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Loudness compression, loudness wars.. What exactly it is and why is it happening?

krabapple

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As I believe at least one poster here has noted (as anecdotal evidence), the amount of added compression also matters; it's not always readily audible. I would also note that the 'dynamic range' (typically the crest factor) is also affected by EQ profile, particularly the relative bass energy of two different mastering.
 

maty

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...The war never really ended, but it has evolved. Streaming services like Spotify now normalize” the music’s output, so that we aren’t always adjusting our volume settings. This should lessen the incentive for mastering engineers to abuse compression. But according to Bob Ludwig, one of the industry’s pre-eminent mastering engineers (and a winner of Grammys for Best Engineered Album for artists like Alabama Shakes, Beck and Daft Punk), this hasn’t stopped mixing engineers from ladling on the loudness, reducing the dynamic range of the music even as the streaming normalization defeats their purpose. “The loudness war is worse than ever,” he recently told me. “It is a super-discouraging situation.”
If we consider the Grammy nominees in this year’s Best Record category as a representative cross section of today’s music, it is clear (as the sampling below shows) that aggressive compression is still the norm. But as in every era of music, there are exceptions. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper displays a wider dynamic range than its competitors, a throwback — not just in theme, but also production value.
 
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You can download the free Audacity to do similar analysis as above. And multichannel recordings/mixes too!
https://www.audacityteam.org/

In the days of vinyl compressors etc. were used in much more hifi way! One problem is that various releases on CD and web have different mixing and mastering. Best CDs were produced in the '90s - go to flea markets!
 

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Sal1950

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If you want good sounding music you have to get the High Resolution stuff. Costs a bit more but worth it I've heard. o_O
Below the results of a search at the Dynamic Range Database for music from HDTracks and then listing them by the Avg DR
Screenshot at 2019-02-11 05-24-18.png
 

maty

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Off topic

Talking about vinyls, I listen to very good vinyl recordings with high/very high DR about 85%. The rest, SACD, CD and digital downloads. More of the vinyl are MINT and they do not need to be cleanned with soft (iZotope RX usually).

Almost 95%, with acoustic instruments and natural voices (without Autotune -vade retro satana).

One key with the vinyl is that the master is analog and not digital. If the master is digital the sound is worse, without life.

From the NYT article, comments:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/...-about-the-loudness-wars.html#permid=30514644

[ Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MOFeb. 8
Times Pick

I'm an audio engineer. I don't make recordings, I make equipment. I can't listen to digital anymore, only vinyl. I have an original Rolling Stones album and the CD of it. The vinyl sounds like there is real band playing in my house and the digital sounds like it came out of a machine, which it did.

The recording industry has killed fidelity and replaced it with pumped up noise. It's horrible. People don't know what real music sounds like. Even in live venues, they compress it and pump it up and them play through horrible sounding class D amplifiers.

This excellent article provides graphical evidence of what many of us have known for years. The record companies are butchering music. They have taken the soul out of it. They have removed the need for a true high fidelity system which can reveal that emotional connection with the artist.

I have Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around. It's glorious. Cash was involved with the mastering. He was old school and knew how to master. The new guys don't have a clue and the old timers are dying out. The music industry is doing to music what fast food did to cuisine. It's the lowest common denominator and it's all the same homogenize mediocrity.

They sell canned noise instead of artistic creativity. When my generation dies out, that will be the end of high quality music reproduction and the artistry it allows. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The public has no idea of what they are missing. ]

Btw, some days before the article, in diyaudio.com xrk971 and I use the same analogy: fast food.
 
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Sal1950

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They sell canned noise instead of artistic creativity. When my generation dies out, that will be the end of high quality music reproduction and the artistry it allows. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The public has no idea of what they are missing. ]
Right up there with the biggest bunch of Bull Shit I've ever read!
 

maty

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The musical taste is subjective but the recording quality is not.

The other simile that I used were the books. The best sellers, so badly drafted in its vast majority versus the good literature of yesteryear.

It is not worth reading modern books when there is such a large quantity of good literature. The same applies to my auditions.

Once there were weeks, months in the recording studio, now time is measured by hours. Hotel California would be unthinkable today.
 

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