The Haunted House

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The loudness war and the battle for the volume knob.

I recently had some people ask me why my album doesn't sound as loud as other commercial bought Cd's, lets say Brittany Spears for the sake of an example. Well there is a really good and deliberate reason for this.

For the readers of this blog who are into digital audio and recording, all I have to say is, I don't want to compete in the loudness war and suck the dynamic range out of my recordings. I trust my listeners to control the volume knob them selves. You all know what I mean.

For the non audio technical readers I shall explain in a little more detail and then point you over to a good example video. When you record a song you have soft parts and loud parts. For example a song might have a fairly quite verse and then a really loud chorus. When an album is finished being recorded it goes off to a mastering house who add the final sparkle to the recording. One of these steps is compressing (not as in mp3) and limiting. This is where you reduce the dynamic range of the track, ie reduce the difference in volume between quite and loud parts of the track.

When this range is reduced you can then pump up the volume of the whole recording. Now this is a process that every album goes through, and mine are no different. The trick is striking a balance. A lot of albums get limited so much that they start sounding distorted at lower volumes and for some strange reason record companies try to compete on how loud the initial recording should sound. They just don't trust the consumer to control the volume knob themselves.

Where as myself, I do trust the listener to control their volume knob. My albums are compressed and limited, but a balance is struck over loudness and sound quality.

If you have a couple of minutes spare, please watch THIS VIDEO. It explains what I have just said really well.



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