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Topic: MOTR CD Recordings are BRICK-WALLED, All the audio tracks are CLIPPED< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 06:37

OK so after some extensive listening of MOTR to decide how much I like the various music tracks I finally got around to scrutinizing the QUALITY of the AUDIO on the CDs...

In short, I am disappointed... Unlike almost all of Mike's previous releases which have to date been very well mixed and mastered for CD, with MOTR there exists a very noticable overuse of COMPRESSION and ramping up the GAIN too much to the extent that the audio signal is CLIPPED / BRICK-WALLED... Whilst this it typically done so as to allow higher volumes to be enjoyed when listening though earphones via a mobile listening device this has a very detrimental effect on how the audio sounds when played through a HIFI SYSTEM, making it sound HARSH, FLAT and devoid of any decent DYNAMIC RANGE.

For example, HERE are the waveforms for MOTR track 7 "NUCLEAR" - Note the high level of COMPRESSION, negligible DYNAMIC RANGE and very considerable amount of CLIPPING / BRICK-WALLING:



For comparison purposes HERE are the waveforms for FIVE MILES OUT track 5 "FIVE MILES OUT" (2013 REMASTER):



This is just one of many examples of very well mixed and mastered audio as typical for Mike's previous releases... Just look at the wonderful DYNAMIC RANGE and absence of any CLIPPING / BRICK-WALLING.

What does everyone think about this? :O

Incidentally, whether or not the VINYL version also suffers from this problem would depend on whether the same stereo digital master was used as with CD... if the stereo digital master is 44.1KHz 16-bit, then it is very likely that the CLIPPING / BRICK-WALLING is present on the stereo digital master and hence also on the VINYL version... If there anyone who possesses the VINYL version of MOTR can confirm this that would be most greatly appreciated. ;)
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knife edge Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 10:13

:(  Very poorly mastered. I think I will listen to TB2 or Amarok to be able to appreciate typical Mike's hifi recordings.
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Priabonia Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 10:40

That's appalling! Not that I was going to buy it anyway, but this would be another reason not to! Looks like the engineer is still fighting the "loudness wars"!

- see here for interesting article:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep11/articles/loudness.htm


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scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 10:42

Quote (knife edge @ Mar. 06 2014, 10:13)
:(  Very poorly mastered. I think I will listen to TB2 or Amarok to be able to appreciate typical Mike's hifi recordings.


Quote (Priabonia @ Mar. 06 2014, 10:40)
That's appalling! Not that I was going to buy it anyway, but this would be another reason not to! Looks like the engineer is still fighting the "loudness wars"!


I absolutely agree with you :)

The mastering quality is very disappointing indeed. With Mike's previous releases in the past there has clearly been excellent quality control; however, here it appears to haven been pretty much non-existent... bummer :/
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Tati The Sentinel Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 11:02

And to make matters worse,it's been affecting the whole music business.I do enjoy other music genres and tech people have been observing the same effect.

Pity Mike's got into it  :(


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scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 11:05

Quote (Priabonia @ Mar. 06 2014, 10:40)
Looks like the engineer is still fighting the "loudness wars"!

- see here for interesting article:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/sep11/articles/loudness.htm

If you don't already know about it you will likely find THIS website very useful (it is how I determine which CD pressing versions of other older CD music albums to buy): THE DYNAMIC RANGE DATABASE

It comprises a database of the various different CD PRESSINGS and lists the particular DYNAMIC RANGE SCORES for them ;)
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Covenant Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 12:24

To save the trawl...
Mike's albums start here...
Mike's DR

:)
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scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 06 2014, 13:47

Quote (Covenant @ Mar. 06 2014, 12:24)
To save the trawl...
Mike's albums start here...
Mike's DR

:)

Nice idea Covenant and thanks for the thought! But unfortunately as more items are added to the database (which occurs all the time) that page and hence the link will drift away from Mike's albums...

HERE is a link to just Mike's albums that will remain connected to all his albums, even as and when more items are added to the database:

MIKE OLDFIELD ALBUMS - DR INFORMATION

:)

BTW there is a SEARCH function at the top of the page where you can type in an ARTIST NAME and/or ALBUM into the relevant box then click the SEARCH button and it will load the relevant listing... Saves trawling through all the pages! ;)
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Covenant Offline




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Posted: Mar. 07 2014, 04:59

;' )
I'm using my works PC/Browser to check this...
That'll be why I didn't see the search box
(STILL ON IE6 !!;)
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Philippe Tavares Offline




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Posted: Mar. 07 2014, 07:53

:O Surprised some noticed that ! I didn't dare to tell that but yes we can easily hear that well only with the guitar bass in exemple ..they only used subbasses ! A friend of mine ,real musician, said that to me too !

The mastering is very loud and there will have not dynamics !

Yes i this case wavforms are often a perfect .."rectangle " !

But well i like the album anyway that's a fact !

Hope that Mike will do again his fine mixes , stereo effects etc in a next album !
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tarquincat Offline




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Posted: Mar. 07 2014, 10:16

I must be a "cloth eared nincompoop" for not analysing the bit rate as I listen on my car stereo.
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Bassman Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 01:26

I want to point out that there is a fundamental difference between "brickwalling" and "clipping".  Misinterpretation of the terms can cause mistaken perception and unwarranted bias.

In the first illustrated waveform, there is clearly dynamic range present.  If the track had been brickwalled then the entire graphic would be nearly a solid green from beginning to end and almost no black would be visible.
Obviously, there is some clipping on the represented track, whereupon the transient peaks of the signal are cut off.  But it appears to have been applied to only the highest peaks--the audio signal has not been so compromised as to be painful to listen to.

Unfortunately, to many audio fans (including me), any amount of clipping at all is undesirable (despite its use on almost every contemporary recording)--but it is not nearly as offensive as brickwalling and the two should not be confused.
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Cavalier (Lost Version) Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 07:32

Quote (tarquincat @ Mar. 07 2014, 10:16)
I must be a "cloth eared nincompoop" for not analysing the bit rate as I listen on my car stereo.

Anticipating how the 5.1 channels will be used when Amarok's Intermission starts, I'm looking forward to detailed analysis and histrionic comment on how "Not to be listened to by cloth-eared nincompoops" sounds - and looks... ;)


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scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 11:58

Quote (Bassman @ Mar. 08 2014, 01:26)
I want to point out that there is a fundamental difference between "brickwalling" and "clipping".  Misinterpretation of the terms can cause mistaken perception and unwarranted bias.

In the first illustrated waveform, there is clearly dynamic range present.  If the track had been brickwalled then the entire graphic would be nearly a solid green from beginning to end and almost no black would be visible.
Obviously, there is some clipping on the represented track, whereupon the transient peaks of the signal are cut off.  But it appears to have been applied to only the highest peaks--the audio signal has not been so compromised as to be painful to listen to.

Unfortunately, to many audio fans (including me), any amount of clipping at all is undesirable (despite its use on almost every contemporary recording)--but it is not nearly as offensive as brickwalling and the two should not be confused.

Thanks for the clarification! In which case, yes, the problem is CLIPPING... a LOT of CLIPPING   ;)
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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 13:27

Hmm, I haven't noticed a problem with the sound itself, but yes it is louder than other recordings... Now I know why.

Some have reported the Vinyl version sounds better. I wonder if it is because the master is different than the one on the CD.

Anyway I would love to meet the guy who mastered it and kick him in the nuts, then in the head and then... pff I dunno, clip his hair. "How do you like them clipped wavelenghts now?"

I am usually not angry because of such little things, but now that they affected my favourite artist I am not so cold to it as before. Luckily it is not such a big disaster like Death Metallic, is it?
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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 13:37

Well looking at the songs now it does not look that bad actually. I don't see much clipping when I take a closer look on the wavelenghts, but it is noticeable that compression has been applied, which reduced the overall dynamic range of the songs.
They do not sound too bad to my ears though. What do you think guys?
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scienceguy Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 15:03

Quote (Black Bunik @ Mar. 08 2014, 13:37)
Well looking at the songs now it does not look that bad actually. I don't see much clipping when I take a closer look on the wavelenghts, but it is noticeable that compression has been applied, which reduced the overall dynamic range of the songs.
They do not sound too bad to my ears though. What do you think guys?

I played the whole INSTRUMENTAL album today through an ultra-high-end audio system.

IMO the audio is not the worst CD music audio that I have ever heard, but it is pretty much the worst quality out of all of Mike's albums.

It is not so bad that it is rendered 'unlistenable to' but it is quite ear fatiguing when played at high SPL e.g. 102dB peak (all channels) at the listening position, whereas I can play Mike's other albums at Reference Level without any such issue.  ;)

N.B. The RECORDING GAIN is circa 7 - 8 dB higher than it should be, which is why the audio is that much louder at a given VOLUME SETTING on your listening equipment.
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InsideOfYou Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 19:30

I have the vinyl, sounds fine. Crisp and dynamic. My turntable is a Dual turntable with an Audio Technica cartridge (ATS11e). It came with an Mp3 download card. I only listen to Mp3 off my phone when I'm out walking etc. Nothing objectionable from what I can hear.

I've often found that a good way to improve an overcompressed CD is to rip it to 320k Mp3s and burn that to CD to listen on your CD player. Seems to soften things up a bit.
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Black Bunik Offline




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Posted: Mar. 08 2014, 20:10

Quote (scienceguy @ Mar. 08 2014, 15:03)
Quote (Black Bunik @ Mar. 08 2014, 13:37)
Well looking at the songs now it does not look that bad actually. I don't see much clipping when I take a closer look on the wavelenghts, but it is noticeable that compression has been applied, which reduced the overall dynamic range of the songs.
They do not sound too bad to my ears though. What do you think guys?

I played the whole INSTRUMENTAL album today through an ultra-high-end audio system.

IMO the audio is not the worst CD music audio that I have ever heard, but it is pretty much the worst quality out of all of Mike's albums.

It is not so bad that it is rendered 'unlistenable to' but it is quite ear fatiguing when played at high SPL e.g. 102dB peak (all channels) at the listening position, whereas I can play Mike's other albums at Reference Level without any such issue.  ;)

N.B. The RECORDING GAIN is circa 7 - 8 dB higher than it should be, which is why the audio is that much louder at a given VOLUME SETTING on your listening equipment.

Well I didn't go full concentrated listening on this album yet. More like ... background music while doing something else. So I can not say how fatiguing it is. But compression generally does that... which is a shame really.
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Thea Cochrane Offline




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Posted: Mar. 10 2014, 10:12

Quote (InsideOfYou @ Mar. 09 2014, 00:30)
I've often found that a good way to improve an overcompressed CD is to rip it to 320k Mp3s and burn that to CD to listen on your CD player. Seems to soften things up a bit.

That's just… Well, whatever works for you I suppose. :yinyang:
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