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> Louder Is Not Necessarily Better, interesting web site
Saoirse O'Shea
post Nov 5 2009, 07:29 PM
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Here concerning the 'loudness war' and the drift towards people recording too hot and compressed.

Even as a neophyte mastering engineer I've already been sent some mixes that are crushed, compressed and recorded too loud. Whatever happened to dynamics in music rolleyes.gif.

Anyway - I particularly enjoyed the link to Metallica's 'Death Magnetic'. I've seen a lot about how Rick Rubin, as the producer/engineer sent Sterling Mastering (Ted Jensen) a hyper-compressed hot recording to master that had already been put through a limiter...

Anyway - on the other link to 'Death Magnetic' some Metallica fans reckon that the Guitar Hero version sounds better then the actual album. That's because the game version didn't go through the master bus and that limiter...


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Staffy
post Nov 5 2009, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Nov 5 2009, 07:29 PM) *
Here concerning the 'loudness war' and the drift towards people recording too hot and compressed.

Even as a neophyte mastering engineer I've already been sent some mixes that are crushed, compressed and recorded too loud. Whatever happened to dynamics in music rolleyes.gif.

Anyway - I particularly enjoyed the link to Metallica's 'Death Magnetic'. I've seen a lot about how Rick Rubin, as the producer/engineer sent Sterling Mastering (Ted Jensen) a hyper-compressed hot recording to master that had already been put through a limiter...

Anyway - on the other link to 'Death Magnetic' some Metallica fans reckon that the Guitar Hero version sounds better then the actual album. That's because the game version didn't go through the master bus and that limiter...


Very interesting points, Tony. Since Im doing some mastering on a semi-professional level, mostly on my own material, I definitely agree to that a too "compressed" mix sounds lifeless and not "airy". That depends of course which music style You are into, for jazz & classical music loudnessing would't be good at all in my opinion, since it kind of destroy's the instruments timbre as well. A better way to achieve "natural" loudness is to have the musicians play with less dynamics - then would the clarity be preserved in the instruments, and it will still be a "loud" mix. When using devices such as maximizers, exciters and multiband compressors, I found out that mostly the treble section of the material get "crashed" and sounds terrible if used too much.... Another problem here is that most people do not have descent speakers, orlisten to music in their cars or whatever - in that case may a heavy loudness mix sounds better, but in top-notch speakers, it's just to turn up the volume instead and it's as "fat" as the loudness version, but MUCH clearer. Anyway, I think we will see a change of this in the coming years, since listening to a hard compressed record make's your ears get tired after some tracks..... But of course moderate compression is a must in order to fit the material on a CD or such. Just my opinions.....

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Saoirse O'Shea
post Nov 5 2009, 11:02 PM
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QUOTE (Staffy @ Nov 5 2009, 10:35 PM) *
QUOTE

Very interesting points, Tony. Since Im doing some mastering on a semi-professional level, mostly on my own material, I definitely agree to that a too "compressed" mix sounds lifeless and not "airy". That depends of course which music style You are into, for jazz & classical music loudnessing would't be good at all in my opinion, since it kind of destroy's the instruments timbre as well.


Yes and no - yes different types/forms of music have different dynamic range - classical tends to have a very broad dynamic range compared to most others for instance. However reducing the dynamic range too much of any type isn't natural. And that's the issue here - too much now is crushed so much that there is too little dynamic range. A lot of recent recorded music has less then 10-15 dB dynamic range - some less than 5.


QUOTE
A better way to achieve "natural" loudness is to have the musicians play with less dynamics - then would the clarity be preserved in the instruments, and it will still be a "loud" mix.


Think you mean the other way round here smile.gif so yes. 'Natural', or perceived, loudness comes largely from dynamics - it's the sudden crescendo that sounds loud against the previous quite background. Always keeping levels at full volume does not result in dynamic range cool.gif .

QUOTE
When using devices such as maximizers, exciters and multiband compressors, I found out that mostly the treble section of the material get "crashed" and sounds terrible if used too much....


A ha. Also people don't use them properly or particularly well. Multi-bands have been very popular for a while and, as a case in point, are over used and used badly. Similarly many people 'normalise' which is very often not a good move.

QUOTE
Another problem here is that most people do not have descent speakers, orlisten to music in their cars or whatever - in that case may a heavy loudness mix sounds better, but in top-notch speakers, it's just to turn up the volume instead and it's as "fat" as the loudness version, but MUCH clearer.


Yes and no. Most people don't have top of the range speakers - including recording/mix engineers. Mastering is done on the best possible though - if you can't hear it you can't 'correct' for it wink.gif . BUT mastering takes place to make the music translate across a wide range of different set ups. The issue is if the source is already compressed then ultimately it is too late - garbage in=garbage out. (Yes I can upward expand etc but there is a limit to what I can do to try to correct/deal with/mitigate a hot crushed mix.)

Your last line is very important - turn the volume dial up to volume match on a well recorded and mastered piece and it will sound better than the crushed 'loud' version: clearer, more dynamics, more natural, and so on.

QUOTE
Anyway, I think we will see a change of this in the coming years, since listening to a hard compressed record make's your ears get tired after some tracks.....


Hopefully smile.gif .

QUOTE
But of course moderate compression is a must in order to fit the material on a CD or such. Just my opinions.....


Moderate compression can be good - albeit often on the individual track rather than the stereo master wink.gif . Sometimes though good use of eq and the fader is better smile.gif. Less is more.


//Staffay



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Staffy
post Nov 5 2009, 11:19 PM
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QUOTE
Think you mean the other way round here smile.gif so yes. 'Natural', or perceived, loudness comes largely from dynamics - it's the sudden crescendo that sounds loud against the previous quite background. Always keeping levels at full volume does not result in dynamic range cool.gif .


I was meaning when making a hard-rock record for instance, it's better to get the musicians to play in a "even" dynamic range, rather then have to compress the instruments later on. I mean a good studio drummer usually fits his playing to the style - and if a snare that is equally loud is needed, he will play that way.



QUOTE
A ha. Also people don't use them properly or particularly well. Multi-bands have been very popular for a while and, as a case in point, are over used and used badly. Similarly many people 'normalise' which is very often not a good move.


I definitely agree on that!


QUOTE
Yes and no. Most people don't have top of the range speakers - including recording/mix engineers. Mastering is done on the best possible though - if you can't hear it you can't 'correct' for it wink.gif . BUT mastering takes place to make the music translate across a wide range of different set ups. The issue is if the source is already compressed then ultimately it is too late - garbage in=garbage out. (Yes I can upward expand etc but there is a limit to what I can do to try to correct/deal with/mitigate a hot crushed mix.)


I was speaking of the consumers here, of course must the mastering studio have the best equipment available (which I understand that You are aiming at smile.gif ) What I meant was that I believe that some producers are really aiming on the "low-end" consumers with bad speakers - and in case of that a hard compressed recording may sound better in bad speakers ( I guess Im talking bout Top 40 music here...)



QUOTE
Moderate compression can be good - albeit often on the individual track rather than the stereo master wink.gif . Sometimes though good use of eq and the fader is better smile.gif. Less is more.


Definitely yes, just my opinion ! smile.gif


//Staffay





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audiopaal
post Nov 5 2009, 11:34 PM
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I agree very much with this, and I have been to that site before smile.gif
Many of todays albums are way to loud, and the sound quality suffers..
I'm against the whole Loudness war thingy, as no good will come out of it!

My album(s) will not fall into that trap smile.gif
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Nov 6 2009, 02:24 PM
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As far as loudness war it is not really something that audience will perceive as something being "crushed" or "too compressed". Most people are not experts, so they will probably say something like "this track is crackling a bit in some places, dunno why". I never heard anyone that doesn't understand mixing & mastering to say "this song has a bit harsh top end". The general audience is just perceiving something "loud" as something "good", so this is why the loudness war is still raging on. Industry is "candy-wrapping" cause no one understands why the sound is "sweet", and they cannot explain it.
Big companies know that, and they do it to make (force) the tracks "better" so that people "believe" it is better. Only a handful of people (like audiophiles-consumers, or people who are in the business of making the tracks as they are) can understand this properly. Usually these people have much better audio systems, and this is where the differences really comes to life.
One more important thing to add is that in the end all that it matters is the song, and more specifically - vocal melody. If this is good, our average consumer will mostly focus on that. If the song is not that good but it is beefed up, consumer will perceive song as "powerful sounding" perhaps, but in a couple of days he will forget the song ever existed.
Let's take for example "Californication" album from RHCP. This album was a major success for the band, and the album is so crushed that the crackling is heard on every song most of the time. I never heard anyone who doesn't understand what is going on to say "oh this track is too compressed". As a matter of fact, I think many people will even think that something is wrong with their gear, or just perceive the album as "really powerful sounding". In the end, this won't matter at all, cause the album was sold out all over the world so there must have been something good with it that made people buy it.. beefing up simply doesn't affect peoples choices to buy it, they buy it and listen to it, they perceive it as powerful, and if the song is good, they listen to it again, and again...
My point in the end is that there should be some education involved for the end consumer. Something like a label on every disc that informs about compressing and crackling and what it means and how it removes dynamics which eventually leads to general drop of audio quality standards.
Also some general information about mp3 files should definitely be involved as well, cause not a lot of people listen to CD's these days anyway. People carry around their mobile phones/mp3 players and listen to 128/44 tracks. These tracks are even more deteriorated, but not a lot of people actually know how does the mp3 codec works and how it destroys the transients.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Nov 6 2009, 02:28 PM


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Marcus Siepen
post Nov 10 2009, 11:17 AM
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This loudness war is such a stupid thing that ONLY results in poor sound quality in the end.


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Daniel Realpe
post Dec 3 2009, 04:01 AM
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Latest Guns n Roses album "Chinese democracy" I think is a good example of how dynamics can give life to recorded music,

overly compressed music is only: loud,

but sometimes you have to go along with the trend dry.gif


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post Dec 3 2009, 09:04 AM
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We keep getting louder as we are all getting more and more deaf after every gig. I think the only phrase our sound engineer knows is Everything Louder lol. Like the Raven album \m/ biggrin.gif


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Staffy
post Dec 3 2009, 09:49 AM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Nov 6 2009, 02:24 PM) *
Only a handful of people (like audiophiles-consumers, or people who are in the business of making the tracks as they are) can understand this properly. Usually these people have much better audio systems, and this is where the differences really comes to life.

My point in the end is that there should be some education involved for the end consumer. Something like a label on every disc that informs about compressing and crackling and what it means and how it removes dynamics which eventually leads to general drop of audio quality standards.

Also some general information about mp3 files should definitely be involved as well, cause not a lot of people listen to CD's these days anyway. People carry around their mobile phones/mp3 players and listen to 128/44 tracks. These tracks are even more deteriorated, but not a lot of people actually know how does the mp3 codec works and how it destroys the transients.


Aaahh! You touched some very interesting points here, Ivan. I remembered when I was listening back to one of the first D/A -records in the late 70's with a Swedish jazz-rock group called "Kornet" in a high-end hi-fi shop. That was simply amazing, You were standing among the musicians. Such a sound!!! I have some reference CD's from some record-pro's recorded with just two mics in front of the band in a good location, and these are sounding marvellous in my studio speakers - but on the other hand they sounds "flat" and boring in a normal speaker environment. (I have some good speakers though...) I think the only way to educate people about this matter is to force them in buying better equipment or to introduce a new format, the latter seems to be better, since they have to buy new equipment if a new format is released. What I mean here is that high-end digital audio restricted to 44.1 and 16 bits is a shame to the technical evolution. They can easily do a format that is twice the samplerate and the bitrate easily..... But the real question is still the same: Does digital sound better? In my ears nothing will ever stand up to a hi-fi tube amp and a old-fashion record player, of course this is expensive stuff if You shall have really high end products, but it sounds just marvellous.....

And its just about the same with MP3, .ogg is a far better compression format, and if the record industry had wanted to put out a real high-end compression format, they would have done it already - but then they had lost the audiophiles as customers to their "real" records.
I think a good idea would be to "split" the releases of new albums, eg. one MP3 - version and one really high-end version. (that cannot be copied) The MP3 one might as well be nearly free making it worthless to duplicate on the internet, and the high-end one will just be sold as "real" copies. Then the high-end one's can have a label that says "extremely good sound quality" or whatever and then could the customers be motivated to buy decent gear suited for music instead of mobile phones.... tongue.gif

//Staffay


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post Dec 3 2009, 09:52 AM
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Some of the latest albums I can't listen to as they really are awful.


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