A rant on the hiss that's in so many orchestral libraries.

Discussion in 'SAMPLE Talk' started by Headlands, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. willbedford

    willbedford Composer/Programmer

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    There's a mode in the settings page which makes the room tone only play when the DAW is playing :)
     

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  2. Ned Bouhalassa

    Ned Bouhalassa Senior Member

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    Excellent! Makes this inspiring piano even better!
     
  3. halfwalk

    halfwalk Member

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    It is a neat little psychoacoustic magic trick indeed. Plus, we're conditioned by decades of recordings to hear (and consequently tune out subconsciously) that sort of hiss, to the point where it almost sounds unnatural if it's not there, but just enough that you can't quite put your finger on it. Like the Haas effect or binaural beats, it's almost an "auditory illusion."

    Isn't that kind of related to dithering, too? And the reason why someone like Chris from Airwindows wrote a dozen different dither algos, each with their own unique sonic fingerprint? Then again, to be honest I never quite wrapped my head around dithering, but I know that it involves noise being added to a signal for addressing bit resolution.
     
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  4. Ned Bouhalassa

    Ned Bouhalassa Senior Member

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    Airwindows - brilliant plugs which I forgot about!
     
  5. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Right. Well, dithering is more subtle - or I should say the dither noise itself is, for one because it's at a much lower level than hiss, but mainly because it's designed carefully not to be heard.

    The basic idea is that when you reduce the number of bits - typically when you go down from the 24-bit production standard to 16 for CDs (I know, what are those?) - what you lose is low-level detail (because you're truncating the bottom bits) and just cutting that off can sound harsh.

    So dither is very quiet noise added to the signal that causes it to jump over the 16-bit lower threshold some of the time, thus smoothing the transition to silence. The best analogy I've heard is kids jumping up to see over the fence at a baseball game - they get a view every time they peer over.

    However, the different flavors of dither get very tweaky. Not only is it noise-shaped, meaning it's at frequencies the ear is least sensitive to, it's designed to be decorrelated from the signal to help mask the effect.

    You can hear the effect by recording a decaying note at 24 bits, possibly lowering it way down to make sure it falls into the bits you're losing, and bouncing that to disk at 16 bits both dithered and truncated.

    Then raise the level way up and compare the two. You'll hear one fade out smoothly and the other cut off abruptly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  6. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    I just remembered another analogy, or really a description: a noise gate chattering open and closed.

    Another way of looking at the difference between dither hiss and hiss hiss: low-level detail, especially in spaces, is often below the level of the noise in a recording (and samples are recordings, of course).
     
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  7. AlexanderSchiborr

    AlexanderSchiborr Senior Member

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    And then there are douchy people like me who even add scoring stage noise to the mix..:confused::eek::shocked:
     
  8. D Halgren

    D Halgren Senior Member

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    As long as it's a 'World-class' scoring stage:thumbsup:
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Headlands

    Headlands Active Member

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    It's worth repeating: I'm ONLY talking about hiss, caused by mics, tape, or pres. NOT room tone or bow noise. Some libraries have it worse than others.
     
  10. maxime77

    maxime77 Active Member

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    Is this room tone or hiss?

     

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  11. halfwalk

    halfwalk Member

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    I understand, I only made the comment I did (about bow noise earlier in the thread) because in terms of frequency response, they are similar things, so denoising becomes a delicate baby/bathwater situation.

    Funny how noise is so subjective, how one dev might leave it untouched while another goes wild in post. In the end, it's all just noise anyway. Music is just an incidental byproduct that only exists in your mind ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  12. erica-grace

    erica-grace Senior Member

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    It's worth mentioning, I think, that room tone will almost always contain hiss, while hiss does not contain room tone.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Headlands

    Headlands Active Member

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    That sounds like mostly room tone to me -- a noisy room. A buildup of that can and is an issue as well, indeed. I guess both are an issue, though for me the hiss is more of problem.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Headlands

    Headlands Active Member

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    Yes, totally. What I hear in the sample libraries is more actual hiss from tape, pres, and/or mics. What we're hearing is a combination of the two, though very high end hiss is from the tape, pres, and mics in my recording experience.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Headlands

    Headlands Active Member

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    Agreed on all fronts. :)
     
  16. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Neither after you put a noise gate on it. :)
     
  17. germancomponist

    germancomponist Senior Member

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    I have not read all posts in this thread, so please excuse me if someone else has already suggested it.

    When I use a problematic library, I bounce every midi-track into an audio track. Then I use a plugin like this in every single audio track:

    It's time consuming, but because every single audio track gets his own best noice reduction preset, the end result of the mix is light years better than if I did not do it all.
     
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  18. Dietz

    Dietz Space Explorer

    It's also worth mentioning that room tone doesn't suddenly disappear in digital black like it does in case of a "roomy" sample (... which is why noise sticks out like a sore thumb). :)
     
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  19. Jacob Cadmus

    Jacob Cadmus Active Member

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    Never had a complaint about hiss yet, though I did have a client complain about pedal noise in a piano cue once. He said "Sounds great, but get rid of the drums... they're distracting."
     
  20. In my case, it was in the quiet section of a cue, where it was a single string patch playing. With the CS2 patch I was using, the hiss (or room noise) was just too annoying, especially when the sample cuts off. Switched to a Hollywood Strings patch...problem gone. Some libraries are worse than others, and of course it's natural to have certain amounts of "hiss" but in this case it was sloppy engineering on the developer's part IMO. Hollywood Strings isn't perfect either...there'a few string patches where I can hear stuff like coughing, whispering, and even chairs moving. Quite amusing actually!
     

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