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Artifacts In The Recording


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#1
Your audio system is only as good as you are. So how resolving is your audio system, and how attentive are you? Here's a thread where we can document a list of music with artifacts.

Artifact (n):  any feature that is not naturally present but is a product of an extrinsicagent, method, or the like.

An artifact in the recording can be anything from: 
  • a mistake by one of the band players,
  • a noise like a door slam, police siren from outside the recording studio,
  • mistake in mastering, poor quality of the source, and so on.
No recordings are perfect. To err is human and this thread celebrates the mistakes missed by the sound engineers and producers. I'd append to this thread as I discover more, but please contribute if you can.

Here's my first entry to start the ball rolling, From Jamie Cullum, Twenty Something SACD.
[Image: Jamie_Cullum_Twentysomething.jpg]
First track, titled These Are The Days. At around the 1:12 mark, one of the percusionists made a mistake.  Dodgy
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#2
Some will find this exercise pointless, what's the point of hearing all these little background noises? Knowing what they are will help you make changes to improve your system (and yourself).

And it's via the following four ways: 
  1. Improve your active listening skills: Allowing you to hear, analyse and appreciate music better. If you like listening to Jazz this is an essential skill. As your active listening improve, you'd be better at picking up all the "interplays" (think of it as 'flirting') between the musicians.
  2. Improve your system by lowering the noise floor: A lot of these details are masked from you because the system is not resolving enough. People hate to admit this, but resolution is a problem in digital playback and personally I find these artifacts are the best tools for me to objectively gauge the resolution of an audio system.
  3. Improve your system by enhancing imaging: Playback is all about physics and mechanics, but the field of psychoacoustics is the only field I am aware of that harmogenise physics, mechanics and music into a collective fold. Focusing on the psychoacoustics aspect (think of focusing your system around the idea of what you can hear vs what your system can reproduce) is a very reliable way to tune your system.
  4. Tools for auditioning: Wanna spend mega bucks on gear? These are the obvious tracks to test the resolving capability of the gear you're lusting.
And now the album that started all this, Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company. Track #7, It Was A Very Good Year.
After Willie Nelson sang "When I was 35", at around the 2:12 timestamp, you'd hear a noise in the back of the sound stage to your left. This sounds like a person sneezing. Note where the point source of the noise, and how far back this is in the background.

[Image: folder.jpg]

This track by far is the easist track to identify, and yet over the years I realised: 
  1. Some system is not resolving enough to play this noise, and
  2. Even when a system is good enough, nobody can hear this
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#3
This track is something I had already mentioned (ref: link).

Track number 7, in the first 35 seconds, you should hear two instances where the beats of a metronome are picked up by the microphone. On lessor systems, only the one at the 30-35 second mark is audible. With my office system I can only hear two beeps (Teac UD-501 with Sennheiser Momentum).

The Teac DAC and my cheap headphones combined with stock USB and power cables simply cannot offer me the level of detail and resolution my primary rig can.
[Image: image.jpg]
Truth be told this isn't a great recording. The tracks sound distorted so I simply use the starting 35 seconds as a reference to test my system.

Why is this important? The noise themselves isn't the important bits. This track is more about telling you how resolving your system is, and how attentive you are to this resolution. The two has to go hand in hand. The magic can only happen when you successfully balance the two.

Imagine how good the music sound when you can emotionally feel every nauace of the performance (be it instrument, vocals or both). 

Music is emotional, and hence it is very difficult to objectively evaluate the good and the bad. Noise cues like this track and the Ray Charles track offers you something objective and static to access your equipment. While the first post allows for some basic music interpretation.

This is the song on youTube, but from another album. From my laptop speakers I can still hear the beeps at the 30-35 second mark (the first instance is lost to me).

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#4
[Image: folder.jpg]

The first track, around 3:08 mark. Sometime after "Yes, you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the skies". You should hear Armstring clicking his tongue (I think).
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#5
Track #16 - Someone Like You.

At about 1:58 and there abouts. You should be hearing a string instrument that appears to be seriously out of tune. Not entirely sure what it is, but seems to be a violin of some sort, maybe even a Cello?
 
[Image: Adele_Albert_Hall.jpg]

Reminds me of this movie scene Red Dragon. For a moment I have flashbacks to Dr Hannibal Lector when I hear the above.
 
[Image: Red_Dragon_Scene.png]
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#6
Here's one I have handy:  The B-52's - Party Mix/Mesopotamia - Lava at 3:28, the saxophone in the left channel has overdrive distortion. 

It can be unsettling when increased resolution reveals problems hiding in the layers of a dense recording, but if it's on the recording, I want to hear it!
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#7
(15-Mar-2018, 02:10 AM) macmaroni Wrote: It can be unsettling when increased resolution reveals problems hiding in the layers of a dense recording, but if it's on the recording, I want to hear it!


Unsettling yes. Smile Also a sense of pride when other systems cannot reproduce it [Image: ahaaah.gif] .

In all seriousness though these artifacts allow one to audition their gear properly. If you ever want to buy new equipment, play a suite of these tracks and observe how they change. e.g. the Ray Charles track - it can sound like:
  1. sneezing,
  2. coughing,
  3. Furniture noises?
  4. Nothing at all
The worse the mastering, the more likelihood it will be point #4. And it's good skill a audiophile should have too, IMO it's a more objective way of assessment and much better than trying to ascertain things like bass/mid-range/bass (very subjective).
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#8
Here's another one:
[Image: folder.jpg]
Blue Coast ESE Sessions 2007, Track #1, at the 2:23 mark,

"I spend the last few weeks [X] in a small town jail"... X marks the spot. If memory serves I think one of the track in this album also have what I think is a police siren. Not entirely sure if that's true or not, will have to double check in the future. Using my work rig to listen so a lot of the details are gone.

Been more than a year since I last spin this up. Time flies... shrug
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