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Why New Music Doesn't Sound As Good As It Should

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Never mind that today's factory-produced starlets and mini-clones just don't have the practiced chops of the supergroups of yesteryear, pop in a new CD and you might notice that the quality of the music itself—maybe something as simple as a snare drum hit—just doesn't sound as crisp and as clear as you're used to. Why is that?

It's part of the music industry's quest to make music louder and louder, and it's been going on for decades, at least since the birth of the compact disc. Click the link for a nice little video, a mere 2 minutes long, which explains it in detail, with audio cues that you'll be able to hear in crisp detail.

The key to the problem is that, in making the soft parts of a track louder (in the process making the entire track loud), you lose detail in the song: The difference between what's supposed to be loud and what's supposed to be soft becomes less and less. The result is that, sure, the soft parts of a song are nice and loud, but big noises like drum beats become muffled and fuzzy. But consumers often subconsciously equate loudness with quality, and thus, record producers pump up the volume. Anything to make a buck.

The bigger problem is that this is all unnecessary. Stereo equipment is more powerful today than ever, and last time I checked, every piece of music hardware had a volume knob.

Don't take my word for it: Pop in the first CD you bought and play it at the same volume level as the most recent one you bought. You might be shocked by what you hear.

Anyone still wondering why the music business is suffering?



Video link: The Loudness War

Original article

This has been a persistent problem with the majority of metal recordings for the last decade or so. It's also the main reason why I try to buy non-remastered versions of metal albums whenever possible.

Due to their wide tonal (and dynamic) range, drums are definitely the most common victim in this process.

Divus_de_Mortuus

It also seems to me that part of the allure of metal was in an ambiance that was provided by the old tape machine analog recording methods, which sounds superior to the digital recording of today. Black Metal knew this, and that gave rise to the "kvlt" style of recording. It worked with Darkthrone but has been mercilessly abused since. The worst side effect of this is what bands like Toxic Holocaust do when they use digital machines to record wannabe low-fi retro junk. I don't know a whole lot about the old recording techniques, so perhaps someone could add to this.

Divus_de_Mortuus

The Darkthrone approach does this on purpose, for reasons I shouldn't have to explain.

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This has been a persistent problem with the majority of metal recordings for the last decade or so. It's also the main reason why I try to buy non-remastered versions of metal albums whenever possible.


Well, that and that most remasters are $500 spent in CuBase or Nuendo doing what should have occurred in a studio from multi-track recordings.

Metal has its dynamicism, but it is rarely understood by the rock crowd, who think "wow loud angry music" so it should be loud all of the time and have no subtlety whatsoever.