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  1. #1
    Senior Member chill's Avatar
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    Experimenting with re-equalising a CD

    I posted my first attempt at this in the 'What are you listening to" thread (this post). The result showed potential, so I've been playing some more, but I figured I shouldn't pollute that thread any more.

    The CD I've been attempting to tune to my own tastes (I won't say 'improve', since that's very subjective) is Elton John and Leon Russell's collaboration 'The Union'. I like most of the songs, but the mix is too recessed for my tastes, with very little top end (evidently I'm not alone). For my first attempt I simply used the graphic equaliser in Audacity to attenuate everything below a few kHz, before normalising.



    This did indeed boost the top end considerably - even making it a touch too bright. But it showed that the higher frequencies are present in the original - they just need teasing out.

    Then I discovered spectrum plots in Audacity.
    The original:



    My first attempt:



    Yikes - no wonder it sounded a bit sibilant! I've read that most music will have a fairly straight slope from low frequencies to high frequencies. It's clear that the original spectrum is rolling off from about 3kHz, which explains why it sounds like it's missing the top end. For comparison, here's the spectrum of 'Yellow Brick Road".



    So I attempted to recreate that sort of spectrum. I ended up with this setup for the graphic equaliser:


    That resulted in this spectrum. Not a straight slope, but the nasty sibilant hump has gone. It's perhaps a bit high at the top end now above 3kHz (compared to a straight slope), but if anything that's how I prefer my music to sound, and to my ears the end result sounds quite natural now, and really much more pleasant to listen to.



    An interesting side-effect - the dynamic range has jumped from 8 to 21. I don't think that can all be attributed to overdoing the top end, can it? I might have another go with the sliders all nudged down a bit to make the spectrum slope a bit straighter.
    Last edited by chill; 2019-07-26 at 00:22.

  2. #2
    Senior Member chill's Avatar
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    Here's the original waveform. DR8



    And after my attempt at boosting the top end. DR21



    After adjusting the equalisation I normalised to maximise the volume, and it appears from the second image that the overall level is limited by a couple of tracks - track 8 and track 10. But track 8 in particular, 'Monkey Suit', now has real punch.

  3. #3
    Senior Member chill's Avatar
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    I shaved a few dB off the top end, to make the spectrum slope straighter.





    It's surprising how much difference that change makes. The result sounds noticeably flatter to me - the 'punch' in Monkey Suit is diminished. DR is now 18 for the whole CD. I prefer the earlier result, so will stick with that, even though I think the spectrum plots tell me the last attempt is probably more 'correct'.

  4. #4
    Senior Member chill's Avatar
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    After a bit more extended listening, I've formed a slightly different impression of my last two attempts. For longer term listening I now prefer the latter attempt, with the 'straight' spectrum plot.

    DR18


    Most of the tracks on the album don't necessarily benefit as much from extra 'impact', the way that 'Monkey Suit' does. I've kept my previous, slightly 'hot' attempt though, for when I want that extra kick, but it's almost a case of 'too much of a good thing' - great for playing one or two tracks cranked up, but less so for relaxing to the whole album. I realise that this is probably all in the realm of personal preference, but I find both attempts are far superior to the original mix :-)

    If anyone else with a copy of 'The Union' is interested in trying this out, I'm attaching a zip file with my two equalisation curves which can be imported into Audacity.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  5. #5
    Senior Member bernt's Avatar
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    I hate this loudness war crap. I hardly ever buy music anymore.

    http://dr.loudness-war.info/

    Ignore vinyl rip. The values are not valid.

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