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SubNormal J3

The Loudness War

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With all this talk about the loudness war, don't you think there should be a few standards applied to this very site in terms of minimum amount of dynamics to be considered acceptable? Using something like http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/ to provide some measurement. I mean, I ran into more than a few songs on various OCReMix albums that had terrible dynamics, such as No Such Thing As the Promised Land from Voices in the Lifestream and Weeping Willow from Unsung Heroes.

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With all this talk about the loudness war, don't you think there should be a few standards applied to this very site in terms of minimum amount of dynamics to be considered acceptable? Using something like http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/ to provide some measurement. I mean, I ran into more than a few songs on various OCReMix albums that had terrible dynamics, such as No Such Thing As the Promised Land from Voices in the Lifestream and Weeping Willow from Unsung Heroes.

I do see what you mean on Weeping Willow, but I have to disagree on NSTAtPL. Sure, it's been brickwalled, but the song has a gritty overall atmosphere anyways that makes it quite acceptable. Plus, it does drop down quite significantly in a couple of small parts, giving you that reqired break. Also, by balancing the instrumentation, they managed to give it some "pseudo dynamics," where most of the high end would drop out and it sounded like it was quieter, that sort of thing.

Personally, I'd like to see people submit songs mixed and mastered to the standard for that genre. In electronic music, more often than not, that's gonna be a brickwall limiter. Acoustic-based songs? Well, that might want a little more breathing room. Metal? Get me the louds, man, because I wanna wave my hair around and put my fists in the air.

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I disagree. Overcompression has its limits (har har), but I personally quite like the sound of a well-done "loud" master, when genre-appropriate.

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But both electronic and metal will sound much better if you just take the time to adjust the volume knob instead.

DING DING DING! We have a winner! :lol:

People had no problems dancing to the electronica, and banging their heads to the metal of the '70s, '80s and part of the '90s, before this loudness war kicked off.

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Overcompressed heavy metal lacks all of its power, which comes from meaty bass, kick drum, toms, snares (all instruments that use quite a bit of the spectrum, and commonly get pushed out of the way for the guitars and vocals when it is overcompressed). I hate metal that has an annoying hissy hat and a weak snare because the lead guitar is swallowing all of that frequency. If it had been mixed a few decibels lower, there probably would have been room to give those a nice, rich, full sound.

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The loudness war has happened because storing sound, wether it be analog or digital format, has physical limits. There's a cap on how tall the waveform can be. There's two ways of measuring loudness: The first is peak loudness which is typically reserved for short sounds with quick transients like snaredrums. These are generally what add punch to the music. The second is the average amount of loudness throughout the whole track. When the cap for peak loudness is reached, to give the impression of an even louder record you pump up the latter at the expense of the former due to the physical limitations.

If people simply manually adjusted the volume to reach the equivalent average loudness on uncompressed music, you get the best of both worlds. If you then play the compressed version at the equivalent volume adjustment it will just sound awful, and your body will tell you it sounds awful because it's actually harmful for your ears to be assaulted by a constant barrage of loudness.

I have listened to some Dubstep produced without compression and with full dynamic quality at very high volumes, and it's almost a religious experience even if the song itself was pretty average. The typical brickwalled stuff can't even scratch the surface.

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With all this talk about the loudness war, don't you think there should be a few standards applied to this very site in terms of minimum amount of dynamics to be considered acceptable? Using something like http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/ to provide some measurement.

The site already has production standards, and if something sounds bad it doesn't pass. So this is completely pointless unless, curiously, something can sound good but not meet an arbitrary set amount of dynamics.

That site is interesting but you probably shouldn't seriously judge music as yes or no by the numbers it spits out.

If you don't talk about music, you don't learn how other people see it, and you stay within your own mental bubble (kind of like elected Republicans). To me, it's always good to hear other peoples' thoughts about the subject, as it helps you see music from their perspective a little better, and get more of an appreciation of why this or that style/mixing technique/recording technique/etc. appeals to them for their music, or the music they listen to.

The funny thing is, though, that I don't think I've ever seen anyone argue that dynamics are bad; meanwhile the only ones who I'd describe as "stuck in a mental bubble" are the ones who seemingly somehow can't accept that people legitimately enjoy the "brickwalled" stuff and literally claim that their experiences and opinions are factually wrong. I'm not saying everyone is being super stubborn like that, but there's annoyingly much of it even here in this thread.

But both electronic and metal will sound much better if you just take the time to adjust the volume knob instead.

Can it theoretically sound better? Yes!

But will it, guaranteed?

You can't just say that a mix with more dynamics, whatever it is, sounds better to everyone just by virtue of having more dynamics. Worse is the reverse implication; that if something has less dynamics, whatever it is, it factually sounds worse than it would've if artist X and/or engineer Y had foregone their goal and vision (which is, hopefully, what they were working toward) in favor of listener Z's personal "EVERYTHING needs lots of dynamics!" opinion.

People had no problems dancing to the electronica, and banging their heads to the metal of the '70s, '80s and part of the '90s

This wasn't an argument for the general discussion, I hope. The fact that music was "good then" obviously doesn't mean it can't be even better now, regardless of opinions whether it actually is or not (from a technical standpoint we've obviously progressed). I for one don't like a lot of music or "sound" from back then; has its charms but there is no way I would wish that any of the music I listen to today would sound like comparable tracks back then. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to say this if I liked Metallica and suddenly got Death Magnetic(?), but it's still their choices that makes their music theirs and I wouldn't have it any other way. Can't blame [whatever was wrong with that album] on anything but them doing it poorly (/letting someone else do it poorly and okay it). It didn't just happen and it didn't have to happen, compression isn't an evil that sneaks around trying to ruin albums that don't need it.

I've barely ever felt "ear fatigue" and in those cases I've been listening to crazy (even for me) music at stupid volume for a stupid amount of time, so I will absolutely admit that as far as that argument goes, I can't completely understand the perspective of someone who claims that they physically can't endure some of the music I not only have absolutely no problems with but also flippin' love. I do of course take it seriously and to some degree into consideration when doing my own stuff (which I'm aware has a long way to go in all areas), but the question is where, if anywhere, is the line? Do Team_Brickwallerz have to dial what they think is awesome down to appease Team_Dynamicz, or do Team_Dynamicz have to stop complaining and just create what they want to create and listen to what they like listening to? The latter just seems to make more logical sense to me, especially when it's something this subjective.

People should know about the effects of the "loudness war" for sure, just like all the other important knowledge they amass when making music. But how they decide to use it is what makes them artists, and I think people sometimes need to ease up just a tiny bit and not go overboard with the -.^ and the *.*.

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The funny thing is, though, that I don't think I've ever seen anyone argue that dynamics are bad; meanwhile the only ones who I'd describe as "stuck in a mental bubble" are the ones who seemingly somehow can't accept that people legitimately enjoy the "brickwalled" stuff and literally claim that their experiences and opinions are factually wrong.

It's on both sides of the issue. Trust me. I've read and heard arguments from musicians and producers alike both for and against retaining dynamics, and brickwalling a track. It's almost become an "oldschool vs newschool" kind of thing, as each sees the other as problematic.

This wasn't an argument for the general discussion, I hope. The fact that music was "good then" obviously doesn't mean it can't be even better now, regardless of opinions whether it actually is or not (from a technical standpoint we've obviously progressed). I for one don't like a lot of music or "sound" from back then; has its charms but there is no way I would wish that any of the music I listen to today would sound like comparable tracks back then. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to say this if I liked Metallica and suddenly got Death Magnetic(?), but it's still their choices that makes their music theirs and I wouldn't have it any other way. Can't blame [whatever was wrong with that album] on anything but them doing it poorly (/letting someone else do it poorly and okay it). It didn't just happen and it didn't have to happen, compression isn't an evil that sneaks around trying to ruin albums that don't need it.

My comment wasn't a "music was better back in the day" statement, it was a "no one ever called the music quiet back then" statement. Iron Maiden, Van Halen, AC/DC, Megadeth, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot... people banged their heads just fine to those bands in the decades I mentioned, and parents complained about the loud music just as often. So I personally don't see why brickwalling and the loudness war needed to come about.

I mean, I get where the loudness war came from (in part anyway). Various bands wanted their music to sound louder than the competing bands in their genre (usually metal), so that people would pay attention to their music. It makes a kind of sense (some metal bands loved to claim they were the loudest in the '80s), and it's easy to see how that concept could work in some ways. But it's that mentality that has brought us to where we are today, and spawned the loudness war that some love, and others loathe; the "it has to be loud to get listened to" mindset that's permeated the idea from the start, and has become something of a motto. And that it's gotten closer to being the norm within the industry for how to handle music, regardless of genre, just doesn't sit right with me.

I get that some people like the way it sounds, and I'm fine with that. To each their own on both sides of the issue, agree to disagree on what sounds better, and all that. I'm just trying to give my reasons for why I dislike the technique, and never use it. And if I stepped on any toes along the way, or made someone feel they were in the wrong like I was wagging my finger at them Colbert-style, that wasn't my intention.

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When a song is compressed, the original data is lost and there is no going back without access to the source material. With the uncompressed material the listener can still choose to process it if for some reason they want to do that rather than just raise the volume. But if the music is compressed beforehand, you have no choice in the matter.

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The site already has production standards, and if something sounds bad it doesn't pass. So this is completely pointless unless, curiously, something can sound good but not meet an arbitrary set amount of dynamics.

You may have production standards, but I still think to some degree, this could help a bit.

That site is interesting but you probably shouldn't seriously judge music as yes or no by the numbers it spits out.
I don't. That's why I give the music a good listen to go along with the numbers being presented in front of me. And while I can appreciate a well-done loud master if done right, I often appreciate a quieter, more dynamic master a LOT more.

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If you don't need them, then why make a rule around them?

Again, all I'm saying is if you have to look it up it can't be that bad (or you're in no position to judge), and if you can already tell that it sounds bad well there you go.

Low dynamic range can be intentional (and suits some genres more than others), setting a specific limit just seems completely arbitrary (and dangerously close to trying to decide how music "should" be which I'm not a fan of). It's just not as easy as f.e. setting a rule about clipping.

You like "a quieter, more dynamic master a LOT more", well... great I guess! Can't argue with that, though it seems like a bit of generalization.

I like the artist to realize his/her vision as unconstrained as possible, whether that is a solo acoustic instrument with over nine thousand dynamicz or the japanese hardrave that gives me a headache after a couple of hours but is flippin' awesome up until that point.

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While dynamics are nice, they'll never be a hard requirement on the site, as some genres don't leave much room for dynamic variation. The judges will often make a judgment call on a track and say there isn't enough dynamic variation if that would make the track significantly better, but any chart showing a 'minimum' and 'maximum' range would be pointless.

Someone could have a grindcore submission and the judges might need some more dynamic variation on it, or someone could submit a orchestral submission and the judges would ask for the same. However, with the grindcore track perhaps a variation level of 3-4 would be more than enough, while in an orchestral track there would more or less need to be something like 15-18 dynamic variation. From genre to genre, it varies so much that a chart like the one given just wouldn't help much at all.

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