5 thoughts on “Dynamic Range: Louder But Not Better”

  1. that article seems bogus to me. i will grant them that albums (CDs specifically) have gotten significantly louder. there MAY have even been a corresponding drop in some dynamic range, BUT the item about digital clipping, and particularly the “animated demo” showing the waveforms getting clipped off, is flat-out wrong. i’ve imported new CDs, old CDs and old LPs into audio editing software, and when the levels are set properly on the initial import, there is no digital clipping, and digital clipping of the magnitude shown there would be EASILY heard by the human ear to the point that it would be an annoyance to even the most casual music fan. further, the idea that the lower levels of past albums provided ALL that room for dynamic range is a bit of a misrepresentation as well, judging from my experience in radio, as i can usually safely turn up an old CD (1990-1993) 10-15db from the level i play newer music without worrying about clipping. that tells me that the peaks of the older music are also significantly lower volume than the peaks of the newer releases, thus (at least partially) negating the statement about dynamic range. i’d be interested to read an unbiased report on the same subject, since this article was written with the express purpose of selling CD mastering services. i think there MAY be a valid concern in there somewhere, but this account (to my eyes, at least) is badly skewed.

  2. Have you listened to Linkin Park or Avril Lavigne? The clipping is totally audible.

    I think the article is referring mostly to mainstream, “radio ready” music.

  3. Yeah, this is definitely a problem even in the CD reissue market. Over at one of my other uber-geeky boards, (Steve Hoffman forums), they regularly compare waveforms of original-issue vs. remastered-issue CDs, and the findings (graphically, at least), are really surprising, what with the clipping of high peaks and boosting of the sound to the point where you truly do lose this dynamic range. Ultimately, you have to listen with your ears, but with the little bit of control that I do have, which is when I make my CD compilations, I get the chance to tweak the sound. I’m always cognizant to never snip off high peaks or to “normalize” the music too much; it would’t be polite to the listener to rob them of the optimal listening experience. But hey, what do I know? I’m just an end-user who really really loves music; I’m not in the music industry, per se. THOSE guys are the experts; they know what’s good for us… RIGHT???!?!?!

  4. I’ve been to a handful of mastering sessions and without fail the mastering engineer has always complained that people nowadays just want it as loud as possible and that it kills the feel. It’s kind of a weird balancing act now, because even indie bands get disappointed when they’re shuffling on the iPod and their levels are lower than “the professional” releases. It does often times sound less powerful back-to-back. But if not within a song, within an Album it really needs that range to crescendo and decrescendo from track to track. For example, if they Hadn’t have squashed the shit out of Ashley Simpson’s last record it’d be considered “a masterpiece”. As it stands it is merely “incredible”.

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