As this is a personal hobbyhorse of mine may I just chip in
For the first 17 or 18 years of CD, mastering engineers were punctilious
about not "exceeding" max level, an "overload" light meant you did the
job again at a lower level
This all seemed to change about 10 years ago when some engineers
discovered that even if you pushed the level so the overload lights came
on quite a lot the overall effect was that your CD was louder than the
previous one that had been played, without too much obvious detriment to
the sound quality.
This then became a war, not between record companies so much, as between
artists and producers, as to who could make the loudest record, in the
mistaken belief that this would make their CD sound louder on the radio
And as we all know louder is always better(NOT)
Once the genii is out of the bottle, there is no putting it back, so now
no one is willing to make their CD a bit quieter that the next bands,
even accoustic guitar and vocal records are out of all proportion.
The effects of all this "Loudness" are
Very little, if any dynamic range
Destruction of transients
An annoying buzzing caused by the squaring off of sine waves into square
An exaggeration of the distortion thus generated, when these CDs are
turned into bit reduced files MP3 etc
Odd "Pumping" effects caused by the loudest sounds pushing down the
quieter sounds as they hit the brickwall limiter and then releasing them
back as the limiter recovers, and so on
There is even some evidence that these effects cause people to stop
listening to such CDs as the brain rejects the distortions as annoying
The sales of CDs are down, the audiences for live music are up -
probably just coincidence
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Steven C. Barr(x)
Sent: Wed 11 Jul 2007 5:06
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Why new CDs sound worse
----- Original Message -----
From: "Roger and Allison Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
> Why New Music Doesn't Sound As Good As It Did Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:17PM
> EDT See Comments (21) Never mind that today's factory-produced
> starlets and mini-clones just don't
have the practiced chops of the supergroups of yesteryear, pop in a new
CD and you might notice that the quality of the music itself-maybe
something as simple as a snare drum hit-just doesn't sound as crisp and
as clear as you're used to.
Why is that?
> It's part of the music industry's quest to make music louder and
> louder, and
it's been going on for decades, at least since the birth of the compact
Click the link for a nice little video, a mere 2 minutes long, which
explains it in detail, with audio cues that you'll be able to hear in
> The key to the problem is that, in making the soft parts of a track
> louder (in
the process making the entire track loud), you lose detail in the song:
The difference between what's supposed to be loud and what's supposed to
be soft becomes less and less. The result is that, sure, the soft parts
of a song are nice and loud, but big noises like drum beats become
muffled and fuzzy. But consumers often subconsciously equate loudness
with quality, and thus, record producers pump up the volume. Anything to
make a buck.
> The bigger problem is that this is all unnecessary. Stereo equipment
> is more
powerful today than ever, and last time I checked, every piece of music
hardware had a volume knob.
> Don't take my word for it: Pop in the first CD you bought and play it
> at the
same volume level as the most recent one you bought. You might be
shocked by what you hear.
> Anyone still wondering why the music business is suffering?
Assume that the current "target buyer demographic" for sound recordings
is the set of listeners who have cheap but powerful (and LOTS of bass
response!) installed in their homes and/or auto-mobiles!
Their idea of "fidelity" is to FEEL the "thump" each time the electric
digital?) bass plays a "note"...
(and examples can be heard on almost EVERY city street...usually without
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