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Overcompression, pegging VU meters, etc. to make MP3's sound good? (1 Viewer)

LanceJ

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Oct 26, 2002
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This thread over at stevehoffman.tv is what got me thinking about this.

To me, MP3's below 96kbps sound really crappy. Dull, fuzzy highs & thin bass. Could the mastering engineers or artists be turning all the levels up on the mixing console to "10" to compensate for this? And also for the really lousy speakers most computers have?

And most receivers and mini-systems no longer have loudness controls for proper listening at lower volumes where the ear is less sensitive to low bass & high frequencies, something which irritates me a lot at night. Another possible reason?

Anybody else have thoughts on this?

LJ
 

BrianB

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Apr 29, 2000
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To me, MP3's below 96kbps sound really crappy.
Well, that's because they /are/. 96kbps is a really crummy encoding rate. I don't think the mixing/mastering matters - you're listening to a mp3 that doesn't have the resolution it needs.
 

Rob Gillespie

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Yeah, 128 and below is really scraping it to be honest. 128 can sound fine on it's own, but compare it to a higher rate and you start noticing the problems. Anything less is low-grade audio, really.
 

RaulR

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And most receivers and mini-systems no longer have loudness controls for proper listening at lower volumes where the ear is less sensitive to low bass & high frequencies, something which irritates me a lot at night.
Despite what you may have heard, loudness switches aren't essential. Very high-end amplifiers don't have loudness controls, because any kind of signal processing other than a volume control is considered by audiophiles to be undesirable in a high-quality amplifier -- they don't like anything that alters the "pure" signal because that isn't what the artists, producers or engineers intended you to hear.

Mid- to low-quality amplifiers, receivers and mini-systems often come with signal processing options such as tone controls, loudness switches, reverb effects and "virtual surround" modes because (a) the performance of these components isn't ideal and needs some amount of signal processing to make them sound better, and (b) they are targeted at listeners who are presumed to be not as concerned as audiophiles are about preserving the "pure" signal. (Unfortunately, this means that if you are an audiophile but don't have the budget for high-end stuff, your choices are quite limited.)

I hardly ever use loudness switches no matter how low the volume because I find that most receivers have exaggerated bass and treble to start with. It's a matter of personal preference, of course. I happen to like the sound of a system with a frequency response as close to flat as possible, but most people prefer the sound of boosted mid-bass and treble.
 

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