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A Modest Proposal for Ending the Loudness War
Axon
post Jun 25 2008, 20:33
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It's fairly well known in these parts (but less known everywhere else) that loudness equalization mostly solves the loudness war, in that attempts at increasing program loudness are immediately compensated on playback.

iTunes and the iPod, which arguably control a majority of the music playback market right now, have SoundCheck, which is imperfect, but works. Everybody else has ReplayGain, which rocks (Thanks David!). Beyond Apple, only a couple other music providers dominate the market. I'd put MySpace and Bleep on those lists.

If only two or three of the biggest music playback providers made loudness equalization required - ie, it can't be turned off except by advanced means - the loudness war would probably end fairly quickly. Instead of trying to argue from the standpoint of increased fidelity, one would be able to argue that hypercompression/limiting would do nothing to increase loudness, and would only reduce fidelity. Once producers realize this, the loudness war would probably be stopped dead in its tracks.

The problems with this scheme are as follows:
  • Convincing Apply/MySpace to do anything is kind of hard.
  • Like I said, SoundCheck kind of sucks, notably because of a lack of album gain.
  • Playback gain would need to be adjusted substantially. Volume levels on the iPod are sometimes considered (by crazies IMHO) to be quiet as they are.
  • Very few people actually understand what SoundCheck does. Apparantly, some audio engineers seriously believe it's a dynamic range compressor.
  • I'm not sure it is possible to read off RG tags from Flash, so MySpace might need Adobe's help to implement it.
Nevertheless I think this is far more feasible than the other usual alternatives proposed, which include: getting hardware manufacturers to add DRC to all their devices; informing the music listening and production public of higher fidelity mastering; moving to some intrinsically loudness-agnostic format such as vinyl or SACD; etc. No additional hardware is required, and it only takes convincing a few organizations to do something cheap for everybody else to likely follow suit.

So, opinions? Is this worth getting out my petition-writing paper?
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sshd
post Jun 25 2008, 22:28
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If you don't like the product, don't buy it.

The studios may not understand sound quality, but they do understand profit.

In addition to stop using DRC they also need to increase the mastering budget. No album will sound great with a $1500 budget - loud or not.
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krabapple
post Jun 26 2008, 18:01
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QUOTE (sshd @ Jun 25 2008, 17:28) *
If you don't like the product, don't buy it.

The studios may not understand sound quality, but they do understand profit.


They will only 'understand' this particular point, if the public has a clue as to *why* they aren't liking the music.

Do you think the first thing the industry thinks when it looks at dropping sales is, oh, goodness we'd better start increasing the dynamic range of our releases? Consumers are going to have to be taught to articulate their displeasure.

Here are some moves in the direction of changing the status quo.

http://www.turnmeup.org
http://www.metalliance.com

This post has been edited by krabapple: Jun 26 2008, 18:15
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Posts in this topic
- Axon   A Modest Proposal for Ending the Loudness War   Jun 25 2008, 20:33
- - slks   My guess is that 70% of people don't care, 29%...   Jun 25 2008, 21:21
- - Axon   That's a major supporting argument for this pr...   Jun 25 2008, 21:37
- - Lyx   Sheep dont want to have a voice and therefore shou...   Jun 25 2008, 21:56
|- - sshd   QUOTE (Lyx @ Jun 25 2008, 22:56) Sheep do...   Jun 25 2008, 22:36
|- - WonderSlug   Most people under the age of 30 don't understa...   Jun 25 2008, 22:37
|- - Axon   QUOTE (Lyx @ Jun 25 2008, 15:56) So yes, ...   Jun 25 2008, 22:57
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (Axon @ Jun 25 2008, 23:57) Still, ...   Jun 25 2008, 23:33
|- - Canar   QUOTE (Lyx @ Jun 25 2008, 15:33) I cannot...   Jun 26 2008, 17:01
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (Canar @ Jun 26 2008, 18:01) In eve...   Jun 26 2008, 18:49
- - sshd   If you don't like the product, don't buy i...   Jun 25 2008, 22:28
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (sshd @ Jun 25 2008, 23:28) The stu...   Jun 25 2008, 22:31
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (sshd @ Jun 25 2008, 17:28) If you ...   Jun 26 2008, 18:01
- - Axon   Moreover, if you follow the idea that reduced fide...   Jun 25 2008, 22:37
|- - sshd   QUOTE (Axon @ Jun 25 2008, 23:37) Moreove...   Jun 25 2008, 22:59
|- - Axon   QUOTE (sshd @ Jun 25 2008, 16:59) They ca...   Jun 25 2008, 23:20
|- - Soap   QUOTE (sshd @ Jun 25 2008, 17:59) QUOTE (...   Jun 26 2008, 16:31
- - carpman   It's interesting that no one seems to think it...   Jun 25 2008, 23:31
- - Canar   The problem I see with your proposal though Lyx is...   Jun 26 2008, 19:03
- - Lyx   Good point, and artists and labels wont do that la...   Jun 26 2008, 19:22
- - Canar   Personally, I think "almost as loud" sho...   Jun 26 2008, 19:32
- - Axon   I agree that Lyx's approach is the technically...   Jun 26 2008, 19:44
- - Chromatix   If I may weigh in on this subject... The point of...   Jun 26 2008, 20:41


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