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Loudness wars: I submit to you a trivial but possibly awesome acid test

2186 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  MDV
If you want to turn it down its bad.

If you want to turn it up its good.

RMS level and any other bloody thing be damned. Music is for ears, not empirical investigation.
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So when I listen to Stairway to Heaven on max volume, and it's hurting my ears, and I turn it down so that I can enjoy it, it's a bad song?
Youre being silly.

A: The point wasnt about the music, it was about the 'loudness' of the master and incumbent possible fatiguing effects

B: Assume sensible starting volume.
So when I listen to Stairway to Heaven on max volume, and it's hurting my ears, and I turn it down so that I can enjoy it, it's a bad song?
You don't need to turn it down for it to be a bad song.
this won't work for me.. I always want to turn it up. always. I'm not satisfied until it sounds like the music is being beamed directly into my brain.
this won't work for me.. I always want to turn it up. always. I'm not satisfied until it sounds like the music is being beamed directly into my brain.
You are the loudness wars' dream victim, sir.

If you want to turn it down its bad.

If you want to turn it up its good.

RMS level and any other bloody thing be damned. Music is for ears, not empirical investigation.
For me, it's always more been "I like this song, but I kinda want to just shut it off after a while." It really is fatiguing to listen to something that's been squashed within an inch of its life.
For me, it's always more been "I like this song, but I kinda want to just shut it off after a while." It really is fatiguing to listen to something that's been squashed within an inch of its life.
This. So much this :agreed:
I agree with your test MDV... I recently had to master something I had mixed for a client. I was able to work on the mix for a full day without getting tired. The client came in for the mastering, and kept wanting it louder and louder, to the point that after about two hours our ears were shot. I explained that it was too loud and that was why our ears were fatigued, and asked why he wanted it so loud. His answer was that people want it louder, regardless of if it sounds better. In the end I got him to agree to let me back off the brick wall a little bit, but it's still way too loud to listen to the whole album in one sitting.

Like him or not, the Gotye single is mastered in such away that all the dynamics are preserved, and you actually have to turn up the volume to hear the details - which is awesome.
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You are the loudness wars' dream victim, sir.
Not really... when the loudness comes from the master, the music suffers. With a good set of speakers you can make the music really loud without compromising the dynamics.

I'm just saying the advice in the OP won't work for me. I'd rather analyze things carefully. When I am tweaking a master (which admittedly is not often) I spend a lot of time watching meters in my DAW and master bus plugins to see how everything is coming together. The only thing I really listen for is to make sure its not messing with the balance of the mix, and that nothing is clipping.
If you want to turn it down its bad.

If you want to turn it up its good.

RMS level and any other bloody thing be damned. Music is for ears, not empirical investigation.
That is a very good definition. I would make only minor exceptions, for example, songs that "only" seem to sound good loud are usually lifeless. Which I don't like.
I agree with your test MDV... I recently had to master something I had mixed for a client. I was able to work on the mix for a full day without getting tired. The client came in for the mastering, and kept wanting it louder and louder, to the point that after about two hours our ears were shot. I explained that it was too loud and that was why our ears were fatigued, and asked why he wanted it so loud. His answer was that people want it louder, regardless of if it sounds better. In the end I got him to agree to let me back off the brick wall a little bit, but it's still way too loud to listen to the whole album in one sitting.

Like him or not, the Gotye single is mastered in such away that all the dynamics are preserved, and you actually have to turn up the volume to hear the details - which is awesome.
Quite so.

I've had pressure from some clients to make their masters loud. Others give not one fuck. I have in in the past said that some music can benefit from the 'gelled' sound and even a smidgin of the distortion that can come from some 2buss smashing, but thats a circumstantial 'artistic' decision and one has to proceed with caution. I'm not opposed to loud masters all the time (though I have made some, including some I now loathe; you live and learn), but needing shit to be smashed and loud as a requirement I think paints you into a corner where you may well not be doing the best for the music in hand.
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