Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

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So Taylor Swift is louder than Motorhead, AC/DC and The Sex Pistols… – wait, WHAT?

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This is a 2015 re-boot of one of the first, and most popular “memes” I created for Dynamic Range Day

And the information it gives is just as crazy as it ever was.

Especially since none of these “loudness” differences will be audible in all the most popular places we listen to music.

Not on iTunes Radio.

Not on Spotify.

Not even on Youtube, any more !

And certainly not on radio or TV.

So if you’re wondering – “why do people still bother?” – you’ve got a point !

It’s not all bad news

Take another look at that infographic, though.

There are some interesting features.

Look at the 2015 releases.

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YouTube loudness normalisation – The Good, The Questions and The Problem

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youtube loudness
So, yesterday was the big headline:

YouTube just put the final nail in the Loudness War’s coffin

And the news has had a fantastic, positive response from almost everyone.

But there’s a problem, as I mentioned.

And I’ll get to that in a minute.

Before we start

First, I should be clear that everything here is based on research and speculation. As far as I know, there has been no official word from YouTube about normalisation at all. Which means…

This is a moving (dynamic ?) target

Some of what I say here will probably be wrong, or go out of date really fast. But for now, here’s what (I think) we know.

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YouTube just put the final nail in the Loudness War’s coffin

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This is HUGE.

It may not look like much, but if you’re involved in music production, recording, mixing or mastering, this image could be the most important thing you’ll see all year.

What is it ?

It’s the loudness output of a YouTube playlist, as measured by the MeterPlugs LCast loudness meter.

So what ?

First – it’s quiet. The loudness levels are all quite low, especially by modern “loudness war” standards.

Second – it’s very consistent. More importantly than the low loudness, they’re almost all playing at the same loudness.
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What do these four massive chart hits all have in common, APART from Pharrell ?

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“Get Lucky”

“Blurred Lines”


“Uptown Funk”

Four of the biggest hits of the last couple of years, maybe even THE biggest – in fact “Uptown Funk” is already on course to be the biggest seller of 2015.

What do they all have in common, apart from Pharrell ?

(OK, he didn’t actually have anything to do with “Uptown Funk”, but he HAS worked with Mark Ronson recently…)

Melody ? Hooks ? Groove ?

Sure, but that’s true of any pop hit, and always has been.

The less obvious answer ?

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Why your online discussions about mastering are probably pointless

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There’s a huge amount of discussion about mastering issues online these days – and most of it is completely pointless, in my not-so humble opinion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as guilty of debating all this guff just as much as anyone – but when we do, we often we miss several very large elephants in the mastering room with us. And this came out really clearly in a new interview I just did with Matt Butler from The Modern Producer website.

I really enjoyed the interview – it was relaxed, informal and covered a wide range of topics, including getting deeply nerdy at some points.

But while I was listening back, trying to find some juicy teasers to tempt you to listen to it with, I realised there was a clear trend in the things Matt and I were talking about.
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Ian Shepherd

BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars