This post is just to let you know what I am working on for some time. Today I got the very first version of a new project working. As you probably know the biggest problem with nowadays recordings is compression of the dynamic range. Once started as a loudness war to sound the loudest on the radio, still most new populair recordings and remasters only have limited dynamic range (see Dynamic Range Database). And although the original reason is not valid anymore for a long time (radio stations have their own limiters, which sound the best with dynamic material), our favorite music continues to be crippled.
Most populair sound processing tools have a plugin to enhance the dynamic range. Some time ago I listened to some music that had been processed with iZotopes Declip plugin. I read on some forums that people had been experimenting with it with mixed results, it took multiple tries to find the best parameters. The music I listened to was considered to be a huge improvement according to the comments, although that is not how I would describe it. I clearly heard a difference, but it did not sound better (not more detail or better highs or something like that), it was more laid back. However I found the difference promising, and just as with Meridian apodizing filter, I decided to look into it and try to make my own improved version. The goal was to make the processing automatically (no parameter tweaking by the user) and dynamically (not the same setting on the entire file as the Declip plugin does).
The idea was simple enough, realisation proved to be much more difficult. However after solving the biggest problem last week, I could finish the test version this week and here are the first results. The song is “Shot in the Dark” from the album “Unforgiven” by “Within Temptation”. I choose this songs because it contains ‘quiet’ parts, that sound absolutely wonderful. These parts should not be processed, although they are full range. However, the louder parts are clearly compressed and should be enhanced. The processed file is on top, the volume 6dB lower than the original. Below is the original file, which is clearly compressed.
The listening test was remarkable to say the least. The first things I noticed were the drums, they really stand out. Base and snare drums have a real kick (consisted with the spikes you see in the processed file) and high hats sound like real high hats. The second thing is that the sound stage does not collaps when the loud part kicks in. This is exactly what I wanted for! The third thing is that I realized that it does not sound laid back, as the Declip processed files did. The sound characteristic is still the same as the original file.
There is still much work and testing to do, but it seems that I am going in the right direction. There are many parameters that can be tweaked, but most of them are already set to a good value. I think that I am going to re-enjoy many albums the next weeks …