Consider Sony Discman MegaBass to improve CD Music in Audacity..

This topic wouldn’t qualify as an EQ curve submission because there are matrix like adjustments to stage imaging with these cheap thrift store Sony Discman Mega Bass settings I’ve been experimenting with as a workaround that has been worth the time to try out in order to give thin or soft sounding CD music a bigger than life presence.

Depending on the style of music I’ve been able to bring out instrument detail like triangle tings that are tough to do according to how the overall song was mixed that places these frequencies too close to other high frequency detail that would become too harsh with a simple EQ tweak.

I found this out on EQ edited music files burned to CDR and played back on the Discmam’s headphone out port with MegaBass maxxed and recorded through my MacMini of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” and “Right Down The Line” which are wildly different in mastering depending on US vs UK reissues. I went with the UK Parlophone mastering because it’s the right speed and pitch as I remember from the '70’s.

Even after making these songs sound good in Audacity punching up the kick drum and brightening Gerry’s vocals a bit, playing the CDR of these edits through the Sony Discman MegaBass setting just made them sound even more massive, richer and detailed. Thought I could find an EQ online that mimics the MegaBass setting but once I heard the individual instruments have more separation and clarity I knew it would’ve taken more than an EQ edit. There’s some kind of special light handed and nuanced reverb sweetening in the max setting of “Digital MegaBass” which only works on the headphone out port, not the Line Out port on the back of the Discman.

Just thought I’ld pass this on to anyone interested in a new way to improve CD music.

I suspect a dynamic-range-expander plugin would have a similar effect.

You might be able to characterize or analyze what Mega Bass is doing by burning a CDR with test tones and/or pink noise.

I’d actually guess that if it’s not simply bass-boost at a certain frequency it’s probably bass-boost with compression or limiting. Compression and limiting are generally used to make “everything constantly-loud” and when used in combination with bass boost they will tend to make the bass constantly-loud, or just the bass can be compressed.

I’d start with the premise that a GOOD recording doesn’t need ANY processing when played back on a good system (and in a good room). But I do like to use a Dolby Pro Logic “soundfield” setting to get delayed-reverb in the rear speakers (to simulate a bigger & better room than my living room).

And a case can be made for boosting the bass at low listening levels to compensate for the [u]Equal Loudness Curves[/u] (when you turn-down the volume it sounds like you’ve turned-down the bass even more). That used to be a standard feature on receivers but it’s mostly disappeared. And since most of us are listening at less-than “realistic” levels most of the time we can probably use some bass boost most of the time.

Another couple of other things you can experiment with:
There is an optional [u]Harmonic Enhancer Effect[/u] which adds high frequency harmonics.

There is no similar plug-in for sub-harmonics, but you can do it with by making a low-passed bass-only file, then pitch-sifting down by one octave, and then mixing that with the original. BUT, you have to be careful with that because you can end-up “wasting space” on subsonic sounds that your system can’t reproduce or that you can’t hear and you’ll just end-up with a file that doesn’t go as loud or causes distortion trying to make low bass that it can’t reproduce because you don’t have enough power or your woofers/subwoofers are too small. (I’m pretty sure Mega Bass is NOT doing this.)

Thanks a bunch Trebor and DVDdoug for the plugin links and your thoughtful input on this subject.

After some thought and time for my ears to adapt to quiet overnight, I recorded an A/B 30 second sample of a KC& The Sunshine Band remix CD song “Give It Up” I bought and did a recording through the Sony Discman MegaBass setting and am posting it here off of MediaFire. (let me know if you have trouble with the download). Let me know of other file hosting sites that are easier to deal with and compatible with my Firefox browser.

The first sample is the CD and the second is the MegaBass recording both are at the same loudness at -13.4db in Audacity’s Wav Stats. No editing was applied except to add 1.2db to the MegaBass CD rez file with a limiter to match the RMS in db of the original CD. Of course the CD sounds louder which is another issue about audio loudness’s affect on human adaptation to audio stimuli and a pain to deal with in long edit sessions.

If I lower the volume I can’t hear the detail I’m trying to bring out. It also amazed me that I thought I made great improvements to the sound using an EQ in Audacity only to find there was a “different” or “better” way to make it sound. But due to out of sight, out of mind I had to have the MegaBass audition to show me that there are is another sound profile without making it sound over processed or harsh. Overall I know the original CD doesn’t sound right but I don’t know of an alternative. The MegaBass audition made me think there is.

You may note that the MegaBass version is pulling down the high frequencies between 1Khz to 4Khz and boosting low end bass compared to the CD which seems to contradict or make impossible my point of “hearing” more detail and 3D stage imaging in this song and others. The MegaBass file sounds better on my big box vintage Sansui system, where as the loud CD sounds flat with a bit less beefier bass and very little 3D stage imaging.

The main point I was trying to think through and convey here is the MegaBass setting is an immediate effect not allowing my hearing to adapt compared to long sessions twiddling 32 EQ sliders to get the same results or results that aren’t in my head. At first when I did this experiment several years ago I gave up that it would be useful because of what it did to the highs. Now I’m not so sure from the standpoint that something has to be quiet so other stuff can be heard in music, especially pop music. Classical would most likely not benefit from this. Or maybe my mind can’t envision it.
Anyway, thanks for the discussion and everyone’s input.

La Petite Excite is a simple (free) expander plugin.
Turning the “Low” to 2 is approximately equal to MegaBass boost.
''La Petit Excite'' suggested settings.jpg
Expander effect can’t be replicated with EQ: it’s dynamic, (& the opposite of compression).
It’s an antidote to the compression used in the loudness wars.

Wow! You nailed it, Trebor, with that expander plugin. Just hope it’s consistent across all styles of pop music as it is on the Discman play back.

Eq’ing one track and applying to the rest of the album tracks never gave consistent results. It required a custom EQ on all of them.

That Expander plugin appears to solve this. And it’s adjustable, another plus.

Thanks for posting the link. I’ll look into seeing if it’s compatible with my version of Audacity and OS.

The free ToneBooster’s plugin “TB FlX v3” has six frequency bands to play with,
as opposed to LaPetiteExcite’s two: (Low & High).

ToneBoosters v3 are 64-bit, PC & Mac, (but they are old “legacy” plugins).

LaPetiteExcite is 32-bit & 64-bit, PC & Mac, VST2.4 / VST3, (but again >7 years old).

The ToneBooster’s site support page with the question…“Where can I find (older legacy V3) plug-ins” won’t drop down an answer when clicking on it. In fact none of the other questions respond when clicking on them even with AdBlocker turned off. I’v’e had to update my Firefox browser to “Nightly” just to get the updated certificates so I can visit sites like Wikipedia and a independent music enthusiast XenFora forum site.

I do have software that is and runs in 64 bit on my 2010 MacMini in Snow Leopard 10.6.8.

That Tonebooster VST looks more inviting than the LaPetiteExcite plugin.

I downloaded LaPetite last night but it uses an old style .pkg installer that has a box symbol as an icon (instead of the newer hard drive icon where I can just drag and drop onto my application folder or just double click on the VST app icon inside the open hard drive icon).

Also during the install it indicated it has to install into my “System” plugin folder which I don’t feel comfortable with. None of the VST’s I’ve installed had to do this. Also I went searching through my main “System Folder” registry for a plugin folder pertaining to audio and there isn’t any. I backed out of the install. The LaPetite ReadMe was quite telling in saying…“If I don’t like installers, visit this link for an alternative”… but it’s now a dead link.

Have to permit toneboosters website to see the download links & use them …
have to permit toneboosters for download links to appear & work.png

The inside the ToneBoosters zip is a “.pkg” thing, (I don’t speak Mac) …
ToneBoosters Mac Zip has pkg inside.png
Direct links to the ToneBooster manuals work …

“BusTools v3 installation and user manual” [ TB FIX v3 ].

Not only don’t you speak Mac but you seem to not be aware Audacity as host app for these 64bit VST’s needs to be 64 bit according to a search on compatibility. And in this search I got Steve Daulton’s spelling it out to be the case…

What a mess! This is why I don’t troubleshoot computers for a living.

Thanks for posting that ToneBooster PDF to confirm I’m going to stick with the Discman MegaBass processor.

Audacity 3-1-3  for macOS is now a 64-bit application.png

What Mac OS version must I have for Audacity to be compatible for all that to work? I believe Audacity 3.1.3 requires I upgrade my OS which is not an option at this time.

I’m still in Mac OS 10.6.8 with Audacity 2.2.2. Everything works just fine with the current VST’s and AU plugins I have at I’m assuming 32bit. I believe LaPetite Excite will work with my current setup because it is 32 bit. Correct?

This Youtube demo of La Petite Excite is a better fit for my needs so I’ll go with that hoping it doesn’t need 64 bit upgrade of Audacity.

Also some further tests with Discman Mega Bass indicates to me it’s really just boosting low end bass and overall volume going by the amount of clipping recording the feed through Quicktime and checking the saved waveform in Audacity. That was what was fooling me into thinking it was doing something with the highs individually also the Discman volume control acts as a gain control on the final waveform. The La Petite Excite YouTube demo posted above backs that up.

Thanks for getting back on this.

Correction: 64 bit Audacity 3.1.3 requires Mac OS 10.7.x and up. So that option is out.

LaPetiteExcite is available in 32 & 64 bit, PC & Mac.
I use the 32-bit version in Windows, (I don’t know how plug-ins work in Macs).
LaPetiteExcite Manual.pdf (554 KB)

Trebor wrote:

I use the 32-bit version in Windows, (I don’t know how plug-ins work in Macs).

Mac uses the .au (Audio Units) standard and also VSTs (and LADSPA) provided they have been compiled for the Mac.
By default, they will be 64 bit.

The Mac OS & expander plugins mentioned in this thread are a about decade old.

If I’m not mistaken, if the AU plugins are “universal binaries”, then they include both the 32 and 64 bit versions.
Some of these binaries, even include both the Motorolla and X86 compiled versions.

From Apple:
So with the above in mind and using the universal binaries, Audacity should see the plugins.
Just remember that MacOS is very picky as to where you put them.

That was true up to and including macOS Mojave.
32-bit support was dropped in macOS 10.15 Catalina.

You are correct Steve, however, Tim Lookingbill is still using a much older version, so it will apply.

From his post:

I’m still in Mac OS 10.6.8 with Audacity 2.2.2.

Thanks for the 32 vs 64 bit info for Mac OS. It seems it wouldn’t be too difficult to at least upgrade my Mac OS from 10.6.8 to the required 10.7 so I can upgrade to Audacity 3.1.3 for 64 bit compatibility but I’m concerned about what would break in Audacity.

I mostly use just a few AU plugins that were a Garageband install, quite a few show up in Audacity’s Plugin Manager listings “not enabled” but I"ve noticed when enabling these in 2.2.2 they don’t work anyway. The ones that do work and provide live playback editing are AUmatrixReverb and AU Graphic EQ. I sometimes use Audacity’s Noise Reduction plugin which works very well.

The only VST I installed in older Audacity builds that works very well and in live playback is an old Beta version of W1 Limiter that will never get an update because it was created as a personal student project by a computer science graduate. It works VERY well in testing loudness sound quality after an EQ edit.

Overall it seems a high risk to do all this upgrading just so I can get one specialty “Excite” Expander plugin to work. I don’t plan on using Audacity to do major editing, just sweetening the sound quality of CD music and downloaded music that need work.