Old 08-30-2010, 12:55 PM   #81
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Loud and dynamic? How? They are mutually exclusive things at this point.

Compete with what? Where? This is a concept that gets parroted ad nauseum but I don't think it holds up in reality. Radio already compresses the shit of it in the broadcast chain. In a playlist? iTtunes does that for you if yuou want that. In a cd player? Who cares? the listener will adjust the volume to their liking anyway.

The idea that it has to be loud to "compete" is bunk IMO and really just perpetuates a concept that never made sense to begin with
Very much agree. It's ironic to me that, of my clients at least, the ones least likely to be heard by others are the ones most intent on "competing" level wise, as though that's going to generate a project that everyone magically wants to listen to because it's "loud".
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Old 08-31-2010, 02:29 AM   #82
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For the sake of being the devil's advocate, what do you guys think of things like the slate digital fg-x? (I realize it's been mentioned.. but it's hardly been discussed)

Theoretically, it preserves a sense of dynamics and is aware of transients so you'll be able to make your mixes 'louder' without the usual pitfalls of squashing the music and etc.

This may actually make a positive difference in noisy environments (cars, for example) and in instances of non-level-matched shuffle mixes.

What do you guys have to say?

Is loudness really inherently bad, or have the cases where mastering engineers have gone way overboard (metallica) just left such a bad taste in everyone's mouth that it's more of a taboo among engineers than anything else?

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Old 08-31-2010, 04:55 AM   #83
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Hi,

Me, personally, I think for some styles of music mastering very loud is appropriate, without going overboard in any case.

The results a professional mastering facility with a good engineer are usually (not always though) of far more delicacy and quality than those obtained in the typical home studio with L2 and Vintage Warmer. These masters can be, like most good thinks audio, made to sound louder than would be possible with a "sense" of dynamics.

I just got back from mastering an album I recorded over the last few months. It is a rock act, a bit on the grungy side of things, a bit outdated if you will, but it has been delivered with great passion by the band and that shows pretty well, so we're kind of enthusiastic about the material. The master is loud, without being the loudest in the market, and it really retains all the feeling of dynamics I need, the impact and punch is there, and I can't say that the mixes sound better than the master: they're different. The mixes may be a little bit less fatiguing to hear over long periods of time, but the master sounds a bit more engaging and exciting. This is rock, so exciting, I think, is the right way to go.

Besides, apart from loud, the most important thing in a master, for me, is what it does to the low end in terms of controling it while if possible ADDING punch, not the contrary. The feeling you get from a master that each single kick drum kicks you in the nuts, I can get like 95% there mixing, the other 5% comes from mastering by a pro, something wich I honestly am not skilled enough to do myself (and I also lack the gear and room).
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:17 AM   #84
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Made this today for fun:



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Old 09-01-2010, 05:35 AM   #85
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For the sake of being the devil's advocate, what do you guys think of things like the slate digital fg-x? (I realize it's been mentioned.. but it's hardly been discussed)

Theoretically, it preserves a sense of dynamics and is aware of transients so you'll be able to make your mixes 'louder' without the usual pitfalls of squashing the music and etc.

This may actually make a positive difference in noisy environments (cars, for example) and in instances of non-level-matched shuffle mixes.

What do you guys have to say?

Is loudness really inherently bad, or have the cases where mastering engineers have gone way overboard (metallica) just left such a bad taste in everyone's mouth that it's more of a taboo among engineers than anything else?
A "sense" of dynamics? Why would you want a "sense" of dynamics when you can have the real thing?

Ask your self this "why did they start doing it in the first place?" and "What is really gained from it?" It was done originally because the labels thought it would make there songs stand out on the radio. Unfortunately they didn't know jack about how anything works. If they did they would know 1)that radio already compresses its signal and by removing the peaks/transients the broadcaster are trying to tame, the entire song gets lowered in volume. 2) People have a volume control and will listen at the volume they want to listen at. So basically nothing is gained from it and a lot of otherwise good recordings have been laid to waste by this nonsense.

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Old 09-01-2010, 07:18 AM   #86
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It seems songs I make are louder than many commercial mixes I have as .wav files or mp3's.

Maybe delay based effects and reverbs and different effects producing harmonics either through distortion or waveshaping or whatever, maybe these add to a perception of loudness.

All I know is, getting louder is generally not an issue, though I do tend to put a limiter on the master track at some point.

Clipping, distortion just needs to be lessened or eliminated, when it occurs.

Some frequencies sound louder than others, so 0db of one frequency range sounds louder than 0db of another freq range.

I think more than anything these things just require experimentation. One snare drum sounds louder than another at 0db. Its just a matter of trying lots of different things, and one is likely to find what sounds loudest, and not
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:29 AM   #87
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A "sense" of dynamics? Why would you want a "sense" of dynamics when you can have the real thing?

Ask your self this "why did they start doing it in the first place?" and "What is really gained from it?" It was done originally because the labels thought it would make there songs stand out on the radio. Unfortunately they didn't know jack about how anything works. If they did they would know 1)that radio already compresses its signal and by removing the peaks/transients the broadcaster are trying to tame, the entire song gets lowered in volume. 2) People have a volume control and will listen at the volume they want to listen at. So basically nothing is gained from it and a lot of otherwise good recordings have been laid to waste by this nonsense.
I'm not really advocating killing dynamics, just presenting the possibility that limited dynamic range might not always be a bad thing.

For example, as MCV said, loud can be more engaging and exciting in some situations.

Another thing to consider is the dynamic range and noise floor of certain playback systems.



As you can see, the dynamic ranges of cars and ipods are only a little over 12 db, so if your average volume is around -6db and your quietest parts are 12db lower than that, parts of your song could be (theoretically) inaudible because of the noise floor.. and in many cases, if the listener were to simply "turn it up" so the quietest parts remain above the noise floor, the loudest parts may be at an uncomfortable or at least undesired volume.

Would you disagree with the idea that a more dynamically controlled mix that retains a sense of dynamics would be more desirable in these situations?
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:22 PM   #88
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As you can see, the dynamic ranges of cars and ipods are only a little over 12 db, so if your average volume is around -6db and your quietest parts are 12db lower than that, parts of your song could be (theoretically) inaudible because of the noise floor.. and in many cases, if the listener were to simply "turn it up" so the quietest parts remain above the noise floor, the loudest parts may be at an uncomfortable or at least undesired volume.
Would you disagree with the idea that a more dynamically controlled mix that retains a sense of dynamics would be more desirable in these situations?
I don't think anyone is arguing whether or not to control the dynamics.
I think the main point of contention is how much of the dynamic to destroy.

The counter-graph:


If this graph is unfamiliar to you, allow me to explain it.
This graph compares average pop albums from 1980, 1990, 1995, and 2000.
The RED area represents the AVERAGE LEVEL of the master.
The WHITE area represents the AVAILABLE HEADROOM for dynamics.

In your analysis, Arbiter, you point out that a dynamic range of 18dB may cause problems in a car or in-flight listening environment; the listener may not hear the quietest parts, unless they choose to get blasted by the loudest parts. This is a concern any good ME should take into account, and there's no arguing that it's an issue.

But my graph shows that an average pop album from ten years ago has three decibels of dynamic range. THREE.
I think that we can all agree that this is a huge problem, and it needs to be reined in.
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:33 PM   #89
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I'm not really advocating killing dynamics, just presenting the possibility that limited dynamic range might not always be a bad thing.

For example, as MCV said, loud can be more engaging and exciting in some situations.

Another thing to consider is the dynamic range and noise floor of certain playback systems.



As you can see, the dynamic ranges of cars and ipods are only a little over 12 db, so if your average volume is around -6db and your quietest parts are 12db lower than that, parts of your song could be (theoretically) inaudible because of the noise floor.. and in many cases, if the listener were to simply "turn it up" so the quietest parts remain above the noise floor, the loudest parts may be at an uncomfortable or at least undesired volume.

Would you disagree with the idea that a more dynamically controlled mix that retains a sense of dynamics would be more desirable in these situations?

No, I don't think I would but an argument could be made depending on what you are trying to accomplish. When I am mixing my focus and concern is on how to make the music make the statement its supposed to make. Sometimes that means a very wide dynamic range. The LAST thing on my mind is whether or not the road noise of Joe Public's Honda might drown something out. We would not have Dark Side of the Moon or even most of Pink Floyd's catalog as we know it today for example if these were the guiding principles of mixing and mastering.

I have said for a long time the priorities of music have been skewed and this is an example of that. Mixing and mastering decisions made for something other than musical considerations are just something I take issue with and always will. Soccer moms wanting to blast their ipod to drown out their kids is not my concern. When I take into account that car systems these days come with compressors and iTunes will auto level its library I really don't see any reason to concern myself with extraneous issues such as those when I am mixing. The end user has the tools to mutilate their playback as they see fit. There is no reason for me to sacrifice the original product to do it for them at the expense of the art being the best it can be

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Old 09-01-2010, 01:39 PM   #90
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I have said for a long time the priorities of music have been skewed and this is an example of that. Mixing and mastering decisions made for something other than musical considerations are just something I take issue with and always will. Soccer moms wanting to blast their ipod to drown out their kids is not my concern. When I take into account that car systems these days come with compressors and iTunes will auto level its library I really don't see any reason to concern myself with extraneous issues such as those when I am mixing.
This is a good point, but I don't think that the priorities have really been 'skewed', per se... there's just been a paradigm shift regarding how people enjoy their music.
When Pink Floyd released DSotM, there were no iPods and car CD players. If you wanted to listen to the album, you put the record on the turntable and sat and listened. That was the ONLY way to listen to it.
So for the MEs of the world to alter their goals slightly to meet the expectations of the consumer isn't TOO far out to left field, IMHO. After all, it's their job to make sure the music sounds good on any system, not just a vinyl-based hi-fi system.
But the current trend is absolutely ludicrous, I think we can both agree wholeheartedly on that.

PS. Please remove img tags from a quote... huge quoted images really break the readability of a thread. Thanks.
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:51 PM   #91
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Maybe I'm too young, but I don't like the huuuuuuuuuuuuge dynamics of DSoTM. I do quite like Pink Floyd, but needing a near anechoic chamber to hear the damn album properly never sat right with me. You'd have to ride the volume knob to hear the details in the quieter sections because they're TOO quiet imo.
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:53 PM   #92
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Absolutely.

I've actually never seen the graph you presented, though I've been pretty aware of the diminishing headroom over relatively recent years. Thanks for posting it.

I was simply providing a counterpoint for the few in this thread that seemed to have the idea that the end user's volume knob or a playback system's built in compression were the best solutions in all circumstances.

Personally, I can't stand "loud" songs.. but for the sake of discussion, there is some validity to loudness that is worth considering.

Edit:
I guess I took too long, but this was in response to DuraMonte's post following mine.
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:03 PM   #93
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Maybe I'm too young, but I don't like the huuuuuuuuuuuuge dynamics of DSoTM. I do quite like Pink Floyd, but needing a near anechoic chamber to hear the damn album properly never sat right with me. You'd have to ride the volume knob to hear the details in the quieter sections because they're TOO quiet imo.
If those re my options, I vote "too young"
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:05 PM   #94
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I was simply providing a counterpoint for the few in this thread that seemed to have the idea that the end user's volume knob or a playback system's built in compression were the best solutions in all circumstances.
Agree that it certianly isn't in all circumstances but those circumstances are more of a minority these days. Also, the other extreme of over compression is so extreme that the problem tends to drown out any thing else. Consider it being hit by friendly fire.

Times have also changed. In the 70s for example it was all about sitting back in comfortable chair in your perfect listening position, cranking it up and hanging on to every nuance as well as riding the dynamics of the song like a rollercoaster. Those days are gone at least for now if not forever. There likely is some merit to considering more compression today than in the 70s but what it actually is today is completely ridiculous.

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Old 09-01-2010, 09:10 PM   #95
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For the sake of being the devil's advocate, what do you guys think of things like the slate digital fg-x? (I realize it's been mentioned.. but it's hardly been discussed)

Theoretically, it preserves a sense of dynamics and is aware of transients so you'll be able to make your mixes 'louder' without the usual pitfalls of squashing the music and etc...
Echoing AudioWonderland above, why is the "sense of dynamics" preferable to the real thing?

"Louder" is what volume knobs are made for, and the Good Lord has seen fit to provide all of us with one. I cannot control and yours, and you cannot control mine. All I can do with my recordings is to either preserve or destroy quality, impact, drama, scope, and excitement.

By all means use whatever compression, limiting, or fancy other names for dynamic reduction you like, in whatever quantity you like. Just be sure you actually like it, and that you're not just liking the compressor's makeup gain. Because if it's just gain you want more of, that's why you have a volume knob.

So what do I think? I think any compression decision should be made with a volume-matched before and after: if you apply 6dB of compression with makeup gain, turn down the compressed track by 6dB and make sure you actually like the flatter, less-dynamic version better when it's playing at the same apparent loudness as the unprocessed track.

If you DO like the flatter version better, run with it. If you only like it better when you have makeup gain applied, then you're NOT ACTUALLY LIKING THE COMPRESSION, you're just liking the volume increase. Which means you should turn up your speakers, not flatten your music.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:37 PM   #96
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A big +1 to you Yep.

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If those re my options, I vote "too young"
Agreed. I've owned DSOTM on pretty much all formats possible from reel to reel and quad encoded vinyl to DVD-a and SACD and it is actually nowhere near the most dynamic album I own. Mike Oldfield's "Amarok" is probably one of the most dynamic.

Call me old and out of touch but I still love to sit and listen to an album in my favourite comfy chair in the ideal listening position and, to be honest, those who have never taken the time and effort to do that are the FURTHEREST from my considerations when I write, record, mix and master.
Then again, I couldn't care less about worldly fame and fortune and what is on the charts.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:58 PM   #97
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The problem with using the terms 'loudness' and 'dynamics' is that they miss the point.

The problem is that in order to make the mix louder you have to reduce the peaks so that you can turn up the rest of the sound.

That's nor even a problem, up to a point.
The point where it becomes a problem is when the squashing starts to distort the entire mix and it starts to sound fuzzy and then turning up the volume on your playback device leads to a generally bad sound.

Even styles of music that benefit from a compressed, dense mix don't need to be maximized to get that dense, compressed sound. That can be accomplished at any volume level, -14db RMS or -5 db RMS.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:32 AM   #98
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If TDSOTM was done today, it'd probably also have a large dynamic range. Perhaps not as large as the original's, but pretty notorious anyway. The material on the record asks for a large dynamic range.

Things being the way they are, if TDSOTM was released today, it'd meet a small/medium market of listeners, all probably armed with the right tools to be able to listen to it properly (a living room and a cd player), so having a large dynamic range wouldn't be a problem for it. It's just not the type of record you can enjoy with an iPod. Imagine yourself commuting while the bit of the clocks and the noises come in...

About the dynamic range being reduced to 3db... the way you measure averages / headroom have a lot to do here. In reality, loudest masters, in their loudest parts, tend to have something around 8dbs of dynamic range, wich is very little, but this is the loudest you'll find. Most loud records have a dynamic range around 9-10 db. Then some softer albums, with more delicate material, typically show a dynamic range between 10 - 13 db.

Also, the material itself determines the dynamic range. Imagine a kick drum playing 4th notes, and nothing else. What's the dynamic range in this? It's just like it's always been, the limit of such a part are determined by the noise floor, wich is the sound that happens between each hit. That's a huge dynamic range: so you see, it also depends on the arrangement, the recording, the mix, the song, etc. IF you're listening to madly distorted guitars that play non-stop, crazy-overdriven bass that plays non-stop, and drums hard-hitting every single 16th note... there's no dynamic range even BEFORE you put a limiter in the master bus.

Just to be clear: I'm all for the "stop the loudness war" thing, but that doesn't mean I want every single album to sound like Steely Dan.

Also, +1 to Yep's post. Mastering should always be done at matched level, and that's how it's done in most professional mastering facilities.
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:23 AM   #99
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The only album that bugs me that has too much dynamics is Pro and Cons of Hitchhiking by Roger Waters.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:01 PM   #100
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The only album that bugs me that has too much dynamics is Pro and Cons of Hitchhiking by Roger Waters.
Some Classical music has too much dynamic range.
I have some pieces that are so soft in the low volume passages that I can't even hear it. If I turn it up enough to hear it then the loud passages blow out the windows.
I think the Mastering Engineers on some of those sessions are actually increasing the Dynamic Range for effect.

I have had to use a compressor on those just so that I can listen without constantly changing the volume. I don't smash then or anything.
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Old 09-04-2010, 11:55 PM   #101
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...Even styles of music that benefit from a compressed, dense mix don't need to be maximized to get that dense, compressed sound. That can be accomplished at any volume level, -14db RMS or -5 db RMS.
Spot on.

This is exactly why the trick is to do your A/B comparisons at the same apparent sound pressure level (NOT just at the same "volume knob" setting). A lot of music sources, styles, and instruments can and do benefit from limiting and compression, specifically to get that flat, fat, consistent sound.

Bass guitar, for example, almost always benefits from some amount of "flattening", simply because, at sane and normal listening levels, the instrument tends to easily disappear, unless it is turned up to a level where it threatens to overwhelm everything else, unless it exists within a fairly narrow dynamic range. And genres such as punk rock and heavy metal are often built on the sound everything turned up to 11 at all times (which can often make them very difficult styles to record well). And then there are 1,001 ways to use compression to sculpt and change the "pulse" and rhythmic "feel" of thing, to change the relationship between attack, sustain, and decay, and generally to make the instrument/player sound better, and even to INCREASE the dynamics. Compression can be an extremely useful tool.

But the essence of the "loudness war" has nothing to do with the benefits of compression per se, it's all about trying to control the listener's volume knob for them. Which you cannot do. Compressing the output just to push it closer to full-scale doesn't cause your listener to hear your track "louder", it only causes them to hear it flatter, weaker, and wimpier, at whatever volume they like to listen to music.

One of the best ways to hear the real difference that dynamics can make is in the movies. Sound mixing for cinema is still widely done in calibrated, fixed-output environments. The idea is that whatever the mix engineer was hearing while mixing should be exactly what the audience hears at every THX- or Dolby-certified cineplex, including the actual perceived volume level. So the mix engineer does not have a "volume knob" or master gain control: she has a system with a fixed output gain that allows 20dB headroom above 83dBSPL at the mix position (or whatever), and his track faders are his only volume control: she can turn them down to a whisper or up to deafening, and every audience in every movie theater will hear the soundtrack at the exact same volume.

Gunshots sound like gunshots, whispers sound like whispers, stomping dinosaurs and exploding spaceships shake the concrete floors, dialog sounds like people talking, and so on. Big, realistic, dramatic, DYNAMIC sound. It adds a lot to the cinematic experience. To find out just how much it adds, fast forward...

18 months later, when the film is being released for broadcast on basic cable, it is likely to get remixed and/or simply smooshed through broadcast processing so that people can watch it on a bedroom TV with a single 2" speaker, with a fan on and the kids sleeping in the next room. Now, gunshots sound like little papery pops. Whispers and screams are the same volume as exploding helicopters.

This transformation is amazing, if you do the comparison. And even if you've never noticed the audio dynamics per se, you may have noticed that the broadcast versions of even quite recent movies seem and "feel" a lot less dramatic, realistic, and exciting than they did in the theater, even if you watch on a great TV set. They just seem and feel kind of "cheaper" and more "fake".

Maybe you attributed this to having already seen it, or to some magic of the theater's projection and sound system (and movie theaters *are* a great way for regular people to hear million-dollar audio systems). But a huge part of the real difference, if not the most part, is that all the sonic cues that tell you that gunshots and explosions are real and happening around you, the floor-shaking WAPWAPWAPWAP of a low-flying helicopter, the tense, dramatic sound of whispers and heavy breathing... all that stuff is transformed from a convincing illusion into a fake-sounding illustration when the dynamic range is artificially restricted for the bedroom TV.

The cinema soundtrack might have been recorded with an average RMS signal of -20dB, or something like that, while the broadcast version might have been "increased" to -6dBFS. But the bedroom TV version is certainly not "louder" than the movie theater when it arrives at the listener's ears, it's just flatter and smaller.

The same thing happens with music recordings. If you make one compressed record that has an average level of -3dB or whatever, and a second uncompressed version that has averages at -14 or something, then the listener is going to adjust their volume until both are playing back at around 80dBSPL (or whatever volume they like to listen to music at). The compressed version is going to have peaks that are basically the same as the average level, whereas the uncompressed version is going to have peaks that will be many times louder. In the uncompressed version, the drums will boom and crack, with peaks up at 94dB. In the compressed version, the drums will click and tap, no louder than anything else. Nobody would ever pick that as the best way to represent their music, if they did that simple comparison.

The whole problem comes from a myopic loss of perspective on what we are actually making records for. We are not making a record to sound best in a forensic A/B switching test with an uncompressed version of itself on a fixed-gain playback system, we're making a record that people will hear at whatever volume they choose.

So again, the very simple solution is to apply as much compression as you like, just make sure to turn down your speakers whenever you apply makeup gain, to make sure you really like the sound of the compression and not just the volume boost. Because your listeners WILL hear the compression, but they WON'T hear the volume.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:45 AM   #102
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I wouldn't normally quote a post immediately above mine, especialy such a long one but this is worthy of emphasis. Yep, you speak the truth in a clear and logical manner here my friend! GREAT POST!!!!

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Spot on.

This is exactly why the trick is to do your A/B comparisons at the same apparent sound pressure level (NOT just at the same "volume knob" setting). A lot of music sources, styles, and instruments can and do benefit from limiting and compression, specifically to get that flat, fat, consistent sound.

Bass guitar, for example, almost always benefits from some amount of "flattening", simply because, at sane and normal listening levels, the instrument tends to easily disappear, unless it is turned up to a level where it threatens to overwhelm everything else, unless it exists within a fairly narrow dynamic range. And genres such as punk rock and heavy metal are often built on the sound everything turned up to 11 at all times (which can often make them very difficult styles to record well). And then there are 1,001 ways to use compression to sculpt and change the "pulse" and rhythmic "feel" of thing, to change the relationship between attack, sustain, and decay, and generally to make the instrument/player sound better, and even to INCREASE the dynamics. Compression can be an extremely useful tool.

But the essence of the "loudness war" has nothing to do with the benefits of compression per se, it's all about trying to control the listener's volume knob for them. Which you cannot do. Compressing the output just to push it closer to full-scale doesn't cause your listener to hear your track "louder", it only causes them to hear it flatter, weaker, and wimpier, at whatever volume they like to listen to music.

One of the best ways to hear the real difference that dynamics can make is in the movies. Sound mixing for cinema is still widely done in calibrated, fixed-output environments. The idea is that whatever the mix engineer was hearing while mixing should be exactly what the audience hears at every THX- or Dolby-certified cineplex, including the actual perceived volume level. So the mix engineer does not have a "volume knob" or master gain control: she has a system with a fixed output gain that allows 20dB headroom above 83dBSPL at the mix position (or whatever), and his track faders are his only volume control: she can turn them down to a whisper or up to deafening, and every audience in every movie theater will hear the soundtrack at the exact same volume.

Gunshots sound like gunshots, whispers sound like whispers, stomping dinosaurs and exploding spaceships shake the concrete floors, dialog sounds like people talking, and so on. Big, realistic, dramatic, DYNAMIC sound. It adds a lot to the cinematic experience. To find out just how much it adds, fast forward...

18 months later, when the film is being released for broadcast on basic cable, it is likely to get remixed and/or simply smooshed through broadcast processing so that people can watch it on a bedroom TV with a single 2" speaker, with a fan on and the kids sleeping in the next room. Now, gunshots sound like little papery pops. Whispers and screams are the same volume as exploding helicopters.

This transformation is amazing, if you do the comparison. And even if you've never noticed the audio dynamics per se, you may have noticed that the broadcast versions of even quite recent movies seem and "feel" a lot less dramatic, realistic, and exciting than they did in the theater, even if you watch on a great TV set. They just seem and feel kind of "cheaper" and more "fake".

Maybe you attributed this to having already seen it, or to some magic of the theater's projection and sound system (and movie theaters *are* a great way for regular people to hear million-dollar audio systems). But a huge part of the real difference, if not the most part, is that all the sonic cues that tell you that gunshots and explosions are real and happening around you, the floor-shaking WAPWAPWAPWAP of a low-flying helicopter, the tense, dramatic sound of whispers and heavy breathing... all that stuff is transformed from a convincing illusion into a fake-sounding illustration when the dynamic range is artificially restricted for the bedroom TV.

The cinema soundtrack might have been recorded with an average RMS signal of -20dB, or something like that, while the broadcast version might have been "increased" to -6dBFS. But the bedroom TV version is certainly not "louder" than the movie theater when it arrives at the listener's ears, it's just flatter and smaller.

The same thing happens with music recordings. If you make one compressed record that has an average level of -3dB or whatever, and a second uncompressed version that has averages at -14 or something, then the listener is going to adjust their volume until both are playing back at around 80dBSPL (or whatever volume they like to listen to music at). The compressed version is going to have peaks that are basically the same as the average level, whereas the uncompressed version is going to have peaks that will be many times louder. In the uncompressed version, the drums will boom and crack, with peaks up at 94dB. In the compressed version, the drums will click and tap, no louder than anything else. Nobody would ever pick that as the best way to represent their music, if they did that simple comparison.

The whole problem comes from a myopic loss of perspective on what we are actually making records for. We are not making a record to sound best in a forensic A/B switching test with an uncompressed version of itself on a fixed-gain playback system, we're making a record that people will hear at whatever volume they choose.

So again, the very simple solution is to apply as much compression as you like, just make sure to turn down your speakers whenever you apply makeup gain, to make sure you really like the sound of the compression and not just the volume boost. Because your listeners WILL hear the compression, but they WON'T hear the volume.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:52 AM   #103
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How easy/hard would it be, for a compressor like ReaComp to automatically compensate for the volume before and after compression. So that you can do an A/B comparison and only listen to the compression effect with equal volume.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:44 AM   #104
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There is a "auto make up" box you can check in ReaComp.

I think you are changing the volume dynamics, right, so you can A/B it any number of ways.

Like, A does not exceed 0 db, but does reach 0 db, and B does not exceed 0 db, but does reach 0 db.

But that would be only one way to compare, you might not need B to reach 0 db, the whole point might be for B not to reach 0 db, or whatever setting.

I only use compression for ducking and to prevent clipping, and for some special effects, so I may not know what else can be accomplished with it, or what else you might be able to compare/analyze.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:20 PM   #105
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There is a "auto make up" box you can check in ReaComp...
Whoa, hold on. That is the exact opposite of what Evan was talking about.

"Automatic makeup gain" RAISES the level of the compressed signal by the amount of compression applied. It is the "loudness war" in action. The more you compress, the "louder" it gets.

To Evan's point...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan
How easy/hard would it be, for a compressor like ReaComp to automatically compensate for the volume before and after compression. So that you can do an A/B comparison and only listen to the compression effect with equal volume.
The simplest thing would be to simply leave the compressed track alone, and not apply any makeup gain. Unless you are using a very low threshold (i.e., below the average RMS level of the track), the compressor will not actually make the track "quieter", it will just make it "flatter". I.e., average volume will be the same, the peaks will just be squashed down...

I hope this is setting off an "aha" moment for at least some people. Because most fans of compression and loud mixes will read the above and immediately think something like: "that's stupid. Why would you ever apply compression just to make the peaks quieter?"

And the correct answer is: WELL DUH! Practically no sane person ever would, except maybe on seriously flawed source track! But unless we're talking about some kind of slow-attack or sucky/pumpy "artistic" compression effect, that's all a compressor does.

Compressors were invented in the days of noisy analog gear, to help keep the recorded tracks above the noise floor. If you plugged a clean Fender guitar into a tape machine's preamp, and just started strumming out a mix of chords and notes like you're playing a live show, then your loudest transient peaks might be 30dB or more above the "average" level of your softest notes. And in a tape-based system with, say, 55dB of dynamic range, that's a problem. Turning up the system loud enough to hear the guitar means turning up quite a bit of hiss as well.

The telephone system (the source of quite a bit of audio processing technology) was even worse. In the early days, the preamped analog signal from your your telephone mic had to literally travel across wires and through switchgear that ran the physical distance from you to the person you were calling. So if you called California from New York, your signal was literally traversing 2,000+ miles of thin copper wire. Think about that next time you read someone complaining about capacitance in a 20 foot guitar cable.

So compression allowed the engineer to squash and flatten the signal so that everything sounded the same volume and was audible above the high noise floor(s) of analog (telephones also used and still use heavy equalization to boost the speech-intelligible "presence" range). The point was not originally to get anything sounding "warm" or "punchy". The point was to make it audible and clean.

Now, as time progressed, engineers figured out that they could use compression as a creative effect and sound-sculpting tool. Slow attack times allowed them to punch up a tubby bassline. Slower release times allowed them to manipulate the decay and sustain to create a greater illusion of intimacy and depth. "Special" techniques such as parallel compression and side-chaining allowed for increased control over timing and articulation. And so on.

And even in the days of vinyl, some mix and mastering engineers were valued for their ability to print "hot" mixes that still sounded natural and uncompressed. Those records were easier to listen to on under-powered systems or in noisy environments, but we were still miles away from the modern loudness race... we're talking about records printed at maybe -12 or so that were prized because they didn't have the "muffled" sound of heavy analog compression or the "guitar distortion" or analog clipping.

Then along came digital recording, with its great promise was cheap, clean, high-bandwidth, and high dynamic range records. Ordinary people could now buy CDs and a playback system that had 80dB or more of clean dynamic range. No more need for compression! no more need for limited, bandwidth-restricted, noisy records! A concert in your living room, full of blooming, dramatic dynamic swells and transient impacts! Finally, a truly "Hi-Fi" system was available that not only didn't cost as much as a house, but you could buy it at a department store for just a few thousand dollars! Much of the classical world embraced this approach immediately.

However, digital also brought with it digital processing. This caused a number of small revolutions, but the one relevant to this discussion is the advent of digital look-ahead limiters. And especially multiband ones. Products like the L2 (and later L4 and L-whatever and plenty of imitators) could take the incoming audio, delay the output slightly, and "look ahead" or analyze the window of audio between the input and output, and modulate the signal level so that it never actually "flatlined" into clipping, nor did it produce the obvious muffled/sucking/pumping artifacts of heavy analog compression. It was like an invisible hand riding the fader at lightning speed, that knew in advance the incoming signal level and could adjust millisecond-by-millisecond to make sure the signal was always as hot as possible without clipping.

This was too good to pass up for those enamored of "hot" records. Especially since it had practically a single-fader interface. How loud do you want it? Just turn this up, and it gets louder. And of course, in a straight A/B test (which always seems like the fairest comparison in the world to people who don't actually understand audio), the ultramaximized record sounds way louder, clearer, crisper, and "newer" than the wimpy "old-fashioned" stuff. And that comparison works, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T TOUCH THE VOLUME KNOB.

But of course, real people in the real world DO touch the volume knob. In fact, volume is the most widely-used control in all of audio-video. It sees even more action than the power button or the channel-changer.

And these real-world listeners, who stubbornly refuse to listen in an environment of strict A/B testing, began to hear that digital recordings sounded "harsh", "brittle", and more than a little bit ugly, when they were actually listening to different recordings at the volume they prefer. Not being audio experts, they couldn't quite put their finger on the problem, and speculations ran wild...

The popular revelation came a few years ago, in the unlikeliest of all places. Video game players started to realize that the version of a Metallica song (of all things) that was included in a video game sounded better than the album version. It turned out that the song had been remastered to fit the average level of the other songs in the video game, and the remaster was considerably "quieter" than the ultramaximized album version. Consumer-level A/B comparisons were helped by the fact that the gamers were comparing the game soundtrack from their TV to the album from their CD player, sidestepping the illusory "loudness benefit" from a straight A/B comparison, and the difference in sound quality was obvious.

This mini-scandal was perhaps the first time consumers had access to a destroyed and un-destroyed version of the same record, and THEY FUCKING NOTICED. It even led to a public half-apology of sorts from the original mastering engineer, who blamed pressures from the label and producer for forcing him to ruin the record.

In summary, if HEAVY METAL FANS playing a VIDEO GAME can spot the obvious difference in sound quality from artificially compressed recordings, anyone can. Send the output of the uncompressed version through your TV speakers for the A/B comparison, if you must, to wrap your head around the concept that SIGNAL LEVEL DOES NOT EQUAL VOLUME. You cannot make a record louder, you can only make it FLATTER.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:33 PM   #106
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Where's Bob Katz? Perhaps someone who is a member of Gearslutz can send him a message and invite him to participate in this topic. Bob and Yep would get along great

As a mastering engineer, I have worked with many clients over the years who demanded so-called "loud" mixes. Fortunately, in many cases, they relented on this once I explained what this was doing to their carefully crafted mixes.
These days, I am more interested in dynamics than I am in keeping clients who don't care about quality. I'd rather pass up a mastering job than be partially responsible for perpetuating this quasi-loudness nonsense!
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:41 PM   #107
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan View Post
How easy/hard would it be, for a compressor like ReaComp to automatically compensate for the volume before and after compression. So that you can do an A/B comparison and only listen to the compression effect with equal volume.
leave auto make up box unchecked. and just switch between bypass and active on ReaComp. the "A" and the "B" will be the same volume. depending on how much your compressing "B" might seem really quiet if you've crushed the peaks and destroyed all headroom but the average level will be the same between A and B.
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:01 AM   #108
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Hi again.

Yep, great posts. And I agree to a certain point. But here's the catch: I, and thousands other engineers, DO understand audio, and we do have access to our mixes AND the masters we get from the mastering studio, so we can run perfect, level-matched, comparisons of all we do. And we do have a say on how hot and loud we want the master to sound. To this day, I can't recall one single master I, as producer, approved, that had degraded audio because of loudness wars considerations. I did however approve some hot masters. So where can you draw the line between loud and too loud? It is an artistic decision, and as such it can, and often times will, be a wrong one. That depends on the engineer, the artist, the label, A&R rep, etc. I do agree some masters out there sound bad. Some I can't listen to. And the great message that you're giving in these posts and all the posts I've read from you so far is: use your ears. That's great! But that also implies this: if, using your ears in matched-level comparisons you decide that you like a hotter master better than a softer one, then go ahead!

I guess what I don't agree with is that by understanding the loudness wars there's some sort of consensus in the internet forums that loud equals bad, period, and this is not necessarily so. It is bad if it degrades audio and the experience of listening to a song; it is good if it doesn't degrade audio and enhances the experience of listening to a song.

Metallica was a good case of a bad master, fair anough, though *some* will disagree, not because there's merit to that disagreement, but because some people always disagree. So there's always a decision to be taken, and it is currently a tough one for engineers and artists, because, even though it can be argued that the loudness war is a self-defeating affair, truth is that no-one wants to sound soft if they're not doing soft music (and even in that case...). I know you have a great argument that clearly displays the stupidity behind this, and how self-defeating it is, but if it doesn't sound bad in level-matched tests, then why not do it?

So how do you decide? You have to listen to the master, be careful, decide on your own, make sure you please the artist and the public as much as you can. I won't say I won't like loud masters for some things, because truth is I do, not always and perhaps not the loudest masters around, but pretty fuckin loud, and artists usually ask for it, and I get the feeling that, when done properly and with care, there's no real degradation of the audio. And yes, you have to keep in mind that some material you're producing will be listened to through an iPod while commuting, so you better get the soft parts to a loud-enough level so it can be heard over traffic.

One thing that I feel is done often in the internet is to judge all music produced in our time by the worst examples. Metallica is probably one of the worst examples of the so-called loudness war, don't judge all the rest by them. There's enjoyable music all around us being produced today, and I think whoever is trying to educate themselves in recording should listen to as much music as possible, as almost every song out there has a lesson you can learn, EVEN VERY LOUD ONES.

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Old 09-10-2010, 05:10 PM   #109
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...So where can you draw the line between loud and too loud?...
It's easy, just listen to the compressed version against the uncompressed version at the same apparent average volume, and use the one that sounds better. Or more realistically, go ahead and compress until it starts to sound worse (and there WILL be a point at which it starts to sound a lot worse than the uncompressed version).

If you use something like Bob Katz's K-metering approach it's even easier, although that has its own problems, especially for tracking and mixing engineers.

Quote:
...there's some sort of consensus in the internet forums that loud equals bad, period, and this is not necessarily so. It is bad if it degrades audio and the experience of listening to a song; it is good if it doesn't degrade audio and enhances the experience of listening to a song...
Exactly right, IMO. And you're right that there is, in practically everything audio, a contingent of people who want to argue theory with almost religious conviction. There are anti-compression zealots who have stopped paying attention to sound quality and who cite 20dB of headroom in their records as though that's some sort of proof of sound quality, rather like people who brag about their guitar as though it is a meaningful measure of the quality of anything other than their credit card limit.

Quote:
Metallica was a good case of a bad master, fair anough, though *some* will disagree, not because there's merit to that disagreement, but because some people always disagree.
Disagreement is not proof of genuine subjectivity. Moreover, I disagree that anyone anywhere actually prefers the album version to the videogame version in a fair comparison (e.g. similar speakers, similar level). Some people prefer whisky and some prefer milk, but nobody anywhere genuinely prefers spoiled milk or rubbing alcohol, except perhaps as some kind psychological disorder.

Quote:
...truth is that no-one wants to sound soft if they're not doing soft music (and even in that case...).
Forgive me, but here I start to doubt the certainty of your capital-letter claim that you DO understand audio, or at least that you do understand the specifics as it relates to the topic at hand.

There is no such thing as "soft" volume in an audio file. The playback volume is determined by the volume knob and power amplifier, not by the bitrate of the samples on the CD or mp3, assuming we're talking about any kind of sane recording level.

It's impossible to tell why any particular advocate of "loud" records thinks it's important, but they are basically all wrong. The radio station will compress your record before it goes out over the airwaves (they are even more invested than you are in making sure all their records play back at the same level). For that matter, they will typically also eq it and add exciters, maximizers, etc, essentially "re-mastering" every record on the fly to make sure everything that goes out over the airwaves sounds like "their station". For that matter, they run EVERYTHING through broadcast processors, which is why every speaker, guest, phone caller, car commercial, song, jingle, joke, youtube clip played by the DJ, etc all sounds the same. There is no danger that radio listeners won't hear your record at the same level as everything else. Giving them a super-hot record just makes it sound worse, as the broadcast processor simply starts tracking this flatlined recording, trying to find transients to push DOWN so it matches the level of classic rock albums from 30 years ago or whatever, creating the kind of warbling lows and "ringing phone" highs and elastic midrange that makes so much modern music sound cheap and fake on the radio.

Same thing with bar and nightclub jukeboxes. Anywhere that's playing legal, licensed music these days is using multiband broadcast processors before it hits the speakers (if not a genuine live DJ or engineer), for exactly the same reason as the radio stations do.

Similarly, there is basically zero fear that your listener won't have enough gain to play back "soft" records-- there are essentially two kinds of playback amplifier/speaker systems. Those cheap systems that overload and distort at max volume and signal level, and those better ones that provide plenty of clean, high-headroom gain. The cheap ones don't get any louder when you turn them up, they just get more distorted. So "quiet" records will not be any "softer" than hot records, they'll just be less distorted when cranked. And the better, clean, high-gain systems will obviously be no problem for listeners who tick the volume up or down a little bit.

Perhaps the fear is that your listener will experience softer volume on your song when it's in a player on "shuffle" mode... Well, there are so many things wrong with this phobia that I'm not really sure where to start, but let's start with the fact in order for that record to be in their iPod or CD changer, they have to have already bought it (or pirated it, but in either case they already decided they liked it and you're unlikely to sell it to them again). Moreover, that's why volume is the most conspicuous and oft-used control in the entire world of A/V. Moreover, the most annoying songs when you're jogging or whatever are not the "softer" ones that you have to turn up (in fact I think that's one of the little thrills of music-listening, hearing a good song and turning it up), but the obnoxiously loud ones that blast out your eardrums and still sound like static noise even when you reflexively crank down the volume.

I'm sure there are a million other little "what ifs" where people are afraid that their records might lose a buyer or a listener for being "too quiet", but even assuming that they are not all bogus-- are they really worth degrading the quality of the product for? Who are you trying to appeal to? Who are you making records for? And to the point, how many listeners are you turning off by making records that sound like car commercials, and which listeners are really more artistically or commercially desirable in the long run (and the short run)?

The point is not that "quiet" is good and "loud" is bad, the point, and the reason for the emphatic argument, is that we need to stop thinking of "hot" as a desirable quality for its own sake, because it's not. "Good" is a desirable quality. Records that sound better are better, whether they have a lot of compression or a little. There is no need to "balance" good sound quality against audio levels.

Of course, it makes all the sense in the world to normalize records to -0.03dB or whatever-- there is no sense in making them needlessly lower-res than they need to be. And if you can limit an occasional transient or even out the levels without sacrificing the listening experience then by all means go for it. And of course there are plenty of creative ways in which compression can enhance the listener experience.

But the notion that "louder" is desirable for its own sake, and in its own right, as expressed by the thread title, is misguided at best. If there are people who genuinely care about and desire records that can be played at exactly and constantly 6dB above traffic noise and no more, then are they really the ones we want to be making music for, in either an artistic OR a commercial sense? Are we making records for people who care about and pay for and listen to music, or for people who just want something that matches the furniture?

I don't really believe that the "wants constant volume" listener even exists in a meaningful way. E.g., maybe elevators, public bathrooms, and dentist offices want "music" just as an audio "screen" to alleviate the silence, but if that's your artistic and commercial fanbase, well, good luck to you (moreover they usually have compression on playback anyway). To me, that's like trying to make steak that will appeal to people who don't like the taste of beef: what's the point? And is that really the market you want to go after if your product is beef?

Who is going to actually pay for your records, come to your shows, buy your T-shirts, tell their friends about you, write you fan letters about how you've improved their life, play your song at their wedding and anniversaries, sit and listen to your music with the lights off and the sound turned up...? Are you making records for those people to listen to, or are you making them for indifferent over-hearers to tolerate and not turn off? Are you making good records for dedicated fans, or convenient background music to mask traffic noise for people who are never going to buy your record or remember the band's name, assuming such listeners even exist?
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Old 09-10-2010, 07:02 PM   #110
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YEP, did you pick that name because that's the verbal reaction people have immediately after reading your posts? because that's pretty much how it works.. thanks again for sharing your knowledge and mastery of expressing it.
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:00 PM   #111
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Hi y'all.
Just zipped thru this thread reading the names of contributers.
Content...not so much.

The "Loudness Wars" IMHO is as useless as Elevator Prozac

The Sound Of Muzak - Porcupine Tree

Hear the sound of music
Drifting in the aisles
Elevator prozac
Stretching on for miles

The music of the future
Will not entertain
It's only meant to repress
And neutralise your brain

Soul gets squeezed out
Edges get blunt
Demographic
Gives what you want

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No-one cares enough

Now the sound of music
Comes in silver pills
Engineered to suit you
Building cheaper thrills

The music of rebellion
Makes you wanna rage
But it's made by millionaires
Who are nearly twice your age

Soul gets squeezed out
Edges get blunt
Demographic
Gives what you want

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No-one cares enough

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No-one cares enough

SOLO

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No-one cares enough

One of the wonders of the world is going down
It's going down I know
It's one of the blunders of the world that no-one cares
No-one cares enough

Ya dat dat dat ya etc..
---------------------------------------------------

Loud mixes is not an artist's concern!
Find this artist's music and... enjoy!

Who gives a f$%k about the loudness of this...

Cheers!

Last edited by hwhalen; 09-10-2010 at 11:18 PM. Reason: Just so ya can read the lyrics as you listen to the song.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:46 PM   #112
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Loudness should not be an artistic decision.

This should be standardized so that people listening to different tunes will hear them at the same volume.

You can do whatever compression and processing you want for your artistic expression, but the end volume should be standardized so that people can listen to different tunes without having to constantly change their volume settings.
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Old 09-13-2010, 06:32 PM   #113
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...u want your song to bump the f out of a sub? you can mix a song sometimes to where u cant hear any sub kick or sub bass, and have to use a acoustic type sound just so people can hear your bass or kick in tiny ipod speakers, or from a cell phonespeaker?

who wouldnt want tohear their music out of a nice big music system that captures all the low mids and highs? from what i can gather NOONE does, i cant remember the last time i went to someones house and heard a sub...
I'm not even sure what you're talking about. Aside from ur hrd2rd txt pstg w/o cap, what do highs, lows, and mids and big club systems have anything to do with any of this?

The old diversion about maybe people are hearing something different on different playback systems is a waste of time. People are certainly hearing something different on every playback system, in every room, car, or set of headphones. But great recordings still sound great on all of them (or at least as great as the playback system is capable of sounding). It's only bad records that sound totally different from one playback system to the next. Which is a topic I have opined on at length elsewhere, and is a pointless diversion from the topic at hand.

If you want to make separate mixes/masters for every playback system you can think of, knock yourself out. But even still, there is no reason to make a record sound worse just to get a hotter playback signal.

What would really be ideal would be for consumer playback systems to include a compression circuit, similar to the old "loudness" switch that used to be common on stereos (before they started making stereos just sound like the "loudness" switch was permanently engaged). Having a simple "party" or "quiet listening" button would allow listeners who just want to hear something steady-state and slightly above the noise floor to do so, and would also save them from having to adjust volume between songs on shuffle.

But that alone would not stop the loudness war, because the people perpetuating it are not worried about such things, they're simply ignorant of audio. To them, the A/B comparison is still going to sound better when it's "louder", and they're still going to want that version until/unless either the consumers demand the sound quality that modern playback systems are capable of, or until engineers and musicians become educated and emboldened enough to adjust the volume knob during playback comparisons, and to demand that mastering and bus compression not be used past the point where sound quality suffers.

Which brings us back to the very simple point that I first made in the this thread: use as much compression/limiting/eq/whatever as you want, just make sure to listen to the before and after at the same apparent loudness. If you do that, you'll make good-sounding records.

The most common problem among novice engineers is a bad monitoring/room situation. But a very close runner-up is the loudness illusion: every time you turn up the playback level, you increase the apparent loudness. And louder generally sounds better due to the nonlinear fletcher-munson effects of human hearing. An identical sound, played back a couple of dB louder, seems to have more high- and low-frequency content, better size, clarity, power, etc.

This leads to the phenomenon of endless tweaking and re-tweaking until the record sounds like garbage. You get the mix sounding okay, but a little dull. So you turn up the highs. Sounds a little better, but now a bit thin, so you turn up the lows. Sounds a little better, but a bit harsh, so you try a little more reverb to smooth it out. Sounds a little better, but a bit washed-out and losing punch. Also, you notice it's clipping, so you turn down the master level a bit, or put on some limiting or compression. Now it sounds dull again, so you add a little bit of highs. A little better, but a bit thin in the low-end... lather, rinse, repeat until 2 am, then come back the next day to find that your "improved" mix sounds like a vortex of shit.

Now re-read the above paragraph, but replace every instance of the word "better" with "louder" and you might start to see where this is going. The mixer is just adding more signal level with each effect, confusing the level increase with improved sound quality, then turning it back down when she notices clipping, then adding more signal level with more effects, etc.

Once you learn to stop confusing "louder" with better, you'll immediately start making better records. And you'll probably even start making them louder BEFORE master limiting, since you'll start doing a better job of removing unnecessary rumble and hiss and being more conservative about effects, which will free up more headroom to normalize at higher apparent levels (WITHOUT flattening all the dynamics).
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:33 PM   #114
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ok yep so you say great recordings still sound great through all media, but could they sound better if catered for certain media, and if thats the case then maybe were missing out. more closer to the direct topic, some1 the other day recommended that i turn all my tracks down to about -18db then make louder with some fx on the master, ive used js eventhorizon b4, and some waves stuff, l3-16, ssl comp, now ive been using izotope ozone, makes most of my mixes sound nice and loud, and better. another thing another person said, i find myself going to turn something in the mix up, that i should turn everything else down first, then raise them back up to how i wanted it to sound to make it better or stick out more. also eq any freq overlaps like bass, mid highs that seem to clash with other sounds, check mix with a sub to check the bass in all the instruments, duck if necessary, that will "open" up the mix to make it sound better.

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Old 09-14-2010, 05:40 PM   #115
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ok yep so you say great recordings still sound great through all media, but could they sound better if catered for certain media, and if thats the case then maybe were missing out. more closer to the direct topic, some1 the other day recommended that i turn all my tracks down to about -18db then make louder with some fx on the master, ive used js eventhorizon b4, and some waves stuff, l3-16, ssl comp, now ive been using izotope ozone, makes most of my mixes sound nice and loud, and better. another thing another person said, i find myself going to turn something in the mix up, that i should turn everything else down first, then raise them back up to how i wanted it to sound to make it better or stick out more. also eq any freq overlaps like bass, mid highs that seem to clash with other sounds, check mix with a sub to check the bass in all the instruments, duck if necessary, that will "open" up the mix to make it sound better.
I know there's not supposed to be a right way and a wrong way, but Good Lord there is so much wrong here I can't think of how to begin to address it.

Why don't you just record it right to begin with and then use your damn ears - seems like people want to do all this fancy shit with every vst under the sun just because they CAN, but they CAN'T be bothered to just take the time to record it right.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:16 PM   #116
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Compress everything so your track(s) looks like a glob of toothpaste being squeezed out.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:30 PM   #117
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ok yep so you say great recordings still sound great through all media, but could they sound better if catered for certain media...
In my opinion (if that's what you're asking), no. But knock yourself out. There's not much point in arguing stuff like that.

As for the rest of your post, you can do whatever you like. I have posted at length elsewhere on my skepticism of the value of rules, recipes, and precious/complicated methods, theories and spells designed to ensure that everything sounds good. But everyone is different.

I'm a big believer in just listening and doing what sounds better, and in not doing what sounds worse.

Whenever I hear something like, "If you boost the vocals by 3dB at 1kHz, you should cut the guitars by 3dB at 1kHz", I'm kind of like...

What if the reason the vocal needs a boost at 1k is because the room you recorded the vocals in has a null at 1k? And what if you recorded the guitar in the same room? Then they might both need a boost at 1k (same with mics or whatever...). Or...

What if the guitar midrange sounds fine, but the vocal just needs more 1k? Why are we now messing with the guitar? Or...

What if the reason the vocal seems light at 1k is because your monitors are scooped to disguise crossover distortion at that frequency, or because your mixing position is in a null room mode at 1k? In that case you shouldn't be EQ'ing anything there, you should be fixing your monitoring situation.

There are millions of these kinds of suggestions and recipes all over books and the internet. A lot of them are pure sophistry, stuff that sort of *sounds* logical or sensible, but that really has no basis whatsoever. Others are conditional things that should be regarded as suggestions at best, e.g. famous engineer says: "I always cut acoustic guitars by XdB at Y frequency..." well, maybe he does or maybe he's being a bit liberal with the term "always" when talking about what he did on three songs from the last record, but in either case, it is quite probable that he is always recording the same or similar acoustic guitars, in the same room, at the same position, with the same mics, in the same setup, through the same signal chain... if you are recording a different guitar in a different room through a different mic and a different signal chain, then his approach might not be all that useful to your captured sounds.

In any case, of course do whatever you want. But when applying limiting and compression, just make sure that you like the effect *before* you apply any makeup gain (i.e. that you still like it when the compressor is only making it "quieter"), because any improvement due to increased gain is purely illusory and occurs only in that particular playback instance, and only as long as you're not touching the volume knob on your speakers.
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:31 PM   #118
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chill dudes, lol , not trying to argue, just ask a basic questions and mention a few things. if your going to make statements like " listening and doing what sounds better" "record it right to being with" then why keep on in the conversation? i appreciate your comments though.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:09 PM   #119
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... if your going to make statements like " listening and doing what sounds better" "record it right to being with" then why keep on in the conversation? ...
Partly because people keep asking whether it might work if they try doing something other than making it sound good and recording it right to begin with.

And in all seriousness, there is quite a bit worth discussing in terms of the fundamentals of good audio quality.

Free advice is worth what you pay for it, as they say. Nobody here or anywhere in the free world has to listen to anyone else. But there is merit to debate and discussion, if only to let people who are new to the topic see the different perspectives. In that sense, even expressing bad ideas and opinions is valuable, because they often lead to better ones.

There is no right or wrong with this stuff, there's just sound coming out of speakers at the end of the day. And some of that sound is better or worse.

When we all swap ideas around, we get the opportunity to learn new things, and occasionally to return the favor. At their best, that's what web forums are all about.
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Old 09-17-2010, 09:38 PM   #120
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"Quote:
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...So where can you draw the line between loud and too loud?..."

If everyone simply stopped trying to artificially raise the RMS level by cutting peaks there wouldn't be an issue.

The end result of a mix that peaks at 0db will usually have an RMS value around -14 to -12 db.

This may be why Bob Katz chose -14 db as a reasonable standard.

If everyone adopted this as a standard there would be more issue of destroyed audio quality from playing "loudness" games.

If you want to destroy your audio with excessive compression and limiting, go ahead. Just have the finished product come in at -14 db. It will sound the same as a smashed mastering job at -4 db, just at a lower volume level.

This way the listener can listen to all music, one track after another, in whatever style, and not have to keep changing their volume level.

Ans people who want good audio quality can make good audio quality recordings without the worry that people will have problems with it in shuffle playback with other tracks.

The "loudness people" won't really be giving up anything either, because they will still have their smashed and squashed sound.
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