The CD Audio Thread

Starting this not only for those wanting to discuss any related aspect, but hoping Armor Buff will weigh in with his copious professional expertise.

In the meantime, I will say that I am an avid CD aficionado who buys quite a lot of music.

I will add that I am frustrated by the amount of compression and brickwalling that occurs with many CDs in the last decade or two. It’s insane, particularly as CDs have superior dynamic range.

I attempt to ameliorate this with a collection of dynamic range expanders; lately, I am using a RG Dynamics Pro20 set to a modest amount of expansion, but this is by no means a panacea.

Furthermore, if everything is brickwalled, it treats everything as a peak.

But expansion has some unintended benefits such as pushing down exaggerated vocal reverb.

Examples might be back when producers and engineers discovered the Yamaha Rev 7, overdoing it on vocals while recording the band with a very dry mix, which sounds strange and unnatural.

Off the top of my head, I am thinking of early Virgin Steele and Blacklace, which probably most here wouldn’t know. But dynamic expansion definitely helps with that.

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A good friend of mine is a mastering engineer. I have learned to never bring the issue up with him. :joy:
As you stated, over the last few decades, more and more recorded music (more common in popular music, so it seems), when viewed on screen, is a solid bar. His response, in his head, is always, “What do you want me to do with this?”

Its the loudness wars. And, IMHO, compensating for singers who don’t have control of their voices.

You brought up the Rev 7? Who are you? I remember there was only one patch that was usable. I’m a little shakey on this, but I think it was the Flangeverb, program 5(?). Prefered the SPX-90 for most applications.

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I’m definitely no one important. :smile:

I used to have an SPX-90, sold it. Regret it as it did a crazy good Judas Priest “Turbo Lover” flange.

Very helpful and useful site:

Fascinating list. And very telling about genres and eras of music. Thanks for posting.

My SPX died in a violent explosion of digital distortion around 2006ish. Hadn’t turned it on in ages. Flipped the switch and noticed all the LEDs light up. Well that can’t be good. Brought up the fader to confirm. It wasn’t pretty.

Me neither. And I’m good with that. :disguised_face:


One of my favorite bands — I don’t want to say who they are — their most recent CD has a few tracks from a different producer and studio which are squashed to death. Another band, entire CD has the dynamics completely annihilated. Drums sound like someone kicking a wet cardboard box. Why oh why?

Who thinks this sounds good??? What is the reasoning behind this?

To my ear, it can never sound good, no matter what playback system is employed. As mentioned, I have a workaround of sorts, but again, the Pro20 can’t fix these audio travesties.

The band, or maybe rather their producer, aims for a specific sound.
Their business.
I listen to the sounds I like.
My prerogative.
If their sound does not meet my expectations I move on to better pastures.
Different genres of music have different sound preferences, if they don’t match mine …

Mono Inc: Louder than Hell, I would call this a more or less solid drone
When I want more variation I listen to classic music instead, like this or this or maybe like this (with headphones)

The Loudness Wars, I think Evan’s Audio Engineer friend is pretty spot on.

@M70 , thank you, that’s very kind.

In the overall scheme of the Digital Audio world, I was definitely a Zero, not a One. I had the pleasure of occasionally brushing shoulders or talking with a One (talented creative type). My involvement was always of a technical or production nature with no creative input.

Bit reluctant of the topic as sometimes DA discussion gets IPMS/AMS intense and contentious. Zero time for drama or the pissing matches etc.

My comments are my perception from on 30+ years in various CD/CDROM/DVD/Bluray/PlayStation 1 thru 5 and some formats not worth mentioning at three manufacturering facilities. I worked for PDO, Philps, PolyGram, Universal Music Group (manufacturering), EDC & Sony DADC. Philips & Sony, co-invented and patented the CD format. Zero involvement with the white coat development process.

I don’t listen to “popular” music these days, my personal tastes are firmly rooted in music that’s ten years old or older.

One hilarious side effect of so much headphone time professionally, I went from being a die-hard heavy metal rock only fan to liking, listening to & buying 80’s/90’s rap music, classical Mozart & friends, Jazz, Pop Country & so on. Reggae is OK too.

Country & Western music so popular where I grew up, I loath, pure finger nails on a chalkboard. Thankfully, coworkers liked C&W but hated rap & classical music. We’d swap projects accordingly.

Anyway, one of my favorite memories of all of this was in the 90’s when DJ promo single 1630 Umatic tape format master for California Love came in for a standard track check of RTI cleaning, proper winding, basic error check, PQ data (track time encoding), ISRC encoding, etc and a basic format check before going to Disc Mastering for cutting.

I was so blown away, instead of spot checking the first and last few seconds of each track, I listened to the entire track. Every version of every track. Twice. That happened maybe three times in my 30+ year career.

Really, really wasn’t supposed to waste studio/equipment time on any sort of personal listening but this was the one rare incredible exception I made. God forbid you do that with a customer’s media. It was the 11th commandment at professional grade studios back in the day. Playing any tape always exposed it to a very, very slight risk even in a perfectly maintained DMR-4000.

Even as unhip white guy :boy:, I knew California Love was instant platinum and going to sell millions of CD’s…and I got to hear it before the vast majority of folks in a million dollar studio room specifically designed for critical listening and audio mastering.

I would have listened a third time but pouring ~1,000 watts of power into the “sound proof studio” was “disturbing” customer service according to one of my colleagues. It was at that point, I noticed it had “snowed” in the studio room.

The acoustic ceiling tiles were disintegrating from Tupac & Dr. Dre’s awesomeness and ~1,000 watts of pure PCM-1630 Digital Audio fidelity had dusted the room.


Have you listened to Sturgill Simpson?
I believe he has some kind of C&W roots.
Breakers Roar

Some kind of cross-over, Urban Country (??)

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Just listened to Breakers Roar, definitely seems to have C&W roots and is a well crafted song with emotions and feelings.

While the song below has great artistic merit and incredible cultural significance this is the sort of C&W I strive to avoid like the pneumonic plague.

Hank Williams: I’m So Lonely I Cloud Cry

I know this sort of C&W is well loved & much respected but it literally grates on my nervous system from the start. It’s enhanced interrogation music, it violates the Geneva convention for my ears.

Sing along…classic C&W

My truck broke down,
My dog done died,
My Ford was Chevy,
I’m proud O my pride

Found out my Amanda
Wuz a-MAN-Duh!
My Ford was Chevy,
I’m proud O my pride

Fix this? I tried
My dog done died
My truck broke down
Spreàd Butt-hurt over town

:broken_heart: :broken_heart: :broken_heart:


:+1: :grin: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Those lyrics just about sums it up!
There is good, bad and gawd-awful in almost every type of music.

My ears complained after 20 seconds of Hank …

If I need the blues I listen to blues, R L Burnside for instance. Old R L could tell jokes too

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I’m with you 100%…but… It’s frustrating when you can hear a good piece of music (understood that this is subjective) that is being held captive by quesionable production choices.

Every so often a musicain comes along who frees a song from itself. I always get a kick out of hearing a cover song that is better than the original. Or rather, a cover song that “uncovers” the song from under all the production trickery. The first song to come to mind is “Mad World”. Tears for Fears fell victim to the 80’s “let’s over produce the crap out of this”. Gary Jules stripped it all away and rescued a good song.

At the end of the day, if the production choices make my ears curl, I move on.


The only hope is that someone makes a cover or maybe a remix …

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You should persuade some up & coming C&W crooner to sing those lyrics …
:wink: :rofl: :rofl:


I call the current state of “popular music” production pop. There are a handfull of producers and writers credited with crafting a single song for the sole purpose of cranking out a “hit”. This was wonderfully exposed last year (?) at the Grammy’s, when Bonnie Raitt won song of year for “Just Like That”. She was the sole composer, the singer, the guitarist, and probably the arranger of the song too. It is her song; not a production by a team of “experts”. THAT should be (or at least be part of) the criteria for being called an Artist. While I don’t begrudge the current lineup of “pop stars” their successes, I can’t help but feel it is less about the music, and more about the money.

Regarding country music… Tom Petty once said that although he loved country music, the stuff being called country music today, was just bad rock and roll with a fiddle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against, what I guess we could call, traditional country music (but not really a big fan), but Mr. Petty had a fair point.

Brilliant. :joy: Would have loved to have been there!

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Production pop:
Stock, Aitken & Waterman

“Everything” sounded the same …

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I know someone in a famous band whose name most of you would recognize.

Not saying this is anyone here, but on audio forums, I see endless pontificating about how no one should ever use a graphic EQ, etc. Always, always, always, it’s decreed that listening ought to be as per “how the artist intended.”

Anyone who actually knows anything knows perfectly well that the artist may often be last to have his intentions considered or even made known.

Regarding this individual, suffice to say, on hearing the final mix of their second album, he was absolutely distraught. Of course, he had to go into interviews and declare it their best yet.

So much for as the artist intended

If everything always were “as the artist intended,” there would be no band breakups, members leaving, quitting the business, studio musicians coming in and recutting tracks (happens more than most would suspect). Everyone would be fully satisfied, thrilled even.

As anyone has done any recording knows, very often you’re left wondering, how is this going to sound? And you might be unhappy with what the producer tells you to do and what guitar solo he forced you to play and even worse, selected. Trust me, I know… And I was quite relieved when he scrapped that. Thank goodness!


Robert Johnson: One man, with a score + of songs, and a single microphone direct to tape. The other end of that line would be someone like Steve Wilson, or Zappa… as the artist intended. Done.

I feel for those who have to smile and nod at the camera, while cringing inside at the lies they are forced to voice.

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The HUGE presumption in this is that everyones stereo/HiFi-setup is exactly the same and matches the studio setup perfectly. If that assumption does not hold then there will be tweaking.
Is there such a thing as an amplifier with exactly the same amplification for all frequencies in the
audible spectrum? I am fairly sure that there isn’t one that I can afford …

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Smile and Wave Boys!

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I guess the discussion is about presentation vs perception / reception. I like this piece of music, but that highend is really shrill to my ears, better turn the treble down. Or hit “next”.

For me, as I may not have clarified all that well earlier, the artist’s intention -should- be clearly presented in the performance. The recording / arrangement -should- support said intention, with the understanding that sound quality is subjective and dependant, to a degree, on the mode of playback. It has to be accepted that the music will be heard through a variety of headphones, and speakers of varing quality, in a variety of listening enviorments. Ideally, IMHO (hahaha, I said humble), the production should never get in the way of the performance.

Edit: …unless the production is the performance, or the point of the piece. But that’s a whole other conversation. And way too artsy fartsy for my brain at the moment.