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11 January, 2008

Deliberately degraded

Rolling Stone offers a comprehensive overview of the 'loudness war' problem whereby music producers compress recordings to increase their apparent loudness, supposedly to boost the music's immediate attraction and make it stand out from other music – which is using the same trick.  The result is exhausting noise lacking subtlety.

The part which startled and deeply disappointed me was the claim that producers are now specifically mixing/mastering albums for the mp3-listening experience, meaning that those albums sound as bad in uncompressed CD Audio format (i.e. Red Book PCM) as in lossy-compressed .mp3 format.
I'm not dogmatically opposed to .mp3 and use it daily (192kbps or above sounds fine to me under normal circumstances), but I certainly appreciate the opportunity to go back to a CD for 'high-fidelity' playback. Is that being lost?

It's not all bad news, though: a number of producers, musicians and recording engineers are promoting a fight-back campaign, Turn Me Up, whereby CDs mixed/mastered with proper dynamics (and hence ostensibly quieter than their competitors) will display a consciousness-raising logo.

[The RS link is to the print version of the article, as it omits adverts* and presents the six-page article on one page. Delete the trailing '/print' from the URL if you prefer.]

*: no, only in AdBlocked Firefox.

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