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A "Quietness War" backlash -- or marketing opportunity?
user1
post Apr 13 2014, 04:31
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Let's hope this is just an outlier ... it's the same song -- Cliff Richard - Devil Woman (1975) --released on various CDs over the last two decades (other releases may very well exist with different DRs) . Other comparable (same) tracks on these three separate releases yield similar DR results. I only selected one (Devil Woman) for this post.

foobar2000 1.2.9 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2014-04-12 20:14:20

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Statistics for: 14-Devil Woman [from 1994 CD "The Cliff Richard Collection", mastered by Steve Hoffman]
Number of samples: 9560880
Duration: 3:37
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Left Right

Peak Value: 0.00 dB --- 0.00 dB
Avg RMS: -13.01 dB --- -12.97 dB
DR channel: 10.98 dB --- 10.50 dB
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Official DR Value: DR11

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 858 kbps
Codec: FLAC
=================

foobar2000 1.2.9 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2014-04-12 20:21:22

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Statistics for: 08-Devil Woman [From 2001 EMI CD remaster: "Cliff Richard - I'm Nearly Famous 1975"]
Number of samples: 9423288
Duration: 3:34
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Left Right

Peak Value: -0.31 dB --- -0.31 dB
Avg RMS: -10.53 dB --- -10.32 dB
DR channel: 8.71 dB --- 7.73 dB
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Official DR Value: DR8

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 965 kbps
Codec: FLAC
===================================================

foobar2000 1.2.9 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2014-04-12 20:18:42

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Statistics for: 10-Devil Woman [From 2011 box set. "Cliff Richard - Collection Of The Best Songs 1970-2010 [CD1]"]
Number of samples: 9423288
Duration: 3:34
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Left Right

Peak Value: -14.77 dB --- -14.77 dB
Avg RMS: -24.99 dB --- -24.77 dB
DR channel: 8.71 dB --- 7.73 dB
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Official DR Value: DR8

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 761 kbps
Codec: FLAC
=====================
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user1
post Apr 13 2014, 08:24
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Just to expand a bit...
It seems "loudness war" is getting more and more popular attention ... and it may become a pop phenomenon where those coming away from just an overview exposure -- as opposed to deeper introspection into limiting and dynamics -- may drive the music industry the wrong way again.
In other words ... the typical listener is just going to remember: LOUD = BAD, QUIET = GOOD.
So yet another "remastering"/re-selling opportunity arises for, well, opportunists: we'll make it quiet -- that's what the consumers want (nevermind, we're just turning down the last (loud) remaster ... it's compression and EQing never altered).
The Cliff Richard track above may fit this new "approach": no diff. in DR between the loud 2001 remaster and quiet 2011 anthology release.
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DVDdoug
post Apr 13 2014, 18:07
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My instinctive reaction is... Mistake!

But, maybe there's another explanation. Is there a 0dB peak (or near 0dB peak) somewhere else on the disc? Or, somewhere else on the box set? Maybe they loudness-matched all of the songs and this song ended-up with peaking at -15dB.


I don't have a DR meter installed, but my copy from 30 Years of Hits (no release or copyright date) peaks at -1.95 dB with an average of -17.7dB (as reported by GoldWave) and the album peak is -0.61dB.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Apr 13 2014, 18:08
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2Bdecided
post Apr 22 2014, 11:40
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"The World's Greatest Recording Organisation" really do some weird stuff on their re-issues. Look at the state of the Beatles catalogue before 2009. Listen to the sound of 'The Hit List' and 'At The Movies' Cliff CDs from the late 1990s.

I think DVDdoug is right though - once EMI considers a remaster "done", they keep on re-using it. If that means turning it down without bringing back the lost peaks to match the loudness of some other part of some new compilation, I'm sure they would. There are much less dramatic examples on most compilations from most record labels.


I've been listening to some older compilations recently - CDs mastered in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sometimes the analogue tape quality is terrible (i.e. their are audible drop outs), but sometimes the clarity and dynamic range (of pop music!) sounds like the kind of thing you only hear on niche, jazz and audiophile releases today.

Cheers,
David.
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Stone Free
post Apr 22 2014, 16:00
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QUOTE (user1 @ Apr 13 2014, 07:24) *
Just to expand a bit...
It seems "loudness war" is getting more and more popular attention ... and it may become a pop phenomenon where those coming away from just an overview exposure -- as opposed to deeper introspection into limiting and dynamics -- may drive the music industry the wrong way again.
In other words ... the typical listener is just going to remember: LOUD = BAD, QUIET = GOOD.
Yes, but how can a release be too quiet? (*) I can just use the volume knob to turn it up. In a way the whole compression thing actually makes things quieter. I know that the average volume is higher, and the distance between the average level and the highest levels becomes shorter.

Funnily enough compression is exactly what my receiver uses to stop me from annoying the neighbours with AC3, makes things quieter - unless I set up the volume knob stupidly high at the same time - ala current CD releases!

In fact I found the original Death Magnetic to be too loud, and too quiet simultaneously. What I mean by that is I used the volume knob to try and get the loudness right, and when I made it loud it was too loud, but when I turned it down it was too quiet, it was impossible to get a sweet spot because there was no dynamic range left at all. Rock music does need a minimal level of loudness to be enjoyable, and I was unable to set that because of the lack of variation.

Most highly compressed stuff it is possible to find a sweet spot for loudness, but it becomes tiring after a while because there is no respite. So that limits re-spin value. I also think it makes it much more likely that people will become deaf or get Tinnitus like me, because their ears are exposed to loud levels a lot more than they would if the recordings where more dynamic.

I initially gained Tinnitus from a drummer who thought he was John Bonham, and would hit the cymbals ridiculously hard, and every hit of the cymbal would make me wince, despite the fact that I was at the very rear of the rehearsal space.

The Tinnitus was intolerable for a while, but thankfully it reduced enough that I was able to listen to music with headphones and not make it worse. For twelve years that was still the case until I was given some canal phones by my brother. I used to listen to my iPod on Shuffle a lot because I was trying to rate every single track, so that I could create some cool smartlists to exercise more of my collection.

I think the combination of this and the canal earphones is what has made it impossible for me to use headphones for about 3 years now. With canal earphones when you have a good seal the volume that you perceive is OK, however if you are listening on Shuffle, and your phones lose their seal, then the perceived volume goes down, but because it is on shuffle you just reckon the next track is quieter (this is before I started Replaygaining files), so you turn it up.

Now a sound engineer friend of mine thinks that this is irrelevant, and that the perceived volume must be the same as the actual volume. Maybe this is true, but I find it strange that for 12 years my tinnitus level stayed the same, and it was only in this period of iPod shuffle, and ear-canal phones that it got so much worse.

Still really narked that the UK distributer of Koss earphones don't honour the money-back guarantee, and also that the blasted iPhone and daft Koss executives decided to change the jack from a tough right-angled jack, to a totally unsupported straight through jack. Which made the phones very breakable. My first pair got damaged by an accident with the chord (when they still had the L jack), but the straight through ones only lasted 6 months before one earphone side went silent.

(*) Obviously if the peak sample of the CD doesn't hit any way near 0dbfs, then that is just daft, and would be reflected in the DR value. (P.S not equating DR value with a one to one match to perceived audio quality - although its surprising how often perception matches, although consistency does indeed vary. At least Replaygain is often very accurate, and definitely saves from ear shattering differences)

This post has been edited by Stone Free: Apr 22 2014, 16:03
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