Paul Simon - Diamonds on the... Music Analysis

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

  1. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Graceland Revisited. Thanks for the reminder. Reminded me of days when this was daily listening and daily earworms. Reminded me of even earlier days, seeing Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform in London.

    At first I had a cassette tape. A copy made by a colleague, I don't know what from or on, but then, at that time, I didn't have anything stereo, let alone hifi, to listen to it on. Later I got the CD, which I still have, and is almost certainly the source of my file. I see from the wave form in DEADBEAF that it is actually remarkably quiet. But most of my music is, being music that I have had for, ahem, a while.

    Hate to see the compressed, clipped wave forms posted above. Taking a bulldozer to the landscape.
     
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  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Makes me wonder how the artists can stand their music being turned into sausage waveforms. Or do they just have no say in it? Hard to imagine Paul Simon wasn't involved in the anniversary reissue.
     
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  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    It might have something to do with noise-induced deafness. Seriously: it's bad enough for classical musicians, but how could anybody who has spent all that time standing in front of loudspeakers on stage still have perfect hearing? When did musicians first begin to realise this stuff, use IEMs etc?
     
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  4. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    I was only 11 when Graceland came out in 1986 so while I certainly remember You Can Call Me Al being played everywhere (as well as its silly video) I didn't really appreciate it until later after Rhythm of the Saints came out and I saw Simon on SNL in 1990. He played The Obvious Child and was accompanied by the huge group of Brazilian drummers who played on the studio track. I was really blown away by it and that prompted me to get that album and to also start listening to his work with Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Graceland. Both of these albums have been a staple since. I also ended up getting into some of LBM's albums.

    Lastly, being a bassist I also enjoy Bakithi Kumalo's bass work on these albums. Talk about some fat round fretless tone! He has a sound all his own.

    Sorry for the side trip. Just had to bring it back to the love of the music for a minute. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  5. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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  6. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Funny... I listened to it just for memory's sake, enjoying the nostalgia more than the music, but guess what I'm listening to again right now. And really enjoying? :D
     
  7. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    I've read these before. Pretty interesting. Incidentally I love listening to the track "Heart is a Drum" on good headphones. Also, the track Morning is on Cambridge Audio's list of test tracks for speakers (though it's for bass and not DR).
    https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/blog/test-your-speakers-cambridge-audio-engineer



    FYI - Looks like ANY of the CD versions of Graceland before pre-2000's are good on DR: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/dr?artist=Paul+Simon&album=Graceland
     
  8. Dino

    Dino Friend

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    Good question, I have read several reasons. Thad has already mentioned one, hearing loss. I remember back in the late 60s/early 70s there was what was seemingly a competitive thing going on with some groups as to who managed to be the loudest in concert. The Who and Blue Cheer were often mentioned as being in the lead. No mention of hearing damage back then in the articles I read. Sometimes it is someone you would not think of. The Carpenters at Starlight Theatre here got publicity for being incredibly loud. 130db or close to that sticks in my mind. Reportedly a lot of people in the audience left. Mogwai was the loudest that I have heard. My pants and shirt were standing fully back from and stretched tightly to the front of my body throughout the concert. I never experienced anything like that (and I have been to a lot of Rock concerts). If I didn't have good earplugs I would have had to leave, asap.

    I have read that artists have different outlooks on how their albums end up sounding. It seems odd to hear "We make the music, after that we are done." or something to that effect. I get the impression that many listen to, or are involved to some extent, in the mixing stage. I have read that most are not involved in the mastering stage. "Leave that to the profesionals." seems like it comes up a lot. Some approve the mastering. From what I have read, when presented with different masterings, most just approve the "loudest". Some request that the "loudest" be made "louder". Sometimes it is a record company exec that has final say and "louder is better" is the norm with those guys.

    I have been reading audio magazines since the early 70s. When interviewing artists, being audio magazines, they would ask what they listen to at home. It would usually be along the lines of whatever the equivalent of a boombox was at the time. (Occasionally the artist would be a bit of an audiophile, but that was rare.) I don't know if this is a truism, but I have read it many times - "Musical artists tend to hear reproduced music differently. They only get the gist from the actual sounds and their brains fill out the rest."

    Lastly, I have a theory that many people feel that removing dynamics from Pop/Rock/etc music is "modern" and having dynamics is "old fashioned". I imagine most feel this way from the sound/feeling and not any sausage making knowledge.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  9. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    To add to what @Dino wrote in the last paragraph of above. I think it's analogous to the use of rapid editing in film because people are mostly watching on TV. On the movie screen, the same edits are often incoherent. On the other hand, slow, steady, tracking shots would probably strike many people as boring nowadays.
     
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  10. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Even Steely Dan, possibly the most anal band of all time about how their records sound, have put out increasingly shonky masters over the years. In their case, I think it is some combination of (a) they use the same mastering engineers they used in the 70s who have all gone slightly deaf and (b) their target sound these days genuinely is searingly bright and thin. Who knows, maybe it was all along and throughout the 70s they were constantly cursing the fact that the analogue recording gear they had to work with was so warm and smooth.
     
  11. DigMe

    DigMe Needs a baby bottle

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    This DR talk made me go back and listen to David Sylvian/Robert Fripp Damage live cd. So glad I bought this in the 24k boxed version that is Fripp's original mix with great DR back in '94. Sylvian made his own remix/master and rerelease in 2001 and squashed it down.
     
  12. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    Depressing...

    Dr. Manhattan er... Manhattan Project save us!!
     
  13. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    Reminds me of Globus' studio albums. Their latest was mastered by Doug Sax of The Mastering Lab fame, but I think it was pretty apparent Patricia Sullivan Fourstar was doing a better job (with the previous album) upon first few seconds of listening. (Besides the volume difference, Epicon was much lower in amplitude.) Still good, but you can't help but wonder...
     
  14. Dino

    Dino Friend

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    I see that Globus - Break from This World is a DR6.

    It seems so wrong to pay someone of Doug Sax's talent to lean on a peak limiter. I don't blame Mr. Sax, he has to make a living. He has spoken up against the wisdom of the Loudness War himself.
     
  15. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    To be fair Globus does what they call epic rock and rock itself does not lend well to high DR.

    Noticed Epicon was missing so scanned my copy: Epicon vs BfTW.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  16. Dino

    Dino Friend

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    We have a different viewpoint on this.
     
  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I have always read the loudness wars were originally caused by radio stations. They did not want to be missed as someone twisted the dial because the level was low at that moment. So this goes way back into the days of vinyl --- and maybe even shellac?

    Classical music has necessarily maintained dynamic range. Perhaps it has never been something for pop musicians to worry about: historically, radio play was life blood to them. But in serious rock/folk/etc it remained as important as it was in classical, at least apart from those who just wanted to assault the senses of the listener.

    It is also said that the car radio is one place that engineers check their mix. The higher the ambient noise, the more compression allows the music to be heard. Maybe they should have built it into the car units instead of relying on the music!

    (PS... Graceland album earworms running riot in my head today!)
     
  18. Dino

    Dino Friend

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    I have heard that as well, @Thad E Ginathom about boosting the volume for radio and jukeboxes. It does not seem to be more than an aside in the history of the Loudness War. Analog compression sounds much different (and less detrimental to enjoyment) to me than heavy digital peak limiting.

    I agree that dynamic compression in the hardware would have been ideal, although that ship has sailed.

    Edit: I thought of what is probably the most compressed LPs that I own. It came out in 1973 (so no digital involved) Roy Wood's Wizzard - Wizzard's Brew. It happens to be one of the most crankable LPs that I own as well. I have lit up the overload LEDs in the Vandersteen 2Ci speakers twice. Both times were when I got carried away playing that LP. Quite the contrast with my experience with digital compression.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
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  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    It's not a rumour. Optimod processors are extremely common in analogue radio broadcast chains, for example.

    People got used to squashing dynamic range for AM so that quiet passages weren't swamped by the noise floor and the habit stuck. There's more processing used on FM (weird emphasis stuff, different in the US to systems in Europe, typically). However, in addition to the things that you need for FM, the loudness wars became a thing- so dynamic compression became an escalating arms race. Station owners wanted their sound to be attention grabbing when people were tuning around. When you get a track that has been "mastered" in a near-brickwall state being crammed through an Optimod, then it tends to get pretty nasty- more compression and often some v-shaped frequency tweaking and some bonus sibilance.

    Add to that people taking the feed post-optimod for their lossy internet streaming, and you can really see why it can often sound like freshly hammered crap- especially in cases where some part of the playout/broadcast chain is lossy, too. Cascade coding artifacts can and have caused engineering staff massive headaches.

    (..and in this shiny modern era, we have crazy powerful digital fabric/playout systems, with amazingly powerful DSP functions.. and still it sounds pretty bad, except on the unicorn classical stations and other oddities.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
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  20. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    My living room media player has a "night time" audio setting that performs some sort of dynamic compression. I have it turned on all the time so my wife doesn't complain during loud passages (e.g. explosions in action movies).
     
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