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The media educating the main stream reading public on recording quality...
5/8/08 8:47:42 AM

about time (first I've seen - you may have seen others)...


Everything Louder Than Everything Else

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like -- static." Bob Dylan
Have you noticed that you are listening to new music less and enjoying it less? You get out the latest CD or iTunes download by your new favourite band, but strangely enough although you may like the songs, you don't really listen to it for very long. You skip tracks, you take it off, put it on again but there's something wrong that you just can't quite put your finger on. There's not that magical click in that part of your brain that enjoys music. It's like bad sex, you're doing it but it's just doing it for you. Why? I'm no sound expert (obviously), but I decided to do some research and find out why. Here's what I found.

For the past 10 or so years, artists and record companies have been increasing the overall loudness of pop and rock albums, using ever increasing degrees of compression during mastering, altering the properties of the music being recorded. Compression means squeezing the dynamic range of an audio signal, usually to boost the perceived volume of a song or performance. Compression works on recorded music the way MSG works on food; it makes everything sound stronger. MP3 players such as iPods have their own compressors and limiters, further reducing the dynamic range of recordings, as do computers. A CD doesn't have to be mastered loud; the iPod can make it as loud as everything else it plays. Quiet sounds and loud sounds are now squashed together, decreasing the recording's dynamic range, raising the average loudness as much as possible, while the sound peaks (which would be too loud) have just been chopped off. When a soundwave squares off, something called "clipping" can occur, in the digital realm it means digital distortion, which is quite an unpleasant, static-like sound. Some players just won't play that frequency, resulting in loss of dynamic range, where you're literally not hearing the whole song.


yadda yadda yadda

Care to critique the article?

The unshaped toad frog princess thanks DEVERE for finding the cute Dracula cat av. (THX also Shikimaru for looking.) Still looking for more cute cat draculas.

5/8/08 9:11:46 AM

I have read about this in the past.
this site has some images that help to illustrate the point.

No argument from me :)

"I don't want the world;
I just want your half."

5/8/08 12:17:22 PM

Yeah compression is fucking with our bliss!



E3110@3.6Ghz(1.17v stock cooler), EP35-DS3,2Gb Kingston Value Ram, WD500Gb, Crap Graphics Card.

5/8/08 3:17:51 PM

It's like the old 'wall of sound'.
They fill up all the frequencies and there's no room for the music to breathe.

Mercury - you've got my number

5/8/08 4:18:29 PM

Music needs room to breath. As -80 said, they fill up too much space with frequencies and parts and it ends up making the song sound bad.

I never appreciated this til I did an audio engineering course and I heard exactly how it affected the song we were recording.


/Gets in the car

Roses are red, violets are blue, I'll fuck you with a rake

5/8/08 9:19:23 PM

FM radio and many codecs don't have the dynamic range that people would like to record to.

Unfortunately it's a fact of economics that music is marketed through the radio and often sold through online means, so they engineer it that way.

As a friend who's a muso described it (after he read some books on engineering music to sound good on commercial FM radio) : The first recording sounded similar to being in the lounge room when we played for the recording, but sounded poor when he heard the demo played on a local radio station. After re-recording and remixing it base don what he'd read, it sounded much better on the radio, but no longer as good as in his lounge room.

For my tastes, music falls into a couple of categories nice background music and enjoyed music.
Nice Background music is what I listen to at work, in the car and while doing cleaning around the house. It's often FP radio, internet radio or MP3s.
Enjoyed music is when I sit down and listen to the music (sometimes with the lights off), often quite critically.
Genre/mood/beat aside, enjoyed music can be compressed and used as background music, the reverse does not always apply, some background music is IMO not arranged suitably for enjoyment and critical listening - but it can be great fun at a party or while driving around.

I'm happy to pay for both, but will pay more for quality "Enjoyed music".

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