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#1
I knot this is probably a noob question and the answer is probably stupidly obvious but what does the Loudness War in recording albums mean ?
#7
Well, you could have asked in the Recording forum... or used the searchbar... but nonetheless, here's a post I made literally a few days ago:

Quote by I

WARNING: WALL-OF-TEXT!


Read this: Link

I mean, there are reasons that the Loudness War sucks, but don't let word-of-mouth and common misconception fool you - as that article will prove, dynamic range isn't necessarily reduced.

If I was to list problems with the Loudness War, I'd say that far bigger problems are the lack of a standardised volume, meaning when you go from track to track on shuffle in a playlist from different albums and eras, you need to have some form of analyser to adjust the volume for the differing average RMS values of songs (which is still problematic) or to put up with large jumps up and down in volume; and the other main problem is that it can be quite fatiguing on the ear to have everything fighting for presence in the mix, and much lower crest factors resulting in fewer restbites between prolonged transients.

Clipping/distortion is sometimes a problem, but honestly - it's far rarer than people make out, and it's really obvious when it does come into play (parts of Death Magnetic, for example, when the snare and guitars are really fighting in the mix at the same time). People confuse the distortion caused by compression with the clipping caused by reaching the digital maximum of 0dBFS.

For an example of waveform distortion caused intentionally by compressors, just listen to the kick drum in any modern metal mix - you'll never get a raw kick drum signal to sound like that in the real world, regardless of how you tune it and what beater you use etc. It requires heavy compression, and scooping all the mids out of the sound before boosting the range of the beater attack (usually at the harmonic around 4k or 8kHz).

As for distortion caused by breaching 0dBFS, check out the kick/snare pattern at the start of this 2009 (I think) Unearth song...



In mastering, somebody clearly wasn't paying attention to the outboard compressors and the start of the song caught the comp. off-guard and the first few hits feature digital clipping before it settles.


Also, remember that in terms of dynamic range and typical levels of distortion, the environment and system you listen back on are probably having a far more negative impact on the sound that the mastering process.


Hope this has cleared that up a little, and you can go back to your music-loving ways
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#8
To put in simple terms, recordings today are getting louder and louder at the expense of quality. Songs are being what's called "brickwalled" meaning there is little to no difference between what's supposed to be loud and what's supposed to be quiet. All for the sake of making the album sound "loud".

It kind of came to a head a few years ago when even casual fans, and not just the audiophiles, noticed that the quality of the tracks for Metallica's Death Magnetic sounded way better on Guitar Hero (which had not been fully mastered) than on the actual CD itself.
#9
Quote by LazarusOnGrave
To put in simple terms, recordings today are getting louder and louder at the expense of quality.

You know, it's funny. DG just wrote a fairly long-ish post (including a link) that basically just debunked this.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at May 6, 2013,
#12
Quote by USCENDONE BENE

People tempted to post articles like this should read the link that DG posted above first.

Quote by willT08
It means hipsters cry about audio processes they know literally nothing about

Basically. I mean, a lot of albums from '95 on would sound like shit without "loudness war". Even many supposed "Hipster Favorites" would sound like shit. Fact is, music recording has embraced the concept of the "loudness war" and learned to use it to the advantage of the recording. People bitching about it don't really understand the entire issue.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at May 6, 2013,
#14
Another good example of compression distortion: You know how in electro songs, the music suddenly gets quieter with each beat, then gradually gets louder again? If you don't, let me refresh your memory, because you have heard it somewhere:
Skip to 2:39 and be enlightened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GTmm8D9xpU

That's a more over-the-top case of compression, called "kick sidechaining". It's partly just for effect, to give it a sort of "pulsing" sound, but since electro has a really loud kick sound, the rest of the song has to make room for it, otherwise it'll clip.
That's what's going on here, on a smaller scale. Nothing more than that. Really, a casual listener won't even notice.
Last edited by Cavalcade at May 6, 2013,
#16
^ Yup, Daft Punk are masters of this - it's done by setting the release time of the compressor really long/slow, and a very fast attack, so it 'pumps' between the kicks that trigger the threshold of the comp.

Edit: To what Cavalcade posted
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#17
That was a super bad example of sidechaining in EDM. Wasn't even Electro either. Like, wut
#18
Quote by willT08
That was a super bad example of sidechaining in EDM. Wasn't even Electro either. Like, wut

It was a fairly dramatic example though, which is why I suspect he chose it.
#20
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
It was a fairly dramatic example though, which is why I suspect he chose it.

Not overly. Gets more dramatic in actual Electro. Like one of my own tunes, if you skip to 1.30 it's particularly easy to hear with the white noise layer. Though it's kind of irrelevant to the loudness war as it's simply a technique used for effect and particularly to mix sub-layers of basses with the kick.



EDIT: As ever, DG gets it
#21
Quote by willT08
Not overly. Gets more dramatic in actual Electro. Like one of my own tunes, if you skip to 1.30 it's particularly easy to hear with the white noise layer. Though it's kind of irrelevant to the loudness war as it's simply a technique used for effect and particularly to mix sub-layers of basses with the kick.


Is the vid in the spoiler one of your own? I'm not too wisened on big names in the genre, if it's not you Though it's not my typical kind of thing, the production on that was really nice and clean/precise!

EDIT: As ever, DG gets it

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#23
Quote by DisarmGoliath
Is the vid in the spoiler one of your own? I'm not too wisened on big names in the genre, if it's not you

Yeah. It's actually a tune I made with another UG'er who's Duggyrocks on here. I actually had very little to do with the production of that track, please don't think I'm a mixing master.

EDIT: Feck me, is that the actual sound quality of the album? ^
Last edited by willT08 at May 6, 2013,
#24
Quote by willT08
EDIT: Feck me, is that the actual sound quality of the album? ^


Apparently everyone preffered the Guitar Hero mix because it wasn't as overly compressed.

Here's a comparison between the guitar hero and the CD mixing:
2013 #5 Uger
2012 #7 Uger

Quote by jetfuel495
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don't worry guys his girlfriend is black, she said it was okay for him to say that.



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#26
Quote by willT08
Yeah. It's actually a tune I made with another UG'er who's Duggyrocks on here. I actually had very little to do with the production of that track, please don't think I'm a mixing master.

EDIT: Feck me, is that the actual sound quality of the album? ^

Ah ok, at least you're honest Still, pretty cool though.

And yep, that's the way Death Magnetic was mixed and mastered - personally, I think a lot of the problem was that the kick is overcompressed to the point where it clips too much (compression-based clipping, not digital clipping 'beyond 0dBFS') before it even reaches the master buss, but I haven't heard the Guitar Hero mixes which were apparently not so compressed to hell (maybe they were taken before a final mix was done, and well before mastering, or maybe they are literally the same and mastering of the CD did the damage... hard to say and lots of rumours going around.


By the way, are you still on for coming to the Beer Engine on Fri 17th May?
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#27
That kick is truly horrible. And why is there so little bass in there? Sounds like it would have been a bad mix even before it got to the mastering house who then shit the bed.

And yeah, I don't see why not
#28
Quote by Horsedick.MPEG
Apparently everyone preffered the Guitar Hero mix because it wasn't as overly compressed.

Here's a comparison between the guitar hero and the CD mixing:

The only thing is, the Guitar Hero mix probably needed some basic compression. If I recorded something like that myself, it'd be clipping all over the place. The difference between me and GH is, of course, that GH probably has a "master compression" that keeps tracks from clipping majorly.

Quote by willT08
That kick is truly horrible. And why is there so little bass in there? Sounds like it would have been a bad mix even before it got to the mastering house who then shit the bed.

And yeah, I don't see why not
Since '88, Metallica's always buried the bass in the mix. (I think they'd sound better if they didn't but whatever.) But also, they're basically trying to use techniques that are grossly outdated recording and then modern mastering. It turns the whole thing into a mess. The album would've been SO much more powerful if they'd just used modern recording techniques (including NOT burying the bass guitar) combined with modern mastering.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at May 6, 2013,
#29
i've never gotten into the loudness crap with recordings...When ever someone tries to get their tracks near clipping it sounds like garbage even though technically its not clipped. I like my tracks about 1/4 quieter than the norm...If someone wants it louder they can turn up their volume!

also hate the loudness war in band rehearsals...drummers breaking sticks, massive bass rigs to keep up with 4x12 stacks of tube amp volume.
#30
Quote by willT08
That kick is truly horrible. And why is there so little bass in there? Sounds like it would have been a bad mix even before it got to the mastering house who then shit the bed.

And yeah, I don't see why not


I don't think Metallica are really well known for having well recorded albums anyway.
2013 #5 Uger
2012 #7 Uger

Quote by jetfuel495
Jesus, Horsedick, you are my hero

Quote by JayT44
don't worry guys his girlfriend is black, she said it was okay for him to say that.



Stalk Me

Shitty Covers

Original Music

Lastfm
#32
Quote by WaltTheWerewolf
When ever someone tries to get their tracks near clipping it sounds like garbage even though technically its not clipped.

Well actually the ear's frequency response evens out at higher volumes, making music sound better (obviously within reason).
#33
This band isn't the best example (but that's the vocalist's fault more than anything, I think), but here's an example of Thrash with the bass NOT buried in the mix. I'd like it if more Thrash bands did this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3zBY4ObGvM

Of course, Youtube's dumbass compression ruins some parts. (This song sounds best with the mids slightly boosted and without the extra compression of Youtube.) But I think you can hear the bass a lot more clearly than you do on any Metallica album post-'87. And it sounds more naturally powerful as a result, I'd say.


Anyway, if you can't tell, I really like my Thrash (and Metal in general really) to have a solid bass sound that can be heard!
#34
Quote by willT08
That kick is truly horrible. And why is there so little bass in there? Sounds like it would have been a bad mix even before it got to the mastering house who then shit the bed.

And yeah, I don't see why not

Yeah, Metallica have always been about having the guitars really loud in the mix but the production quality of their albums has varied hugely from the early days, peaking with the 'Black' album, and then going full-circle with the 'kids in a garage' sound of St. Anger.

Death Magnetic has a decent production value, but is soiled a fair bit by the mixing and mastering.


And cool, I didn't realise but we're headlining so hopefully the place attracts people who stick around to the end Think it's one band on before us, who we played with not too long ago called Sour Mash, and they're on the rock side of metal too (so no screamy-shouty bands, to my knowledge, in case you brought any mates along who hate heavy stuff ).


Quote by captainsnazz
DG /threads the thread

*takes a bow*

I knew there was a reason I typed it all out in the Chat thread the other day haha, psychic foresight led me to write stuff in advance of this thread for ease of copy/pasting
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#35
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
can be heard!

That was just there to bait me wasn't it?
(so no screamy-shouty bands, to my knowledge, in case you brought any mates along who hate heavy stuff
Me and my mates were all at an Enter Shikari gig last night

But it'll probably just be me swigging a Koppaberg in the corner, if only to avoid

"So how do you know this guy?"

"Oh, through the internet"
Last edited by willT08 at May 6, 2013,
#36
Quote by willT08
Well actually the ear's frequency response evens out at higher volumes, making music sound better (obviously within reason).

Yep, the ear's frequency response is at its flattest somewhere between 80-90dB, depending on the individual's sensitivity to sound, and that is surprisingly louder than one might expect (it's louder than I start mixes at home - I only turn up to that sort of volume in the daytime, when approaching the end of a mix and working on translation to different systems, otherwise I think my neighbours might start to dislike me!).

Quote by willT08
Me and my mates were all at an Enter Shikari gig last night

But it'll probably just be me swigging a Koppaberg in the corner, if only to avoid

"So how do you know this guy?"

"Oh, through the internet"

Ah no worries then And yeah, I'm (un?)fortunate enough to have lost any embarrassment for those situations since my gf questioned why people from other countries would post on my FB wall from time to time calling me 'Duke' and stuff... from a game I used to run a successful 'tribe' on a good few years back If I met somebody I knew from UG, she'd just roll her eyes and say 'let me guess... ultimate-guitar?' haha.
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#37
Quote by willT08
That was just there to bait me wasn't it?

No, it was there to mock Metallica for having the bass low in the mix. The last Metallica album that had decent bass was Master of Puppets, and I hate that about them. I like some of their music, but I hate that the bass is so low in everything after Cliff Burton's death.
#38
I think using phrases such as "sacrificing loudness for dynamics" can be a little confusing, because to me "loud" is a dynamic.

This is my two cents on the loudness war fiasco:

In essence overly compressed recordings lack punch. What makes things punchy is the difference of the peak (or attack would probably be more accurate) of the amplitude envelope and the tail end of the sound.

The compression itself doesn't actually make it louder, it just squashes the initial attack of the sound through gain reduction, which evens out the envelope.

What makes it louder is the make up gain. If you compare let's say a recording of a kick drum to a duplicate but heavily compressed version with equivalent make up gain so that both recordings are at a perceptually similar loudness , the compressed one is going to sound louder. It sounds louder by virtue of the fact that the difference between the attack and the tail end of the sound is much smaller when compared to the original. But, it lacks the "punch" the original has.

As for why they do this, loud music sounds better because, as mentioned before, the "frequency response" of the human ear evens out at louder levels [google equal loudness contour if you really want to get down and dirty].
#39
^ I believe the graph you're referring to (and the one we were on about earlier) is called the Fletcher-Munson Curve But yes, you're quite correct that part of our perception of loudness is based on the duration of a consistent level.

A short, loud transient will not sound as loud as a wide, loud transient because we perceive the prolonged volume as a louder sound overall and that is why RMS value is a little better at measuring perceptual volume than simple peak meters.
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#40
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
This band isn't the best example (but that's the vocalist's fault more than anything, I think), but here's an example of Thrash with the bass NOT buried in the mix. I'd like it if more Thrash bands did this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3zBY4ObGvM

I love Believer! The production on this album is pretty good, I just wish the guitars had a little more "oomph" (not going to bother figuring out what frequencies). Their album Gabriel, however, had mediocre bass guitar definition (the bass come more from the kick than anything) but I don't like the guitar tone. The music is awesome though.

I would post a link but it appears that the videos of songs from that album have been removed...
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