Building off the thread started by rcgplanner called “CD’s vs Digital Music” here: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=38393
I thought it apropos to bring up the whole issue of the Loudness War.
This isn’t just some elitist concern of audiophiles with $10,000 stereo systems:
Most CD’s made in the early 90’s sound noticeably more quiet than those from the past decade (and modern digital music files). That’s because producers have been using compression to boost the overall signal. This makes their albums sound louder. To an extent, making an album sound louder has been one way of making it stand out – and thus get airplay. The tragedy of this, is that doing so robs the music of its dynamic range. Compression boosts the volume of quiet parts and when all the music sounds loud there can be no FORTISSIMO crescendos. After a while listener fatigue sets in.
But most people are too distracted to even notice the loss of dynamic range. Compression will make a track easier to listen to while in a moving car with a window rolled down because without it, the music would have to be cranked to hear the quiet parts – which would then make the loud parts too loud. MP3 exacerbate this tendency because they are designed to sound louder than an old school CD. Unless you listen critically, you’ll probably be drawn to the MP3 simply because it has a louder signal. Compression is useful in the car driving context, but when all mainstream music is being compromised for such poor listening environments – music suffers as an artform.
I can remember when I first listened to the Appetite For Destruction album of Guns N’ Roses. I liked the hits but found the album harsh to listen to. It took a while before I could appreciate it. Other examples include, Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, The Stooges, Raw Power, Dirt by Alice In Chains, & Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Metallica’s 2008 album Death Magnetic brought the issue of the loudness war out in the open.
So what do cyburbians think? Do you notice newer music sounding louder? Do you notice less dynamic range in newer music (compared to stuff from the early 90’s or older)? Have you experienced listener fatigue?
If you never listen to CD’s anymore, you probably don’t notice this or care.