Is dynamic range compression the reason for "warm" sounding LPs?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by SimplyOrange, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. SimplyOrange

    SimplyOrange Well-Known Member

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    I was reading an article recently about how an artist digitized their catalog in the 80s because LPs were supposedly often compressed due to the limitations of the format and that CDs had about 96db of headroom.

    I have noticed some digitally DR compressed CDs do tend to sound warmer.

    I thought someone might have some more info on the subject.
     

     

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  2. TerryO

    TerryO Super Member

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    Decent, clean records almost always sounded much better than any CD disc or digital recording did, up until very, very recently.
    BTW: CD's have a 96dB dynamic range in theory...just try to actually find one!

    Best Regards,
    TerryO
     
  3. FONSguy

    FONSguy Super Member

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    Warmth is more about EQ than dynamic range.
     
  4. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    Compressing the dynamic range will tend to make things sound louder, or at least closer to the same volume level between soft and loud passages. Bumping the upper bass region a bit and dropping the treble slightly will make it "warm".
     
  5. WaynerN

    WaynerN AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Almost all CDs are compressed too. There are not many stereos that can replicate a 100db dynamic swing without blowing up the speakers/and or amp.

    I have a Telarc recording of Holst-the Planets, and the CD has a warning on it to keep the volume down because the dynamic peak will sneak up and possibly do damage before you can hit the volume control.

    Compression is a good thing and is your friend.......
     
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Prog-tastic!

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    Its in the EQ and the mix IMO. Still today, some recordings are mixed strictly for digital portable listening, so the mix volume is essentially even. When that is played on a larger home system, of any hi-fi nature, you will get a harsh clippy sound, even if that recording is pressed to vinyl without any remix.

    The very well done LPs and CDs are done by engineers who have a clue, they will mix the recording differently for different final media issue. This to me is where the "warmth" factor comes into play regarding vinyl.
    Lets not forget too that your analog chain gives a particular sound, cartridge, tonearm, cables, phono stage, these can all affect what you hear differently on the same album.
    I don't need my vinyl system to have a +90db, of course it cannot, and I have been fine with that for almost 40yrs.
     

     

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  7. gadget73

    gadget73 junk junkie Subscriber

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    Was this less true in the early days of CDs? The original CD player in my 91 Mark VII had the option to enable compression. In the manual, it was explained that due to the very large dynamic range of CDs, soft passages might be inaudible unless turned up so loud that loud passages would be too loud. The compression button definitely worked, or did until the head unit went TU and I gave up on it.
     
  8. DougMac

    DougMac Super Member

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    I would be more likely to attribute the "warmth" to euphonic distortion rather than dynamic range.

    I agree with the analog chain contributing to the sound we call "warmth". I have several carts from different manufacturers. Some sound "warm", others sound "clinical".

    I appreciate well recorded and engineered music. You can deliver it by tape, record, CD or digital file.
     
  9. Ths364

    Ths364 Super Member

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    Some of the digitally re-mastered CD's were probably originally recorded on analog tape or mixed to 1/2" tape which can make for a "warmer" sound, and that IS dynamic compression.
     
  10. WaynerN

    WaynerN AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My Telarc recording is from 1986 (Telarc CD-80133) BTW.

    In answer to your question, I don't think lots of studios had the capability to do a DDD recording at that particular time in CD history. I think that most of the CDs that were being released were from analog masters, with compression to be cut on the vinyl. But, as time and technology moved forward, the DDD became the standard, as it is today. Kind of like when everyone was getting hi-def TVs but none of the cable providers could deliver the goods, so to speak.

    Does compression make vinyl sound "warmer"? Maybe. The music we are hearing is re-created coming out of the phono preamp due to RIAA equalization. If the EQ doesn't match what was used to EQ the record in the first place, we will have some coloration. This might very well be interpreted as "warmth" in some recordings. And the EQ has a direct correlation to compression, without it, our needles would simply jump out of the record grooves.

    The RIAA EQ was not the standard for records from day 1. Columbia Records had their own curves, Decca their own curves and how how that worked out with a phono section that had the RIAA curve is beyond me. One thing is for sure and that was it mis-matched.
     
  11. jasonsong86

    jasonsong86 Super Member

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    Warmer sound is more of a tonal balance thing rather than dynamic range.
    Vinyl has less dynamic range than CD physically but exactly how much of it being used is determined by the sound engineer not the format.
    Other things to consider is colorization of the sound. Being analog vinyl will subject to more colorization from the cartridge and phono stage. CD can too but will be less.
    The warmth of sound is usually a pronounced mid-range on top of a very good low and high frequency response. The fuzziness you get from a musical instrument such as a Cello is good midrange plus high frequency extension.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014

     

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  12. soundmig

    soundmig AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Warmth or lack thereof really starts with the microphone and eq choices made by the engineers in the studio or recording venue. There are warm sounding microphones, detailed sounding microphones, harsh sounding microphones and everything in between. The console also has a big impact. Commonly used large format mixing consoles all have varying levels of harshness or warmth - depending on who designed and built them. For example a bunch of music mixed in the 1980's and 1990's (even today) were recorded and mixed on SSL consoles. While good sounding - In my opinion those were somewhat cold and analytical sounding consoles. If you compare that to recordings made on some older NEVE consoles (Rupert Neve), and you find a different level of warmth - with lots of detail on recordings using some of the finest analog consoles ever made. Many of these legendary consoles were modified or tweaked by some guys with really good ears - and are therefore "one of a kind" animals. Certain studios are known for their signature sound … which often relates back to the main mix down console. The "sound" of the room also plays a role in some of these "greatest of the great" studios.

    Assuming that you start of with a good sounding master tape from the studio (or recording venue), which isn't always the case, the mastering process has a yet another layer of influence over what you ultimately hear on your vinyl or CD or digital download. At the end on the day you are listening to a long chain of choices made by tracking engineers, mixing engineers, producers and mastering engineers - all made according to their tastes - not yours. It would be great if we all liked the same tonal balance and the same amount of compression, but we don't. So there will always be a great amount of variability in the "sound" of the recorded material that we buy, listen to and enjoy :) Accordingly, there will always be a great deal of controversy about what "sounds best". At the end of the day, your favorite music, how it was recorded and your personal preferences will all influence the equipment you buy. This has a lot to do with why there is NO agreement one which speaker is the best, or which amp is the best or which anything is the best. It all a very involved and complex series of choices dependent upon a nearly infinite number of variables introduced from the studio microphone - all the way through to the living room speaker. Buy a system you like and enjoy the music :)
     
  13. SimplyOrange

    SimplyOrange Well-Known Member

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    Interesting answers. Very much appreciated. I seem to have forgotten that music goes through quite a few chains (ie. recording, mixing, mastering etc.) which can change the sound in many different ways through different means.
     
  14. Sam Cogley

    Sam Cogley Last of the Time Lords Subscriber

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    Considering how many LPs in the late 70s and early 80s, especially classical, were labeled as digital recordings, the capability couldn't have been too uncommon. If memory serves, the CD of Dire Straits ~ Brothers in Arms was digital all the way through the production chain, and that was released in May 1985.
     
  15. JoeESP9

    JoeESP9 ESL's & tubes since 83

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    Donald Fagen's all digital, The Nightfly was released in 1982.
     
  16. SimplyOrange

    SimplyOrange Well-Known Member

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    Quite ironic considering the album cover.
     

     

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  17. noogies

    noogies My Favorite Woofers. Subscriber

    Well, it was released on vinyl, too.
     
  18. tblob

    tblob Active Member

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    The Nightfly, Brothers In Arms, etc. were NOT recorded "100% Digital" in the same way we think about it today. In fact, the terms "DDD", etc, no longer have any real meaning anymore, and we don't really use them anymore in the industry.

    Back then, we had digital RECORDING, but we did not have completely digital MIXING and Processing. So those early digital classical/Jazz recordings were indeed often 100% digital because they were essentially live performances recorded directly to digital medium with NO or VERY LITTLE mixing and processing. But for a more sophisticated/multitrack recording like Fagen, or ABBA, or Dire Straits, here is the basic recording chain: Digital mutlitrack tape deck, then mixed/processed using traditional analog mixing board/processors, then that mixdown is captured to another digital deck. Those are the first 2 "D"s. The final "D" is the "digital disc delivery," or the CD itself.

    That was what was called "DDD" in the days before totally digital mixing setups existed and were available to most studios. When the DDD terminology was invented, they didn't necessarily anticipate that someday you could record a sound with a microphone, and after that it NEVER sees the analog domain ever again, even if it is a fairly elaborate, full-on pop production.

    100% digital mixing and processing for more sophisticated recordings has only been widely available since the mid 90's. Before that, there were specialized workstations that could do basic "digital mixing" in the late 80's. (Think Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, etc.)
     
  19. Catcher10

    Catcher10 Prog-tastic!

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    ^ Yup, and to some that is the big difference in todays digital recordings versus yesterdays digital recordings.
    I have both Brothers in Arms CD and Madona Like A Virgin, which are both excellent sounding from 1982-83...Some analog processing in these to me, makes all the difference.
    Peter Gabriel's So remains one of my most played CDs due to the excellent sound.
     
  20. tarior

    tarior Dirty pool, old man? Subscriber

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    Somewhat off topic, but some of the best sounding CDs that I've ever heard were recorded in the '80s and early '90s before the 'loudness wars' really took off. It wasn't uncommon for some of them to have 20-30dB of real dynamic range in the final mix. 30dB is a huge peak. Hell, 20dB is a huge peak.

    Most modern recordings might have 10dB of range if you're lucky. For example, I picked up John Mayer's 'Room for Squares' recently. Maybe 6dB of range, and hard limiting at 0dbFS. Unlistenable on even a halfway decent system. It definitely wasn't warm sounding.
     

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