I recently posted a video demonstrating how Apple’s Sound Check feature works, and exploring whether it really means that the loudness war has been won as Bob Katz claims.
The short answer is – I hope so, but I do have reservations.
But even if Bob is right (and there are encouraging signs that perhaps the loudness war tide is turning, recently) I’ve still always had a reservation about Sound Check.
It evens out all the levels on albums, too – as well as when you’re listening on shuffle.
This is a huge negative point, for me – Sound Check alters all the internal dynamics within an album – the contrast between quieter and louder tracks.
Or at least, it used to.
Tests made recently by Bob and others suggest that Apple have implemented a fix for this problem and quietly rolled it out, without any fanfare.
Of course I wanted to try this for myself, and I made the video above to demonstrate what I found. I also discuss why I think it’s important, what I think Apple’s next step should be – and why that decision could be a really big deal.
Bob Katz recently announced that the Loudness War has been won. But is he right ?
Well, based on recent releases by a slew of UK female artists – maybe !
The YouTube video above of Lily Allen’s new single “Hard Out Here” sounds great and measures a respectable DR9 on the TT Meter, following the same trend as two of the year’s biggest hits, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky“.
(Plus the satisfyingly rude and on-point video and lyrics for “Hard Out Here” are especially pleasing if you share my reservations about “Blurred Lines”…)
And Lily’s not alone.
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Last week, on the eve of the AES Convention in New York, mastering engineer Bob Katz made a startling announcement on his website – that the Loudness War had finally been won.
He didn’t mean that he’d made the loudest album in history, though – he was talking about the fact that Apple seem to be using Sound Check, their replay volume control facility, on iTunes Radio – basically Apple’s version of Spotify or Pandora.
Bob went further though, saying that:
“The debilitating loudness war has finally been won… The last battle will be over by mid-2014.”
Bob has been talking about this issue longer than perhaps anyone else I know, and is heavily involved with the Music Loudness Alliance. Certainly his statement needs to be taken seriously.
So, is he right ?
Many people have been contacting me asking for my reaction to his comments, and there has also been a lot of confusion about what it really means about the best way to master your music.
The video above demonstrates the real-world impact of “Sound Check” and also explains why, even though I’m pleased and excited by this news, I think there is still a long way to go before Bob’s prediction can be proven right – and how you can help us get there.
What do you think ? Will “loud” masters really be a thing of the past, by the middle of next year ?
OK, now I get it.
Now I’m an Amanda Palmer fan too.
Of course as a long-time Neil Gaiman reader I’ve known about her for a while, and watched what she’s up to with interest, and pondered the questions a raised by her million-dollar Kickstarter campaign, and loved the song she wrote (and performed naked) about the Daily Mail recently, and pondered even more deeply the questions raised by her “open letter” to Sinead O’Conner (about Miley Cyrus), amongst others… but I wasn’t a fan, not properly.
But I am now.
So what brought about this sudden conversion ?
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There’s a recurring theme on this site:
It ain’t what you use, its the way that you use it.
Watch the video above, and then tell me you don’t agree – I dare you.
We spend so much of our time lusting after bits of gear, the next new “must-have” plugin, a new guitar or a better amp… and it’s all nonsense.
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