the track sounding like it drops to 44Kbps, sometimes maybe worse. I have searched on forums, but it seems like I can't find an answer. Some people say sibilance is distortion, others say that its only for when the singer's "S's" sound like "Shhh" . Can someone clear this up for me?
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    You're referring to IGD (in-groove distortion).

    The three reasons for it are either;

    1. Bad setup of your cart.
    2. Your cart is a bad tracker.
    3. The records themselves have groove damage.

    The fixes are;

    1. Get a tech to calibrate your cart.
    2. Get a better cart.
    3. Chuck the records and get undamaged ones.
  3. StingRay5

    StingRay5 Important Impresario

    Sibilance is when S sounds are exaggerated. That's all it means.

    When a vinyl record sounds worse on the inner tracks, that could have a few different causes, as @Strat-Mangler noted. If you know how to properly align your cartridge, that might help.
  4. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Sibilance and IGD can go together but are really two different things. Sibilance can occur anywhere on the record.

    Sibilance often starts with the way the music was recorded, how the singer was mic'd, and how they pronounce their words. Sibilance is not limited to the LP format.

    IGD happens when distortion occurs near the inner groove. The only way to minimize it is to get a cartridge with a very thin stylus and a very good suspension, then align that cartridge the best you can. Due to the way pivoting tonearms (the most common type) and records work, there will always be some distortion even if that distortion is not audible to the listener.

    The louder the record is cut and the closer to the label the song is, generally the worse things will be IME, especially if the cartridge is not up to the task.

    If you have a cartridge that is not good at tracing tight inner grooves, you can align it until the cows come home and the audible distortion won't go away on certain records.

    It is also possible to have what I call "burned in IGD" from groove damage that occurs from repeated mistracking or a worn stylus. Nothing to do in that case but find a better copy of the record.
    B_a_R, GordonM, Pretorius and 3 others like this.
  5. nosliw

    nosliw Delivering parcels throughout Teyvat! Meow~!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Another possibility for sibilance is a bad cut by the audio engineer. This happened to me with several records where the digital and even other LP editions do not exhibit sibilance.
  6. Lord Rocker

    Lord Rocker Forum Resident

    Some records/masterings are more prone than others. I rarely hear it but every copy of Lou Reeds Transformer I've owned has had sibilance on the vocal of Walk On The Wild Side. Some more than others.
  7. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    It's more due to inner groove distortion.
    The FRiNgE likes this.
  8. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Certainly a possibility but not a very common one IME. It can happen though. With certain types of newer music, the digital master that the cutting engineer might receive is already quite bad and there is only so much they can do with it.

    Certain labels will also cheap out and not pay for a 2xLP where one is advisable due to the running time. That can lead to problems. Not just sibilance, but increased surface noise.
    nosliw likes this.
  9. Pete Norman

    Pete Norman Forum Resident

    The cartridge /stylus comments above are all valid. Today, pro audio de-essers such as the Weiss if properly used,should take care of sibilants while cutting..
    Mis tracking is caused by a rapid acceleration of the replay stylus causing it to 'slide' over the offending section,you usually hear it on the right channel..
    common in some old 60's and 70's recordings..Ideally de-essers should be applied during recording/mixing if the engineer recognizes it..
    nosliw likes this.
  10. Markym

    Markym Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Several factors...

    - Tonearm. My Roksan Nima unipivot can't track using the same cartridge as well as a humble SL1210GR tonearm (using HFN&RR tests)

    - Cartridge tracking ability. A microline/line contact stylus is much less prone to this issue. My Audio Technica ATOC9-XML can pass all the HFN&RR tests except +18db with a very faint buzz. Some end-of-side tracks with strong solo vocals (e.g. Words by The Christians) don't get sibilant anymore. They would lapse into clear sibilance with other set-ups I had previously

    - Sibilance can be baked into the cut. Vinyl mastering requires a de-esser because the medium can't handle sibilance like digital. So if it's not used properly then it will much more likely be a problem at end of side.

    - Alignment/set up of cartridge

    - The recording itself i.e. close miked vocals could be naturally sibilant. Compare your "problem" tracks vs a digital version before looking at the set up of your turntable.
  11. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Go Padres!!

    San Diego
    IMO, most bonded type styli are just too thick to accurately track the toughest grooves (which include inner grooves and challenging treble frequencies). Even a nude elliptical will dramatically improve performance. Nude is the way to go. And proper alignment of course.
  12. ab_ba

    ab_ba Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I agree with Markym that the tonearm is key. For me, a Tri-Planar tonearm made sibilance all but vanish. Inner groove distortion was also dramatically reduced. I still have some bad-sounding records - bad pressings, played with a cartridge with improper VTF by a previous owner, etc. But now, many records sound so good to me, throughout the whole side, that I firmly believer sibilance and IGD are NOT endemic to vinyl.

    In my experience, it was the tonearm that fixed my sibilance. Cartridges, speakers, preamps, cables, none of that mattered as much as the tonearm.

    An expensive solution, I know, but the Tri-planar made everything else sound better too. Worth it for sure.
  13. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Central ME
    Sibilance is distortion, and in my experience is not limited just to the higher frequencies, though it’s where most people notice it. I’ve heard sibilance affect the mid range, and even the lower ranges as well on rare occasions. As for increased distortion towards the end of some records, that’s inner groove distortion or what some people simply call IGD. I seem to recall that the labels Casablanca and Elektra exhibited such issues more than other labels in the 1970s. As the needle moves inward, the tracking speed of the record slows, which increases the likelihood of distortion.

    Even on the best photographs, I can typically tell within a minute, and often within seconds, whether or not I’m listening to a phonograph record. Like some people here, I’m particularly sensitive to sibilants and other distortions inherent in even the best phonograph records and record players. I’ve heard some folks theorize that those who claim that phonograph records sound better than Hi-Rez digital audio, are subliminally comforted by inherent distortions in phonograph records. Such distortions are what many grew up with and are comfortably familiar with. Frankly, I never found such distortions pleasant, and they are why I was relieved when compact discs were introduced. I perceive lossless digital audio to be far more accurate at reflecting what master tapes sound like.
    Mike from NYC likes this.
  14. Chemically altered

    Chemically altered Forum Resident

    Ukraine in Spirit
    Without sibilance we couldn't say spaghetti. ;)
    matrix-6, missan and OldandBroken like this.
  15. KoopaChaloopa

    KoopaChaloopa Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Del Rio Texas
    Thanks for the help. I know more on the subject now. Its not too bad, only about 15 of my records have this problem. Very safe to assume that the records are bad and it has nothing to do with my set up.
  16. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Senior Member

    Surprise, AZ
    Sibilance is only apparent in vocals and its frequency response is very wide so you just can't dial it out according to research I've done about it.

    Drivers can also cause sibilance to be more apparent. I found that all electronic tweeters and mids like amt, ribbon and planar drivers seem to attenuate sibilance while some cone drivers can emphasize sibilance. I do own a vast assortment of tweeters and midrange speakers.

    But in the end as many of you said sibilance really starts in the recording process with perhaps the wrong mike, wrong placement and having the singer too close to the mic. Many singers have sibilant voices - Paul Simon comes to mind as well as Tony Bennett on some of his recordings. The worst sibilance I have ever heard was on a FP of Bobby Darin's 1st LP - That's All, on ATCO Records. Hard to listen to that LP on any high resolution speaker. Thanks to my Dad for that LP!!

    Oh, and on many recordings where the 'presence' region has been emphasized.
    Lowrider75 likes this.
  17. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Senior Member

    Surprise, AZ
    Maybe they didn't employ a de-emphasis or anti- sibilance contraption in the re-masterings.
    nosliw and missan like this.
  18. Mark Shred

    Mark Shred Fiery the angels fell..........


    Sssssssssssssssssssimple as that.
  19. Simoon

    Simoon Forum Resident

    Los Angeles
    T's and P's too, not just S's.
  20. Simoon

    Simoon Forum Resident

    Los Angeles
    The fixes, extended version:

    4. Get a 12" tonearm
    5. Get a good linear tracking tonearm
  21. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Both of which require solution #1 and cost a good deal more.
    B_a_R likes this.
  22. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict Forever moving forward

    I'm Sammy the snake, and I have to confess, that I look and I sound just like the letter "S". :)

    Sibilance - one of those things, once you start listening for it, it's hard to unhear it, and suddenly every "s" sssounds ssso essssy.
    idledreamer likes this.
  23. Earthbound2

    Earthbound2 Forum Resident

    I’m glad you pointed out Paul Simon. A few of the songs the sibilance is fairly pronounced. I upgraded my system recently and it’s a little more noticeable now.
    Btw, I don’t hear it on all recording and it varies even from Apple Music and Qobuz.
  24. tim185

    tim185 Forum Resident

    ...the sofa in San Tropez...
  25. Pete Norman

    Pete Norman Forum Resident

    'I Left My Heart in SSSSSanfranSSSSco!
    Boltman92124 likes this.

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