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.
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.
Really loud? Ear-damaging loud! When the realism becomes actually endangering to your health, your escapist media has gone a bit too far.
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 : )
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.
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.
You attach some metadata to the audio file that says certain
parts should be level boosted in a noisy environment and there you go.
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.
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.
Microchips for leveling audio gain existed in the 1980's and were found in consumer equpiment like TV's.