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Author Topic: Loudness Wars  (Read 7963 times)

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April 13, 2011, 09:24:10 PM
I think alot of it is the way that we listen to music has changed.

I see people listening to music on tiny mobile devices using the little speakers built in......maybe the mastering engineers are reducing the dynamic range to make things sound more balanced on todays listening devices.

CD
We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II

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April 14, 2011, 07:15:39 PM
I think alot of it is the way that we listen to music has changed.

I see people listening to music on tiny mobile devices using the little speakers built in......maybe the mastering engineers are reducing the dynamic range to make things sound more balanced on todays listening devices.

CD

It's a theory, but it seems daft as those things have no low end, so do we start mixing without low end?

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April 14, 2011, 08:22:29 PM
I think alot of it is the way that we listen to music has changed.

I see people listening to music on tiny mobile devices using the little speakers built in......maybe the mastering engineers are reducing the dynamic range to make things sound more balanced on todays listening devices.

CD

It's a theory, but it seems daft as those things have no low end, so do we start mixing without low end?

In a way we already do because we hi-pass filter everything and add harmonics to our bass instruments so they be heard on small speakers

CD
We never finish a mix - We simply abandon them.  Adam A7's , Focusrite Pro24 DSP, Focusrite LiquidMix, Presonus FaderPort, Sennheiser HD250 Linear II

June 04, 2011, 08:57:18 PM
Why do people do it? so many albums these days are compressed at the mastering stage including ones that I like, I just don't see it as very musical to have no dynamic variation in an album. I think one of the reasons "The Seldom Seen Kid" is one of the best albums of the last 10 years is because it has dynamics, which made it one of a few.

Why is it desirable to treat music in this way? Why does it need to be loud? If people like it surely they will turn it up if they like it and if it's on the radio they will compress it anyway.

People do it because they don't know any better...Most musicians especially, believe that all tracks need to be super loud and whatnot without even realizing or knowing they're listening to mastered tracks. Most of those tracks aren't coming out of the mix stage like that except for a select few engineers...

I am 110% for being as dynamic as possible, it's safer on the ears, ALWAYS sounds better and moves more air than highly compressed stuff.

Say NO to the loudness wars!

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June 06, 2011, 04:02:01 AM
People (even experienced engineers) are often fooled by relative volume. If an eq plug or saturation plug boosts the overall RMS by 1 db, you may think it sounds 'better' even if it doesn't. And when toggling back and forth between a crushed master and one that's less crushed, the more crushed one will sound 'better' at first. Of course, if you adjust the volume to match the RMS, the one with more dynamic range will sound better, less fatiguing, more exciting, etc. And most bands understand as soon as you demonstrate. But, they question whether fans will be fooled by the loudness, as do labels, etc.

Of course, no one actually says 'Gee, I love the music, and the songs are great, but it's just not quite as loud as this other, less-great album, so I'm gonna buy the less-great one!'

It's stupidity piled on idiocy. And we wonder why people are perfectly happy to listen to poorly encoded mp3s. They've heard crappy CDs on crappy FM stations for 20 years. There are kids who have never heard a CD or radio station that wasn't over-compressed and limited to hell. They think that's how it's supposed to be!

June 06, 2011, 03:14:41 PM
You'd be surprised at how many people will take loud over sounding good...but that's part of our job as engineers, to steer them away from that ugly misconception. Education is such a large part of this profession yet most don't take the time to do it.

Don't get me started on radio stations hahahaha.


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June 11, 2011, 09:20:36 PM
Hey, I know I'm a little late on this but I didnt see anybody mention this. Have you ever listened to a very dynamic song. It can be very annoying. During the soft parts I have to turn the volume way up, then it gets loud again and I have to turn it down. So, I end up doing what the compressor should be doing. I'd rather have a compressor do this than me.

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June 11, 2011, 10:20:53 PM
Hey, I know I'm a little late on this but I didnt see anybody mention this. Have you ever listened to a very dynamic song. It can be very annoying. During the soft parts I have to turn the volume way up, then it gets loud again and I have to turn it down. So, I end up doing what the compressor should be doing. I'd rather have a compressor do this than me.

This reminds me of that early PJ Harvey album 'Rid of Me', recorded by Steve Albini. It has some sections of songs that are just above a whisper, then break into quite loud sections, always forcing me to race to turn the volume down! Of course, the album sounds great, and the songs and performance are great, but I know what you're saying.

I think compression, when done correctly, is fine and a part of the sound of rock music. But, preserving dynamics can make for a much more impactful and engaging listen. Some music isn't meant to be background music, and dynamic range holds your attention.

I'd like to see devices include compression algorithms instead of the CD being crushed. Why can't my iPod apply whatever type and amount of compression is appropriate for my listening environment?


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June 11, 2011, 10:52:58 PM
Yeah I agree, I think this can depend greatly on the listening environment and the listener. Its kinda funny, when listening to music I like stuff to be more on the compression side but when playing my guitar or beating on my snare drum Im a very dynamic player. To think about it, if theres no soft then how can you ever be loud. And we all like to be loud.

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July 28, 2011, 06:30:50 PM
There's a bit in the loudness war chapter in Perfecting Sound Forever where Greg Milner dissects a Shellac song (wingwalker I think) and talks about how its massive dynamic range makes it so unique and emotionally moving, before going on to talk about Californication.  It's the most perfect condemnation of the loudness war that's ever been committed to text.

What's most horrible about it is how it's got under young people's skin.  At college in particularly I hear other kids complaining about mixes being too quiet, and talking about "MAKING IT AS LOUD AS IT CAN POSSIBLY BE WITH THE L1 :D" like it's just the normal thing to do.  They don't even think about it from the perspective of sound quality, or even just mojo.  It's dumb.  But not exactly some crippling epidemic problem whatever.  The backlash against the loudness war is just as noticeable I guess.