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ARSCLIST  March 2014

ARSCLIST March 2014

Subject:

Re: Toothpaste

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 11:54:26 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (248 lines)

Hi Allison:

Don't confuse file-format compression (ie MP3, AAC, etc) with dynamics compression. People sending 
you an MP3 may or may not reflect "toothpasting" or "loudness wars," depending on how they handled 
the audio dynamics during their production process. Someone sending you a toothpasted WAV file is a 
different matter. If you play any rock, pop or many recent-vintage jazz CDs, you are dealing with 
the Loudness Wars because modern dynamics tend to be compressed down to a micro-range.  When you 
have an RMS average level of -3dBfs like that Metallica album, your peak meters are basically always 
at zero. There is, in fact, no headroom and no letup in the sound pressure. This is akin to standing 
next to a leaf blower or a jet engine, depending on what SPL your system is producing.

In my neck of the woods, NPR stations vary widely on the level of dynamics compression in their 
signal. The Connecticut-based NPR network is highly compressed, to the point that classical music 
has constant pumping of noise and reverb tails. There's a little independent NPR station in CT, with 
a repeater in Mt. Kisco NY, that has a cleaner signal. WNYC tends to be somewhat crunched, but they 
don't play much music anymore. I haven't listened to the old NY Times station that they took over in 
recent times, but when it was a classical station it tended to be conservative about compression. 
Heading upstate, the NPR network encompassing Albany into Massachusetts tends to have a strong and 
not overly crunched signal. Vermont Public Radio tends also to not be pumping but clearly is 
spanking down dynamics to get strong audibility in the car. North Country Public Radio comes and 
goes. I think they don't check their processing settings often enough or leave things up to too many 
people or have too much headroom in their studio, allowing over-high signal levels to get to the 
processor. Sometimes, they have a nice clean signal and sometimes they are crunched.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Smith, Allison" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:32 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Toothpaste


> Hi -
>
> Thanks a lot for the link.
>
> Regarding the Radio/Compression comment - that is sad.  However, WPR doesn't broadcast compressed 
> material if we can help it.  We only broadcast compressed files that are not produced by us, and 
> are sent to us that way.  Then, we have no choice.
>
> Our audio engineers are aware of the difference for the listener.
>
> Cheers!
>
> ***********************************************************
> Allison A. Smith
> Archivist, Wisconsin Public Radio
> 821 University Avenue, Suite 7151
> Madison, WI 53706-1497
> P (608) 263-8806
> F (608) 263-9763
> [log in to unmask]
> It's not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on - Marilyn Monroe
>
> ***********************************************************
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf 
> Of Steve Greene
> Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 09:42 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Toothpaste
>
> See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war! I had never heard the "toothpaste" metaphor either, 
> but it's a great, visceral image!
>
> Compression is a tool used all the time on radio. In fact radio may be a prime driver of the 
> trend.
>
> Steve
>
> Steve Greene
> Audiovisual Archivist
> Office of Presidential Libraries
> National Archives and Records Administration
> (301) 837-1772
>
>
> On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 9:51 AM, Smith, Allison <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>
>> I am fascinated by this toothpaste discussion.  I've never heard that
>> term before!  I tried googling "toothpaste and sound mastering" to get
>> some further info, but only found a few very minor discussions (and a
>> lot of information about toothpaste in general).
>>
>> Would someone please explain this to the group - or, send a link that
>> does?  Thanks!
>>
>> This is purely for my own interest...
>>
>> Allison
>>
>> ***********************************************************
>> Allison A. Smith
>> Archivist, Wisconsin Public Radio
>> 821 University Avenue, Suite 7151
>> Madison, WI   53706-1497
>> P (608) 263-8806
>> F (608) 263-9763
>> [log in to unmask]
>> It's not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on - Marilyn Monroe
>>
>> ***********************************************************
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
>> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
>> Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 05:57 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Neil Young wants to take h igh-resoluti on
>> FLAC audio recordings mainstrea m with Pono - Tech New s and Analysis
>>
>> The worst example of toothpasting ever was the last Metallica album
>> (which still won a Grammy for album art and was nominated for heavy
>> metal categories -- nice message about quality from the Grammy folks).
>> The RMS average level on that CD is -3dBfs and it's totally clipped.
>> It's so over-loud that it clips the analog stage of most playback
>> systems, clipping an already clipped waveform. And when it's crunched
>> to a lossy format, it clips further because of all the digital overs
>> created by the crunching math and psycho-acoustic EQ stuff. Even
>> sometimes hearing damaged metal fans hate the sound of that album.
>> Music-wise, while it's not up to Metallica's prime standards, it was
>> their best album in years and could have stood as a very powerful last
>> stand against age and changing music/culture trends. But it sounds so
>> bad, I don't think it will be remembered as something as good as the music.
>>
>> The mastering guys tell me that the biggest problem with the
>> toothpasted stuff is that it's often delivered to them like that. Once
>> a digital file has been committed to toothpasting, especially if it's
>> done track by track, it can't be undone. Even if the toothpaste
>> commitment came in the mixing, it's still an expensive and
>> time-consuming endeavor to go back and remix it with civilized dynamics.
>> The same is true with analog recordings, of course, and toothpasting
>> was not invented in the DAW world (nor in rock music -- see Buddy
>> Rich's 1970s Groove Merchant albums as an example of super-compressed jazz production).
>>
>> As I've said before, the thing that amazes me about toothpasting is
>> that the drummers -- usually the tough guys in the band -- let the
>> guitarists win and come out louder. Toothpasting hurts electric
>> guitars the least and drums the most.
>>
>> -- Tom Fine
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Shai Drori" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 6:35 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Neil Young wants to take h igh-resoluti on
>> FLAC audio recordings mainstrea m with Pono - Tech New s and Analysis
>>
>>
>> >I actually had a client not pay me about a year ago for a mastering
>> >job because it wasn't touthpasted. They went and redid it with
>> >another engineer who did. And they had the audacity
>> >(Spelling?) to use my mixes without paying for them.
>> > Shai
>> > בתאריך 11/03/14 12:18 PM, ציטוט Tom Fine:
>> >> Yes. I lump them with record company hacks.
>> >>
>> >> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Robert Cham" <[log in to unmask]>
>> >> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> >> Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 10:19 PM
>> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Neil Young wants to take h igh-resoluti on
>> >> FLAC audio recordings mainstrea m with Pono - Tech New s and
>> >> Analysis
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>> Let's not forget the producers in this. Back when I was very
>> >>> active in recording, they were the main proponents of louder is better.
>> >>>
>> >>> Bob Cham
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>> Apple, because it's Apple, hates FLAC and refuses to allow it in
>> >>>> iTunes. Meanwhile, Sony is belatedly putting on a big push for
>> >>>> native DSD, including a hardware/marketing push. So it's likely
>> >>>> to be muddled, SACD vs DVD-A all over again. That said, anything
>> >>>> to promote higher-quality downloads is a Good Thing in my book. I
>> >>>> include in that Mastered for iTunes, but note that the vast
>> >>>> majority of material sold on iTunes was not well mastered or well
>> converted to the lossy format. Newer stuff, if it carries the Mastered
>> for iTunes certification is better.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> On another front, I'm seeing slight signs of progress against
>> >>>> terrible-sounding toothpaste MAKE IT LOUDER mastering. Just the
>> >>>> fact that the high-rez downloads places are demanding reasonable
>> >>>> dynamics is trickling down to the CD mastering. I've now heard
>> >>>> enough tales of woe from mastering engineers -- "The Artist Made
>> >>>> Me Do It" or "The Record Company Suit Made Me Do It" -- that I
>> >>>> tend to
>> believe them, that Make It Louder is completely the fault of tin-eared
>> artists and record company hacks. But that doesn't make the results
>> sound any better!
>> >>>>
>> >>>> --Tom Fine
>> >>>>
>> >>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Tim Stamps"
>> >>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>> >>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> >>>> Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 6:20 PM
>> >>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Neil Young wants to take h igh-resolution
>> >>>> FLAC audio recordings mainstrea m with Pono - Tech News and
>> >>>> Analysis
>> >>>>
>> >>>>> I hope all the players update their software so FLAC will play
>> >>>>> on everything, but unfortunately it's not possible since many
>> >>>>> players (both software and hardware) sold and/or distributed in
>> >>>>> the past
>> cannot be updated.
>> >>>>> Tim
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> On Mar 10, 2014, at 4:42 PM, Steve Greene wrote:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> http://gigaom.com/2014/03/10/neil-young-wants-to-take-high-reso
>> >>>>>> lu tion-flac-audio-recordings-mainstream-with-pono/
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Stay tuned...
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Curious as to what kind of mass-market penetration you can make
>> >>>>>> at that price-point. Is the audiophile market alone enough?
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Steve
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>> !DSPAM:639,531e5abb44331637612606!
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>
>> >
>> > --
>> > Cheers
>> > Shai Drori
>> > Timeless Recordings
>> > [log in to unmask]
>> > בברכה,
>> > שי דרורי
>> > מומחה לשימור והמרה של אודיו וידאו וסרטים 8-35 ממ.
>> >
>> >
>>
>
> 

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