This is the video from a great new petition I’ve helped put together with Bob Katz, Eelco Grimm and Matt Mayfield, the creator of the original (and best) YouTube Loudness War video. If you’d like to support the petition, please click here:
So what’s it all about ?
Well, you might remember my posts last year about YouTube starting to use loudness normalisation, and what that could mean for the loudness war. They caused the biggest spike of traffic to my site ever – over half a million visitors in less than 48 hours !
My argument than was then (and still is) that loudness management is a Good Thing. If mastering your music “loud” doesn’t reliably mean people will hear it loud because of normalisation, then what’s the point ? People will start looking for other ways to get their music to stand out – and in my experience, optimal dynamics are a great way to achieve that.
So overall, I see it as a positive step.
But it’s not quite that simple.
As I wrote around the same time, YouTube’s normalisation level is pretty high, and Spotify’s is even higher – and uses extra limiting ! Apple’s is more reasonable, but Sound Check isn’t enabled by default on their devices. It was used in iTunes Radio, but they’re phasing it out. Tidal has no normalisation at all, yet !
It’s a mess.
And to help address this, last year I helped contribute to a new set of AES guidelines for online streaming loudness:
In a nutshell, the recommendation is that all the streaming services agree on a standardised replay volume of no more than -16 LUFS. This means we can expect consistent playback levels on every service, and also between platforms. Whereas if the recommendations aren’t adopted, there’s a real risk that a new online loudness war will ensue as a result.
Unfortunately, it’s been over six months since the guidelines were published, and there are no signs that any of the streaming services are paying attention – yet.
That’s what we hope this petition will change. If we can show significant support for the idea, we hope that all the streaming services will adopt the AES recommendations. This will result in a better user experience for us when we listen to streaming music, and more importantly leave us free to master our music using compression levels that are right artistically, without worrying about “competing” in the loudness war.
Please sign and share the petition, if you agree ! Here’s the link again:
Lastly I’d like to thank Bob K. for getting me involved in both these initiatives, he has been the driving force behind both the recommendations and this petition, and he’s done a great job. I’ll be promoting them both on this year’s Dynamic Range Day, which is on April 29th.