Reducing Brightness When Digitizing Records

Not all records are produced and pressed the same, of course, and sometimes, after following all the steps for filtering and noise reduction (both 45s and LPs) the sound comes off really bright (especially older records made before the 70s). Any tips here to reduce brightness? Thank you.

RIAA ? …

By “bright”, do you mean the high frequencies are more prominent than normal?

If so, it might be instructive the load into Audacity two similar songs, one where you like the tonal balance, and one where you think it is too bright. Select a similar section of each song in turn and do Analyse > Plot Spectrum. Try to get a sense of the difference between the two plots. Then use Effect > Filter Curve to draw a curve that you think will make the two songs have similar tonal balance and apply it to the one that is too bright. If you’re not satisfied with the result, undo and try again.

If Plot Spectrum shows the two songs have about the same tonal balance, it could be that you are hearing high-frequency distortion or sibilance. Do the “s” sounds hissssss? What about the cymbal crashes? I ask this because LPs from the 60s may have been played a lot on turntables of less than stellar quality, causing damage to the grooves of the LP. This is especially noticeable with the inner groove.

Or, you could just add the Audacity Bass & Treble as a real-time effect and play with the treble control until you are satisfied with the result.

Thanks for that. Some records do have that hissssss effect from wear. Others (mainly 45s) in decent/okay shape may not have stellar sound quality due to the production values and/or pressing, and they sound compressed and on the tinny side. (Part of the “charm” of smaller labels?) I’ll follow your suggestions.

Low frequencies make wider grooves in the record. It could be that the 45s in question have had the low frequencies reduced in order to fit more time on the record? In that case try a gentle bass boost.

Yes, I’ve begun doing that. Thanks again.

45’s usually had worse quality than the album. Some kind of distortion and possibly more compression. The loudness wars started in the vinyl days. It always seemed ironic because you should be able to get better quality with higher speed.

I once read somewhere that they were using “regrind” for 45’s but I don’t know if that degrades quality.

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