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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?

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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.

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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... :\

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 4 years later...

Louder IS better. The louder you master, the more details you can incorporate into your music. But obviously sausagefest waveforms are terrible. So yeah, context. Only mix loudly if you can tell whether you're mixing too loudly or not. If you can tell the difference in volume at +/- 5 dB, then that's great. Telling the difference in EQ peak level at around +/- 2 dB is better (that's as far as I can hear, personally). Honestly, I would prefer mastering at -0.2 or 0 dB, just like SnappleMan, and leaving headroom if it's a context where you don't need excessive compression to make things sound cohesive. I actually try not to use master compression if the track already sounds good.

Edited by timaeus222
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