[LAU] OT: Dynamic range compression on classical recordings

Raffaele Morelli raffaele.morelli at gmail.com
Thu Oct 9 03:55:35 UTC 2014

On 08/10/14 at 09:17pm, Fons Adriaensen wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 08, 2014 at 09:15:44PM +0100, Jonathan Gazeley wrote:
> > However, I'm struggling a bit with dynamics processing on the
> > recording. Naturally, choral music has an extremely wide dynamic
> > range. If you normalise the infrequent loud parts to 0dB, the rest
> > of the recording is too quiet, and people have complained that the
> > CDs are "too quiet" compared to their other CDs. I know that people
> > listen to these recordings on their iPod or in the car and if the
> > quiet parts are too quiet, then they simply can't hear them.
> > 
> > We all know about the loudness war and I certainly don't want to
> > compress the crap out of these delicate and beautiful recordings.
> > But I think some subtle compression would help bring up the average
> > amplitude without clipping the loud parts. I've experimented a bit
> > but I'm struggling to get a "natural" sound. After compression, it
> > sounds fine in the quiet parts but in the louder parts it sounds
> > "lumpy" and the reverb sounds unnatural.
> Almost all recordings I've made during the last five years were
> of contemporary or late 20th century 'classical' music, and this
> can have a very wide dynamic range. They also were made for radio
> broadcasting, which meant that dynamic range had to be reduced.
> There are several methods, and the best approach is to make
> each of them handle a few dBs, and combine them.
> * If you use Ardour to record, then editing the region gain
>   curve is a very convenient way to reduce the dynamics in
>   function of the music itself (it's much easier than trying
>   to use automation for this). The advantage compared to using
>   compression is that you can anticipate level changes - as 
>   you would when adjusting the level manually while reading
>   the score.  
> * In many cases I've used a gentle automatic compression, with
>   a ratio of 1.2 or so and a low threshold, so you get a very
>   gradual gain change over a wide range of levels. This was done
>   using zita-dc1, which unfortunately is not released yet.
> * In most cases peaks are very short, and a peak limiter will
>   remove them and allow 5 dB or more extra gain without any
>   perceptible artefacts. The best one for this is zita-dpl1
>   which was designed exactly for this type of use. I've used
>   it on all recordings I made the last years, without exception.
> Combining these, it's not at all difficult to boost your average
> level by 15 dB or so (and even more if needed) in a way that will
> still sound completely natural. 
> Ciao,
> -- 
> FA

What about adding a multiband compressor at the end of the chain (eg. Jamin or
Calf )?

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