I’m dedicating this week to fighting The Loudness Wars.
What war is that? The war where everyone is competing to be the loudest kid in the room.
It’s similar to yelling at you at the same time.
Who are you going to listen to when everybody is screaming for you to hear their spiel?
You’re gonna get the hell out of there is what you’re gonna do.
Stop trying for loudness and just focus on better quality mixes.
Headroom VS Dynamic Range?
In last Friday’s post I talked about a few things you can do to fight the loudness wars.
Two of the things I mentioned were leaving enough headroom for the mastering engineer, as well as mastering with enough dynamic range. These two things might be confusing. They are sometimes used interchangeably even though they do NOT mean the same thing.
Loudness & Dynamic Range Through History
Being the loudest album on the radio has nothing to do with how great it sounds. In fact, I would argue that it’s absolutely the opposite.
Check out the graph below. It shows the dynamic range of a few albums throughout history. How many classic albums on the graph below have no dynamic range?
None of them. Absolutely none.
All of the best albums on the graph below are the ones that have the greatest “punch” and “impact.” That’s what dynamic range is.
Tell me, which album would you prefer: the terrible sounding “Death Magnetic,” squashed to a dynamic range of only 3 decibels , or “Sgt. Pepper’s,” an album that not only shaped modern music, but also happens to have a DR of 11.
Also, just because it’s rock music doesn’t mean it has to be over-compressed and squashed. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” has a dynamic range of 11, the same as “Sgt. Peppers.” Loudness comes with the volume knob, not your compressor/limiter.
Try listening to “Death Magnetic” and “Nevermind” back to back and just TRY telling me that “Death Magnetic” won’t cause ear fatigue. It’s a sonic assault and I mean that in a bad way.
Speaking of “Death Magnetic,” check out this
Be Proud of Your Loud Mix
You can still make your mixes loud, you just need to know what you’re doing. Don’t just throw a compressor and a limiter on your mix and squash the hell out of it. There are more steps to it, and you need to know what you’re doing. Luckily, Ian Shepherd has a great free video on how to master your song loud.
Image by: mdanys