EQ? Compression? Gain? Yikes....

carsonld

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Jan 26, 2013
Location
United States
Hi all,

Hoping to gain just so tips regarding sound. The main issue I have is when students send me an MP3 file for talent show, they have awful sound quality. They aren't peaking but they sound like they are. I thought I was being a shitty sound guy and went to try to mess with the board but spotify sounds great! So I know its the recordings theyve ripped from youtube. Is there a way to fix this? I have tried adding compression and adjusting the gain but no luck. I have the mac sound at full, the gain at 50% on my behringer x32 and volume at 0db. Is this just something out of my control? I am reading more about how to use compression but still...

Any other basic tips? I have a fair amount of knowledge... but I am more lighting than anything :)
 

MNicolai

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Nothing you can do. Garbage in, garbage out -- only louder. The audio files have had the life squeezed out of them and are actually missing the digital 1's and 0's necessary to make them sound decent.

They need to provide better source material. The $0.99 or sometimes the extravagant $1.29 may be rich for some, but it's a drop in in the hat when you have 500+ people showing up to subject themselves to that music for 1-2 hours at time.
 
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BCAP

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Jan 4, 2017
Location
Ohio
Level compression vs. Audio data compression.

Audio data compression - a way to make sound files (byte size) smaller for storage, download, streaming, etc. Many audio data compression routines (lossy) tend to compromise the quality of sound and add artifacts to the audio. Some routines (lossless) do not. MP3 is lossy. I could be wrong but I think whatever YouTube is using is lossy as well.

Audio level compression - a way to reduce the dynamic range of audio, one application being to reduce loud parts and bring up soft parts, for example to make a piece of music apparently louder to the listener. Or, to control the dynamic range of a speaker or vocalist for intelligibility, or mix management. There are many different applications.


Applying audio level compression to audio that has been passed through lossy audio data compression - in most cases (and I say that carefully) you are probably not going to fix anything here by applying level compression. There are always exceptions and results are situation dependent, but one thing that can happen is that the artifacts in the audio can be brought out, making the artifacts (and general shittiness) more apparent to listeners.
 

DrewE

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Mar 18, 2019
Location
Vermont
Most music produced today has already been compressed (audio levels) a whole bunch when it was mastered. Adding more compression is not going to improve things. It is rather ironic that we now have affordable technology to create recordings with 90+ dB of dynamic range and far too often only the top few dB are all that is used.

For a talent show, I generally figure my job as the sound guy goes only as far as playing the right tracks I have been given at the right times and appropriate levels. If the performers want me to play tracks with junk audio quality, that is what I do. If the talent is sufficient, the backing track matters somewhat less; and if the talent is lacking, no improvement in audio quality is likely to fix that. I probably should add that none of these talent shoes are anywhere near Apollo level, though.
 

TimMc

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Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Hi all,

Hoping to gain just so tips regarding sound. The main issue I have is when students send me an MP3 file for talent show, they have awful sound quality. They aren't peaking but they sound like they are. I thought I was being a shitty sound guy and went to try to mess with the board but spotify sounds great! So I know its the recordings theyve ripped from youtube. Is there a way to fix this? I have tried adding compression and adjusting the gain but no luck. I have the mac sound at full, the gain at 50% on my behringer x32 and volume at 0db. Is this just something out of my control? I am reading more about how to use compression but still...

Any other basic tips? I have a fair amount of knowledge... but I am more lighting than anything :)
I'm a little more coarse - they bring s**t, that's all you can play. You *might* be able to apply a little EQ to take out some boominess or other things that can be improved with EQ, but a 64kbs MP2 audio track ripped from DoodToob has digital compression artifacts that can't be undone and that is on top of whatever *audio* manipulations were done when the clip was prepared for posting.

You can't polish a turd and some can't even be rolled in glitter...
 

EdSavoie

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Oct 19, 2016
Location
Windsor, ON, Canada
If I have time, and the provided 64kbps garbage is just a normal song without any cuts or alterations, I'll generally try to find the online source they grabbed it from and re-rip in a higher quality. Even youtube vieos have pretty decent audio these days if you're grabbing the full quality track
 

macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Agreed Ed. Even though the person providing the song might not understand their audio file quality sucks.
I usually check in with the provider about the sound quality and see if I'm able to find something that sounds better if that's ok with them. They're usually very thankful to be offered the assistance since (atleast in corporate) the person providing the song isn't the person requesting the song, they're just the middle person stuck with the sucky job.

As a sound guy, I like to have pride in my work, even if it means doing a tiny bit of leg work.
Even when I worked in a hotel for PSAV, management's stance was always in favor of a better show. If a client wanted to play music for 1000 people and brought a bluetooth speaker, for $0 I would offer to play the song for them over the house sound system because it would be better for everyone!
 

StradivariusBone

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I'd consider myself lucky if they actually all emailed me an mp3. Most of the time they end up coming to the booth with their phone and no dongle to hook it up with.
 
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RonHebbard

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I'd consider myself lucky if they actually all emailed me an mp3. Most of the time they end up coming to the booth with their phone and no dongle to hook it up with.
@StradivariusBone Or, in my time shortly post the Edison cylinder era, they'd hand me a CD case with three discs inside and a note suggesting: Track two.
Even when you learned which track two on which disc, there was no guarantee their home burnt disc would track properly and actually play the complete cut.
Dance recital season: So many memories.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

TimMc

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Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Oh the utter crap handed to me on dance school gigs.... at least I'm not getting cassettes with the tracks out of order...

Dance schools don't care about audio quality the way we might. What is important is the EDIT and even that can be choppy, poorly done, etc so long as the track is the right length. There was a time when I offered to clean up some of these badly done edits and the instructors asked "why?"

If the client doesn't care then my concern drops a few notches.
 

BCAP

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Jan 4, 2017
Location
Ohio
My experience so far with dance school gigs is not so much that they don't care about audio quality the way we might, but more often the case that they don't know that the audio quality can be better. Often times I can find a better quality track and then re-rip as EdSavoie says, or grab a different source for the same piece of music. So far my customers have been appreciative when I can do a little extra leg work, and then I get an opportunity to teach them how to provide me a better quality track to begin with and so far that's been working. Aside from that I really abhor sitting through a show where the pre-recorded tracks are horrible sound quality. The talent onstage can suck, the music can be a track I really dislike, the venue can be awful - everything else but if the audio quality sucks that's just one too many things I can't take haha.
 

MNicolai

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There are definitely low expectations on how good it should sound. Couple times I've happened to have a 256kbps MP3 version handy on my phone of a particularly awful track they brought in. Did an A/B test with the director and they immediately understood how far short their content was falling.
 
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KBToys82

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Dec 22, 2014
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NJ
I'd consider myself lucky if they actually all emailed me an mp3. Most of the time they end up coming to the booth with their phone and no dongle to hook it up with.
I don't know what's worse, them bringing their phone to me, or emailing me a YouTube link. Next time I should play it at full volume during a practice and hope that they have an annoying YouTube Ad.
 

gafftaper

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This thread triggers so many bad flash backs... Glad to know I'm not the only one. The worst thing was the early 90's when you had some people give you cassettes and others factory CD's, and some CDR's that were a weird proprietary format you couldn't play.
 
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FMEng

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I occasionally do sound for weddings, funerals, and other events at my church. Over the years, I have been handed audio files on USB flash drive or CD-R that I could not play in the installed CD/MP3 deck. The first time it happened, I had to drive home to convert the files, and get back in time for the event. Now I drag my laptop PC along to do file conversions. On the bright side, nobody has handed me a cassette because that deck is long gone.