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hi there,
I was curios to know what is the usual loudness to peak ratio in commercial overcompressed stuff and a good sounding album (you name it).
I'm curios, 'cause a client of mine has just bought SoundForge 5.0 (I think), and told me that there is a function that increase the loudness in a song.
He said that there are three preset:

-16dBFS (music)
-10dBFS (very loud)

and another one I don't remember...

anyway, I was curios to know how much is teh ratio on commercial albums, and especially the one that has been so much discussed during the last two years on R.A.P.(like RHCP or RATM last albums).

ronnie :cool:


brad Tue, 06/12/2001 - 05:41

On the latest RATM and RHCP, you're probably sitting at about 1-2 db peak over RMS.

PaulStory Tue, 06/12/2001 - 06:33


There is an ongoing debate among
mastering engineers about the "level wars".
Some guys crush the dynamics to get the CD
to sound a little louder on the radio
(which is sad as radio already heavily
limits stuff anyway). Let your ears decide
what sounds good. Obviously RATM is going
for an unrelenting volume. I like their
music a lot, but it cold be waaaay more
"dynamic". I just mastered a bluegrass
album by Tony Williamson who has a group
in North Carolina. I didn't even fire up
the Vari Mu (compressor) for the ENTIRE
album. Nor did I use any L2. The album
still sounds loud, but all of the intricate
dynamic are still there. Again, let your
ears decide...not a VU meter or "the other
guys's" CD.


paul story

Rader Ranch Tue, 06/12/2001 - 12:59

Originally posted by Brad Blackwood:
On the latest RATM and RHCP, you're probably sitting at about 1-2 db peak over RMS.

jesus MF'in christ that's pathetic...i mean, i knew releases like these were bad, but DAMN... in tv land we're allowed +10-14 depending...and of course nobody checks commercials. gawd forbid broadcast audio becomes a haven for audiophile content...especially since digital is on its way there too. i can already envision the poorly setup L2's, Finalizers strapped across your favorite stations...

can anyone here explain why this relative loudness related trend didn't happen ( or maybe it did? at least not to the same extremes??) in the days of vinyl?

bigtree Tue, 06/12/2001 - 13:12

We can control everything so much better now. In the vinyl days remember the woofers moving before the music even started. So much noise in everything. 50 db of signal 50 db of noise.

The crosstalk was incredible. I put my old vinyl on now and it sounds like AM. eek, but it was dynamic lol!

Rog Tue, 06/12/2001 - 23:18

Half the problem is that the people mixing and mastering in days gone by actually knew what they were doing. Now any MC with an ego can call himself a producer. The results are terrible but are on average louder and so these cuts get noticed.

Maybe the other half of it comes down to taste: I hate songs lacking dynamic range and I won't listen to them. Sometimes I feel I'm a minority of one. Then I come over here to cheer myself up :)

PaulStory Wed, 06/13/2001 - 07:53


One can actually hit the digital wall too. I had a client recently who was hell bent on having the loudest CD ever. After trying to explain all of the above he still wanted a super loud CD. So, I made him CDs with increasing levels (never a digi clip tho) until we got to the point where the RMS level was so high that although it wasn't clipping the converters, it was distorting all of the analog output electronics. He got his loud CD and a reccomendation of another mastering engineer who doesn't mind doing that kind of stuff.

brad Wed, 06/13/2001 - 09:43

With dig, everything's fine until you hit the wall. But when you hit that wall, it
immediately sounds like crap.

PaulStory Wed, 06/13/2001 - 10:38

Hi Paul - notice what I said:


Originally posted by Brad Blackwood:
With dig, everything's fine until you hit the wall. But when you hit that wall, it
immediately sounds like crap.

Yes, of course. What I thought you were referring to was digi distortion, not just a RMS level hot enough to melt your analog output .
I'll have a bit of caffeine before I post in the am. We are building a new room onto the studio and I was painting late last night.

I used to deal with those clients, too, but now tell them simply, 'I'm not your guy'. I have enough work that
I don't worry about sending the level-dogs away (thank the maker). Can't argue with the majors very
much, but I still let them know what's up...

I'm with you there. I took the gig for somebody I had recorded and mixed before. We had a good working friendship. It's too bad, it was a
great song. I almost never have anyone push me about levels.

Paul, do you have a website up we can peruse? It's great to have you here, BTW.

My webmaster has everything ready to go and I still can't get any pics that I like...grrrr..... The URL is/will be
I wanted to have pics of the new room before I put it up. I checked out your site. Nice. Our place ain't no where near as big as that.
We have 2 studios in 2000 sq ft. The new one will be a small MIDI/non live drum room. The other is my mixing mastering room. I'm an analog
kinda guy when it comes to mastering. I use a Manley Massive Passive, Manley Vari Mu, Massenberg EQ, Apogee converters, Waves L2
and a G4 with a few digi-goodies. We have Dunlavys, DynAudio and Mackie (I really like these) for monitors. A trusty pair of Senn 580s
for listening for really quiet stuff and I'm good to go. I hope to have something up soon. I certainly underestimated a web site's importance!!

PaulStory Wed, 06/13/2001 - 10:42


Sorry my posts have messed up formatting. I use Composer to write stuff. It looks right in that. When I see it on the page it looks wrong. Angelo explained to me about the word wrap thing, but when I quote I can't get it right. Sorry....

alphajerk Wed, 06/13/2001 - 10:46

hey brad, i gotta question.

how loud can it possibly get? i mean there is definately a point where you cant go any louder when no one can be the loudest... and what is going to happen then? are people going to wake up and realize that louder can simply mean turning up the volume knob?

so do you think we can go backwards? i notice this REAL BAD when listening to my collection in the car [cd changer] and the relative volumes between say Foo Fighters and Bob Marley are absurd. i can say i like the way both sound but i obviously have to reach for the volume knob between the two. BUT the bob marley sounds nicer when i CRANK it than cranking the Foo Fighters which really breaks up the speakers a lot quicker at louder volumes.

also who really has the balls to NOT make theirs louder? i would like to think i do but i dont, ill admit it. especially with the style of music i do [stoner rock] its gotta be loud. i dont necessarily think it needs to be pegged but i dont want it too low either.

you really like the sound of the new BC album? i was so disappointed with that CD... [i LIKE the BC's but not this album] but i think its the lack of "inspiration" over the sound, but the sound isnt as nice as 'southern harmony and musical companion'

nor are the songs. but thats another thread all together.

brad Wed, 06/13/2001 - 13:04

It will take a band with balls, but the Crowes have released a record with about 6 db more dynamic range than their last record. It will take something like that to hit big for the labels to take their heads out of their collective butts and realize that louder doesn't mean jack...

--Brad Blackwood

alphajerk Wed, 06/13/2001 - 16:12

that IS true, i do love the way the kick and snare sound. and i do kinda like the RAUNCH of the album. i actually like the don was mixed songs better than the CLA. i see what you are saying. im still listening to it to see if it starts to grow on me. some of my favorite albums now were ones i thought were horrible at first. and i AM a BC fan, gotta hear the rock from somewhere.

realdynamix Wed, 06/13/2001 - 17:29

"It will take a band with balls, but the Crowes have released a record with about 6 db more dynamic range than their last record. It will take something like that to hit big for the labels to take their heads out of their collective butts and realize that louder doesn't mean jack..."
--Brad Blackwood

I am actually scared, I saw them at Sunfest this year, and thats the way they are. I like them a lot.
I can't believe that consumer equipment has that much headroom, when I play CD's on my system, most are at a reasonable level, track correctly with the alignment, play a Crowes CD, and the meters are pegged.
It will wake you up, for sure. Pretty soon mfgrs. won't need driver stages in their circuitry.

Amighetti Ronnie Wed, 06/13/2001 - 23:24

I got a two days break, and I've found 14 reply to my post.....nice ;-)

Thanx to all who replied.
I'm very scared about this loudness war thing, 'cause I've been asked to push the loudness VERY up on same late CD, and I was curios to know what is the current loudness to peak rate.

Well, I think that an album CANNOT have a 2 to 3 dB loudness level to peak ratio.
It's absurd.
Most of teh stuff I mix, doesn't have less than 16 dB.

Unfortunately they sound so softer in comparison to RHCP or RATM, but ubfortately, demo bands was those cds as reference.

I'm not gonna change my mind, I'll still try to mix as much dynamic as I can.

But I'm interested on some other albums, if you'd like to speak:

Jeff Buckley, Grace
Rex, C

Those are dynamic albums, the REX in fact is VERY dynamic, and they sound superb, musically speaking, they have breath, pauses, raw, and calm.



alphajerk Thu, 06/14/2001 - 19:13

when that rms level gets too0 high its just absurd. but lets not forget a compressor on every channel IN the mix... everything is always at the same volume all the time. nuts! thats the new weezer, my gawd. i cant listen to it... it makes the songs boring.

gtrmac Thu, 06/14/2001 - 21:36

I can't remember where, but I have read the results of clinical tests which demonstrated that dynamics were one of the key elements that made some music more enjoyable than other, less dynamic music. I think they had taken the same music and compressed it and surveyed people somehow. I'm not telling anyone here anything new, I know. This stuff really bugs the hell out of me though. We're letting some hairbrained scheme, motivated by greed alone, suck the life out of what is a basic human form of expression. Well anyway when I'm home I try to play some good music for my kids and hope that some nitwit hasn't remastered a masterpiece into a lifeless piece of garbage. Excuse the rant please, music is very important to me. What's left of it.

alphajerk Sat, 06/16/2001 - 00:54

yeah, modern music doesnt breathe much anymore. its either ON or OFF. heres to holding your breathe!

lets not forget about even more compression and distortion once its on the market... one too many i have seen in some parking lot BLARING the music in their car like they are enjoying the speakers breaking up thinking it sounds good. im all for loud music in the car providing you have the power to run it that way... best buys doesnt sell that kind of power.

of course the worlds noise floor is getting pretty damn loud... got to get above it somehow :roll:

Profile picture for user atlasproaudio

atlasproaudio Sat, 06/16/2001 - 12:50

thats the new weezer, my gawd. i cant listen to it... it makes the songs boring

I think the new Weezer is incredible. Music and Production both. But I suppose I will get flamed for disagreeing with the Mob :( Oh just for name slinging fun that was produced by Rick Ocasic and mixed by Lord-Alge

Best Regards,
Nathan Eldred
Atlas Pro Audio, Inc.