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U2's One: bad mastering or Klipsch's weak spot?

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4 minutes ago, LeftEyeShooter said:

 

I'm a newbie... How does one interpret this database? The larger the dynamic range, the better? Red is bad, green is good?

 Red is bad and green is good. Red means there is very little dynamic range, very little loud and low passages. Most of todays CDs are loud all the time sadly enough.

 Beware a lot of remasters from the big labels are terrible with respects to dynamic range. I find a lot of the older Cds from the 80's and 90's to sound well. At the end

 of the day the mastering is very important, you cannot polish a turd.

Edited by Ossidian

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I don't consider it a problem but that's the problem with Klipsch speakers.  They will not hide how bad a recording is.  Its a bit frustrating at times.  Many songs I like just sound terrible to me, especially the way vocals are processed.  I'm sure they most likely used a 3-thousand dollar Neuman microphone but they might as well have used something from Radio Shack by the time they're done ruining it.  All the low frequencies sound to me liked they've been equalized out, I suppose to make the vocal stand out.  

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14 hours ago, Mark51 said:

I don't consider it a problem but that's the problem with Klipsch speakers.  They will not hide how bad a recording is.  Its a bit frustrating at times.  Many songs I like just sound terrible to me, especially the way vocals are processed.  I'm sure they most likely used a 3-thousand dollar Neuman microphone but they might as well have used something from Radio Shack by the time they're done ruining it.  All the low frequencies sound to me liked they've been equalized out, I suppose to make the vocal stand out.  

I agree it is frustrating. Of course as we all know a lot of factors also play into it, the mastering of the recording, room acoustics, speaker placement etc. I also find that many recordings I really like just don't sound great to my ears listening on my Forte III's. I just can't get past how it sounds. If thats the case  I usually play them in my multichannel setup in 7-channel stereo. But when a recording is done right it can't be beat on the Forte's. 

I don't do vinyl so I am constantly looking in to the best version of cd mastering I can find or maybe the SACD version of it, which of course can much more expensive. 

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You have stumbled upon the great conundrum of Hi Fi reproduction. The more accurate your playback system is, the worse bad recordings sound.

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Some bad recordings can be fixed or made better, but it ain't easy:

 

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I think that it's easy (of course).  Rip the track(s) to your hard drive (you can use FLAC, etc.).  After you install Audacity, run "Clip Fix" to de-clip the peaks of the track, then "Normalize" to bring the peaks back to within 0 dB.  Then look at the "Plot Spectrum" window.  If the "purple mountain" Plot Spectrum view isn't smoothy decreasing from left to right, correct it using "Equalize".  Correct the EQ curve in the opposite direction from the Plot Spectrum window at the frequencies where it's not smoothly decreasing in a straight line. Look at the Plot Spectrum window again to see how your corrections smoothed the response, then "undo", and update the curve to add your corrections, then run Equalize again.  Repeat until you've got it pretty much straight.  Listen to the track before and after by applying the EQ curve, then undo the curve to hear it as you got the track. 

 

Some adjustments to the brilliance of the track can be done after the above corrections using a very slightly tilted EQ curve (right side "up" about 3-6 dB for more brilliance, right side down 3-6 dB for less brilliance).

 

Once you've gotten the track sounding much nicer, save it.  Voila! Done.

 

That's about all there is to it.  

 

Chris

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On 1/23/2019 at 10:45 AM, babadono said:

You have stumbled upon the great conundrum of Hi Fi reproduction. The more accurate your playback system is, the worse bad recordings sound.

 

Surely, the better your system, the better lesser engineered/mastered music sounds, no?

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58 minutes ago, ChildrenoftheKHORN said:

Surely, the better your system, the better lesser engineered/mastered music sounds, no?

No. The better your system, the worse it sounds. You can't fix crap. That's why many don't like horns...mercilessly transparent. Combine with equally mercilessly transparent SS amp and it's the system from hell on "...lesser engineered/mastered music sounds..." 

 

Dave

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2 hours ago, ChildrenoftheKHORN said:

 

Surely, the better your system, the better lesser engineered/mastered music sounds, no?

I guess it depends on what is meant by "lesser engineered/mastered".

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6 hours ago, ChildrenoftheKHORN said:

Surely, the better your system, the better lesser engineered/mastered music sounds, no?

 

Think of the problem this way:

 

Lower quality loudspeakers typically splash their acoustic energy around the room, where the near field reflections from close by reflective objects also are directed at the listening position (e.g., like Bose 901s).  The human hearing system is pretty sensitive to these near-field reflections that combine with the direct arrival acoustic energy and which strongly affect the soundstage width/height, and imaging of instruments and voices within the soundstage itself.  If you control these nearfield acoustic reflections better (as well-done full range horn-loaded loudspeakers do), the more coherent the sound field becomes, the less confusion that the human hearing system has to deal with, and the better your hearing system can perform.  In other words, the sound image is now "in focus" much better.

 

Poorly done recordings sound worse with better loudspeakers and room acoustics because the ear can now hear the recordings more clearly through all the confusion that usually exists when using poorer performing loudspeakers.  It's those extreme-nearfield reflections that cover up the mistakes within the recordings.  Once the fidelity of the presented sound image gets more coherent, the ear can hear those mistakes from recording, mixing, and mastering much better--just like in a better mixing or mastering control room environment.

 

Fig_5.png

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

Chris

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Being the OP, I want to thank you all for your ideas and contributions. They taught me a lot. And this is what I'm here for.

 

Being a U2 fan for a 'very' long time, I was a bit disappointed with how my U2 cds sound through my Klipsch speakers. Both, cds and streaming, sound ugly and muddy. Could it be bad mastering, editing? Many here seem to suggest so. I've learned that Klipsch speakers make some (digital) albums shine, while they are very unforgiving for other albums.

 

But for me, and U2, things changed in a positive way today...

Some weeks ago, I bought a tiny, China made, hybrid tube amp. This was great fun, and great value for money. But I wasn't able to use my 1980s record player with it. Until today, when my small phono stage arrived. It is even smaller (and cheaper) than the hybrid tube amp. They are sitting snuggly (is that a correct word?) on top of my RP160M speakers. Now, I'm finally able to play my vinyl records with my Klipsch speakers.

And you know what? My vinyl U2 albums now sound brilliant! No muddy, digital soup.

Right now, I'm listening to U2's Songs of Experience on vinyl. And it sounds absolutely fine!

There's nothing wrong with the mix! It is the digital file that messes up the sound!

I expect it will be like that for Achtung Baby as well. I can't do  the test, because I only have the cd.

 

So here is my conclusion: through Klipsch speakers, U2 sounds at its best on vinyl...

 

Gear:

Onkyo CP-1000A (vintage 1980s)

Klipsch RP160M

Nobsound Hybrid Tube Amp

IAMNOBODY MM/MC phono stage

 

songsofexperience.jpg

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Perfect recordings are the hope, but imperfect recordings are the norm.  ..The problem w/ becoming an audiophile is you become increasingly aware of just how rare it is to find perfect.

 

That particular U2 song is a great song (U2 naysayers can go pound sand).   I applaud your decision to buy an integrated amp w/ Treble and Bass controls.  Too many audiophiles, I feel, pass these over.  ..I'd use them to whatever good affect you can.  ..If they don't help ameliorate the artifacts you're hearing, just imagine you're not hearing them and enjoy the song anyway.

 

I have quite a few CD's with horrible recording mistakes and I just power through and enjoy the music anyways.  To set them aside and never listen to them b/c they aren't perfect isn't a great solution either.  ..It would be like leaving a live performance b/c the sound isn't perfect, which is also pretty common.

 

Enjoy your system in good health :)

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I'm not a big U2 fan, but feel the same way about Bruce Springsteen. Only heard one recording I thought sounded amy good. But like all music on any playback system, you enjoy the music or you don't. I'm all for just enjoying the music. 👍

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16 hours ago, LeftEyeShooter said:

Being the OP, I want to thank you all for your ideas and contributions. They taught me a lot. And this is what I'm here for.

 

Being a U2 fan for a 'very' long time, I was a bit disappointed with how my U2 cds sound through my Klipsch speakers. Both, cds and streaming, sound ugly and muddy. Could it be bad mastering, editing? Many here seem to suggest so. I've learned that Klipsch speakers make some (digital) albums shine, while they are very unforgiving for other albums.

 

But for me, and U2, things changed in a positive way today...

Some weeks ago, I bought a tiny, China made, hybrid tube amp. This was great fun, and great value for money. But I wasn't able to use my 1980s record player with it. Until today, when my small phono stage arrived. It is even smaller (and cheaper) than the hybrid tube amp. They are sitting snuggly (is that a correct word?) on top of my RP160M speakers. Now, I'm finally able to play my vinyl records with my Klipsch speakers.

And you know what? My vinyl U2 albums now sound brilliant! No muddy, digital soup.

Right now, I'm listening to U2's Songs of Experience on vinyl. And it sounds absolutely fine!

There's nothing wrong with the mix! It is the digital file that messes up the sound!

I expect it will be like that for Achtung Baby as well. I can't do  the test, because I only have the cd.

 

So here is my conclusion: through Klipsch speakers, U2 sounds at its best on vinyl...

 

Gear:

Onkyo CP-1000A (vintage 1980s)

Klipsch RP160M

Nobsound Hybrid Tube Amp

IAMNOBODY MM/MC phono stage

 

songsofexperience.jpg

 

I would remove any gear, especially tube gear, from on top of the loudspeakers. Not good........

 

Shakey

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Tubes introduce distortion, albeit pleasant distortion. This is why they sound so good with horn loaded speakers, as the speakers themselves are almost too transparent without it .  I understand all about well mastered and mixed this and that, but unless you want to build a system on which your favourite material may be rendered unlistenable and unenjoyable (what would be the point?) , measures need to be taken. Generally a tube amp is best and easiest solution IMO. Then you get the best of both worlds and reap the sonic benefits.

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7 hours ago, Shakeydeal said:

 

I would remove any gear, especially tube gear, from on top of the loudspeakers. Not good........

 

Shakey

This was just for the picture, to demonstrate their size.

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15 hours ago, YK Thom said:

 unless you want to build a system on which your favourite material may be rendered unlistenable and unenjoyable (what would be the point?) , measures need to be taken. Generally a tube amp is best and easiest solution IMO. Then you get the best of both worlds and reap the sonic benefits.

 

I respectfully disagree YK.  ..I think simple Bass and Treble controls on a S/S or tube amp will go a long way in helping render those otherwise unlistenable songs enjoyable.  This is why they were ubiquitous for decades on integrated amps and pre-amps..  

 

When left at 0, or switched off w/ tone defeat, they do no harm.  ..But when you get those overly bright songs that make you wince, they can do wonders.  IMHO. 

 

 

 

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Bass/treble controls on the remote (AVR) should be direct readout like the loudness adjustments.

JJK

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