Requesting a new recording property "Dynamic Rating"

A long standing wish of mine is to use the MB kind of database to find a “best” release of any record. There are some factors that play into this for me:

  • Bit depth / Sample rate
  • Stereo vs. Multichannel
  • PCM vs. DSD
  • Dynamic Rating

Now, the path to the audiopile holy grail is lubricated with lots of snake oil. Ruthless publishers may take advantage of anyone on such a quest by offering upsampled CD as High Resolution releases or reverb mixes as multichannel mixes. Some of these hoaxes can be uncovered, for example with frequency analysis, but often only after buying.

However, there is one factor that is key to a “better” version and that is dynamic rating. If you want to read up on that I suggest any article dealing with “The Loudness War” that took place around the turn of the century. Studios mixed their releases ever loader because to the human ear a louder release sounds better. However, while the decibles flew, the dynamics of recordings decreased. A natural sounding instrument like a guitar will have a very swift rise from silent to loud when plucked with vigor. When compression is applied in the mastering, the dynamics decrease and the sound will appear more “even”. Silent passage are more or less subtly amplified so volume is smoothed out. This process, however, will have instruments sound less natural.

Now, a few years ago, an analysis software tool came out that made audiophiles eyes water and it was called the “Dynamic Range Meter”. This software was capable (amongst other things) to calculate the dynamic range of songs and write them to a file. It wasn’t long before a plug-in for the popular audio player foobar2000 was developed that allowed to generate reports not unlike cue sheets for dynamic range. Those reports are called “dynamic ratings”.

Unfortunately, the software was welcomed only among users but frowned upon by studios. Shortly thereafter, the software was bought by an anonymous player and it and the plugin were retired. Fortunately, the internet community has presevered the foobar2000 plugin and it is now as popular as ever.

I’d love to be able to assign dynamic rating values to existing MB recordings. Not only would that make for great disambiguation but it might also incentive studios to provide better mixes.

The dynamic rating reports by foobar2000 are saved as files namend “foo_dr.txt” and they have the following content (example):

 foobar2000 1.3.8 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2015-07-30 18:59:21

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Analyzed: 10cc / Deceptive Bends
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DR         Peak         RMS     Duration Track
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DR11      -5.04 dB   -18.74 dB      2:56 01-Good Morning Judge
DR11      -5.65 dB   -19.33 dB      3:31 02-The Things We Do For Love
DR13      -5.49 dB   -21.26 dB      4:04 03-Marriage Bureau Rendezvous
DR12      -6.00 dB   -21.65 dB      3:45 04-People In Love
DR12      -4.71 dB   -20.12 dB      5:36 05-Modern Man Blues
DR12      -5.14 dB   -19.37 dB      2:47 06-Honeymoon With B Troop
DR15      -4.83 dB   -23.37 dB      1:45 07-I Bought A Flat Guitar Tutor
DR11      -4.16 dB   -19.04 dB      3:40 08-You've Got A Cold
DR11      -4.13 dB   -19.31 dB     11:29 09-Feel The Benefit: Reminisce And Speculate - "A" Latin Break - Feel The Bnefit
DR10      -6.78 dB   -18.42 dB      4:27 10-Hot To Trot
DR11      -6.83 dB   -20.93 dB      3:35 11-Don't Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste
DR11      -6.50 dB   -18.92 dB      3:47 12-I'm So Laid Back, I'm Laid Out
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Number of tracks:  12
Official DR value: DR12

Samplerate:        2822400 Hz / PCM Samplerate: 88200 Hz
Channels:          2
Bits per sample:   24
Bitrate:           5645 kbps
Codec:             DSD64
================================================================================

I’m sure our resident script wizards could easily whip something up to import such a file with one click into MusicBrainz.

Now give me some lovin’!

Recordings are shared between releases of different masters.
Consecutive remasters have the DR dropping more and more.
So it is not really fortunate to make this a recording attribute.
It would be a track attribute, but impossible, so I used to set it at release level (average), with my MB tags, from DR4 to DR16.

But now I stopped scanning that, as part of my simplifications.

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This ticket might be of interest: STYLE-794 – Add the Dynamic Range Database to the other databases whitelist

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