LOUDNESS WAR - is there anything we can still do ?!
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gregorio

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Meliboeus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I wonder why the labels don't jsut make a good mastering and put it on cd\dvd\wathever, then " compressed the hell out of it " and distribute it via itunes etc., i doubt it will cost very much more ( how long does the compression process take durning mastering ? ). And after all is for casual shuffled listening on an ipod that it makes sense to be louder than everyone else, a compressed track will probably sound even better on very low quality equipment. Two versions for two different targets of use.


Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Compression is not just a tool for making something very loud, it has positioning consequences as well. So, compression is added on a per channel basis during mixing and then a mastering compressor or limiter is usually applied during mastering. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you just click a few buttons on a computer to get a good master. Mastering is an art, and compression is just one of the tools employed by the mastering engineer. A good mastering engineer is like a master cabinet maker; the tools used by a cabinet maker are not really important, it's the skill of the cabinet maker which makes the difference. In other words, just using compression after the mastering engineer has finished is like giving a beginner a chisel and asking them to complete a Chippendale! A top class mastering engineer (like any master crafts person) is very expensive!! So in answer to your question: "how long does the compression process take durning mastering ?" - Probably an hour or so for a beginner but for a mastering engineer it may take many days to precisely apply just the right amount and type of compression throughout all the tracks on an album. Making a great album is a very expensive, collaborative process that requires a number of highly skilled and experienced professionals coming together at the top of their game.

It has not been uncommon in the past to create different versions. It used to be common to create what was known as a radio edit. A highly compressed version was given to radio stations for broadcast. Despite all the speculation, this is mainly where the loudness wars started, on the radio. It wasn't originally caused by the iPod generation but much earlier in the '90s when the labels discovered that a large percentage of music listening was happening in cars over the radio. The dynamic range of music on the radio was reduced (compressed) to allow car drivers and passengers to hear both the loud and quiet sections of the music even above the horrendous noise floor of road noise, engines, weather, etc. The record companies then realised that those highly compressed recordings sold better because people thought they sounded better, which they did, on a car radio. This all makes sense so far, but what happened next is that consumers wanted to buy the radio mix rather than the dynamic mix, then iPods came along and the rest is history.

G
 
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post-5609790
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QQQ

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I cannot understand what you're discussing here?
The music industry makes music for 99% of regular population(hi-fi enthusiasts, head-fiers and other SQ demamding folks are like 1%)
So, general public likes it bright and loud and nothing can be done about it. Nobody even notice if some pissed-off head-fier will stop buying cd's...this whole discussion i like storm in the glass. Unfortunately.
 
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post-5609853
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nautikal

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Quote:

Originally Posted by QQQ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I cannot understand what you're discussing here?
The music industry makes music for 99% of regular population(hi-fi enthusiasts, head-fiers and other SQ demamding folks are like 1%)
So, general public likes it bright and loud and nothing can be done about it. Nobody even notice if some pissed-off head-fier will stop buying cd's...this whole discussion i like storm in the glass. Unfortunately.



I disagree. The general public does not really care whether albums are loud or soft so long as their iPod can play them (not a problem considering 90% of people are using earbuds). In fact, the general public probably can't even tell the difference between a loud and soft album. It's more the record companies trying to subconsciously appeal to consumers.
 
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nautikal

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Quote:

Originally Posted by haloxt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
To an ignorant fool, loud music sounds better than soft. Likewise, a fool thinks gregorio's asinine posts are worth something, but nothing can be further from the truth. It's just noise, and should be banned.


Right, but people are going to adjust the song to their preferred volume level anyway. The reason songs have gotten louder and louder is because record companies want their songs to stand out. This made sense back in the early 90s when a loud song would be louder than the average song, but now all the songs are at maximum volume, so the record companies are pretty much back to where they were in the early 90s - all the songs being the same loudness. The only difference was in the early 90s we had dynamic range. The music industry really needs to adopt loudness standard(s) so that music has dynamic range again. The record companies would get what they want no - song could stand out against others (fair is fair) - and consumers would get high quality music. I give the option for more than one standard because certain genres such as classical are more suited for low average volume but high dynamic range while other genres such as rock are more suited for high average volume but lower dynamic range.
 
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post-5610257
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LFF

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nautikal /img/forum/go_quote.gif
And as far as "people like me causing it", the loudness war started becoming bad in the early to mid 90s, before p2p. Maybe you should try an argument backed by evidence as opposed to an ad hominem argument.


Slightly wrong. The loudness war has been around since before the "modern" era. I have read in various books that George Martin was always trying to produce the hottest record cuts possible for the Beatles. He wanted the records to sound as loud as possible. The trend has been going on for a long time now but it really got worse in the digital era.

While I actually like to buy music, but, I refuse to support record companies and artists that put out brickwalled crap. My salvation comes in two parts 1)Vinyl and other analog sources and 2)I know how to remaster stuff a little so I can fix most albums myself.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nautikal /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I disagree. The general public does not really care whether albums are loud or soft so long as their iPod can play them (not a problem considering 90% of people are using earbuds). In fact, the general public probably can't even tell the difference between a loud and soft album. It's more the record companies trying to subconsciously appeal to consumers.


This is very true. I recently mastered an EP for a small indie British band. I think the master came out great but the first comment I got when I sent it to them was "It sounds bloody awful on me iPod...". I asked if they played it on speakers and the response was "...of course we checked it on our laptops and the sound was the same". I explained to them why it sounded "bad". Thank heavens one of the band members had an uncle that was into hi-fi and they played it on his rig. Then they were amazed by the sound. Go figure.
 
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Acix

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LFF /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I recently mastered an EP for a small indie British band. I think the master came out great but the first comment I got when I sent it to them was "It sounds bloody awful on me iPod...". I asked if they played it on speakers and the response was "...of course we checked it on our laptops and the sound was the same". I explained to them why it sounded "bad". Thank heavens one of the band members had an uncle that was into hi-fi and they played it on his rig. Then they were amazed by the sound. Go figure.



Good mastering will sound good everywhere. The way you can test it before delivering the results to the client is after you master to your satisfaction, check the results on small speakers, such as computer or laptop speakers...you know, the low quality ones. If your work sounds good there, it will sound great everywhere else. In the music industry, there are monitors that emulate the boom box speakers, called Auratone. It's always best to check the mastering on different sources to make sure it will sound good even on an iPod.
 
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tyrion

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Enough with the personal attacks.
 
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post-5610655
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LFF

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Acix /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Good mastering will sound good everywhere. The way you can test it before delivering the results to the client is after you master to your satisfaction, check the results on small speakers, such as computer or laptop speakers...you know, the low quality ones. If your work sounds good there, it will sound great everywhere else. In the music industry, there are monitors that emulate the boom box speakers, called Auratone. It's always best to check the mastering on different sources to make sure it will sound good even on an iPod.


I know.
I check my masters in a variety of settings. 1) My studio rig, 2) Home rig with JBL 4311 speakers, 3) My car with stock radio 4) My car radio via iPod FM, 5) ipod with UE-10 IEMs and finally 6) Sony D-25 CD player with UE-10's.

However, I am almost 100% sure most people are using the stock iBuds. There is a motto that goes "The Customer Is Always Right" but if that were true - then the customer would have no need to come to me nor would they ask for my opinion to begin with. I am very honest and usually tell them when I think their ears/equipment aren't up to par.


That said, I rarely, rarely get bad comments.
 
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Acix

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LFF /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I know.
I check my masters in a variety of settings. 1) My studio rig, 2) Home rig with JBL 4311 speakers, 3) My car with stock radio 4) My car radio via iPod FM, 5) ipod with UE-10 IEMs and finally 6) Sony D-25 CD player with UE-10's.

However, I am almost 100% sure most people are using the stock iBuds. There is a motto that goes "The Customer Is Always Right" but if that were true - then the customer would have no need to come to me nor would they ask for my opinion to begin with. I am very honest and usually tell them when I think their ears/equipment aren't up to par.


That said, I rarely, rarely get bad comments.



Yep, in this business, the customer is always right...whether we like it or not. As a mastering engineer, I have to keep a balance between my work quality and the client's wishes. Just remember your customer is a musician and he probably goes by that motto, too...A good mix will sound good anywhere. So, he'll probably check the mix that he gives you on any speakers that he can find and he'll probably check the results on the same sources.

The dynamics of the small speakers are not as good as they would be on larger speakers. Most of the time, the corners will get cut off of the sound (the low and high), so I think for now this will be the secret ingredient.
 
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Geruvah

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I e-mailed one of my favorite groups to listen to, "Globus" and he replied:

Hello [Geruvah]

I truly do agree with your assessment of the mastering. I hate the Loudness Wars too, but feel that a commercial CD with aspirations of radio airplay must compromise on this issue. I don't think we went as far in slamming the tracks as other commercial releases, but the album is indeed punched perhaps more than an orchestral collection should be.
I think the next Globus CD will fight he Loudness Wars by rolling back the mastering levels with a more musical approach - and the radio rules be damned![...]

Cheers
Yoav
Globus
 
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I realize I am about to utter blasphemy here but I do not like the MFSL remasters.
It is going too far the other way. My first reaction the first time I heard one was "What is wrong with this?" It sounded muffled and dead.
Why can't we achieve a balance? There is plenty of music (Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler comes to mind) that is recorded superbly. Lots of dynamics, sounds great, and there is also enough volume so you don't have to turn it up.
I wish that was the standard.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Acix /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yep, in this business, the customer is always right...whether we like it or not. As a mastering engineer, I have to keep a balance between my work quality and the client's wishes. Just remember your customer is a musician and he probably goes by that motto, too...A good mix will sound good anywhere. So, he'll probably check the mix that he gives you on any speakers that he can find and he'll probably check the results on the same sources.

The dynamics of the small speakers are not as good as they would be on larger speakers. Most of the time, the corners will get cut off of the sound (the low and high), so I think for now this will be the secret ingredient.



That was my point. Small speakers and crappy buds will not reproduce the dynamics or small nuances that big speakers or a quality headphone rig will. The corners get cut off by a large margin on most small consumer speakers and thus a good master might sound small or dull without compression.
 
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haloxt

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Can DSP be applied to fix the evils of loudness? And can DSP be applied to make bad speakers sound good (not necessarily high fidelity, just euphonious)?
 
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Acix

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LFF /img/forum/go_quote.gif
That was my point. Small speakers and crappy buds will not reproduce the dynamics or small nuances that big speakers or a quality headphone rig will. The corners get cut off by a large margin on most small consumer speakers and thus a good master might sound small or dull without compression.


Overcompression will choke the sound. Maybe you can start working on the mastering on the small speakers, and when it's sound good you can switch to the JBL get the full image. apply what you need, then go back to the small speakers to check out the results. You can AB this process a few times until you get the results you want on both speakers. And yes, it's possible to get good results on both.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by haloxt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Can DSP be applied to fix the evils of loudness? And can DSP be applied to make bad speakers sound good (not necessarily high fidelity, just euphonious)?


Not really. Sure you can apply a number of DSP's, but the results will still be bad. Crap in = crap out.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Acix /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Overcompression will choke the sound. Maybe you can start working on the mastering on the small speakers, and when it's sound good you can switch to the JBL get the full image. apply what you need, then go back to the small speakers to check out the results. You can AB this process a few times until you get the results you want on both speakers. And yes, it's possible to get good results on both.


This is where I differ from most mastering engineers. If the client wants his master to be brickwalled or compressed to hell to sound good on laptop speakers then I send them elsewhere. I won't do that no matter what the pay is.

I know I could do it to match any commercial recording out there, but I just won't contribute to the loudness wars. In fact, before I do any work I specifically tell them that I do "audiophile" masters and that I will not over-compress nor over-limit nor use excessive (if any at all) noise reduction. Just so they understand, I send them the youtube link in my signature.

I know my approach is unorthodox but if I'm going to do something - then I'm going to do it right. So far...so good. Like I said before, I rarely get complaints.
 
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