TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

General discussions on songwriting, mixing, music business and other music related topics.
Dave S
Member
Posts: 384
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 am
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Dave S »

Split wrote:With well designed DA converters inter sample peaks should not be a problem, the problem comes from less well designed DAs that may have increased distortion when the D side hits or is very near 0dBFS.

Its not so much the slew-rate overshoot, but a function of the DA smoothing, at the top of a peak where there may be two or more adjacent virtually or actual full scale samples, in order to recreate the correct wave shape the best fit curve will need to rise above the containing samples, thus an inter sample peak occurs.
It definitely is a problem with 'consumer' gear rather than quality gear from my experience.
Cubase 6, i5, 8gb ram, Win7 X64, UAD-2, Emu 1820m, Nocturn, Alphatrack .......

Website/blog

alexis
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 4417
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by alexis »

Dave S wrote:
Split wrote:With well designed DA converters inter sample peaks should not be a problem, the problem comes from less well designed DAs that may have increased distortion when the D side hits or is very near 0dBFS.

Its not so much the slew-rate overshoot, but a function of the DA smoothing, at the top of a peak where there may be two or more adjacent virtually or actual full scale samples, in order to recreate the correct wave shape the best fit curve will need to rise above the containing samples, thus an inter sample peak occurs.
It definitely is a problem with 'consumer' gear rather than quality gear from my experience.
Hey Dave S - sorry, are you saying the overshoot is just a problem with "consumer" gear, or are you saying that "quality" gear overshoots also, but the auditory results are better?

Is there a way to examine waveforms and see whether the A/D converter "overshoots" or not? How would one even know if there is an "intersample peak"? To my current way of looking at it, it would be hard to know if two samples right at 0dB had an "intersample peak" between them, or if that is actually what was recorded?

Thanks -
Alexis

-Cubase "Safe Start Mode" (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT)
-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

Cubase 9.0.20; i5-4570 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM; W10 Pro 64-bit on Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB; Seagate 1TB SATA 600 Audio; UR28M; Motif8; UAD-2 Solo; Jamstix 3.6; RevoicePro3.3; EZDrummer 2

User avatar
Split
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 5286
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:06 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Split »

Inter sample peaks are a function of D to A conversion and occur at the playback converter.
??????Split
Cubase 10|MOTU 16A
Still at it... just!

Dave S
Member
Posts: 384
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 am
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Dave S »

alexis wrote:
Dave S wrote:
Split wrote:With well designed DA converters inter sample peaks should not be a problem, the problem comes from less well designed DAs that may have increased distortion when the D side hits or is very near 0dBFS.

Its not so much the slew-rate overshoot, but a function of the DA smoothing, at the top of a peak where there may be two or more adjacent virtually or actual full scale samples, in order to recreate the correct wave shape the best fit curve will need to rise above the containing samples, thus an inter sample peak occurs.
It definitely is a problem with 'consumer' gear rather than quality gear from my experience.
Hey Dave S - sorry, are you saying the overshoot is just a problem with "consumer" gear, or are you saying that "quality" gear overshoots also, but the auditory results are better?

Is there a way to examine waveforms and see whether the A/D converter "overshoots" or not? How would one even know if there is an "intersample peak"? To my current way of looking at it, it would be hard to know if two samples right at 0dB had an "intersample peak" between them, or if that is actually what was recorded?

Thanks -
From my experience it can be a problem with cheap converters. For example on board sound chips, cheap cd players, some mp3 players etc.

What I did was insert Stillwells 'Bitter' plugin in the cubase master bus.

Hope that helps
Cubase 6, i5, 8gb ram, Win7 X64, UAD-2, Emu 1820m, Nocturn, Alphatrack .......

Website/blog

alexis
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 4417
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by alexis »

Dave S wrote:
alexis wrote:
Dave S wrote:...

It definitely is a problem with 'consumer' gear rather than quality gear from my experience.
Hey Dave S - sorry, are you saying the overshoot is just a problem with "consumer" gear, or are you saying that "quality" gear overshoots also, but the auditory results are better?

Is there a way to examine waveforms and see whether the A/D converter "overshoots" or not? How would one even know if there is an "intersample peak"? To my current way of looking at it, it would be hard to know if two samples right at 0dB had an "intersample peak" between them, or if that is actually what was recorded?

Thanks -
From my experience it can be a problem with cheap converters. For example on board sound chips, cheap cd players, some mp3 players etc.

What I did was insert Stillwells 'Bitter' plugin in the cubase master bus.

Hope that helps
Thanks Dave, yah, it does. Though I wouldn't call my A/D-D/A converters high class (see specs below), I'm at least reasonably confident that they're better than a Soundblaster sound card, cheap CD player, etc. :D :?:
Alexis

-Cubase "Safe Start Mode" (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT)
-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

Cubase 9.0.20; i5-4570 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM; W10 Pro 64-bit on Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB; Seagate 1TB SATA 600 Audio; UR28M; Motif8; UAD-2 Solo; Jamstix 3.6; RevoicePro3.3; EZDrummer 2

Karl
Junior Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:32 am
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Karl »

Alexis..

I think this thread has strayed well into the extreme esoteric and away from the point of your original post (how to maximize playback level).

I'll offer you the gist of my understanding re....intersample peaks, digital clipping distortion etc....

1. Lot's of complaints in the early days of digital about crap sound quality if digital was overloaded (ie..>0dbfs). Early converters were not nearly as good as todays (which are still not nearly perfect). Subsequent studies came to a view that digital distortion sounds worse than analog because it tends to be odd harmonics whereas analog tends to generate more even harmonics.

Ture/not true??? I couldn't tell you on the basis of having personally SEEN the scope traces proving it. I'm pretty certain that I've heard it myself and am reasonably convinced that it doesn't sound good. Record at 24 bit's and keep the levels down well below 0db

2. Maximizing playback levels....I certainly dont know all (or even most) of the tricks. this is evidenced by the fact that I'm always wondering why I cant get my own mixes as hot as those on CD's and radio. I get better with each try and find little things but I have no silver bullet to offer.

Maximizing playback levels.....

Careful EQ'ing is my main approach. Most stuff can be eq'd to where it sounds a bit thin on it's own. Doing this eliminates alot of sonic energy thats un-needed allowing the mix as whole to be turned up a touch higher. Try this, record a tune with drums, bass and piano. Do no eq on them, just mix them to where they sound pretty good. Bring up the stereo bus/track faders until the peaks shown on the main buss reach -0.2 (ie, you know you're not overdriving but you'r very close to 0db).

Now take the piano track, turn on eq1 (the HPF/shelf eq. Turn down the gain as far as it's go, adj the Q to get rid of the hump on the curve (in other words, you should see a deep rolloff at the low end rising to 0 with no hump). Now increase the freq on that eq up to around 250-300 hz. You'll definately hear the bottom end being carved out of the piano but if you un-solo it, the bass and drums and will fill much of that in. Do this and now look at what your stereo bus peaks are.

They've probably fallen a good bit below the -0.2 that you had to start with. You can now turn up the track a bit to get the peaks back up to -0.2.... you'll get more perceived volume but still be at the same peak level as before.

You can do this on all the instruments, use EQ to carve out the un-needed frequencies. This reduces the amount of sound (in this case, electrical) energy, reduces the peaks, leaves more space in the mix for other instruments etc..

Lastly, I must admit, I do like plugging something like a Waves L2 or L3 maximizer on the stereo bus. Almost without fail, I find I can compress the very top peaks, have no negative effect on the sound of the song and no real perceptible effect on the dynamics even though I know it MUST be reducing them. But in so doing, I get a significant increase in the playback level without having to push the peaks right up to 0db (ie....I set the peak limiter to -0.2 or so to give enough room for inter-sample peaks etc..).

I'm sure there are other tricks that ME's use (multiband compression etc...), but I dont know them, or dont know them well enough to explain them.

All the best,

Karl
Studio system-i5 750, Intel X25 SSD, 3 Raid 0 arrays (2 for streaming sample players, 1 for projects), 16 gig ram, Win7 Pro 64 bit, RME Multiface and Digiface, Cubase 4.5 and C6, NI Komplete 7, Omnisphere, Trillian, EWQL Symphonic Gold/Colosuss, BFD 2, Jamstix, Waves mercury pack, lots of mic's....yada yada yada.... see my equipment list at...

Reference Point Recording Equipment List

Reference Point Recording

alexis
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 4417
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by alexis »

Thank you, Karl that was really helpful, and I will try that (will have to wait till next week, I'm away from the music for the weekend :-( ). Great explanation, you've got a future in teaching if you want it, I believe.

I went to your website, listened to some of your tunes on "Made with Steinberg", looked at your equipment - great tunes, awesome voice, professional production, and awesome looking set up! I noticed how your audio monitors are out to the side, so as not to get reflections off your desk - nice touch. Gotta ask, too - how big are those computer monitors?

Your tunes clearly DO have dynamics, but I notice their waveforms are much more uniform than mine - my soft bits are WAY softer "looking" than yours, and your tracks in general don't have the centipede "fur spikes" sticking out like mine do. I'll try the things you suggested, in addition to manually clipping peaks, and read up a little on the Waves maximizers also.

Thanks again!
Alexis

-Cubase "Safe Start Mode" (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT)
-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

Cubase 9.0.20; i5-4570 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM; W10 Pro 64-bit on Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB; Seagate 1TB SATA 600 Audio; UR28M; Motif8; UAD-2 Solo; Jamstix 3.6; RevoicePro3.3; EZDrummer 2

Early21
Senior Member
Posts: 2000
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:29 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Early21 »

I think the discussion on intersample peaks and D/A converter distortion is leading you down the wrong path. Just a couple of points from what I understand:
1. Commercial recordings peak at 0db because they use tools that include normalizing the final result to 0db. You can also use them. You could achieve it by playing your track in Cubase, then look at the master fader, see what the peak is, and raise the fader that amount. That's all normalizing does. But you don't want to do this until you've already done whatever mastering processing is done, so if you're sending out, you want to peak at -3db so mastering has room for processing.
2. Apparent loudness is not achieved through peak volume, as has been pointed out -- it's the average loudness which is the RMS loudness expressed in a decibel range representing the dynamic range of the source. All other things being equal, normalizing doesn't change the RMS loudness.
3. A smaller decibel range (louder sounding) is arrived at in lots of ways. You could put a limiter on any tracks that have a lot of transients to reduce them. You could put a limiter on the master. Compressing reduces the dynamic range. Loudness plugins use combinations of limiting, compressing, and normalizing to do these things all in one go. If you overdo it with these tools, you are Metallica.
4. If your final output sounds distorted, it's probably not anything to do with intersample peaks or D/A converters (although I'm willing to believe it's possible if Dave S says he's had it). My point is that there are so many other easier ways to introduce distortion in your output, and you should look for those. But of course that wasn't your original topic of the post.
5. It must not be that bad to peak at 0db, since all your favorite CD's do that and you didn't toss them out for it!
Cubase 8.0 Pro, Wavelab 6 Essential, Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop/Win10, Steinberg UR212, Izotope Ozone, Izotope RX6, NI Komplete
My album Incontinental Breakfast at http://lborden.bandcamp.com. Works in process: https://soundcloud.com/incontinentals.

Paul Woodlock
Member
Posts: 720
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 pm

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Early21 wrote: so if you're sending out, you want to peak at -3db so mastering has room for processing.

I've heard this from several sources over the years, but I've yet to hear of a mastering house that isn't capable of lowering the the level of something if it's too high for them.
Got a Brian - Morans

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" -- Andre Gide

Paul Woodlock
Member
Posts: 720
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 pm

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Paul Woodlock »

Karl wrote: Lastly, I must admit, I do like plugging something like a Waves L2 or L3 maximizer on the stereo bus. Almost without fail, I find I can compress the very top peaks, have no negative effect on the sound of the song and no real perceptible effect on the dynamics even though I know it MUST be reducing them. But in so doing, I get a significant increase in the playback level without having to push the peaks right up to 0db (ie....I set the peak limiter to -0.2 or so to give enough room for inter-sample peaks etc..).

All the best,

Karl
I used to use maximisers until I tried simply clipping off the short peaks and found it sounded much better. Problem with maximisers is that they distort the whole track.. When you clip the peak you only distort at the point the short peaks that are clipped off.

Of course the effect of distortion is subjective and some people may prefer the distorted maximiser version to the cleaner clipped version. :)
Got a Brian - Morans

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" -- Andre Gide

alexis
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 4417
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by alexis »

Paul Woodlock wrote:
Karl wrote: Lastly, I must admit, I do like plugging something like a Waves L2 or L3 maximizer on the stereo bus. Almost without fail, I find I can compress the very top peaks, have no negative effect on the sound of the song and no real perceptible effect on the dynamics even though I know it MUST be reducing them. But in so doing, I get a significant increase in the playback level without having to push the peaks right up to 0db (ie....I set the peak limiter to -0.2 or so to give enough room for inter-sample peaks etc..).

All the best,

Karl
I used to use maximisers until I tried simply clipping off the short peaks and found it sounded much better. Problem with maximisers is that they distort the whole track.. When you clip the peak you only distort at the point the short peaks that are clipped off.

Of course the effect of distortion is subjective and some people may prefer the distorted maximiser version to the cleaner clipped version. :)
I remember you wrote something like that some years ago, which is why I did what I did as described at the top of this thread. I found out it very time-intensive!

Paul, why would a maximizer "distort the whole track" ... as opposed to just the parts it is clipping, which (theoretically??) would be just what you would do manually?
Alexis

-Cubase "Safe Start Mode" (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT)
-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

Cubase 9.0.20; i5-4570 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM; W10 Pro 64-bit on Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB; Seagate 1TB SATA 600 Audio; UR28M; Motif8; UAD-2 Solo; Jamstix 3.6; RevoicePro3.3; EZDrummer 2

JohnOnKeyz
Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:53 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by JohnOnKeyz »

Paul Woodlock wrote:Problem with maximisers is that they distort the whole track..
Well, that kind of depends on the quality of the plugins you use...
John
(Maryland, USA)
~~~ the Aftereffekt ~~~ - - - - - | | | - - - - - ~~~ Slyd Studios ~~~

Paul Woodlock
Member
Posts: 720
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 pm

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Paul Woodlock »

alexis wrote:
Paul Woodlock wrote:
Karl wrote: Lastly, I must admit, I do like plugging something like a Waves L2 or L3 maximizer on the stereo bus. Almost without fail, I find I can compress the very top peaks, have no negative effect on the sound of the song and no real perceptible effect on the dynamics even though I know it MUST be reducing them. But in so doing, I get a significant increase in the playback level without having to push the peaks right up to 0db (ie....I set the peak limiter to -0.2 or so to give enough room for inter-sample peaks etc..).

All the best,

Karl
I used to use maximisers until I tried simply clipping off the short peaks and found it sounded much better. Problem with maximisers is that they distort the whole track.. When you clip the peak you only distort at the point the short peaks that are clipped off.

Of course the effect of distortion is subjective and some people may prefer the distorted maximiser version to the cleaner clipped version. :)
I remember you wrote something like that some years ago, which is why I did what I did as described at the top of this thread. I found out it very time-intensive!

Paul, why would a maximizer "distort the whole track" ... as opposed to just the parts it is clipping, which (theoretically??) would be just what you would do manually?
A maximiser doesn't just clip though. They are a form of intense limiting which works with attack and decay times on the signal.

And sure a more quality maximiser would probably distort the whole track less or in a more pleasing way, but it will still distort it.

You can try it by maximising a track and then performing a cancel test with the original ( volume adjusting to get max cancellation ).

The cancel test with a track that's simply had it's volume raised to clip off the peaks will only show residue in the cancel output where the peaks have been clipped off.

Anyway ... maximisers versus clipping. Whatever sounds best to you. :) - I prefer clipping
Got a Brian - Morans

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" -- Andre Gide

alexis
Grand Senior Member
Posts: 4417
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:55 pm
Contact:

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by alexis »

Paul Woodlock wrote:
alexis wrote:
Paul Woodlock wrote:...

I used to use maximisers until I tried simply clipping off the short peaks and found it sounded much better. Problem with maximisers is that they distort the whole track.. When you clip the peak you only distort at the point the short peaks that are clipped off.

Of course the effect of distortion is subjective and some people may prefer the distorted maximiser version to the cleaner clipped version. :)
I remember you wrote something like that some years ago, which is why I did what I did as described at the top of this thread. I found out it very time-intensive!

Paul, why would a maximizer "distort the whole track" ... as opposed to just the parts it is clipping, which (theoretically??) would be just what you would do manually?
A maximiser doesn't just clip though. They are a form of intense limiting which works with attack and decay times on the signal.

And sure a more quality maximiser would probably distort the whole track less or in a more pleasing way, but it will still distort it.

You can try it by maximising a track and then performing a cancel test with the original ( volume adjusting to get max cancellation ).

The cancel test with a track that's simply had it's volume raised to clip off the peaks will only show residue in the cancel output where the peaks have been clipped off.


Anyway ... maximisers versus clipping. Whatever sounds best to you. :) - I prefer clipping
Great experiment! After thinking about it some more ... is the lack of cancellation simply because the audio has been run through some extra circuitry (which is never "clean"), or is it something specific to a limiter (as opposed to, say, an EQ)?

Thanks -
Alexis

-Cubase "Safe Start Mode" (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT)
-Get variable-tempo audio to follow a grid here,
-Replacing freely-timed section into a variable tempo project

Cubase 9.0.20; i5-4570 3.2GHz, 16GB RAM; W10 Pro 64-bit on Samsung SSD 840 Pro 256GB; Seagate 1TB SATA 600 Audio; UR28M; Motif8; UAD-2 Solo; Jamstix 3.6; RevoicePro3.3; EZDrummer 2

Paul Woodlock
Member
Posts: 720
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:22 pm

Re: TECHNICAL question on loudness of CDs

Post by Paul Woodlock »

alexis wrote:
Great experiment! After thinking about it some more ... is the lack of cancellation simply because the audio has been run through some extra circuitry (which is never "clean"), or is it something specific to a limiter (as opposed to, say, an EQ)?

Thanks -
Well we're talking in the digital domain, so there shouldn't be any differences from a simple unaltered digital signal. So unless the digial maximiser is also adding some analog emulation then any artifacts introduced aside from the peaks is a manifesting of the limiting process. I remember the Waves maximiser having decay times, so that's one definite contender.
Got a Brian - Morans

"It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not" -- Andre Gide

Post Reply

Return to “Steinberg Lounge”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests