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View Full Version : Is louder... better?


Gario
03-11-2010, 12:33 AM
Sounds like a silly question, but I'm putting some final touches on a song and compared it to the other songs on this site, to hear how well it blended. It seems a little louder than most of the music on here without clipping problems and such (which is good, I guess). However, if I play this music with other programs (background music while playing a game, for example) it either clips out the sound or the sound clips out the music.

Should I take this into consideration and submit a slightly quieter version of the song on the site or is it better to leave the music loud?

Nase
03-11-2010, 01:37 AM
if you're perfectly happy with the audio quality and dynamics of the piece as it is, i see no reason to make it quieter.
if people want to listen to it while having other stuff go through the audio output, i'd say it's their job to adjust the respective volume levels if it clips.
i'd say louder definitely is better if the sound quality doesn't suffer at all.
unless you specifically want a song's volume to be subdued.

Gario
03-11-2010, 01:48 AM
Good point... I didn't even think about that, as a matter of fact :-x.

Thanks for the response, Nase. Time to go sub it, I guess.

Skrypnyk
03-11-2010, 01:52 AM
Louder is always better (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S08RnihwIg&feature=related)

LuketheXjesse
03-11-2010, 01:59 AM
hey guys lets master our music at 0 db lol

Gario
03-11-2010, 02:20 AM
You would if you could, Luke.

You would if you could.

Meteo Xavier
03-11-2010, 02:32 AM
hey guys lets master our music at 0 db lol

You would if you could, Luke.

You would if you could.

I haven't laughed harder all day. Thanks guys :)

LuketheXjesse
03-11-2010, 05:23 PM
I master at -1 db, to be fair.

I have considered jacking it up though.

SnappleMan
03-11-2010, 06:23 PM
I master at -0.2dB or 0dB.

Fishy
03-11-2010, 07:00 PM
If you don't have one at least one sample at- 0dBFS then you're not mastering properly. If it's not affecting your mix and you're sure about that, as loud as possible really.

Mark7
03-11-2010, 07:06 PM
I would probably prefer the slightly quieter version. Quality always suffers with nowadays loudness/mastering.

Are you sure the quality didn't suffer?

SnappleMan
03-11-2010, 07:07 PM
Getting things as loud as possible is essential to good mastering. The problem is that most novices see that as "BRICKWALL EVERYTHING!" when in actually "as loud AS POSSIBLE" really means "as loud as something should logically be in context". The goal should always be to get the most out of the elements that make up the song. When mastering the C4 album I was very aggressive with it because the material called for it. When I'm mastering an acoustic session or something more intimate, I leave a good amount of headroom for ambiance and so that the listener can turn his speakers up past 2... :\

Mark7
03-12-2010, 10:38 AM
Why would louder be better? Right, there is no reason. 16bit sound has a huge dynamic range so that cannot be the reason. Mp3 does not even have a bitdepth so theoretically it can have an even bigger dynamic range.

I understand when you are using dynamic compression for artistic reasons (you really like the sound better).
But using hyper compression, multiband compression, softclipping and whatnot just to get the music louder is a bad reason imho.
With loud mastering you only increase the chance that you are getting clipping or destoying details in your music.

IMHO the only genre which might get away with loud mastering is (hard) rock. But even with that genre the mastering goes over the top nowadays. Listen to Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication, Stadium Arcadium or Metallica - Death Magnetic. Do you like that sound? (I don't). The vinyl version of Stadium Arcadium is known to sound better than the CDs due to quieter mastering. Same goes for Death Magnetic and the Guitar Hero version.

All other genres suffer more easily from loud mastering and treated even more carefully.

SnappleMan
03-12-2010, 04:21 PM
The Guitar Hero version of Death Magnetic is the same, just normalized at a lower volume... :\

Mark7
03-12-2010, 06:44 PM
What makes you say that?

It does sound different and when you look at this screen shot (http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/2008/09/metallica-death-magnetic-sounds-better.html) you can easily see that the peaks look (and sound) much better in the guitar hero version.

Arcana
03-12-2010, 07:25 PM
Wasn't there a similar thread where Harmony or BCG or someone linked an article where, when given the exact same version of a song, except one was made louder or something, almost everyone preferred the louder version?

Mark7
03-12-2010, 08:41 PM
So what does such a test say? Absolutely nothing about sound quality, because the exact same song with the same quality is preferred at louder volume. It just shows how easily ppl are misleaded.

Higher volume is just an illusion of better quality, which most people apparently fall for. The illusion is so strong that even when the quality suffers severely (like today's clipped music) people still think it is better.

It's sad that most people don't realize that.

The Vagrance
03-12-2010, 09:09 PM
So what does such a test say? Absolutely nothing about sound quality, because the exact same song with the same quality is preferred at louder volume. It just shows how easily ppl are misleaded.

Higher volume is just an illusion of better quality, which most people apparently fall for. The illusion is so strong that even when the quality suffers severely (like today's clipped music) people still think it is better.

It's sad that most people don't realize that.

I feel like you're overreacting a wee bit. Yes there is degradation in sound quality with limiting, but there is with any and all processes put on sound. The trick is to hit the middle ground in between loudness, and clarity; its not a black and white loud = bad thing but rather a sliding scale. Whatever is best for the art in the end.

Nase
03-12-2010, 09:12 PM
Bringing the Loudness War debate into this thread is pretty pointless without having listened to the tune in question.

Skrypnyk
03-12-2010, 09:17 PM
Louder is always better (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S08RnihwIg&feature=related)

I think some of you missed it the first time I posted it =|

Gario
03-12-2010, 09:50 PM
Bringing the Loudness War debate into this thread is pretty pointless without having listened to the tune in question.

This is the tune in question (http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=28012), if you want to hear it. I don't hear any loss, myself, but if you do let me know :roll:...

Funny, I'm listening to this now on a different pair of speakers and I indeed hear a little bit of clipping... I better go back and see if my speakers are deceiving me a bit (the speakers I'm listening to right now aren't exactly top of the line, though...). If so it'll be fixed, I promise, lol. :banghead:

EDIT: I listened to it on my own setup again, and I think what I heard was just the speakers... *Phew* :lol:

To Mark7 - I appreciate your opinion, and I understand where you're coming from. However, since I said there was no loss in quality you should've assumed that there was no clipping in the track. It was more of a question of whether a track with all other things being equal were, indeed, better loud than soft.

Originally posted by Mark7
...It does sound different and when you look at this screen shot (http://mastering-media.blogspot.com/2008/09/metallica-death-magnetic-sounds-better.html) you can easily see that the peaks look (and sound) much better in the guitar hero version. That picture just looks like the person who mixed the original track was a moron and didn't know too much compression would make the track sound like a unintelligible mess. Not to mention that, because of the peaks in the GH track, it would be louder than the overcompressed one overall, wouldn't it?

Oh, and my ears are still bleeding from your post, Skrypnyk, don't worry.

GarretGraves
03-13-2010, 02:09 AM
I think some of you missed it the first time I posted it =|

Oh man. I mean no offense, but that track is intolerable to me.

I know I know. As sound engineers, producers and mixers, we're suppose to leave our ego at the door. But man... I think there's a limit to even that for me. I have q-tips in my ears as I type this.

As for the question. Louder is better depending on the genre. Rock, metal and rap generally use all the headroom you have on top of using compressors and limiters and what not. But stuff like jazz and folk and world music I think tends to get just loud enough. But this is still a matter of perspective. The Guide to Mixing (i lost the link.) has a "Pepsi Challenge" analogy that fits pretty well with this subject.

SnappleMan
03-13-2010, 06:30 AM
The most heavily compressed song I've ever mixed:

http://www.rockednloaded.com/media/04_BRICKWALLER.mp3

I think it sounds great, but only because the song itself calls for such heavy compression. Considering I got all 70 tracks to be crystal clear AND got the song that loud, I'm pretty proud of it!

Point is, that song is called BRICKWALLER because it's brickwalled to hell but still sounds good. It's all about context. You can't mask lack of musical depth by making things ultra loud, which is what most bands try to do. If you're gonna make something loud, give it a reason (in this case the reason being a completely intense composition).

And as for Death Magnetic, the Guitar Hero version still has the same clipping and distortion problems as the album version. This tells you that the album was MIXED poorly, not mastered poorly. It's the same shitty mix only not as loud.