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Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:59 pm
by silikon
All,
A bit of a left field question, but it's got me wondering if I'm losing my hearing (or mind), or it's real.

I happened to be listening to Imagine Dragons - Night Visions last night. The first track, Radioactive -- I had been listening on my IEM's (shure 535s) and noticed what to me was the sound of the track going into clipping on peaks -- and it was not pleasant (as distortion or bit reducing); so curiosity getting the better of me, I took it to a couple different references (not near my studio right now), and it was something I could hear on every source. It's present in both my ripped copy and the source CD. As I listened to the whole album, I noticed it on more than just the first track too.

Anyone else observed this (and this is the first track I can recall it happening on) before? is this simply an effect that I'm mistaking for clipping/distortion or ??

it's bothering me for some reason. I'd post the track, but don't want to get into copyright legalities in doing so. :?

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:05 pm
by adamstan
Well, it's one of the Loudness Wars' weapons. Some producers/engineers believe, that in some cases clipping sounds better than (too)heavy limiting. So they use it...

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:53 pm
by ninja6485
Copyright legalities? Anyway, I remember hearing some dodgy production along those lines in a Rick Ross song recently. (*sigh :facepalm: it's not what you think). I just figured his beard got stuck in a volume fader somewhere and they just went with it. Or if he wasn't wearing a shirt, as is frequently the case, I'm sure the studio techs just wanted to move him on through asap.

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:57 pm
by c-level
distortion is a form of compression. i learned to use the Saturator in ableton on 'analog clip' mode and it basically brickwalls stuff at zero, adds a tasteful pinch of drive, but avoids the 'sucking' time feature of a limiter or compressor. i use this trick 9/10 times instead of a compressor now....


i have a related question tho;
since switching out my interfaces, things sound a bit crispy at the top of the dial (esp modern dance music) but doesnt sound right turned down (in itunes) or with the active monitor pad on. is it possible to clip active monitors?

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:16 pm
by silikon
c-level wrote:distortion is a form of compression. i learned to use the Saturator in ableton on 'analog clip' mode and it basically brickwalls stuff at zero, adds a tasteful pinch of drive, but avoids the 'sucking' time feature of a limiter or compressor. i use this trick 9/10 times instead of a compressor now....
What I hear is far from pleasant or tasteful. It sounds like it was mastered on old radio shack gear. And I'm probably being too harsh on old radio shack gear.
c-level wrote:is it possible to clip active monitors?
Certainly is. It's also possible to overdrive things before you get to the speakers.
ninja6485 wrote:Copyright legalities?
As in, I didn't want to post the clip and receive a cease-and-desist...
ninja6485 wrote:I just figured his beard got stuck in a volume fader somewhere and they just went with it. Or if he wasn't wearing a shirt, as is frequently the case, I'm sure the studio techs just wanted to move him on through asap.
:lol: :lol:

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:31 pm
by tallowwaters
I've heard it on some recordings, though I'm not familiar with your particular example. I chalk it up to cut-rate, self taught engineers on the mastering end.

Have you looked at the actual WAV?

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:51 pm
by vicd
Silikon, can you tell for sure it's not your beard stuck somewhere in the amplification path? ;)

Tried listening to the track - really sounds like clueless s**t a perfect example of NO mixing/NO mastering. Well, that probably was the artist's choice.

Maybe if you give it more headroom and expand a bit, it will sound less offensive.

PS. after a second listen it's like a failed attempt of mimicking some KMFDM sounding, aggravated by lack of proper LP filtering on the bass drum track (or on the whole mix while mastering).

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:37 pm
by silikon
tallowwaters wrote:I've heard it on some recordings, though I'm not familiar with your particular example. I chalk it up to cut-rate, self taught engineers on the mastering end.

Have you looked at the actual WAV?
Fantastic idea. I think I'll do that very thing tonight! Thanks for highlighting the obvious path forward. :D
vicd wrote:Silikon, can you tell for sure it's not your beard stuck somewhere in the amplification path?
Beard, most certainly not. Pubes, however, a possibility. ;)

My thought is that they were going for distorting only the percussive parts for gravitas, but it seems to bleed and affect everything else in a not so subtle way. Perhaps it was an idea not far removed from sidechain pumping...

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:15 pm
by vicd
Perfect. Now let's vote on "what's wrong on the spectrogram"...and how one could cure that.

Image
Image

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:38 am
by Cruel Hoax
As an engineer —even working with big-name artists at very nice studios— your job is to give the client what they want. And, too often, that means cranking up the thing that you hate, but that the client digs.

I had a client ask for "More Autotune than Autotune!" I ended up reversing the vocal tracks, destructively Tuning them (so as to move the artifacts to the END of the syllable when the vox were re-reversed, then reversing back to normal.) I also —at their request— did a ruff 'n ready "master" so they could play it in the club that night. Earned me my first gold record, believe it or not. They had a "proper" mix done later, but my end-of-day mix is what went out on the radio.

Life is strange.

So yes, the Loudness Wars are still with us, sadly. But a guy hires you to paint his car blue, you don't spend your time telling him how a deep burgundy would be so much classier; you paint the car blue and move on.

-Hoax

Re: Perceived clipping in modern recordings...

Posted: Sun May 04, 2014 12:10 pm
by HideawayStudio
silikon wrote:All,
A bit of a left field question, but it's got me wondering if I'm losing my hearing (or mind), or it's real.

I happened to be listening to Imagine Dragons - Night Visions last night. The first track, Radioactive -- I had been listening on my IEM's (shure 535s) and noticed what to me was the sound of the track going into clipping on peaks -- and it was not pleasant (as distortion or bit reducing); so curiosity getting the better of me, I took it to a couple different references (not near my studio right now), and it was something I could hear on every source. It's present in both my ripped copy and the source CD. As I listened to the whole album, I noticed it on more than just the first track too.

Anyone else observed this (and this is the first track I can recall it happening on) before? is this simply an effect that I'm mistaking for clipping/distortion or ??

it's bothering me for some reason. I'd post the track, but don't want to get into copyright legalities in doing so. :?
In short yes... to the point I've seriously doubted my equipment but on looking at the raw waveforms you can clearly see digital flat spots...

One of the most surprising/curious was JMJ's Aero CD which was found to be littered with digital clipping. No matter what digital gear I read/transferred the data over the result was always the same so I loaded it up in an editor only to see a sea of digital clipping!

JM is really into high quality audio play back so I really don't think this is anything to do with the final cut - my guess is that something has gone wrong in the final mastering stages.

There is a rather curious web paged dedicated to this subject (and indeed lists Aero):

http://www.cfdr.eu.org/issues/cd/bad/

and more here:

http://www.cfdr.eu.org/issues/cd/links/ ... 17937.html