Originally Posted by scuttle
It's quite possible that the record companies are doing it to please radio stations who are getting no benefit from it all!
Loud recordings don't please radio stations (or listeners) because radios has it's own loudness war. Stations process very aggressively, and yet want to sound both loud and clean, which you'd think were polar opposites, but the current crop of digital processors actually has made some improvements in both directions. Stations have no choice but to process everything the same. So when they get an over processed recording, and then do their thing on top of that, it doesn't get louder at all, but it does get much more distorted. Stations know that distortion is bad, so the situation is not good for them either.
Originally Posted by scuttle
Ok: I thought the point of the Radio Loudness Wars was not someone should switch station at any given moment and encounter loud, rather than quiet music? So the point, surely, is not to make the loudest parts louder but the quietest part?
Stations are competitive. There's hardly a market anywhere that listeners don't have several choices of stations that have essentially the same type of programming (format). Stations make their money by selling advertising, and advertisers buy radio time based on the number of people they can reach for their dollar (called "cost per point" or "cost per 1000"). Stations audiences are now continually audited live, along with any other entertainment options (except headphone-based!!!!) and the data culled each evening, and compiled. The greater the number of listeners in any segment of the day, the lower cost per point to the advertiser (even if the cost per minute is higher), and the greater number of ears he can reach for his money. Station managers and program directors know that little things that can capture and hold a listener all add up to more listeners. One of these little things is a good strong and loud signal. When they dial around listening to their competition, if their own station "jumps off the dial" when they tune to it, they feel good, happy, proud, etc. So they demand exotic and aggressive processing. Some of these devices cost over $20k per unit, and are so complex that they take months to fine tune, if they are ever completely finalized at all. I once had a general manger say to me, "I want to be the loudest station on the dial, and I'm willing to spend whatever it takes to do it!" And he did it, and it was a local industry joke.
So the goal of radio processing is to make the station loud on the dial. Doing that also makes quiet parts louder, makes louder parts louder, changes the overall EQ of everything, and adds distortion on a dynamic basis. If you want an example of intermod distortion, listen to any contemporary music FM station, and hear bass "fluttering" or modulating highs as a result of fast limiting, peak limiting and deliberate clipping.
The discussion of the mechanics of radio processing is way too deep for this thread, but you might now have a bit of the idea. It's ego and pride driven, and supported by demand for financial gain from company owners.
The sad reality is, people don't care about processing so long as they can hear the station adequately. They will adjust their volume control anyway if the volume isn't right for them. They listen for what they want to hear in content, it's self serving, and that's it. And they don't care if it's overly loud either, except for a couple of special formats like jazz and classical. In both AM and FM radio, processing extends coverage by keeping audio above the noise floor that increases with distance from the transmitter, but we are so far beyond that now its ridiculous.
Here something that hit my inbox just this morning...seems sort of pertinent to this:
Anybody want to throw a DR party?