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Thread: The "Loudness War"

  1. #1
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    Default The "Loudness War"

    Okay, so this has been gnawing at me all day, since I finally decided to heavily research it. I hear people complain all the time about one producer's work compared to another, a lot of people say Bob Rock, who's style has been decidedly considered punk-unfriendly, has ruined the Offspring's latest record, for example. The thing is, I can never tell the fucking difference between two producers. The most drastic differences I can hear between two records of the past ten years, is that sometimes I notice a producer will leave in sounds that aren't very "clean," like the sound of the pick scraping against the strings, or a cough, or just some sort of human influence.

    So I studied the ongoing phenomenon in music known as the "loudness war," in which producers are constantly trying to make music as loud as they can at the lowest volume possible, in order to make their records stand out from the rest and seem extra powerful. The problem, opposers say, is that it ruins the definition of the music and causes excessive clipping. This Youtube video gives an example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

    What do you guys think? Honestly, I think my hearing must be bad, because I still can't notice too drastic of a difference. When I listen to that clip on the "loud" version, it seems like I need to turn it up louder to hear the drums better, only it doesn't work when I turn it up past comfortable listening level. It gets louder, but still no "punch" as the video says, the beat sounds kind of dull. Apparently, this pisses a lot of people off, but I think I could live with it even knowing the difference. The trend is probably going to continue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omni View Post
    Okay, so this has been gnawing at me all day, since I finally decided to heavily research it. I hear people complain all the time about one producer's work compared to another, a lot of people say Bob Rock, who's style has been decidedly considered punk-unfriendly, has ruined the Offspring's latest record, for example. The thing is, I can never tell the fucking difference between two producers. The most drastic differences I can hear between two records of the past ten years, is that sometimes I notice a producer will leave in sounds that aren't very "clean," like the sound of the pick scraping against the strings, or a cough, or just some sort of human influence.

    So I studied the ongoing phenomenon in music known as the "loudness war," in which producers are constantly trying to make music as loud as they can at the lowest volume possible, in order to make their records stand out from the rest and seem extra powerful. The problem, opposers say, is that it ruins the definition of the music and causes excessive clipping. This Youtube video gives an example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gmex_4hreQ

    What do you guys think? Honestly, I think my hearing must be bad, because I still can't notice too drastic of a difference. When I listen to that clip on the "loud" version, it seems like I need to turn it up louder to hear the drums better, only it doesn't work when I turn it up past comfortable listening level. It gets louder, but still no "punch" as the video says, the beat sounds kind of dull. Apparently, this pisses a lot of people off, but I think I could live with it even knowing the difference. The trend is probably going to continue.
    Yeah well there is a whole other level of hearing shit.. this loudness war sucks because it reduces quality. blah.

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    The loudness war has been going on for a very long time now... and there are no words for me describe how much I detest it. You probably won't notice it if you mostly listen to music that is produced by people who participate in this "war". But as someone who listens to a huge variety of music, it's so frustrating to go from an independently produced song to a commercial one due to loudness... most commercial songs are so blaringly loud all the way through, so I constantly have to turn things way down when it switches songs... back and forth. Dynamics are important, but popular artists these days don't use them. It's all loud all the time. And it sucks ass.
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    I play my laptop over the speakers at work. I notice this and it is so irritating.
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    I kinda hear whats going on, but really I'm indifferent. Sometimes louder is better, sometimes more quiet is the way to go.

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    Yes, bands have different styles, therefore different volumes and compression. Crazy, I know.

    I personally prefer this 'loudness' for my music, and when I say 'my music', I mean my music. It gives it a certain intensity and drive you wouldn't be able to hear without compression. Also, fuck all of the people that say that is reduces quality. I bet it's the same people that still whine and complain about 'vinyl's being better than CD's'. Yes, it creates clipping, but damnit that's all distortion on a guitar is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovellamas View Post
    The loudness war has been going on for a very long time now... and there are no words for me describe how much I detest it. You probably won't notice it if you mostly listen to music that is produced by people who participate in this "war". But as someone who listens to a huge variety of music, it's so frustrating to go from an independently produced song to a commercial one due to loudness... most commercial songs are so blaringly loud all the way through, so I constantly have to turn things way down when it switches songs... back and forth. Dynamics are important, but popular artists these days don't use them. It's all loud all the time. And it sucks ass.

    I don't meet many people who's musical taste varies hugely (everyone says they listen to "everything" when you ask them what they like, but it's rarely true), but being Internet savvy like most people on this board, I'd say I expose myself to more music than the average person does, and I never really cared or noticed. On one hand, I feel lucky that I'm not annoyed by it, but on the other, I feel kind of ignorant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Omni View Post
    I don't meet many people who's musical taste varies hugely (everyone says they listen to "everything" when you ask them what they like, but it's rarely true), but being Internet savvy like most people on this board, I'd say I expose myself to more music than the average person does, and I never really cared or noticed. On one hand, I feel lucky that I'm not annoyed by it, but on the other, I feel kind of ignorant.
    You're right, people always say this listen to "everything" and it is rarely true... I hate it when people say that and it's not true. I literally listen to a huge variety... not just pop/rock and such. I'll go from listening to John Coltrane to Static X to Regina Spektor to Collective Soul to Gustav Holst to Squirrel Nut Zippers to Offspring to Mika... etc, etc, etc. And I definitely notice a HUGE difference. A lot of the music I listen to makes huge use of dynamics, while most popular pop and/or rock and such is just all loud all the time. It drives me nuts. It's cool if you don't notice... I sort of wish I didn't.

    Listen to these songs (some of my favorite songs) and maybe you'll see what I mean:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAZEcg8NLtM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-LNkuqq6g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljVR3Bodxmw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSO4Y9ygPIw

    And now, without turning your volume down, listen to these songs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smrQk...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSfrwsoH8CY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RSlh...eature=channel
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bISJ2zi1zQ

    You'll notice that the first four are by bands with independent and low budget production, while the latter four are high production... and the first four use dynamics... loud vs soft. They get loud at points, but the quiets make the louds more powerful. The latter four songs are pretty much loud the whole way through.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
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    I do not smoke and do not do drugs

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  10. #10
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    It's been going on for over 10 years now so you would have to go back a little bit further than that. But even an "untrained" ear can hear it if you put on something older and then something recent. As an example just using albums I own if you were to put on Nevermind by Nirvana and then without changing the volume at all put on just about any rock album made in the past couple years you will instantly notice the difference in volume.

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