Original entry posted: Mon Oct 19 19:14:48 2009
@ Mon Oct 19 18:16:21 2009 EST
Linked to this post, I thought this might be of interest - http://liquidculture.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/i-fought-a-loudness-war/
@ Mon Oct 19 19:15:50 2009 EST
Funny thing is, I'm not usually annoyed by the loudness war as long as the music sounds good--I'm a lo-fi kinda guy, normally, and for most of the music I listen to, compression is part of the genre's "sound." But it is frustrating to have my older Who tracks mixed in with music of a newer production style, just due to the volume changes. Particularly since the player software I usually use doesn't support plugins for compression.
I don't think MP3 is going anywhere, but I think we've passed the point where it matters--the quality's good enough for everyone but the gold-plated-speaker-cable crowd.
this old post of mine
also raises some of the interesting conventions that I think are much more mind-rattling than the culture of loudness--namely, that modern music production is primarily aimed at a kind of auditory omniscience.
@ Mon Oct 19 19:20:35 2009 EST
It bears mentioning, incidentally, that compression means two things between this post and the context of "loudness." In the former, it's a psychoacoustic scheme that selectively raises the noise floor of a track to just below the threshold of perception in order to discard unheard audio information. In the latter, it's a signal processing tool that manipulates the dynamics--the amplitude--of a given audio stream.
Ironically, dynamic compression actually makes a signal softer, since it's effectively a gentler version of a limiter. When people discuss it in terms of loudness, they're combining compression with the application of make-up gain.
You probably knew that, but it's always nice to make it clear, since it can be confusing.
@ Mon Oct 19 20:47:46 2009 EST
No, I'm relatively new to the audio side of things (having just laid my hands on a digital audio recorder, and starting to get involved in student radio production as a Masters student), so your comments and explanations are interesting, if a little opaque.
I think I'll need to get some hands-on experience with the gear, and a feeling for the shape and meaning of the jargon will probably follow.
@ Mon Oct 19 21:04:26 2009 EST
Oh, you're going to have some fun, then. I miss my audio production days.
I did an "MP3 compression for beginners" that was generally well-received
over at Ars Technica
about a year ago, covering the basics of psychoacoustic compression--the kind that turns a .WAV file into a smaller format (AAC, OGG, etc. all work basically the same way). It's fascinating stuff. Researching and writing it was incredibly eye-opening, and dispelled a lot of my digital format snobbery.
Sound on Sound did some decent "master class" articles on dynamic compressors (e.g., the volume kind)
, but one of the best ways to figure it out would be to download a copy of Reaper and start playing with it. Especially if you've got a compression plugin that supports side-chaining, so you can set up ducking for vocals (one of my
favorite simple tricks
while I was working for the Bank).