Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Loudness Wars - an explanation

Many people not that interested in 'audiophile' music entertainment have been asking me why I do this and why it is that important (to me). To explain this in a simple - easy to understand - fashion is not an easy task.

As I mentioned in 'MY MISSION' statement, the recordcompanies of today have taken over the control of your volumeknob. This is something that might sound like a scary conspiracy theory with me being the prophet of doom and terror. (well, partly it is something like that - LOL) But seriously, it's more true than you probably can and/or would like to imagine. Because of competition these companies want to outshine each other and there's nothing wrong with that.

But what is wrong is that the balance of what is justified or even fair is leaning in the red zone. Through advanced compression techniques it is possible nowadays to make music sound louder than ever before. Sadly the quality and enjoyment levels drop because of this. Up until a couple of years ago it was just a matter of taste and though some releases were a no buy candidate for me personally, there was nothing really wrong with this practice. Besides, most music NEEDS some percentage of compression to be enjoyable in an average home environment.

Sadly, in 2009 the level of compression and therefore distortion on most products found on the shelves in stores has reached a point that, besides the fact that some albums are unbearable to listen to for a prolonged period of time, (and I'm NOT kidding here) governments are making plans to execute laws that tell your playing device that it cannot go louder as a certain defined level of decibels. Administers of the governments are afraid 15 year olds will fry their brains because of too loud music enjoyment.
(I've often seen red colors in my adolescent years because of playing my music too loud but at least I knew when to stop and appreciated the dynamics in a smaller range too - I had a choice!)

That's what this is about, choice! Kids nowadays don't really have that choice anymore. (Almost) all of the music available today is too loudly mastered to begin with, so they mostly don't know what dynamics are and what it's like to experience it.

To make things even easier to understand, look at this brilliant short documentary film on the subject, I cannot make it more clear than that...

Loudness War - The Movie

With each passing year records have gotten louder and less dynamic. This brilliant video by Matt Mayfield dramatically demonstrates the effect this evolution is having on the music.

Click here to download an uncompressed version of the video

courtesy of (


  1. I actually like the louder one better. Can't stand the sound of the snare drum in the original clip.

  2. Point made and point taken, you have a choice! ;)