Author Topic: Do we have to deal with clipping ?  (Read 3993 times)

Zelda7

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Hi,  8)

I remember a few years ago asking about my concerns with saturation/clipping sounds with musicbee, and while I probably got used to it after that, it's starting to bother me again.

And to be fair, this is not really a musicbee specific issue (so I post in this part of the forum), since I'm really bothered by it EVERYWHERE, and I don't know why. These days I can barely listen to a full album without hearing some sort of audio problems in specific parts of songs. Whether it's a way too saturated guitar riff, some quick but noticeable clics/pops in calm moments, the end of a guitar note that oversaturates, a noisy bass beat...

I'm not really an expert audiophile but I'm pretty sure these are things that aren't supposed to be here. And even if it may be like one or two seconds here and here in a whole record, I hate it.

And yeah, this happen whether I try the song/passage in musicbee, on spotify, on apple music, on youtube, even if strangely enough I've noticed sometimes I can find a version on Youtube where the actual saturation isn't present. For example the intro from "The House That Pain Built" from Killing Joke is some saturated trash almost everywhere I try it except from the first uploaded version that's on Youtube (the other ones sound worse). And there many examples like that.

I've even tried using FLAC versions, that are supposed to be lossless and clipping-free. I can even see the track is apparently clean and perfect in Audacity, no clipping mark or anything, but I keep hearing the same artifacts in specific parts, how is that possible ? Even changing some normalization/pre-amp settings in musicbee, or using the desktop equalizer "Equalizer APO" don't do anything.

And it's probably not my setup either, since such problems appear both on computer, on my phone or when I try listening to the song directly on my TV using my hi-fi amp. I have two different pairs of headphones as well and it doesn't change anything. To be fair it's even worse on headphones, with speakers I'm not as close to the sound so it becomes harder to hear slight saturation/clipping. Sound with my vinyle collection seems fine too but it's maybe also because I never listen to them with headphones either, I should try it to compare.

Is it just me then ? Am I becoming paranoid trying the same song in 10 different configurations/formats and keeping hearing weird "defaults" ? Maybe people are not sensitive to the same frequencies ? It may be cause I don't see too many people complaining about such things.

Or is is just the way it is ? That saturation/clipping is a common thing because music is sometimes badly recorded/ripped ? Do you just have to deal with it unless you have like some 5,000 $ hi-fi setup ?

Some people say you just have to "forget clipping" but it can really ruin my enjoyment. If you'll be kind enough to share the best thing you can do to avoid/reduce saturation/clipping (in musicbee preferences for example) I'll take it !

Anyway sorry for the long "rant" !  :-X
Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 07:35:49 PM by Zelda7

phred

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This is -not- a sarcastic reply, but have you had your hearing checked medically?
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frankz

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Most modern music is mastered with a lot of limiting and compression and to peak at 0.0dB.  Any sound enhancements you turn on in Windows or if you use EQ to add rather than remove frequencies, will make the clipping very noticeable.  Not so much with older "classic rock" or classical or jazz or whatever, but modern pop and rock is maxed out from the source.

The best advice to minimize the issue is to send the most pure, unadulterated signal possible to your output.  Turn off EQ and disable all Windows sound enhancements.
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

Zelda7

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This is -not- a sarcastic reply, but have you had your hearing checked medically?

Never happened, I'm not that old and never felt I'm hearing badly or need to listen to music at especially high volume. But are you just implying the problem is coming from me then ?

It won't cost anything to have it checked though, I've been listening to hours of music each day for like 15 years now, can't be without any consequence maybe...

Zelda7

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The best advice to minimize the issue is to send the most pure, unadulterated signal possible to your output.  Turn off EQ and disable all Windows sound enhancements.

Yeah I remember back then you recommending me that. But I never use any equalizer to be fair, I'm the kind to like a rather "flat" sound... I don't use the musicbee equalizer or even the treble/bass buttons on my hi-fi amp, I mean I just let everything back to the normal, balanced point. I've been disabling all windows sound enhancements since the very beginning too.

I know people are saying you can just use stuff like replay gain or reducing the pre-amp to something like -6,00 dB (the frequent number I see) to get rid of clipping/saturation but it doesn't change anything when I try it.

frankz

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No that won't work that would just make clipping quieter
A smile is happiness you'll find right under your nose.

phred

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But are you just implying the problem is coming from me then ?
I'm not a doctor. Nor an audiophile. I am just suggesting that, if I read you correctly, it doesn't matter what the source is, nor what device it's played on, you're hearing artifacts. The only common denominator seems to be your hearing.
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hiccup

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It would be good to distinguish clipping from distortion.
Modern recordings are extremely unlikely to have clipping.
Distortion is possible. And sometimes it's intentional.
Most guitar players won't leave home without their distortion box.
It's not a bad thing per-se and it is often intentionally used for a musical purpose.

Recordings can be mixed to maximize the loudness to make a bigger effect on the radio etc.
They can sound ugly and bloated.
You could check some recordings that have a good dynamic range:
http://dr.loudness-war.info/

Do you experience this 'distorted sound' on different playback devices?
Computer, hifi, speakers, headphones, portable devices etc.?

Zelda7

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Yeah I think what bothers me sometimes is probably not actual "clipping" or even "distortion". I would rather call that a "sizzle" (I'm french so it's hard to find the exact matching word), like during some (purposedly) noisy guitar riffs there's some sort of extra sizzling/saturation in the background. To give a comparison it would be like when someone screams really loud in a microphone, you can sometimes hear that the voice "saturates".

And yeah usually when I feel there's too much saturation I can hear that no matter which device I play said song/passage, even if it's really more noticeable with headphones. And I exaggerate when I said I hear such sounds very often... it's honestly mostly on some specific, loud metal or rock songs, when I listen to overall quieter music like pop, folk, hip hop or ambient/electronic it sounds fine. As you said maybe most of the times these effects are intended.

Thanks for that website anyways, looks useful, I've checked a few albums I had trouble with recently and they seem to have sub-par dynamic range (like 5 or 6 which is indicated in red), but I can't tell what this exactly means/if it really matters since I'm not an audiophile or anything.
Last Edit: January 12, 2021, 08:48:43 PM by Zelda7

The Incredible Boom Boom

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If much of the content you're listening to was released in the mid-late '90s through the mid-'10s, you're hearing purposeful mastering of music CDs of the time period. What likely happened is you picked up on it and it was something you didn't like, but now your ears focus right on it when it happens again. Most people listening to music don't care enough to zero in on the distortion present, but it bothers me a lot too. Supposedly the "Loudness Wars" are finally being put to rest, but I don't listen to enough new music or newly mastered recordings to have an opinion.

MujikMusical

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Most modern music is mastered with a lot of limiting and compression and to peak at 0.0dB.  Any sound enhancements you turn on in Windows or if you use EQ to add rather than remove frequencies, will make the clipping very noticeable.  Not so much with older "classic rock" or classical or jazz or whatever, but modern pop and rock is maxed out from the source.

The best advice to minimize the issue is to send the most pure, unadulterated signal possible to your output.  Turn off EQ and disable all Windows sound enhancements.
Yeah, I agree with this statement.