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What's a BETTER solution to the loudness war?
View Poll Results: Which one is the better solution to the loudness war?
issue two versions - one dynamic, one "loud"
31 Votes - 35.63%
implement some form of "loudness normalization"
17 Votes - 19.54%
do neither
39 Votes - 44.83%
Voters: 87. You may not vote on this poll

Old 20th November 2009
  #1
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What's a BETTER solution to the loudness war?

In response to BK's thread -
here's another poll - asking:
What do folks think is a better solution to the "loudness war"?

1) have artists put out multiple versions - one dynamic, one more limited - artists issuing additional versions of the same release - one "crushed" to their taste, and one set more naturally dynamic - that can either be sold together or separately - so that the end listener can choose which one they want to listen to.

2) implement some form of "loudness normalization" - as proposed in BK's threads - where an analysis is done on the track to quantify a rating on it's perceived loudness - and then it's level is automatically attenuated by the playback hardware by x amount (depending on this rating) so that when placed in shuffle play tracks from most releases will sound at relatively the same volume regardless of how much average level the original recording has.

3) do neither - and just give this whole darn thing a rest.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 20th November 2009
  #2
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Bloody ell... first the Troll Wars and now the Poll Wars.
Old 20th November 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macc View Post
Bloody ell... first the Troll Wars and now the Poll Wars.
I'm going to get my 2 euro's in on this whether folks like it or not!


Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 20th November 2009
  #4
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beanface's Avatar
 

Hoorah for 2 versions! That is a nice lil' workaround Mr Berson.
Old 20th November 2009
  #5
Gear Nut
 

compression is a one way process so what we need is a single version and an option on ipods where people can choose to crush the mix or leave it.
Furthermore this would negate the need for mastering as the majority of people generally cant tell the difference or dont care about the subtleties involved during mastering. As long as the original mix is of good quality everybody will be happy.
Old 20th November 2009
  #6
My question as a client is will i have to pay 2 prices for the 2 different versions? Basically am i paying twice for the master of the same song?

Because as i would imagine to get a great sounding master up to todays louder standards their will have to be more done to it to maximize its potential. The costs at the top mastering houses is expensive as it is and if i have to pay double it will just not be feasibly worth it.
Old 20th November 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
My question as a client is will i have to pay 2 prices for the 2 different versions? Basically am i paying twice for the master of the same song?

Because as i would imagine to get a great sounding master up to todays louder standards their will have to be more done to it to maximize its potential. The costs at the top mastering houses is expensive as it is and if i have to pay double it will just not be feasibly worth it.
Excellent question and one that would probably get a different answer at each mastering studio.

For my own practices, if I'm going for full on slam then it's easy enough to back off the final limiter or clipper that I have enabled post capture a few dB without doing a new load in and without having to really do other changes to maintain good balances. So if this is accepted by the client for the more dynamic versions then it generally doesn't require that much extra time to do - so the extra charges for it are relatively minimal - and certainly far below double price.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 20th November 2009
  #8
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With club music I have been doing 2 versions.
1 for the web/cd and a full dynamic range version for the clubs/DJ.
Old 20th November 2009
  #9
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miro's Avatar
 

IMO there's "loudness" and "loudness"...
so i'm for a grown up maximization...let's say like a few years ago.
this loudness ws still cool...

hard to vote
Old 20th November 2009
  #10
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We could try the quiet wars where we mix everything real low and convince people they're going deaf.....
Old 20th November 2009
  #11
jac
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Nobody forces people having a loud cd. There are good ME able to provide loud and clean masters.
There's always a way out...
Old 20th November 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
My question as a client is will i have to pay 2 prices for the 2 different versions? Basically am i paying twice for the master of the same song?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
Excellent question and one that would probably get a different answer at each mastering studio.
You know Steve, I am with you on this {as per BK related thread}. It's what sometimes I try to sell to certain clients {"Radio friendly" and "CD"} and not for every type of material of course. It could be a quick solution to the loudness war and more money in the pockets of the labels. Win-win situation

However, I had to charge a little extra for a simple reason: When I master stuff that is meant to sound primarily loud like rock metal, hip hop or club dance, I am also working the limiter very hard. This is specially true when I am ITB. And, if I simply ease up on the limiting, I notice that what was harmonically balanced before at say -8dB RMS total power is no longer the case at -14dBRMS or lower theoretical values and it requires that I do further "tweaks", mainly in the bass, mid-hi's and top end areas. When you equalize and compress or as I call it sometimes "pack and balance" so much energy to make a real loud record, the rules are different than when there is a requirement for more headroom and dynamics. It may not make much of a difference, of course, if you are just pulling back the limiter by 2 or 3 dB diff, but even that is debatable. These are just personal methods, observations and are not meant to discount what others do in any way.

Regards,
Old 20th November 2009
  #13
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I am doing this for a while now. I've noticed that creating 2 versions for customer is a way to go. It's not really big issue. First version is, more 'hifi' where compression is almost transparent and limiter action is for a security only, and peaks just touch limiter. I can see attenuation on limiter from 0 to maybe 0.2 dB. Another version is, more 'contemporary' (which most client choose as a proper one..:(((() where compressor does his job in evident way and limiter works till 2 dB. Sometimes clipping helps.
There's no shame, clients want it loud, I like it not distorted. They have 2 versions to choose, and I don't charge for 'contemporary' version.

Everyones happy.


all the best
Old 20th November 2009
  #14
Deleted User
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Neither Steve.

The only way to move on is to continue to do what's best for a tune, for an album, for it's translation and for the client. And print it at the most suitable level regarding the context, target media and client wishes.


Best
Patrik
Old 20th November 2009
  #15
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Not to have the war in the first place
Old 20th November 2009
  #16
Just do what the customer wants. If he' s happy with loudness, give him loudness. Why should we engineers try to reeducate the listeners and customers? That's kinda nonsense to me.
Old 20th November 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
Why should we engineers try to reeducate the listeners and customers?
Without a clear choice, today's consumers will never know what they are missing.

Regards,
Old 20th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deft_bonz View Post
Just do what the customer wants. If he' s happy with loudness, give him loudness. Why should we engineers try to reeducate the listeners and customers? That's kinda nonsense to me.
Re-educate?
Old 20th November 2009
  #19
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I picked up Steven Wilson's "Insurgentes" recently. It cost $18. In the case it had 2 discs. 1 was a dual layer redbook (loud version)/DVDA surround, the other was a DVD-V DTS 5.1 & 2.0. Only the redbook version seemed to have been mastered "loud". The other versions may have been mixed loud, but seemed to be more dynamic.

Although I agree with most of Mr. Katz's points, I get very nervous about a consumer-level automatic gain compensation. Maybe I feel burned by'70s era boom boxes

Education is the key. Perhaps if surround gets adopted more we may see some change.
Old 20th November 2009
  #20
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9 out of 10 customers the last 2 months (and it's been really busy) asked for dynamic masters (dynamic as in .....dynamic and not loud).
The tenth asked for a dynamic master when he heard 2 versions (dynamic and loud ) at equal volumes.
Old 20th November 2009
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
My question as a client is will i have to pay 2 prices for the 2 different versions? Basically am i paying twice for the master of the same song?

Because as i would imagine to get a great sounding master up to todays louder standards their will have to be more done to it to maximize its potential. The costs at the top mastering houses is expensive as it is and if i have to pay double it will just not be feasibly worth it.

I, m doing it for free for my loyal clients on albums .. otherwise just about 1 hour off runnning it realtime through my weiss-ds1 ... giving 2 dB extra limiting ( not the simple-limiter)
Right now I'm with a band who is doing his third album with me , I could make them easy go for the dynamic version off the album ... and make just a louder I-net version , for myspace etc.
I just hate to ruin a well recorded/mixed album .. and if the relation is there with the band ... I try to convince them ... saying "you'll hate yourself in a few years for crushing it ... "
2 weeks ago I HAD to crush a hip-hop album way over my own values off distortion .. there's a point where I just stop listening .....

loud is still there ( rock/hip-hop/trance etc. ) but other styles go for dynamic.
Old 20th November 2009
  #22
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You have to commit at some point and this has traditionally been during mastering. Are we opening this up for other issues like different EQed versions?

At that point I don't see why the client would bother mastering at all, just distribute the mix.
Old 20th November 2009
  #23
It's kind of funny that some of the ME's posting seem to think two versions is a good idea - double the business (well, maybe 1.5 x)

But as a listener, I do not want two versions of everything floating around - this just leads to confusion and bloat - how do you indicate which version it is in a computer - are we gonna have - The Humpty Dance (Crushed into Submission Master) / The Humpty Dance (Dynamically Bumpin Master) like the remix credits of today. It's already bad enough trying to figure out what cd reissue has the "good" mastering, without having two versions of every new release. Maybe it's just me, but I dont like it as it's cumbersome and not very elegant - surely the industry can do better than this? But after reading "Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age" I'm not so sure....

(OT aside - In fact reading that book makes it harder to feel sorry for a lot of the bigger studios facing problems today - those guys already had it all, whereas new studio trying to make it today have only ever lived off of crumbs - where's the Porsche, jet and the hotttub???)
Old 20th November 2009
  #24
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Harry Hughes's Avatar
 

What about music that isn't meant to be dynamic?
How do you release a "more dynamic" master?
Old 20th November 2009
  #25
It can still sound better if not crushed to death...
Old 20th November 2009
  #26
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maybe only one version is "a bridge to far" for some clients .. they are comfortable with the idea that on the I-net they wont be whimpy soft ...
next time maybe the'll settle for one version ...
then one battle is won ...
just slowly getting the bands used to softer/dynamic/non-clipped/non-extreme-limited versions is something we (must/can) try ...
Old 20th November 2009
  #27
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I'm also already doing two versions for most of my clients, at no extra charge.

EDIT: Also, a couple of recent jobs I have done, the clients have ran the masters through an L2 themselves, they feel the masters sound great but needed to be pushed for myspace, so they ended doing that themselves, but agreed that the less squashed masters were better for the CD release. On that last project, I even did versions that had very little limiting, as they were pressing vinyl also.

Some clients are very aware and are just working all of the angles, folks.
Old 20th November 2009
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardtoe View Post
It can still sound better if not crushed to death...
I realize this, but the OP says "crushed to their taste".
This could mean, horrible ugly clipping crushed, or it could mean it's quite undynamic, but it hasn't been pushed far enough into the clipping zone.
The OP doesn't really specify.
My point being, if the music is inherently meant to be undynamic, and the client gets to hear two versions, neither of which is clipping, but one is more dynamic than the other, they are probably going to chose the less dynamic one out of artistic reasons rather purely sonic reasons.
Or in the case of some certain music, clipping actually works in it's favor and again, for artistic reasons, a client may choose a clipping master if they feel it suits their needs.
Old 20th November 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward_Vinatea View Post
You know Steve, I am with you on this {as per BK related thread}. It's what sometimes I try to sell to certain clients {"Radio friendly" and "CD"} and not for every type of material of course. It could be a quick solution to the loudness war and more money in the pockets of the labels. Win-win situation

However, I had to charge a little extra for a simple reason: When I master stuff that is meant to sound primarily loud like rock metal, hip hop or club dance, I am also working the limiter very hard. This is specially true when I am ITB. And, if I simply ease up on the limiting, I notice that what was harmonically balanced before at say -8dB RMS total power is no longer the case at -14dBRMS or lower theoretical values and it requires that I do further "tweaks", mainly in the bass and mid-hi and top end areas. When you equalize and compress or as I call it sometimes "pack and balance" so much energy to make a real loud record, the rules are different than when there is a requirement for more headroom and dynamics. It may not make much of a difference, of course, if you are just pulling back the limiter by 2 or 3 dB diff, but even that is debatable. These are just personal methods, observations and are not meant to discount what others do in any way.

Regards,
Edward -
I agree - very valid concern and if you are in fact talking more than a couple dB difference then a lot of times you do in fact need to go back and change some other processing to have the 2 different versions be best optimized. So - yes - sometimes providing 2 versions would entail a bit more work depending on the difference in average levels between the 2 versions and the processing applied to get them there.

As far as other folks' concerns - a lot of times (most?) 2 versions are not necessary. But for folks going for "max crush" just having an alternative that isn't as ridiculously slammed can make for a big difference in appreciation by those who actually care about these things.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 20th November 2009
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odeon-Mastering View Post
9 out of 10 customers the last 2 months (and it's been really busy) asked for dynamic masters (dynamic as in .....dynamic and not loud).
The tenth asked for a dynamic master when he heard 2 versions (dynamic and loud ) at equal volumes.
Funny you should say that, I'm getting more and more who want a good sounding master, and loudness is much less important.

My clients on wednesday demanded dynamics and told me right from the start...."we'd like it a little louder, maybe, but we'd preffer a good sound. we don't like loud cd's if thats ok"
My reply was a big grin and a big. Great session...my eq meant something, rather than something you do all day that gets destroyed at the end of the day.
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