Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Loudness War

Nope, this is not a new band -- this is apparently the term used to describe how modern CDs are being mastered louder and louder. I found this to be very interesting, if only on a superificial level since I'm not a sound engineer. Of course, there are two side to how people feel about this, but in my anecdotal experience, after reading the Wikipedia entry, I feel like I can definitely tell this is happening.

One way is just by listening to CDs. For example, Spend a Night in the Box, by the Reverend Horton Heat is very harsh to me. I feel fatigued by listening to it. Also, as mentioned in the wikipedia article, Californication by the Chili Peppers has the same effect on me, as does the most recent issue of Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges. After reading the article, I feel like I have a better understanding, and appreciation, of when people say that vinyl has a "warmer" sound.

This all came about after Joe, Greg, and I were discussing various settings we could use in iTunes or on the iPod to "normalize" volumes. When I've created CD-R comps for friends or Liz, I usually use Goldwave to "normalize" or level the volumes on the various songs so the CD sounds consistent. You can really tell how things have gotten louder and more compressed by looking at the Waveforms in audio editors. And as far as I know you can only bring loud songs down in volume and not bring quieter songs up in volume. In the same way that you can't make a JPG bigger w/o losing quality, I think the same thing applies. Or that's my layman's observation.

Maybe all this explains the ringing in my ears! ;-)

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