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Are Today's Recordings Brighter Than Ever?

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  • Are Today's Recordings Brighter Than Ever?

    Yes claimed the OP.

    And we know generalizations get us into trouble.

    Gotta say that is complicated situation because the answer depends upon every step of the recording and playback chain, the care taken during the recording and mastering process, the type of music, A vs D, original vs. reisue, etc.

    Gotta also add though that I don't think current recordings are any brighter than they used to be. Maybe a touch less bright in fact but certainly just as compressed in many cases. Yes, we've always had our share of bright recordings. Seems to me that recordings got brighter with the advent of early solid-state electronics into the studio, mikes that were selected based on flat FR, recordings mastered for what the labels thought would sell on mediocre systems, the advent of digital and so on. One of the worst things that was ever invented, however, was the reverb plate. That just destroyed recordings because engineers seemed to think if a little bit is good, more is better. And some of these recordings will peel the wallpaper off the wall.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

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  • #2
    Myles, do you agree there is a necessary trade off between warmth and compression vs. openness, detail, and brightness/neutrality? I've read so many different reviews off of the Steve Hoffman site and also Fremer's analog planet of original pressings of the 50s and 60s being warm, fuzzy, etc and the audiophile reissues sounding more detailed but brighter, losing that warmth of the original recording. For example, read Fremer's review of the current Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter Songbook boxset by Analog Spark vs his comparison with the original. A similar review was Fremer's review of Analogue Production's Ella Fitzgerald Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie. I'm no remastering engineer, but why can't we retain some of that original warmth without compression?

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    • #3
      Too-close miking is one of the culprits in recordings that are too bright. Today in studios it's rampant and the standard.
      -Tim Leinbaugh
      -Professional RTR restoration and modification for 47 years.
      [email protected]
      www.MusicTechnology.com

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      • #4
        IMO while everything contributes to the final product, the most egregious offenses occur in mastering. More so in the digital realm where there are far more tools to use to screw things up and many can't resist the urge to do so. Add to that the lowest common denominator mindset of the music industry to distort things to "sound good" on cheap crap.

        Sort of like going from the Louvre or the Hermitage to the greeting card counter and expecting great art.

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        • #5
          Yes, I think so. At least in pop/rock recordings. Many are still compressed and bright which has been happening for the last 2 decades. And then are some which aren't.

          But the reason for compression (and a tipped up high end) in the first place is to make the song sound louder to get your attention in the car or on your phone.
          Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

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          • #6
            Maybe modern equipment is too bright?
            I certainly think so when it comes to speakers.
            Not all but most of the HighTechy ones.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think the primary problem with new recordings is they tend towards compression and/or too much ill considered manipulation. In the case of reissues, if mastered from the original tapes more detail can be extracted by way of new heads and better electronics. The end result will depend on whether or not whoever is at the mastering console can resist the temptation to "improve" the sound by way of excessive manipulation.

              On the speaker front I feel that too many are guilty of having a hot mid/upper midrange. Mostly this just sounds bright and harsh to me. I spent a lot of time auditioning speakers looking for replacements and found damn few that even equaled my thirty year old monitors. Yeah, components may have improved, modeling software may have improved but I'm reminded that an old set of Infinitys at RMAF (Arnie Nudells private stock?) was considered as good as anything else at the show. Depends on the choices made "voicing" the speakers.

              Just my opinion, but I feel that in many cases the choices made in mastering recordings and voicing speakers are headed in the wrong direction.

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              • #8
                IF by todays recordings, you mean CDs, yes, they are bright and compressed, and "loud".
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                • Rust
                  Rust commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I've got a few LPs which aren't all that good, probably because the were digitally recorded, over manipulated in mixing and mastered badly.

                  Just because it's an LP it doesn't automatically mean it's good, likewise just because it's a CD it doesn't mean it's automatically bad, just more likely to be. I do have CDs that sound pretty good, several that are surprisingly good. For the main part NOT from major labels.

                  It's what happens when bean counters and idiots are at the controls.

              • #9
                I think that at least with Pop the brightest era was the 80's when compact cassette dominated sales. Since that was the main release medium it negatively impacted the LPs out at the same era for bands/acts that did not have the budgetary studio support for separate mastering.

                These days I find that in general the irritants are not so much in the top end but more in the upper midrange. Why I have no idea.

                Comment


                • #10
                  A lot are brighter and annoying, got to be the digital thing to support the masses on those car radios and fancy smart phone music machines,,.
                  Chris
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                  • #11
                    You can always not buy Japanese pressings for one. Generally speaking I think it's a source and mastering issue, with mastering the bigger culprit.
                    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

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                    • #12
                      Its all over the map. One makes generalizations at one's own risk!

                      We're working on a 45 rpm EP (Monica LaPlante) right now. There are 6 cuts (its a 10") and some are kinda rolled off on top, one is exceptionally bright and one sounds really good. And that's just on one project!

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                      • #13
                        I don't think that current recordings are brighter than ever. I've found that they have been mastered to be (much) louder than ever.
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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by atmasphere View Post
                          Its all over the map. One makes generalizations at one's own risk!

                          We're working on a 45 rpm EP (Monica LaPlante) right now. There are 6 cuts (its a 10") and some are kinda rolled off on top, one is exceptionally bright and one sounds really good. And that's just on one project!
                          Many, try a great many of albums, vary from track to track. In part because recordings are done in multiple studios. In part because they are recorded over time ranging from days to months. A recording engineer once related this interesting story about a recording he had done. For some reason, some of the movements sounded brighter than the others. Turned out, it was being done in early spring and the orchestra brought their coats with them and hung them on the chairs; by the time they came back for the PM session, it had warmed up and the orchestra members didn't bring their coats. Turned out the coats were damping the sound; or vice versa, it was brighter without the coats.
                          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                          ________________________________________

                          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                          -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Per Sundell View Post
                            Maybe modern equipment is too bright?
                            I certainly think so when it comes to speakers.
                            Not all but most of the HighTechy ones.
                            It's actually amazing the recordings from the Golden Age of Stereo are as good as they are. Did you ever hear some of the speakers they used as monitors back then? I recently heard a pair of the old RCA Olson LC-1As (they were originally mono) a while back and they were truly brutal to listen to.
                            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                            ________________________________________

                            -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                            -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                            -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                            -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                            -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                            -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                            -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                            -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                            -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                            -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                            Comment


                            • Per Sundell
                              Per Sundell commented
                              Editing a comment
                              I´ve heard a few older monitors used at SR, Swedens public service radio, but I do not recall them bright. Just very midbandish in a telephony sort of sound. Not very nice at all.
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