Paul Simon - Diamonds on the... Music Analysis

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by purr1n, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    40,044
    Dislikes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Paul Simon - Diamonds on the Soles Of Her Shoes... Music Track Analysis
    Why Audiophiles Who Seek Hires Content Are More Often Than Note Dumdums or Even Worse, Deaf

    I know that several of you dudes just heard this track last weekend at the Source AV E-Stat Extravaganza Event. I have several things to say.

    1. Wow, I'm glad Wally (Sennheiser) brought this track up from the dead. I haven't listened to Graceland for ages, mainly because I got so burnt out from it being used as an audiophile test track one or two decades ago. If you guys think Hotel California is overused by audiophiles, stuff from this album was definitely overused back in the day.
    2. I also have an aversion to this album because of my time in Santa Cruz in the 90s. No one could escape listening to this album at the various bookstores, coffee shops, pet clinics, you name it in Santa Cruz (and also Boulder). This album was like the anthology athem for hippies / marijuana abusers.
    3. I am also proud of the fact that many of you guys bitched about not being able to make a proper assessment of the HE-1 without knowing the exact recordings played back on the HE-1.
    The track that Wally played I am 90% sure is the HD Tracks 25th anniversary version of Graceland. I originally thought it was the 2011, but now I'm sure it's the 25th anniversary. BTW, I still have my 1986 CD of Graceland.

    First, let's run though the energy spectrum of the recordings from three versions: 1) The 1986 CD; 2) the 2011 remaster; 3) and the 25th Anniversary HDtracks hires remaster. Note that the results below reflect normalized volume levels.

    YELLOW: Peak
    GREEN: Average
    THIN LINE: 1986 CD
    THICK LINE: HDtracks 25th Anniversary

    Paul Simon 25th HDT vs 1986.png
    The 25th is close to the 1986. A little bit less highs and less mid-bass.

    YELLOW: Peak
    GREEN: Average
    THIN LINE: 1986 CD
    THICK LINE: 2011 remaster
    Paul Simon 2011 vs 1986.png
    The 2011 is almost identical to the 1986, but a tiny bit less treble. Looks like compression may have altered the tonal balance of the peak spectral content.

    Now, lets look at the waveforms:

    1986 CD
    Paul Simon DOTSOHS 1986.png

    2011 remaster / hatchet-job
    Paul Simon DOTSOHS 2011.png

    25th Anniversary remaster / hatchet-job
    Paul Simon DOTSOHS 25th HDT.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    SSL, Vorlon, Lyer25 and 20 others like this.
  2. bxh

    bxh Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2016
    Likes Received:
    372
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Standing in one of my favourite used record stores flipping through Paul Simon records last week, I came across Graceland again.

    I flipped through and kind of overlooked it then noticed there were two copies, so I pulled them both out. One was some random recent pressing (not sure of which) raving of audiophile grade pressing while the second was the original 1986 Club Edition.

    Needless to say I went with the original pressing and this only makes me feel that much better about that decision. It was also a good deal cheaper than the new pressing.
     
    Cryptowolf, Thad E Ginathom and Dino like this.
  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    8,327
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    It'd funny that this album came up - I was having a general discussion on dynamic range, dynamic range compression and the "loudness wars" with @landroni a few days ago, and Graceland was the album I chose to use to illustrate it.

    While my original issue CD and LP copies have by far the best dynamic range, I am pretty sure I picked up a more recent LP remaster that was also a lot better than either the 2011 or 25th anniversary HD Tracks versions. I'll have to take a look at it when I get back to my house and see exactly what release the newer LP is. I know I bought it right after getting the HD tracks version and being completely disgusted with it.
     
    Wfojas and Garns like this.
  4. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    4,722
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    This isn't a surprise. It's a shame that generally audiophiles have to choose between older masterings made on now ancient ADCs, or brickwalled modern masterings. I mean, who is listening to Paul Simon and saying, "God, this just isn't LOUD enough"??

    Several of my preferred CD masterings are from the '80s, simply because every subsequent release of those albums has been mastered for people who I suppose are listening while at a construction site.

    P.S. Graceland is one of those albums that I have heard since I was a child and have never ever tired of. I have heard it easily over a hundred times, and I still am enchanted by the opening notes of "The Boy in the Bubble" and do not lose that engagement at any point during the album.
     
    Lyer25, landroni, Garns and 1 other person like this.
  5. LauSing2

    LauSing2 Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    The Pearl of the Orient Seas
    I've been listening to this song (25th anniv. HD tracks) everyday for a year, since it was part of the audition playlist I was trying to get really familiar with. Sometimes, depending on the system, the tape hiss bothers me. Is this his also present in the other versions?
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    40,044
    Dislikes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    I'm not against compression per se - that is, I don't look at the DR Database and make a judgment based on DR values of 10s, 11s, 14s, etc. I will say that unsquished tracks to tend to sound less loud and thus less desirable to untrained ears. The solution to less loud (compressed) recordings is to turn up the volume - so the normal parts are moderate / loud, and the loud parts are extremely loud. After this, it's hard to go back to these modern remasters.

    New vinyl releases might have had the advantage of better ADCs without the massive compression of the digital MP3 / CD versions. New LPs of the classics (the music which has withstood the test of time) still tends to not be squished.
     
    Vorlon, Dino, Wfojas and 1 other person like this.
  7. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,839
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    At least with the classics there exist reasonable CD masters. I bought a vinyl copy of Chronic 2001 specifically to make a needledrop from because the CD mastering on all versions is so outrageously fucked.
     
    Dino and Vansen like this.
  8. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    758
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Wonder how the vinyl measures... took this this christmas (2 albums as gifts) think it's the 25th anniversary.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,560
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    After reading through Marv's post, there is one glaring mistake I'm afraid. There no such thing as a marijuana "abuser." I'm certain that phrase is some sort of oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or something of that sort. ( insert toking pirate here). Seriously, I've been listening to the new Paul Simon today and the guy can still make some incredible music. Which is just crazy, after all these years. :rolleyes:

    HD Tracks truly is one of the worst things I'm come across in the hobby. The stuff that they put out is typically abysmal and certainly shameful.

    I'm now listening to my old friend Muddy Waters. Folk Singer remains a stunningly well recorded and amazing album.
     
    Bobcat and a44100Hz like this.
  10. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    775
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Online
    My photo is on the cover of a Paul Simon album if anyone would like me to sign their copy.

    [​IMG]
     
    pavi, beemerphile, OakBloke and 11 others like this.
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    40,044
    Dislikes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    The tape hiss is less evident on the 1986 version because the 2011 and HDtracks remasters raises all soft sounds to make them louder and squishes all loud sounds to make them the same volume as the medium level sounds. I can turn up the volume on the 1986 version so I hear the noise easily, but then the louder latter section of the track will blow out my ears.

    Like what others have said, the HDtracks version is a travesty. It doesn't even have more plankton being 24 bits and all. It's so squished that when the tom hits and trumpets blare throughout the middle section, it makes me want to pummel an audiophile of the dumb and deaf variety into a bloody pulp.

    I wish that audiophiles in 2017 would understand that 24/96, hires, DSD, DSD128, etc. does not automatically mean better than 16/48, and that mastering quality > hires / almost anything else.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    pavi, Vorlon, Josh83 and 14 others like this.
  12. LauSing2

    LauSing2 Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    The Pearl of the Orient Seas
    So that should explain why a lot of my music has it. HDtracks is where I, unfortunately, get most of my downloaded music.

    What would be a better alternative to HDtracks?
     
  13. Garns

    Garns Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,839
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Sydney, AUS
    Look on Steve Hofmann forums to find out what the acceptable masterings are, then search on eBay/discogs for a CD with that exact serial number. Mastering on a download is a complete lucky dip.
     
    k1arg, elguapo, Dino and 3 others like this.
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    40,044
    Dislikes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    how to find good recordings.png

    What this won't tell you is if the recordings are too bright, which happens more often than not with modern remasters.
     
    k1arg, elguapo, landroni and 2 others like this.
  15. LauSing2

    LauSing2 Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    May 8, 2016
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    The Pearl of the Orient Seas
    @Garns Thanks for the tip on paying attention to the exact serial number.I guess I'll stick to buying the CDs for classic albums such as this.
     
  16. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Likes Received:
    4,336
    Dislikes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Ohio
    The Dynamic Range Database is fascinating. It helps me understand why Nick Drake improved so dramatically with good equipment as opposed to Beck and Radiohead stuff produced by Nigel Goodrich, which is loud and compressed.
     
  17. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,531
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    The vinyl remaster is actually pretty good. Digitally, I sought out the 1986 CD. If you're into digital now's the time to be snatching up the original masterings.
     
    elguapo and Dino like this.
  18. Dino

    Dino Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,494
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Too bright is pretty much my second biggest irritant. Very low dynamics is the worst, for me.

    A few years ago, I thought of different CDs that I had been listening to, how I felt about them and looked them up on DR Database to see if there was a correlation. It looked like this:
    DR6 - I can't listen to it. (They feel bad.)
    DR8 - I can enjoy listening. (I am aware of compression but it does not spoil the experience.)
    DR10 - I can enjoy the experience 100%. (It can be better but no problem.)

    I've noticed a bit of a variance to this on some music, but it is still pretty close.

    I'm sure everyone is different.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
    Lyer25, Wfojas, Wilson and 4 others like this.
  19. landroni

    landroni Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2016
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Dislikes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Maybe Qobuz:
    http://www.qobuz.com/gb-en/shop

    While I can't vouch for loudness stuff or mastering identity, they propose a large collection of both high-res and redbook content. Their streaming doesn't work in the US, nominally, but I suspect you should be able to buy content wherever you are.
     
    LauSing2 likes this.
  20. Dino

    Dino Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,494
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    HDTracks is not inherently bad*. They are not involved in the masterings that they sell. They sell whatever the record companies send them, basically like any other download site. They are frustrating for me in that the odds of getting a dynamic version of a Rock or Pop album are not good. I find their slogan particularly disingenuous: "The World's Greatest-Sounding Music Downloads". Over about 99% of the time, what HDTracks offers is the same as the other Hi-Res download sites. Exclusive masterings on Hi-Res download sites are very rare and often by accident.

    Tip: Get on HDtracks mailing list for their frequent coupons. (20% off store wide are about as good as they get.) Buy the lowest resolution download available for a given title. They are less expensive and I cannot hear the difference. (Although some people report that they do. If you fall into that category forget my second suggestion.)

    I agree with @Marvey about looking up potential versions on the DR Database and reading about them on the Steve Hoffman Music Forum prior to purchase. Those are the only resources that I am familiar with (and they are what I use).


    * Sort by the first DR column. You can see the range of dynamics that HDTracks offers. http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/dr?album=hdtracks (DR3 to DR19)
     
    luckybaer, Wfojas, landroni and 4 others like this.

Share This Page