Is Dreamspace weird?

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Pancio
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Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by Pancio » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:06 am

Hi guys,

Since we are talking about mixing, mastering and production in general I want to share with you a little thing I noticed years ago while listening to Dreamspace while transcribing it.
The weird thing is that all the songs are not tuned down by half a tone (one semitone) but by a three-quarters tone (one and half semitone).
It's weird because it's a peculiar choice and clearly not an error since all the instrument are tuned the same way.
My question is:"Do you believe they have decided to modify the original songs or do you believe they've simply messed up with the speed while dumping the tracks from the master (like slowing down vinyls or messed up VHS and MC)?"
I admit the last one is possible only in case of tape recording and almost impossible even in that case, but it's an intriguing answer.

Anyone has the right answer or any other curiosity?

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NeverendingAbyss
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by NeverendingAbyss » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:06 am

I'm gay.

ZenithMC
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by ZenithMC » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:18 am

Very interesting find, Pancio! You know, I always thought something sounded a little off, pitch-wise, with Dreamspace, but I never investigated it. Based on my findings, Dreamspace is tuned to roughly 322 Hz, which is E4 - 41 cents.

I couldn't figure out what equipment was used to record Dreamspace, but in the booklet of Tolkki's Classical Variations and Themes, he mentions using AKAI Adam digital tape recorders. Since CVAT and Dreamspace were recorded within a relatively close time-frame, I'll assume that Dreamspace was digitally recorded (even though it sounds like an analogue recording to me).

Here's an image of the page from the booklet that describes the equipment used on CVAT.

It was definitely digitally processed. Check out the bridge section of Abyss, where the drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards are all doing the same rhythmic 8th note triplet, followed by a quarter note and a quarter note rest. During that rest, if you look at the waveform with a spectrogram, you can clearly see that there exists no noise above -90dB, and the noise floor itself only contains subsonic frequencies. That just isn't possible to produce if the album was processed using analog equipment.

Now as to how the album managed to slightly reduce its playback speed as a digital recording (through reasonable means) is beyond me. Faulty ADC units would usually result in pops or clicks (known as jitter), and not playback rate shifts.

*** Okay, actually, Dreamspace was probably recorded via analogue equipment due to a very small detail found on the vinyl (and CD) release of Dreamspace. If you look at this picture very closely , you will see the letters "ADD". That is a SPARS code, which is a 3 letter code that represents how an album was produced, with "A" meaning "analogue", and "D" meaning "digital". The first letter designates the audio recorder used during recording, the second letter designates the audio recorder used during mixing, and the third letter designates the type of mastering employed.

So in that case, the analogue audio recorder must have had a slightly miscalibrated play speed during the recording phase, which was later corrected before the mixing phase, which would result in the pitch discrepancy. Or some other similar scenario played out where the tape machine was calibrated correctly while recording, but somehow became miscalibrated right before the mixing phase.

AAAAAAAAAA
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by AAAAAAAAAA » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:49 am

I remember Tolkki got asked this question once and he just said he was too lazy to tune his guitar.

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adrian9
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by adrian9 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:25 pm

I guess
A9

ZenithMC
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by ZenithMC » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:08 pm

AAAAAAAAAA wrote:I remember Tolkki got asked this question once and he just said he was too lazy to tune his guitar.
It's not just his guitar that is out of tune, though.

Empathica1928
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by Empathica1928 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:25 pm

Huh. I've truly never thought about most of the stuff raised in this thread, but that explains a lot. I've always thought Dreamspace had a unique sound but couldn't pinpoint why, even when comparing it with Twilight Time. I've never tried playing anything off Dreamspace though (keyboardist, so, not many interesting things to test out from that record imo), so that might have something to do with my ignorance.

This is a good excuse to play Dreamspace again and pay attention. The songs sound good enough, although it's still not a favorite record of mine.

Pancio
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by Pancio » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:17 am

Very interesting find, Pancio! You know, I always thought something sounded a little off, pitch-wise, with Dreamspace, but I never investigated it. Based on my findings, Dreamspace is tuned to roughly 322 Hz, which is E4 - 41 cents.

I couldn't figure out what equipment was used to record Dreamspace, but in the booklet of Tolkki's Classical Variations and Themes, he mentions using AKAI Adam digital tape recorders. Since CVAT and Dreamspace were recorded within a relatively close time-frame, I'll assume that Dreamspace was digitally recorded (even though it sounds like an analogue recording to me).

Here's an image of the page from the booklet that describes the equipment used on CVAT.

It was definitely digitally processed. Check out the bridge section of Abyss, where the drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards are all doing the same rhythmic 8th note triplet, followed by a quarter note and a quarter note rest. During that rest, if you look at the waveform with a spectrogram, you can clearly see that there exists no noise above -90dB, and the noise floor itself only contains subsonic frequencies. That just isn't possible to produce if the album was processed using analog equipment.

Now as to how the album managed to slightly reduce its playback speed as a digital recording (through reasonable means) is beyond me. Faulty ADC units would usually result in pops or clicks (known as jitter), and not playback rate shifts.

*** Okay, actually, Dreamspace was probably recorded via analogue equipment due to a very small detail found on the vinyl (and CD) release of Dreamspace. If you look at this picture very closely , you will see the letters "ADD". That is a SPARS code, which is a 3 letter code that represents how an album was produced, with "A" meaning "analogue", and "D" meaning "digital". The first letter designates the audio recorder used during recording, the second letter designates the audio recorder used during mixing, and the third letter designates the type of mastering employed.

So in that case, the analogue audio recorder must have had a slightly miscalibrated play speed during the recording phase, which was later corrected before the mixing phase, which would result in the pitch discrepancy. Or some other similar scenario played out where the tape machine was calibrated correctly while recording, but somehow became miscalibrated right before the mixing phase.
Actually I'm not sure about the gear used for recording, I'm a big nerd of this kind of shit but not this time, it's almost impossible to know since no one of the actual member was there at that time; I know about AKAI on CVAT and even the amp used (Mesa Boogie dual rectifier, used until Vision then broken and changed with a shitty Laney once again changed after some years with a ENGL Powerball during Elements Era) but, tbh, I think they have recorded on tape until Visions of Europe (included), maybe Destiny too and even Infinite.

Anyway, I believe that an hardware fail could be an answer but, once again, it's strange that musician, management and all the stuff screwed it; and even the mistuned guitar is a poor answer since all the instrument, as ZenithMC pointed out, are tuned the same.
Maybe they've simply recorded with all the instruments tuned down by a full tone, so it would have been easier to sing, then changed pitch while producing; but a 3/4 tone down is not enough to justify this amount of work.

Or, the best hypothesis I could came up with is that they were trying to make the record sound "strange" and more "trippy"/"dreamy" using a sort of personal interpretation of musical temperament playing with frequencies; who knows?

Stratovarius, as a band, is always full of surprise!

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SentineLEX
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by SentineLEX » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:21 am

This comes as a surprise to me tbh. Thought it was just bog standard Eb minor plus a few keys up and down the circle of fifths

I've always ascribed the unique sound to the 80s sounding hollow drum sound.

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Hubble86
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Re: Is Dreamspace weird?

Post by Hubble86 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:36 am

8) Spooooky...

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