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Thread: Loud and Proud: How digital mastering is ruining our music

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    International Regular Josh's Avatar
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    Loud and Proud: How digital mastering is ruining our music

    Itís not just the iPod contributing to the hearing loss of our generation. Hereís a task for you. Find a CD from the 80s, for example, AC/DCís Back in Black. Listen to it in full. Take it out of the CD player, and then pop in a CD from the last year or so, perhaps Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers, but DONíT adjust the volume. Notice the difference?

    Digital mastering of modern times is making our music louder. Producers are driving for more loud parts to a song, therefore, sections of a song which appear to be quieter in the studio, due to their digital compressions, end up being made unbearably loud in mastering, sometimes even distorting on some perfectly good devices.

    I was first made aware of this instance on an online forum a few months back. I had noticed my new Red Hot Chili Peppers album becoming slightly distorted and much louder than even the previous album released not five years ago. I then played a comparison with the albums Motherís Milk (1989) and Freaky Styley (1985). Needless to say, the difference was obvious.

    Of course, the obvious major concern with louder music is damage and pain. Many experts are saying that making these records sound better through the art of loudness is causing some listeners pain, even though their oblivious to it due to the adapting nature of sounds going through their ears; even provoking senses of fatigue in listeners.

    The worst thing about this compression and loud music, is that the music loses its mood. Iíd dare say most things are written to have certain dynamic shifts in volume to invoke different moods and feelings upon the listener. There is one saviour: the somewhat defunct vinyl LP.

    Comparisons between the CD version of the track Stadium Arcadium off the Red Hot Chili Peppersí 2006 album of the same name with its vinyl counterpart draw an interesting story.



    The top wave length is from the vinyl LP, the bottom from the CD. That just goes to show you! Look at all the dynamics in the vinyl recording, fluctuating volumes and troughs and peaks. Compare it to the CD recording at the bottom. Itís almost the same level the whole way through, with the only changes being short, sharp and probably somewhat unnoticeable.

    Iím not telling you to boycott CDs; the purpose of this article is to make you aware of what is happening in the digital age. You can make your own decisions based upon it. Just know that all this MP3 and dot com stuff is absolutely butchering the music you love, without you even knowing it. When will the day return when we can hear the songs the way they were intended to be heard? Will the day return at all? Time will tellÖ
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    References: One Hot Globe - Red Hot Chili Peppers online community
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Perm's Avatar
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    Just keep cranking up the volume IMO. The louder the better.
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    Too much compression is obviously bad, but IMO some enhances it.
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    International Regular Josh's Avatar
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    There is always room for some compression. Music has had compression in it in one form or another for a long time, but lately they are going over the top and just making it unbearable for anyone with a trained ear.


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    U19 Captain Ash_A55's Avatar
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    Why the hell did u go to all this trouble? Like zac said, the louder the better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash_A55 View Post
    Why the hell did u go to all this trouble? Like zac said, the louder the better.
    Actually let me clarfiy that, when it comes to playing a CD through my laptop or a stereo I generally turn it up pretty loud. However when I am listening to my Ipod I have the volume up just loud enough so that I can hear other peoples voices if they are talking around me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    There is always room for some compression. Music has had compression in it in one form or another for a long time, but lately they are going over the top and just making it unbearable for anyone with a trained ear.
    Congrats on 2000 mate.

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    International Regular Josh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perm View Post
    Congrats on 2000 mate.
    Thanks for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash_A55 View Post
    Why the hell did u go to all this trouble? Like zac said, the louder the better.
    It's actually for an assessment, however I enjoy writing and write articles and things in my spare time anyway.

    It is more of an informative piece for people who enjoy the quality of sound over the quantity (volume) of sound. Which I've come to find is mainly people actually involved in the music industry in one form or another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    It is more of an informative piece for people who enjoy the quality of sound over the quantity (volume) of sound. Which I've come to find is mainly people actually involved in the music industry in one form or another.
    Personally I can't understand that too much. A mate of mine just bought a pair of headphones worth $395 just so he could get better quality when listening to his music. Madness if you ask me.

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    International Regular Josh's Avatar
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    Music is just a big part of his life. There's enjoyment, and then theres enjoyment

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perm View Post
    Personally I can't understand that too much. A mate of mine just bought a pair of headphones worth $395 just so he could get better quality when listening to his music. Madness if you ask me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    Audacity ftw.

    Interesting stuff. I don't feel quite competent enough to comment really seriously on it; despite owning a fair chunk of music I probably listen too much to it and it becomes a bit of a mesh. I'll just say that I don't think it's quite as black and white - without recording evidence of, say, a band like The Decemberists, I can't imagine it'd look (and sound?) quite as samey as that Stadium Arcadium clip.
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    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    It is more of an informative piece for people who enjoy the quality of sound over the quantity (volume) of sound. Which I've come to find is mainly people actually involved in the music industry in one form or another.
    Certainly me. Anyway, very interesting stuff. Overly loud music sounds very grating to me and takes away from the music itself. I haven't actually done any comparisons of vinyl vs CD (and I have very few vinyls that I also have on CD), but I'll be listening for the differences now. I don't think the difference will be as pronounced, if at all, with my hip hop though, with some notable exceptions.

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    I think it does.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Matteh's Avatar
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    Vinyl ftw. Love vinyl for the fact that cover art actually means something and the crack/pop sound when you put the needle down.
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