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Thread: Dealing with CD pre-emphasis

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    I doubt that they would use a commercial CD as their master. Most licensed music is delivered as 16/44.1 WAV files derived from the bounce down from the original mix. They would have had a WAV on everything even back in the 80s.
    I wouldn't think so either, but you never know. Sometimes labels manage to screw up their own re-releases. There's a thread on the Recorded Music subforum started yesterday where someone had a Sony re-release of a CD where they didn't even spell the performers name right on the CD label. The labels get sloppy sometimes.

    I have quite a few Supraphon, BIS and Brilliant Classics CDs and I've never heard any problems like this. From the looks of the pre-emphasis EQ curve, it wouldn't be a subtle thing. It might be easier to miss in historical recordings derived from 78s without much information above 8kHz, but there wasn't any of that being released on CD in the early 80s aside from RCA's Caruso restorations. I'm thinking this is a pretty rare thing to run across.
    You won't hear a difference if your equipment and/or software is properly applying the de-emphasis (assuming the pre-emphasis was properly flagged on the CD). I mentioned earlier a LaserLight Bach CD I have that has selected tracks with pre-emphasis. It's pretty easy to hear the treble boost on those tracks if you listen to it on a player that does not provide de-emphasis. Even if the de-emphasis is not applied on a CD, it might be difficult to hear the boosted highs depending on the nature of the music, one's quality of hearing, and one's quality of equipment. Some might even like the excessive brightness ala people who preferred listening to Dolby B encoded cassettes with Dolby turned off.

    It sounds like perhaps all BIS CDs up to a certain point were mastered with pre-emphasis. I'm not sure when the cutoff date was, but older ones are quite likely to have a pre-emphasis. I came across this thread (http://www.head-fi.org/t/423506/ripp...e-pre-emphasis) on the Head-Fi headphone forum where someone made a pretty good post about dealing with CD pre-emphasis. It's quite old, but the software methods he mentioned are perhaps still valid. Anyway, the poster there said he's come across BIS, DG, and Delos CDs with pre-emphasis. Hyperion is another semi-popular label that seemed to use pre-emphasis on at least some CDs. I've heard of other obscure European labels which used pre-emphasis (sometimes even well into the 1990s).

    The inconsistency of pre-emphasis use is partly what makes it frustrating to deal with. It would be nice to be able to build a bit of a database here of classical CDs/labels that used pre-emphasis.

  2. #17
    Senior Member bigshot's Avatar
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    I'm assuming that iTunes handles the pre-emphasis correctly. I've got an Oppo BDP-103d that must handle it right too. As long as iTunes does it, you can always rip it easily to a format that has the inverse encoding applied.
    CD Sound Is All You Need: http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
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  4. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    I'm assuming that iTunes handles the pre-emphasis correctly. I've got an Oppo BDP-103d that must handle it right too. As long as iTunes does it, you can always rip it easily to a format that has the inverse encoding applied.
    According to this page (http://www.studio-nibble.com/cd/inde...e=Pre-emphasis), iTunes and Oppo Blu-Ray players (at least most of them) will detect pre-emphasis flags in a CD's TOC. If the flags are in the track subcode, the flags may not be detected on those two like they would be on a normal CD player. There are some forum posts on other forums saying that early Oppo Blu-Ray players do not provide de-emphasis, but I guess they added at least some de-emphasis capabilities to later models.

    The Head-Fi link in my reply above yours also talks about how iTunes can prodive de-emphasis automatically, but the original poster there seems to prefer the audio quality of using other rippers. Of course, the post is from 2009 so improvements may have been made since then. But, anyway, the use of iTunes and your Oppo player may explain why you don't have problems with pre-emphasis.

    I should also say according to my reading that some Telarc and Harmonia Mundi CDs have pre-emphasis. I guess add them to the list.
    Last edited by Klassik; Mar-25-2017 at 02:17. Reason: Forgot to add the link

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    I was ripping to cue+flac and un-doing pre-emphasis with the deemphasis function on Sox. Alas, my PC died and I am using Mac to handle my ripping now.

    Anyone know of a MacOS application that can remove pre-emphasis from an audio file? Pretty sure iTunes automatically produces an output file with pre-emphasis removed, but I would end up with a track-by-track apple lossless output (that I could convert to FLAC). By my preferred format is still cue+flac (using XLD to produce them). What I really want is a program for MacOS that can read an audio file with pre-emphasis and output a file with pre-emphasis removed.

  6. #20
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    I'm no Mac user.... but isn't there a SoX version for MacOS? Am I missing something?

  7. #21
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    I'm no Mac user.... but isn't there a SoX version for MacOS? Am I missing something?
    Absolutely right. Somehow I had the idea that sox is windows only. Thanks!

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  9. #22
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    This is going over my head faster than Concorde.

  10. #23
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    This is going over my head faster than Concorde.
    Do you rip your CDs, Merl? Some early CDs are pre-emphasis coded, meaning that the upper range of the audio signal is boosted. CD players will de-emphasize such a signal to normal for playback, so you won't be aware of it at all. But when we rippers (just want to say this word) rip such a CD image using a computer drive, the signal in the image is still pre-emphasis coded, so we need to de-emphasize the signal using a tool like SoX, otherwise the music will sound "brighter" than it should.

    It's suggested that if iTunes is used to rip such a CD, iTunes would de-emphasize the audio signal automatically. I have no idea if that is the case.
    Last edited by Kiki; Nov-12-2018 at 16:40.

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  12. #24
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    BTW, has any foobar2000 user tried its de-emphasis component? Curious to know how well it works. Not that I want to go down that path since that will couple the playback with foobar. But I suppose purists might want to keep the bit-perfect image containing pre-emphasis coding instead of a copy that is already de-emphasized.

  13. #25
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    BTW, has any foobar2000 user tried its de-emphasis component? Curious to know how well it works. Not that I want to go down that path since that will couple the playback with foobar. But I suppose purists might want to keep the bit-perfect image containing pre-emphasis coding instead of a copy that is already de-emphasized.
    When I need to apply deemphasis, I usually keep a copy of the bit-perfect original just in case. Preemphasized CDs are rare enough that the extra storage is not a significant issue.

  14. #26
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    When I need to apply deemphasis, I usually keep a copy of the bit-perfect original just in case. Preemphasized CDs are rare enough that the extra storage is not a significant issue.
    Good point! Pre-emphasized CDs are rare so why not keep both images!

    So… has anyone tried the foobar2000 de-emphasis playback component?

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    Is there an easy way to determine if a CD has been pre-emphasized? I've been ripping for years and have never noticed any problems with any of my FLAC files. Is it something that would be obvious on playback?

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  17. #28
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    In my experience, I usually only need to worry about pre-emphasis when I rip a CD. I use EAC, and once a CD is loaded, EAC will show a column of pre-emphasis attributes alongside the tracks, so before I click "create an image" I should be able to tell.

    But EAC does not highlight the attribute and I did miss it while ripping in the past. Especially got caught out when ripping some BBC Music subscription CDs (there was a whole volume of a year's worth of CDs produced well into the 2000s that had pre-emphasis coding, while previous and following years don't!).

    And recently I missed it again when ripping Neeme Järvi's Hugo Alfvén set, re-issued on Brilliant. If I had bought the original BIS discs than I should have remembered to look for the pre-emphasis flag because BIS are notorious of hanging on to pre-emphasis coding! I found out when I noticed how unnaturally bright it sounded and so I checked and realized I had missed the pre-empphasis flag.... but then imagine if the recording was murky to begin with, it might "sound better" without de-emphasizing it.

  18. #29
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperTonic View Post
    Is there an easy way to determine if a CD has been pre-emphasized? I've been ripping for years and have never noticed any problems with any of my FLAC files. Is it something that would be obvious on playback?
    As was mentioned by Kiki, EAC will show you whether a track has pre-emphasis when you load the CD. However, you can also tell after the fact if you ripped to cue+flac format. If the CD had pre-emphasis you will see an entry like "FLAGS PRE" listed under each track in the cue file. (You have to open it with a text editing program and read the ASCII formatted text.) It is even possible that some tracks on a CD have pre-emphasis while others don't. (I've never seen that, but it's possible) If you ripped to individual flac files, there may be no trace of the reemphasis flag in the flac files themselves.

  19. #30
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Ok, sox works just fine on Mac and I can deal with pre-emphasis with no problems, if I know it's there.

    Here's a new dilemma. Downloaded FLAC files for an old BIS release from Presto Classical. BIS CD-458, Kokkonen string quartets. The CD is from an era when BIS was commonly using pre-emphasis. The FLAC files sound a bit bright to me. Could it be that whoever generated those FLAC files didn't realize that there was pre-emphasis that would have to be removed? Or is that just how the recording sounds?

    Looks like I'm going to order a used copy of the CD to get a definitive answer.

    The moral of the story, don't buy any downloads of a source that might or might not have pre-emphasis.

    (Is there a database somewhere of CD releases with pre-emphasis?)

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