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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The War on Music

I will hopefully have a "real" blog post up by the weekend, but for now, check out this article on the ongoing "loudness war" in music mastering.

The loudness war, what many audiophiles refer to as an assault on music (and ears), has been an open secret of the recording industry for nearly the past two decades and has garnered more attention in recent years as CDs have pushed the limits of loudness thanks to advances in digital technology. The “war” refers to the competition among record companies to make louder and louder albums. But the loudness war could be doing more than simply pumping up the volume and angering aficionados—it could be responsible for halting technological advances in sound quality for years to come.

To quote everyone's mom, "Turn down that music or you're going to go deaf!"
Meanwhile, the future lies in wait:

Audiophiles looking to the future for relief from overcompression see a cloudy picture. DVD-Audio and Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) are two high-fidelity formats that were thought to be solutions to the loudness war. Both formats offer not only a greater dynamic range than CD but also higher sampling rates.
DVD-Audio uses PCM encoding that can support 24-bit, 192 kHz stereo sound (contrasted with the CD's 16 bit, 44.1 kHz) yielding 144 dB of dynamic range, 14 dB over the human threshold of pain.

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