Adventures in fighting Loudness Wars (Yes "Drama" Japanese SACD)

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kap'n krunch

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Thanks to some great members in here, I was warned that this SACD was compressed to high hell, thanks to a Japanese engineer who, either has no place in the industry , or was pressured by someone (who has no place in the industry, yet, is there) to kill this LP with totally unnecessary brickwalling.
I got this SACD because I found out that the HD Tracks version was sourced from a CD master in spite of selling it as 96/24, AND it was brickwalled...

Thankfully the SACD is NOT cut off at 20-22K ...proof below...looks VERY much like my UK LP rip
Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 8.14.36 PM.png



but it is brickwalled. Proof below......captured through my MOTU at 96/24...
Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 8.26.56 PM.png



So , in my neverending optimism, I decided that , if I paid more than $30 for the SACD, which , BTW has the same packaging as the Japanese CBS quads (7 inch LP replicas like Miles´ BBRew, etc), I´d try my best to convert it into a non ear fatiguing experience.
I tried the Logic Pro Expander but somehow, either it really is no solution or my engineering knowledge has diminished a lot (which I wouldn´t rule out) but one trait still remains; try it as many times as possible and with all kinds of different settings...which I did with no success...

Enter a great member of the community who informed me that I should use the "De-clip" feature in Izotope RX , which fortunately I have...
And, whaddayaknow???? IT WOIKED, Moe!!!!

The settings were the "Extreme Analog Clipping" factory preset. I selected a bit of the offending brickwalled mess for it to take as example (or use the "suggest" button) and I selected the whole thing and less than 2 minutes later, it was done ...man, this Mac Mini is FAST!!!!... (see the above capture)


AND this was the lovely end result...definitely a much better listening experience---a splendid time is guaranteed for all!!!

Screen Shot 2020-07-01 at 8.15.31 PM.png


I guess that having Izotope RX in your arsenal is highly recommendable..and I think I got it quite cheap too...

Cheers..
:smokin:smokin:smokin
 

kap'n krunch

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Impressive! There is nothing more irritating than a brickwalled mastering, that has far more impact than CD vs SACD quality.
Thanks!

True...on an SACD it´s an even worse offense...
I am not a big fan of "modern" music but as it is, I could think of a few titles that have been brickwalled when reissued...we shall see...
 

kap'n krunch

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FIxed Enya's HD Tracks 96/24 version of Dark Sky Island ...some songs were really brickwalled but not all of them....
 

J. PUPSTER

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Thanks to some great members in here, I was warned that this SACD was compressed to high hell, thanks to a Japanese engineer who, either has no place in the industry , or was pressured by someone (who has no place in the industry, yet, is there) to kill this LP with totally unnecessary brickwalling.
I got this SACD because I found out that the HD Tracks version was sourced from a CD master in spite of selling it as 96/24, AND it was brickwalled...

Thankfully the SACD is NOT cut off at 20-22K ...proof below...looks VERY much like my UK LP rip
View attachment 53412


but it is brickwalled. Proof below......captured through my MOTU at 96/24...
View attachment 53416


So , in my neverending optimism, I decided that , if I paid more than $30 for the SACD, which , BTW has the same packaging as the Japanese CBS quads (7 inch LP replicas like Miles´ BBRew, etc), I´d try my best to convert it into a non ear fatiguing experience.
I tried the Logic Pro Expander but somehow, either it really is no solution or my engineering knowledge has diminished a lot (which I wouldn´t rule out) but one trait still remains; try it as many times as possible and with all kinds of different settings...which I did with no success...

Enter a great member of the community who informed me that I should use the "De-clip" feature in Izotope RX , which fortunately I have...
And, whaddayaknow???? IT WOIKED, Moe!!!!

The settings were the "Extreme Analog Clipping" factory preset. I selected a bit of the offending brickwalled mess for it to take as example (or use the "suggest" button) and I selected the whole thing and less than 2 minutes later, it was done ...man, this Mac Mini is FAST!!!!... (see the above capture)


AND this was the lovely end result...definitely a much better listening experience---a splendid time is guaranteed for all!!!

View attachment 53417

I guess that having Izotope RX in your arsenal is highly recommendable..and I think I got it quite cheap too...

Cheers..
:smokin:smokin:smokin
It must help if one has an audio engineering degree or extensive training just to understand what all these programs like RX can do, much of that is beyond my knowledge. Sure they offer help files, but hands on is the only way to really grasp much of this IMO.

Did you ever figure out that Boston V shaped signal Kap?
 

kap'n krunch

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.....
Did you ever figure out that Boston V shaped signal Kap?
NOPE!!! I am sure it´s a subliminal message from Tom Scholz (you WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES AND WILL BUY IT IN ALL THE AVAILABLE FORMATS!!! ESPECIALLY 8 TRACK!!!!...heh heh heh).. I mean he GRADUATED from MIT, didn´t he????
 

Jim the Oldbie

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Hey, that's interesting.

I have used this de-clip trick on some tracks before - like "Universal Heart-Beat" from Juliana Hatfield's overcooked but otherwise-excellent Only Everything. But that album was an earlier casualty of the mastering wars (early '90s?) and so contained a fair amount of actual clipping, i.e. chopped-off waveforms.

Nowadays I assumed everyone's using look-ahead limiting, for brickwall compression without actual clipping, and because of this I also ass|u|me'd that clipping restoration wouldn't work on more recent releases. And like you, I've had the same problems trying conventional expansion techniques - when the envelope's been smashed so flat that the VU meter just stands there like a stiff pecker in a mild breeze, there's not much to work with! :mad: Kinda like trying to un-crush a beer can.

Kap, can you see actual clipping on this Yes SACD?
 

kap'n krunch

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Hey, that's interesting.

I have used this de-clip trick on some tracks before - like "Universal Heart-Beat" from Juliana Hatfield's overcooked but otherwise-excellent Only Everything. But that album was an earlier casualty of the mastering wars (early '90s?) and so contained a fair amount of actual clipping, i.e. chopped-off waveforms.

Nowadays I assumed everyone's using look-ahead limiting, for brickwall compression without actual clipping, and because of this I also ass|u|me'd that clipping restoration wouldn't work on more recent releases. And like you, I've had the same problems trying conventional expansion techniques - when the envelope's been smashed so flat that the VU meter just stands there like a stiff pecker in a mild breeze, there's not much to work with! :mad: Kinda like trying to un-crush a beer can.

Kap, can you see actual clipping on this Yes SACD?
yes, the second image from the original post is the actual recording from the SACD only lowered a few dBs so I could give the signal somewhere to go..and yes, it was THAT squashed!
 

steelydave

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Maybe someone with actual knowledge or experience like @Plan9 could chime in here, but it's my understanding that these sorts of "de-clipping" processes are effectively "cosmetic" only. They restore the peaks to waveforms, which fools the DR meter into reporting a higher number (because the variances between the peaks and valleys now look bigger to it) but they don't restore any actual dynamic range - sort of akin to vinyl releases of modern "loud" material, where the DR number for the vinyl edition is higher, but it's just because the needle itself has basically done the same job of reconstructing the clipped peaks present on the master the record was made from.
 

J. PUPSTER

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Maybe someone with actual knowledge or experience like @Plan9 could chime in here, but it's my understanding that these sorts of "de-clipping" processes are effectively "cosmetic" only. They restore the peaks to waveforms, which fools the DR meter into reporting a higher number (because the variances between the peaks and valleys now look bigger to it) but they don't restore any actual dynamic range - sort of akin to vinyl releases of modern "loud" material, where the DR number for the vinyl edition is higher, but it's just because the needle itself has basically done the same job of reconstructing the clipped peaks present on the master the record was made from.
So are you basically saying once the damage has been done it turns it into a sow's ear and can never be massaged into a silk purse?
 

JediJoker

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Maybe someone with actual knowledge or experience like @Plan9 could chime in here, but it's my understanding that these sorts of "de-clipping" processes are effectively "cosmetic" only. They restore the peaks to waveforms, which fools the DR meter into reporting a higher number (because the variances between the peaks and valleys now look bigger to it) but they don't restore any actual dynamic range - sort of akin to vinyl releases of modern "loud" material, where the DR number for the vinyl edition is higher, but it's just because the needle itself has basically done the same job of reconstructing the clipped peaks present on the master the record was made from.
You're not wrong, but the end result can still be more pleasant to listen to, even in a level-matched, double-blind ABX test. There is "real" dynamic range "restored," and even though the master and overall dynamics are not fundamentally changed, that little bit of extra headroom near 0dBFS has numerous technical and audible benefits.
 

kap'n krunch

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OK, so the end result might might not be as dynamic as the LP per se, BUT it is not fatiguing as having those clipped waveforms all the time...and this is an album to listen to LOUDLY.
Here is Machine Messiah from the LP..compare it to the 2nd and 3rd slide on the first post
Screen Shot 2020-07-03 at 12.42.12 PM.png


You should try it anyway Dave, I´m sure you´ll find a subtle difference.
 

jimfisheye

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Impressive! There is nothing more irritating than a brickwalled mastering, that has far more impact than CD vs SACD quality.
True that.
There are other differences between masters like eq that can make a big difference.
Of course the volume level it's mastered at and the 'louder sounds better' effect... So once you normalize volumes and then compare things, eq work will stand out next.

Brick wall limiting up to 4db peak reduction is pretty transparent. Past that you'll hear it. Around 12db or more you will absolutely hear it! Those are the volume war casualties that often have treble boosts on top of that. (Because it was getting muddy from the limiting and because treble boost = even more stupid volume!)

My 2c on that.

I've gotten away with fixing brick walled recordings before with iZotopeRX as well.
The algorithm is made to really work well with digital clipping.
So... Clip off the very tops of the wavs. (Add gain in fixed point.) Just the very peaks. Not too much.
Those bits of waveform were the most altered at those points anyway.
Now run the de-clipper.

A commercial release though? Poor thing. That's really a couple meat grinders worth of mayhem to run something through. The volume war treatment and then the "restoration". Can you say non linear? :D

What about the Rhino CD from 2003 for Drama?
 

privateuniverse

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I posted the image below in another thread. It's the opening track on Prince's final album, Hit 'n' Run Phase Two. A great album that is difficult to listen to because it is so brutally brickwalled. I've never tried the de-clip function. Do you think it could save something as ugly as this?

 

kap'n krunch

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I posted the image below in another thread. It's the opening track on Prince's final album, Hit 'n' Run Phase Two. A great album that is difficult to listen to because it is so brutally brickwalled. I've never tried the de-clip function. Do you think it could save something as ugly as this?

Holy cow Batman!!!! WTF????...you can try !!!!
 
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