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Loudness war on digital media, ect
#3056818 08/02/20 12:50 AM
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GregC Offline OP
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhCWLT9w4w8

This YT is heavy on promotion, but it has
useful details on recording/remixing/production.

at 2:09 for example, they touch on the "Loudness war"

On Soundcloud, there are several thousand songs that immediately BLAST on the first note or beat.

I guess much of this is enthusiasm by the artist.

due to the overwhelming # of songs that are LOUD, I have upped by db recording volume where possible.
This is also due to my listeners who are acclimated to LOUD song recording.

Many of my originals start out soft, for example:

https://soundcloud.com/user-898236994/18-hour-raindrops

18 Hour Raindrops is a soft, mellow chill instrumental.

The recording level is 3.6 , which is my 'loudest' recording, ironically.

Hope you enjoy the YT, there are some interesting observations about SW's music production/remixing.

Last edited by GregC; 08/02/20 12:52 AM.
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Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3056895 08/02/20 06:05 PM
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I'm kind of surprised that there are still loudness wars happening on SoundCloud, there's been a concerted effort for streaming services to adjust levels to a consistent LUFS reading. This website shows the levels to which various streaming services are adjusting levels...this is why you don't have, for example, massive level variations when you hear different songs on Spotify or YouTube.

I master my own material to around -13 LUFS, so it's a little more limited than the average -14 LUFS that streaming services use - but that's because I use the limiting more as "glue" than to boost the loudness. If you want to know more about LUFS in general, I wrote the article What Is LUFS, and Why Should I Care? for Sweetwater's inSync, you might find it interesting background on how/why the loudness war is finally achieving a cease-fire smile

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
Anderton #3056902 08/02/20 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
I'm kind of surprised that there are still loudness wars happening on SoundCloud, there's been a concerted effort for streaming services to adjust levels to a consistent LUFS reading. [url=https://www.masteringthemix.com/blogs/learn/76296773-mastering-audio-for-soundcloud-itunes-spotify-and-)

Hey Craig, thanks for the links and info- I will check it out

SC has a feature called ' related tracks'. Its an automated feature- that clumps or connects various songs
on to my originals/covers.

The 'related ' tracks are not related, musically. I think its some kind of SC service
musicians can pay for to get more exposure/plays.

Often, these 'related' tracks blast out immediately after my recording ends.

I would be pleased if SC takes an action to moderate volume. I pay an annual fee to SC
and would like to see improvement action.

After reading your aticles, I will open up a case with SC when the next 'related ' track
hits 11 on the first note/measure and assert. "LUFS"

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3056933 08/03/20 01:38 AM
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The best part of LUFS is that if someone really, really slams a cut, it's going to sound worse when adjusted to hit the streaming service's standard level. Think of it as dynamic range's revenge smile

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3057012 08/03/20 05:45 PM
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One other observation: a lot of times when mastering, artists wanted the loudest master possible. Well, the customer is always right, so I would do that. But I would also do a version what wasn't as crushed, and matched perceived levels. The artists almost always preferred the one with more dynamic range. When they asked what I did that was so different, I said "I turned up the volume control so the levels of the two matched."

Apparently many people would rather listen to compressed crap than reach over and turn up the volume control. LUFS basically says "okay, Children of Idiocracy, we'll set the level for you so you don't have to make the massive effort of turning a knob. You're welcome."

I think consumer electronics devices should add a "squash" control to the usual bass, treble, and volume. Then for those instances were you do want a compressed sound, for example to compensate for road noise while in a car, you could squash the sound as much as you want.

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3057017 08/03/20 06:08 PM
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good post, Craig. BTW, I worked for Sony 10 years.

The home and car stereos have plenty of power and range , thus the recording does not need to crush it all the time for songs.

There is 1 phenomena I experience with my listeners. 60-80% of them are listening to my songs thru mobile phone devices.

They often don't bother with ear buds- they allow the tiny speaker and minimal volume [ amp] on their iPhone or Android cell phone to
handle the play back.

For me, this is cringeworthy, in that I use stereo imaging, panning, up to 16 midi tracks plus an audio track for each song.

Therefore, what I create has to fight thru the the minimal iPhone, etc.

I am not complaining, I am grateful for every listener ,on whatever, or wherever they are listening.

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3057033 08/03/20 08:28 PM
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Used to be that you did a reality test on cheap speakers...these days, I'm using the Mixchecker plug-in to emulate as many crappy playback systems as possible for a reality check. And yes, I listen to my stuff over cheap phones smile

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
Anderton #3057040 08/03/20 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Used to be that you did a reality test on cheap speakers...these days, I'm using the Mixchecker plug-in to emulate as many crappy playback systems as possible for a reality check. And yes, I listen to my stuff over cheap phones

Suppose you find an alternate reality? You listen on your regular monitor system and it sound fine, then you listen on two or three other systems and, sure, it sounds different, but it's OK, and then you find one or two where you can't hear something you think is important enough to fix so it sounds OK on that system.

What's your approach? Make it sound OK, then go back and check it on the other systems and see how much worse you've made it? Or do you have an organized juggling procedure? Or is there a plug in that (assuming you're using the Mixchecker to emulate the alternate systems) that you can tell "just make it sound OK on all of these systems" and it does it for you?

Re: Loudness war on digital media, ect
GregC #3057051 08/03/20 11:16 PM
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Good question, and the answer is same as it ever was...you try to make it sound as good as possible over as many systems as possible, knowing that the odds are not in your favor. For example, smartphones tend to accentuate the voice's frequency range, so vocals will probably seem more forward. If you back off just a tiny bit, they'll still sound good on better systems that have more clarity. Then again, vocals are often what people want to hear. So if you mix them so they sound just right on a good system, they'll automatically pop more on the phone, which (sorry!) probably has a less sophisticated listener anyway if they think a smart phone is good enough.

Another good example is bass. The bass might disappear completely on a smartphone, but sound fine over a decent system. So you add a little saturation to the bass, which helps make it audible on the smartphone. But on the good system, the bass response tends to mask the saturation, so it's not really an issue. With kick, you accent the beater a bit so it comes through on the smart phone, pull back a tiny bit on the level so that the beater isn't overbearing on a good system, and then compensate for the lowered volume by boosting a bit in the 40-60 Hz, which won't reproduce on the phone anyway.

To be sure, it's a less-than-ideal balancing act. It's kind of like the way legislation used to be handled before everything got so hyper-partisan: the opposing parties hammered out a compromise where no one got what they wanted, but everyone got something.


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