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 Posted:   Feb 9, 2019 - 10:44 PM   
 By:   JTWfan77   (Member)

I'm wondering which expansions and re-issues have been blighted with brickwall compression. I've heard mention of these in the past:

Peggy Sue Got Married: DE
Bloodline

Would titles such as The Goonies and Ghostbusters be similarly affected (considering that they were mastered by the same individual)?

Any other titles anyone is aware of?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 12:16 AM   
 By:   Isaac The Red   (Member)

Any other titles anyone is aware of?

The most recent one I bought was Varese's expansion of Starship Troopers by Poledouris. The brickwalling did not do the music any favors. I got it before I had the original album, but because I found it so hard to listen to, I had to buy the original 30-minute album which I much prefer to listen to.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 1:17 AM   
 By:   Halloween_Jack   (Member)

Goonies does sound rather bright and hard-edged, in terms of the mastering. It’s not unlistenable at all - and I’m grateful we got it - but I do wish the mastering for this terrific score had gone to somebody with a better track record who would have allowed the score to breath naturally, and better retain its dynamics without this steely hard compression.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 1:55 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Brickwalling is not the only problem. Any kind of compression affects the music, re-equalization (rarely for the better), "bright" mastering, but also high levels even if the dynamic range doesn't look affected etc.

"Hot" mixing is also a problem, because when you have all instruments mixed at higher levels, you don't have anymore a coherent musical image, the soundstage is gone, the dynamic is also reduced because everything sounds loud etc.

Sometimes, you have all these at the same time in a "remastered" edition.

But you can also have a kind of "butterfly effect", a minor change can affect the whole sound.

Today, I regularly go back to the older CD editions of the 80's and the 90's. They are not perfect, but sound wonderfully alive.

There are exceptions, of course.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 2:11 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Goonies does sound rather bright and hard-edged, in terms of the mastering. It’s not unlistenable at all - and I’m grateful we got it - but I do wish the mastering for this terrific score had gone to somebody with a better track record who would have allowed the score to breath naturally, and better retain its dynamics without this steely hard compression.

I share your feelings. If only someone like Chris Malone had worked on it !

Hopefully, there's a superb recording of the Fratelli Chase in the 1987 Cinemagic album :


 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 2:46 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

The most recent one I bought was Varese's expansion of Starship Troopers by Poledouris. The brickwalling did not do the music any favors. I got it before I had the original album, but because I found it so hard to listen to, I had to buy the original 30-minute album which I much prefer to listen to.

Similar experience with many new "remastered" editions.

The Omen for example. When I received the last Varèse edition, I stopped playing the CD after the first 10 minutes.

I didn't understand why, since it's a great Jerry Goldsmith score.

Then I played the 1990 CD edition, and actually played it many times.

I didn't remember how great the music was, because I hadn't go back to my original CD for years and only had in mind Erick Labson's 2001 hot remaster (which is even worse than the new one).

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 4:20 AM   
 By:   LordDalek   (Member)

Mentioned it here before...the Tadlow Conan the Barbarian is horribly brickwalled.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 4:27 AM   
 By:   LordDalek   (Member)

Goonies does sound rather bright and hard-edged, in terms of the mastering. It’s not unlistenable at all - and I’m grateful we got it - but I do wish the mastering for this terrific score had gone to somebody with a better track record who would have allowed the score to breath naturally, and better retain its dynamics without this steely hard compression.

Is that the fault of the remaster or Dan Wallin though? He's been a bit of a punching bag for this stuff for a while.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 5:07 AM   
 By:   Halloween_Jack   (Member)

Goonies does sound rather bright and hard-edged, in terms of the mastering. It’s not unlistenable at all - and I’m grateful we got it - but I do wish the mastering for this terrific score had gone to somebody with a better track record who would have allowed the score to breath naturally, and better retain its dynamics without this steely hard compression.

Is that the fault of the remaster or Dan Wallin though? He's been a bit of a punching bag for this stuff for a while.


I think in the case of Goonies it’s due to Erick Labson. He has (or did) a reputation for hard and bright mastering.

I just don’t understand why some soundtracks are mastered as if they were rock albums?! It’s this trend by some to mix for best sound in a noisy environment i.e. a car or iphone use on the move etc. that has unfortunately compromised the sonics of some soundtracks. Fortunately, our musical niche seems to suffer far less from this practise than others. I can honestly say I have very few truly bad sounding releases.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 5:11 AM   
 By:   Halloween_Jack   (Member)

Mentioned it here before...the Tadlow Conan the Barbarian is horribly brickwalled.

Yes I find I have to turn this one off after a short while. Often the better one’s system gets the better the soundtracks sound. Unfortunately this is one of the ones that just sounds sharper & the compression really makes it a harder listen instead. A real pity as the actual performance truly is superb, and the Tadlow Destroyer release sounded much better.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 5:44 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

I think in the case of Goonies it’s due to Erick Labson. He has (or did) a reputation for hard and bright mastering.

Yes, he compresses the dynamic range, then adds a brighter sound to give a false impression of dynamic and life.

Patricia Sullivan does the same, at least for the last Varèse CDs I heard.

I just don’t understand why some soundtracks are mastered as if they were rock albums?!

Rock albums were properly mastered in the 80's. So the problem is the same.

Fortunately, our musical niche seems to suffer far less from this practise than others.

Actually, soundtrack recordings suffer much more than classical recordings.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 6:00 AM   
 By:   Shaun Rutherford   (Member)

This whole thread should just be pictures of Varese albums.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 6:10 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Often the better one’s system gets the better the soundtracks sound.

Unfortunately, not when the dynamic range is compressed, because while properly mastered CDs will shine all their glory (from the softest to the loudest passages), the compressed ones won't take off and sound all the more ridiculous and painful.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 8:52 AM   
 By:   LordDalek   (Member)

This whole thread should just be pictures of Varese albums.

Sounds like it. I've never had a problem with Intrada or LLL.

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 11:04 AM   
 By:   Halloween_Jack   (Member)

Often the better one’s system gets the better the soundtracks sound.

Unfortunately, not when the dynamic range is compressed, because while properly mastered CDs will shine all their glory (from the softest to the loudest passages), the compressed ones won't take off and sound all the more ridiculous and painful.


Yes this goes without saying. A bad recording or mastering will remain so. But at least a better system will not add an extra layer of brightness (for example), which some people mistake for detail.

I must have been lucky with my Soundtrack purchases to date as I literally only have a handful that are audibly very compressed and hard/bright sounding. Agreed that classical releases often fare the best in terms of mastering choices. But I find the majority of releases from Intrada/LLL/FSM and Quartet to be superb (if the original recording was a good one).

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 3:23 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Brickwalling is not the only problem. Any kind of compression affects the music, re-equalization (rarely for the better), "bright" mastering, but also high levels even if the dynamic range doesn't look affected etc.
"Hot" mixing is also a problem, because when you have all instruments mixed at higher levels, you don't have anymore a coherent musical image, the soundstage is gone, the dynamic is also reduced because everything sounds loud etc.
Sometimes, you have all these at the same time in a "remastered" edition.
But you can also have a kind of "butterfly effect", a minor change can affect the whole sound.


Yes, many factors. That's why I find the term "brickwalling" simplistic and unhelpful. Why do things get messed up? I suppose, as suggested above, the producer imagines an audience listening in cars or treadmills, where the pianissimi would get lost. There are some young folks who may never have heard a true pianissimo!

 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2019 - 3:54 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

Mentioned it here before...the Tadlow Conan the Barbarian is horribly brickwalled.




Yes I find I have to turn this one off after a short while.





Dreadful. For me it's unlistenable in the louder passages.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2019 - 5:33 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

But I find the majority of releases from Intrada/LLL/FSM and Quartet to be superb (if the original recording was a good one).

La-La Land, FSM and Quartet also apply some compression, and even if it's not brickwalled, you don't have the natural dynamic range of the original recording. They also apply "a modern sound palette", to quote Quartet's words when they re-re-released Casino Royale (with no compression and no "make-up" this time).

Intrada's position has also changed since The Rocketeer, and even if the dynamic range seems to be preserved, the hotter levels they use for their new masters may affect the sound.

And their mixings don't respect the ambience of the soundstage and the position of the instruments within the orchestra (no perspective), since they are all mixed at higher levels.

The original recording of Flesh and Blood had wonderful ambience and dynamic, which are all gone with the new mixing (the La-La Land sounds better, I think that Ford Thaxton and James Nelson applied some reverb to recreate the ambience of the soundstage).

The same can be said about Quartet's A Passage to India, the original album had a great ambience and a wide dynamic range, but not the new one where all instruments have been mixed at higher levels.

And regarding compression, Silence of the Lambs also seems more compressed than others.

Most labels apply more or less compression, and many other things.

I didn't notice all these things some years ago, I felt that something was wrong, but didn't know what. I think that I also didn't want to know, because I spent much money in remastered editions, which are often useless in the end.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2019 - 7:21 AM   
 By:   Nono   (Member)

Some interesting quotations :

"Alien 3 was quite an ambitious, very organic recording with extremely high dynamic range, which we preserved to a great degree, using the original album as a reference." (Mike Matessino)

"Malone’s work has focused on addressing unintended technical anomalies (such as filling dropouts and covering analogue splices) rather than broadly applying a modern sound palette. He has eschewed dynamic range compression and retained the brilliance of the original recording." (Quartet, Casino Royale)

"Question for you guys -- I've gotten a few questions about the sound difference between the complete program and the original CD program. What these guys are noticing is that the complete program is presented with the natural dynamic range of the original recording. The CD program is compressed, meaning the differential between the quietest parts and the loudest parts has been reduced. It provides a thicker sound, but is a bit of an artificial range. This compression seems to be the dominant choice for mastering these days, while Intrada has been religious about not tampering with the natural range. But...if the preference is for the sound of this compression, there's no reason we couldn't adopt that going forward. Just curious about your all feelings on this.

Ironically sound had to be compressed for LPs because the physical material of vinyl wouldn't allow for a wide dynamic range. It was one of the original selling points of the CD medium that you could have a full dynamic range without the need for compression. Kind of interesting that people seem to prefer the compressed sound! Or perhaps they just don't appreciate the natural acoustic. Thoughts?" (Roger Feigelson, about The Rocketeer)

Then :

"Originally premiered by Intrada in 2008, new 2017 edition of Body Double is presented from all new master incorporating several important sonic advantages including much-improved levels..." (Intrada)

As we can see, the full dynamic range of recordings is rarely preserved (and when it is, it's duly mentioned) and mastering levels have increased (which is not an improvement).

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2019 - 7:48 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Ironically sound had to be compressed for LPs because the physical material of vinyl wouldn't allow for a wide dynamic range. It was one of the original selling points of the CD medium that you could have a full dynamic range without the need for compression. Kind of interesting that people seem to prefer the compressed sound! Or perhaps they just don't appreciate the natural acoustic. Thoughts?" (Roger Feigelson)


Of course compression is needed! Do you have a very large living room? Bring in a symphony orchestra and imagine their tutti sound. Not pretty! Conversely, do you know what a bona fide pianissimo sounds like amid the hush of two thousand listeners? Very few of us have listening rooms that would allow us to hear such near silence. There is art as well as science to audio engineering. And no one solution will please everybody. The market ranges from fanatical audiophiles to "earbuds at the gym" listeners. Good luck trying to please them all.

 
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