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Clipping in commercial releases
Old 1st July 2015
  #1
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Clipping in commercial releases

I'm amazed by how many commercially released files clip when played back. I just bought an album via Bandcamp Apple Lossless (ALAC)

When I play the song in Wavelab they all clearly clip. I just don't understand why mastering engineers aren't preventing clipping?
Old 1st July 2015
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➑️
I'm amazed by how many commercially released files clip when played back. I just bought an album via Bandcamp Apple Lossless (ALAC)

When I play the song in Wavelab they all clearly clip. I just don't understand why mastering engineers aren't preventing clipping?
Many reasons to that IMHO:
because they don't know how to make loud and clear records so they clip the **** out of the master
or they ''forget'' to lower the output prior to AAC/MP3/MP4/ALAC conversion
or they just don't care
or they want to please their clients
or they don't even know that a hot -0.1 db wav will most likely clip badly when converted
or a mix of the above

now, is that clipping clearly audible or just visible?

Welcome to the loudness war...
Old 1st July 2015
  #3
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Audible clipping or just measzrements with an oversampled meter?
I think it has nothing at all to do with the 'loudness war'. Its technical possible to achieve very loud masters with no ISP, no magic. But 'technical right' is not always sonical right... So its always a trade off.
ISP can have many causes and arent necessarily a realworld problem in all cases. Its very simple to produce them even without any limiting or clipping.

There are even some classics from the past out there with clear overshots. Are they sounding bad? I bet nobody say so...
For me ISP are no real reason to critize the work of the ME, avoiding ISP at all circumstances can end in bad work too... Luckily music is still about listening not about measuring...

Last edited by JP__; 1st July 2015 at 06:28 PM..
Old 1st July 2015
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I brought the file into Wavelab then with Ozone 5 maximizer brought it down to .3 so it doesn't clip anymore. Same sound but now doesn't clip. The masters from this album sound really good but again I'm amazed by how many commercial releases that I buy lossless waves (from CDs) or in this case Apple Lossless from Bandcamp that do indeed clip. It really doesn't make any sense to me.

Last edited by bcgood; 1st July 2015 at 07:02 PM..
Old 1st July 2015 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ ➑️
Audible clipping or just measzrements with an oversampled meter?
I think it has nothing at all to do with the 'loudness war'. Its technical possible to achieve very loud masters with no ISP, no magic. But 'technical right' is not always sonical right... So its always a trade off.
ISP can have many causes and arent necessarily a realworld problem in all cases. Its very simple to produce them even without any limiting or clipping.

There are even some classics from the past out there with clear overshots. Are they sounding bad? I bet nobody say so...
For me ISP are no real reason to critize the work of the ME, avoiding ISP at all circumstances can end in bad work too... Luckily music is still about listening not about measuring...
i do think it has to do a lot with the loudness war.

if we are talking about IS any modern limiter have the option to stop them but if you keep on pushing hard into the limiter then only a drop of 0.7 dbs will prevent most of the IS going crazy and if ''stop the IS '' is on then your overall loudness drop..

now if you are very gentle on the chain, don't even get close to clip your converters and use less than 1 db of limiting you are for sure not gonna get either a loud master if it's still dynamic or a not so dynamic master at a higher volume, but for sure you won't be clipping and the final outcome will not sound as loud as most releases which are in the loudness war...
Old 1st July 2015 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ ➑️
For me ISP are no real reason to critize the work of the ME, avoiding ISP at all circumstances can end in bad work too... Luckily music is still about listening not about measuring...
+1
Old 2nd July 2015
  #7
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Clipping often becomes audible when converted to MP3 so it's a pretty good means of copy protection.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ ➑️
Luckily music is still about listening not about measuring...
Agreed, but then why are we even worried about making loud masters in the first place? It has little bearing on anything other than measurements with today's playback methods...
Old 2nd July 2015
  #9
Sample rate conversion post limiting, say from 96khz to 44.1khz, can cause clipping quite a bit from ISPs coming out. That's why it's always good to bring it down a bit post SRC, or limit the ISP spikes after conversion.

Also, you said it sounds good. Did you know it was clipping without reading the meters? Because if it sounds good, it sounds good.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK ➑️
Agreed, but then why are we even worried about making loud masters in the first place? It has little bearing on anything other than measurements with today's playback methods...
Because most people don't listen to full albums on their own anymore. Most people have mp3 players, phones, or stream online as a shuffle between other artists. And with that method, most bands/musicians want to sound at a similar level to the others who are also loud.

They don't want people to be listening to music and then their song comes on and it's quiet. The majority of listeners will just skip the song instead of adjusting volume for every tune that comes on.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senator adam ➑️
Because most people don't listen to full albums on their own anymore. Most people have mp3 players, phones, or stream online as a shuffle between other artists. And with that method, most bands/musicians want to sound at a similar level to the others who are also loud.

They don't want people to be listening to music and then their song comes on and it's quiet. The majority of listeners will just skip the song instead of adjusting volume for every tune that comes on.
Can't say I have the same problem, even playing back early 90s CD rips next to modern albums from my iTunes library. I have the Sound Check feature enabled and it works pretty well to me.

Still think this whole loudness wars things is a wild goose chase, but I'll leave it there. Seems like most mastering engineers are pretty protective of defending their limiting & compression workflows...
Old 2nd July 2015
  #12
Agreed, in ways it is yes. But, 99% of the time I go loud is because the client wants louder. The client pays, and if they want loud, they get loud. In the end, mastering engineers aren't here to change the world. We're providing a service for customers and it's our job to make them happy with what they want, and get paid to put food on the table.

But back to the point of clipping. That really does not have to do with loudness in this case. Clipping for loudness is a different concept which is usually done prior to limiter to wipe away the stray peaks and ease the strain on the limiter, whether done with the AD converter, or soft clipping. Now, soft clipping can cause extra ISPs down the line, so that can be a cause if the ME is not paying attention to them or cares. But ISPs can happen anyways..

You can have a very dynamic acoustic maser clipping easy with ISPs if any type of conversion was done post limiting and if the output of the limiter wasn't low enough. It's all due to the final level post limiter, and conversion changes that final level slightly which causes the clipping I think you are seeing.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➑️
I brought the file into Wavelab then with Ozone 5 maximizer brought it down to .3 so it doesn't clip anymore. Same sound but now doesn't clip.
But if the sound is exactly the same, why are you worried about metering?
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senator adam ➑️
Agreed, in ways it is yes. But, 99% of the time I go loud is because the client wants louder. The client pays, and if they want loud, they get loud. In the end, mastering engineers aren't here to change the world. We're providing a service for customers and it's our job to make them happy with what they want, and get paid to put food on the table.
agreed.
if you pay someone to paint your house white, you have certain expectations. Same applies here. You can't blame mastering engineers for the loudness wars. If anything, they are the 'victims' in this occasion as they cannot do their job properly and they are often 'forced' to work against their principles. It's easy to say that they have a choice - to pass on the project - but if you are working with A-list musicians or if you wanna stay in the business you have to compromise and do the best you can with the client's requirements.
Old 2nd July 2015
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I get the whole loudness wars thing. I'm not really asking about that, it is what it is. It just seems strange that mastering engineers are delivering a finished product that clips. You can make things loud and still present a file that doesn't clip.
Old 2nd July 2015
  #16
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Yes, but you have to compromise here too. So sometimes (often) its more smart to accept those overshots.
Btw we had exactly this discussion in the 2015plugin thread. Good arguments there. Have a look.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➑️
I get the whole loudness wars thing. I'm not really asking about that, it is what it is. It just seems strange that mastering engineers are delivering a finished product that clips. You can make things loud and still present a file that doesn't clip.
I think that its the fact there are more crappy mastering engineers than there was 20 years ago.

and its a very unnecessary process if you mix correctly.

clipping means they gave up on mixing good and slammed it into a broadcast limiter to try to make it sound good.

but good doesn't mean loud either. some people have this misconception because they compare there tracks to another. but its more on how someone mixes it than the person mastering it.

Take for instance, a mix that uses ducking plus parallel compression layering is going to sound much different than someone just mixing downstream into a comp and limiter on the master channel. Both methods you can get a good mix and a bad mix. and in both cases a bad mix clips when slammed to the loudness war dynamic range.
Old 2nd July 2015
  #18
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There is a difference between ignorance towards the subject as opposed to miseducation in the whole field of music industry. The latter not an excuse nor sole responsibility for a M.E., I really wonder how often record companies have only asked for a CD master, rip it for digital delivery and send it off to the aggregator / iTunes or in this case Bandcamp.
Should Bandcamp check this before converting to other formats? Are they? I realy don't know but there's more to it than just blaming the M.E.
Old 2nd July 2015
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clipping or ISP...? Im very confused how some terms were used here. Huge difference. Technical and sonical.
Old 2nd July 2015
  #20
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Just made a quick test. Three times the same files at 32FP/96k; one is limited, GR 1dB, Output-Level 0dBfs. one is clipped with a software clipper, also 1dB GR. And no. 3 is just normalized to 0dBfs.
Then SCR/Dithered to 16Bit/44,1k. And even the "normalized file" is 1dB lower in LU it peaks 0.1dB higher than the one that was limited...
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #21
Deleted 691ca21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ ➑️
avoiding ISP at all circumstances can end in bad work too
Care to elaborate? Nothing has left here with a single ISP in about five years. Just a part of my standard engineering practice. Would be interested to know why it's sometimes "wrong".
Old 2nd July 2015
  #22
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Also a lot of stuff on bandcamp is homebrew mastering
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 691ca21 ➑️
Care to elaborate? Nothing has left here with a single ISP in about five years. Just a part of my standard engineering practice. Would be interested to know why it's sometimes "wrong".
Gregg, all have already discussed in the another thread.
Yes, theres ofcourse this one very elegant way to get rid of ISP. But in realworld its not always about the way we prefer, so...
But critize a master thats sounds good but measures bad looks a bit strange to me...
Old 2nd July 2015
  #24
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I think ISP are becoming more of a real issue given portable devices - granted no one expects music on an iPhone speaker to sound good, but it shouldn't distort like crazy. On my tablet, certain things cause very audible clipping when played loud - it tends to be recently released non-mainstream stuff that was probably mastered for cheap and it's probably ISPs. Never really heard ISP clipping problems on normal listening systems.
Old 2nd July 2015
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iPad amps distort as well, there is only so much absolute volume they can push out.
Old 2nd July 2015
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True, though mine isn't an IPad, but same deal. And I'm not talking about turning it all the way up. Mainstream stuff or the vast majority of stuff doesn't cause me clipping on it regardless of volume, so I think my tablet is just sensitive to poorly-managed ISPs.
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User ➑️
True, though mine isn't an IPad, but same deal. And I'm not talking about turning it all the way up. Mainstream stuff or the vast majority of stuff doesn't cause me clipping on it regardless of volume, so I think my tablet is just sensitive to poorly-managed ISPs.
I get it, you mean those "crunchy crickets" that are getting more appearant when listening to bandwidth limited midrange?
Old 2nd July 2015
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood ➑️
When I play the song in Wavelab they all clearly clip. I just don't understand why mastering engineers aren't preventing clipping?
There are many metering/analysis differences now, and indications of clipping. Just in Wavelab there are many options- are your meters showing True Peak? What are the meter thresholds for Clipping? 1 sample at 0dbfs? 2 consecutive samples? 3 consecutive samples? Are you metering lossy files or uncompressed? How was the lossy made and how is your program decoding it?, etc, etc.

Last edited by walter88; 2nd July 2015 at 08:53 PM.. Reason: grammar
Old 2nd July 2015 | Show parent
  #29
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Originally Posted by Analogue Mastering ➑️
I get it, you mean those "crunchy crickets" that are getting more appearant when listening to bandwidth limited midrange?
Yeah, tends to be a YouTube video or something. Layers of degradation...
Old 3rd July 2015
  #30
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I'm on vacation so I'm away from my computer but both Wavelab and Ozone meters show the same readings. I'm talking about uncompressed files. I don't want to mention the album because I'm not trying to shame the ME but it is a signed artist. The album sounds great anyways
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