Dr Loudness War

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

Moderator: Staff

Post Reply
Robert Lake
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 59
Joined: 2007-08-19 17:50

Dr Loudness War

Post by Robert Lake » 2020-07-31 10:27

The loudness war keeps on going. I found the recent album by Haim (2020) just terrible.
When I tried to confirm my suspicions, I discovered this site (below) that measures the dynamic range in albums. My favorite albums are typically in the green and yellow. And, it appears that most vinyl versions are made with higher dynamic range than the CDs!

Look here (before you buy?)
http://dr.loudness-war.info/

beck
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1718
Joined: 2012-10-22 22:25

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by beck » 2020-07-31 11:30

Very, very, very interesting. Thank you for posting the link! :-)

lindsayt
Member
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 2010-08-30 19:06
Location: UK

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by lindsayt » 2020-07-31 19:33

It's only well established artists with integrity and backbone that stand up against all the misguided music business executives and release original material that hasn't been compressed to high heaven.

Bob Dylan
Neil Young

Math
Member
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 2020-03-03 10:37

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Math » 2020-07-31 21:56

Robert Lake wrote:
2020-07-31 10:27
The loudness war keeps on going. I found the recent album by Haim (2020) just terrible.
When I tried to confirm my suspicions, I discovered this site (below) that measures the dynamic range in albums. My favorite albums are typically in the green and yellow. And, it appears that most vinyl versions are made with higher dynamic range than the CDs!

Look here (before you buy?)
http://dr.loudness-war.info/
Unfortunately, most of the time (with new music) vinyl versions are not made with higher dynamics, that's just what it looks like because the measurement method doesn't show the true dynamic on a file that's been ripped from a vinyl.
In most cases, the vinyl release gets the same mastering as the CD/digital release with just minor changes to avoid some technical problems the vinyl format has, like with stereo bass or intense burst of high frequency that can make the needle jump and cause distortion on playback, and some other stuff.

If you watch the following video made by Ian Shepherd who's a mastering engineer, you will realise you can't trust the dynamic measurements made on the vinyl versions, it can be the exact same master even if the dynamic looks much better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-AE9dL5FG8&t=10s

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1100
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Spannko » 2020-08-01 00:40

Thanks for the link math, the video was very interesting!

I too have fallen into the trap of believing the vinyl masters were more dynamic because of the DR meter values. Well, now I know that that’s not necessarily the case and have learned something new today.

beck
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1718
Joined: 2012-10-22 22:25

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by beck » 2020-08-01 10:02

At the moment I cannot see the above youtube video so I hope I do not repeat too much by posting this video.

https://youtu.be/DsJ0BldwB5w

Listening on an ipad it is amazing that whatever he does to the track the vinyl version to my ears comes through my ipad as more “human” sounding. My ears simply prefers listening to it whatever is done with the EQ.
I hear it as if the cd version sounds a bit “congested” not allowing me to hear as deap into the recording as with the vinyl version.

Spannko
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1100
Joined: 2008-01-24 21:46
Location: East of The Black Country, UK

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Spannko » 2020-08-01 14:00

What makes the video Math posted so interesting is that it’s the original recording engineer who’s doing the analysis.

The vinyl looks and measures more dynamic, but he knows that the vinyl was cut from the cd master, so it can’t be. He didn’t have an explanation for why the vinyl measured more dynamic other than it being “something” to do with the cutting >>> playback chain.

Unfortunately, his analysis focused on the sound rather than musicality so it’s difficult to draw any reliable conclusions.

User avatar
V.A.MKD
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 449
Joined: 2019-10-09 15:33
Location: Skopje / Europe
Contact:

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by V.A.MKD » 2020-08-01 15:05

Set-up of TT, can be issue when comparison is done ...
Music First ...
Vlado

FairPlayMotty
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 422
Joined: 2018-08-28 11:10
Location: Scotland

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by FairPlayMotty » 2020-08-01 15:20

The most interesting comment for me on the YouTube video was by VWestlife and the reply by Ian Sheppard. I hope Ian Sheppard does follow up with a new version of the video.
Everything is a remix: Copy, Transform, Combine.

beck
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1718
Joined: 2012-10-22 22:25

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by beck » 2020-08-01 15:45

Spannko wrote:
2020-08-01 14:00
What makes the video Math posted so interesting is that it’s the original recording engineer who’s doing the analysis.

The vinyl looks and measures more dynamic, but he knows that the vinyl was cut from the cd master, so it can’t be. He didn’t have an explanation for why the vinyl measured more dynamic other than it being “something” to do with the cutting >>> playback chain.

Unfortunately, his analysis focused on the sound rather than musicality so it’s difficult to draw any reliable conclusions.

So we are back to this guy (I have posted him before) being right (listen from 15:30 and 7 min. on)?

https://youtu.be/zaeugL-1QJo


So digital will only catch up on vinyl if it is possible to incorporate these peculiarities into the digital playback signal! :-)

FairPlayMotty
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 422
Joined: 2018-08-28 11:10
Location: Scotland

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by FairPlayMotty » 2020-08-01 17:18

Beck,

That clip nails it for me. It did the first time I watched it too.
Everything is a remix: Copy, Transform, Combine.

beck
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 1718
Joined: 2012-10-22 22:25

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by beck » 2020-08-01 17:19

FairPlayMotty wrote:
2020-08-01 17:18
Beck,

That clip nails it for me. It did the first time I watched it too.
👍

Whatsmynaim
Member
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 2019-10-29 23:55

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Whatsmynaim » 2020-08-01 21:03

Vinyl playback obeys the laws of mass and physics of the world we live in. That's why even with some faults it will sound natural to us. On the other hand digital is so abstract that a tiny fault can stop us from fully enjoying the music.
However, If all the problems in the digital chain is eliminated, it will beat vinyl.

Edit: Changed a few words to be more clear :)

Colin
Member
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 2015-06-22 20:48

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Colin » 2020-08-03 14:43

A lot of the drive to loudness was due to the requirements of UK commercial FM radio stations in the 1990s onwards (US ones probably from the 80s as they were more commercially focused earlier)- they didn't want quiet passages that might make a listener think the station had gone off air, or not finding it in the first place or not hearing above other background noises (either way risking losing a listener temporarily or permanently - the numbers of listeners being the only commodity for advertising revenues).

And so all the major commercial record labels went this way (after all getting your song played on air was the predominant way of ensuring chart success and record sales and so if it didn't fit this formula it was far less likely to be played).

The radio stations also compressed music themselves in order to achieve this even further (and they used surprisingly low grade CD/hard drive systems for this - e.g. below Linn Majik level). It was/is far more important for them for the average listener to find and hear the station easily than have audiophile quality (90+% of radio listening being in the kitchen/car/train /office/factory).

In the UK this particularly applied for Classic fm which had/has a much smaller dynamic range than BBC Radio 3 (which was part of the reason for it having 3-4 times the audience) but also across all mainstream commercial pop/rock stations too (in the UK and USA at least).

Life is often a numbers game and we have, unfortunately, to accept that audiophiles represent an extremely small and diminishing over time proportion of the population.

FairPlayMotty
Very active member
Very active member
Posts: 422
Joined: 2018-08-28 11:10
Location: Scotland

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by FairPlayMotty » 2020-08-03 21:33

Colin,

Radio was definitely a factor. On the attached link Katz describes the accelerants for loudness.

Forecasting several years ahead was brave of him.

https://youtu.be/u9Fb3rWNWDA
Everything is a remix: Copy, Transform, Combine.

Math
Member
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 2020-03-03 10:37

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Math » 2020-08-04 00:28

FairPlayMotty wrote:
2020-08-03 21:33
Colin,

Radio was definitely a factor. On the attached link Katz describes the accelerants for loudness.

Forecasting several years ahead was brave of him.

https://youtu.be/u9Fb3rWNWDA
Interesting video. Unfortunately, he wasn't right about the normalization killing of the loudness war by 2020.

I do wonder why they still use compressors and limiters to make the music sounding louder than the average level of around 13-16 LUFS? The record business should know by now that the most dominating music platforms use normalization and the old "advantage" of sounding louder isn't there anymore.


Here's another interesting podcast with Ian Shepherd where he interviews the man behind Tidal's normalization. It's a little different than what the other platforms use, and maybe a bit more clever with no positive gain added, and album normalization based on the loudest song on the album instead of the average level and why that's important.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUzgUXxaO30

Whatsmynaim
Member
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 2019-10-29 23:55

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Whatsmynaim » 2020-08-05 09:19

I think it's not only about the loudness anymore. It's still around because the super compressed sound itself is popular and artists push for it since it's a commercial risk otherwise. Just how not being loud enough used to be the commercial risk.

Robert Lake
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 59
Joined: 2007-08-19 17:50

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Robert Lake » 2020-08-06 08:47

Interesting clips mastering above. it seems as if vinyl by it self is adding or enhancing something in the recording that the CD do not have. Strange. Why, otherwise should the program detect relatively large differences when trying to measure compression.
Compression and autotune makes a lot of contemporary pop and rock quite boring. Even many classical music is really "flat". When it comes to big pop artists I found myself rather viewing their live promotion shows for TV or radio (BBC One for example) than listen to their CD:s.

lindsayt
Member
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 2010-08-30 19:06
Location: UK

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by lindsayt » 2020-08-06 13:58

Colin wrote:
2020-08-03 14:43
A lot of the drive to loudness was due to the requirements of UK commercial FM radio stations in the 1990s onwards (US ones probably from the 80s as they were more commercially focused earlier)- they didn't want quiet passages that might make a listener think the station had gone off air, or not finding it in the first place or not hearing above other background noises (either way risking losing a listener temporarily or permanently - the numbers of listeners being the only commodity for advertising revenues).

And so all the major commercial record labels went this way (after all getting your song played on air was the predominant way of ensuring chart success and record sales and so if it didn't fit this formula it was far less likely to be played).

The radio stations also compressed music themselves in order to achieve this even further (and they used surprisingly low grade CD/hard drive systems for this - e.g. below Linn Majik level). It was/is far more important for them for the average listener to find and hear the station easily than have audiophile quality (90+% of radio listening being in the kitchen/car/train /office/factory).

In the UK this particularly applied for Classic fm which had/has a much smaller dynamic range than BBC Radio 3 (which was part of the reason for it having 3-4 times the audience) but also across all mainstream commercial pop/rock stations too (in the UK and USA at least).

Life is often a numbers game and we have, unfortunately, to accept that audiophiles represent an extremely small and diminishing over time proportion of the population.
Which actual digital sources did the various FM radio stations actually use?

Have you demo'd any of them against Linn Majik streamers?
If so which ones and how did they compare on a tune dem basis?

Math
Member
Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 2020-03-03 10:37

Re: Dr Loudness War

Post by Math » 2020-08-06 18:56

Robert Lake wrote:
2020-08-06 08:47
Interesting clips mastering above. it seems as if vinyl by it self is adding or enhancing something in the recording that the CD do not have. Strange. Why, otherwise should the program detect relatively large differences when trying to measure compression.
Compression and autotune makes a lot of contemporary pop and rock quite boring. Even many classical music is really "flat". When it comes to big pop artists I found myself rather viewing their live promotion shows for TV or radio (BBC One for example) than listen to their CD:s.
In the mastering clip, the vinyl version is the same master as the CD, the difference is that the dynamic measurements on the CD version are a direct analysis of the original file itself, that's the true one and there is no more information/music you can squeeze out of it.

The vinyl version, on the other hand, had to go through a converter from analog to digital to make it possible to analyze in the first place. The added things that look like better dynamics are probably just artifacts from the conversion, or something from the process of making the vinyl cut, not an enhancement of any kind to the music itself. What's not there from the beginning can't be added later.

If the CD version had to go through the same analog to digital converter as the vinyl before the analysis, it would probably end up looking the same in the measurement of the dynamics as the vinyl version.

Post Reply