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  1. #1

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    Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    For anybody who's heard the new Metallica album, Death Magnetic, you've probably noticed two things.

    First - The album is without a doubt Metallica's best album in 17 years. It hearkens back to their earlier days and is a treat.

    Second - The audio compression takes what could be a terrific album, and absolutely ruins it.

    Read more about it here:

    Analysis: Metallica's Death Magnetic Sounds Better in Guitar Hero | Listening Post from Wired.com

    Analysis: Metallica's Death Magnetic Sounds Better in Guitar Hero

    According to mastering engineer Ian Sheperd, Metallica's new Death Magnetic album has a serious sonic problem: it has been compressed (in the audio sense of the word, not the file size sense) just about as much as it's possible to compress audio.

    Part of the "loudness war," this type of compression is designed to make music sound as loud as possible at the expense of dynamic range (the difference between loud and softer sounds). Television advertisers use similar technology to get the most bang for their buck volume-wise, which is why ads often sound so much louder than television programs.
    However, according to Sheperd, the problem goes beyond compression. He says some parts are actually distorted from digital clipping. "As you can easily see," he writes, "the CD version on the bottom has been heavily compressed, limited and/or clipped, and sounds massively distorted as a result." Later analysis showed that the CD is 10 dB louder than the Guitar Hero version, which sounds about twice as loud to the ear. That's some wicked compression.

    Sheperd's audio analysis (pictured to the above right courtesy of MusicRadar using the free open-source audio editor Audacity), demonstrates graphically the severe nature of the audio compression applied by Metallica's engineers to the CD version of the album, by comparing it to a recording from the Guitar Hero videogame. This version of Death Magnetic, featuring extended solos from James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, became available within the game on Friday as an $18 download.
    ... more at the link

    You can see it in visual form here. The bottom is the CD version with everything pretty much maxed out, the top is the Guitar Hero version.



    For me, as an "audiophile" I find this trend very disturbing. Why would you purposely make it so loud that no equalizer is going to make any difference. It's obvious that non-compressed masters exist out there (Obviously the folks who did Guitar Hero have them).

    I just wonder how long it will be until the pressure causes Metallica to re-release a non-compressed CD, especially considering that the less compressed guitar hero songs are circulating on various torrent websites now (according to the blog).


  2. #2

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    This is why I love my vinyl more and more.

  3. #3

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by aimster View Post
    This is why I love my vinyl more and more.
    Mike



  4. #4

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    This is sad. I honestly did not know about this. I work for a cable company and people always ask me how come the commercials are so much louder then the shows. I have asked people in my company and nobody seemed to know. Thanks for sharing this

    PS- Metallica is my all time favorite band. I have seen them 4 times. I just go pre sale pit tickets to their concert on Thursday December 18 at the Forum.
    The new album rocks. It is 10 times better then their last album (St. Anger)

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  5. #5

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    I love this record. The retail version wasn't that bad for me until I heard the GH3 version. You can hear more vocal harmonies, bass lines, and the cymbals actually have sustain. I have since burned that version to CD and listen to it. Wonderful album. I like it more then KEA, RTL, Black, Reload and St. Anger, and it won't be leaving my CD player anytime soon.

  6. #6

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    Hate Metallica...but I agree with the vinyl love.

    If only I had a decent sound system...
    What an idiot....

    Yeah, I do that Twitter thing.


  7. #7

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by sir clinksalot View Post
    For me, as an "audiophile" I find this trend very disturbing.(1) Why would you purposely make it so loud that no equalizer is going to make any difference. It's obvious that non-compressed masters exist out there (Obviously the folks who did Guitar Hero have them).

    (2)I just wonder how long it will be until the pressure causes Metallica to re-release a non-compressed CD, especially considering that the less compressed guitar hero songs are circulating on various torrent websites now (according to the blog).
    (1)Because the person mastering the disc knows that at this time in history most people will be importing the album to their iPod at 128kbs at best, or listening to the album on their car CD player and more than likely on computer speakers at home.

    (2) Most likely never

    Sonic compression has been an increasing problem lately, and almost all "re-mastered" Cd's released in the last couple of years have been over cooked in regards to compression, but guess what, most casual listeners prefer the sound of over compressed dynamic rage, because it sounds louder.

  8. #8

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    I haven't heard it but Death Magnetic is available on vinyl. Two versions actually. There's a double LP 33 1/3 and a five disc LP cut at 45RPM.
    Mike



  9. #9

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    I have Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man" album as a 45rpm record box set. I also have Oingo Boingo's "Boin-go" album the same way all the songs as 45's.

    I doubt that Metalica's new album on vinyl will have a sufficient impact on overall sales of the album

  10. #10

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    Re: Audio Compression - It's gone too far!!!!

    Guys.. the compression being talked about here is NOT about digital vs analog or CD vs vinyl.

    This is not compression as in 'file compression'.

    This is sound compression - when you boost the lower bound (but the upper bound can't go up to prevent clipping) so you reduce the range of the sound.. but it's louder.

    The same thing can be done to the upper bound.. to lower the volume (done in audio ducking setups.. like when the DJ talks over the music). We used to have a setup like this setup to prevent the commercials from being louder then our program content. There are advantages to working in a place that integrates audio systems.. lots of 'extra' hardware lying around

    It's nothing new and an audio trick for decades used for legit purposes.. including boosting amp output (make it louder). But the complaint is that it's being abused and there is this 'loud race' going on.

    What I don't quite understand is how the guy recorded it from GH III. I didn't think you can play the music without being in the game mode... which obviously there is going to be headroom left to play the game portion over the tracks. But the CD version should be easy enough to see it's totally crammed ignoring GH III.

    You would think after all the backlash over the sound quality of St Anger - you'd think they'd pay better attention to it this time.

    The funny thing is people were calling for that to be remastered as well.. which never happened. You'd think they'd learn by now.

    I downloaded it as part of GH III over the weekend, but have only gotten to play 2-3 songs so far.
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