Madonna’s discography as a mirror of digital record evolution
Madonna’s first albums coincided with the distribution of CDs on the market and her further work clearly shows how the priorities in record recording changed. Let us examine them in more detail.
On June 14, Madonna released her 14th album “Madame X”. The word form firmly settled in the school essays – “it was reflected in the novel” and further stationery was la-la from another essay. Older writers at this place start to talk about the diversity of the pop diva, her writings and other merits.Well what can I say, a lovely woman, a pantheon of gods, where we are, and where is she? Therefore, we turn on a parallel path. To date, Hi-Res publications have touched only five releases from the discography of Madonna. And of these, “Madame X” is the only modern, the rest of the material belongs to the 80s. Why is that? There are good reasons for this. Let’s start with the final, let’s see what Madame X is. By the way, this album turned out to be rather curious. Especially given the flow of previous works of the singer, lined up according to the same scheme of a pair of hits with a load. Kind of like a fiery latino-bit is frozen by a goddess on an autotune. All this makes a strange impression, but in a good way, postironiyi, when she says Malume – slow down, papi “slow down, daddy (well, or“ puppy ”in English, puppy”).
Madame X (2019). Volume -9.1LUFS, more than ten thousand clipping points
The mastering of Madame X, as usual, is overloaded, everything is as it should be in this world. The singer has been working for a long time with DJ-producer Mirwe, who has never stood on ceremony with dynamic compression. The average volume (Integrated Loudness) here is -9.1LUFS, which is more than one and a half times the recommended -16LUFS. Heap of clipping. In some places (tracks No. 4 Future and No. 10 Extreme Occident) there is a hard 16 kHz cutoff. Obviously, the mix used lossy-sources, which can be seen on both the regular and HD versions of the album. With highres too many oddities.
The blue arrows show the sections with the lossy material in the Hi-Res mix of “Madame X” 24 bit / 88.2 kHz
On the spectrogram, one more, more global cutoff of the entire audio material at 22 kHz is visible, and only at the last – 24 kHz. That is, the mix was produced from source with a resolution of 24 / 44.1 and 24/48. But then why was the fuss in the dimension of 24 bit / 88.2 kHz? The console was probably analog and the final stereo mix was digitized again. Well, at least in it the clipping is less than ten times than in the 16-bit version. Here is a highres that we deserve.
And once a CD was considered a highrise, read what was written on the cover of Madonna’s debut album in 1983, where publishers apologized for analog equipment: “The music on this CD was recorded on analog equipment. We have tried, as far as possible, to get closer to the sound of the original recording. However, the high resolution of the CD can demonstrate the limitations of the source. ” (probably about film noise)
The following, “Like A Virgin,” released in 1984, was not without pride saying: “Recorded with fanaticism from beginning to end in digital form on Sony equipment.” And the most surprising thing is that nowadays not only debut, but also This “Like A Virgin” is reissued in Hi-Res resolution with 24-bit / 192 kHz dimension. Did digital tapes need to be digitized again? What kind of nonsense?
Spectrum HD-transfer “Like A Virgin” shows that an analog source with a cut-off spectrum was digitized. The story tells that the recording was made on a Sony PCM-3324 24-track DASH tape recorder, and the final stereo mix was reset to a Sony PCM-F1 recorder in resolution (attention!) 14 bits. Here is such a crafty figure, which did not coincide with the format of the compact disc. In fact, Sony PCM-F1 has two recording modes – 14 and 16 bits, but now it’s all so clever, but then it was abstract numbers, you could have written 5 bits, it wouldn’t diminish the charm of new technologies. So in this case, for the circulation, the publishers had to digitize the analog signal again directly from the Sony PCM-F1. One way or another, but in any variations “Like A Virgin” sounds clean, but empty, despite the correct LUFS level and the lack of additional compression. As if a part of the sounds had been turned somewhere and hidden. At the same time, the Hi-Res version is slightly preferable, since it represents a closer approximation to the original sound of the analog outputs of the Sony PCM-F1 recorder. Against this background, the “Madonna” of 1983, recorded and mixed in the old fashioned way, sounds more natural than “Like A Virgin”, made on the newest digital path of that time. At the 1983 debut, a wider scene (even a virtual one), a fatter bass, a more relaxed song.