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gusi
2008-07-09, 11:29
Hello,

I recently put the VU meter up as a screen saver. I find though that most digital music is recorder 'really loud' and so the VU sits mostly above 0 in what used to be the distortion zone. Somehow that just feels really wrong.

Is there a version of the VU screen saver that has 100% volume sit at 0 or perhaps just past zero on the VU scale?

Eric Seaberg
2008-07-09, 14:46
The VU balistics are very close to a real 'average' reading meter. What you're seeing is quite accurate, since that's how LOUD everyone is mastering CDs now. What you want is a PEAK meter, which is not the same.

Just because the VUs sit above '0' doesn't mean there's distortion... although there is in most cases... but that's a different post in a different forum. ;-)

gusi
2008-07-09, 21:18
I was just thinking of the VU on cassette recordings where you were supposed to keep the recording level below zero for minimum distortion.

I realise that the digital recording level is something quite different but when I look at VU meters casette decks always spring to mind.

amey01
2008-07-10, 04:25
.....and digital should ideally be that way too, but as already said, unfortunately, that is the way CDs are being mastered these days. Do a Google search on "loundess wars" and you'll see what I mean.

Shame, but reality.

Just for interest, play an older CD or recording and notice how the VU metres stay well below 0dB.

MuckleEck
2008-07-10, 04:40
.....and digital should ideally be that way too, but as already said, unfortunately, that is the way CDs are being mastered these days. Do a Google search on "loundess wars" and you'll see what I mean.

Shame, but reality.

Just for interest, play an older CD or recording and notice how the VU metres stay well below 0dB.

Or use replay gain to "normalise" the levels

ralphpnj
2008-07-10, 05:44
I was just thinking of the VU on cassette recordings where you were supposed to keep the recording level below zero for minimum distortion.

That's not quite true and is just one of the many reasons why many cassette recordings sound so bad. Ideally the average VU meter reading should sit as close to zero as possible with the peaks going into the red zone, but not too far into the red and not all the time. The higher the quality of tape being used the greater the dynamic range available, meaning the higher or louder the loudest passages can be recorded while still being able to hear the quieter passages without tape hiss. Using too low a setting will result in a recording that is a bit hissy since the quieter passages are recorded below the tape hiss "noise" floor.

andynormancx
2008-07-10, 07:31
Or use replay gain to "normalise" the levels

That won't help in the battle of the loudness wars. The loudness war is played by increasing the average volume of music throughout the track.

Replay gain can only help with equalizing the peak volume levels of tracks, it is used to turn the whole track up my a fixed amount of volume. If you have a track with a decent range of volume levels across it then even when "replay gained" it will still sound less loud than a track that has fallen victim to the loudness wars.

The only other way of addressing the issue is to use a dynamic volume adjustment, that looks ahead in the audio and turns the volume up or down on the fly. There is such an option on the empeg in car MP3 player. It deals quite well with matching volumes, but it has definitely downsides as it can very occasionally lead to clearly audible artefacts on some tracks (the volume pumps up and down rhythmically). It works quite well for in car listening, but I wouldn't want to use such a system at home.

Mark Lanctot
2008-07-10, 08:20
That won't help in the battle of the loudness wars.

I believe MuckleEck was referring to RG's effect on the VU meter. And yes, it does tame the meter down - in fact, sometimes it barely moves.

CatBus
2008-07-10, 09:34
This is an old enhancement request. Vote for the bug if you want it to get more attention.

http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=4456

gusi
2008-07-10, 21:55
That's not quite true and is just one of the many reasons why many cassette recordings sound so bad. Ideally the average VU meter reading should sit as close to zero as possible with the peaks going into the red zone, but not too far into the red and not all the time. The higher the quality of tape being used the greater the dynamic range available, meaning the higher or louder the loudest passages can be recorded while still being able to hear the quieter passages without tape hiss. Using too low a setting will result in a recording that is a bit hissy since the quieter passages are recorded below the tape hiss "noise" floor.

Good thing I don't use my cassette deck anymore then. In fact I am trying to remember when I last owned one. Must be about 15 years ago. The turntable table is still going strong.

Many digital tracks average well over 0 on the VU meter. I guess I'll just have to get used to it.

gusi
2008-07-10, 22:20
.....and digital should ideally be that way too, but as already said, unfortunately, that is the way CDs are being mastered these days. Do a Google search on "loundess wars" and you'll see what I mean.

Shame, but reality.

Just for interest, play an older CD or recording and notice how the VU metres stay well below 0dB.

Thanks I googled it and see what is happening.

Does this happen on classical too? A friend who likes the genre often complains that the slam of all musos kicking in at the same time is never quite the same on the stereo as in the concert hall.

I listen to a lot of jazz perhaps they could fill the CDs up with uncompressed 'bonus tracks' instead of alternate takes that sound much the same as the original. Or hey with some clever marketing you could get jazz heads to buy their entire collection again. (orginal LP, 80's CD, 90's CD, 24bit CD, 180g Vinyl, SACD, uncompressed CD)I better stop there before I get cynical.

In fact there is no reason that needs to be confined to jazz. Many artists feel the need to fill up all 74 minutes of a CD and it is rare that every track is great. One the thing s I like most about the SB3 is that it so easy to change to another album. With vinyl you were forced to make that choice every 20 minutes (other side or something else) but CDs are a different story all together.

pfarrell
2008-07-10, 22:27
ralphpnj wrote:
> That's not quite true and is just one of the many reasons why many
> cassette recordings sound so bad. Ideally the average VU meter reading
> should sit as close to zero as possible with the peaks going into the
> red zone, but not too far into the red and not all the time.

Essentially correct. The VU meter was used for all tape recording, the
principals are the same for cassettes, 8 tracks, or 2" 24 track
professional tracking machines. You want as loud a signal as you can
get, but not too loud.

Louder signals have better signal to noise ratios, The noise is a
constant, so louder improves the ratio. But there are limits that are a
function of the tape, thickness of oxide or other material, head size,
gap, etc.


A real VU meter is expensive. They have calibrated response. And
ralphphn's idea that the average that you see on a VU meter is a bit
off, they are averaging devices. They don't show instaneous levels. A
quick spike will not cause it to peg, it just make it go up. Its
dampened, to reflect how tape machines really work.

Someone up thread blamed going over to CDs and loudness wars. That's not
completely correct. The can be no signal on a CD higher than 0dBFS (zero
dB Full Scale). Everything is down from that. The "loudness wars"
simply compress everything so its allways up near or at 0dBFS.

A software pseudo-VU scale for a SqueezeBoxen should probably be
calibrated so that 0 dB on the scale is shown when the signal is 3 or
even 6 dB over. But for modern pop/rock, there is no dymanics, so its
mostly silly.

Well done classical, some jazz, etc. actually still has dymanics.

But the tape based concept of keeping it at 0dB with ticks over into the
red is not applicable to digital recording.

Consumer tape is designed to have some slack, so you can abuse it some.
Professional tape is much more expensive, and has higher performance,
but does not tolerate the same abuse as consumer stuff. Same with
photography film. The Kodachrome that most folks used could be ignored,
left in your car, etc. for months, even a year or more. Professional
film is kept in the refrigerator, and has to be developed within 48
hours of exposure.

--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

pfarrell
2008-07-10, 22:48
gusi wrote:
> Does this happen on classical too? A friend who likes the genre often
> complains that the slam of all musos kicking in at the same time is
> never quite the same on the stereo as in the concert hall.

Most classical is recorded with some dynamics. But it suffers from
another problem.

A full orchestra doing FFF is really loud. Sixty or one hundred
professional musicians can make a lot of sound.

Most home stereos can't deliver the same sound. No reasonably priced
stereo can. This is what drives some audiophiles to spend large amounts
of money on very large systems.

If you want to sound like five string basses, 30 violins, five trumpets,
etc. you need to move as much air as the real musicians do. Or at least
move as much air relative to the live concert hall.

And if you have a system that can reproduce an orchestra, or even
something smaller, like a "big band" which is only 20 to 30 musicians,
its not going to work with most decorating committee's approval.


--
Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/

gusi
2008-07-10, 23:28
I am starting to look at the VU's quite differently now. Rather than look at max level. It is interesting to look at the min level and how much the needle moves around. Being virtual meters they are not constrained by their own inertia and can really move.

Bob Dylan, Modern Times, mostly 30-90% Umi, the way we were, 10-90% but then it is quite different music. I'll have to try some harsh rock next, but I am rather enjoying this at the moment.

You're right about real instruments and specially a room full of them. Having owned a saxophone many moons ago I (and my less fortunate neighbours) know just how loud it can be.

I guess I belong to the category of people who spend too much on their stereos now (Naim/Linn active Briks). With two sets of 12" woofers each the briks do live up to their name and are not known for their WAF. It can sound great but it is never the same as the real thing.

gusi
2008-07-10, 23:41
Red Hot Chilli Peppers Californication (80-100%), Blood Sugar Sex Magic (20-60%).

I might have to turn the VU off before it becomes an obsession ;-)

StigErik
2008-07-10, 23:42
The VU meter on the SB is just gimmick, really useless if you ask me. It doesnt even follow any accepted standard for 0 dB. A digital peak-meter with peak-hold and RMS value would be better I think, but who wants to look at the meters all the time? I like to listen to the music!

JimC
2008-07-11, 00:03
The VU meter on the SB is just gimmick, really useless if you ask me. It doesnt even follow any accepted standard for 0 dB. A digital peak-meter with peak-hold and RMS value would be better I think, but who wants to look at the meters all the time? I like to listen to the music!

Well it is a screensaver, after all, and wasn't intended to be used for actual measurement or mastering. I find it entertaining and, therefore, not useless but that's just my opinion.

In this case, one man's gimmick is another man's visual entertainment.


-=> Jim

Nonreality
2008-07-11, 00:28
Good thing I don't use my cassette deck anymore then. In fact I am trying to remember when I last owned one. Must be about 15 years ago. The turntable table is still going strong.

Many digital tracks average well over 0 on the VU meter. I guess I'll just have to get used to it.
If you use any random type playlist then you really need to use replay gain. If it's fully used right then it's not just using the peaks. Unfortunately the SB doesn't use the peak gain settings,(from a good program, which really aren't peak gain (that is one type but the other is way more complicated than just peak but they call it the same I believe). Maybe some day the SB will use the full replaygain features, But even so,it does a great job of equalizing the volume and I never really have to grab the remote to change volume.

StigErik
2008-07-11, 01:44
Well it is a screensaver, after all, and wasn't intended to be used for actual measurement or mastering. I find it entertaining and, therefore, not useless but that's just my opinion.

In this case, one man's gimmick is another man's visual entertainment.


-=> Jim

Maybe I'm just a geek..? When I see a meter, I want it to be reasonably accurate. Its like having a clock thats 1 hour 34 minues off, just because its a screensaver and not indended for accurate measurement.....

;)

Mark Lanctot
2008-07-11, 05:34
Red Hot Chilli Peppers Californication (80-100%)

One of the most compressed CDs ever made.

pfarrell
2008-07-11, 07:28
StigErik wrote:
> Maybe I'm just a geek..? When I see a meter, I want it to be
> reasonably accurate. Its like having a clock thats 1 hour 34 minues
> off, just because its a screensaver and not indended for accurate
> measurement.....

Then you really want a dorrough digital meter.
http://www.dorrough.com/dorrough/



Pat Farrell
http://www.pfarrell.com/