Industrial Electronic Music Loudness and Dynamic Range


Industrial Electronic Music Loudness and Dynamic Range: An informative blog about the loudness war in recorded music.

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Welcome to Industrial Electronic Music Loudness and Dynamic Range, an informative blog about the loudness war in recorded music.

The purpose of this blog is to share information about the loudness war in recorded music, as well as dynamic range and other audio issues, with consumers of recorded media. This blog will also report on efforts by artists and engineers to reverse the trend toward louder-at-all-costs recordings. I hope it will also serve as an educational resource for musicians, producers and engineers.

This blog is a forum for consumers of recorded music to express their opinions about the subject of loudness in recorded music, dynamic range, and other audio issues. In some cases I will offer my own comments, but mostly I want this to be a place where readers can express themselves freely.

IEM Loudness and Dynamic Range: An informative blog about the loudness war in recorded music.

Industrial Electronic Music Loudness and Dynamic Range

Welcome to Industrial Electronic Music Loudness and Dynamic Range!

The loudness war is the trend of increasing audio levels in recorded music that started in the 1990s and continues to this day. The premise behind the loudness war is that increasing the loudness level of a recording increases its perceived quality, which will lead to increased sales. This can be done by many means including compression and limiting, both of which affect the dynamic range of a recording. In this blog, I will explore the loudness war and how it has affected industrial music recordings over time.

I will use a dynamic range meter called DR14 T.meter developed by Jan Panis and friends to ensure that my results are consistent across all recordings. DR14 T.meter is also open source software so you can download it from GitHub or sourceforge if you want to duplicate or improve upon my work here. You can find more information about DR14 T.meter here: http://dr14tmeter.sourceforge.net/.

I have been a fan of Industrial and Electronic music since the mid 90’s. Some of the early groups that I enjoyed are Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein and Skinny Puppy. The genre is known for its loudness war (competing to see who can put out the most distorted album) and some very interesting album art.

Currently there are several companies working on software to control the loudness war. One of them is TC Electronics. They make a product called Finalizer which is a mastering processor that has presets for CD, Radio Broadcast and Internet broadcast. Another company is Wave Arts which makes a plugin called Panorama which also has presets for CD, radio Broadcast and Internet Broadcast. Both products are designed to increase the perceived volume of a track while keeping the overall dynamic range under control.

This blog discusses some of my experiences with these products as well as other interesting topics relating to Industrial Electronic Music.

This blog is about the loudness war in recorded music, or rather, the lack thereof. I am not interested in the loudness war in films and television. I am not interested in other dynamics issues on other media, most notably classical music. I am not interested in recording technique discussion (how to record louder). I am not interested in other aspects of mastering and production. I am not interested in marketing and related issues (e.g. why do people buy loud CDs).

I also have no opinion whatsoever regarding art, aesthetics or musical expression. No one should care whether or not I like or dislike any particular piece of music.

My name is John Eargle. I am a classical record producer, a recording engineer, an educator and author of books on microphones, loudspeakers and acoustics. I am also a musician and a consumer of music of all kinds. Recently I took up the hobby of measuring the loudness of music recordings as seen on my iPod. This blog describes what I have learned from that endeavor.

I have no intention of being comprehensive, but rather to offer some observations which may be of general interest to those who care about recorded sound quality, especially with respect to dynamic range and loudness.

My goal is to make some informed observations about current trends in loudness (or lack thereof) in commercial releases, both in the past and present. Let me say right at the outset that I do not believe that “louder is better” or “quieter is better”. Loudness is a musical tool for effect; it should neither be abused nor overused . . . it should be used as appropriate for the music itself.


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