What Can We Do About Brickwalling?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Bruce Burgess, Nov 23, 2021 at 4:50 PM.

  1. Bruce Burgess

    Bruce Burgess Senior Member Thread Starter

    Hamilton, Canada
    Like most people on this forum, I'm sick of all the new releases that are ruined by excessive compression. The Rolling Stones recent Goat's Head Soup and Tattoo You digital releases are two of the worst offenders. Both releases were rendered unlistenable by extreme brickwalling. Does anybody honestly think that these releases sound good?

    I have raised this issue with ProStudioMasters and they claim they have no control over what they are sent by the record labels. That may be true but there is no reason why they couldn't raise the issue with the labels. I'm sure I wasn't the first to complain. Most of their customers are audiophiles, who pay a premium price for good sound. The same is true of HD Tracks.

    Perhaps, we should contact the labels and politely request decent sounding releases. Does anyone else have any ideas? Unless we speak out, we're going to continue getting this kind of garbage.
  2. eric777

    eric777 Astral Projectionist

    This practice has been going on since the early 90s. Many people have complained over the years and nothing has been done. They are not listening. At this point, the only thing we can do is stop buying these releases. If enough people stopped buying them, the industry would stop the practice.

    The catch is, most people don’t care so even if everyone on this forum stopped buying brickwalled albums it would not be enough. Most people are not audiophiles.

    I stopped complaining about it. If something new is coming out I either stream the release first or I check this forum for information on the sound quality.
  3. DVEric

    DVEric Satirical Intellectual

    New England
  4. Trainspotting

    Trainspotting Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    Yep, everything you typed is true. There really is nothing you can do about it but vote with your wallet.

    Or just get over it and realize that most new reissues of old albums will be brick walled.
  5. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Follower of Hi-Fi

    New Mexico USA
    It's stupid, it's tacky, and it's going to be a terrible blight on the legacy of important artists who are going to want to create enduring archival releases and box sets and great-sounding catalog reissues in the future. Hopefully the idiotic thinking driving the decisions to embrace this approach will fade away eventually.

    It's also not that big a deal, IMO. If the music and the songs are great, I can forgive a lot. It's a regrettable self-crippling limitation but the vast majority of listeners don't care and don't hear anything wrong, and I can usually cope without feeling the sound is utterly ruined.

    "Just don't buy it" isn't going to fix anything, and cutting yourself off from a huge swath of new music is a ridiculous overreaction.. But everybody should continue complaining loudly and trying to shame the perpetrators.
    mattdm11, Bevok, PhoffiFozz and 5 others like this.
  6. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    new york city
    Switch to vinyl? Or, at least, be open to physical media in both formats?
    Classicrock, Jrr, tug_of_war and 8 others like this.
  7. Heavy Metal Snow White

    Heavy Metal Snow White Tattooed Millionaire Princess

  8. walrus

    walrus Forum Resident

    Minneapolis, MN
    Seems so simple.
  9. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Jrr and tug_of_war like this.
  10. vinyl diehard

    vinyl diehard Two-Channel Forever

    Are most people who do digital downloads open to go vinyl? I think this is not an option.
  11. RichC

    RichC Forum Resident

    Charlotte, NC
    Keep making angry threads about it on an audiophile forum populated by an aging customer demographic.
  12. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    Of course it isn't. I would think that people who take this kind of thing seriously and considered vinyl would have gone that way long before now. It's not exactly always the answer anyway. Far from it.
    Jarleboy and vinyl diehard like this.
  13. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    Buy. Old. Stuff.

    You're welcome.
    andy obrien, Jrr, zebop and 7 others like this.
  14. The Elephant Man

    The Elephant Man Forum Resident

    I protested outside of a Target store and was physically removed by their security.
    I resumed my protest to the Dollar General down the street.
  15. Two of Diamonds

    Two of Diamonds X

    I would really prefer both. For a while there, all records that I was buying new came with downloads. I was sort of in an indie phase so maybe it was just the labels I was buying from. Maybe it’s not as common now, but those Prince vault lps didn’t come with a download coupon.
  16. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good

    I feel you OP. It disgusts me when I buy an LP that as a cash grab they cut from brick walled crap. Hardware by Billy Gibbons is unlistenable.
  17. Man at C&A

    Man at C&A Forum Resident

    That kind of crap sounds even worse on vinyl than CD.
  18. Ray Blend

    Ray Blend One and Two

    The Midwest
    I haven't had a problem with this in a long time. Either it went away, or the process became more sophisticated, or I got used to it for certain types of music, or a little bit of all the above.

    My uneducated guess: Mastering engineers got better at this over time, the software got better, and the "loudness war" effectively ended due to automated level matching technology for radio, streaming, etc.

    Having said that, the late '90s/early '00s were brutal for CDs. I encountered my share of ear-bleeders during that era.
  19. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Master Guns

    NYC Man/Joy-Z City
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021 at 6:58 PM
  20. Maggie

    Maggie funky but chic

    Toronto, Canada
    To be clear, I don't care about the Rolling Stones or other boomer rock type stuff and maybe those releases really *are* dreadful and unlistenable. I haven't heard them. I don't know.

    But there are two issues here.

    1> "Audiophiles" think they are still "fighting the loudness war." There is no doubt that there was a vogue for extreme dynamic compression that started in the mid-'90s and came to a climax in about 2006. Releases from that period have a definite millennial "crunch" to them. Many sound awful. But fashions changed with the decline of radio, CD, and iTunes. The millennial "crunch" is no longer the standard. Engineers in the streaming era are using dynamic compression and limiting in a more thoughtful and situation-specific way. The 'war' such as it was is over. It ended in a stalemate. Those ancient CDs made from LP cutting masters are not coming back. Neither is St Anger.

    2> The "boy who cried wolf" phenomenon. "Audiophiles" on forums such as this complain tirelessly about the sound of most releases since the 1990s. They complain not just about crunchy 2003 mastering disasters, but about archival projects overseen by dedicated and meticulous audio engineering professionals working with complete devotion to the source material. If "audiophiles" will complain even about those kinds of projects, it's reasonable to ask whether it's worth listening to them at all.

    And so the smart professionals go on with their lives and do their work and completely and justifiably disregard what gets posted in forums such as this.
  21. DVEric

    DVEric Satirical Intellectual

    New England
    On the bright side, if you’re willing to search it out, you can generally find a needle drop of an album you love. I have many many needle drops that I’ve downloaded, and although not always perfect, they are generally pretty good. So you don’t have to spend thousands on vinyl to get good sounding albums. I find that people who genuinely love vinyl/quality-audio (NOT FLIPPERS) are pretty generous.
  22. Matt I

    Matt I Forum Resident

    The Goats Head Soup 4 LP set sounds fantastic. I ditched the 2 CD set a couple of months ago because it didn't sound good.
    tug_of_war, CBackley and stef1205 like this.
  23. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Unless it gets really positive reviews of sound quality on this forum, I will not buy a remastered album even if it has a million unique bonus tracks, alternative takes, acoustic versions, etc. Regarding a lot of post-1994 music, well there's not much to be done. If I like the music well enough I just accept the brickwalling as part of the aesthetic, even though I would prefer it to sound differently. I also agree with the poster above who said it has gotten better since approx. 2006.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021 at 6:54 PM
    mozz likes this.
  24. Uncle Miles

    Uncle Miles Wafting in and out of Forum

    Phoenix, AZ USA
    It would be nice if online music vendors (HDTracks, Qobuz, Amazon, etc) published the Dynamic Range info per track of new releases. I guess there's not much sales incentive to do that however.

    There's doubtless a way to redirect the "Play Sample" per-song feature to an AIFF/MP3 file and test that, but I'm kind of lazy (and you're seeing only 30 seconds of each song).
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021 at 6:56 PM
    David Austin likes this.
  25. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Central ME
    There are often distortions inherent in phonograph records and their playback equipment that present deceptively higher dynamic range readings.

    Sadly, reissues of vintage music is often highly compressed as well. Before you buy, solicit thoughts and opinions about perspective purchases here first.

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