Tape Saturation Removal

Much of my source material (uncompressed CD track rips; no SACDs or vinyl), are 60s pop, r&b and soundtracks, which were often victims of excessively applied compression. And some tracks during multi-vocal passages and when orchestrations get busy sound “congested” (though not waveform clipping due to record gain overload). I presumed it was likely due to poor miking/baffling (??), other acoustical causes.However, others say it’s the result of what must have been accidental tape saturation.

Of course, today the only time you hear the term used it’s always about how great tape saturation sounds when its deliberately added to a recording! YECCH, what perversion!

So, while not outright crappy (??), much of my music was certainly less than pristinely recorded and/or mastered, even though almost all were issued by major labels. And they may sound especially poor over the new custom built high res horn type speakers I will soon be installing.

When will there be algorithms which can fix treasured vintage recordings with this kind of damage?

There are many different types of compressors and brands of each type used on recordings: optical, variable mu, dbx, tube, solid state used on individual tracks, in parallel with tracks, and on master buss all with different attack and release, ratio, etc. settings used, as applied by ear for “best sound” that the engineer or producer was trying to achieve. It’s not possible to reverse engineer every instance of compression with just the final master, and you may be surprised that if you did, you wouldn’t like the results of vocals and instruments suddenly sticking odd notes out of the mix.
Having said that, Eventide makes a compressor that is also an expander and dynamics reversal unit, called the Omnipressor. It can analyze the signal in advance and adapt to a degree. You could try to run every track you own through it one at a time and see if you get any improvement to your ear. I expect you would mostly get weird sonic effects, which is why it is a useful tool for producers.

Well, a lot of this music was recorded at
United Western Recorders - Wikipedia and
Radio Recorders - Wikipedia, circa 1960 thru 1970. So it should be not impossible to accurately predict which compressors were used on these recordings. However, damage to recordings due to tape saturation and/or poor mike placement is another matter. The fact is, there’s so much great vintage music though while cleanly digitized to 16 or 24 bit, still retain these same kinds of analog flaws. I’ll gleefully subscribe to Roon when they have AI-assisted restoration solutions to undo much of that damage.