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Setting up a Standardized Wide Range Dynamic Environment
Last post Wed, Mar 11 2015 by Thomas Karas, 160 replies.
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Posted on Fri, Feb 08 2008 23:46
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139
ColinThomson wrote:

Thanks very much, Angelo. I look forward to reading through those papers.

Colin Thomson 

You are welcome.

Posted on Fri, Feb 08 2008 23:59
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139

The three K-System meter scales are named K-20, K-14 and K-12.

Wide Range Music (K-20)

The K-20 meter is intended for wide dynamic range material, e.g., large theatre mixes, audiophile music, classical (symphonic) music, "audiophile" pop music mixed in 5.1 surround, and so on.

Pop Music (K14)

The K-14 meter is for the vast majority of moderately-compressed high-fidelity productions intended for home listening, e.g. pop, folk, and rock music.

Broadcast (K-12)

The K-12 meter is for productions to be dedicated for broadcast.

[invalid link removed - /Dietz]

Production Techniques with the K-System

First choose one of the three meters based on the intended application. Wide dynamic range material probably requires K-20 and medium range material K-14. Then, calibrate the monitor gain where 0dB on the meter yields 83 dB SPL (per channel, C-Weighted, slow speed). 0dB always represents the same calibrated SPL on all three scales, unifying production practices worldwide. The K-system is not just a meter scale, it is an integrated system tied to monitoring gain.

Posted on Thu, Aug 28 2008 04:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

I have a simple question -

Why is this thread a sticky?  It is completely inaccurate information. 

[edited - /Dietz]

Posted on Thu, Aug 28 2008 13:49
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7412

This thread is sticky because the _discussion_ of this topic is interesting. To allow for a healthy debate doesn't mean that everybody (or _anybody_) shares the opinions presented.

...  there' s a message from me at the very beginning of this thread pointing towards the critiques, making very clear that there is a lot to be said against the proposed system.

Kind regards,

/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Thu, Sep 04 2008 17:39
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

 Thank you Dietz.

I will attempt to explain then what my specific objections are, simply as discussion -

It has to do with the nature of both conducting/performing/recording orchestral music and sampling. 

If you are present at a concert, you will notice many examples of dynamic ranges being altered by both the conductor and the player.  That statement will immediately raise eyebrows, as people will immediately think "How could a person change the dynamic range of his instrument?"  It is done every day in the orchestra.  Because a certain pp oboe note will be played completely differently in a Mozart symphony as compared to a Bruckner -  perhaps at mf, though articulated and phrased at pp.  They are two different entities both acoustically and musically. This cannot be gauged according to any numerical system, but is entirely subjective.  And yet it is done all the time. And that is only one minor alteration.  

As soon as you start talking about recording a live orchestra, everything is thrown out concerning any natural or standard dynamic range, because individual instruments are always altered - sometimes to the point of having absolutely no relationship to their real (or normal) dynamic range.  A solo flute will be brought way up, tympani will be brought way down,  overall levels will be compressed, etc. etc.  In the 1950s there was a purist approach in classical recordings sometimes used,  with a single perfectly placed microphone and nothing altered.  This is of course not at all the case now.  Anyone does, and can do, anything to make the final recording sound good.  And this includes totally distorting all semblance of standardized or naturalistic dynamic ranges.

And the third element which seals the doom of any standardized approach is SAMPLING.  Even more profound distortion of any relationship in dynamic ranges of orchestral instruments is introduced by sampling.  A tiny piccolo has the same range as a huge set of orchestral percussion in a sampled recording.  A huge violin section is indisitnguisable in level from a solo oboe.  This is of course necessary in recording, mainly to avoid increased noise levels.  But when these samples are translated into a performance of actual music, the performer must make enormous changes constantly in order to equalize these huge distortions of level and range.  This cannot be done by any theoretical system, because of the complexity of interaction between these different  aspects of sound.  It can only be done by listening in detail to each part, getting them right individually, and then comparing them to each other as they are added into the mix, and then adjusting overall sections in relation to each other, and then finally adding compression - usually in woodwinds, perhaps violas and basses - and further tweaking the entire mix.   In other words, there is no substitute for simply knowing how the instruments sound individually, and in relation to each other.  You must be able to FEEL the difference between a trumpet playing an ff solo over a section of strings that are also playing loudly but the soloist is making sure he is still heard loudly even when the other instruments threaten to obliterate him.  All of this is immensely and absolutely subjective and can NEVER be turned into a paint-by-numbers system.  Added onto this series of variations which reduces to meaninglessness any numerical system is the fact that different articulations in a matrix have equal dynamic ranges that may be accurate within themselves but inaccurate in relation to each other - for example, you will notice that a smooth sustain multi-velocity sample set will be rather loud in relation to a double sforzando, and so these must be adjusted relative to one another IN THE MATRIX - further complicating an already bewildering process. When faced with this sort of complexity, it become absolutely essential to apply artistic and subjective judgement - as the basic procedure, not an afterthought - in order to make sense at an intuitive level of something that is essentially an artistic process to begin with: music

I particularly object to the repeated statements here that every studio in the world uses this system and has done so for a long time as a normal professional standard. That is absolutely false.  No studio in the world has done sample performance of complex orchestral music that equals what is RIGHT NOW being done for the first time with VSL.  The demos you hear on this site are unprecedented in their complexity, expressiveness and realism, and in fact are setting a standard that other performers and studios are trying to figure out how to emulate.

Tags: BEING
Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 02:01
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

Yes, what you are saying is true Tanuj.    I would add one other thing, besides emphasizing that no one is using this system universally because no one has had these samples universally until the last few years  !!!   

you must FEEL dynamic ranges.  You cannot program them.  You must know in your soul how to create the correct balance.  It must become an intuitive process, by becoming more and more familiar with the sounds you have available.  You must DREAM of the correct dynamic range and change your mix in the morning.

I have been using VSL for some time, now, but the awe-inspiring potential of this arsenal of sounds has not even been scratched yet.  And in order to properly use it, you must incorporate into your intuition as well as your conscious, linear, simplistic numerical thoughts the way each sampled instrument sounds in relation to the other, based on what you have learned of the musical instrument known as the Vienna Symphonic Library.  For example, I am only now beginning to realize the significance of the difference between strong, medium and light dynamic articulations in how they can be used for artistic rather than merely realistic purposes.  The light and the pfp are especially significant because they are not just for crescendo/diminuendo but are extremely espressivo.  I remember Herb noting how he used on the great "Parachutes" demo - which originally sold many, many copies of VSL -   the dynamic articulations on brass because the notes on those particular samples sounded like "they were going somewhere." This is a very important point, but one that can never be put into a numerical system that uses a mechanized or formulaic basis for how to control the single most expressively crucial element in musical performance - dynamics and dynamic relationships between instruments. 

Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 18:57
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139

The subject of this thread is about headroom, calibration of the studio monitoring, reference levels, the utilization of the available data width on the digital recording medium, and how to achieve the optimal dynamics for the particular medium. In this sense there preexist several standards in recording technology, e.g maximum level for films, total dynamic ranges for the different media etc..

This thread is not about composing, and not about how the composer handles dynamics and loudness relations between instruments, or groups of instruments within his composition.

The recording of a real orchestra is another art form. However, I think it is possible to transfer parameters from the reality of recording a real orchestra into the virtual reality of computer generated orchestra music, for example room and distance parameters, but then everything has to be programmed.

Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 19:11
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

"how to achieve the optimal dynamics for the particular medium - Angelo Clematide

How can you do this in samples without addressing elements that arise in composition, orchestration and performance?  Try it.  You will discover it is impossible.

Also, your discussion begins with adjustments of levels of  different instruments, and that is very definitely of musical, compositional signifcance.

Besides, it is totally unnecessary to use this system for studio equipment calibration. If one owns or works with equipment, one should have already learned long ago how to use it properly unless one is an idiot.  Though your system may be of use to you, and I am not trying to deny it's validity for your purposes if you want to work that way.  But this thread implies that this is the only way anyone professional should work, and that is flatly wrong.

Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 19:44
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139

William wrote:

"how to achieve the optimal dynamics for the particular medium - Angelo Clematide

How can you do this in samples without addressing elements that arise in composition, orchestration and performance?  Try it.  You will discover it is impossible.

A composer knows in advance where the loudest part of his composition is, and from there the available headroom, respectively the maximum loudness is set.

William wrote:

Also, your discussion begins with adjustments of levels of  different instruments, and that is very definitely of musical, compositional signifcance.

Level is recording technique terminology. For musical loudness we use the usual Italian terminology such a ppp or fff

William wrote:

Besides, it is totally unnecessary to use this system for studio equipment calibration. If one owns or works with equipment, one should have already learned long ago how to use it properly unless one is an idiot.  Though your system may be of use to you, and I am not trying to deny it's validity for your purposes if you want to work that way.  But this thread implies that this is the only way anyone professional should work, and that is flatly wrong.

Every recording studio is calibrated, as well every certified cinema theater is also calibrated. When the engineer and mixer would work in a non-calibrated environment, he would not know how loud the music is.

Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 20:17
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

"A composer knows in advance where the loudest part of his composition is, and from there the available headroom, respectively the maximum loudness is set."

This shows a complete ignorance of performing and recording MIDI music.  The loudest or softest notated or sequenced scoring might be far lower or higher in overall level depending on which samples are used and how they are processed.

"Level is recording technique terminology. For musical loudness we use the usual Italian terminology such a ppp or fff"

You still do not understand. A written ppp may sound higher in level than an fff, depending on how the sample is recorded and mixed.  It is naive to assume writing a pp will have the slightest significance - except with timbral considerations - in the final mix. And yet recording and mixing have a huge influence on the musical expression.

Finally - if this is not about composing and orchestration then why did you put it on the composing and orchestration forum?

Posted on Sun, Sep 07 2008 20:54
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139
William wrote:

"A composer knows in advance where the loudest part of his composition is, and from there the available headroom, respectively the maximum loudness is set."

This shows a complete ignorance of performing and recording MIDI music.  The loudest or softest notated or sequenced scoring might be far lower or higher in overall level depending on which samples are used and how they are processed.

"Level is recording technique terminology. For musical loudness we use the usual Italian terminology such a ppp or fff"

You still do not understand. A written ppp may sound higher in level than an fff, depending on how the sample is recorded and mixed.  It is naive to assume writing a pp will have the slightest significance - except with timbral considerations - in the final mix. And yet recording and mixing have a huge influence on the musical expression.

The dynamic range MIDI Velocity can trigger is 47 dB. We all have the same dynamic range available. How you use this range in composition is completly up to you.

Posted on Mon, Sep 08 2008 00:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

That is completely false.

Another example of misinformation on this thread.

I can use MIDI to destroy a system.  I can trigger, via continous controlllers as well as velocity, a dynamic range that spans as far as any of the instruments I am using are capable of playing.  This includes everything from no signal at all to the highest signal my system is set to - including beyond clipping and into the destruct range.

You on the other hand, are capable of only a paltry few decibels. I don't know what you're smoking but it is giving you delusions that you should not be posting in public. Or perhaps you need to continue with those meds you offered me on another thread.   Your brain is showing some serious signs of clipping.

Posted on Mon, Sep 08 2008 11:34
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7412
Angelo Clematide wrote:
[...] The dynamic range MIDI Velocity can trigger is 47 dB. [...]

What makes you tink so? If I want, I can program the synthesizer or sample-player of my choice to play any chosen volume at any MIDI-velocity sent to it.
/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Mon, Sep 08 2008 13:56
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139
Dietz wrote:

Angelo Clematide wrote:
[...] The dynamic range MIDI Velocity can trigger is 47 dB. [...]

What makes you tink so? If I want, I can program the synthesizer or sample-player of my choice to play any chosen volume at any MIDI-velocity sent to it.

That is the MIDI Standard.

1. This is a VSL vl-14 patch with velocity 1-127 playing the the single note A3 (220Hz). Total amplitude (dynamic range) = 35 dB:

2. This is a 0dB sine wave with velocity 1-127 playing the single note A3 (220Hz). Total amplitude (dynamic range) = 47 dB:

Posted on Mon, Sep 08 2008 18:15
by Dietz
Joined on Tue, Aug 06 2002, Vienna / Europe, Posts 7412
Angelo Clematide wrote:
[...] That is the MIDI Standard.

Do you have a link to the Official MIDI Specs, where this number is mentioned?
/Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
Posted on Mon, Sep 08 2008 22:24
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5510

Sorry for the outburst Angelo. We never can tell when those meds are going to wear off, can we?

Anyway, you may be right on MIDI velocity.  I did a test and the maximum change in level was close to that number. 

However, it is wrong concerning the overall dynamic range controllable purely through MIDI. Velocity is only one of the parameters, and with CC 7  alone I just measured a range from -6 to -75 db. 

Posted on Tue, Sep 09 2008 01:20
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139
William wrote:

Sorry for the outburst Angelo. We never can tell when those meds are going to wear off, can we?

I have no problem with your extraordinary temperament, I actually like you temper, but don't tell anyone !!!

.

Posted on Tue, Sep 09 2008 01:22
by Angelo Clematide
Joined on Thu, Sep 08 2005, Posts 1139
William wrote:

Anyway, you may be right on MIDI velocity.  I did a test and the maximum change in level was close to that number. 

However, it is wrong concerning the overall dynamic range controllable purely through MIDI. Velocity is only one of the parameters, and with CC 7  alone I just measured a range from -6 to -75 db. 

No, you where right, velocity can triggers sample amplitudes from:

 

127 = 0 dBFS

1 = infinte (no amplitude)

when the sensitivity is at 100%. The sensitivity of the Kontakt patches are only on 70.6%

 

 

... and the formula for the academics:

Link: The MIDI Association paper:

http://www.midi.org/techspecs/dls/dsl1v11b.pdf

.

Posted on Wed, Mar 11 2015 20:02
by Thomas Karas
Joined on Thu, Nov 03 2005, Posts 4

Originally Posted by: Angelo Clematide Go to Quoted Post
IV. Dynamic Indications - Velocity to dBFS

This PDF visualizes the MIDI velocity and the produced decibel of the four layer string patch VI-14_mV_sus_p-ff. The produced maximum peak is -7.5 dB in the ff layer, and the minimum is -36.7 dB with the pp layer.

download link:
http://vsl.co.at/upload/users/57/Dynamic_Indications_Velocity_to_dBFS.pdf


.

 

Hello Angelo,

 

is this PDF's still available somewhere?

Thanks in advance,

Thomas

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