Too much dynamic range? Wha?

Do you have recording(s) with too much dynamic range? Post here.

Yes… I have a recording that has too much dynamic range. I can’t listen to it. I need another recommendation for a “better”, less dynamic recording. Which recording/performance do you recommend?

Carl Orff Carmina Burana 1997 Remastered Version Riccardo Muti/Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra

If you play it loud enough to hear the details of the singing, the crescendos just blow the windows out… and this thing has crescendos baby, oh yea… constant crescendos. If you limit the volume for the crescendos, the singing is just too quiet and annoying. Too much dynamic range!!

Bruce in Philly


About 70% of my listening is to orchestral music of composers 1900 forward and there are some albums where I need to ride the volume and wish a little compression had been used.

Actually, because of the music I love, I have backed away from a system that could produce the extremes. I prefer a laid back system that makes these recordings a bit easier to enjoy.

This is the case with almost all recordings of orchestral music of the late classical period forward.

I just recorded Copland’s Symphony No. 1, a piece with incredible dynamic range. There is some temptation to add a bit of compression. :slight_smile:

Bruce; It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but one of my favorite “dynamic” tracks is “Duende” from the Black Light Syndrome album by Bozzio, Levin, & Stevens. If you can appreciate Flamenco guitar AND Terry’s insane drumming, you might just like Duende…It should be played loud!

That’s possible not only but especially for recorded music imo.

The difference with a large chorus and its possible dynamic range towards a quiet instrument in pp imo is, that the large concert hall has far less resonances in critical areas than our rooms. That’s why there are different rules at home and why the absolute dynamic range at home plays a role far beyond the micro dynamic behavior, impulse/transient response, immediacy of equipment within a smaller overall dynamic range. Place a drum set in your listening room and you’ll notice, it behaves much louder and more dynamic than in the live event you heard it before.

I’d love to measure how many digital or analog recordings of even audiophile stuff make use of a dynamic range higher than 3/4 of tape? 20%? I think to remember mastering folks even mentioning less. But all of the recordings can sound so damn different in otherwise dynamic characteristic.

I care very very much for dynamic performance of music and gear…but the overall dynamic range as a matter of 80,90, 120 dB at home imo is mainly a theorists wet dream.

A drum set in your living room presents as louder and more dynamic than in live performance because one is rarely sitting ten feet from the drummer during a live performance.

As a performing musician, I can affirm a drum set is just as loud standing next to it playing live as it would be in my living room. :slight_smile:

For that matter, the dynamic range of a classical flautist is astounding when sitting next to the player in performance or at home, including being remarkably loud.


A good excuse for a compressor - always fun to p!ay with and usually eye candy too, if that’s your thing :slight_smile:

I agree, I should have been more concrete…the difference room to live certainly also is the usual distance to the performer, which adds to the different perception of the dynamics.

From playing in a big band as sax player in front of the trumpets I can confirm that there their level is comparable to them playing in one of our rooms. That’s just not what we’d usually like to listen to for longer than 5 minutes. Too stressing…but in a live playing situation you forget about it :wink:

And I think even standing next to a drum set in a small room and a concert place makes a difference just due to the more direct reflection of the walls in a small room.

I observe myself playing recordings at levels and with a dynamic performance at home (by chance just today two big band records), which I’d rather experience standing in the band than sitting in the audience in real life :wink:

The space makes a bit of difference, certainly.

Not only does distance decrease loudness, it also decreases dynamic range.

Off to a brass quintet rehearsal (two trumpets, French horn, trombone, tuba). Interestingly, it never seems too loud when I am in the group. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I think the problem in a big band is when the trumpets stand behind you and a little higher so they can be seen from the audience, this means they are just at the front man‘s ear level with their horn (fortunately from behind) :wink:

This is what I mean…recordings capture the dynamic range directly at the instruments (spot or close micimg) played back in a small room while the audience in a live event usually captures those instruments from 20 meters away in a big room.

Say it ain’t so! Just kidding. You could always go “old school” and ride gain a bit. With automation, it could be tweaked to perfection, assuming you’re digital at some point. If all analog - well, you’d have to use YOUR digits. : )

Gain riding was what Kevin Gray mentioned he did just a little in 1 or 2 situations when cutting the highly dynamic Mahler Cycle for San Francisco Symphony and he mentioned that this is very different from compression using a compressor (although it finally has a similar effect).

By the way, I catch myself doing “gain riding” during listening to be honest. When I listen to e.g. a recording from Reference Recordings (no matter if digital or vinyl), I mostly use the remote in more quiet passages for increasing level, as the recordings are so dynamic (due to just a few timpani hits), that the rest of the music is very low in level, so low, that the amp’s volume has to be risen quite much…or…you get a heart attack once the timpani strikes. Extreme dynamic range is not always helpful. I’d really like to measure what just makes sense at home.

Gain automation can be wonderful. Neat feature.

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You remind me of the AGC one used to have on cheap cassette recorders back in the day. OK until someone coughed or dropped a book and the world went quiet for a second or two. Seldom used in consequence.

Cutting an LP can easily require gain riding as an LP simply cannot capture the full dynamic range of a symphony orchestra.

This is a form of compression in that the LP’s overall dynamic range has been decreased. It differs from using a compressor however as the musical signal itself has not been changed other than its overall volume.

A compressor changes the musical signal in that it continually modifies the loudness relationships of the music. For example, a compression setting of 2:1 dictates every signal exceeding the preset threshold by 2 dB will be attenuated to 1 dB above the threshold, a signal exceeding the threshold by 8 dB will be attenuated to 4 dB, etc.

By the way, 2:1 compression is light compression.

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Thanks, good wrap up.

If you’re a sucker for metering and information (I am) then they generally have nice detailed LED bar graphs (2 per channel), even if you don’t actually switch it in line. They often have relay based bypass also.

I prefer to gain ride also though, and late at night I have to do one or the other :slight_smile:

There are lots of automated solutions… I had a DBX compander a long time ago and it had a limiter in it. It was a soft limiter and you set where it kicked in, then another knob controlled the amount. Nice stuff. I used the expander portion with LP playback and it really added some nice dynamics where most LP cutting had compression. The DBX could, in effect, gain ride.

Bruce in Philly