Are the loudness wars over?

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Studiodawg
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Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Studiodawg » Thu Jan 14, 2021 6:33 am

Regarding "recent" recordings, I've heard some pretty wide open records in the past few years, but have also listened to some really loud ones as well. That being the case, I've noticed that the blues genre is a chronic offender of being "over loud". What are you finding with your clients or recordings in general that you're listening to regarding how loud they sound? I'm probably guilty of mixing/mastering a little loud. My latest effort was -13.2 LUFS, 6.6 LU...

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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:00 am

I've always mixed so that it SOUNDS GOOD.

Sometimes, because of the music style, that also means loud. But in general, no.

What I do, is monitor louder for the clients, and I do walk out of the room when doing that, so my ears don't get out of whack.

When you see the levels of the mix file itself, it has peaks around -6dBFS, and an average of -14 to -12 LUFS. I only really care about the peaks being preserved though, so that the ME can master them properly. I never really care where the LUFS level ends up at. Because well, I am mixing to make it SOUND GOOD. Not to make some pretty looking audio file waveform. LOL.
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Rodgre
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Rodgre » Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:05 am

I think that a lot has changed all across the board (pardon the pun) in the last few years and that radio is way less of a concern for anyone. The loudness wars were originally a matter of trying to get your song to jump out of the speakers more than the last song. In my opinion, that not only led to loud mastering, but a few new genres of music altogether. It begat stuff like Sleigh Bells where it sounds like the whole song was mixed through a distortion pedal and everything is completely clipped. It also begat that dance music technique of sidechaining the kick drum so the whole mix gets sucked in and released with every kick. Those tricks were a byproduct of trying to make your track seem super loud at any volume (I could totally be wrong here).

Also since the 2000s, budgets have been slashed, so there is less and less "corporate" rock music done in large format studios where it was mixed on an SSL with a ton of compression on EVERY channel and bus limiting and mastering compression on top of all that. People are embracing a more DIY/lo-fi approach where young people who didn't come out of the 80s/90s studio scene are making records on their laptops without preconceived notions or preset tricks.

Now here we are where almost no one I know listens to the radio and no one really cares about standing out in that format so all bets are off. New artists who are doing more organic types of music feel free to let the dynamics show and are being much milder with compression. Commercial pop and dance music still seems to be loud and over compressed to my ears, but I don't listen/hear a lot of that so it isn't really on my radar.

So to answer your question, personally, I think the war is over, but a few people are still in the trenches and haven't gotten word yet.

Roger

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Nick Sevilla
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:09 am

If I recall correctly, the loudness wars thing began in earnest with Queen's producer, Roy Thomas Baker.

He apparently got some small AM radio transmitter hooked up to the console, and pumped the mix into a nearby radio,
possibly at the request of Freddy Mercury, who was curious to hear it like that.

From there, Roy made adjustments to the mix.

I might be wrong, but I remember this story.
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:16 am

And also the streaming services normalize everything down to ~ -14lufs, so there's really no reason to make your record absurdly loud anymore (not that there really was before).

I feel like I'm mastering things about the same level I always have, and these days it's pretty rare that anyone asks for it louder. Which is nice.

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by losthighway » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:08 am

As a side bar to that, anyone notice the shift in streaming television?

When my family HAD to have Disney Plus for their entertainment needs I noticed right away that whoever is in charge of audio over there was making some bold choices. Their content sounds QUIET compared to a lot of oversmashed kids programming. I had to turn the television up much higher than normal to hear quieter dialogue. Then I started to notice Netflix content was dialing back the volume/compression as well.

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Studiodawg » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:35 am

Radio is a main concern for me. I started an FM radio station. We get CDs from all over the USA. Production values vary. Loudness levels vary. The community that we serve appreciates the wide variety of both independent and corporate (classic rock, country, blues) music that is aired. Sibilance seems more of a culprit over the years than loudness. I think I noticed a more dynamic album first with Jason Isbell's "Southeastern" released in 2013. Bruce Springsteen's "Letter To You" caught my ear with the absolutely stellar floor tom sound. I agree with mixing the music the way it sounds good, but that is a moving target. The volume knob, as you know, often reveals our strengths and weaknesses as we move it!

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:44 am

losthighway wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:08 am
Then I started to notice Netflix content was dialing back the volume/compression as well.
Netflix has a loudness standard. Steinberg Nuendo has it included with their metering stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p51v21ZU3w
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markjazzbassist
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by markjazzbassist » Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:28 am

Studiodawg wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:35 am
Radio is a main concern for me. I started an FM radio station. We get CDs from all over the USA. Production values vary. Loudness levels vary. The community that we serve appreciates the wide variety of both independent and corporate (classic rock, country, blues) music that is aired. Sibilance seems more of a culprit over the years than loudness. I think I noticed a more dynamic album first with Jason Isbell's "Southeastern" released in 2013. Bruce Springsteen's "Letter To You" caught my ear with the absolutely stellar floor tom sound. I agree with mixing the music the way it sounds good, but that is a moving target. The volume knob, as you know, often reveals our strengths and weaknesses as we move it!
what radio station?

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by kslight » Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:30 am

losthighway wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:08 am
As a side bar to that, anyone notice the shift in streaming television?

When my family HAD to have Disney Plus for their entertainment needs I noticed right away that whoever is in charge of audio over there was making some bold choices. Their content sounds QUIET compared to a lot of oversmashed kids programming. I had to turn the television up much higher than normal to hear quieter dialogue. Then I started to notice Netflix content was dialing back the volume/compression as well.
I find streaming audio levels to be all over the place (amazon the worst probably, though of course YouTube is a crapshoot also). I don’t have the space or budget for a high end tv surround system, but I was finding my TV’s builtin speakers (I know) no longer adequate for any streaming content, in terms of range and simple intelligibility...so recently picked up a $99 sound bar and sub combo, problem solved. Sub woofer had way too much bass out of the box so I tuned it with a sock...otherwise pretty decent sound. I also find some services’ audio doesn’t sync nicely...amazon again the biggest offender, using an Apple TV box on one tv or the built in Alexa or whatever on another tv I can’t really get the sync right. Other services or a blu ray seem to be fine...

In fact, streaming video is kind of subpar still too, I pop in a blu ray and I notice the difference right away....I have a gigabit connection just waiting for everyone else to catch up I guessed.

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by numberthirty » Thu Jan 14, 2021 7:34 pm

(Here Is Where I Put A "What?..." That Is A Deadpan About How Things Being Too Loud For Too Many Years Might Have Done A Number On My Hearing...)

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Studiodawg
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Studiodawg » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:05 pm

WXCS 92.9FM, Cambridge Springs, PA

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:56 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:09 am
If I recall correctly, the loudness wars thing began in earnest with Queen's producer, Roy Thomas Baker.
I have heard that it goes back to Duane Eddy & Lee Hazlewood though I now can't find the quote.

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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:01 pm

A.David.MacKinnon wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:56 pm
Nick Sevilla wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 8:09 am
If I recall correctly, the loudness wars thing began in earnest with Queen's producer, Roy Thomas Baker.
I have heard that it goes back to Duane Eddy & Lee Hazlewood though I now can't find the quote.
Could be. The point was, which I had lost, is that the loudness wars were for an analog delivery system, which still had limitations of bandwidth,
now we have a different problem: A solid ceiling at 11,111,111 (for 24 bit audio), that cannot be punched through. The reason I pick 24 bit audio, is it has a 144.49 dB dynamic range, which is just a little more than professional audio hardware devices. And is more than adequate for replicating most music. More bits than that, really, are for processing inside the CPU of your computer.

Now, we need to remember, the consumer will always decide how loud to listen to the product they have bought. We can always make suggestions in the liner notes. But in the end, it is up to them. Which I love.
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Studiodawg
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Re: Are the loudness wars over?

Post by Studiodawg » Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:21 pm

Loudness wars need replaced by euphonic wars!

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