Dynamic Range Day - Loudness War Protest

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Loudness War versus Sales – The Truth

by Ian Shepherd

This is huge.

On November 4, 2010, Earl Vickers presented his research paper at the 129th AES Convention in San Francisco with clear evidence that there is no connection between loudness and sales.

Don’t believe me ? Just watch the video above.

Earl is the first to admit that further research is need on the subject, but his conclusions are striking. Here are a few:

  • Loudness is not correlated with sales figures
  • Loudness has almost no affect on listener’s preferences when comparing different songs
  • Listeners tend to dislike the side-effects of hyper-compression, and prefer more dynamic music
  • Content trumps loudness, especially on the radio

Earl says it far better than I can – I strongly recommend you watch his video, and read more on his web-page here.

If you still think loudness is important, it may change your mind.

If you already think that dynamic music sounds better – tell your friends, and join in with Dynamic Range Day – for more information, click here.

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12 Responses

  1. “It turns stairway to heaven into a sidewalk”

    That is without a doubt the best quote of all time about the loudness war!!

  2. Ian Shepherd says:

    Isn’t it fantastic ?!

  3. [...] research, too – there’s an AES paper that shows that people prefer dynamic music, they don’t like distortion and they don’t [...]

  4. brian says:

    if this guy start’s trying to imply some kind of legislation against over compressed music im going to hunt him down and strangle him with a limiter…

  5. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Brian,

    Legistlation is already being introduced In Europe and the US – not to restrict compressed music, but to enforce loudness normalisation in broadcast situations. It’s only a small step to imagine this being expanded to include iPods and other replay devices. So, compressed music won’t be restricted, but before long there will simply be no benefit to going ‘too far’.


  6. brian says:

    Hey ian – not sure if i follow what you mean there, ? have to any link’s to info on this, ? would it mean stuff such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGzrL8J0t-c or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onLIQrJ7gMQ&feature=player_detailpage#t=88s would be illegal, ?

  7. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Brian,

    No – just that it would get turned down to match the replay volume of everything else. So, if that’s what you want to sound like, then cool – but it will be played back at a similar level to (say) Simon And Garfunkel. Or Justin Bieber. Or whatever.


  8. brian says:

    hmmmm… so they just set a compulsory RMS level for playback, ? But whatever can be done within that level, ? (so it could be a solid brickwall limiting but at -10 RMS….)

    Do you agree with this, ? i can see some benefits…. but i don’t really know if it’s a good thing or not…

  9. brian says:

    hey ian just thought id follow this up – i got a couple of tracks (noisia included) and evened out the RMS between the two so i could compare them…. And i actually think that i (reluctantly, i generally oppose most restrictions!) agree with the idea of a maximum rms value… although it would be interesting to see if any unintended production techniques were pushed as a result…. will be having dynamics wars as a result of this, ?

    oh – and have you a link to anything regarding legislation on this topic please, my google powers are failing me.

  10. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Brian,

    Here’s a good discussion:


    (Make sure you “turn the page” to read further)


  11. Kim Skråmo says:

    Ian: Some devices have already been shipping for years with rms-normalisation enabled. I bought my Ipod classic in 2009, and it was set to use “sound check” (possibly a marketing alias of a standard replaygain-algorithm) by default. I don’t know if this applies to the latest ‘generation’ of iproducts.

    In any case, the technology exists, and it being put to use already. How about Spotify? Is it set to normalize by default?

  12. Ian Shepherd says:

    Hi Kim,

    Yes, Spotify uses it by default:


    And, sound check works, but could be much better, in my experience. There are moves afoot to try and get Apple to use the new ITU loudness standards for Sound Check – hopefully that will improve things further.


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Ian Shepherd

BBC Radio 4 Interview

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Ian Shepherd from Production Advice discusses the Loudness Wars