Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

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Dynamic Range Day 2011 – Join us on March 25th – NO MORE Loudness War !

by Ian Shepherd

Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest
Update: Dynamic Range Day now has it’s own website !

For all the latest information, please click here

I want to tell you EVERYTHING about Dynamic Range Day 2011 – but I can’t.

That’s because I don’t know it myself, yet !

But here’s what I can tell you:

This year is going to be huge.

We have an award, a competition to win an SSL X-Desk, (yes, that’s the SSL!) and masses of publicity.

Now, to the details.

The Message

Dynamic music sounds better

Help spread the word by making people aware of the Loudness Wars, and why the only way to win is to not fight.

What are the Loudness Wars ?

A sonic arms race where every artist and label feel they need to crush their music onto CD at the highest possible level, for fear of not being “competitive” – and in the process they squash out all the dynamics, all the light and shade – ruining the sound.

The loudness wars turn “Stairway To Heaven” into “A Walk On The Pavement”.

Songs sound dull and fatiguing – as if someone is SHOUTING AT YOU ALL THE TIME.

If you’d like to hear it for yourself, click here.

And what’s worse – the idea that songs need to be extremely loud is a modern myth – a fairy story, and we need to spread the word.

Here are the facts:

For more information, click here.

The Date

Friday March 25th 2011

The Place


The Competition

Just listen to three different masters of the same song, and identify which one is the most dynamic for the chance to win one of these fantastic prizes !

Watch out for details on how to enter soon !

The Award

For the best-sounding dynamic mix of 2010/11

Judged by a panel of industry experts, this will be awarded to a high-profile, successful act who have had the courage to ignore the Loudness War “fairy-tales” and release great-sounding, dynamic music.

Put forward your nomination in the comments below !

The Publicity

The support for DRD11 this year is fantastic.

Here are some of the companies who have already said they will help publicise the event:

SSL (Solid State Logic)
Bowers & Wilkins
The APRS (Association of Professional Recording Services)
Pro Sound News
Music Tech Magazine
The Pleasurize Music Foundation
Sigurdór Guðmundsson
Home Studio Corner

With more signing up every day !

What next ?

Please show your support for Dynamic Range Day in any of the following ways:

  • Click to “Like” the Facebook page
  • Post your nominations for great, dynamic music in the comments below
  • To follow @DynamicRangeDay on Twitter – click here - start talking and using the #DRD11 hashtag!
  • Put a post on your site or blog telling people about the day – include a link to this page or add a Dynamic Range Day banner
  • Sign up to the Dynamic Range Day Newsletter for the latest information using this form

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on March 25th !

Dynamic Range Day logo by @synewaves

facebook comments:

33 Responses

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Edmondson, John Hartley, Mike Hillier, dynamicrangeday, bigyellowduckny and others. bigyellowduckny said: Dynamic Range Day 2011 – Make Music Sound Better http://lnkd.in/Ud_fZC [...]

  2. VIOZ says:

    I see nobody followed the link I posted on the “It’s on its way” post’s comments section. It takes to an article about the U.S. Congress approving legislation to turn down the volume on loud television commercials. I mean, a law for loud commercials. A LAW!!! FOR LOUD COMMERCIALS!!! I can just see the U.S. passing a law that sets a maximum loudness level on any audio file and forces audio manufacturers to include the ReplayGain Feature in all their products: you would hear the loudest simultaneous sigh of relief ever. I think of no better way to let everybody know about the Loudness Wars than the media informing that there should be A LAW against it.

    Shouldn’t all our efforts go in that direction?




  3. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi VIOZ,

    Thanks for your comment. I didn’t follow your link, I’d already seen it. I think it’s great news, I’ve heard other people say that similar things have been passed before and had little effect. It’ll be interesting to see if it leads to a genuine change !

    But, it only applies in the US, and I think it’s literally impossible that any such law would be passed for music. How could it be enforced ?

  4. JLT says:


    I found good what you say about dynamic

    I would like to know your position about this :



  5. Daan says:

    I believe these guys are really trying to get the dynamic sound, which make their songs powerful!


    Dutch post-metal/hardcore/folk band.

  6. seva says:

    personally i love mixes for film and have wondered why we couldn’t use the film industry’s regulations for sound. then we could have a calibrated method for dynamic range (the user could always turn up the “midnight listening” control and squeeze the range).

  7. Ian Shepherd says:

    I agree – in fact Bob Katz proposed exactly such an idea – the “K-System”.

    However I believe we are too far down the hyper-compression road for “top-down” initiatives, and that a grass-roots movement, spreading the word via the TT Loudness Meter, is ultimately more likely to succeed – hence DRD11 !

  8. Ian Shepherd says:

    @ JL – Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out !

    @ Daan – Have you tried the offline TT meter on their tunes ?

  9. I’d like to give a nod to Dynamo Bliss for releasing an album with some nice dynamic range and breathing space.


  10. Bob Katz says:

    Hmmmm…. since I’m a mastering engineer, I’m not interested in (most of) the contest prizes, but rather in getting people to know about some of the most exciting, spacious, impacting, musical and dynamic masters and the associated artists I’ve had the pleasure of mastering in the past couple of years. Please tell us what is your definition of a “high profile” act to qualify for the entries? With the fragmentation of the major labels these past few years and with the demands for “loud” by my clients seeming to be in direct proportion to the size of the media campaign, my major dynamic successes have been with successful indie artists. So, how do you judge “high profile”? By number of sales? By how long the artist has been around? By the amount of publicity associated? By how many CDs they’ve made or downloads they’ve received? Please define your criteria so I can figure out who to nominate. Thanks!

  11. Bob Katz says:

    Another comment, please. The TT “loudness meter” is not a dynamic range meter. It is a measure of RMS level and approximate crest factor. I recommend that you use as an objective criterion of dynamic range, the new EBU 1770 standard, with the proposed R128 gating option. The “loudness range” criterion in this standard shows the ranges of average loudness above and below the average loudness of the material, gated to 10 dB below the average loudness. In layman’s terms, this means an objective measure of the real dynamic range of the material, excluding extra soft parts, fadeins, fadeouts, and silent passages. The TC Electronic RADAR meter can make this measure (it’s the inverse of their “consistency” parameter”), as can the new meter from Grimm audio called “Level one.” Write to me for more information on objective measures of dynamic range.

  12. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the comments, and welcome !

    My goal with the award is to highlight a well-known, mainstream band – to prove the point that you can be popular and commercially successful without mastering at DR6 or less.

    So, the bands I’m looking at have all charted, and will all be easily recognised by most music fans – here in the UK at least, I’m not as clued into the US scene.

    So, well-known “indie” bands are fine. I think I’ll do a page highlighting the nominees, including links to their music, and having a few less well-known acts in there could well be a good thing, too. Or, I could do another page highlighting less “household” names.

    Basically, feel free to nominate anyone you think is deserving ! If none of the judges have heard of them before, they’re unlikely to win the award, though.

    I hear you about the TT Loudness Meter vs. EBU 1770, but I didn’t choose it for it’s technical pedigree. The meter has lots of advantages:

    - It’s very easy to interpret the results
    - It’s freely available, and cross-platform
    - It has already been widely accepted by the community, with lots of people adopting the “DR” scale, and
    - The unofficial database (http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/) provides a valuable resource of data to compare and contrast

    Finally, it’s results broadly agree with my perception of the “loudness” of the music it’s being used to measure – for example see this chart.


    So, despite the fact that it isn’t accurately named, it doesn’t really measure loudness, and that it sometimes gives odd results, I’m sticking with it – this year, at least !



  13. James Bisset says:

    Well for me until the imminent release it still has to be The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow

  14. Bob Katz says:

    Dear Ian: Thanks for your comments. If you can get some “mainstream” winners it will fuel the race. But on the subject of dr; note that I could take the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication”, drop it 20 dB and it will land at -20 on the TT meter! But it will still sound smashed and have a dyn range of 3 dB! But it measures -20 so its the winner of the contest! I hope this illustrates the futility of using a loudness meter to judge dynamic range. Well, I know your judges will use Theo ears and not their eyes, but if you publish the TT number as a measure or criterion, it’s a deceiving choice. The Grimm and TC numbers are easy to get and far more indicative of dynamic range.

  15. adam labarge says:

    Heifetz – Tchaikovsky and Mendessohn – RCA 5933-2-RC

    When folks come over and ask what dynamic range is – I put this on. With in minute they are typically out of their chair pointing with mouth agape.

  16. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Bob,

    Actually you’re wrong – the TT meter reports the same DR regardless of absolute level – both the offline and plugin versions measure peak, RMS and “DR” independently.

    It also includes measures to ignore very quiet sections to avoid these skewing the judgements.

    With respect, I recommend you download the meter and play around with it before you are too critical. It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s perfect for the message of Dynamic Range Day.


    PS. I don’t understand why “mainstream” winners should fuel the race, provided there is a good DR in their music. There are mainstream releases out there with a healthy DR – that’s the whole point of the award. Far from fuelling it, a winner with more dynamic range that is successful nonetheless proves that the race is pointless !

  17. Bob Katz says:

    Sorry about the word “fuel”. It was an iphone typo. I meant to say “mainstream bands with a good dr will help defeat the race. As for the TT meter, if it truly measures some form of dr, perhaps there was a language barrier, but I had a discussion with Mr. T. About using the term DR to measure level when this meter came out and the discussion was difficult, he did not respond to repeated inquiries on my part about this issue and I gave up. Are you saying the meter has three independent measures?

  18. Peter Nimmo says:

    Ian, I don’t think the TT Meter is freely available.

    According to http://dynamicrange.de/en/version-14a-online-minor-bug-fixes

    You need to be an active member. Whilst I can agree there should be a price for the plugin, it seems ridiculous that the Offline Meter should seeing as that is what people could use to analyse their collection and spread the word by linking to the tool

  19. Ian Shepherd says:

    @ Bob No problem about the typo :-) Yes, there are two form of the meter – a plugin and an offline version. You can see an animated GIF of the plugin on this post:


    - and a screenshot from the output of the offline version here:


    Both give peak, RMS and DR separately. The offline version can also process an entire album and produces a log file detailing DR values for each track, and the overall DR. This can be read in a text editor, or uploaded to the database.

    For example, here is the entry in the database for Californication:


    @ Peter – When I say “freely available” I’m referring to the plugin, which is absolutely free from the developer – the link is in the post I mentioned above – and the fact that the offline meter is easy to get hold of and very affordable. (It’s still free, but only available to “active members”, as you say.)

    I’ve discussed this with the PMF, and they say they need some way of raising capital to fund their efforts, which I have to respect – this is their solution. I agree it’s a shame the offline tool isn’t entirely free as well, but I honestly think using the plugin as your final metering is the best way to avoid squashing music, and is a superb educational tool for this issue. One of my goals for DRD11 is to spread the word about it ! The offline tool is a nice tool for people really interested in the issue.

  20. Bob Katz says:

    Thanks, the animated gif of the TT meter does show that I may have been mistaken previously! I’ll be sure to mention the TT meter in the 3rd edition of my book. I stand corrected. For some reason, I received only one email reply from Mr. T., and it was a bit difficult to understand, perhaps because of the language barrier. All well and good, moving forward…


  21. Peter Nimmo says:

    @ Ian
    That seems totally inverse behaviour. Surely if your using the plugin you are likely to be doing music production and therefore you are likely to be selling you wares and profiting from the use of the tool.

    Surely the quickest way to spread the news about dynamic range compression is to have loads of the general public blogging and spreading the word on forums. If the offline tool was free that would help greatly.

  22. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Peter,

    I would like to see it tackled from both ends ! So yes, I agree it would be good if the meter were freely available.

    But I also think the plugin has a very powerful effect in the hands of the music-makers. I would be very sad if the offline meter were free but the plugin was paid-only.

    Why not contact the people at http://www.dynamicrange.de and let them know how you feel ? Maybe if enough people say the same thing, they will change their minds…

    In the meantime though, becoming an active member is very affordable, I think.


  23. Asbjørn says:

    I just learned about MasVis, a powerful and free analysis tool from a Swedish audiophile group. It is designed to uncover excessive compression and limiting. I have no connection to the publisher, just wanted to bring it to your attention:

    In my opinion, putting that much analytic power in the hands of savvy consumers must be a good thing.

  24. Paul Abbott says:

    I think this record has some songs with quite a bit of DR…….. Tumbleweed Rover and Same Train in particular…..Although Are You Still Lovely is pretty up there too!


  25. Micke says:

    I’d like to post this, we tried to keep it outside the war…


    [But the RN systems kills the files]

  26. [...] posten Sie Hinweise auf Ihrer Homepage und besuchen Sie diese Site, um alles Weitere zu erfahren: Dynamic Range Day 2011 – Loudness War Protest Dynamic Range Day 2011 – Loudness War Protest 4. Forschungsprojekte Es [...]

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  28. David Wilkinson says:

    This post is a bit late, but I thought I’d mention an important point about the TT DR meter. Lovely looking (and free) as it is, I discovered something odd about it tonight. While running some mixes through it i wondered why the RMS levels appeared higher (and hence dynamic range appeared lower) than experience and my ears suggested.

    I ran a sig gen through it and noticed that it’s rms value was reading the same as the reported peak value. Thinking that all meters were set to read peak values I looked around for a ‘peak/RMS’ button but didn’t find one. Sure enough, on reading the manual TT state “The RMS value is corrected by +3 dB so that sine waves have the 
    same peak and RMS value. This is the case with most meters.” This +3dB correction was NOT apparent in the other meters I had in the chain for comparison (Waves PAZ, Digirack Phasescope and RND Inspector). So basically the average RMS value of material appears 3dB higher in TT DR Meter compared to these others, and the dynamic range will be 3dB more than is stated.

    It’s a pity as it’s a really nice meter and I’d love to use it, but don’t want to have to do the -3dB mental conversion when doing so.

  29. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi David,

    Well-spotted, however it’s just a question of standards. Fwiw the TT value is more “correct” – there’s a fairly clear explanation here on the Sound On Sound forum:


    “The more ‘official’ AES Standard AES17-1998 makes the sine wave 0dBFS and the full-scale square wave +3 dBFS, as do Dorrough meters”

    Personally I’m comfortable with the TT meter readings because I was trained using a good old-fashioned VU meter, and they match reasonably well.

    I think the DR reading of the TT is worth the effort of adjusting, but I understand you may not want to make the change !



  30. David Wilkinson says:

    Hi Ian

    Thanks for the link. This has lead to a good bit of revision for me as I blew out the cobwebs and remembered days of plugging signal generators into oscilloscopes…how RMS means ‘root mean square’ and that it’s always equivalent to 0.707 of the peak value, that converts into the handy difference of 3dB, etc…blah…

    I guess this is why the idea of a meter that gives the same peak and RMS values for a sine wave seemed jarring to me – almost like it violates a law of thermodynamics or something…haha…

    I also got to thinking why the AES (being a cluey bunch of people who would have given a lot more thought to this than me) would have brought in such a standard. It suddenly makes sense when you consider the implication of the 3dB difference between peak and RMS when it’s used to calculate a meaningful value for dynamic range. To say that a sine wave (and after all musical program is essentially sinusoidal) peaking at 0dB has a dynamic range of 3dB is nonsensical – it’s not capable of getting any louder!

    I’m now going to try and use the TT DR Meter with its ‘RMS +3′ standard as it really does make sense, make take a bit of getting used to though! Thanks for the prompting to look into this.


  31. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi David,

    Glad it was helpful ! At the end of the day I think DR is more useful than RMS anyway – I used VU meters not as a way of deciding final levels, but just as a kind of red light about DR. If they constantly push too high, the level is probably too hot. The TT is even better at this job :-)


  32. jose says:

    I have been making a playlist of songs for my office, it´s amazing the difference between songs pre and post the `00, its like, newer music is just NOISE, loud, undistinguisable sound.

    To you all record producers, make your music the way it should be, and leave compression to music radio channels

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Ian Shepherd

BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars