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jazzfan
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Loudness Wars

While I thoroughly enjoyed John Marks' dispatch from the "Loudness Wars" by the end of the essay I ultimately found myself very confused.

Here's why:

The graphic on page 53 clearly shows how dynamic range compression, aka "The Loudness War", adversely effects the sound of a given piece of recorded music. In addition Marks explains how the harmful effects of dynamic range compression cannot be undone by simply lowering the volume of an offending track.

So far so good.

On the next page (page 54) JM goes on to explain how the newer Loudness metering is a much better gauge than the standard Peak metering when it comes to measuring loudness.

Again, so far so good.

Then comes the confusing statement that by using software which normalizes volume based on Loudness metering the effects of dynamic range compression will somehow disappear.

My humble understanding is that dynamic range compression cannot be undone by the listener. All one can do is lower the volume but the compression will still remain and the music will sound lifeless, just as JM states on page 53.

Could someone please clarify Mr. Marks' seemingly contradicting statements. TIA!

John Marks
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Not the effects, but the motivation may disappear
Hi- Sorry for the confusion. The motivation to over-use loudness compress is "to sound louder than the other guy." As things now stand, a hugely compressed song can sound "louder" than the songs before and after it on the radio station's playlist. However, when the switch to Loudness metering kicks in, that hugely compressed song will have its overall playback volume reduced at the radio station as surely as if a consumer turned down his radio's volume knob. Nothing can bring back the music that was thrown out when that one song was over-compressed. But, GOING FORWARD, the motivation to try to "game the system" will disappear. A new hyper-slammed song will just get normalized to the standard volume. I thought that was clear, and so must have JA. Sorry. BTW, there is a pretty scary thing up somewhere (I forget exactly where) of four successive CD releases of a Beatles' song, and each successive one has less dynamic range. Thanks for reading. JM
jazzfan
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Thanks

Thank you Mr. Marks for the clarification. The concept of volume normalization has been around for quite some time and most computer media players have the ability to make use of them. The most common and widely used one is called "Replay Gain" but of course iTunes isn't able to use Replay Gain and it's own propriety version called "Sound Check".

However replay gain is for use by individuals whereas what you where describing is one to (hopefully) be used by the broadcast industry. If that does happen and songs are then normalized so that no one song is louder than another then perhaps it will have the positive effect of ending this silly loudness war.

Of course being a "jazz fan" I don't often encounter overly compressed dynamic range while listening to jazz.

tom collins
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jazz fan

Yeah, 6 eyes rule!!!!!

jazzfan
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Huh?
tom collins wrote:

Yeah, 6 eyes rule!!!!!

Say what?

Excuse me for being more than a little dense on a Monday.

Drtrey3
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Loudness wars

I have seen the deterioration. I am ripping vinyl to 24/96 digital so that my family can play the music with no hassle. In the process, I remove a bad pop or two and normalize the track to use all the dynamics I can get with the 24 bits. So this means I look at the track in a graphic representation.

Man you can see the difference between overly compressed "modern" recordings and the older vinyl. The old stuff has a shape to it, the dynamics fade and rise as the material dictates. The new stuff is by and large at 11 the whole way.

Not that I mind the approach, judicious use of compression is necessary for rock and roll. But over using it squeezes the life out of the music. Take a look for yourself some day, the results are easy to spot.

Trey

jazzfan
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Testing
Drtrey3 wrote:

Take a look for yourself some day, the results are easy to spot.

Trey

Actually it's quite easy to "take a look" at dynamic range compression, at least for digital audio files provided one is using a Windows PC and that you have foobar2000 installed.

Here's what you do:

1) Load a given album or song into foobar2000

2) Select the tracks you would like to test

3) Right click on the file(s) and select "ReplayGain" from the pop-up contact menu and then select either "Scan per-file track" or "Scan selection as a single album"

4) foobar2000 will then scan the track(s) and a pop-up window titled "ReplayGain Scan Results" will appear.

Ideally the number for "Album (or Track) Gain" should be as close to zero as possible. The greater the dynamic range compression the more negative the number will be. For example a well recorded jazz album might return a gain number between -2 and -5 whereas a recent rock or pop music album might return a number between -9 and -12 (or greater). Interesting but all to often very depressing.

tom collins
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6 eyes

old columbia lps from the classic jazz era. excuse me for being a little old every day of the week.

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