Originally Posted by yeti
You stated earlier that
That statement is wrong. Dynamic range is a well established technical term and not really open to interpretation. In engineering terms it defines the range between the noise floor of a system and the loudest sound that the system can reproduce without distortion. In musical terms it defines the range between the softest and loudest note an instrument (or group of instruments) is capable of. An acoustic guitar has a dynamic range of <40dB. Let's allow for an extra 30 dB for ultra-fast transients from the string that never move the instruments top due to inertia (the top has to start vibrating while the PU's signal is instantaneous) then it's fair to say that a PU is faced with <70dB difference between the loudest note and the softest. ANY passive transducer is capable of dealing with that range, so are most recording devices and codecs.(no need to compress anything) All that talk about PU's having extended dynamic range is utter BS, unless we're comparing active designs. Any passive PU (unlike a microphone using a diaphragm that can be overwhelmed by SPL) is not subject to limitations that would have an effect on the instruments' dynamic range, amplifiers on the other hand do have severe limitations in that regard. but the guitar and the PU itself is not capable of exceeding the dynamic range of even an 12bit recording device (around 75dB) add an amp (who would want to hear a PU into anything other than an amp) and your dynamic range falls back into the 40 dB range and even a cassette recorder can deal with that.
Got to say I am in full agreement with everything you say here. The bit that annoys me
is that it seems almost everything from radio stations to file compression systems seem to think my listening experience will be improved by making the softer notes louder, or by making the bottom end wooly. I'm sure it sounds better on a Smart Phone, but on headphones or decent reference monitors it's just horrible.
BTW, many great recordings have been made and mixed w/o compressors. We have faders for that.
Bob Dylan remarked a while back that he hates most recordings that were made post 1970, as the compression makes individual instruments indistinguishable. It's rare that I've recorded anything that I didn't think sounded better before it was mastered, and I think it's for the same reason.