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Since everyone is listening of crappy earbuds, they compress the hell out of it and destroy all dynamic range.

More compression and less dynamic range is beneficial for certain environments. Noisy subways. Watching TV in a noisy downtown apartment. Basically, crappy, noisy environments. In those, compression will help you actually hear the music and speech. However, the fact that this should be done in the master is an artifact of an earlier time. Now that signal processing is small and cheap enough to be ubiquitous, music should be mastered for the best equipment, then appropriate signal processing should be done by playback.

The problem is, that there is a lot of older equipment out there that wouldn't be able to do this. So the signal gets compressed before distribution, as a compromise for the least common denominator of equipment out there. Otherwise, a big chunk of the population would think the master sounds like crap. To them, in their particular situation, it would.

EDIT: Come to think of it, the current system, where most music is more compressed, but where the people who care can still get a high dynamic range version, is a very good compromise. The problem is that the latter group's selection isn't quite filled out by the market.




> More compression and less dynamic range is beneficial for certain environments. Noisy subways. Watching TV in a noisy downtown apartment. Basically, crappy, noisy environments.

Good point, I think particularly for movies or such this makes sense. I want to be able to watch a movie such that I hear what the characters are speaking, without blowing my windows out of their frames during some action scene. Yes, I realize in real life explosions, guns etc. are really loud, and this makes the movie less realistic.


Yes, I realize in real life explosions, guns etc. are really loud, and this makes the movie less realistic.

Really loud? Ear-damaging loud! When the realism becomes actually endangering to your health, your escapist media has gone a bit too far.


Film is mixed with much more dynamic range than music, modtly due to the fact that the environment is typically quite controlled.

This means usually the digital -6db is the maximum loudness with a short term maximum of -1db and dialogue at -9db.

Music today should be mixed according to the EBU R128 today (at least in Europe and for radio) which is a serious win against loundess maximizers and limiters.

I’d argue for in decice DSP compression for small earbud people, and give the whole dynamic range to the rest of us : )


But there are easy ways to kill dynamic range with an algorithm. On windows this is called "loudness equalization." On the otherhand, there is no way to go back from little dynamic range to more dynamic range.

So I think it makes sense that records are mastered with a lot of dynamic range, so the people who actually enjoy music can enjoy it, and the people who don't can just equalize it themselves.


But there are easy ways to kill dynamic range with an algorithm. On windows this is called "loudness equalization." On the otherhand, there is no way to go back from little dynamic range to more dynamic range.

So I think it makes sense that records are mastered with a lot of dynamic range, so the people who actually enjoy music can enjoy it, and the people who don't can just equalize it themselves.

You do realize that you just restated my comment, but left out the analysis of the current day situation? BTW, equalization doesn't directly change dynamic range. Equalization is meant to change frequency response. It can change dynamic range by causing clipping.


You're right except for one thing: nobody here was talking about altering frequency response. Windows loudness equalization is not equalization, despite the silly name. Ironically, I imagine Microsoft specifically didn't call it compression because most consumers only think of the other compression. Good grief.


You're right except for one thing: nobody here was talking about altering frequency response.

If you're generally talking about "Loudness Equalization" then in many cases, it really is equalization. I don't know about anyone else, bit I've been talking generally about loudness equalization the whole time.

Windows loudness equalization is not equalization, despite the silly name. Ironically, I imagine Microsoft specifically didn't call it compression because most consumers only think of the other compression. Good grief.

Well, you learn something new every day. In this case, it's yet another time marketers have completely diluted the technical meaning of terminology.


This reminds me of how accessible the equalizer was in Winamp. I spent a lot of time creating custom configurations for my music. I had no expertise and the results were questionable but it was fun. I wish Spotify was more fun.


Dynamic range is a solved problem if people cared.

You attach some metadata to the audio file that says certain parts should be level boosted in a noisy environment and there you go.


Just give everbody the full range and use dsp compression on decices with well defined sensible defaults.

Similar to the thing we did witb vinyl back in the day where we wanted to fit more music onto the thing and applyed the standardized RIA filter when cutting the template — every phono preamp reverses this effect.

The tbing is people need to have specs they can mix and master for. Making something up makes mixinf unpredictable and that is bad.


Or, just turn on software compression on a modern device with such a feature implemented, and there you go.


And this is not a theoretical solution, this is literally just ReplayGain operating in track-level mode.


ReplayGain only changes track gain, not dynamic range.


In the 1990s, car stereos sometimes had a "loudness" button which did exactly as you suggest.


The loudness buttons were more to equalize than to affect the dynamic range.

At lower volumes, we perceive mid-range frequencies to be more prominent than at higher volumes. The loudness buttons would add lows and highs and/or lower mids so that the music would "sound better" at lower volumes.

https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/fletcher-munson-curve/


Moreover, stereos had this in 1980 and probably a lot earlier.


Going back, seemingly forever, home stereos also had a "loudness" button. Many still do. Usually, there's just some equalization involved, so it's not exactly what I'm suggesting.


Correct, the "loudness" function is a compensation in the lower frequencies in relation with the volume level, most modern DSPs have that.


Isn’t radio a big factor in this? Broadcast radio is noisy and has pretty limited dynamic range. This may be a cause.


Radio is actually compressed in real-time by use of broadcast compressors, so they solve the problem rather directly.


Exactly, radio would be relatively unaffected by masters having high dynamic range.


Oh I had no idea. Fantastic.


For those interestes, if you produce anything for radio in Europe you need to keep the EBU R128 guidelines which are actually quite well thought out https://www.iconnectivity.com/blog/2017/6/10/ebu-r128-the-im...


> then appropriate signal processing should be done by playback.

Microchips for leveling audio gain existed in the 1980's and were found in consumer equpiment like TV's.




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