Loudness War
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:25 PM   #1
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Loudness War

Hey,

I've recentely checked out how many views "Gangnam Style" by Psy had on YouTube and it's at: 2010896756... Sometimes I do crazy thing. And yeah I've downloaded the song in 320 .mp3 and putted it on Ableton. Well... I think I haven't seen a song that much compressed since early Arctic Monkeys' songs. And the fact is that, every very-very-very famous songs I've seen (Gangnam Style and the songs from "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" by Arctic Monkeys which was really critically acclaimed) were SO COMPRESSED.

So yeah...

In fact, before making music. I've listened a lot of pop, rock and electronic music. And there's a time when I listened to the Arctic Monkeys' over-compressed records and the truth is I've never noticed that the quality was that bad, and so my friends did... That leads me to the loudness war. I don't get how the hell people can say: "hey don't overcompress your tracks, that's bad" when people who knows nothing about mixing-mastering and only listen and enjoy the songs like the kid I was doesn't even notice if it's slightly compressed or overcompressed...

What will push the mix engineer to re-introduce more dynamics to their songs if overcompression worked (in a commercial way)?

PS: After writing this post, I've just checked another commercially successful song: "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, and this time the compression is ONLY hard when the chorus happens like 99% of the pop songs of today I guess (unlike early Arctic Monkeys records and Gangnam Style which are overcompressed the whole time).

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Old 10-06-2014, 05:38 PM   #2
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Re: Loudness War

Your friends will not say it sounds bad because they aren't familiar with the production side of music: they can't tell the musical quality apart from the production value. So you could give them a good track, musical-wise, with bad production and they will still like it (if it's their genre etc).
People who don't have the knowledge shouldn't be the reference.
The only useful comparison would be to give them the same song twice, one version normal, one version over-compressed, so they directly compare and follow their intuition.

Also while over-compressing music is generally seen as bad practice, experienced studio's and mastering engineers have the skills to get away with it. An amateur producer who tries to achieve the same loudness will ruin everything.


edit: also how popular a track is in no way related to the production quality: popular tracks are not popular because they have the best production, they are popular because the music is good (and because people spend a lot of money)

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Old 10-06-2014, 07:05 PM   #3
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Re: Loudness War

I most definately prefer stuff that's not overcompressed. And I'm not an unusual listener. Stuff that's overcompressed just gives me a headache so I'm quick to turn it off. Overcompressed means way too high of an RMS level so it's not even really music to my ears anymore, it's a just a waveform similar to squarewaves, and distortion and I don't like sounds like that. I pretty much agree with Nyul on this topic.

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Old 12-06-2014, 12:17 AM   #4
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Re: Loudness War


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Old 12-06-2014, 12:22 AM   #5
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Re: Loudness War

I think ten years from now every song from the 2010s will be immediately recognized as such from the mega-compression production style, thus sounding dated to ears of the future. Just like how when you hear a song from the 80s it's immediately obvious from the shitload of reverb and gated snares.
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:02 AM   #6
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Re: Loudness War

"People who don't have the knowledge shouldn't be the reference.": but they are the mass who makes money, aren't they? That's the only thing that matters I guess.

"Also while over-compressing music is generally seen as bad practice, experienced studio's and mastering engineers have the skills to get away with it. An amateur producer who tries to achieve the same loudness will ruin everything.": Good point.

"I most definately prefer stuff that's not overcompressed. And I'm not an unusual listener. Stuff that's overcompressed just gives me a headache so I'm quick to turn it off.": Gotcha but don't you think it's because you are aware of it? I mean for someone who don't even know what is compressing and RMS, I doubt that he'll be like: "Hey, I've the feeling that the dynamics in this songs is totally killed, but it seems that the removed peak were compensated by some kind of make-up or what, so that the song is so loud to me. It gives me headache. Seriously." Honestly if someone who don't know anything about DAW say something like this he's a "natural audio genious", to me at least...

"Just like how when you hear a song from the 80s it's immediately obvious from the shitload of reverb and gated snares." hahaha! Do you have any example ? ^^

ANYWAYS thanks guys for your opinion but no one answered to my initial question which is... What will push the mix engineer to re-introduce more dynamics to their songs if overcompression worked (in a commercial way)?

Edit: I mean, I'm NOT saying that I'm for or against the loudness war, I'm not talking about tastes, opinions and subjectives things. I'm talking objectively, will really the loudness wars end? I have serious doubt as I don't see anything that will stop that as it totally works.
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Old 12-06-2014, 01:29 PM   #7
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Re: Loudness War

Tbh, a lot of it is also composing for loudness. You can design a song around quiet verses, louder choruses, with a bang at the end, but in reality, most people don't really want to hear things THAT dynamic. I actually kind of prefer when things are mixed well, while being loud. I think a good example would be the new daft punk. The mixing was pretty impressive imo, but it's still up there in loudness.
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Old 12-06-2014, 02:57 PM   #8
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Re: Loudness War

Quote:
Originally Posted by crooked86 View Post
"People who don't have the knowledge shouldn't be the reference.": but they are the mass who makes money, aren't they? That's the only thing that matters I guess.
Okay, let's say you want to run fast, right? You want to train yourself to run as fast as possible. So you start practicing, you slowly improve.

Now to see how far you have got you ask some people you know to watch you while you run. They give you their opinions, what would they say?
"Wow, man you can run fast." "Yeah man that was great, I would never be able to do that." "I'm sure I can run faster than that"
Are these opinions of any use? "yeah that was great - but I actually don't know shit about running" is worthless as advice.
Someone who also runs might say: "that was good man, but you should focus on taking bigger steps it helped me a lot", now that's useful and real advice.

So, do you want to run fast according to the masses, or do you want to run fast according to the people who also run?

Instead of asking the masses how good your music is, ask it to the people that know something about it. Sure it's useful to get opinions from non-experienced people, but weigh them accordingly: opinions of experienced people are worth more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crooked86 View Post
Gotcha but don't you think it's because you are aware of it? I mean for someone who don't even know what is compressing and RMS.
No, high RMS and compression leads to the music having a lot of energy continuously, which is tiring whether you know of RMS-stuff or not. You might not understand why it's tiring but you will notice it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crooked86 View Post
ANYWAYS thanks guys for your opinion but no one answered to my initial question which is... What will push the mix engineer to re-introduce more dynamics to their songs if overcompression worked (in a commercial way)?
It will end when the big labels stop asking for louder music. (Most) musicians don't want super loud music, (most) audio engineers don't want loud music; it's the labels that ask for louder music because they think that's better. Why do you think that mostly the commercial music is part of the loudness war?
You can find countless interviews where managers of labels kept on messing with the recorded music until they were satisfied. Most commercial artists can't control their own music any more.

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Old 24-06-2014, 04:53 AM   #9
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Re: Loudness War

Hopefully the war ends soon enough (and I think it will eventually) and high dynamic range will replace over compression and flat waveforms...
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Old 24-06-2014, 01:36 PM   #10
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Re: Loudness War

Until they stop reaping the benefits, it won't end. Music (from the standpoint of someone who went to college for mixing/mastering) is a business (though it's still an art, too), but they need to focus on what gets them the most money. If the loud sound works, it works.
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Old 24-06-2014, 06:47 PM   #11
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Re: Loudness War

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mindsweeper View Post
I think ten years from now every song from the 2010s will be immediately recognized as such from the mega-compression production style, thus sounding dated to ears of the future. Just like how when you hear a song from the 80s it's immediately obvious from the shitload of reverb and gated snares.
This 100%. Except I think the 2000's started it, we should be on the cusp of ending it.
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Old 28-06-2014, 07:20 PM   #12
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Re: Loudness War

If the sound isn't loud enough just turn up your speakers!
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Old 28-06-2014, 09:06 PM   #13
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Re: Loudness War

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyul View Post
edit: also how popular a track is in no way related to the production quality: popular tracks are not popular because they have the best production, they are popular because the music is good (and because people spend a lot of money)
Really? It seems to me, using the local clubs and people's car stereos as a reference that the majority of music being 'loved' is supercuts/waiting for a movie to start type vocal pop. Maybe it's just not my bag. I get that it's all subjective but I can't begin to understand how this sort of music falls under category 'good', considering one artist is indistinguishable from the next and any number of reasonable criticisms. I just don't see these people dusting off these tracks in a fit of nostalgia twenty years down the line, waxing poetic about the influence this music had on their lives.

edit - sorry. guess it might be more a u.s. type experience. supercuts is the place us poor folk go to get their hair cut and while we wait for movies at a theater, they play the latest "hit single off their new album" from people we've never heard of, nor would care to unless demographic 20 year old girls and under.

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Old 28-06-2014, 09:20 PM   #14
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Re: Loudness War

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mindsweeper View Post
I think ten years from now every song from the 2010s will be immediately recognized as such from the mega-compression production style, thus sounding dated to ears of the future. Just like how when you hear a song from the 80s it's immediately obvious from the shitload of reverb and gated snares.
You little fucker. I love that sound!
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Old 29-06-2014, 06:25 AM   #15
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Re: Loudness War

Being a lover of dusty vinyl, old cassette tapes, and a firm believer in lo fi production; I don't really care how loud something is really or even how "mastered" something is. As long as the original mix is decent and the music is AWESOME, I can vibe to it. But, of course this is coming from a person who loves music and makes music in the basement instead of jamming out at the club with all the drunk ladies ;P
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Old 30-06-2014, 04:49 PM   #16
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Re: Loudness War

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You little fucker. I love that sound!
Hah! me too
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:24 PM   #17
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Re: Loudness War

Way I see, the reason there is loudness war isn't only because somebody 10 years ago wanted to make a track just a little bit louder that stands out from the mass, and then guy next to him did the same thing and so on. There is also:

1. Business and.. ---> 2. Shitty devices you use for listening to the music

Most people who go out and buy expensive tickets to festivals and make money for the labels listen to the music with a mobile device of choice and headphones. For many, these devices can't get loud enough (especially if you're using bass boost or other stuff from your phone). Same goes with these full-of-crap mobile speaker systems. This is "solved" by making tracks as loud as possible. I think sometimes this is good but usually bad. For example I'm huge fan of Knife Party and their crunchy mixes. Playing Bonfire on volume 100% when walking to work is one way I use to wake myself up and get focused after sleeping 5 hours. Then there are these artists that take elements from minimal house cough* bigroom cough* and their tunes that have only kick and lead stab are brickwalled to the death. On the radio you hear tunes with only vocals and piano with the same thing and it sounds shit.

3. dB limits in clubs, shows, festivals etc.

So my point is that the most people can't go with the "turn-the-volume-knob-clock-wise-if-you-want-it-louder"-technique

Last edited by -Agu-; 09-07-2014 at 08:33 PM.. Reason: Add
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:48 PM   #18
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Re: Loudness War

One thing I don't hear mentioned often is that dynamic recordings are more demanding of the playback system.

If something is very dynamic you will have to turn it up louder (push the amp harder) in order for it to be at the desired playback level. This will require more headroom so that the loud bits don't become distorted.. Not only that, but reproducing dynamics is something that shitty speakers don't do very well.

The fact of the matter is, if you play a very dynamic recording through a shitty speaker (which is what most people listen on unfortunately), it won't sound as good as a compressed mix. I think this is a big part of why compression is done so much.

So, I think that once there are a few more significant leaps in audio playback systems (in other words when the average listeners system is much better), there will be less of a motivation for stuff to be mastered loud. This will probably take a while though.
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:48 PM   #19
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Re: Loudness War

OK i just saw that the post above me is talking about the same thing.. oops
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:14 PM   #20
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Re: Loudness War

Make ambient not loudness war.

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