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avaris
10-09-2009, 07:37 PM
Good read:

http://prorec.com/Articles/tabid/109/EntryId/343/Over-the-Limit-2-The-End-of-the-Loudness-War.aspx

po!
10-09-2009, 08:57 PM
That's actually a pretty good article, until he gets to

At some point, hopefully in the near future, mastering engineers will stop considering the 16 bit, 44.1 KHz CD the "target" and will start mastering for downloadable formats.

Ummmm... what? Digital audio is pretty much the same "format" regardless of the final file type. CD/WAV, MP3, FLAC represent the same information, just using different compression schemes. That statement shows a flawed understanding of digital audio, and the whole article goes downhill from there

Personally I think auto-normalizers like Replay Gain kinda suck.. I definitely have it turned off on my players. The point he makes about people mastering for auto-normalizers is only valid IF it becomes the standard for listening to audio, which I doubt will happen. It probably would have happened by now, since like he states, it came out a long time ago.

Fishy
10-09-2009, 09:01 PM
Interesting article, with many good points. As someone who might end up mastering as part of his job I've always wondered how to approach the war. I definitely agree with this guy that compression should be an end, as opposed to a means to an end (eg you should use it to get a compressed sound if you want it, as opposed to doing it with the goal to make it louder with the consequence of it sounding compressed). But there are a couple of holes in there as many comments at the bottom pointed out with no real answer. There are two many ways people want to listen to music at the moment, without a single standard there is no right answer, not everyone uses replay gain etc.

Should I ever get around to being in a band/releasing solo crap; I would probably release two mixes and let the buyer choose. A compressed master can be much better in the car (until we all have silent hydrogen cell powered cars lol) but the audiophile in me always appreciates a master with the sound as opposed to volume at the focus.

Harmony
10-09-2009, 09:25 PM
Good stuff with an interesting prediction as to how it will end. It's difficult for me to judge how popular auto-normalization is -- I don't use it -- but it doesn't sound so far fetched that it will become as standard as similar practices have become in broadcasting.
That's actually a pretty good article, until he gets to
At some point, hopefully in the near future, mastering engineers will stop considering the 16 bit, 44.1 KHz CD the "target" and will start mastering for downloadable formats.
Ummmm... what? Digital audio is pretty much the same "format" regardless of the final file type. CD/WAV, MP3, FLAC represent the same information, just using different compression schemes. That statement shows a flawed understanding of digital audio, and the whole article goes downhill from thereI actually read that differently than you. I've heard plenty of arguments against recording at 24/96 or even 24/48 simply because the final target will most likely be 16/44.1. Similarly I've heard of people wanting to record at 24/96 but end up settling for 24/88.2 because of the even-number sample rate conversion down to 44.1, for whatever that's worth. However, if we're not bound by CD Red Book standards, we can record and distribute at higher bit/sample rates. MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc. can handle it so I read the authors statement as one of a hope that we could lose those boundaries. In that sense, I share that hope.

big giant circles
10-09-2009, 09:37 PM
of a hope that we could lose those boundaries. In that sense, I share that hope.

same here.

theshaggyfreak
10-09-2009, 09:47 PM
Not all of the over compressed crap that you hear is a the Mastering Engineers fault. I often read a lot of articles that blame the mixing engineer for over compressing it before it even gets to mastering. Tape Op has put out a number of articles talking about such things over the past several years.

The music industry falling apart at the seams because the big wigs refuse to let go of the old paradigms. This scares a lot of people into the loudness wars. On the other side of things, though, changes are happening since more and more bands are able to produce their own stuff. Unfortunately a lot of them aren't educated on the art of compression. It really is an art of it's own and it's often abused and over used. The other issue is that a lot of people track way too hot.

I could really go on about such things but I'm sure everyone doesn't want to read my long rants. :)

big giant circles
10-09-2009, 09:56 PM
man, this forum can handle ranting. rant away, brother!

po!
10-09-2009, 10:45 PM
I actually read that differently than you. I've heard plenty of arguments against recording at 24/96 or even 24/48 simply because the final target will most likely be 16/44.1. Similarly I've heard of people wanting to record at 24/96 but end up settling for 24/88.2 because of the even-number sample rate conversion down to 44.1, for whatever that's worth. However, if we're not bound by CD Red Book standards, we can record and distribute at higher bit/sample rates. MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc. can handle it so I read the authors statement as one of a hope that we could lose those boundaries. In that sense, I share that hope.

I wasn't really referring to aliasing/interpolation issues that arise when changing sampling rates, which is a totally different issue. I don't think the author is referring to that either, since he's comparing CD to MP3 and other "downloadable" formats, as if they are different types of data. I don't think he's referring to sampling rates, since like you mentioned they're capable of different sampling rates.

Anyways, I'm really skeptical of the auto-normalization thang. I don't even think it accomplishes what it ideally should accomplish, which is change the VOLUME of the sound coming out of your speakers, and not the GAIN.

Ideally if I'm listening to something really LOUD from the past decade and then listen to a track from the 70s, I'd turn the volume knob on my speakers to make them about the same volume.

Things like Replay Gain only turn the volume on my computer, which is actually changing the GAIN (hence the name Replay Gain). So in order for auto-normalizing to work in the ideal way, it must be able to control VOLUME and not gain. That means it must have control of the hardware that's playing sounds (your speakers).

Things like standalone mp3 players can do this since it's integrated software and hardware, but you would need USB-controlled speakers or something similar on your computer. I just don't see that becoming a standard...

Even if Replay Gain became standard, it may not accomplish the correct goal. Yes, people wouldn't master as loud, but now you're effectively dividing the mastering. Replay Gain would do the final "master" and overcompress and you'd still be hearing overcompressed music coming out of your speakers since it's only able to control gain.

Ok I have no idea why I'm rambling about this... back to work :<

Legion303
10-17-2009, 03:27 AM
The other issue is that a lot of people track way too hot.

Looking at you, Rick Rubin.

-steve

GarretGraves
12-04-2009, 12:05 PM
HAHA! I like that Death Magnetic was the opener for this. I was so pissed when I got the album. Clipping all the way through. Fucken Rick Ruben man. He got Metallica back on track with metal (mostly) and we coulda had a perfectly solid metal album since The Black Album. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Something HAD to be jacked up.

I only say that cause Load and Reload set fans apart and St. Anger was way too raw and dry. And crap. And SOLO-LESS! But personally, I liked Load and Reload and I can respect the direction St. Anger went cause of the issues they were goin through. And say what you want, but I thought Some Kind of Monster was an important movie. It showed what ALL bands go through at some point (the point where everyone goes their seperate ways)and it showed that Ulrich and Mustaine had a man to man talk, putting a cap on the the 20 year feud (I hope).

Sorry to rant about my favorite band in the world, but I was drafted into the Metallica army. I didn't get a choice!

ANYWAY! This should be a great read for me cause I'm trying really hard to find a way to get my tracks louder without distorting the effing crap out of it. I started learning about limiters recently and I'm getting better with compressors.

But reading this is gonna take a while... HERE WE GO!

The Vagrance
12-04-2009, 02:19 PM
The important thing though is that a squashed sound isn't necessarily a bad one, its all about the end goal. All dynamic ranges are artistic choices, and though the trend towards all releases approaching a "wall-of-sound" is a harmful one, it shouldn't immediately discourage one from making a loud mix.

All that matters is the end result: If it sounds good and expresses the artistic intentions through the mix, then nothing else matters.

Level 99
12-04-2009, 02:39 PM
That was a wonderful read, actually. And, while I agree with The Vagrance on the end result being an expression of the artist's intention, the problem is that many people getting into music these days, due to the increasing ability to DIY with tools reminiscent of the same that are used for semi-pro production, is that people will begin to equate this wall-of-sound as being the ultimately desired effect regardless of whether or not it sounds good. People usually try to model their sounds after someone else, and many beginners love to try to sound like their favorite band. If someone like GarretGraves didn't agree that Death Magnetic was WAY overcompressed and tried their hand at making music that sounded similar, it just increases the problem.

In some cases, yes, overcompressing things will sound alright if the source material merits it, but I mean....I looked at the brick that was the waveform on the album version of "My Apocalypse" and....WOW. That's not just a brick, that looks like a fifty-pound brick with some small chips away here and there. You listen to that loud enough, and it's gonna break your headphones AND your ears.

But what I do know, I barely know what I'm talking about :tomatoface:

Harmony
12-04-2009, 03:09 PM
And, while I agree with The Vagrance on the end result being an expression of the artist's intention, the problem is that many people getting into music these days, due to the increasing ability to DIY with tools reminiscent of the same that are used for semi-pro production, is that people will begin to equate this wall-of-sound as being the ultimately desired effect regardless of whether or not it sounds good. Bam, nail on the head. I'll add that knowing what "sounds good" is part of the problem. People can listen to an album and know that it "sounds good" but have no idea why, and thus can't translate that to their music making.

GarretGraves
12-05-2009, 07:25 AM
Bam, nail on the head. I'll add that knowing what "sounds good" is part of the problem. People can listen to an album and know that it "sounds good" but have no idea why, and thus can't translate that to their music making.

Was that what they meant by the Pepsi Challenge section? I was kinda confused when I read that.

liquid wind
12-05-2009, 10:39 AM
Not all of the over compressed crap that you hear is a the Mastering Engineers fault. I often read a lot of articles that blame the mixing engineer for over compressing it before it even gets to mastering.

Besides this from the engineers I've heard from they seem to know better and simply over compress it because they are told to, doing the right thing doesn't pay the bills and if a label wants their music to look like a brick they can get someone else to do it anyway.

That being said I think how loud is loud enough is entirely dependent on what kind of music is being made, some of it does sound better heavily compressed, some of it would be better not being compressed at all. But the music industries "louder louder louder!" tunnel vision is definitely negative, and completely retarded...if we wanted it louder we could just...adjust the volume.

Harmony
12-05-2009, 01:36 PM
Was that what they meant by the Pepsi Challenge section? I was kinda confused when I read that.For you, that was the most important part.

The bottom line was that louder is actually not preferred when you consider listening to an entire track or better yet, an entire album.

The Pepsi Challenge gives a person two unmarked sips of soda (one is Pepsi the other Coke) and they're then asked which one they prefer.

Fact 1: They usually choose the Pepsi.
Fact 2: More people buy Coke than Pepsi.
Fact 3: Pepsi has a higher sugar content than Coke.

Facts 1 and 2 seem contradictory. If in the sipping taste test people usually pick Pepsi as the better tasting drink, why do more people buy Coke? Because of fact 3. If you put more sugar in the drink, one sip of the soda will probably taste better than one sip of something with a similar taste but less sugar. BUT, when you drink the whole can of soda instead of just a sip, the added sugar turns a significant number of people OFF of that soda. That's what happened with the New Coke product which was an attempt to up the sugar content of the original Coke to appeal to people in the short run. It did -- people liked it more than Pepsi. However, that doesn't matter in the long run. People eventually (whether they knew why or not) rejected the soda because it was too sugary. It's like Mitch Hedberg said about Pancakes "You love 'em at first, but by the end you're fuckin' sick of 'em". Again, a couple of bites of the sugary pancakes is great, but too much sugar just isn't appealing to most people.

The musical analogy to be drawn is that when listening to a portion of a track, or even the whole track, you may initially think that a louder version sounds better. But on repeated listenings, that artificially added loudness --added sugar -- will turn most people off of the music. That's what happened with that Metallica CD. I haven't heard it, but I'm pretty sure that there were no audibly clipped peaks, in spite of what a clipping analyzer would tell you. That would have been a technically bad mastering job and at that level of the game, that rarely happens. The Metallica CD was an artistically bad mastering job. Like you're attempting to do with your tracks, the master was pushed to the limits of perceived loudness and while the final result may have been "better sounding" on a first listen to many people, when people started playing it on repeat dozens of times a day (you know how you Metallica fans are :wink:) they got sick of it, like pancakes and New Coke.

Souliarc
12-05-2009, 03:11 PM
For you, that was the most important part.

The bottom line was that louder is actually not preferred when you consider listening to an entire track or better yet, an entire album.

The Pepsi Challenge gives a person two unmarked sips of soda (one is Pepsi the other Coke) and they're then asked which one they prefer.

Fact 1: They usually choose the Pepsi.
Fact 2: More people buy Coke than Pepsi.
Fact 3: Pepsi has a higher sugar content than Coke.

Facts 1 and 2 seem contradictory. If in the sipping taste test people usually pick Pepsi as the better tasting drink, why do more people buy Coke? Because of fact 3. If you put more sugar in the drink, one sip of the soda will probably taste better than one sip of something with a similar taste but less sugar. BUT, when you drink the whole can of soda instead of just a sip, the added sugar turns a significant number of people OFF of that soda. That's what happened with the New Coke product which was an attempt to up the sugar content of the original Coke to appeal to people in the short run. It did -- people liked it more than Pepsi. However, that doesn't matter in the long run. People eventually (whether they knew why or not) rejected the soda because it was too sugary. It's like Mitch Hedberg said about Pancakes "You love 'em at first, but by the end you're fuckin' sick of 'em". Again, a couple of bites of the sugary pancakes is great, but too much sugar just isn't appealing to most people.

The musical analogy to be drawn is that when listening to a portion of a track, or even the whole track, you may initially think that a louder version sounds better. But on repeated listenings, that artificially added loudness --added sugar -- will turn most people off of the music. That's what happened with that Metallica CD. I haven't heard it, but I'm pretty sure that there were no audibly clipped peaks, in spite of what a clipping analyzer would tell you. That would have been a technically bad mastering job and at that level of the game, that rarely happens. The Metallica CD was an artistically bad mastering job. Like you're attempting to do with your tracks, the master was pushed to the limits of perceived loudness and while the final result may have been "better sounding" on a first listen to many people, when people started playing it on repeat dozens of times a day (you know how you Metallica fans are :wink:) they got sick of it, like pancakes and New Coke.

Beautifully phrased.

rig1015
12-08-2009, 05:52 PM
Sorry for quoting you Harmony but you always know your game and you make good points.
I've heard plenty of arguments against recording at 24/96 or even 24/48 simply because the final target will most likely be 16/44.1.
100% on this... If anyone thinks compression messes with a tracks sound (when in regards to loudness) try dithering and making alias freqs *shutters* so I target 44.1 & 16 bits as end result too.
Similarly I've heard of people wanting to record at 24/96 but end up settling for 24/88.2 because of the even-number sample rate conversion down to 44.1, for whatever that's worth.
24 bit 96Khz, I hear, is what most AES members are calling "Transparent Tape Analog". I personally stay within the 88.2 as well because of the even sampling break down and lack of odd sampled dithering in the back end.
... if we're not bound by CD Red Book standards, we can record and distribute at higher bit/sample rates. MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc. can handle it so I read the authors statement as one of a hope that we could lose those boundaries. In that sense, I share that hope.
This is how the MP3 revolution CHANGED EVERYTHING. Think of one of your friends who still has a CD player for all of their personal media (besides maybe in the car). iPods and Portable MP3 players are the new standard, and what is wonderful is their only format standard is the codec (which means yes, your MP3 player is only as good as the codec that decodes your MP3 data) So Red Book format doesn't mean shit anymore! Hooray, we can make 32bit MP3 @ 96KHz. But are the samples you are using to make your track. are they 32 bit as well? No, probably 24, at most. Do we even need a dynamic range that big (32bit)? ... If you do you should probably look at your engineering skills and rearrange how you do it. As for 96khz/88kHz... This is a silly point because AD-DA conversion taught us why we need 44.1 (in case you don't know: human ear hears 20Hz to 20kHz; And in digital in order to keep alias frequencies from appearing you have to double the sample rate... so double 20kHz you get 40kHz, then add the Low Pass Filter Roll Off Curve and you get 44.1kHz. So now you know why red book says 44.1kHz). So if we think about it like a movie, in one second you get 44,100 frames shot by your eye / ear (24 fps in film, 29.97 in color TV) so if we up this to 88,200 are you going to notice a difference? If you do I want to know what you are doing on this forum and not working as world famous mastering engineer. But, there is always one.
As for the MP3, FLAC, AAC, OGG, WMA, etc. anyone who records at the resolutions discussed prior, and then formats the end result into this is undoing all the frequency work! So to those I ask WTF!? In the end even lossless encoding is still "Taking data out of the original file" no matter how you cut it! So now you are relying on the codec inside the decoding app to do the just as good a job, the data isn't there but you're hoping that it will be though.

If we stay on the path of PCM for our digital audio, resolution is a moot point, unless the player at the consumers end is as resolute as the tools we used to make the audio.

DSD baby. DSD. Then encoding won't even matter.

As for loudness... *chuckles* bigger bit depth then dither... go 64 if you need it during the mix. But when you master, master for 16. Thats all I got for that.

The Biznut
01-05-2010, 07:38 AM
Geez, tons of info here for someone just venturing into the technical side of mixing and mastering. Harmony you sure seem to know your stuff. Heck, all of you do, I feel better informed just for reading your responses, I haven't even read the article yet! I'll get to it...

Mark7
02-09-2010, 12:52 PM
I don't want to say much about this, because the loudness war makes me very sad :p. It makes no sense to me to put a lot of effort in recording music at the very best quality, and then at the very final step (mastering) destroy everything. It's just incredibly stupid.

People who prefer (too) loud tracks should remove the wax out of their ears and then take a good listen again.

High volume tracks should be forbidden from OCR. Judges?

GarretGraves
02-09-2010, 04:33 PM
The only reason why I aim to get my tracks louder is because other remixes I hear on this site are a few dB louder than everything I make. And since most (if not all) remixes are done in home studios, I should be able to get equally as loud as them. The goal for me was never to really be the LOUDEST artist but rather be up to speed with everyone else when it comes to recording quality.

This is and has always been my life and I'm still not happy with my overall sound quality. That's very irritating.

Fishy
02-20-2010, 07:37 AM
People who prefer (too) loud tracks should remove the wax out of their ears and then take a good listen again.

High volume tracks should be forbidden from OCR. Judges?

For some genres high volume is practically a necessity these days otherwise it doesn't punch you in the face the way some music is intended to (even though I agree its kinda silly and over-compressing usually takes the punch away). Also seeing as the majority of music that is submitted is by amateur/hobbyist musicians we can't expect everyone to be well versed in the issue and people only have commercial music as a loudness and mixing reference.

In short, it's a lovely idea that I'd support if it was anywhere near feasible without causing a major fuss. We're always gonna be the minority on the issue for now anyway.

Kidd Cabbage
02-21-2010, 01:58 AM
Yeah, I can't imagine mastering a metal song at -12db RMS. Part of its sound is having everything right up front.

In other news, I won the loudness war. Just saying.