How to measure the Dynamic Range of recordings

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by landroni, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    Now that SBAF is officially in obsessive mood about Dynamic Range, loudness wars, compression and stuff, I thought it would be a good idea to give people some pointers on how they can estimate the DR of their local album collection.

    In case you've been living under a rock in audiophilia, the go-to reference for these things is the Dynamic Range Database.

    And now for the instructions, by platform.

    Linux

    There are several possibilities here, some worse than the others. The one that works best for me (and is compatible with DR Database submissions) is the DR14 T.meter. They provide packages for various distributions. And since it's a simple Python script, you can easily use GIT as well. It supports WAV, FLAC, MP3, M4A, APE and Ogg Vorbis formats.

    To use it is very easy. Open a terminal in the folder containing your album and execute:
    Code:
    dr14_tmeter -d -b
    It will scan all files in the folder. Also, these options ensure that the resulting `dr14.txt` log file is compatible with the DR Database and you can thus submit it there. (You may as well omit the `-d -b` arguments if you don't plan on submitting the logs.) Here's an example of the output:

    Code:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Analyzed folder:  Petra Magoni - Musica Nuda 2 (disc 1)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DR    Peak    RMS    Duration    File name
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DR6     -0.00 dB     -7.99 dB     3:39     01 - Petra Magoni - Come together.flac
    DR7     -0.13 dB     -9.38 dB     3:12     02 - Petra Magoni - Io sono metà.flac
    DR9     -0.00 dB     -11.89 dB    1:03     03 - Petra Magoni - 5+7.flac 
    DR7     -0.14 dB     -12.87 dB    2:37     04 - Petra Magoni - Non andare via (Ne me quitte pas).flac 
    DR7     -0.00 dB     -8.66 dB     2:43     05 - Petra Magoni - Couleur café.flac
    DR7     -0.00 dB     -9.70 dB     3:23     06 - Petra Magoni - Never can say goodbye.flac
    DR7     -0.22 dB     -9.53 dB     2:37     07 - Petra Magoni - Dindiandi.flac
    DR6     -0.13 dB     -8.63 dB     2:54     08 - Petra Magoni - Like a virgin.flac
    DR7     -0.12 dB     -9.97 dB     2:48     09 - Petra Magoni - Lascia ch'io pianga.flac
    DR10    -0.00 dB     -13.15 dB    1:58     10 - Petra Magoni - Il cacio con le pere.flac 
    DR6     -0.19 dB     -9.17 dB     3:06     11 - Petra Magoni - Splendido splendente.flac
    DR8     -0.00 dB     -9.34 dB     3:58     12 - Petra Magoni - Le due corde vocali.flac
    DR7     -0.25 dB     -12.38 dB    1:31     13 - Petra Magoni - Sirene.flac 
    DR7     -0.14 dB     -9.79 dB     2:20     14 - Petra Magoni - La vie en noir.flac
    DR6     -0.14 dB     -9.13 dB     2:45     15 - Petra Magoni - Il camello e il dromedario.flac
    DR10    -0.24 dB     -14.39 dB    4:16     16 - Petra Magoni - Over the rainbow.flac 
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Number of files:    16
    Official DR value:  DR7
    
    Dr14 T.meter 1.0.16
    ==============================================================================================   
    Depending on what you use as file manager (Thunar, emelFM2, etc.), you can easily create a GUI menu item that would run this when activated.

    Mac

    Since I don't do Apple, I can't be of much help here*. I will however point out to the DR Database official DR Offline Meter for MAC. There also seems to be a client by The Pleasurize Music Foundation, which seems to be related to the DR14 T.meter project, though it requires (free) registration on its website to be able to download it.

    * Here are some pointers for Mac users kindly contributed by @k1arg:

    Windows

    I don't do Windows either, but I could easily run the DR Database official TT DR Offline Meter 1.4 client on Wine. It seems like it only supports WAV files, so if you have FLAC you'll need to decode that to WAV to use this tool.

    Screenshot_2017-03-06_16-29-15.png

    To use it on an album, you need to flip the switch to Folder, then click Load and select the desired folder. It will then output a `dr.txt` file that would look like this:

    Code:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Analyzed folder: Z:\tmp\Petra Magoni - Musica Nuda 2 (disc 1)\
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DR          Peak            RMS           Filename
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    DR6       over         -7.79 dB     01 - Petra Magoni - Come together.wav
    DR7      -0.13 dB      -9.13 dB     02 - Petra Magoni - Io sono metà.wav
    DR9      -0.00 dB     -11.64 dB     03 - Petra Magoni - 5+7.wav
    DR7      -0.14 dB     -11.87 dB     04 - Petra Magoni - Non andare via (Ne me quitte pas).wav
    DR7       over         -8.40 dB     05 - Petra Magoni - Couleur café.wav
    DR7       over         -9.29 dB     06 - Petra Magoni - Never can say goodbye.wav
    DR7      -0.22 dB      -9.19 dB     07 - Petra Magoni - Dindiandi.wav
    DR6      -0.13 dB      -8.34 dB     08 - Petra Magoni - Like a virgin.wav
    DR7      -0.12 dB      -9.45 dB     09 - Petra Magoni - Lascia ch'io pianga.wav
    DR10     -0.00 dB     -12.64 dB     10 - Petra Magoni - Il cacio con le pere.wav
    DR6      -0.19 dB      -8.90 dB     11 - Petra Magoni - Splendido splendente.wav
    DR8       over         -9.02 dB     12 - Petra Magoni - Le due corde vocali.wav
    DR7      -0.25 dB     -11.46 dB     13 - Petra Magoni - Sirene.wav
    DR7      -0.14 dB      -9.47 dB     14 - Petra Magoni - La vie en noir.wav
    DR6      -0.14 dB      -8.57 dB     15 - Petra Magoni - Il camello e il dromedario.wav
    DR10     -0.24 dB     -13.79 dB     16 - Petra Magoni - Over the rainbow.wav
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    Number of files:    16
    Official DR value:  DR7
    
    ==============================================================================================
    (For some reason this client won't sort the output by the original ordering of the tracks, so I've done this manually here.) Naturally this log file is compatible with the DR Database and you can thus submit it there as well.

    On Windows you have several other options. You may equally use a client by The Pleasurize Music Foundation, though it again requires (free) registration on its website to be able to download it.

    If you use foobar2000, then there is an official DR Database plug-in. The Pleasurize Music Foundation also releases a foobar2000 plug-in, this time available as a direct download (no registration required).


    ------
    And now for some final comments and ramblings... As a sage told me once, it seems as if dynamic compression deprives the music of all life.

    I've only recently started measuring DR of my local collection, and it's been bumming to discover that some albums that I really like, like the one above or say Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart, have such poor DR. Low DR seems to be associated with higher perceived SPL (to the point where I have to dial down the knob on my carefully setup amplifier) and higher listening fatigue. High DR albums like Paul Simon - Graceland (1986) or Charles Lloyd - Lift Every Voice, on the other hand, seem to be a pleasure to listen to blissfully at intended levels for prolonged periods, whether or not they're a favorite of mine.

    In this sense, knowing the DR of your albums may help explain the way you typically perceive some of your albums. So it's a good tool to have in your arsenal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  2. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    I'm a HUGE fan of DR14 tmeter :)
     
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  3. Dino

    Dino Friend

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  4. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Note that what we're measuring here isn't the actual 'Dynamic Range' of the recording (quietest to loudest); it's the average to peak loudness. I know Bob Katz was bothered by this, but I don't think most people care. He also wrote that it's possible to recreate peaks that go over 0dbfs, so looking at the waveform may not be a perfect indication of the subjective dynamic range, but I don't think this is ever possible without getting significant harmonic distortion. Then again maybe it won't sound as bad on LCD-4s with a mediocre DAC or equivalently resolving speakers.
     
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  5. k1arg

    k1arg Facebook Friend

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    For macOS, Audirvana can compute DR values and show them in a column of the library viewer, since version 2.6. It uses EBU R128 3342, which produces close, but not exactly identical, values compared to the offline TT DR Meter.
     
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  6. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    Thanks, @k1arg. I've now included your instructions in the main post.
     
  7. luckybaer

    luckybaer Friend

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    JRiver Media Center has an "Analyze Audio" function. It provides:

    Volume Level
    Dynamic Range
    Peak Level
    Beats Per Minute

    To access (this is for Windows version of program):
    Highlight the file (or files) you wish to analyze
    Right Click -> Library Tools -> Analyze Audio

    It takes a few seconds to complete, and then the files will be tagged with the info.
     
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  8. econaut

    econaut Facebook Friend

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    Two questions concerning dynamic range in Audirvana:
    1. I have measured most of my music with the Foobar2000 plugin, but Audirvana doesn't show the tag, although "dynamic range" and "DR" are enabled to show in the columns.
    2. How do I measure DR with Audirvana? I do not use ReplayGain and when I click on "recompute ReplayGain" nothing happens.
    Any ideas?
     
  9. monacelli

    monacelli Friend

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    See here: https://community.audirvana.com/t/how-do-i-calculate-dynamic-range/10120/

    When you click Start on "Albums ReplayGain analysis", it will open up a page that says "Audio Dynamics Analysis." There will be a little grayed out check mark next to each of your albums. Click on that little check mark, and then press "Start Analysis." The DR analysis will run in the background, and then numbers will show up in the "DR" and "DYN." columns, provided that you have enabled them.
     
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  10. econaut

    econaut Facebook Friend

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    Actually I found that link and also the setting you are describing. Ok, so there seems to be no other way. I usually just want to measure particular albums in order to compare different masters. Seems as if this is not possible in a similar easy way as in Foobar2000. Audirvana is really like Apple. It shines but there are so many things I'd like to change/customize, but can't :(

    EDIT: I finally used holiday season to muck out my music library and basically started the library from scratch for Audirvana und use the implemented dynamic range analyzer now. DR is displayed correctly now. I am still using Foobar though for comparing DR of different masters before they enter my library.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021

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