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Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

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Even Skrillex sounds better with more dynamics ! (And even on mobile phones)

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I got into trouble with a few people a while back for this post:

Why your EDM will sound better with more dynamics – and 6 places to find them

They said:

  1. I didn’t know what EDM was, and
  2. I was wrong – EDM needs that crushed, “loudness war sound” – that’s it’s an essential part of the genre

So, here are my replies to those criticisms.

  1. Bite me
  2. Watch the video above – unless you think Skrillex isn’t EDM, that is…

And then bite me.

Any questions ?


(By the way, the most excellent Matthew Weiss from the Pro Audio Files has just released a new video pack, called Mixing EDM – to find out more, click here.)

Update

This video has been getting a great reaction, but people have also raised a couple of valid points.

First – the sound effects make it hard to hear exactly what’s going on, and might contribute to the more spacious sound of the video

Second – several people think the iTunes version actually sounds better on the small speakers of smartphones, iPads etc !

So, I made another video, to address those points head on.

And here it is.





Short version – translation to mobile devices is NOT a valid reason for “loudness war crush”.

Nothing is.

Did they REALLY just auto-tune Aretha ? SERIOUSLY ?

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OK, before we start, I need to get something straight.

Aretha Franklin is a legend, one of the greatest singers of all time, and if she chooses to sing through a kazoo whilst breathing helium, that’s fine with me.

Seriously, you just don’t argue with talent like that.

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It’s a kind of magic
- Or: It’s not about the f****** format !

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needle_groove


OK, enough is enough.

I’ve made various videos over the last few years comparing vinyl and digital releases of different albums – because sometimes vinyl is mastered with more dynamics than the digital formats, which is something I care about.

But I always try to avoid passing comment on the actual formats themselves – CD versus vinyl, analogue versus digital – because I feel these discussions are actually red herrings. They’re distractions from the real issues of what makes our music sound great.

But inevitably in the comments of these posts and videos, someone will eventually jump in with the timeless old chestnut:

‘Digital can never sound as good as analogue’

Now this is a popular belief these days, but the fact is there’s no theoretical reason to believe it’s true – correctly implemented digital audio can exactly reproduce any analogue audio signal with complete accuracy.

But when I say that, there’s always someone who says something like

“people who listen to CD are missing out on the emotional experience. I don’t expect you to understand, but I know it’s true”.

To which my response is – how dare you ?!

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Why your EDM will sound better with more dynamics – and 6 places to find them

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spoons

UPDATE – Disclaimer / Rant: When I say “EDM” in this post, I mean in the “old-school” way of – what, a whole couple of years ago ? Back when EDM was a broad term meaning pretty much any kind of dance music – trance, techno, dubstep, house, electro, electronica (whatever that is) etc etc etc.

Since posting this yesterday I’ve taken all kinds of criticism from people either offended that I’m lumping their favourite underground sub-genre of dance in with ‘trashy, commercial, mainstream pap’ – or sniggering because I they think I don’t know what EDM really means or that I can’t really like dance music if I think those songs are EDM.

Well, I have news for the critics – it doesn’t matter.

The comments in this post apply equally to any genre of dance, regardless of your opinion of it’s artistic merit, or whether it was released after 2012 or not.

Is the current “mainstream pop” version of EDM typically far more crushed than the all-time classics ? Yes. Does that mean it “needs” to sound that way ? No. Don’t believe me ? Watch this – then read on.

Oh – and for all the people saying ‘you don’t understand, it HAS to be loud for the clubs’… keep an eye out for the follow-up to this post.

Now, where was I ? Oh yes…


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Daft Punk win 2014 Grammy for Great Sound

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Daft Punk won no less than five Grammy Awards last night, including Record Of The Year for “Get Lucky”) and Album Of The Year for “Random Access Memories”.

One of these five awards was for Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) – and it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I think this factor was a crucial part of the mix. [Boom, tish!]

It’s easy to think that the sound of a record is almost irrelevant to it’s success – after all, it’s the song, performance and artist that sells records. Most people listen to music on laptop speakers, mobile phones and iPod earbuds, these days – no-one can hear sound quality on those, right ?

Looking at it another way, one of the most obvious ways to judge “quality” in the 21st Century is “loudness”, and since research shows that loudness has no effect on sales, one way the other, it stands to reason that other more subtle factors in the sound make even less difference, right ?

Well, maybe – but maybe not.
 
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Ian Shepherd


BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars

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