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Author Topic: AudioPhoolery in mastering  (Read 6189 times)

Viitalahde

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AudioPhoolery in mastering
« on: April 29, 2004, 12:59:32 am »

Ok, I hope I'm not opening a can of worms here.

It's pretty clear that the signal chain has to be of a good quality in a mastering studio. This is obvious.

But what do you think of AudioPhool jargon in the business? I would divide this in to two camps: the ones who tweak eg. their AC cables because they truely believe that it makes a difference, and the ones who do that because they want to impress the clients and have heard it makes a difference.

It reaches to vocabulary, too. Some use terms that make no sense but boy, they sound fine. Some speak pretty understandable language. Again, some of it has the impression factor involved.

I think it was Brad who said "either you can make it sound good or you can't". This I very much agree with.

Of course, you have to show yourself as a professional to the market. But it bugs me when people raise themselves to the 5th level above all of the mortals, hear things no-one else hears (and then smash the shit out of the music  Laughing )

If I was a possible client, I'd be way more impressed by an engineer who outcomes as an honest, friendly folk, not as an freaking space warrior.

???


Jaakko



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Jaakko Viitalähde
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Ronny

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2004, 02:24:15 am »

Viitalahde wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 00:59

Ok, I hope I'm not opening a can of worms here.

It's pretty clear that the signal chain has to be of a good quality in a mastering studio. This is obvious.

But what do you think of AudioPhool jargon in the business? I would divide this in to two camps: the ones who tweak eg. their AC cables because they truely believe that it makes a difference, and the ones who do that because they want to impress the clients and have heard it makes a difference.






Better make a third camp. People who don't fall for all of the manufacturer's bullcrap, because they've been making their own cables for 40 years and know what a cable can and can not do. The only thing that is certain is the manufacturer's use of the power of suggestion and the effect that it has on some peoples evaluations.
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Viitalahde

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2004, 03:21:54 am »

Point taken, Ronny - yer right.

And it also came to my mind that actually, there's no problem when the audiophool customer and audiophool engineer meet.


Jaakko
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
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bblackwood

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2004, 01:46:26 pm »

Well, I'm pretty straight-forward about it - if it improves the chain sonically, I use it, otherwise I do not...
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Brad Blackwood
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barefoot

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2004, 02:45:53 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 10:46

Well, I'm pretty straight-forward about it - if it improves the chain sonically, I use it, otherwise I do not...

I agree, to a certain extent.  

Human perception is fallible and susceptible to suggestion, regardless of who you are.  So, one also needs to consider whether the change he perceives makes sense.  For example, how much can a particular wire physically alter an audio signal?   If someone hears a "dramatic change", but the physics tells us, and measurements verify, that the change is below the threshold of even superhuman audibility, then we need to seriously question what's going on.

It's especially easy to become irrationally enamored with one's own creations.   I'm constantly checking what I hear against measurements.... and simple logic.  


Thomas

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Thomas Barefoot
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bblackwood

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2004, 02:57:40 pm »

Oh, we agree entirely, barefoot. I figured my stance on audio cables was well understood by now...

If anything might be trickery (and most everything can be in audio), I try to determine that I'm actually hearing it and not imagining it, sometimes going so far as to set up elaborate double-blind tests.

"Human hearing is basically a mediocre microphone hooked up to an amazing DSP processor." (that quote is someone lese's, DC knows who it is. I'll try to find out to give proper credit...)
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Brad Blackwood
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OTR-jkl

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2004, 03:21:00 pm »

Quote:

"...hooked up to an amazing DSP processor."

Except the human brain is purely analog.   Cool
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barefoot

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2004, 04:06:59 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 11:57

Oh, we agree entirely, barefoot. I figured my stance on audio cables was well understood by now...

Yeah, I think your position is very clear.  I was just using that as an obvious example of how people can be mistaken about these things.  Didn't mean to imply you were a subscriber.Smile

Thomas
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Thomas Barefoot
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lucey

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2004, 04:24:50 pm »

barefoot wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 15:06

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 11:57

Oh, we agree entirely, barefoot. I figured my stance on audio cables was well understood by now...

Yeah, I think your position is very clear.  I was just using that as an obvious example of how people can be mistaken about these things.  Didn't mean to imply you were a subscriber.Smile

Thomas



As a card-carrying member of the Cable-Tone-Is-Fact Club, let me clarify that not everyone is a PR victim or trying to impress.  

I got into cable just like AD converters, by hearing it in guitar cable differences, not by reading about it or having anyone say it was so on the net or in a store.

Then experimented with mic cables.

Then line level to powered monitors.

Then AC cable.



Some differences are so subtle it would be silly to spend the money in a recording studio, yet the home enthusiasts are basically expressing their creativity with their gear buying dollars ... and they have fewer components.   As an artist I begrudge them their glimpse of creativity with no disrespect.  (Even if it's buying amps and cables and speakers ad nauseum.)


Again, if it's all subjective, who are we to say?
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Brian Lucey
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Viitalahde

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2004, 04:27:35 pm »

Good points, guys. I agree.

It is all your world and I think it's fine to go as far as you want if you really feel you need it. I'd always keep scepticism in mind though and blind testing is always good. Actually it's fun, too. You get surprised very often, and it's very good ear exorcise.

But when the chain is tweaked just because it's hyped and supposed to be kewl, that's when I kinda get pissed. The more hyped, the more expensive. And people are actually sold more than they really need.

Hearing is an interesting thing. There's something I can't put into words right now. I started a topic "how do you hear music" in the old forum. I want to know how an engineer who hears absolutely unmeasurable differences in AC cables hears nyances in music and it's timbre and dynamic movement.

Maybe the same way I do, but just x150% magnified.

But it's easy to get fooled. If you blind-test something and have a prejudice for something - you think something is better or worse. You A/B and think you once heard something that was worse in some given moment at the other switch position. As you A/B more, the difference becomes more obvious. Eyes open - and you see it wasn't what you expected. You try again and find it was the other one what was worse this time.

Mind affects hearing very much. (and that's why I need a better A/B box..)


Jaakko
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Jaakko Viitalähde
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Gold

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2004, 06:03:24 pm »

Viitalahde wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 16:27



Mind affects hearing very much. (and that's why I need a better A/B box..)



It's very difficult to set up fair tests. I give it my best shot  but controlling all the variables is hard. I know just enough to be dangerous.

Then again I cut lacquers where everything is a moving target. The same record can track well or not track well depending on the playback equipment. You don't really want to have flat frequency response when you set up the cutting amps to help compensate for self resonance of turntables. The high end needs to be massaged to try and avoid tracing errors. And most think vinyl sounds great. You can't even measure frequency response accurately by playing back a  test cut because no cartridge is accurate enough. You have to use a Buchmann-Meyer light. Makes arguing over these tiny little differences that may or may not be there seem silly.
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Paul Gold
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barefoot

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2004, 08:34:36 pm »

Yeah, you're also dealing with all that quirky, sloppy, electromechanical stuff.  I feel your pain Paul! Wink

I have to laugh when I see people debating over which is the best DAC or such for their monitoring chain.  If they only had a clue about the level garbage their speakers are generating!  Sort of like buying clearer eyeglasses in the hope of seeing better through a mud spattered car windshield!

Not that the electronics should be neglected.  But on a relative scale, their problems are minuscule.  

Thomas  
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Thomas Barefoot
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natpub

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2004, 10:53:22 pm »

barefoot wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 19:34

 Sort of like buying clearer eyeglasses in the hope of seeing better through a mud spattered car windshield!
Thomas  


While clearer eyeglasses would indeed help one see better through that muddly windsheld, I would question the analogy. Primarily because while changing a cable may be similar in cost to a rag to cleaning one's windshield, changing speakers is probably more akin to buying new glasses.  Twisted Evil


That said, I have heard guitar cables change the apparent amplitude of the instrument, but nothing else so far:P

Thus, I hope folks are being careful to match volume levels when doing these comparrisons. Minor shifts in volume can make things sounds very different, when in fact they are not.

KT
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Ronny

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2004, 12:22:44 am »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 14:57



"Human hearing is basically a mediocre microphone hooked up to an amazing DSP processor." (that quote is someone lese's, DC knows who it is. I'll try to find out to give proper credit...)


It's a mediocre microphone hooked up to a processor that is subject to many miscalculations, connected by cables that don't meet ANSI specs. Not only that but no two microphones are matched on different mic stands or on the same mic stand, none of the processors run at the same bit depth and sample rate and none of the cables going from the mic to the processor match in stats. I'd say he's giving the human processor just a little bit too much credit, when it comes to faithfully evaluating sound, especially when there are minute difference's, such as in ANSI aproved cables. Amazing processors either work or they don't. With the human ear and mind they are as different as fingerprints and all have a different level of accuracy. Also this level of accuracy is often swayed by other factors. For the last 5 million years, our ears have developed to protect us from predators, not to be effective at hearing these minute differences in cables that are of the same construction materials, length and gauge.

The fellow that is talking about the guitar cables changing amplitude. Try using two cables that are the same specs, same length and same gauge, but different brand names and cost. You should not hear any audible differences. In the US, all cables are supposed to meet government standards. Many, many tests have been made to determine the adequate cable for the application. Often it is overkill, but all manufacturers must meet these requirements. Once the spec's are met, you aren't going to see a lot of appreciable benefits when you exceed those requirements.
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dcollins

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2004, 01:08:36 am »

OTR-jkl wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 12:21

Quote:

"...hooked up to an amazing DSP processor."

Except the human brain is purely analog.   Cool



Actually it's both analog and digital!

DC

OTR-jkl

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2004, 10:25:36 am »

dcollins wrote on Fri, 30 April 2004 00:08

OTR-jkl wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 12:21

Quote:

"...hooked up to an amazing DSP processor."

Except the human brain is purely analog.   Cool



Actually it's both analog and digital!

DC


"...and digital!"? How's that...?
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dcollins

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2004, 07:42:12 pm »

OTR-jkl wrote on Fri, 30 April 2004 07:25

dcollins wrote on Fri, 30 April 2004 00:08

OTR-jkl wrote on Thu, 29 April 2004 12:21

Quote:

"...hooked up to an amazing DSP processor."

Except the human brain is purely analog.   Cool



Actually it's both analog and digital!

DC


"...and digital!"? How's that...?



Nerve impulses are quantised.

http://people.howstuffworks.com/news-item42.htm

DC

dcollins

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2004, 06:22:48 pm »

Not exactly mastering, but....


http://www.collinsaudio.com/ces_2004/

barefoot

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2004, 07:00:57 pm »

dcollins wrote on Sat, 08 May 2004 15:22

Not exactly mastering, but....
http://www.collinsaudio.com/ces_2004/

Uhhhhh....

I mean..........

I guess.................

There really are a lot of fucking idiots in the world, aren't there? Confused
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Thomas Barefoot
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mdbeh

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2004, 07:48:29 pm »

dcollins wrote on Sat, 08 May 2004 17:22

Not exactly mastering, but....


http://www.collinsaudio.com/ces_2004/


Wow.

That's hilarious.

And frightening.

I'd make some points about the, um, designs, but I don't even know where to start.
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Brian Harper
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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2004, 12:15:03 pm »

Yeah, $17k for a turntable is a little ridiculous, but so is $100k- 1mm for a mixing board, 15k for a 251...   I think we all own a few items that others would consider a silly waste of money.  Also, living in an urban area, I see lots of people who make millions.  To them, its a hobby thats cheaper than a new ferrari. Im a gearslut who hopes to have a 17k  turntable and a ferrari and not notice the dent in my checkbook.  I guess studio business is gonna have to pick up for that to happen tho.   Very Happy

Frost
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Frost
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mdbeh

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2004, 06:41:39 pm »

Frost wrote on Mon, 10 May 2004 11:15

Yeah, $17k for a turntable is a little ridiculous, but so is $100k- 1mm for a mixing board, 15k for a 251...   I think we all own a few items that others would consider a silly waste of money.


Sure, but the thing is--and I'm sure you know this if you've been to one of these shows--a lot of the insanely expensive stuff shown is complete junk, and gets backed up with claims that shouldn't fool anyone who's passed a semester of high school physics.  It's the selling-the-Brooklyn-Bridge aspect of the audiophile stuff that's so grating.
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Brian Harper
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bblackwood

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Re: AudioPhoolery in mastering
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2004, 12:56:08 pm »

Yo know, if someone could just prove that some of this stuff does anything (beyond 'I can hear it'), the level of ridicule would probably drop.

Until then, I'm just laughing at DCs brilliant captions...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters
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