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  • Bright recordings / tracks

    Ok. So we have a list of tracks to audition our speakers / systems on that can showcase a good recording. For my sins, I like a lot of eighties music. Some of it I find ear screeching to listen too.

    Some candidates
    Paul young - greateat hits
    phil Collins - Clapton's guitar on I wish it would rain down
    The pretenders - greatest hits

    ​​​​​​Can I make the above sound good without sacrificing balance or clarity of all the other music that sounds good on my speakers?

    What tracks do you like that sound excessively bright on your speakers?

  • #2
    Nice idea for a thread, builds on the 'test tracks' sticky at the start of PETT.

    The trouble is that if you make or buy speakers that make 'bright' or ear 'screeching' recordings sound good, by having, for example, a much-reduced treble response, they will probably make good recordings sound average or dull. Maybe a graphic equaliser could work, but they rarely appear in the shops here.

    Many early CDs were poorly mastered with hiss, excessive treble and thin bass (think early Hendrix CDs). The Pretenders Greatest Hits is a good example, I have it and don't like the sound at all. Compare that with "Isle of View", their unplugged recording, which to me is their best sounding album ever. Also, the re-issued Pretenders CDs with extra tracks sound much nicer than 'Greatest Hits', at least to my ears.

    And talking of Phil Collins, he drummed on and I think produced an album for Frida (ABBA); the CD single from it 'I Know There's Something Going On' has a really tinny drum sound and a sort of harsh layer in the mid range and top. I like the song but my ears say 'enough' after a minute or so. It may have something to do with whether the album is on LP or CD, too: the song sounds less harsh on LP. And while it's not from the 80s, The Who Sell Out, and 'I Can See for Miles and Miles" in particular have a harsher top end than the LP, which I discovered last week when playing them back to back. The CD made me reach for the 'down' volume knob! Not great for a track which needs a bit of volume to enjoy the full effect.

    If something really is ear-grating I either give up on it or turn down the treble knob on my receiver to see if that will work; if I really like the track and want to try and fix it, I have a go at using Audacity editing software - and mostly fail.

    But the worst thing about music in the 80s isn't the production: it's the mullet.

    Geoff
    Last edited by Geoff Millar; 08-06-2018, 06:31 PM.

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    • #3
      a graphic equaliser could work, but they rarely appear in the shops here.
      Agreed, you don't really want to add a graphic EQ or DSP if you don't need to. But simply adding a switchable pad on the tweeter may be all you need.
      Buying a bunch of Resistors is cheap and easy way to start. When you get it dialed in, add a switch for 2 or 3 levels . One for flat, the other for different levels of cut (or boost)
      You can probably do the same with the crossover frequency with caps.

      It will probably take you some time, but in the end its a cheap and harmless solution.
      BEER: Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

      I've measured many things I cannot hear; and heard things I cannot measure...

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      • #4
        What you need (what we all need) is content EQ, not system EQ, which is a considerably more feasible option these days, as unless you're a member of the vinyl revolution, the tracks we play are likely stored as digital files somewhere and therefore can be pre-processed before playback.

        Have a look at "Graphic Equalizer Studio" - http://www.pas-products.com/eqstudio.html

        It can also do real-time correction, but you hear it making adjustments during the first minute or two of the track.
        Brian Steele
        www.diysubwoofers.org

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brian Steele View Post
          What you need (what we all need) is content EQ, not system EQ, which is a considerably more feasible option these days, as unless you're a member of the vinyl revolution, the tracks we play are likely stored as digital files somewhere and therefore can be pre-processed before playback.

          Have a look at "Graphic Equalizer Studio" - http://www.pas-products.com/eqstudio.html

          It can also do real-time correction, but you hear it making adjustments during the first minute or two of the track.
          Thanks Brian, that looks interesting, I'll have an optic

          Geoff

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          • #6
            I like to listen to R&B/pop like Mariah Carey , Baby Face and UB40 etc..and those tracks do sound bright with that excessive sizzle....I am old school so I do use a graphic eq. to adjust for that sizzle in the 1k and up region.

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            • #7
              Aren't there playback apps with some custom EQ options for each song? I wouldn't think that would be too difficult for a skilled coder to implement these days.

              I was in college in the 80s and much of that music (in digital form) now sounds too thin to my ears. We have an independent oldies station in town that has some pretty good processing. I used to know the engineer who set up their audio path and transmitters. He really does a great job getting that old music to sound full and clear. I heard he collects Optimod units, so that might explain things.
              Co-conspirator in the development of the "CR Gnarly Fidelity Reduction Unit" - Registered Trademark, Patent Pending.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tom_s View Post
                Aren't there playback apps with some custom EQ options for each song? I wouldn't think that would be too difficult for a skilled coder to implement these days.
                Not that I know of. Just out of interest, over a year ago I mentioned to Deezer support that including something like that in their player would be a significant way to differentiate their product from the rest of the field (e.g. Spotify). A year later, no luck. I sent a note to the creators of Graphic Equalizer Studio that offering their s/w as a plugin for the Deezer player - I don't expect any much luck their either :(.

                Brian Steele
                www.diysubwoofers.org

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post
                  And talking of Phil Collins, he drummed on and I think produced an album for Frida (ABBA); the CD single from it 'I Know There's Something Going On' has a really tinny drum sound and a sort of harsh layer in the mid range and top. I like the song but my ears say 'enough' after a minute or so. It may have something to do with whether the album is on LP or CD, too: the song sounds less harsh on LP.
                  When I run my my spectrum analysis "trick" on that track (Ok, the Deezer version of that track), it suggests that there's actually too much energy at 200 Hz, and a dip at 90 Hz. It looks like it was engineered to have a 100Hz/10KHz loudness button enabled on playback . When I adjust my rough EQ to compensate (pulling 200 Hz down and boosting below that), it seems to sound a lot better.

                  Brian Steele
                  www.diysubwoofers.org

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                  • #10

                    Originally posted by Brian Steele View Post
                    ...

                    Have a look at "Graphic Equalizer Studio" - http://www.pas-products.com/eqstudio.html
                    Very interesting software. I've sent a recommendation for them to check if it's feasible as a plugin for Kodi on Shield.

                    @OP - trying to make bad things sound good without ruining things recorded better is probably a torment everyone who enjoys a large variety of music deals with. Having to make constant adjustments gets old fast. I've wound up on the "ah screw it" side with stuff falling of the radar as a PITA vs enjoyment.

                    I never really heard every ounce and nuance of music until I completed my speakers to the point of being useful. So, there's decades of digital backlog I'm slowly going through and the 80's is something I'm currently messing with.

                    I was sorely surprised to find how much music from then appears thin and gutless. The Cars greatest hits 1985 pops to mind since I recently listened, but there does seem to be a lot.

                    Memories make me think "oh yeah! gotta check such and such I bet it'll be great!" and then... no.

                    "Danzig" debut album (1988) is one example for me that does have excellent qualities. Not sure if it's due to better technology near the end of the decade, better engineer at the boards or both.

                    Mötley Crüe Dr. Feelgood from 1989 sounds a bit thin and weak to me, but that may have more to do with the engineer likely being so tanked and cranked on booze and candy they barely knew where they were.

                    At this point I wind up adjusting what reaches my ribbons. I included a knob in the design to prevent edge case damage from excessive power. That's never materialized at all because the XO and quality of the ribbons, so the knob wound up as a way to help tame things that make my ears bleed. Thankfully it's become rare I touch it having found a balance I can live with most of the time.
                    Why you long winded, thick headed, stubborn son of a ... oh, wait, that's me.

                    As always, feel free to rip my assumptions to shreds if one or more are wrong, or only half right.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brian Steele View Post

                      When I run my my spectrum analysis "trick" on that track (Ok, the Deezer version of that track), it suggests that there's actually too much energy at 200 Hz, and a dip at 90 Hz. It looks like it was engineered to have a 100Hz/10KHz loudness button enabled on playback . When I adjust my rough EQ to compensate (pulling 200 Hz down and boosting below that), it seems to sound a lot better.
                      Thanks Brian

                      I'll have a go at that EQ model using Audacity: Graphic Equaliser Studio looks very useful but seems a little pricey given the necessary A$ conversion.

                      I think that in our collection about 40% of the material has that sort of sound to some degree or another - this means a lot of cleaning up! However, at least something can be done with that music, even if it's just a treble cut. There's no hope for some other recordings which are excessively limited and compressed (eg Red Hot Chilli Peppers) , unfortunately.

                      Getting back to the OP, the Graphic Equaliser Studio could provide a good solution; I'm not sure whether you have to treat each track or can do an album.

                      Cheers


                      Geoff

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                      • #12
                        Thanks everyone for your replies. I like the Graphic Equaliser Studio option so I don't have to keep tinkering with treble controls or wire in switchable "alternative" crossovers.

                        The idea of digitising all music (yeah - I'm still old skool CD) is appealing and if I can process via an equaliser on the way - then great (can have a raw and cooked album).

                        PS: Cars Greatest Hits (1985) actually sounds tolerable (not great) but better than The Pretenders.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brian Steele View Post

                          When I run my my spectrum analysis "trick" on that track (Ok, the Deezer version of that track), it suggests that there's actually too much energy at 200 Hz, and a dip at 90 Hz. It looks like it was engineered to have a 100Hz/10KHz loudness button enabled on playback . When I adjust my rough EQ to compensate (pulling 200 Hz down and boosting below that), it seems to sound a lot better.
                          Brian Steele - do you use Graphic Equaliser studio to "profile" the FR of a track? or some sort of loopback record via your speaker measurement setup then averaging? I'd be keen to do this on some tracks to see if it highlights offensive parts of the spectrum.

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                          • #14
                            Outlined below eq studio main interface is a Mp3 and Wav batch restoration tool from it. It'll process whatever it recognizes in a folder. I would hope it's recursive but it makes no mention. Only supporting wav and mp3 is a real shame but none the less an option for batch processing exists.

                            I've made a note to deep dive that program when I get a chance. I'd like to see what kind of results it can really produce. I configured an immense NAS long ago for streaming, but if you're just starting your process of CD to WAV journey anything of decent speed and size would work fine. Massive USB3+ thumb drives are extremely cheap and could easily store thousands of raw music from your collection.
                            Why you long winded, thick headed, stubborn son of a ... oh, wait, that's me.

                            As always, feel free to rip my assumptions to shreds if one or more are wrong, or only half right.

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                            • #15
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                              Originally posted by Dave Bullet View Post

                              Brian Steele - do you use Graphic Equaliser studio to "profile" the FR of a track? or some sort of loopback record via your speaker measurement setup then averaging? I'd be keen to do this on some tracks to see if it highlights offensive parts of the spectrum.
                              I use REW's RTA set to 1/6th octave smoothing and "forever" averaging, and configure REW to use the "Stereo Mix" input from my PC's sound card (which appears to be a loopback channel. It's disabled by default, so I had to enable it).

                              I came across this "technique" quite by accident as I was fiddling around with REW while playing some music on my PC. After playing around with a few different tracks, a common "theme" seem to be present - basically almost every track that I thought sounded good on whatever system I played it back on seemed to have a similar RTA "profile" - a smooth and nearly flat curve down to 200~300 Hz and then sloping upwards to 50~60 Hz, and then falling off below that. Interestingly enough, if curve was higher below 50 Hz than it was above, the bass just didn't sound right. When I used the PC's basic EQ to re-eq BOC's "Fire of Unknown Origin" to fit the profile, it sounded so good that I started looking around for a solution on the 'net that would do something similar but automatic the process. Graphic Equalizer Studio seems to be the best fit for the job,but I haven't purchased it yet - I spent the spare money I had on hand on Dayton's DSP...
                              Brian Steele
                              www.diysubwoofers.org

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