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Vote on the solutions to the loudness war.... Dynamics Plugins
View Poll Results: Vote on Loudness Normalizatoin
No LN, over my dead body.
143 Votes - 41.21%
I want LN, with a consumer option to defeat.
137 Votes - 39.48%
I want LN required and undefeatable in all consumer gear.
28 Votes - 8.07%
No opinion, whatever will be will be.
39 Votes - 11.24%
Voters: 347. You may not vote on this poll

Old 20th November 2009
  #211
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Regarding LN - I'm not concerned that loud might be brought down. I'm deeply troubled about low being raised.

Am I the only one who sometimes have printed tracks with an overhead slack? Like 2-6 dB's. For the context of a whole - the album. Reading this thread makes one think that all music reaches full scale at some point during a songs duration.

What is totally ignored is what a sensational experience the concept of an album might provide from the first second to the last if the artist is free to use the media (CD-resolution) cleverly. Why make paralells to broadcast and TV and film and everything else that is not CD?

Besides, few artists are really interested in being parts of playlists. Ask anyone serious. Make a poll. Most artists want to stand on their own.

LN is a technology that brutally counterworks the concept of recordings (as a collection of songs) in spite of music being background noise. Give us all a break.


Best Regards
Patrik
Old 20th November 2009
  #212
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrikT View Post
...
Why make paralells to broadcast and TV and film and everything else that is not CD?

...
Because the broadcast industry wants to do away with human controllers (so far necessary for loudness normalization) wherever possible, too costly.
Bottomline it is better they use preprocessed LN than real-time OPTIMOD audio crushers. (WHich they still will use, but hopefully with less aggressive settings)
Old 20th November 2009
  #213
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Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I disagree. I feel that putting the capitalist label on my friend Thomas Lund's fine research is a complete misrepresentation.
No need to exaggerate things Bob. TC were selling a new product. There is nothing wrong with that but ignoring it completely is a bit naive.

Anyway... he seems to have been talking about metering. Not peak normalisation.

Quote:
An interesting tidbit is that around the time that Thomas wrote the paper I cited and I was writing the second edition of my book a lightbulb went off in my head, a realization about Sample-level Peak Normalization as the strongest contributor to the digital loudness war, that explained why CDs went up 16-20 dB in 20 years while LPs only went up about four.
LPs have physical restrictions. THAT is the reason for a difference. Don't forget that many vinyl masters are processed digitally. Your argument really doesn't make any sense.

Quote:
I wrote to my friend Thomas about my "Eureka" and it turned out that he had had the identical realization about the same time about Peak Normalization. We both came to the same conclusions.
Somehow I think you didn't quite listen to him. I have a feeling he was talking about peak metering and not peak normalisation.

Quote:
Mind you, both of us have been musing about this topic for 8-12 years (does that sound Capitalist to you?)
Capitalism has a time frame? You really have some very peculiar ideas Bob.

Quote:
and it took that long for that particular light to hit us both simultaneously, no collusion. So it's no surprise to me that you (Alistair) are so skeptical about their motivations and ready to deny the contribution of Peak Normalization to the loudness race. You have to have been thinking about it for a while to connect the dots.
It's ok Bob. I am a quick thinker. It doesn't take 12 years for me to figure things out. It took me about 12 seconds. Well not really but I am being generous to you. If I told you it took me less than a second that would be showing off wouldn't it?

Quote:
I hope that the 4 or 5 research papers that I cited here help you in that context.
No Bob. They all mention metering. Only your text mentions peak normalisation.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum View Post
Because the broadcast industry wants to do away with human controllers (so far necessary for loudness normalization) wherever possible, too costly.
Then why not stop broadcasting algorithmically R2D2-controlled **** and give the music consumer back their artists on record.

No?

Simple enough.


Regards
Patrik
Old 20th November 2009
  #215
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum View Post
I respectfully disagree. That statement is also made by BK but I can't see the causality at all.
I agree that there is no direct causal relationship. Maybe I should rephrase that Peak Normalization facilitates a dictate of hyper-compression to everyone. Whether this facility is actually used depends on more factors. Clearly in pop music mastering and commercials these factors exist. From advertisers I know that they actually don't like their loudness war at all. They tell me they have the largest budget per second of any production type and they would love to offer effective and beautiful movie-like sound, but if they currently lower the RMS level their spot will be relatively low compared to the competitors. So everybody is trapped. They even begged us to finally solve this silly situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum View Post
And regarding distortion: I meant frequency domain manipulation, awkward EQ settings, just to defeat the weighing curves of the loudness calculation algorithms.
Yes, this will be possible. But again, the problem will not be as bad as the current one.

All the best,
Eelco Grimm

Grimm Audio
Fairytapes
Utrecht School of Music Technology
EBU P/LOUD committee
Old 20th November 2009
  #216
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eelco Grimm View Post
...So everybody is trapped. They even begged us to finally solve this silly situation.
...
You talked about several countries that plan to put your new standard into legislation, which on first sight appears to be great news. Would that also be the case for the way broadcasting stations compete with each other regionally in another loudness war, feeding their antennas with "bricks", peaklimited hyper-multiband-compressed OPTIMOD outputs utilizing every mW of antenna power at any given time to appear louder than the competitor on the scale?

Because they are already regulated but only by the peak level...

Will the new ITU/EBU standard apply to those scenarios as well?
Old 20th November 2009
  #217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum View Post
You talked about several countries that plan to put your new standard into legislation, which on first sight appears to be great news. Would that also be the case for the way broadcasting stations compete with each other regionally in another loudness war, feeding their antennas with "bricks", peaklimited hyper-multiband-compressed OPTIMOD outputs utilizing every mW of antenna power at any given time to appear louder than the competitor on the scale?

Will the new ITU standard apply to those scenarios as well?
I thought also the reach/coverage from radiostations is "better" with a louder/hotter signal .. so more listeners .. so more advertisment income .. ????
Old 20th November 2009
  #218
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Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
In addition, Alistair, using a peak meter with the goal of getting the peak to the top IS the same as peak normalization.

Your films which hit near full scale peak got there because you're using up almost all the headroom, not because they were intentionally peak normalized. As you know, you work with a fixed monitor gain which will give you 20 dB of digital headroom over 83 (85) dB SPL.
It is years of experience that give this kind of result. A good dubbing mixer knows how far they can go. Most don't or rarely look at the meters.

Quote:
As for hearing the hiss in your film's monitor room, you must not be using quiet enough DACs or monitor control electronics, OR possible you are listening with a lot of faders open in your desk. In my control room, SMPTE monitor gain is dead-quiet, unless you put your ears very near the monitors.
I was very clear in what I wrote. I don't hear any hiss in my own studio. I wrote that I hear the monitor hiss in every dub stage I have been in. The monitoring is considerably more powerful than what I have in my own room (and probably what you have in yours too Bob).

Quote:
As for the concept "using up all the bits", you're making a peak-oriented argument which is unrelated to perceptual signal to noise ratio. Years ago, when specifying tape recorders' signal to noise ratio, some whack jobs would specify it referenced to the 3% harmonic distortion point so they could claim 67 dB instead of the not-so-pretty 55 dB from 0 VU. But from the ear's point of view, the noise floor is perceived relative to the loudness, which the VU is much closer to than the peak.

Make a live recording of a jazz trio, direct to 2-track. Do two takes. On the first pass the drummer's peak hits -10 dBFS peak. On the second pass, where you did not change any gains, the drummer's peak hits full scale. The perceived signal to noise ratio of both of these recordings will be the same, governed by your monitor gain, not by the maximum peak level of the recording. It is entirely unnecessary to normalize the lower one to full scale peak for the "sake of the bits".
BK
The last line does not follow from the rest. You actually have not in anyway argued for the conclusion in the last line.

Assuming one is not clipping or limiting, the loudest peak in the recording (if it is a recording) will determine the maximum level one can use in the digital domain. This level has absolutely no bearing on the average loudness of the recording (assuming it is a recording) let alone the loudness of the softer parts. So if you want to maximize the signal to noise ratio (digital noise floor in this case), you normalise the recording before bit reducing to 16 bit.

The fact that peak signal has no direct bearing on perceptual signal to noise ratio is exactly the reason why it makes sense to normalise. You want the average loudness to be as high as possible without clipping the signal. Why sacrifice S/N when you can just normalise in 24 bit or 32 float or 64 float or whatever?

In your Jazz scenario, assume that the first pass peaks at -20 dB FS and the second pass at -10 dB FS. (You are a cautious engineer so you allowed plenty of headroom). This is recorded at 24 bit. These are very dynamic pieces of music. Some sections are 30 dB below that loudest drum hit. In the first track, which was even softer, some parts are 40 dB below that loudest drum hit! So why on earth would you not normalise before going to 16 bit and lose close to 2 bit of digital noise floor?

And, as everyone can see, this has absolutely no effect on dynamics and is in no way related to the loudness wars.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #219
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcollins View Post
The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems.
I'll get back to you tomorrow and see if it has subsided. Or increased.
So, what's the final word, Mr. Ambassador?

On a serious note, I was waiting for this thread to unwind a bit. "Peak normalization" "LNs" whatever, as I understand, it all looks very good on paper, but I am afraid is not going to persuade those who squash the life out of music and stop that practice. Isn't this what all of this is for? The whole kit and caboodle plan will mainly benefit manufacturers, not the artists or the consumers. As I said before, educating the up and coming musicians and producers would probably take some time and be the best course of action as well as more meaningful.
But, if you want to start sending the message right now that music sounds nicer when is not slammed to death, you can most likely educate the public as well.

Creating two standards {one loud, one dynamically improved} for the public to choose from will accomplish the following:

A) Those who didn't like the song(s) becasue it sounded "too loud" and abrasive to their hearing will have an option to get a more dynamic softer version.

B)Those who want to get stunt, and blow their ears off with extreme loudness and intensity {brought to you by courtesy of hyper-compression} will have the option to do just that.

C) Record companies in their endless quest for more money in their coffers will have another reason {excuse} to sell more plastic and more downloads.

D) The issue of combining soft and loud material that may annoy those who prefer "soft and dynamic" will be irrelevant.

E) No need for manufacturers to make bids, secret deals, hire lobbyists, or come up with any future algorithms etc, etc.

F) Players are not given another feature to further confuse consumers and complicate things.

G) The "Loudness War" will be decided not by gimmicks thrown in to the consumer, but by actual sales.

I can't think of more right now, but I'd like to add that if any LN scheme is used, you'll never resolve anything and at best, the results will be inconclusive. OTOH, by allowing people to make their choice and vote with their buying power, you will continue to maintain our simple democratic and capitalistic system and not replace it with an egalitarian, repressive and convoluted one.

One final point and I'll stop; the worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that people might realize that having two versions is good as it is simple. The best thing that might happen is that due to a lack of sales of hyper-compressed digital downloads and CDs, the labels start putting pressure on musicians and producers to ease up on loudness or to stop the practice altogether. It could even be a self-realization by these artists and producers who no longer see a need to compete that way. The main thing is that 'choice' was the victor not impositions.

And I am sorry, but this wasn't meant to be a rant.

Regards,
Old 20th November 2009
  #220
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audio ergo sum View Post
Would that also be the case for the way broadcasting stations compete with each other regionally in another loudness war, feeding their antennas with "bricks", peaklimited hyper-multiband-compressed OPTIMOD outputs utilizing every mW of antenna power at any given time to appear louder than the competitor on the scale?
You have to note we are talking TV sound here. Radio is a different animal and much more difficult to regulate. To my surprise quite a few radio stations show interest in the same LN scheme, but I'm not so sure it will really happen. Maybe on DAB.

But for TV sound: yes it is indeed the objective to harmonize the levels of different stations. But do not forget that something similar is already going on at your rebroadcasters station. Your cable/DVB/IPTV provider routinely levels all channels. By introducing a standard, this merely means that most of their calibration points will be set to default and all stations will get the same headroom as the most dynamic ones are using now.

All the best,
Eelco Grimm

Grimm Audio
Fairytapes
Utrecht School of Music Technology
EBU P/LOUD committee
Old 20th November 2009
  #221
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Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea View Post
the worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that people might realize that having two versions is good as it is simple. The best thing that might happen is that due to a lack of sales of hyper-compressed digital downloads and CDs, the labels start putting pressure on musicians and producers to ease up on loudness or to stop the practice altogether.
You are missing the most obvious worst case scenario: The hyper-compressed versions sell better. The public listening to a snippet at iTunes or Amazon while sitting at their laptops prefer the crushed version. The loudness wars reach new heights and music sounds worse than ever.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #222
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eelco Grimm View Post
But for TV sound: yes it is indeed the objective to harmonize the levels of different stations. But do not forget that something similar is already going on at your rebroadcasters station. Your cable/DVB/IPTV provider routinely levels all channels.
Yes and at the moment it is done by brute force. Yet another layer of AGCCs, multi-band compression and limiting etc. That is one reason I am holding off on digital cable. The difference in sound between the old analogue signal and the new digital one (from the same provider) is shocking. Not in a good way unfortunately.

Quote:
By introducing a standard, this merely means that most of their calibration points will be set to default and all stations will get the same headroom as the most dynamic ones are using now.
I am very curious to see how this pans out.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
You are missing the most obvious worst case scenario: The hyper-compressed versions sell better. The public listening to a snippet at iTunes or Amazon while sitting at their laptops prefer the crushed version. The loudness wars reach new heights and music sounds worse than ever.

Alistair
Show me a 'reputable' research that supports your theory and I will look into it. Telling me that the results from some choice given at iTunes is as good as fact is unacceptable. I would question any research derived from iTunes, but would be open minded to see and read real research studies.

BTW, that still not the point of my post.
Old 20th November 2009
  #224
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea View Post
Show me a 'reputable' research that supports your theory and I will look into it. Telling me that the results from some choice given at iTunes is as good as fact is unacceptable. I would question any research derived from iTunes, but would be open minded to see and read real research studies.
I am not saying it is going to happen. I am saying it is the worst case scenario.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #225
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Originally Posted by harmony View Post
i don't think people totally ignore a better piece of music in favor of one that is simply louder. regular people can also recognize better music and choose it. in that respect, the guys that are crushing their music for no good reason are even more pointless.

there a whole lot of really mediocre, disposable product available, and that stuff may tend to compete with volume because it doesn't have much else going on.

but one exceptional artist or track will cut through the crap pretty easily, and be noticed, unless it is so poorly recorded for some reason that the recording itself becomes an obstacle.

its really up to the engineers to resist the idea of crushing their tracks for no good musical reason.
You are missing my point. This is not about choosing between artists.

Evidence shows that people prefer louder so when a consumer is presented with two versions of the same track they are very lightly to choose the louder version especially if they are listening through crappy laptop speakers that hide the distortion in the louder version.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #226
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Originally Posted by PatrikT View Post
Then why not stop broadcasting algorithmically R2D2-controlled **** and give the music consumer back their artists on record.

No?

Simple enough.
Too expensive and thus unrealistic.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #227
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 24-96 Mastering View Post
A potential downside to enforced LN is that it might cause a development that we've seen in advertising that has to pass a loudness meter: Adjustment of sound content for maximum effect while maintaining a given overall loudness. Like cinema ads are often automated, mixed, sound-designed and even scripted to grab your attention in the beginning, then drop down and give a crescendo on the end. Imagine songs were written, arranged, mixed and mastered specifically to 'fool' the loudness meter.

Actually that is an important part of mixing....giving the illusion of something.....and fooling the loudness meter already exists...it's called modern mastering...you kinda just described the "proper" way to mix records
Old 20th November 2009
  #228
The LN needs to be very sophisticated. E.g. my tracks are already pretty loud (electronic dance music), so the LN in the gear should recognize that and do nothing about the loudness.
Old 20th November 2009
  #229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
...when a consumer is presented with two versions of the same track they are very lightly to choose the louder version especially if they are listening through crappy laptop speakers that hide the distortion in the louder version.

Alistair
Even Pro's choose the louder version just because it is louder, has been shown again and again.
Dynamic distortion is a different matter.
Old 20th November 2009
  #230
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Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
Too expensive and thus unrealistic.
What's unrealistic to me is what TV has to do with CD.


Regards
Patrik
Old 20th November 2009
  #231
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I brought up this weakness early in the game as well. Mr. Dennis's points are definitely very important. But consider this, Bob D., if the hip hop was produced to be sound good and right to the listener at a particular SPL it's going to end up a lot closer to its intent in a LN system and sounding with a lot less extra distortion than in the current peak-normalized system.



Not so much. Styles which rely on a similar ratio of rhythm to melody and tend towards the electric will fall in a similar vein. However, styles which are very acoustic, especially with little or no percussion, will end up played somewhat louder than their intent.

However, the current totally random and distorted situation is much worse. I've made a study of many different peak-normalized mixed and mastered genres and they end up all all over the map, with much further relationship from their intended reproduced loudness than any LN system will produce. See page 171 of the second edition of my book.

Think about that, carefully do the comparative research.
I'm sorry, but I'm sort of on the fence about this - they say the hardest chioce is deciding beteen two wrongs.

So one day I vote yes and the next I think no, and the next...
Old 20th November 2009
  #232
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
You are missing the most obvious worst case scenario: The hyper-compressed versions sell better. The public listening to a snippet at iTunes or Amazon while sitting at their laptops prefer the crushed version. The loudness wars reach new heights and music sounds worse than ever.

Alistair
I agree. If people have a choice of a track that is louder they will likely prefer it long before they hear any distortion, assuming there is any. Isn't that how this all got started. LOUDER = BETTER? What is even more crazy is the idea that mixers and/or ME’s will need to produce two versions of every CD they work on. Who is going to pay for that - the record label - NOT!
Old 20th November 2009
  #233
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I think this problem is a lot more about influencing subjective viewpoints - that is, about socially defined realities - than we may want to admit. I see a lot of people here, on both sides, trying to justify their beliefs based on sales trends. I don't think you'll ever get a good answer one way or another fighting over those statistics.

What I do think is perhaps beyond debate, though, is the widespread perception in the audio industry that hypercompression is necessary for popular appeal. The scores of anecdotes on this forum and elsewhere attest to that - people coming to MEs looking for a louder master, and not for its own sake. I think some people are just wanting the distortion, but a lot of others don't care about it one way or another - they're just chasing dollars.

In terms of effecting changes in production and mastering (as opposed to listening which I have already discussed), LN is less about changing the reality of music listening than changing producers' and musicians' perception of that reality. And honestly I don't see anything wrong with that.
Old 20th November 2009
  #234
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmony View Post
but are you suggesting that two different versions of a track are going to be presented to a consumer simultaneously. that seems like an artificial scenario, where someone would mistakenly choose the wrong version in the short term because the system they are listening on is inadequate, and because someone presented them with a choice that should not have been presented to begin with.
You are obviously not paying attention and just jumping on single posts without following the thread of the discussion. I suggest you start again at the beginning of the thread and read every single post until you understand why I wrote what I wrote.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #235
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harmony View Post
... exceptional content is going to trump simple loudness, especially in the long run, i think. ...
That is the core of the problem (and the solution). The silly idea of competing with loudness comes only from people, who do not believe in the music they publish to have any artistic quality that would allow it to compete artistically.
Old 20th November 2009
  #236
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Originally Posted by +6/185 View Post
What is even more crazy is the idea that mixers and/or ME’s will need to produce two versions of every CD they work on. Who is going to pay for that - the record label - NOT!
If the record label can sell two versions they will be more than happy to pay a little extra for mastering.

Newsflash: They already do this! "Digitally remastered this, digitally remastered that".

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #237
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
If the record label can sell two versions they will be more than happy to pay a little extra for mastering.

Newsflash: They already do this! "Digitally remastered this, digitally remastered that".

Alistair
News flash: In 90% of the re-mastering you are referring to the CDs were made louder. The new Beatles is an example. Are you saying the record labels are now going to re- release the same old catalog again at a lower level ? What would the advertising be? "WE MADE THE CDs TOO LOUD THE LAST TIME SO BUY THEM AGAIN AT THE NEW LOWER LEVEL" And what about new releases - two different versions? The loud version or the good sounding quite version? I think the consumer would not buy anything out of confusion and instead go buy a video game. Can you imagine how many returns there would be when someone gets the wrong version as a gift?
Old 20th November 2009
  #238
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Originally Posted by harmony View Post
i don't think it would be correct to accuse me of not paying attention. the thread is not exactly a shining example of lucidity. i read some of it, and there is a lot of pointless argument spinning out of an argument that started on an earlier thread. if you think i am missing your point, and would like me to consider it for some reason, then maybe you could explain it briefly, in a manner that stands on its own [or point to the relevant previous post]. but its no big deal. no worries.
It was kind of obvious as I quoted that which I was responding to in the post that you responded to. If that wasn't enough, use CTRL-F.

What surprises me is that you bother to write a whole new post instead of looking back at what I am responding to. Now you expect me to go and look for that post for you or explain it briefly to you. No wonder you are not quite following the discussion.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #239
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For the record, it is not my proposal. I am just pointing out flaws in people's arguments when I spot them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by +6/185 View Post
News flash: In 90% of the re-mastering you are referring to the CDs were made louder. The new Beatles is an example. Are you saying the record labels are now going to re- release the same old catalog again at a lower level ? What would the advertising be? "WE MADE THE CDs TOO LOUD THE LAST TIME SO BUY THEM AGAIN AT THE NEW LOWER LEVEL"
You are being intentionally obtuse or you seriously underestimate the abilities of marketing types to spin a new yarn to sell the same old stuff.

The point is, they love selling things twice if they can. If it turns out that this works, they will be more than pleased to pay a little extra for the extra mastering. I am not convinced that it would work but I never said that I was.

Me pointing out a logical flaw in an argument is not the same thing as me approving the opposite point of view.

Quote:
And what about new releases - two different versions? The loud version or the good sounding quite version? I think the consumer would not buy anything out of confusion and instead go buy a video game.
Now you underestimate the consumer. If they like an artists/band, they will figure it out. I reckon the public will learn pretty quickly. (Although they might prefer the crushed versions). If they are a big fan, they might by both versions just to have them.

Quote:
Can you imagine how many returns there would be when someone gets the wrong version as a gift?
I doubt it. There already very often are different versions but anyway, look at the DVD world. 1st release. Box set. Deluxe box set. Special exclusive box set with all bloopers and a director's cut Etc.

Alistair
Old 20th November 2009
  #240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by +6/185 View Post
News flash: In 90% of the re-mastering you are referring to the CDs were made louder. The new Beatles is an example. Are you saying the record labels are now going to re- release the same old catalog again at a lower level ? What would the advertising be? "WE MADE THE CDs TOO LOUD THE LAST TIME SO BUY THEM AGAIN AT THE NEW LOWER LEVEL" And what about new releases - two different versions? The loud version or the good sounding quite version? I think the consumer would not buy anything out of confusion and instead go buy a video game. Can you imagine how many returns there would be when someone gets the wrong version as a gift?
No, no, the point is to give the consumer from this point forward, a choice between the usual crushed record, and a more dynamic version for those who feel that it was too much limiting {or lack of dynamics} for their own taste. You won't have new Beatles re-issued any more than Hip Hop at lower levels {That would actually surprise me} And, you don't have to give a metal record a second version sounding like 1983 either but more like 1995, and/or arguably a year 2000 sound. Not every genre of music would need 2 versions either {i.e. orchestral} but if some labels want to release their material a bit louder than usual, no harm done. Labels could always stop pressing what they don't sale and stick to what they do best. This has nothing to do with the LN scheme, but it renders the notion that consumers need one in the first place 'obsolete', and places the power of decision where it should always be; with the artists and producers, even managers and label people, not some group of slick code makers My $0.02

Regards,
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