DR dB figures question

Dear Forum Members/Friends,

I have followed several leads to other forums off-site from this one. To purchase LPs or CDs concerning their claimed DR dB values.

I still need more light on the subject after Googling, reading, and posting on the SHForum.

So far, I have relied on the Label to trust that I have a sound recording. Such as DECCA, Deutschhe Grammophon or MOTSL. Now, I am led to believe that this is not necessarily so.

Could a kind soul please enlighten me if I am purchasing a music medium in vinyl or CD, what I should look out for, and how to understand the dB DR numbers please?

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

Hi Mitch

I use this site https://www.dr.loudness-war.info/

Really easy to search by album or artist name:

The higher the number (Green) the less dynamic compression applied.

If you want a great example of recordings that have little to no compression applied, check out Chesky Records or Octave Records.

John Darko recently discussed this on his channel:

James in Oz

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No sure that this is a useful way of thinking…? Personally, its the Music that matters - rather than any technical aspect such as Dynamic Range.

But… YMMV…

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I agree… the music must always come first!

However, these resources are handy if you have the choice of multiple versions of the same title and you don’t have the opportunity to hear them all :wink:

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I do understand your concern, it’s not only yours!

DR is very important even though it’s not the only factor to consider IMO. As far as I understand, DR can be calculated using different softwares and results are not always identical (in the site pointed out by @JCW84 you can see that there’s a section for the algorithm used in each album; by the way this database is a great resource).

Last but not least, one should know if different masters are used, unluckily there’s no databse for this as far as I know.

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An excellent analysis.

Let me just add that based upon the labels @Gigantor mentions, the music (s)he favors would seem to be classical. Dynamic Range is not nearly so much an issue for classical (or jazz). Nobody wants a fortissimo in a Mahler symphony to sound only slightly louder than a pianissimo.

Other issues certainly come into play, such as mike placement, recording venue and, with respect to even a specific recording, mastering and use of hiss reduction on analogue recordings.

I should add that these days there are a lot of smaller classical labels producing excellent recordings. And many of the RCA Living Stereo and Mercury Living Presence recordings from the 50s and 60s have stood the test of time.

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But very low DR and clipped waveforms can ruin the music, so being aware of this before purchase can help you enjoy the music.

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Not quite, as the mastering if it is too “loud” or brickwalled affects the music, destroying dynamic range. So yes it’s the music that matters but if there is a choice of masters and you can access DR values of 10 plus, these will sound better than DR values under 7. (EDM is probably an exception to this rule according to my son).

I have some egregious (re) mastering atrocities in my collection.

I really only keep my vinyl to deal with shocking remastering of groups like Boomtown Rats and Madness. This is an example from another tool to look at the dynamics of a master.

whereas a good mastering will look like this

IMG_4438

Thankfully I think the worst of this is now over and certainly most decent reissue labels (Ace, Cherry Red) have really dialled back their remaster “volume”.

.sjb

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Responding to myself - a bad sign.

Just to add that the most important criteria for classical music is the performance. If you listen to Abbey Road, the artists and the performance will always be the same. If a Furtwangler performance of Beethoven’s 9th from the 1940s moves you in a way that no other performance of the work does, it’s a keeper, even if you also keep a satisfying performance from 2023.

Thanks for reminding me @IanRobertM.

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Perfectly expressed.

Or… if your (my) 1974 pressing of Dark Side of the Moon still sounds great… It does.

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Thanks a lot @jegreenwood !

About jazz music: I do agree as I happen to have some great albums with a great recording (especially those from Telarc) but their DR doesn’t seem exceptional (around 10-11 if I’m not mistaken). I suspect some albums or some genres might even benefit from an average (or slightly restricted) DR. So a very limited and controlled compression might even help, only if it’s used carefully and wisely (but this is not usually the case as we all know).

A proper recording is the first essential step towards audio quality IMO.

As I use JRiver, I’ve been checking their online manual and they report this statement under their Media Center’s Analyze Audio Tool: “Dynamic Range (either one) is not the be all end all of musical quality. You may find you prefer some tracks that are more compressed than others. Dynamic Range isn’t a perfect test, it’s just more information”. They also talk about two different algorithms used to calculate DR.

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I’ve used the Analyze Audio to measure the Dynamic Range (and many other things) on the 50,000+ tracks in my library.

As an example of JRiver’s point, my lowest measuring tracks are DR3, but they’re by Billie Eilish, and that’s a part of her sound. On the other hand most of the tracks on my hi-res version of Some Girls are DR5-7. That’s compared with DR12-16 on my older (and I believe the earliest) cd version.

And the new one sounds like s**t.

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My lowest DR is in the Focal tools CD… well that doesn’t really count of course.

The lowest are around 3 and 4 in my case and that music can still sound great to me (eg. some Lee Ritenour’s albums). One would miss the point by looking only at DR, despite being an interesting measurement.

@jegreenwood you should buy less hi-res and more original CDs

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And, because it is ‘the music that matters’, what has been done to the newer masterings has resulted in the music being ruined.

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@jegreenwood I dont agree. Stop putting all hires as s…. recording. Do you only own some digital hires? I check all my hires downloads and the DR is absolutely fine. Stop comparing hires download to what you listen on Qobuz or Tidal. Qobuz like other streaming distribution services are compressing DR for their needs. MQA is not hires either. So please. Hires is as fine as any source when it comes from good companies and distributors.

There’s no DR compression on the streaming services.

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Summary. Audio Normalization does not alter the sound quality of the given audio; however, when using loudness normalization there is a chance that the signal may clip if the dynamic range of the audio and the target normalization level results in a value exceeding 0dB.
Meaning the DR is controlled by all streaming services. So all tracks sound the same.

Audio normalization and compression can be used to help you reach different objectives for your audio, based on the platform and genre you are working with. For instance, it can be used to match the loudness standards of various platforms, such as YouTube, Spotify, or podcast apps, to prevent volume discrepancies and clipping. It can also be used to increase the clarity and intelligibility of vocals in podcasts, audiobooks, or voice-overs by reducing background noise and boosting the speech level. Additionally, audio normalization and compression can create a unified sound for music, such as in albums, playlists, or mixes, by evening out the volume and dynamics of different tracks and genres. Lastly, it can add impact and excitement to audio effects in games, movies, or trailers by increasing the contrast and loudness of the sounds

Huh?

I described the hi-res download of Some Girls as sounding like s**t. And it does. On the other hand my hi-res SHM-SACD copy of Some Girls sounds pretty good. And many of my other roughly 600 hi-res recordings sound even better. Some do not. It doesn’t matter if the resolution is 768/192. If the mastering sucks, so will the product.

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You are right