More on Loudness Wars

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by JoeH, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Found on Yahoo's tech page June, 27....

    http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/33549

    Interesting that they used the opening bits of McCartney's "Figure of Eight". (LOVE this tune, and the CD - Flowers in the Dirt; McCartney arguably at some of his post-Beatles best songs & production, IMHO.)

    Make sure you click on the link at the bottom of the article to run the demo video, NOT the picture itself to get it to run. (At least that's how it worked for me...the picture itself does NOT link to the YouTube clip, you just get another picture if you click on it.)

    Save it/show it to your friends, pass it on. It's really a spot-on demo for what happens when bad things happen to good music.

    I still say that someday, the "Suits" in marketing will re-release all of the squashed stuff without the T.L. Electronic's 'Finalizer' effect, with some kind of marketing campaign like: "Hear it the way it was MEANT to be heard, without all the compression and squashing for Radio & MP3 play."
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Joe, you can tell how young this guy is because he only thinks the loudness wars started with compact discs! It started with rock-and-roll AM radio way back when! Can you say "CBS Volume Max"? Gates Sta-Level? Garron Phase Enhancer? And awful sounding, noisy, NAB cartridge machines (also known as the four track cartridge before the Lear 8 track cartridge, yeah, the guy who made the corporate jets) where we would sometimes compress the music before transferring to the cartridge. Ugh......

    Of course, a lot of people don't realize that even though one sees and hears those beautiful drum peaks, the drum is already, obviously, dynamically processed for the mix. It's the engineers mix of the already compressed and gated snare drum and how it is presented in the mix that makes it sound cool. It's not necessarily a drum without dynamics processing. I love crunching drums! Professionally. I don't like to make Waves unless they're good wav's. But loudness optimization has turned in to distortion grunge optimization which really causes a lot of beer fatigue.

    Suffering from ear beer fatigue.
    Ms. Remy Ann David

    Snap Thwack!
     
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'd just like to add to this perpetual rant one thing.

    Usually, the Motion Picture industry has resisted the modulation from good dynamics to flat-out constant loudness. This is to preserve the impact of scary, important or action-packed moments by having them dramatically stand out.

    Well.....I just rented (the piss-poor excuse for a movie known as) Ghost Rider. Despite the fact that the movie sucked so bad that I had to turn it off within the first 30 minutes, the amplitude was insane.

    I have a reference level at which I listen to all movies, music, etc.

    For Dolby Digital, it's my Rotel Preamp set at 70. (When my wife's not there and it's just me and the little boy...it's 75!)
    For DTS, it's the same aforementioned preamp set at 67.
    For CD using the internal DAC, it's 70
    For SACD using the outboard (internal to the player) DAC, it's 75 (it's quite a bit softer than the built in DAC or even the Benchmark).

    Well...for this piece of excrament, I had to keep the volume at between 57 and 60 and it stayed LOUD the entire time!!!!!!

    I'm sure that had SOME role in my deciding to turn it off, but let's face it - it was Nick Cage's finest film since The Rock....(where's the emoticon for "tongue-in-cheek")

    Is this a sign for movies to come as well? Are we doomed to excessively loud, pointless crap? I feel sorry for my son.
     
  4. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    Jeremy,

    What you heard on "Ghost Rider" was just plain loud!! Not crushed like CDs.
    What the mixers were doing, was what you all want to do in music, use all available dynamic range without crushing!!!
    It proves we can get loud without compressors!!! :roll:
     
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Have you watched it though? (If you have - I am terribly sorry for the 2 hours which you will not get back in your life...)

    It may not be "compressed" as in "run through a compressor" but the dynamic range definitely ISN'T there. It was loud all the time!

    Loud music, loud effects (granted crickets chirping weren't painful to the ears, but darned near it.)

    I find the Pirates movies to be similarly loud (but not as bad! That's mostly just loud and pervasive soundtrack.)

    The Harry Potter series is much better. Loud is loud, soft is soft and startling makes you piss yourself (when played back at the proper amplitude).
     
  6. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    The feature yes, but not on DVD. Sounds like someone lied about the dialnorm reading, cauding the decoder to compensate.

    That or some bozo decided to compress during DVD mastering to control peaks.
     
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Holy CRAP...

    You paid $12 a seat plus $7 for popcorn and $5 for coke to see it in the theater....

    ;)
     
  8. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the warning about "Ghost Rider", Jeremy. I WAS considering renting it, but my wife & daughter always want to see something else. (Highly recommended: Children of Men, and also: Pan's Labyrinth.) Nicholas Cage has done some interesting things over the years, but lately he just seems to want to be Elvis....hmmmmm.....

    But back to our story.... Yes Remy, I agree with you, the Loudness wars have been with us a long time, long before CDs and DAWs, but there's a difference now. The inmates are running the asylum.

    There WAS a time when dynamic range and artistic integrity was important at the record recording level and vinyl mastering stage. (Although we can all agree the limitations of the medium itself - vinyl - kept a lot of these bozo's in check for a few decades.) People used to pride themselves in how wide their dynamic ranges could get. It's what put the "hi" in hi-fi. (Ouch! Sorry, couldn't resist!)

    There was indeed limiting and compression all over the place; you could hear auto-level on any given juke-box in any cheap diner or restaurant....it would crank the HELL out of anything (including hearing the mechanism cue up the next record!) and then SLAM back down once the music (albiet jacked up) started. You could hear it on your TV set, and you could certainly hear it on Top 40 (hey, remember top 100??) radio.

    That was fine, and one of life's stoopid things to put up with. I always remember hearing a song one way (Squashed via analog compression) on the radio, then getting a copy for myself and REALLY hearing how it was supposed to sound. I understood the limitations and target market of radio: it HAD to sound "good" (loud) on everyone's systems, be it a mono table radio or hi-fi set, or whatever. I accepted that as a result of the needs of commercial radio and tv. At least we knew the source material was OK once we got our own copy to enjoy. At least it was CREATED properly in the first place.

    But these comp/limiting problems used to happen after-the-fact, not at the source, the mastering level itself. These people are ruining the very music itself, before it ever gets out the door to the listening public, and it's a shame, really. Some idiots got the bright idea to beat the broadcasters' Optimods at their own game by crunching the music FIRST, before the stations got to whack it. Turns out it's a very DUMB idea to squash things TWICE. Clipped is clipped. Clipped twice is even uglier.

    Most of what passes for terrestrial radio these days is virtually unlistenable thanks to all of this, unless you're a total idiot with mush for brains and enjoy the sonic equivalent of pressed-ham under glass.

    Yes, we all know the story of today's modern music industry; thanks to the computers and the web, it's in the hands of the everyman, there are literally thousands of do-it-yourselfer mastering houses (I'm one of them!) and the rules are not only changed, they're obliterated. There once was a time when there were a couple of hundred major labels, and probably a few dozen reputable mastering houses, not counting the indies of the day. There WAS a method to make music properly, there was a mindset, and there was dynamic range.

    Here's the biggest proof I can offer you: WHY do you think "old" recordings sound so "Good"?? (Hint: It ain't the vinyl, kids!!!)

    I'm not knocking anyone's artistic vision, and there are certainly times when compression and limiting is a useful tool, even a specific sonic effect, but we've reached the point of insanity now, and it just doens't seem to be getting any better.

    I think in the end, it's going to stay this way for a long time; music in two camps: the disposable, "Fun", crunched stuff for non-serious listening, be it "party" music, or music for eye-pods, wallpaper music for dancing, etc. etc.

    The more serious music camp will hopefully get sick of what it's hearing and eventually clean up its act. All it's going to take is one or two blockbuster recordings that blow people away with dynamic range, good performances & writing, and people will be lining up to hire this next wunderkind. (I can dream, anyway....)

    I still think that simple, sane dynamics control of EACH TRACK individually and a smart, decently produced mix can sound fantastic all on its own. There are ways to get great sounding (even LOUD) tracks, but slapping a finalizer on the stereo bus at mastering time ain't one of them.
     

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