The Loudness War is on. Music recording artists and their governing labels have been gradually increasing the loudness level of their music over the past several years. Why? Because they believe that louder is better which can lead to more record sales. However, people from Dynamic Range Day have a different view. Those at DRD assert that loudness does not equal greater sales, but in fact, reduces the overall sound quality of the recording. They have provided a great example using Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” comparing the sound of its original release in 1982 to subsequent releases in 1995 and 2008.
Recording engineers who mix music so it sounds louder are essentially compressing or crushing the dynamic range of the music. Basically, audio dynamic range is a measurable distance between the softer and louder portions of a recording. When an engineer reduces or compresses this dynamic range, the perceived loudness level is increased, but subtle nuances of the music can be lost in the process. If too much compression is applied, elements of the recording can sound distorted, a truly undesirable side effect.
For more examples and information on audio dynamic range, visit Production Advice.