The Loudness Wars Are Over

02019-07-01 | Music, Technology | 1 comment

And just like that the loudness wars are over. Honestly, I only found out about it this weekend. I was having lunch with Jon Gagan and he informed me about this, apparently not so new, development. Yesterday I did some research and reached the conclusion that I will have to mix several different versions of the new album, one for streaming, one for CD, and perhaps a third one for HD files.

How did the loudness wars end? It was the logical result of so many millions of people subscribing to streaming services, like Apple Music or Spotify. Whether one listens to a personal playlist or a curated stream of music, it’s not fun to have the volume go up and down with each track. In fact sudden changes in loudness are the #1 source of user complaints. The same is true for watching a bunch of videos on YouTube. It would be annoying if some of the videos were much louder than others, right?

As a result the streaming services came up with guidelines and are turning down loud songs. Here is an article about loudness normalization across different platforms. This has been going on for a while now. Here is an article about YouTube normalizing volume since December 2015.

If you want to see what this means in practical terms, go to the website Loudness Penalty and drag and drop any mp3 file on it. It will show by how much that file will be turned down by streaming services.

Here are a few links to posts I made about this subject in the past:

1 Comment

  1. Jane Katz

    On an almost unrelated subject, I regret the use of amplification in opera performances, because listening through the electronics detracts from the rich, meaty sound of the singer. (Provided they have a rich, meaty voice, haha!) Did you ever listen to a recording of Enrico Caruso on an old Victrola? It’s almost overwhelming.

    Feeling talkative, I want to comment on your virtuoso’s mastery of dynamic range. You are more deeply expressive than any other guitarist I’ve heard. The strings sound like they are singing, strummed so gently that I don’t really hear “plucking.” One after the other, each phrase is carried through a rich dynamic range, sometimes going to an indescribable softness. Thank goodness for your YouTube videos with their wonderful close-ups, where I can see how relaxed and sure your left hand looks. Blessings upon ye!


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