Getting multi-channel music (The LP must die)

TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
To my understanding: the signal-to-noise ratio (roughly the equivalent of dynamic range, noting the absence of quantization noise but presence of tape hiss) of a professional reel-to-reel 1/4 inch tape recorder would be between 60 and 70 dB at the recorder's rated output... though that includes "hiss" (hence why Dolby NR A/B/S were in widespread use on cassette decks)

And that's when it's pristine. Wear from friction between the tape and the heads, guides, and other parts of the tape transport as the tape slides over them. The brown residue deposited on swabs during cleaning of a tape machine's tape path is actually particles of magnetic coating shed from tapes. Sticky-shed syndrome is a prevalent problem with older tapes. Tapes can also suffer creasing, stretching, and frilling of the edges of the plastic tape base, particularly from low-quality or out-of-alignment tape decks. Wow and flutter are back in play as well.

Meanwhile an SACD is 120db and suffers literally none of the above issues.

Quibbles about what's good enough / the non-suckage of tape aside: I think we primarily agree. The modern digital formats are more convenient and capable of higher fidelity; but suffer from inattentive or misguided mastering.
I think the issue is the music genre rather than the medium.

On the whole in the pop world sloppy mastering and production is the rule rather than the exception. This is especially true when it comes to dynamic range compression.

You cant compress classical music as it sounds ridiculous and no one would buy it.

Now as I have pointed out before you are limited in the amount of dynamic compression you can use mastering an LP or you end up with very short playing time.
On the other hand you have to use some dynamic range compression when mastering most classical productions to LP. On the other hand CD and other digital formats allow for greater dynamic range than LP. So digital recording becomes the preferred choice. The only LPs that can match that are DBX 2 encoded LPs. They sound fantastic but are very rare.

As far as tape is concerned mastering at 15 or 30 ips with really good tape on a good machine will give you about 70 db dynamic range, but if you use Dolby A or DBX1 you can push it to about 120 db. There is the problem of shedding with age due to the binder deteriorating, which varies from brand to brand. The other problem is reel to reel is that it requires highly skilled tight razor blade editing. I can assure you good software on a DAW is much easier and faster.

As far as multi channel is concerned, for most music the only advantage is better preservation of the ambient environment. Most music has the performers in front.
There are some works that do have spatially placed groups, especially early Italian compositions. There are other antiphonal works which benefit. In this regards, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem particularly comes to mind.

SACD though is a format that needs to die. DSD digital is hard to use, especially for mastering and editing. Everyone has now moved to PCM and encodes the final master in DSD. So there is no need for this to exists and should be replaced by Audio only BD. And actually for a lot of productions if you are going to use BD format you might as well add the picture. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra issue their recordings in high grade heavy vinyl, CD, audio only multichannal BD and Multichannel BD with video. So we still have format wars!

You can here what a 15 ips stereo tape master DBX 1 encoded sounds like below. The recording is a phase coherent intensity difference recording rather than the usual phase difference stereo recording.


Here is a phase coherent intensity difference digital recording.

 
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Audioholic Overlord
I wonder how many people here have heard a proper quad system. I haven't heard a true quad lp since the early 80s. Do you remember the way to run simulated quad with a 2 channel rig and 4 speakers? You ran the front (A) set of speakers normally then ran the (B) speakers with the positive lead running from the amp and the negative lead running from one of the (B) speakers to the other. Place them behind you and I'll be darned if it didn't make some songs sound like you were at a concert. Didn't even need a quad source.
I did that- before my brother bought a stereo with his first check from a job, we used an RCA phonograph that had an extension cabinet which my parents got using the coupons that came with the cigarettes my uncle smoked. Got a nice card table and chairs, too. He must have been a real chimney.

Anyway, FF a few years and big bro goes to college, so I bought a stereo with MY first check and it was worlds better, even though the turntable was crap and the speakers were, well, also crap. But the boxes were nice. A few years later, I decided to add the speakers (which were probably 24"w x 24"d x 32"h) to my stereo, which was a Pioneer SX-525- it really didn't have any power to spare, but it did have two sets of speaker outputs, so I found another set of those weird speaker plugs and connected them. I had tried using one speaker in front as a center, but that annoyed me because nothing came from behind. I could listen at a good level and it didn't disturb my parents on the main floor, so it was a more peaceful existence.

I really wish I had the amplifier from the RCA set- it was push-pull 6V6 and I added it to my little guitar amp to give it a bit more, MORE!
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Possibly, but some of their other recommendations I've tried were quite good.

I trust the DR Database, which says Fillmore has good dynamic range. The fidelity is dreary though. Like they set the mics with wet dishrags over them.
I think they did that to take edge off of the sound and to reduce tape noise.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Is that what you call the inverse phase trick? I did hear a quad vinyl setup back in the day, just not a good format for vinyl IMO.
It was like using a single center channel speaker that connected to Left + and Right + and it produced the common info from both channels and it worked best when a level control was included for the center. THIS SHOULD NOT BE DONE WITH AMPLIFIERS THAT DON"T USE COMMON NEGATIVE CONNECTIONS.

Some older amplifier manufacturers included a center connection- I have an Eico ST-70 integrated amp with this feature. Just about every time I read about restoring and/or upgrading one, it recommends removing the circuit.

Here's a diagram for 'Quad' when a decoder isn't used-
https://community.klipsch.com/uploads/monthly_03_2015/post-453-0-00040000-1427232360.jpg
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Good point. It would explain the lack of crispness.
They didn't have the mic technique or for that matter, the high quality mics needed to record a live show AND provide sound for FOH- the mics would have to be redundant and that would have cluttered the stage. Most recordings of this type, at that time, would have been done with a mic splitter box, which sent the signal to the mixer and also to the recording equipment. Also, if they used high impedance mics, it would cause problems with the sound because there was no buffer between the mixer and FOH equipment. They didn't do much direct input at that time.

Another reason- those guys were LOUD!
 
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Audioholic Overlord
At the moment I have Elton John's "Goodby Yellow Brick Road" (DVD-A), Pink Floyd's DSotM (SACD), Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" (SACD), a sample SACD from Lynn, Music from Charly Brown (SACD) and (now) a collection of the Police (SACD) which has terrible mixing.

I'm thinking there's one more; but it's not coming to mind.
WRT Dire Straits-BIA- original, or remaster? I have heard some of the tracks from the remaster and thought it was thin, lacking in bass. I'll have to find it and give it another listen.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
So far I've got in the way of multich music since I wanted to reorganize and look for any DVD-A discs:

SACD:
Weather Report - Tale Spinnin'
How did this sound? Weather Report has been one of my favorites for a long time, in any incarnation.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
They didn't have the mic technique or for that matter, the high quality mics needed to record a live show AND provide sound for FOH- the mics would have to be redundant and that would have cluttered the stage. Most recordings of this type, at that time, would have been done with a mic splitter box, which sent the signal to the mixer and also to the recording equipment. Also, if they used high impedance mics, it would cause problems with the sound because there was no buffer between the mixer and FOH equipment. They didn't do much direct input at that time.

Another reason- those guys were LOUD!
All very good points. The loudness issue would have been a particular challenge to overcome. One could place low-gain microphones in the near-field or high-gain mircrophones in far-field. Both of these would compromise fidelity.

The album was recorded over two nights and, IIRC, some of the overdubs were taken from performances elsewhere.

The track "You don't Love Me" is the best. If they were all like that, the album would certainly deserve an excellent rating.

Perhaps the Rolling Stone reviewer rated the album highly because it represented best of the era/genre/venue (wish he or she had said that). There are certainly better live recordings out there even though Rolling Stone rated it the best live recording in rock.

This is the problem with one-person reviews -- they are usually dependent on a single subjective source. Multiple sources can't eliminate the subjectivity, but they can reduce skewed results.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
WRT Dire Straits-BIA- original, or remaster? I have heard some of the tracks from the remaster and thought it was thin, lacking in bass. I'll have to find it and give it another listen.
Can't speak for Jerry but I have an original BIA. It's levels are set lower than is practice today and I don't get a sense of enhanced bass, but it's not thin at all. Quite rich and detailed.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
All very good points. The loudness issue would have been a particular challenge to overcome. One could place low-gain microphones in the near-field or high-gain mircrophones in far-field. Both of these would compromise fidelity.

The album was recorded over two nights and, IIRC, some of the overdubs were taken from performances elsewhere.

The track "You don't Love Me" is the best. If they were all like that, the album would certainly deserve an excellent rating.

Perhaps the Rolling Stone reviewer rated the album highly because it represented best of the era/genre/venue (wish he or she had said that). There are certainly better live recordings out there even though Rolling Stone rated it the best live recording in rock.

This is the problem with one-person reviews -- they are usually dependent on a single subjective source. Multiple sources can't eliminate the subjectivity, but they can reduce skewed results.
When did this review come out?
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Can't speak for Jerry but I have an original BIA. It's levels are set lower than is practice today and I don't get a sense of enhanced bass, but it's not thin at all. Quite rich and detailed.
I like the original mix- in fact, it was the first CD with DDD Spars code. I was referring to the remaster sounding thin. Generally, Knopfler's recordings are very good. Check out 'Romeo & Juliet', from 'Real Live Roadrunning' as an example.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
I like the original mix- in fact, it was the first CD with DDD Spars code. I was referring to the remaster sounding thin. Generally, Knopfler's recordings are very good. Check out 'Romeo & Juliet', from 'Real Live Roadrunning' as an example.
Dunno about the remaster; I generally stay away from those. Thanks for the R&J tip... I'll check it out.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
When did this review come out?
Years ago. It was originally part of Rolling Stone's 500 best albums that was published in 2003 (online and frequently updated since then) but was also cited by them in a shorter list as a best live recording.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Years ago. It was originally part of Rolling Stone's 500 best albums that was published in 2003 (online and frequently updated since then) but was also cited by them in a shorter list as a best live recording.
I would like to know more about those who decided it was the best live album and their knowledge of what might make its sound good, bad or OK. Many people who are just starting to get into audio think that a lot of bass makes everything better and I have talked to many who almost ignored anything else.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
I would like to know more about those who decided it was the best live album and their knowledge of what might make its sound good, bad or OK. Many people who are just starting to get into audio think that a lot of bass makes everything better and I have talked to many who almost ignored anything else.
Me too. They'd be doing the listening world a great favor by using a common lexicon, even if the definition of terms weren't precisely defined. Consistent but imprecise is better than inconsistent and imprecise.

The whole bass thing was started by the rap movement band popularized by products like Beats. Little wonder vinyl is re-emerging (was always big in hip hop, which often featured over accentuated middle and upper bass frequencies) among the young.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Me too. They'd be doing the listening world a great favor by using a common lexicon, even if the definition of terms weren't precisely defined. Consistent but imprecise is better than inconsistent and imprecise.

The whole bass thing was started by the rap movement band popularized by products like Beats. Little wonder vinyl is re-emerging (was always big in hip hop, which often featured over accentuated middle and upper bass frequencies) among the young.
I consider Rap and Hip Hop car systems a 'One note wonder'- if it has to hit more than one note, it's a wonder. That's not to say I didn't build a whole lot of them when I did car audio and I got some interesting looks from the car owners who were mostly a lot younger than I was. I have to imaging them thinking "What is this old White guy gonna do for me?", since I was pushing 40 at the time. I enjoyed their reaction when they heard the sound- that was pretty cool.

WRT remasters- I just heard 'Court Of The Crimson King' and it absolutely sounds better than the original. 'Echos' (Pink Floyd) is on now- that sounds much better too, and it definitely doesn't lack low end.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Did Steve Wilson do the Crimson remaster? He does a very good job and is the exception to the rule, though there may be others I'm not aware of.

Haven't heard the Echoes remaster. If the master trcaks were let down by the dude running the remastering process, there is the possibility for a great remaster to be produced.
 
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Audioholic Overlord
Did Steve Wilson do the Crimson remaster? He does a very good job and is the exception to the rule, though there may be others I'm not aware of.

Haven't heard the Echoes remaster. If the master trcaks were let down by the dude running the remastering process, there is the possibility for a great remaster to be produced.
Pretty sure he did- he also did the Genesis remastering, and Pandora played a song from their first LP and the song is the same, but the remaster sounds completely different- finger cymbals, ambiance and string noise from the guitars can be heard, although it's very possible that some sound had to be added in order to make it what it became.
 
GrimSurfer

GrimSurfer

Senior Audioholic
Pretty sure he did- he also did the Genesis remastering, and Pandora played a song from their first LP and the song is the same, but the remaster sounds completely different- finger cymbals, ambiance and string noise from the guitars can be heard, although it's very possible that some sound had to be added in order to make it what it became.
I think that some of Steve Wilson's work was described as remixing... though after remixing somebody needs to remaster it... and I can't imagine a perfectionist like Wilson calling it a day. He'd likely be looking over the shoulder of anyone remastering one of his mixes.
 

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