The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
The Loudness War - a different opinion Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 27th August 2008
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
TheNoize's Avatar
 

The Loudness War - a different opinion

“The Loudness War”: Oh Please… | Moozek

This post has made a lot of people happy, and a lot of people angry. Tell me your thoughts. I'm preparing a follow up to expose the other side better
Old 27th August 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
It's a terrible "article" full of non-information and unsubstantiated opinions. No offense. What purpose are you trying to serve with this article? Who is your audience? Why is it written using words like "sucks" and "duh"? People might actually think you have a valid point if you wrote like you actually went to school. Again nothing personal, I'm just surprised that no one proof read this masterpiece of journalism.

Here's what you should talk about if you want something different: The future of loudness. How loud can we get? At this point, we're getting to almost a square wave with some of these masters. Essentially, the wave form of highly limited audio starts to look like DC voltage. So we can't get any louder than we are now without doing even more damage and literally turning the recording into noise.

So it's either going to stay the way it is (unlikely.... music technology, delivery, and formats never stays the same) or we'll start to see more dynamic range coming back. I don't see a 3rd option.

Plus, I would like to be able to listen to an album all the way through without feeling like my ear drums were just beaten with a lead pipe for 45 minutes. And you wonder why album sales are in the ****ter. Because no one can stand a square wave at a constant volume for that long. Even at low volumes it's fatiguing!

By the way, I'm a metal fan and I record metal bands frequently. They all want their masters loud. And I give it to them loud. But within reason. If they want it louder I tell them to have it mastered somewhere else because I refuse to destroy the mix I worked hard to get right. And I've never had anyone go anywhere else after they heard a rational explanation, with audio examples. (I always have examples ready to go in the studio for this argument. It's very effective.)

dfegad loud
Old 27th August 2008
  #3
do what you think sounds right.
Old 27th August 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
It seems there's a counter-trend for any widely adopted opinion these days - even if it's not the least bit controversial. I guess that's generation X-files for you...

The linked article misses the one very objective point there is to the loudness war.

It doesn't matter whether you like the sound of distortion or not, whether it is the devil's work or god-sent. The point is that, if anyone in the long chain pf production feels you _have_ to make it loud to "compete" (and someone always does), you're being robbed of choice with regards to sound. You can have the same distorted sound on the disc 6 dB quieter, but you can't have the undistorted sound when the disc _needs_ to be 6 dB louder.

10 years ago, a loud album had parts with a crest factor of 10 dB, 5 years ago it was 8 dB. These days, a loud album will be down to 6. There is a definite end to that trend, and that is that all music will be mostly square waves. So much for all that "viva la difference", "let them be loud if they want to be", "it's art, different strokes for different folks". The trend is forcing everyone to sound the same eventually.

That argument may sound very theoretic, maybe even comical. But imagine how you would have laughed if someone had told you about 6 dB crest factor back in the early nineties...
Old 27th August 2008
  #5
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNoize View Post
“The Loudness War”: Oh Please… | Moozek

This post has made a lot of people happy, and a lot of people angry. Tell me your thoughts. I'm preparing a follow up to expose the other side better
Please take this in the constructive manner it is intended, and remember you did ask for feedback, which I assume means honest feedback.

The article displays technical ignorance, lacks clarity of thought, and is void of any significant factual and/or logical support for its claims. It relies more on an emotional appeal while being at best dismissive, and at worst downright rude in regard to others who may have a different opinion. The article lacks balance, and in the absence of data, presents opinion as fact without the necessary caveats. The time-tested youthful mantra of "you're too old!" is amusing, but hardly a foundation on which to lay a meaningful argument.
Old 27th August 2008
  #6
Gear Addict
 
hackenslash's Avatar
 

I was having this conversation with my son, who's just starting out in a band. They came to me for recording and asked me to make it LOUD!!!. No, I said.

My son is a big Chillis fan, so I ripped Blood, Sugar and Stadium Arcadium to Wavelab and showed them the waveforms. I really like Stadium Arcadium musically, but I can't listen to more than a couple of tracks at a time. They soon saw what I was on about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poorglory
And I've never had anyone go anywhere else after they heard a rational explanation, with audio examples. (I always have examples ready to go in the studio for this argument. It's very effective.)
I had a rapper in a couple of weeks ago. I spent a couple of minutes listening to him and took the condensor off the stand and reached for my trusty 58 (he was really aggressive).

'Hey, I wnat the cool mic!' he said.

I replied, 'Do you want to look cool for 5 minutes now, or sound cool every time you put the CD on?'

58 it was.
Old 27th August 2008
  #7
Lives for gear
I'm a musician first, and then a mixing engineer, and my genre is among those ones that require to be loud, probably is the genre in which you have to be louder than anything, metal based industrial, or whatever you want to call it.
And it's true, from the artist point of view you want your album to sound good, sure, but you need your album to sound loud too, possibly louder that your neighbour's album.

It's true that nobody likes distortion and everything, and I think i'm even a lil bit more "educated" in that regard - recognizing that kind of distortion - than most artists, at least in my experience, but what I've noticed a lot of times is that the following thought comes out:

"is more important for the album to sound -6.50 RMS but with a lil distortion or -10 RMS but no distortion (when 99% of my audience won't hear the distortion, and the 0.5% of the remaining percentage won't care anyway)?"

The answer is easy.

But of course the loudness war will finish, and not because otherwise we will turn songs into white noise but because music goes in cycles, that's all, always been that way, always will.
Old 28th August 2008
  #8
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
Please take this in the constructive manner it is intended, and remember you did ask for feedback, which I assume means honest feedback.

The article displays technical ignorance, lacks clarity of thought, and is void of any significant factual and/or logical support for its claims. It relies more on an emotional appeal while being at best dismissive, and at worst downright rude in regard to others who may have a different opinion. The article lacks balance, and in the absence of data, presents opinion as fact without the necessary caveats. The time-tested youthful mantra of "you're too old!" is amusing, but hardly a foundation on which to lay a meaningful argument.
+58.

The guy is spouting much mis-information.
Old 28th August 2008
  #9
Lives for gear
 
24-96 Mastering's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Retinal View Post

"is more important for the album to sound -6.50 RMS but with a lil distortion or -10 RMS but no distortion
Ouch.



Just do this:

- Prepare your album to hit -6.5 RMS.

- Put it on a somewhat decent Hifi or on decent headphones.

- Turn it up ... it's rock n' roll.

- Now listen to the whole album with no breaks and do nothing except listen to the music, as your biggest fans, those who you make music for, would do.

- See how long it takes before you get a headache...

- Accept that those 3.5 dB of loudness will cause your listeners headaches too. And now try rationalising again why those 3.5 dB are necessary - when every playback device has a volume control anyway that they set right when they press play. It gets hard...
Old 28th August 2008
  #10
Gear Addict
 
alyricalmind's Avatar
 

I think in pop / urban music, there's really no way around it. If every major album is a certain volume and some underground artist tries to break the trend by having better dynamics but less volume... guess what... most people will not care about the dynamics and will immediately say something to the sort that "the song doesn't sound professional". I'm mainly a producer and I've noticed that when I started clipping my audio to match the levels of the other producers on Soundclick, people liked my music better. Eventually I had to "remaster" all the tracks for the internet.
Old 28th August 2008
  #11
Gear Addict
 
hackenslash's Avatar
 

You didn't have to, you chose to.
Old 28th August 2008
  #12
Gear Addict
 
jordanstoner's Avatar
 

Sigh. The saddest thing about ALL of this is that the ever-changing market and the difficulties of making a career of playing music (read: making decent money without the need for a second job) have made artists more focused on making music as a product, not making a product out of the music. It's tough for someone to break out and do what they dream, and they often get discouraged. BUT, if more people were solely concerned about making great music (not just talking the dynamic range of a master, here), then I think the rest would follow.

For example, take a look at Tom Petty, who has continually battled for fair ticket prices to his shows - he sells out and doesn't ream his fans. Or Mr. Bungle, who make incredible ..er... music, and don't let album sales dictate their art. Or the formerly cited Beastie Boys, or Tool, etc, etc - the list goes on and on. And these are major artists. The difference between them and, say, Fallout Boy (don't know much about them - just pulling the name from the article's first response), is that they will not compromise their artistic vision for some mis-informed sales hype.

In the end, when everyone tries to compete with mediocrity, the industry suffers as a whole. But follow the music and the love of the art, and you'll find success no matter what your RMS.

Oh, almost forgot the quintessential hippie emoticon:
Old 28th August 2008
  #13
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alyricalmind View Post
I think in pop / urban music, there's really no way around it. If every major album is a certain volume and some underground artist tries to break the trend by having better dynamics but less volume... guess what... most people will not care about the dynamics and will immediately say something to the sort that "the song doesn't sound professional". I'm mainly a producer and I've noticed that when I started clipping my audio to match the levels of the other producers on Soundclick, people liked my music better. Eventually I had to "remaster" all the tracks for the internet.

There are PLENY of big RnB records that are not super loud. Loud, yes, but not super loud. Beyonces "Crazy in Love" isnt that loud - didn't seem to hurt it !
Old 28th August 2008
  #14
Gear Addict
 
joerod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alyricalmind View Post
I think in pop / urban music, there's really no way around it. If every major album is a certain volume and some underground artist tries to break the trend by having better dynamics but less volume... guess what... most people will not care about the dynamics and will immediately say something to the sort that "the song doesn't sound professional".
This belief is a real mantra for hip hop artists who really want to sound very loud or louder than the other record. We master hip hop almost to the point of distortion, the product gets bought out time after time. Some mixes are tweaked better than others and we can get a real loud product. They expect this from us and I am sure that they wouldn't order mastering if they thought that we couldn't master their record as loud as the other guy...
Old 28th August 2008
  #15
Gear Addict
 
turtlerock's Avatar
 

Verified Member
i love that term "the loudness wars" it makes me feel silly every time i read it...

last time i checked there was no gun to my head .. surely we are all free to do what suits us and our clients - there is no army .no rebels , no empire

i make things as loud as i can before i hear , feel and see the crunch then i back it off a touch.
i tell my clients it will be louder then 80 of cds in any shop and i think it sounds good that way and there will be 20 % that will kick their butts loudness wise but i think those records sound compromised.

the 20 % ers are the ones that are in the trenches fighting hand to fist in the loudness wars

its been the same in every "real" war there is always a certain percent of nuts who are prepared to go over the top first and then a bunch of guys that will follow them thinking that they had to do it - that it was their duty and so the battle drags on and on until everybody forgets what they were fighting for and common sense gets put into action and the battle dies away

the thing is you CAN make a record sit in a cd player with 6 current top 40 discs without smashing it to death , you just need to focus in on the 80 % not the 20%

then of course some guy with a bad haircut will turn up wanting his band louder the everybody else and we all do just as he asks.. i mean he wants to be a 20 % er squished beyond the point of control ... fine its his record
but he has to really want to go over the top we give him an education in the sound he is looking for , if he still wants it ..we do as he wants
but we are am not pushing anybody into the killing zone daily around here.

thoughtful level control is what is needed - not more soldiers going off to the loudness wars with new improved weapons of mass dynamic destruction.
loudness wars ...? it cracks me up ...
i will just zip up my flack jacket now and wait for the incoming
Old 28th August 2008
  #16
Lives for gear
 
RedTuxedo's Avatar
The albums that succeeded the most for me have been the albums I made to sound good, not loud. Success in the fact that they were nominated for Grammies, sold nationally/internationally, got me more gigs that appreciated my work.

I do get paid to make things as loud as they can be, but honestly, usually the mixes sound SO BAD that I wonder if they even care to listen.

When it's like that and they say "Make it loud!!" I take their money. Sorry, the truth hurts. I've got 3 mouths to feed.
Old 28th August 2008
  #17
Gear Addict
 
alyricalmind's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hackenslash View Post
You didn't have to, you chose to.
No, I had to in order to increase my sales. In economics businesses don't do something because they choose to, they have to follow demand in order to be more successful.
Old 28th August 2008
  #18
Lives for gear
 
MAzevedo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alyricalmind View Post
No, I had to in order to increase my sales. In economics businesses don't do something because they choose to, they have to follow demand in order to be more successful.
Show me a record that sold poorly because it wasn't loud enough. Marketing has way, way more to do with platinum records than level ever will.
Old 28th August 2008
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlerock View Post
i will just zip up my flack jacket now and wait for the incoming
Rofl - love it turtlerock

perhaps in the usual dfegad contest on web forums we should ask what guns you are using instead of what gear you are using
Old 28th August 2008
  #20
Gear Head
 
LudicrouSpeed's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorGlory View Post
I've never had anyone go anywhere else after they heard a rational explanation, with audio examples. (I always have examples ready to go in the studio for this argument. It's very effective.)

dfegad loud
Hey PoorGlory,

Can you let us know what examples you like to use?

advTHANKSance
Old 28th August 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
level shmevel



And yes latest Beastie Boys album is just one example.
Old 28th August 2008
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Chaellus's Avatar
mastering=loudnessdfegadtutt
Old 28th August 2008
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
TheNoize's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaellus View Post
mastering=loudnessdfegadtutt
That was insightful. Thank you.
Old 28th August 2008
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheNoize View Post
Tell me your thoughts. I'm preparing a follow up to expose the other side better
I would add another point

–Sixthly: If you have music which has nothing to say, loudness is the only way to get heard.
Old 28th August 2008
  #25
kjg
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andreas G View Post
If you have music which has nothing to say, loudness is the only way to get heard.
I think this is the main reason the hip hop "artists" all want it that loud.
Quite some of the metal crowd too I'd say. Nihilists. Whatever - Just crank up the limiter if you can't reason with them.
Nobody with at least half a brain (or set of ears...) listens to that BS anyway.

A lot of great hip hop music has been made - just not the past ten years. Hip hop is pretty much dead now, except for the product that's often called "urban" these days, that comes with the attitude and the "lifestyle"...
Empty shells, making empty "music" (in the sense of organized sound), for uneducated, nihilistic, lost soul consumerists.

I think anybody who is into music and art, and cares for the work itself (not how it "compares" to other albums loudness wise, let alone "look at my designer sneakers" wise or "I haven't had any meaningful relation with a woman for over 10 years now - biatch!" wise), can be educated. But whoever is into making a product... which has to have the right image... to compete with the other products...
Just slam it and be done with it - if you need their money that is. There is no character, soul or authenticity there anyway, so your limiter can't hurt it either.
Old 28th August 2008
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
The comments were an interesting read. The article was also an interesting read but for different reasons.

Not sure where we are headed but I think unless something changes radically in the next few years record companies as we know them will be out of business. They will be replaced by on-line marketers who will sell MP3s to the people who want them and are willing to ante up the $.99 cents for them. The overall sonic quality of the songs will be taken down to the lowest common denominator of an MP3 but many people today cannot hear the difference between an MP3 and a 44.1 kHz 16 bit recording anyways so I guess they will not be upset at the loss of audio quality.

The average quality level of incoming material, since I started into mastering 14 years ago, has gone down. The need for squashing everything has gone up. I get in more and more distorted, poorly recorded poorly, poorly played material than I ever have had in the past. It seems like a lot of recording engineers really do not know what they are doing or cannot hear what they are doing and they think that by making everything loud they are doing a good job. The client brings this over compressed over the top distorted material to me and asks me to make it sound "good". <When I do get in well recorded and well played material I can make it sound INCREDIBLE> When I get in the not so well done material it takes all my skills and my experience just to make it sound passable let alone "good"

I have seen a lot of "brick" looking songs after being mastered but lately I am seeing the "bricks" coming in from recording engineers and there is a -6 dBFS to O dBFS average to peak level on the INCOMING material. The band or artist says that he or she or they want to hear what the song will sound like before the leave the recording place so they ask the engineer to make it loud, and since they are paying the bills the recording engineer does what he or she is being asked to do. It really does not make my job any easier and with so much compression and brick wall limiting going on there is nothing for me to work with. The material is basically pre mastered before it reaches my door step.

If you go to one of the mass merchant CD stores like Borders you maybe seeing a vast CD wasteland. In the past all the CD bins were full and you could find almost anything you wanted. Today in our local Border's store there are large parts of the store that the CD bins are completely empty and, at least in this Border's store, the CD bins are being used to hold Pilate or Yoga supplies and the DVD area is taking over the store like a cancer. I think anyone with half a brain can see what is going on and that the day of the CD is going away to be replaced by DVDs and on-line song merchants.

This could be a great thing to have happen or it could me the end of the music business as we know it today.

There are some bright spots on the horizon and will more and more people having access to high speed Internet some of the on line merchants have started to offer .WAV or .AIFF files at higher bit and sampling rates. There are also some really well done DVDs of live concerts that are NOT over compressed or overdone and they sound GREAT.

Only time will tell what will happen to the record biz as we currently know it but it is not looking too good right now.
Old 28th August 2008
  #27
Lives for gear
 
just.sounds's Avatar
For todays MP3 world i would suggest that more mastering engineers listen to their work through an MP3 encoder-->decoder chain. I think most of them don't accept the degradation on slammed material while dynamic material sounds acceptable.
Old 28th August 2008
  #28
Lives for gear
 
masteringhouse's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Firstly please keep in mind that I am not a fan of overlimiting (I was just giving a lecture demonstrating this last night in a mastering class) but it amazes me that this subject gets so much "press", nothing changes, and then the debates start yet another time while many that complain about it the most keep giving the customer the goods.

Here is an article (nearly 10 years old) about the subject:
Moulton Laboratories :: Taming Wild Mastering Levels

What has changed in 10 years? What has "Turn Me Up.org" accomplished since it was started? Is the "loudness war" the new Hundred Years' War?

If you really feel that strongly about it don't do it and/or don't buy it. That's the only way that I know of for voting in this election.
Old 28th August 2008
  #29
kjg
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by masteringhouse View Post
If you really feel that strongly about it don't do it and/or don't buy it. That's the only way that I know of for voting in this election.
That's it. Just don't do it. And keep explaining why. Except to urban idiots and metal morons. Either send them elsewhere or just butcher their (already badly mixed) BS with a smile. ("Have a nice day!")

I am convinced that true musicians and artist will eventually come around from this loudness butchering. We don't have to go back to -20 like in the early cd days. With the skills and tools some of us have these days it is possible to make records relatively flat ("loud") without destroying them. I don't mind K10 or even K8 on loud passages in rock music for example. When it is done well, I like the sound of it.
I do appreciate macrodynamics within a song and totally hate it when I hear the release of a compressor slowly bringing up the quieter section of a song, especially since it is destroying the impact of the "louder" section following..

I was looking forward to the new Tricky album being released and downloaded it as flac to check it out. To my surprise it was happily bouncing around -12 in the intro of the first tune, moving up to -8 when the tune got going. Not too bad... I wasn't expecting any macrodynamics anymore though!
When the chorus kicked it, levels went up to -4/-3 (this is AES17/RMS +3) with intersample values approaching +3dB. Still sounded pretty decent (considering the insane level), but then I was playing on decent converters, with 6dB of extra headroom. I wouldn't want to play it on a cheap cd system, or ripped to mp3 on an iPod!

There are still some macrodynamics on the album, which I appreciate, but almost any drumhit (even hats) in any of the louder parts shoots up to +3dBFS.

It was obviously done by someone with quite some experience and good tools, since it still sounds decent as wav/flac on convertors with headroom. But yes, maybe he (Tricky, not the engineer) should have listened through a streaming mp3 encoder/decoder before deciding on this madness. I'm probably not buying the disc, although I'm still debating. I like a lot of the songs, and generally appreciate Tricky.

If they'd mastered the whole album 3dB quieter it would have been very decent sounding. But too quiet on the quieter part? It's a shame. I guess they chose between having no macrodynamics or having clipping choruses..
Old 28th August 2008
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by LudicrouSpeed View Post
Hey PoorGlory,

Can you let us know what examples you like to use?

advTHANKSance

I do a lot of metal/rock, so my examples are mostly that genre.

For absurdly loud, bad masters: In Flames "Come Clarity" (zero dynamics, drums disappear), Arch Enemy "Rise of the Tyrant" (pumping, distortion), Disturbed "10,000 Fists" (overall bad), Slayer "God Hates Us All" (excellent example of what happens when you mix the kick WAY too loud, cut way too much low end, and misuse the **** out of a brickwall limiter)

For appropriately loud, great masters: In Flames "Clayman" (it's good to show the same band with a good master vs. a ****ty master), Tool "10,000 Days" (just a coincidence that there are two records with the number 10K in the name), AC/DC "Back in Black" (Ted Jensen re-master) and AC/DC "Ballbreaker".

I always break out Nirvana's "Nevermind" also, since it's really "quiet" compared to what people have come to expect. People know what "Nevermind" should sound like, so it's a good example of how you can listen to a very abbrasive sounding record all the way through WITHOUT fatiguing your ears. Plus it gets the point across that loud doesn't equal record sales.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
CorkyTart / So much gear, so little time
17
MrHope / Mastering forum
32
Quad / The Moan Zone
4
kenjkelly / Mastering forum
7
luctellier / So much gear, so little time
4

Forum Jump
Forum Jump