Should I worry about 'clipping' tracks from Beatport?
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  1. #1
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    Default Should I worry about 'clipping' tracks from Beatport?

    Hey, not sure where I should post this so here it goes, move it if needed.

    I'm starting to DJ with Traktor 2 and 320 mp3 downloaded from Beatport.
    I'm still trying to understand the whole gain, normalize, volume and clipping concepts. I guess I get the theory but not sure about the real life practice.

    So, most of the tracks I downloaded from Beatport seems to be too loud and clipping. Analyzing them with mp3gain shows that they are like 98db and clipping. Throwing them in Audacity also shows clipping everywhere.

    I know this has been asked tons of times but still not sure what to do about it and I thought this won't happen with legal downloaded tracks... (I thought it was an issue of illegal bad mp3 ripping...)

    So, what is your advice? Should I worry about those clippings?
    Should I normalize everything to a lower value? mp3gain suggests 89db, but I'm guessing this is just too quiet...

    By the way, almost every track is Psychedelic/Goa Trance.

  2. #2
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    Do they sound like they are clipping? They are probably just compressed like crazy so it looks the same as a clipped track. There might be a brickwall limiter on that puts it JUST below 0db so that it is as loud as possible.

  3. #3
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    Sometimes producers will also purposely put in a bit of kick overdrive. If it doesn't sound like it's clipping though you're probably okay. I don't use mp3gain and everything works fine with me.

  4. #4
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    No, I can't hear any clipping I'm just overthinking stuff as usual =P

    Thank guys, I'll just let Traktor's autogain do the job.

  5. #5

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    If you analyze dance music tracks from fifties forward you will see how squeezed today's tracks are. And most of them don't even sound as good as let's say NYC scene dance music from early eighties.
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  6. #6
    Tech Guru djproben's Avatar
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    I've definitely bought tracks before that turned out to be clipping. It's not just mp3s either; I have vinyl like that. I usually throw it away when I discover it; there's no point in keeping it and I'm never gonna play it. It's not too often but it definitely happens; it's probably just that some producers suck. But yes there's also a lot of stuff that has dynamics compressed beyond belief so every sound is just short of clipping - probably won't ruin your speakers or anything so if you like the song go for it. But I prefer not to play such tracks anyway; I'd have to really like it.
    "Art is what you can get away with." - Marshall McLuhan

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by emzero View Post
    So, most of the tracks I downloaded from Beatport seems to be too loud and clipping. Analyzing them with mp3gain shows that they are like 98db and clipping. Throwing them in Audacity also shows clipping everywhere.
    How do Audacity or mp3gain show the tracks are clipping? Just because the waveform is one big black block doesn't mean the tracks are clipping, they've just been limited to death.
    And those 98dB don't say anything about wether a track is clipping or not. There are actually several different dB scales out there, so you have to be careful and make clear what your talking about.

    In general the volume of the released track file doesn't have anything to do with clipping, as clipping is something that happens in the production stage and thus is kind of inherent to the file. The limit in the production stage is 0 dBFS, as long as you don't hit that mark your track won't be clipping.

    So, what is your advice? Should I worry about those clippings?
    Should I normalize everything to a lower value? mp3gain suggests 89db, but I'm guessing this is just too quiet...
    First you should make sure they are actually clipping.

    Normalizing the tracks to a lower value will not help if the tracks are actually clipping. As mentioned above, the clipping is kind of "in the file" and normalizing a clipping file to a lower value will just lead to the clipping file being played a little quiter (but still clipping).

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor Mike_08's Avatar
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    Clipping in Traktor? Turn Traktor's main knob down...

  9. #9
    Tech Guru Timbo21's Avatar
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    I worked in CD & vinyl Mastering during the 90's up to mid 2000.

    The whole loudness thing started in the States, and then the UK followed. When the UK followed, the U.S. Mastering houses started cranking it even more. The vast majority of music is clipping. You look on an oscilloscope and the waveform is squaring off. It's just a matter of how audible the distortion is. The digital limiters that make a track LOUD are clipping them and sending the track into digital overload. How they get round this is by reducing the output of the limiter by -0.1dB to stop it going into the red on the digital meters.

    Because these tracks are so loud, you obviously have to make sure Traktor's not clipping too, otherwise it really will start sounding bad. You can obviously check the individual channel meters and the main output. Because I use an external DAC, and like to keep my faders all the way to the top, I set the headroom in Traktor preferences to -6dB to stop clipping.
    Last edited by Timbo21; 11-14-2012 at 06:06 AM.

  10. #10
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    I find that a lot of stuff from Beatport is clipped. I run it through Platinum Notes and it makes it sound a lot cleaner. At first the change wasn't noticeable cause I had been used to hearing the tracks with clipped peaks but after a while, it became clear how much cleaner the tracks were when ran through PN. I've even done a comparison, side by side, zoomed in view of the waveforms and there is visual evidence that PN adds a curve to the flat spot of the waveform.

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