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Thread: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

  1. #1

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    Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    I rip CDs to FLAC uncompressed and occasionally I'll end up with a FLAC file where the vocals are very weak. I can barely hear them while all the instruments are loud and clear. The problem is very consistent on all The Hollies CDs I have. Not every song on an individual CD will do this. Some will be normal and some will have the faint vocals. I have hundreds of rips where this does not happen.

    Am I doing something wrong or is there another step I need to take to get the original balance back?

    I am on the 16.6 version I believe with 1.3.3 FLAC.

  2. #2
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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodb View Post
    I rip CDs to FLAC uncompressed and occasionally I'll end up with a FLAC file where the vocals are very weak. I can barely hear them while all the instruments are loud and clear. The problem is very consistent on all The Hollies CDs I have. Not every song on an individual CD will do this. Some will be normal and some will have the faint vocals. I have hundreds of rips where this does not happen.

    Am I doing something wrong or is there another step I need to take to get the original balance back?

    I am on the 16.6 version I believe with 1.3.3 FLAC.

    I've never seen such a problem. I assume these are regular CDs (16/44.1) and you're not converting to DVD or anything like that. Do you use any DSPs in the ripping process? The ripping process only sees digital info, ones and zeros. It doesn't know what is a vocal vs an instrument. Did these rips have an AccurateRip match when ripped?

    p.s. I have many Hollies CDs. Post the names of some tracks/albums where you notice this problem and I'll check on my end.

  3. #3

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    I've never seen such a problem. I assume these are regular CDs (16/44.1) and you're not converting to DVD or anything like that. Do you use any DSPs in the ripping process? The ripping process only sees digital info, ones and zeros. It doesn't know what is a vocal vs an instrument. Did these rips have an AccurateRip match when ripped?

    p.s. I have many Hollies CDs. Post the names of some tracks/albums where you notice this problem and I'll check on my end.
    Regular CDs, DSP ReplayGain and AccurateRip.

    Thanks for replying. I have figured out what the problem is. I narrowed it down to my headphone output on my Mac laptop. It is odd that it only happens consistently on certain CDs. Both the FLAC and the CD play fine on my wife's iMac and my laptop speakers. With the headphone out to my HS80M speakers both the CD and the FLAC sound bad. Most other CDs sound fine, odd. So, not a ripper problem, a hardware problem.

    I'll have to research a solution now. Thanks again.

    These were the CDs that I had a problem with. It was like the instrumentals louder and brighter and the vocals were muted to a degree.

    The Hollies
    Not The Hits Again! - It's In Her Kiss
    All the Hits & More - I can't let Go - Bus Stop - Carrie Anne

    Hermanís Hermits
    The Best of: The 50th Anniversary Anthology - Mrs. Brown

  4. #4
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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodb View Post
    Regular CDs, DSP ReplayGain and AccurateRip.

    Thanks for replying. I have figured out what the problem is. I narrowed it down to my headphone output on my Mac laptop. It is odd that it only happens consistently on certain CDs. Both the FLAC and the CD play fine on my wife's iMac and my laptop speakers. With the headphone out to my HS80M speakers both the CD and the FLAC sound bad. Most other CDs sound fine, odd. So, not a ripper problem, a hardware problem.

    I'll have to research a solution now. Thanks again.

    These were the CDs that I had a problem with. It was like the instrumentals louder and brighter and the vocals were muted to a degree.

    The Hollies
    Not The Hits Again! - It's In Her Kiss
    All the Hits & More - I can't let Go - Bus Stop - Carrie Anne

    Herman&*8217;s Hermits
    The Best of: The 50th Anniversary Anthology - Mrs. Brown
    It is not uncommon for 1960s stereo mixes to be very extreme in terms of left and right channel separation. So you're probably noticing this on these 1960s albums because there is some sort of hardware problem with the headphone jack and how it is producing the sound from both channels. The vocals are likely in the one channel that the headphone jack is not picking up very well. You're likely having problems with *all* things played through that jack, but don't really notice except for some of these early 1960s extreme channel separation recordings.
    Last edited by garym; 03-21-2021 at 01:51 PM.

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    It is not uncommon for 1960s stereo mixes to be very extreme in terms of left and right channel separation. So you're probably noticing this on these 1960s albums because there is some sort of hardware problem with the headphone jack and how it is producing the sound from both channels. The vocals are likely in the one channel that the headphone jack is not picking up very well. You're likely having problems with *all* things played through that jack, but don't really notice except for some of these early 1960s extreme channel separation recordings.
    Yes. My right channel is weak. I bumped up the right channel and the voices came up. Could be the jack or cables I am guessing. If I solve the problem would getting a USB DAC improve sound?

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodb View Post
    Yes. My right channel is weak. I bumped up the right channel and the voices came up. Could be the jack or cables I am guessing. If I solve the problem would getting a USB DAC improve sound?
    A USB DAC would likely solve the problem. Something is wrong with the headphone jack (and these are not usually that great in the best of worlds). A USB DAC will not use the headphone jack at all and create a new path for the music. And you don't need to spend a fortune. People really like the "audioquest dragonfly" USB DACs.

  7. #7

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    ..... The ripping process only sees digital info, ones and zeros. It doesn't know what is a vocal vs an instrument.
    Is that strictly true? I was wondering how the Karaoke DSP would work in CD Ripper as it says it can remove the voice or instrument from a track. I realise that isn't the issue here, but just interested in how things work.

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulch View Post
    Is that strictly true? I was wondering how the Karaoke DSP would work in CD Ripper as it says it can remove the voice or instrument from a track. I realise that isn't the issue here, but just interested in how things work.

    I'm speaking of a normal rip of a CD. I'm not sure how the Karaoke DSP works. It must somehow use some sort of AI to try to eliminate voices. And I suppose we could say the same thing about other DSPs. If one is using the ReplayGain(Apply) DSP, the program is trying to decide the dynamc range/loudness of the track relative to some standard and then adjusts this loudness. So yes, certain DSPs can certainly change things. My comment was on a normal rip of a CD to a digital file. (and of course, in this case, it turns out it wasn't the file at all but the playback hardware.)

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    @Spoon's explanation.
    https://forum.dbpoweramp.com/showthread.php?35498-DSP-Effect-Karaoke

    and I think he means it should leave OUT the voice and smaller instruments.

  10. #10

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Thanks, yes it seems it doesn't really identify voice or instruments.

    PS - are you able to give me any guidance on playlists. My posting in the General forum hasn't attracted a response.

  11. #11

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by garym View Post
    @Spoon's explanation.
    https://forum.dbpoweramp.com/showthread.php?35498-DSP-Effect-Karaoke

    and I think he means it should leave OUT the voice and smaller instruments.
    My problem was cabling. It really showed up in the old 60s stereo. I can't believe I lived with it that way for so long. New cable, all is well. Thanks for your help.

  12. #12
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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Karaoke DSP in its simplest form takes advantage of the practices most engineers use in making a pop record. Most lead singers are recorded using a single microphone, creating a monophonic track. Typically, when the song is mixed down, i.e. all the individual instrument tracks are mixed together to create the stereo master recording, most all engineers pan the lead vocal dead center. (For those who may not be familiar, each channel on a mixer has a knob called the pan pot, which can feed the track only to the left, only to the right and anywhere in between. If the pan pot is set to the center of its range, equal amounts of the track are sent to the left and right, the listener will perceive the sound as coming from the center of the stereo image.)

    For the simplest Karaoke mixes, one channel of the stereo recording is inverted (the negative going peaks become positive and visa versa). The left and right tracks are summed to make a mono mix. But since one channel is inverted (commonly called, incorrectly, as being "out of phase), anything that had been in the center of the stereo image, like the lead vocal, is cancelled out. This is a simple Karaoke mix.

    There are probably techniques to improve the sound by only cancelling out sounds in the range of the human voice, or better yet the range of the particular vocalist being removed in the karaoke.

    AI is being deployed in some of the high end (read expensive) audio processing tools. I own software that can cancel out most everything that is not equally present in both channels, leaving only the center channel, the opposite of Karaoke. Useful for restoration of old noisy mono 78 RPM records. It also includes a processor that does a fairly good job of removing background noise while leaving spoken voice intact. Good for "cleaning up" interviews or location movie or TV tracks without having to use studio dialog replacement. Also used for forensics to make recordings more intelligible for lawyers, judges or juries.

    The opposite, removing spoken voice or singing doesn't seem to quite be there yet if the voice isn't in the center or you don't want to make mono of your recording and also lose anything else that also was panned dead center. I keep hoping that will become available, as it would "rescue" any number of location recordings I've done where someone in the audience starts having a private conversation while I'm recording the act.

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidj View Post
    Karaoke DSP in its simplest form takes advantage of the practices most engineers use in making a pop record.....
    Wow, I doubt that I will ever need that information, but fascinating nontheless.

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    Re: Problem ripping to FLAC on a few CDs: Extremely faint vocals.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulch View Post
    Wow, I doubt that I will ever need that information, but fascinating nontheless.
    @schmidj is always a fantastic source of technical information!

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