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Tech: Sound files sound different

GUEST,Grishka 24 Oct 11 - 08:21 AM
Genie 23 Oct 11 - 07:58 PM
Genie 17 Oct 11 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Oct 11 - 04:40 PM
treewind 15 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Jon 15 Oct 11 - 05:31 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 15 Oct 11 - 05:07 AM
Will Fly 15 Oct 11 - 04:30 AM
Janie 14 Oct 11 - 10:25 PM
Janie 14 Oct 11 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,999 14 Oct 11 - 10:22 AM
Janie 14 Oct 11 - 07:38 AM
matt milton 14 Oct 11 - 06:52 AM
treewind 14 Oct 11 - 05:48 AM
Will Fly 14 Oct 11 - 04:29 AM
Darowyn 14 Oct 11 - 03:26 AM
Genie 14 Oct 11 - 02:52 AM
Janie 14 Oct 11 - 12:01 AM
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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 08:21 AM

Genie, there is an easy test for this: insert the CD into your computer's CD tray, invoke the very same player software you played your file with, and ask it to play the respective track from that CD, which it usually can. If this fails, your OS probably allows you to convert a track to a WAV file (which yields an absolutely identical copy of the digital data).

If it now sounds more like the original file, the problem is mainly due to the player software and audio hardware.

For further advice, please tell us what file formats and software you are using.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Genie
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 07:58 PM

BTW, I've noticed a couple other tracks on some of the new CDs that sound noticeably different from the original files that were submitted.   In one case, there is noticeable extraneous noise on a track that I didn't hear on the audio file I was sent earlier. In another case, the voice on the CD sounds thinner, not as full, compared to the original track. DK if this, too, could result from files being compressed or changed from one format to another.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Genie
Date: 17 Oct 11 - 01:47 AM

The problem, re things like the Mudcat CDs or other compilations, is that:
1. Many of the contributed audio files are from previously released commercial CDs, which naturally already have been "mixed" with reverb, digital delay, EQ, etc. No chance of an un-edirted audio file being submitted.

2. When we submit an mp3 or WAV or AIFF file for inclusion on the CD, we may wish SOME TRACKS of the audio to have more/less reverb, etc., than others To send in a 'pure' (un-tweaked) audio file does not allow for artistic decisions like this. (Maybe you want a little reverb on the voice but not on the accordion or banjo, or vice versa.)

3. While WAV files may be better quality than AIFF or mp3 as original file formats, I've been advised that if your original audio file was in, say, mp3, to convert it to WAV does NOT enhance the quality but, in fact, makes it WORSE.

4. Most important: I think that for a compilation album, if ANYTHING is changed from the original submitted audio files to the ones that are to be used on the compilation CD, the modified files need to be sent to the contributors first, for approval or modification.   

It does seem like we're learning how compression and other audio-homogenization techniques can strikingly alter the sound of an audio file, often for the worse.

The new Mudcat CDs are, indeed, gems and a tribute to the hard work and dedication and technical savvy of the people who put them together. Still, there are lessons to be learned from this, for future such endeavors.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Oct 11 - 04:40 PM

If I understand Janie (14 Oct 11 - 10:25 PM) correctly, a single file resp. its bit-by-bit copy sound differently depending on the player software. The mail is innocent.

Some player software may try to "enhance" its playback, or adapt it to an assumed device context, e.g. surround. Sound hardware may do the same, depending on how it is addressed by the software.

For serious music (studio or garage), you should run through all "Options", "Settings" and "Extras" of your playing software and of your sound card driver (accessible via the operating system). Switch off all fancy features - which may also eat up system performance.

Compression: don't confuse data compression (e.g. MP3) with dynamic compression, which are two completely different things. The former makes for quicker mailing and slightly diminishes the quality of studio recordings, inaudible in "garage" recordings.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: treewind
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 07:14 AM

Even without MD5sum, you could quickly check for tampering with the file by simply looking at its size.

Messing around with file data by a program whose job is to send email (if that is what's happening) is grossly irresponsible. So is unsolicited processing of a sound file by a player program. I wouldn't give disk space to anything that did that.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 05:31 AM

I'm not sure what Windows may have it but with Linux and possibly OS/X you could Md5sum


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 05:07 AM

If you send yourself a music file by e-mail check the size of the file before you send it (bit total) with the size that you get back. Your e-mail system may be reducing the size by decreasing the bit sample rate. If there is a lesser amount of data comming back it is being done automatically to speed up the transfer time. This is data compression and once data is lost it can't be recovered. If you compress the file yourself by switching from WAV to mp3 before sending you may be better able to control what is lost. Dynamic compression on the other hand will not have a significant alteration on the file size but will increase the level of lower volume and decrease the higher peaks. If the reverb is the natural acoustic echo of the room it will certainly increase with dynamic compression.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Oct 11 - 04:30 AM

Janie - "no effects" in Garageband - is good sense. Happy recording days ahead...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Janie
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 10:25 PM

Thanks to the comments on this thread, I experimented with listening to files on Garage Band, Quicktime and iTunes. Both the original files and files I e-mailed to myself. With a face blushing bright red for my incompetence, general state of dingbattiness and ignorance with both recording and computers, it seems now that the difference, when identical files are actually involved, is with the player, in this instance, with wav files, the difference between listening in Quicktime vs iTunes. Quicktime is pretty close though not identical to what I hear on the playback in Garage Band -which is not a wav file but I can't recall what type file it is.)

Thank ya'll for your patience and tolerance.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Janie
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 09:23 PM

Thanks all, and especially Bruce and Will Fly.

This is thread drift stemming from your comments, but since it is a thread I started, I will assume some license with it to learn something. Sounds like (no pun intended) that in Garage Band, it is best to choose "no effects" when recording. Yes?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 10:22 AM

Janie,

I have no view because I haven't heard the two 'takes'. I would suggest one thing for future consideration: always record flat. That is, do not record with reverb, echo, effects on the 'master' copy. All the stuff you may want can be added later, but once it's recorded with that stuff, there it is--forever. This article will establish that point better than I can.

"If reverb was actually worth something, you would have to pay for it and not have it come free with your amp! Unless you're Dick Dale or the Ventures, the idea of using reverb when you track your guitar is a crime worthy of punishment by death! So many of the "big" sounding records throughout recording history have been tracked dry in the deadest of dead rooms with effects added in the mix later, or a room was carefully picked for its ambient quality—like U2 did choosing Slane Castle to track The Unforgettable Fire album. In either case, the guitar is still tracked dry and often a room mic is added to pick up the sound of the space.

It's so easy these days with most music being referenced through iPods and earbud headphones to really delve in and analyze the room sounds on most any given recording. When you do, it becomes obvious that most of the biggest sounding guitar tones have a relatively small ambient room sound mixed into the background. It really makes sense when you think about it. If you put your amp into a gigantic cave and play, it'll sound distant and washed out, much like it does when adding reverb. If you take that same rig and put it in the guest bathroom under the stairs at your mom's house without touching a knob, that amp will sound huge and loud. And if you can capture the sound of that room with a separate mic, you've got yourself a big sounding guitar!

Although the trend has moved toward capturing a livelier room, there was a time when the deader the room, the better it was to record in (the idea being that you can always add a room sound electronically but you can never remove an existing room sound once it's been tracked). While tracking back in the seventies, painstaking efforts were made to create the ultimate "dead" room to record drums and guitar, with the intent to add the room sound desired later. It was an interesting time for recording. Unless you were doing a really monumental project, you would pay high bucks to a local studio to have them totally kill your much-loved tone… and tell you that's the way it's supposed to sound if you want it to be good. Thus the phrase "We'll fix it in the mix" was born! Even then, it was taboo to dial in your amp 'verb while tracking. Once you have committed reverb to tape there's no removing it. It also makes a clean punch-in virtually impossible—the punch spot will always be given away by the overhang of the 'verb.

Don't get me wrong; reverb can be a cool tool, too. Along with the Fender Telecaster and Fender Showman amp, it was the basis for the surf sound in the sixties. No one found a better use for reverb than the King of the Surf Guitar, Dick Dale. For me, however, unless I'm playing surf music, I've always found that adding reverb pulls your direct signal back and impairs the attack and punch of you guitar sound. I will use the slightest bit of digital reverb live, but only because with ear monitors you're creating an environment that is pumped directly into your ears with the surrounding room sound blocked out. It's virtually inaudible with the rest of the band playing. I won't use it on any of my harder drive tones because it does wash out the "whack" that you want when you kick into full throttle electric guitar mayhem. Instead, I'll add a little delay to wet the signal a bit. A perfect example of how to use delay to liven your sound can be found on Joe Satriani's Live From San Francisco CD. I don't think anyone uses delay better live than he does. You can pretty much pick any cut on that CD to hear delay perfection, but a couple of my favorite cuts to listen are: "The Crush Of Love" and "Satch Boogie."

Most studios I've worked in will add reverb that doesn't commit to track; it gives you a sense of space that helps you track with confidence. So the next time you're called in to do an important session, show them what a pro you are. Have your gear ready and working right, show up with an assortment of guitars for different tones and styles, have fresh strings on those axes—and kill the reverb from your effects loop!

Keep Jammin'!

Rich Eckhardt

Rich Eckhardt is one of the most sought after guitarists in Nashville. His ability to cover multiple styles has put him on stage with singers ranging from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to Shania Twain. Rich is currently playing lead guitar with Toby Keith. His album Soundcheck is available now, with another due this summer."


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Janie
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 07:38 AM

Will Fly, I just putz around a little with Garage Band on my Mac, and use the internal mic. Mostly I just use the presets for "female basic" but will occasionally up the reverb a wee bit before recording. I have to send it to iTunes to convert it to a WAV file.

I first noticed the difference when I was e-mailing songs to cheer my Dad before he died. They sounded very different on his PC, and I attributed the difference to our different speakers - and I imagine that did have something to do with it, as the bad breathing was also more apparent when I listened on his computer.

Later, a couple of friends were e-mailing me some mp3s, people that know much better what they are doing both musically and as far as recording than do I, and I was telling them I thought there was too much reverb and/or echo -hmmm-giving the same feedback I had been getting....That is when it occurred to me to e-mail them to myself and have a listen - and heard the difference.

I had not thought about the possible effects of using different players.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: matt milton
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 06:52 AM

"This may be simply a Garage Band issue. Or perhaps a Mac issue. I don't know sh*t from shinola about recording and don't do a lot of recording. I convert Garage Band files to WAV if I am going to send them to some one. I always listen to the WAV file before I send it. Sounds like the Garage Band recording. I occasionally get comments from the folks I send the recording to, however, about too much reverb. At first I thought it was a matter of personal taste, but as an experiment, I e-mailed myself a copy of the WAV file and compared the e-mailed recording to the WAV file on my computer. They are undeniably different, and the reverb on the e-mailed file is definitely excessive"

This doesn't make any sense. Nothing happens to a file when you mail it to somebody that could possibly effect the amount of reverb featured. It's the same file! Any more than if I were to copy and paste the words I'm typing now into an email and mail them to me ... they'd be the same words. Now if you were talking about converting a WAV to an MP3, it might start to make sense... Could you post a "Before Emailing" and "After Emailing" sample on soundcloud or something?

As for the Mudcat CD, that's no mystery. It sounds like whoever mastered it was a bit heavy-handed and uniform in getting the volume of the album up to a "professional" level.
To do so, generally Compression is used: this makes the loudest parts of a song (or album) quieter, but leaves the quieter parts untouched. It allows you to then make the whole thing louder.

That's all well and good for music that's fairly consistent in its volume level, but it does no favours to very dynamic music.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: treewind
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 05:48 AM

I do hope Bradfordian hasn't overdone the compression as part of the "mastering" process for the CDs. It's easy to read about mastering for pop music being all about hammering it to make it all sound as loud as possible, but that's really not necessary or right for our kind(s) of music.

As for compression by email, I really don't see how that can happen. The only explanation I can think of is then when you receive the email, you play the sound back from your email program via a different sound player from the one you use when the .WAV file is sitting in a folder. Windows is notorious for "enhancing" sound (especially adding reverb) when playing it; this can be turned off by delving into your sound player settings but it's not always obvious.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 04:29 AM

The conversion process within YouTube does affect the sound quality of the uploaded videos to some extent. As far as uploaded quality is concerned, Vimeo has a higher standard to YouTube.

Janie, how are you doing the actual recording? Do you record directly into the Mac via Garageband with an external mic? Or use the internal mic? Do you add artificial reverb to your recordings either during or after the process?

My experience with digital reverb is that it's not easy to control in a post-recording environment - as Dave has rightly pointed out. I now never use it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Darowyn
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 03:26 AM

All those problems are probably a result of compression. This time, it's not the usual data compression involved in the conversion from WAV to MP3 or whatever, but the dynamic range compression that is used in the mastering process- not always very sensitively, I have to say.
If you have a delicate reverb on a recording, and then all the loud sounds are reduced in volume, and the general level then boosted back up, the previously quiet reverb tails will be more prominent. The crescendi and diminuendi could vanish altogether, or, if the compression were extreme enough, they could appear to reverse.
With Youtube it is data compression that is the problem.
You need to speak to the mastering engineer.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Tech: Sound files sound different in final CD
From: Genie
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 02:52 AM

Janie, I'm not sure how this happened, either - and it's hard to imagine it could be just from converting from WAV to AIFF or mp3 or vice-versa - but the track of my song "Raise Your Voices In The Song" that is on the new Mudcat CD "Until The Dark Time Ends" sounds very different from any of the audio files of that song that I sent in.
In particular, somehow the parts that are supposed to crescendo -- and did in all the audio mixes I have of the song -- turned into muted diminuendoes (which pretty much nullifies the main sense and feeling of the song).

It's too late to do anything about this for the new Mudcat CDs -- which are, on the whole, wonderful! and which represent a lot of hard work by Bradfordian and michaelr and several others and are well worth the price! -- but I really would like to figure out what happened, if only to prevent similar SNAFUs in the future.

(As an aside, if anyone bought the "Until The Dark Time Ends" CD, I would be happy to email you that track in its original form. At least that could be informative re this discussion so you could see (hear) what tech issues we're talking about.

I have also noticed that when I post videos on YouTube the sound is often noticeably softer on that site than in the recordings I uploaded, even though I'm listening to both on the same system. Not sure how that happens either.

Genie


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Subject: Tech: Sound files sound different
From: Janie
Date: 14 Oct 11 - 12:01 AM

This may be simply a Garage Band issue. Or perhaps a Mac issue. I don't know sh*t from shinola about recording and don't do a lot of recording. I convert Garage Band files to WAV if I am going to send them to some one. I always listen to the WAV file before I send it. Sounds like the Garage Band recording. I occasionally get comments from the folks I send the recording to, however, about too much reverb. At first I thought it was a matter of personal taste, but as an experiment, I e-mailed myself a copy of the WAV file and compared the e-mailed recording to the WAV file on my computer. They are undeniably different, and the reverb on the e-mailed file is definitely excessive.

Eh???


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