RHCP Stadium Arcadium CD & LP mastering comparison

Discussion in 'Music' started by Simon Howson, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Many people are dissapointed with the sound quality of the last three RHCP albums on CD. In this thread I have provided some MP3s that compare the CD version of Stadium Arcadium, with the the same excerpts taken from the vinyl LP version.

    The transfer from LP to digital was performed with a good turntable, and a professional CD recorder. I have WaveGained the files so they are roughly the same loudness (generally we perceive louder sounds to be of higher quality, hence it is only fair to ensure both samples are close to the same loudness when comparing them). However, this means the MP3 samples will be a lot lower in volume that listening to the CDs directly. If you want to compare the samples at the regular CD loudness, turn up your volume control!.

    I encoded the files from WAV to MP3 using LAME 3.97, with the setting " -V5 --vbr-new "

    REMEMBER: The samples feature 45 seconds from the CD, 5 seconds of silence, then the same 45 seconds from a digital transfer of the vinyl LPs.

    1.) DANI CALIFORNIA
    2.) SNOW (HEY OH)
    3.) CHARLIE
    4.) STADIUM ARCADIUM
    5.) HUMP DE BUMP
    6.) SHE'S ONLY 18
    7.) SLOW CHEETAH
    8.) TORTURE ME
    9.) STRIP MY MIND
    10.) ESPECIALLY IN MICHIGAN
    11.) WARLOCKS
    12.) C'MON GIRL
    13.) WET SAND
    14.) HEY
    15.) DESECRATION SMILE
    16.) TELL ME BABY
    17.) HARD TO CONCENTRATE
    18.) 21ST CENTURY
    19.) SHE LOOKS TO ME
    20.) READYMADE
    21.) IF
    22.) MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER
    23.) ANIMAL BAR
    24.) SO MUCH I
    25.) STORM IN A TEACUP
    26.) WE BELIEVE
    27.) TURN IT AGAIN
    28.) DEATH OF A MARTIAN

    1.) THE POWER OF EQUALITY

    I encourage EVERYONE who is interested in hearing Stadium Arcadium at its best to buy an LP version! Doing this will show Warner Bros. that we care about the sound quality of RHCP's albums, and are dissapointed with the poor quality of the CDs. We are effectively being ripped off, personally, that annoys me!

    The vinyl can be transfered to CD if that is more convenient, but it will mean you get to hear the album in the best quality possible.

    The vinyl can be bought from several online stores:

    AcousticSounds 150 gram180 gram
    ElusiveDisc 150 gram180 gram
    Amazon (U.K) 150 gram
    And of course: eBay
     
  2. Brian Little

    Brian Little Stunt Coordinator

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    Thank you very much for the comparison clips. Once I can afford to I'm going to certainly pick up the LP release. The CD version sounds just terrible.
     
  3. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    No prob. Here are some waveform comparisons of the song Stadium Arcadium taken from the LP then CD.

    Red Hot Chili Pepper's song Stadium Arcadium from LP - Good Mastering

    [​IMG]

    The song Stadium Arcadium from CD - Bad Mastering

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    This has been all over the Steve Hoffman forum for a year, so its no suprising news to me. Now if we could get them to fix the greatest hits album ......
     
  5. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Yes, I put the waveform comparisons there.

    The big remastering priority for RHCP must be Californication, one of the probably the worst sounding CD I own.
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Makes me wish I had a record player... [​IMG]
     
  7. Eric_Connelly

    Eric_Connelly Second Unit

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    Oh boy what am I doing here....so if I were to buy a LP player...is the above example true of ALL LP's?

    Meaning in general are they better production than the CD.

    Just what I need...something else to invest in...I've avoided buying this CD specifically because of what I read.
     
  8. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I don't have a turntable yet, but I've started buying LPs, just because I like the art. Get a look at a copy of Birth Control's Operation sometime.
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Good, I think supporting the CD is pointless too. However, I would suggest that you could buy the vinyl, and have it transfered to CD. Most good hifi stores offer the service for a fee, and it will enable you to have the best sounding digital copy available. Sadly, you can't get that by buying the CDs.
     
  10. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    I can't remember what rag I just read it in, but one of 'em was just saying how good the audio on this CD was.

    It'd be great if one of the guys that own the vinyl copies could rip 'em to digital files and offer 'em up for download on a website! Of course, we'd have to verify that we own the CD version... [​IMG]
     
  11. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Thats because dead-tree publications are all on the payroll of somebody.
     
  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Yeah or they actually think it sounds good. Just becase they (mistakenly) think it's good doesn't mean that they're corporate tools.
     
  13. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    There are teenage RHCP fans in the official forums that seem to like the sound of the last 3 albums (all mastered by Vlado Meller), but don't like the sound of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, even though it is a very dynamic recording. There are literally people that complain about having to turn up their volume controls when playing BSSM!?

    So maybe young music listeners are only familiar with the sound of highly compressed CDs, and thus are now attuned to that (annoying) sound?
     
  14. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    That's because the way teenagers listen to their iPods, they can't hear anything anyway.

    Seriously, in about 20 years, the #1 hottest in-demand profession is going to be audiologist. If you are going to college and are contemplating what field to pursue and want something that will be in demand in the near future, that's it.
     
  15. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I listen to a lot of music on my iPod too, in fact owning an iPod has made me listen to more of my music.

    iPods are actually decent quality, better than the tape walkman I used when I was 12, and more convenient than the discman I used when I was 17.

    I would also point out that iPods sound worse on heavily compressed CDs. Because the signal can clip even further during decoding from lossy format back to analog.

    In contrast, I spend most of my time listening to Jazz. Well mastered Jazz CDs sound stunning on an iPod.

    It all comes back to that dictum - garbage in garbage out. If the CD is poorly mastered, then an iPod won't improve it, rather due to the decoding process it will just make those flaws all the more apparent.
     
  16. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Well, the overmodulation and clipping seen in that graph look like they would throw the needle right out of the groove if cut on a record. Actually it would be hard to cut that at all, although direct metal mastering might do it. This is what I always say — CD doesn't have the limitations vinyl does, so there's no need to respect them. The sound ought to be better (on average, not referring to some of the truly exotic vinyl pressings), but instead the recordists get sloppy and do nonsensical things, because there's not a physical barrier to stop them. It's sad, really.
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Simon, I should have been more clear. I too own an iPod and it's my primary listening device.

    What I meant was that at the loud volume kids today listen to their music, they're mostly deaf or on their way to it. You can't really hear the difference between overcompressed and well mastered music when it's going at 110 decibels into your ears, which is the volume most kids who wear in ear buds (most commonly associated w/ iPods but can be used with any portable player) are listening at.

    Didn't mean to denigrate the iPod, I love mine. But this will be known as the Deaf Generation in future years...
     
  18. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Yep, you make good points. I jumped to conclusions a bit. I guess because I'm wary of people who say, "well it doesn't matter, it is only music for teenagers anyway". Or who say, "well it is only going to be listened to on iPods, so what does it matter." A good encode to an iPod sounds better than so many previous portable (and non-portable) formats that it is sad that CDs don't make use of the excellent reproduction capabilities of the device. I mainly listen to Jazz, and I consistently find $9 Jazz reissues, that were originally recorded analog in the 60s or 70s sounding much better than latest release CDs.

    But you implicitly make an interesting point, the way people listen to music has changed a lot. People don't sit down at the hifi and put on a favourite LP while reading a book. They want music on the go, so record companies now seem to think music must be slammed at us, else we won't take any notice of it.


    /wild rant on

    This may seem a peculiar analogy, but it reminds me of editing patterns in contemporary Hollywood films. Basically films are edited either fast (by historical standards) or EXTREMELY fast, about 2 - 5 seconds per shot average is about the standard. The disappointing thing is in the 1950s or 1960s, there were films edited at all different rates, sure there were some that were sub 6 seconds average, but you could also find directors like Preminger, Minnelli, Wilder, and Cukor who opted for longer takes. My point is, there was variety, where as now there is such a narrow band of what is considered acceptable that film makers are just constrained to doing basically one thing.

    Of course the reasons for this are many and varied, but one major reason is perhaps the fact most people watch films at home on relatively small displays, and often while somewhat distracted. Sure, there are home theatre people who visit these forums that pay close attention. Yet there are others who will stop half way to get a cup of coffee, or to answer the door or the phone etc. So film makers are responding to this by cutting films so fast that we are constantly bombarded. I feel this is the visual equivilent of the loudness race in audio.

    /wild rant off
     

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