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Are limiters used when mastering classical music?

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Under what cases would a limiter be used when mastering classical music? I'm assuming that most recordings want to retain maximum dynamic ranges, but I wonder whether limiters are used for some types of material.

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I would venture to guess that a limiter would be used by the professional engineer while recording or mixing most any piece of music.

I use a limiter for my humble jams to give the music a definable texture which i can readily hear with my beat up earholes.

the end thanks for lettin' me share!

P.S. MOVE tHE JAMS!

me:cool:

me at night:bor:

me "movein' the jams":p

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Seriously, though, I strongly suspect limiters are used strictly as a last line of defense against unexpected overs.

 

As Arrell hints, compression can have profound changes on its subject audio. The goal of most conventional classical recordings is to capture the real sound of the orchestra -- not the hyped and exaggerated psuedodynamics of a movie soundtrack.

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i do not use any compression or limiting either during tracking, nor during post, nor during mastering (slight caveat - occasionally, during mastering i will use some very light multi-band compression if i need to balance things slightly based on the mastering engineers monitors, which are better than mine). several years ago when first starting to do classical and chamber music recording, i approached it like i had been doing pop music, compressing during tracking. soon realized it was a mistake to track withe compression, and also a mistake to apply compression to already recorded tracks. however, during this time, i did allow the mastering engineer to use limiting when preparing the mastered version. another mistake. nowadays, i use no compression or limiting during tracking or in post, and i no longer let the mastering engineer use any limiting either - classical music just does not benefit from any kind of dynamic level controls, IME. leave it alone.

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Originally posted by Angelo Clematide

We did leveling dynamics on Vivaldi and other popoular composers for easy listening, so the listener can work in the kitchen, and does not have to run to the stereo to change the volume at pianissimo spots.

:eek:

 

 

:D

_______________

 

 

As long as we're on the general subject, I'd like to -- as a classical consumer -- say that I'm uncomfortable with some of the recordings I've heard from the last decade or two that sound like the production team wanted to capture the putative pizazz of a soundtrack recording on what one would normally expect to be a conventional, 'naturalistic' classical mix.

 

Sometimes it's a heavy hand on the eq -- often there seem to be timing/phase issues as spot mics are, I guess, too tightly focused and/or poorly blended.

 

My local symphony, which is turning in some very solid performances these days, in their drive to keep the hyperannuated subscriber base placated, usually manages to include at least a work or two in every concert which will prove reassuringly familiar. Which means, as I sit through some overexposed classic, that I have a chance to really ponder the sound I hear.

 

And what I find myself thinking as I compare that sound to the sound of many contemporary recordings is that I think I often prefer the recordings of the past -- even though those recordings often -- at first quick listen -- might sound even more seriously compromised.

 

But while a lack of bottom or top end or lack of a 'clearly defined stereo soundscape' might be more readily apparent, time, phase, and blend issues, I think, can create far more insidious problems.

 

 

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Interesting you should ask that, because I'm mastering an album of music from a vocal quartet that alternates between classical Roman Catholic church music in Latin, and more contemporary material. I just finished two versions, one with the track start and ends "cleaned up" a bit and the cuts adjusted for a consistent subjective level, and the other the same, except with a little under 2dB of loudness maximization. They like a pretty much mono soundstage, and loudness maximization preserves that compared to multiband compression, which tends to "spread" the voices a bit.

 

To me, the difference is basically between sitting in the fifth row, and sitting in the 25th row. I felt that a little bit of a level boost was necessary because of the inclusion of the more contemporay material, but still, it's pretty subtle. They also really work the dynamics, so losing a couple dB doesn't change the overall dynamic feel much.

 

But it's really a finesse thing. It has to be something you don't really hear unless you have something to compare it to, and even then, you have to listen a couple times just to make sure :)

 

On the other hand there's a classical solo guitarist who works in the same studio, and for kicks, I did a quick mastering job that was very contemporary. The studio owner loved it, we'll see what the guitarist thinks...it's not by any means "squashed," just made to sound more like you're sitting a few feet away from the guitarist..a more intimate feel.

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Never ever talk about limiting classical music. You could be fired by the director or the producer. Classical music is full dynamic range, without any compression or limiting!

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This is a great question.

 

I think it makes a lot of sense not using a limiter on classical music. The wonderful dynamics of even something as "non-serious" as Rossini's Overtures, with the pin drop ppp's to the bone crushing fff's! Exciting. Or the "thin air" quality of the almost silence in Debussy's Images.

 

When I put on my headphones and listen, I'm transported to another world, in large part because of those wonderful dynamics. Same goes for my home studio with room within room construction. Silent = bliss.

 

However... sometimes I'm a bit frustrated by the noise floor of my everyday environment. In the car for sure. Around the house there is a low level hum of the 'fridge etc. That makes it impossible to listen to certain music.

 

I've gone back to a lot of older recordings. Toscannini with the NBC Orchestra is a favorite. Late 40's and early 50's. Ironically, I like these recordings for a couple of odd reasons. They're mono, and they're limited. Both are limitations of the media at that time, of course.

 

Something about that tight little package of sound is sort of invigorating. Just an observation. No point I'm making in the least.

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

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listening to a majority of my music in public transportation or while walking to work, this kind of bothers me, too. i definitely understand the reasoning behind it. and i'm sure that classical music listeners are more likely those that listen in better listening environmnets. but what about people like me?

 

does anyone think that with the popularity of portable devices, these methods might change in the future? besides those "easy listening" albums. i really couldn't convince myself to buy an album labelled "chill with XXXX". i don't chill. ;)

 

on the other hand, at least i should probably be able to do some of this myself. maybe a good excuse to learn a little about the mastering process, too.

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Originally posted by m15a

i really couldn't convince myself to buy an album labelled "chill with XXXX". i don't chill.
;)

on the other hand, at least i should probably be able to do some of this myself.

 

Exactly.

 

Unfortunately, our modern day listening environments don

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Originally posted by Anderton


It's important to remember that the idea of not messing with classical music's dynamic range has been possible only because of the CD. Back in the days of vinyl and tape, there was no way you were going to fit a classical orc's full dynamic range into 50-60dB. A lof of the early engineers did gain riding to avoid having to use electronic compression, but they really needed to know the piece to anticipate the crescendos!

 

TOTALLY!

 

yeh, if you listen to larger orchestral pieces on earlier media you can hear just that (someone trying to catch it) at transient spots.

I think it's important that we distinguish the "limiting for 'tightness'" v "limiting for technical reasons"

 

Often, if using an expander to decode...it becomes yet more apparent

 

In general, I find early musics (esp Baroque ens and chamber) to just be especially (yes, more than other, more modern styles) oriented to unreinforced live listening ... so there's always more compromise

 

I must admit with this type of music, I find a subjective recording approach much more rewarding

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[

To me, the difference is basically between sitting in the fifth row, and sitting in the 25th row.

 

Seems to me that there is a lot of latitude in choosing the perspective of the "listener" in classical music.

 

What if you're sitting in a 1,000 seat auditorium listening to chamber music written with a drawing room in mind? Do the engineers record and process with "intimacy" as a goal (which honors the composer's intent)? Pr do they record and process with "fidelity to the live performance" in mind (which honors, obviously, the particular live performance)?.

 

Concertos particularly come to mind. Personally I want to hear the piano or violin or harpsichord, etc with all possible clarity - so I don't mind if the recording fudges the "actual sound" somewhat with mic placement, level adjustments, maybe a little eq here and there. I have one set of the Brandenburg Concertos where I can barely hear the harpsichord during the solo passages - another set of the same Concertos where the harpsichord stands out like Yanni's white overcoat - too much!

 

Sometimes dynamic range is a problem. I have a recording of The Soldier's Tale (Stravinsky) with Christopher Lee narrating. I can barely make out some of the lines Lee speaks in places, and if I crank the volume in order to hear them comfortably, then I'm totally blasted out when the full complement of instruments bursts back in. Very unpleasant! An extreme example, maybe, but a little compression or limiting would really help this one out.

 

But I'm of the school that believes the recorded product is essentially different from the live product, and that all's fair in the use of studio gimmicks if, and only if, they really work and improve the experience of listening to recorded music.

 

nat whilk ii

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Some very interesting thoughts here on this thread. Blasphemy perhaps, but I agree that the concept of a totally hands off approach to recording and mastering classical music may be doing that music a disservice.

 

What did the composer really have in mind? For the quiet bits to be inaudible? Maybe. I don't think that was always the case though. The riding of the faders mentioned above is part of why I love some of those old recordings. I can hear them!

 

This is the antithesis of the loudness wars, and the logic stated here has nothing (hopefully) to do with that type of mentality. If there is a way that the recordist or mastering engineer can more fully realize the composers

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It's a tough puzzle to be sure

"do no harm"

 

a couple things to keep in mind

-it ain't jut the composer's vision, it's the performer's interpretation as well

- "unpleasant" can very well be part of the

experience, esp with war music (you guys ever see that Yo Yo Ma at tanglewood film where he coaches students though..'make it a slap in the face', 'it's supposed to sound like a machine gun')...attempts to idealize , even "prettify" the music, I think, has been one reason for the 'best seat in the house' backlash

-I think, to a degree, the modern (figurative) ear gets trained to a different sense of dynamics with both modern music and ambient sound...so, even in a pupose configured live venue...many folks simply aren't used to listening to instruments in a traditional manner

 

I'm not saying "don't do it"...just a few things to keep in mind if/as you do as" do no harm" is the devil of it

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Originally posted by Lee Knight

What did the composer really have in mind? For the quiet bits to be inaudible? Maybe. I don't think that was always the case though. The riding of the faders mentioned above is part of why I love some of those old recordings. I can hear them!

 

In the concert hall you hear a pppppp played by a single violin with a halfbow. With a A-Class recording listening in a quite room, you still have a chance to hear the wide range of dynamics of a 20th century composition nearly as the composer wrote it down. The rest is the limitation of the medium. Go and listen the real thing.

 

Baroque music was already compressed by the composers, and the performers of that time. Baroque music has only three dynamic levels, medium, loud, and very loud, this is called "Terrassen Dynamik" (engl. maybee "terrace dynamics"), well when you look very closely, the loudness war startet already with Vivaldi ---> Corelli and Vivaldi where basically nothing else then party musician, playing for noisy crowds in Venice, this was the beginning of modern techno dance parties, with all the godless fun who came with it.

 

With the big individual freedom starting in the romantic area, and later with what we call today "20th Century Composers", the dynamic range got bigger, and of course the spirit was expanded as well, at least the one of the composers. You won't find a ppp or a fff in a medieval, renaissance, or baroque score. If you don't understand the principles behind the dynamics, or refuse to take the necessary action to listen to this wide dynamics, then you better don't listen to that music, because you will never experience what we composers meant.

 

If you live at the Autobahn, listen to Autobahn music !!!!!

 

Listen once to "Sacre Du Printemps" with a 16:1 compression, then you may realize what i wanna say.

 

:D

 

.

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thanks Lee !!!

 

...sometime i think i make a fool of myself with my fiery statements, coming from someone who sees everything absolute, of course, i don't give a damn actually.

 

Rereading my words, i like the "godless fun" remark, i can vitually see the fun they had with compressed music in 1733 !

 

Was just in Venezia a couple of weeks ago, it's a dream:

http://images.google.com/images?as_q=carnevale+venezia&svnum=10&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&imgsz=&as_filetype=&imgc=&as_sitesearch=&safe=images

 

:D

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Originally posted by jnorman

i do not use any compression or limiting either during tracking, nor during post, nor during mastering (slight caveat - occasionally, during mastering i will use some very light multi-band compression if i need to balance things slightly based on the mastering engineers monitors, which are better than mine). several years ago when first starting to do classical and chamber music recording, i approached it like i had been doing pop music, compressing during tracking. soon realized it was a mistake to track withe compression, and also a mistake to apply compression to already recorded tracks. however, during this time, i did allow the mastering engineer to use limiting when preparing the mastered version. another mistake. nowadays, i use no compression or limiting during tracking or in post, and i no longer let the mastering engineer use any limiting either - classical music just does not benefit from any kind of dynamic level controls, IME. leave it alone.

 

Okay, so classical music needs to BREATH and swell and fade? and LIMITING or a type of compression would UNDEFINE the PEAKS and VALLEYS of the jams EX-PECIALLY in CLASSICAL or SYMPHONIC MOVEMENTS?

I used a limiting PROGRAM to add CLARITY to my BILL and TED PIECE which must have boosted the signal somewhat and gave the movement an AIRY feel.

So I thank I see why maybe one would FOREGO the use of a limiter in some applications or in this case a NON APPLICATION! ahahaha!

Hey i just got a new wrinkle in my brainal regions.. thanks for teachin' an olde dog a new trick! arf!

Oh yeah

I'm havink' fon now for sure, don't you know it to be true?

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Originally posted by Lee Knight



... I've gone back to a lot of older recordings. Toscannini with the NBC Orchestra is a favorite. Late 40's and early 50's. Ironically, I like these recordings for a couple of odd reasons. They're mono, and they're limited. Both are limitations of the media at that time, of course.


Something about that tight little package of sound is sort of invigorating. Just an observation. No point I'm making in the least.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

 

Of course, just possible that you enjoy Toscannini and the orchestra's reading, too. :D

 

 

When I was a kid, I was always kind of disappointed my classical records didn't -- by and large -- sound like a stereo demonstration record... you know, like a Command Performance record. (I loved those things.)

 

I remember a few that kind of did, though, Bernsteins Rhapsody in Blue, von Karajan's Rite of Spring... of course, Rite of Spring... from the time I was 4 or so and saw Fantasia (it made me run into the lobby crying just like all Disney movies) I was searching my dad's classical music collection, most of it in dusty volumes of 78's, looking, looking, looking for that cool Dinosaur music. The fact that my ol man had "Night on Bald Mountain" always gave me false hope... I must have listened to it 10 times trying to find the Dinosaur music.

 

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Okay, let's talk real blasphemy...one of my dreams has always been to do a close-miked recording of a Bach concerto. You know, isolated instruments, close miking, stereo placement, EQ, the whole shot! The object would be to present the piece in a different perspective, to see the "trees" instead of the "forest." I'm not saying classical "should" be done this way, just that I really want to find out what it would sound like.

 

Are there any existing recordings like this?

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