brickwalling

Compression & Brickwalling Examples

Following the previous entry.

Before I move onto other things—although music mastering & quality is something I might like to return to periodically—here’s a few more musical waveforms for comparison, with comments.

KATE BUSH—RUNNING UP THAT HILL (1985)

The top image is the original 1985 mastering. It has a dynamic range of 11dB. Below it is the 1997 remastering (not by Kate herself)—the dynamic range (DR) is 7dB.

Kate Bush Running 1985

Kate Bush Running 1997

You’ll note on the top one, Kate herself does make use of the full soundscape and sometimes clips the very peaks of the sound for effect (which is perfectly fine & valid!). On the ’97, there is lot of peak-clipping (the tops of the waveforms being cut off) and compression, which results in a loss of 4dB of DR. Kate’s own 2018 remaster of Hounds of Love, which I’ve yet to hear, has the same dynamic range as the 1985 release.

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Brickwalling Music

As mentioned in the previous post… I thought I’d talk a bit more about the dreaded Loudness Wars™ and the brickwalling of a lot of modern music. I’m not a full-on audiophile and not a sound engineer, or any kind of expert, but I do know what I like and I have a reasonable grasp on this stuff…

The dynamic range of a piece of music (or any audio) is the difference in dBs (decibels) between the quietest sound and the loudest. It hardly need be said that a wider range of difference creates a more dynamic soundscape. Whether or not this is desirable depends on the intent. For a classical symphony, for instance, you’d definitely want a big contrast between the quieter sections and the parts that boom out dramatically… whereas with heavy metal, a big fat wall of noise is pretty much the goal. (Even then, maybe it’s possible to go too far; more on that in a bit.) But with most music, I think most people would agree that something in-between would generally work quite well.

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David Bowie’s Toy Finally Gets A Release

You might remember I was discussing Bowie’s Toy a while back—my speculative cover design for his unreleased 2001 album.

And now it’s finally getting an official release! Both as part of the newest big Bowie boxset in November (which I couldn’t possibly justify buying even if it was affordable!), and more sensibly as a standalone Toy:Box (snigger, very witty) in January 2022, the month of DB’s 75th birthday.

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