SitSoM Soundtrack Technical Nit-Picks FORUM: Archive - Beginning April 17, 2003: SitSoM Soundtrack Technical Nit-Picks
Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Friday, February 07, 2003 - 01:45 am:

Before I even get started on this, I want to say that the soundtrack is a wonderful release of which all of you should own two or more copies. The performances are all first rate and the hard work that went into this release is evident. The purpose of this thread is to try and quantify what some of us seemed to be hearing based on earlier discussions.

There was some discussion in prior threads about how the music in the film and trailers seemed to "sound" better than the music on the soundtrack CD. I finally got around to dumping a couple of the tracks from the soundtrack CD into an audio wave analyzer to see if there was anything noticeable. Ed Wolfrum had already done something like this as well, but I was trying to figure out my way around some new software, so I figured what the heck, let's reinvent the wheel.

The one thing that really stuck out was the limited dynamic range of a number of the tracks. For example (if I'm calculating things right...), "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" has a dynamic range of only 6.1 decibels. "Shotgun" has a dynamic range of only about 5.4 decibels.

To put this in perspective, a typical Motown single from the 60s (such as Junior Walker's original "Shotgun") would have something in the range of 7.5 to 8 decibels of dynamic range. One would expect a modern recording of live music to be at least in that range if not better.

This seems to suggest that somewhere in the process of making the 2-channel stereo mixes and mastering the CD, the dynamics were compressed. This is not all that uncommon with modern releases, but it could be one of the reasons that people seem to be hearing differences between the "sound" of the film and trailer and the CD.

Of course, when the DVD is released, a more direct comparison can be made. We will all need two copies of that one, too. :)

My apologies to the majority of you who I am probably boring to tears.


Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 01:01 pm:

Could anyone comment on the technical details of the recording setup?

Was this mixed on 'industry standard' Pro Tools or similar ?

I've been listening to cuts on the CD every day for months in my Buick. The factory CD player/speaker system makes it sound punchy and dynamic in the car.

This was the topic of a thread 3 months ago and noone with any first-hand knowledge would comment then. From some of the posts at that time its not too hard to understand why.

I don't know how we could assure that a forum reader wouldn't take the CD producers to task for 'dynamic range' war crimes. I don't think Ken is making a judgement here BTW just a technical observation.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 03:53 pm:

If you look back at the thread this was discussed and then closed because we hit some nerves.

I was part of the crew in the truck with Kooster and I know how good the tracks were in there. They were done on stock Tascam 88's and 98's and the truck provided stable low jitter TC, clock and black burst to the system and the rest of the crew. That audio was unprocessed.

The film track was good sounding when I heard it at the Detroit Cast and Crew showing. I heard it later at the Birmingham 8, in mono and I was not as impressed.

Frank Lum my friend, as well as many of the Detroit gang were at the Dolby showing in L.A. and Jay Palmer, Frank and others have reported back that the film track sounded good there.

Your technical analysis confirms my earlier one regarding the CD sound track.

What started this whole thing was the playback of the track to Artie Fields, who has had as much experience with the Funks and Russ, Bob and myself. His comment was "Something is wrong..its distorted and does not sound like Jamerson" when I played the track from Bernedette. That made me do the analysis and find the clipping.

My analysis of "Cool Jerk" (per my earlier post) clinched the dynamic range limiting.

What disturbs me is that for the first time in audio history we now have 90 some dB of dynamic range to work with in consumer delivery media, and the dynamic range is being limited to 7 or so dB!!! Go figure???

We delivered more to the consumer with the great mastering of Bob Dennis and Bob Ohllson on black vinal!!!

No wonder digital is getting a bad name. What the H__l do we need SACD and surround for when we can't even deliver good audio on CD. If the consumer can accept this he/she does not deserve SACD and wide dynamic range audio.

Telling it like it is the problem is......KNOB JOCKIES and BS marketing!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 04:30 pm:

Yes I remember from the previous thread.

I wish someone would just post the process used to produce the CD mix.

Just curious about what was used..

I know.. I'll go out to the car in the garage and find the CD liner and check that out, maybe the details are already right there..


Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 05:22 pm:

Awright I found the information..

Says right here on page 16 of the CD 'liner notes' or whatever you call 'em on a CD:

Mixed by Ted Greenberg at Big Zone Recording, Conshohocken, PA

Mastered by Kevin Reeves at Universal Mastering Studios-East.

Ed- I think you should call these guys on the phone, interview them for the SD forum and ask them straight away about their rationale behind the sound.

Big Zone Recording: 610-940-1995

Universal maintains mastering facilities on both coasts and Kevin Reeves is now located in NY. He has a (mile) long list of credits including remastering several of Stevie Wonder's releases among many others.

Kevin: 732-287-1222

So with a little digging you can get right to the source.

For all the waveforms and clipping I really like the sound of these tracks, at least on my car system.

I think its a compromise which may be the same one which has been made for years in pop music production. The only solution would appear to be the release of a special audiophile version.

And now Ed Wolfrum interviews Ted and Kevin for the SD forum, take it away Ed


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 07:41 pm:

Hey guys, I think we're about to go over ground that was previously covered a while back. How about we leave this one alone?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 10:10 pm:

Like I said Kim. I think we ruffled some Motown feathers.

We can't do that!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 10:38 am:

Ya gotta know I didn't appreciate that last remark.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 11:17 am:

The only reason I brought this up is to try to address it again in the realm of the purely empirical. Considering the way most recently released pop music sounds and what a mastering engineer has to deal with from their clients and companies to stay employed these days, we're lucky that the CD sounds as good as it does. Compared to, say, recent CDs from rock bands like the Foo Fighters or most of those teen dance pop acts dominating the charts, this CD has dynamics to spare, but if you thought the "sound" of the CD was different than the film and/or trailer soundtrack beyond just the different mixes, there is some evidence that you are right.

To spin things a bit more positively, I have a feeling that (barring anything unforeseen), if you like the sound of the CD, you will love the sound of the DVD coming this Spring. The film soundtrack features a different mix that was done for multi-channel sound and responds to on-screen cues, etc., so it is a different animal, but should sound very dynamic and musical.

BTW, I may have underestimated the decibel numbers presented above, but they are still "proportionally correct" (to coin a term). i.e. the Soundtrack CD has a dynamic range about 25% less than a typical 60s Motown recording. My background is in signal processing, but I am just getting used to how some of the technology and calculations in the audio engineering world are "similar but different".


Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Monday, February 10, 2003 - 11:46 am:

Click on my name below and shoot me an email ...

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