Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

Production Advice

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Imogen Heap’s “Sparks”: How to build an album from a collection of songs

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At the most basic level, making an album is about putting the right songs, in the right order, with suitable gaps in between.

Which sounds simple enough, right ?

Maybe so. But the running order has an enormous impact on the way we perceive songs, and their meaning.

For example, Imogen Heap’s new album “Sparks” was released today. I’ve been listening obsessively to it for the last week (because I pre-ordered the amazing “deluxe box-set” version) and it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

I was worried that it simply wouldn’t hang together as an album, because of the unique way it was produced – but in fact the opposite was true.

Quietly, without us (or herself ?) noticing, Imogen has created a concept album about the end of her relationship – with an unexpectedly happy twist at the end.

And the tool she used to achieve this was nothing more than the order she chose to put the songs in.

Bear with me though, this will take a little time to explain…

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Loudness War Myths Explored: 2 – Do some genres NEED to be crushed ?

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Sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

The plan was for the second of these Loudness War Myths videos to be about listening in noisy environments – but the controversy over a brand new metal release made this week makes it the ideal time to tackle another myth entirely.


Some genres NEED that ‘loudness war’ sound

This one gets trotted out with depressing regularity, even by people who should know better.

Metal and EDM are the most common styles that are supposed to only sound “right” if their level has been pushed up as hard as possible against digital’s brick-wall ceiling.

So, is it true ?

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The Distortion Of Sound documentary: fair comment, misleading over-simplification – or worse ?

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I’m not sure my feelings could be more mixed.

When people first sent me the trailer for a new documentary called The Distortion Of Sound, I was intrigued. Big names, high production standards, and a topic I care about.

But I immediately thought:

“I hope they don’t muddle up the two different types of compression – lossy (mp3) compression and dynamic (loudness war) compression”

Well, now I’ve seen the full documentary, and – they did.


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Longplayer for Voices – how to write music that lasts for millennia

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So, how long is the longest piece of music you’ve ever written ?

5 minutes ?

7 minutes ?

Maybe, if you’re Partial To A Little Prog like me, a 40-minute concept album ?

Or if you write classical music, you might have written something that takes several hours to perform.

But how would you feel about writing a piece of music that lasts a thousand years ?

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My ‘Perception’ plugin has been officially launched !

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Finally the cat is out of the bag – my new ‘Perception’ mastering plugin, developed by MeterPlugs, is officially launched this week – and to celebrate, it’s available for 33% off, for this week only.

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Ian Shepherd

BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars