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do cds lose volume over time?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Brad Barker, Sep 3, 2002.

  1. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    whenever i listen to older cds, say from the late 80s, after listening to a new release, i notice a significant drop in volume.

    the question is, is this due to hotter mixes or is the information encoded onto the cd degenerating?

    i remember reading an article saying that vinyl lps don't degenerate as quickly as cds. i suppose this isn't taking into consideration wear and tear on the vinyl.

    any corroborations or refutations?
  2. cds these days are heavily compressed, the result being that everything is louder, but you don't get good dynamics. they're engineered to sound good on the radio.
  3. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    Yeah... I have a hard time listening to many new CDs. Everything sounds so "stuck" in the mix. Nothing really blends together like it used to. I love the sound of a few well-placed room mikes on a jazz trio or whatnot. It captures the entire texture of the group. If you're going to record individual instruments, overdub, etc. then at least don't compress the heck out of it!
  4. cd volume does not change... 1's and 0's do not become "quieter" or less apparent.

    there have been some changes in the way cd's are recorded/mixed/mastered

    i dont think that the quality of recording has declined... I just think that a tolerance of lower quality recordings has developed... also with prices on gear dropping... more and more people are mastering their own stuff.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    it's mainly mastering - people are trying to get the last little 1/10 of a db from max to have the loudest cd released. the most recent rush cd is like that - they actually have digital distortion and overs all over that cd. it's dictated by the labels, most likely, and it's really lame, to be honest.
  6. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    It's god awful, IMO. My ears hate it. I listen for a bit, lose track of what's going on, then put something else in that my ears find more "comfortable". Wavelab 4 has some great 'scopes to prove yourself right when you suspect a disc has been overcooked.
  7. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    While I can agree that there are many productions around these days that could have more natural dynamics,this is only part of the picture.
    There have been major advances in all aspects of recording technology and even musical instrument design and manufacturing since the 80's;everything from mic cables to the chips used in consoles to guitar and bass strings have evolved,including the way Cd's are manufactured.
    It's possible to get a cleaner,hotter signal at the input end of the recording chain with these new tools,and to preserve the integrity of this signal all the way to the output end of the chain,the final copy that the consumer purchases and listens to on his (also vastly improved since the 80's) home system.
    Along with these hardware improvements is a whole generation of engineers and producers who now have many years of working with digital technology under their belts and now know how to get the best out of it,which was far from the case in the years of early CD releases.
    In fact,many 20th century CD releases were only digital at the last stage of the process,the duplication of the consumer product.The master tapes were made on analog 24 track recorders using analog consoles and mixed down to analog 2 track tape,a medium that imparts it's own special flavor of compression to whatever is printed on it.
    A good percentage of the recording boxes you will find in your local Mega Music Mart in 2002 actually spec better than the gear many top selling productions of the last 2 decades were recorded on.
    So yeah,older CD's aren't gonna sound as good.Have you noticed how many current versions of older hit albums sport stickers saying they've been "Digitally Remastered?"
  8. i disagree. most of these "remastered" albums just seem more squashed and less organic to me.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I agree.

    And most AAD recordings sound more natural to me than the full digital stuff.
  10. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Never understood this term. Please explain.
  11. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I have noticed that mixes for pop albums are getting hotter these days. The world is getting louder.
  12. Let's also not forget that, at least from "our" viewpoint, there is more to the audio spectrum than we've heard in the past. Just look at JT's low F#! You wouldn't have heard a bass with that range from 20 years ago. I don't really know how this would affect the sound except to say that to hear such a note in a hotter mix, it's volume will have to be accented. That seems to be the trend you are speaking of.

    A couple of years ago, there was a killer piece written in an online recording site about the decline of the analog sound and it's replacement by digital. The author made a lot of good points, one being about the lack of acoustic engineering training that wouldn't have been tolerated in the older analog days. He seemed to make sense and Virtual Ray's post reinforces that. When you have as much recording power on a simple desktop machine now as some of the top studio's had then, there is going to be a critical gap in the quantity and quality of the trained ears to properly do recordings. Add to this the market driven "hot mix" hype and the recipe is definitely going to suffer.
  13. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    yep, soon you'll need earplugs for a normal conversation. :D
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    On a similar note: I read somewhere a claim that over time CDs do degrade. It isn't a loss of volume... that isn't how digital works. It's a gradual loss of bits, which means a gradual increase in noise, with degradation becoming audible in as soon as 5 years in the case of poorly-manufactured CDs. This is apparently because the CD itself deteriorates: either the plastic part flows or the metallic part breaks down or both.

    Haven't heard this confirmed (or denied) anywhere so I tend to think it's urban legend, but it makes perfect sense to me because the record industry is in fact a bunch of evil greedy ba$tard$ who have no incentive to sell music on lossless media. :eek:
  15. Everyone's right about the compression - but there's another reason:

    Through some colossal technological bummer, Analog-Digital converters have more resolution as you increase volume. To compensate for this, many mastering engineers are using massive amounts of compression to keep the volume up and use up more bits, thus, more resolution in the digital world.

    Luckily, a few companies (namely Sony, with their "Super Bit Mapping" system, and Apogee, with their "UV22") have developed systems that bypass this little quirk - they generate inaudible noise that fills up the rest of the bits, while still allowing the music to be quiet, while retaining optimal resolution.

    My favourite example of excellently remastered albums is the Dire Straits remasters, done by Bob Ludwig in 1995-1996. These are EXTREMELY dynamic (just like DS's music...) yet sound absoutely gorgeous all the way through. Give "Private Investigations" a spin on a very high-end stereo, I guarantee you'll have major goosebumps... I always do...

    The Rush Remasters are fairly dynamic for rock albums. Power Windows is positively ass-kickin in this respect, but nothing near, say, Steely Dan's _Two Against Nature_... that thing's positively WILD with dynamics! The Steely Dan remasters aren't bad either.

    Screw compression - use good DA converters! (big $$$!)

    "Big money, God knows ALL!" --the professor
  16. I haven't heard that of factory CD's but can confirm through my guru that it's true of CD-R's and CD-RW's. These use a dye layer instead of a physical "pit" to record the bits. The dyes can be affected by heat and light and this can lead to things as bad as complete erasure.
  17. Even production CDs can deteriorate...

    As for CD-rs, they usually deterioate faster, however, if you use the right media (namely Kodak or Mitsui Gold) and use it PROPERLY, they will outlast all commercial CDs, except commercially pressed Gold cds (i.e. MFSL UltraDisc Gold)

  18. I was playing with a digital vu meter today, and found that Weezer's _Maladroit_ album has exactly 0 DB of dynamic range during most of the choruses... wow.
  19. submelodic


    Feb 7, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Most new rock/pop releases seem to be like commercials on TV - compressed and limited to be as loud as the medium will allow. This isn't done with only radio in mind, since broadcasters add their own dynamic processing. Bands want their material to be as loud as the other guys when the disc is played in a club or on a cd changer in a car or home. It's a vicious circle. The "louder is better" mentality is getting really tiresome for me.
  20. as far as deterioration is concerned... most entry level cd players have "error correction circuitry" that is complete garbage...

    I use a seperate cd transport and d/a converter... my d/a uses no error correction circuitry; all of my discs that I have taken good care of over the years have little or no loss... (noted by a slight tick of no sound)

    cdrs tend to degrade quite substansially in the first week then remain relatively the same after that... the reason for this I dont know...

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