Everyone in the audio industry by now should have seen the video going around to raise “awareness” for the infamous Loudness War and deterioration of the audio quality during the mastering process nowadays… No? Well, click and watch…
It would be so Google-friendly for us to just post the video, give them an amen, and join the masses of industry professionals that think audio quality is (once again) being threatened by ignorance. Yes, people are ignorant in this world, and yes, we see what they’re trying to say. Hey, we’re audiophiles too.
But no, Moozek.com is not getting in the “Loudness War” choo choo train of coolness. Why, you might ask? Because there’s always two sides to every story. And this one is getting too one-sided for our taste. If you see the video, you’ll understand. We’re giving you the other side of the story – the reason why music is not dying just because people want it loud without touching the Volume knob. The Loudness War is a problem, but not a catastrophe:
– First, the obvious: audio waves are not just digitally chopped off by raising up the gain knob during mastering process. They are soft-clipped with analog gear. Big difference.
– Second, the not-so-obvious: audio quality tendencies change. Any distortion, even from a beautiful Gibson plugged in to a Marshall stack, would make your parents or grandparents cover their ears. Dissonance in musical chords would have given W. A. Mozart a stomach ache. Some people still can’t listen to music without tape hiss in the background (true story). And teenagers who grew up in the 90’s might really enjoy the planned over-clipping and brickwall limiting in Limp Bizkit’s guitars and snare drum. You might find it offensive, just the way vinyl fans found digital offensive when it came out. But hey, it’s life! People get old 🙂
– Third: the part the other side never told you because it’s a huge hole in their logic. Guess what, albums are mastered this way today, not because those silly A&Rs, mixing engineers (what do they know, they only made the whole friggin’ mix sound amazing…) and mastering engineers are secretly conspiring to make music sound bad and get more money. No way. Records today are mastered loud because most bands request it that way. Most of the time, the artists want to hear their creations loud and compressed so they won’t feel like they’re falling back in time!
– Fourth: if you really hear that much of a difference in a record mastered after 2001, it’s because the mastering engineer who did it might suck. So even in that event, it’s not the loudness – it’s the engineer who’s (maybe) incompetent, or succumbed to other people’s requests (see Third point).
There is definitely truth in the Loudness War argument, we’re not denying that. We’re just exposing the potentially untrue side of this Loudness War campaign. Ooh… The industry zombies are coming to make your records louder. Spooky…