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gibsonfan159

Audio Spectrum Analysis/Comparisons

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Just for fun I thought I'd run different release versions of songs through a spectrum analyzer to get a visual comparison of the mixes. I'm doing a very basic comparison, but if anyone with more knowledge on the matter would like to contribute that would be great.

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14 minutes ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Just for fun I thought I'd run different release versions of songs through a spectrum analyzer to get a visual comparison of the mixes. I'm doing a very basic comparison, but if anyone with more knowledge on the matter would like to contribute that would be great.

TheStairwayRemainsTheSame insists their all from Mobile.

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Here's a comparison of "The Song Remains The Same" from the live albums of the same name. Features the original 1976 release, 2007 remaster, and 2018 remaster. The screenshots were all taken during Plant's final scream near the end. 

The background bars represent the audio level peaks. The small blue lines represent the average audio level. The colored bars only represent the current audio level and should be ignored. The green/yellow separation is to help compare the average levels. The only variant is the 2018 version being a flac file, the others 320 mp3.

1317936181_TSRTS1976.thumb.png.c2fe0339ee485e16826009bfd1ae3505.png

313649042_TSRTS2007.thumb.png.87af75e093b4d25abf80eadac0f5d6ef.png

2038206401_TSRTS2018.thumb.png.f9f497a45787dfce692df1429ce76656.png

Of course there are much more detailed ways to go about this and I'd appreciate input.

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Ok, you've presented three comparisons of the same recording. Now you should some analysis. Tell us what we're looking at and what the variance means.

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2 hours ago, SteveAJones said:

Ok, you've presented three comparisons of the same recording. Now you should some analysis. Tell us what we're looking at and what the variance means.

Unfortunately the free analyzer I downloaded is pretty limited and this is more of a test run until I can find something with more detail, but it gives an idea of the difference in mixes. This is simply a 60 band frequency analyzer showing the levels of the audio mix.

The original release has a lower mid-range which gives it a dryer sound. The average db levels for each frequency are very unbalanced. It has a treble peak about where the guitar sits and the guitar on this track is noticeably up front compared to the other versions. Theres more distance between the peaks and lows can(I forget that technical term). The extreme lows and highs are rolled off sharply, so although this mix has a lot of punch it doesn't have a very broad soundscape. That's pretty common for 70s rock mixes.

The 2007 remaster has the highest peaks (4 frequencies over the -20db mark). It has slightly more bass and mid-range than the original, but less treble. But, the extreme lows and highs are up in the mix and the average levels are very balanced, giving a "bigger" sound.

The 2018 remaster looks almost identical to the 2007 version except it has less peaks. This confuses me as I've always read that the 07 mix was over compressed and louder, but that would make the range have less peaks (gated) but an overall higher average. Looks like the opposite here, but I'm amateur at this at best. One thing I've noticed both visually here and audibly is the highest frequency on the graph. It doesn't even register on the first two but is way up on the 2018 version. Maybe others can back this up, but I can notice Bonzo's cymbals being more audible in the latest release, and that's about where cymbals sit. 

I'd like to see someone who really knows this stuff delve in a little more (I've thought about bringing it up in the stevehoffman forums). I plan on doing all the studio takes of TSRTS as soon as my 80s copy of HOTH arrives.

EDIT: One thing this doesn't take into account is the instrument stereo balance. Page rearranged the balance on the remasters, keeping the guitar on the right side (where he'd be in concert). Unlike the original release that had instruments swapping places.

 

 

Edited by gibsonfan159

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Ok, now we're talking. You have discussed the variances and then explained how they, generally speaking, are discernible to listeners. I think this is a noble first attempt in a complex field.

Edited by SteveAJones

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Here's a first attempt. 1976 VS 2007.

Peaks>vertical bars

Light blue and purple= 1976                  Gray=2007

Average db per frequency>short horizontal bars-

Black=1976.                                            Blue=2007

1593842147_TSRTS1976-picsay.thumb.png.c4ca4d1b232f7e4f9d40ba9cc879f259.png

 

             

Edited by gibsonfan159

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2007 VS 2018

This one is simpler. The 2007 peaks are white and 2018 peaks black.

Opposite for the average db levels. 2007 black and 2018 white.

 

651495662_TSRTS2018-picsay.thumb.png.b88eda3d1425264b62d7f8a25bab7272.png

You can clearly see the boosted treble range on the 2018 remaster. Strangely, it's much louder on average everywhere except the lows. But the 2007 peaks are higher, meaning the audio was less gated/compressed. I can't really explain that unless it's the discrepancy between the mp3 and flac.

Edited by gibsonfan159

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Here are overlays comparing all the remasters of TSRTS and No Quarter. Starts with the Diament mix from the 80s, the 1999 Marino remaster, 1994 Marino Remaster, the "Latter Days" mix, and the 2014 Davis remaster. Again, the text color matches the peak color, but the average frequency level bars are opposite. 

1744660354_TSRTSDiament-picsaygy.thumb.png.b90523eefbf8207582fb6dd1c3ccf0f8.png

1875964890_TSRTS1994Remaster-picsay.thumb.png.b7a8126fbb1b10fc0babedafacfeee63.png

1543284210_TSRTSLatterDays-picsayv.thumb.png.dd414d0f71814bbccceb1a9c39cbe81c.png

(I only included Latter Days to show that there was clearly an overall EQ adjustment).

1885994887_TSRTS2018Remaster-picsays.thumb.png.1d2408bd30653a3a1ec4cbef1a0343e0.png

(2018 should say 2014 for the Davis release)

No Quarter-

1865129990_NoQuarterDiament-picsayre.thumb.png.37f7deb7711a931a1b40295664a99e33.png

(Bonham's kick drum is clearly louder on the Diament release)

1910649415_NoQuarter1994-picsay.thumb.png.00764da295d95f5e5fc24b11c4f66bfe.png

156551497_NoQuarterLatterDays-picsayp.thumb.png.b45ffcf5076cb2e9b36779188071ab61.png

(Virtually identical)

585802144_NoQuarter2014-picsayl.thumb.png.d989cc3e9fad0d6a2fbad6fb14f3243e.png

(A boost in the bass/drum range is about the only difference in these versions)

 

The only release I didn't test was Mothership which I don't have, but have heard it was possibly remastered to some extent.

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These are the LUFS levels for each song tested, which shows the overall loudness of the tracks and are in order of softest to loudest.

TSRTS 

1990- 15.20
80s Diament- 13.68
Latter days- 11.49
1994- 11.39
2014- 10.75
2008 Definitive Collection- 10.09

No Quarter

80s Diament- 17.67
1990- 16.98
Latter Days- 14.56
1994- 14.55
2014- 13.74
2008 Definitive Collection- 13.26

I included the 2008 Japanese Definitive Collection to show that it does have the loudest overall volume of the CDs I own.

Edited by gibsonfan159

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Here's my description of the characteristics of each of the four CD remasters;

1980s Barry Diament mastering- low volume. Kick drum is loud in mix with full depth. Slight boxy sound. Extreme panning on some tracks (The Rain Song). Shallow soundstage but lots of separation between instruments.

1990 Marino remasters- low volume but excellent dynamic range/little compression. Loud bass levels. Some unique mixing (TSRTS). 

1994 Marino remasters- louder/more compressed. Guitars up in mix. Scooped mids and lowered bass create a warm but thin sound. Drums sound flat and low in mix.

2014 Davis remasters- Good balance between Diament drum depth and Marino guitars. Excellent soundstage. Boosted treble range can sound harsh on some tracks (TSRTS). Noticeable editing/masking of background noise.

 

Which instruments stand out for each mix-

Drums- 1980s Diament. 

Guitar- 1994 Marino remasters.

Bass- 2014 Davis/1990 Marino remasters.

Vocals- 2014 Davis/1994 Marino remasters.

Mix balance and dynamics- 1990 Marino remasters/1980s Diament.

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45 minutes ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Here's an audio sample which includes repeated sections of four different CD releases of HOTH. They repeat in order as the Diament version, the 1990 Boxset remaster by Marino, the 1994 remaster by Marino, and the 2014 remaster by Davis. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zjOFMBw9SNBaYXfqqQuDfx3sUAFvZtLd/view?usp=drivesdk

To my ears the fourth sample is the best overall. I guess that would be the 2014 remaster

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44 minutes ago, hummingbird69 said:

To my ears the fourth sample is the best overall. I guess that would be the 2014 remaster

It's not only song by song for me, but section by section as well. 2014 TSRTS is just way too harsh for my ears. I actually prefer the 1994 version. For No Quarter  and The Rain Song it's really hard to beat the Davis mix. The intro for OTHAFA sounds best on the Diament master, but I like the 1994 mix when the chorus kicks in.

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Great that you are attempting something like this. But, as you said, all can change depending on different parts of the song,

It's not just WHAT remaster. This stuff can obviously get tremendously complicated. Although the releases are official,

think about the boot remasters !!! Distortions, clipping, one instrument dominance are dialed/EQ'ed out, and despite a cleaner and more balanced result, the bite of the band can be diminished as well. To be fair, this stuff is rough going, even

your interesting comparisons, which I haven't seen before.

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Here are the comparisons between the fourth album using Rock And Roll.

149013152_RockandRoll(Sidore)-picsayj.thumb.png.c8389a1bfd1ed0c4f5d1c5c2d0a0169d.png

364275465_RockandRoll(1990)-picsays.thumb.png.66ffa27d9b3f48a811d4f62e21d323eb.png

312287046_RockandRoll(2014)-picsaya.thumb.png.971baffc4e35ff8a2055227c16348bcb.png

The CD I received of the Sidore master has a very noticeable amount of noise on each recording, almost as if it was transferred straight from a dusty vinyl.

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Here's a comparison between the Mothership release and 2008 Japanese Box Set release of TSRTS.

1294849841_TSRTS(Mothership)-picsayed.thumb.png.9e1c7ab5cd9f274283b3fbb56467140d.png

The EQ levels are virtually identical, but here's an important difference not shown on the graph-

Mothership TSRTS-

LUFS level 7.77     

Dynamic Range- 7 overall, 7.5 left/6.7 right, rms- 8.9 left/8.2 right.

2008 box set TSRTS-

LUFS level 10.09

Dynamic Range- 9 overall, 9.8 left/8.9 right, rms- 11.2 left/10.4 right.

Here's a snapshot of the spectograms of the two tracks, Mothership on the bottom-

IMG_20200102_022955868_HDR.thumb.jpg.2dcdb3834c8ccbcd632d29dff64c89ab.jpg

 

The Mothership compilation shows the absolute height of the loudness wars, compressed to the absolute max and unnecessarily loud. This is the original CD release of Mothership and I've not tested any new versions, but my advice is to avoid this one at all costs as it's the worst audio of the band's material I've seen yet.

 

 

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Mothership VS Latter Days.

Latter Days TSRTS-

LUFS level- 11.49

Dynamic Range- 11 overall, 11.0 left/10.3 right, rms- 12.6 left/11.9 right.

1717968089_TSRTS(Mothership)-picsayr-picsayhj.thumb.png.8a10a2de80eb32eadb911305115e206c.png

Not sure why the original Early Days/Latter Days compilation was renamed and re-released as Mothership, but the former is clearly a better option sonically.

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