Adventures In Audio

I listened to 26 unmastered songs. Did they sound bad?

This is a companion page to my YouTube video I listened to 26 unmastered songs. Did they sound bad?

You should probably watch the video on YouTube, then come back here to hear additional material.

The first video on this page is hosted on YouTube. It contains reviews of three songs. Although this is fair use as described in the UK government's guidance on copyright legislation, YouTube's Content ID will raise a problem. Therefore the audio in the video is muted.

However, the clips are available WITH audio in the following videos. You can see the whole video and the four clips with audio on this page. You can also read recent YouTube comments. You will however need to return to YouTube to comment yourself.

The original video...

Portugal...

Estonia...

Sweden...

Estonia on Spotify...

Comments on this video

You can comment on this video at YouTube

@aporue5893:  unpopular opinion: I love distortion.

@aporue5893:  remastered ruins it in my opinion,some small flaws make a song sound more organic and magical. U2'S ''boy/girl'' sounds better with distortion fuzz.Nirvana sounds better with guitar distortion,without it,it just doesn't sound like nirvana anymore.

@johanjonsson3591:  I wondered why i was so tired when listening on my Favorite album with Nuclear Waldez on spotify. The music sounded very intense and busy. So after listen to your clips about this Lufs and distortion i unpacked my old CD album with the same band and viola! There is that songs i love!

@aesculetum:  Gosh! Eurovision may sound good, but I am glad I don't have to watch that thing.

@tomstickland:  It's noticeable how badly volume levels vary on digital smart TVs. Some things are watched at, say, 14, and others at 32. Even worse, some music sections require turning down to 20 and then dialogue needs 34 to hear what they are saying.

@jackevans2386:  So much dynamics that the audio samples have disappeared ! Maybe Youtube has deleted it.

@lukeduke9304:  👌

@anonamouse5917:  8:52 You shouldn't allow the meters to hit the limits. It's hard on the mechanism.

@JaKeAFC09:  It also (of course) depends on the source material and the target audience. I my little experience i can say that nowadays rock-pop or electronic music DEMANDS for extremely saturated and loud masters because the musicians like it that way in first place. An it's quite logic: in the early days, when the direct-to-disc approach was abandoned, the task of the mastering engineer was to adapt the source to the destination, being it a mono master tape to shellac or laquer, hence tweaking electronically for the best possible performance un such medium that will be the MASTER (mother) for duplication, dealing with tough signals incompatible with it. Then multitrack had the mixing engineer move from the recording panel knobs to focus on the actual editing and mixing adding more and more processing, effects, overdubs etc., while at that point the mixing engineer had to work to tweak the more complex and detailed stereo source to the up-to-date media and technology (radio, tv, tape, lp, cd) and furthermore into multichannel mixing for multimedia and streaming. In the progress, the role was not the creator of the master anymore, but even more involved in the production process to boost or tweak the mix not only considering the limits of the final destination but over compromises on customer request to be always louder than competitors, according to how the consumers are currently driving the market, as technology and tastes are always changing.

@johnnet2472:  Do you not think that any music played in a large room where the closest listener is 10db closer to the main speakers than the most distant listener is going to be compressed?

@IvanLopeztruco:  Love your videos, but i have to disagree with this one about the Dynamics and Headroom. Even if you get a song mastered at - 5 LUFS , there is still Dynamics. There is a way to measure the Dynamic Range. Being at digital 0.0 db it´s not wrong or evil. Even the mastering engineer does not care about headroom, as long is not cliping and comes the mix with a decent amount of dynamic Range you´re good to go.

@thedoublesuser:  Brilliant video again. Facts facts and more facts. No subjective opinions, but clear examples to prove a point. Big thank you

@slovokia:  I remember the first time I watched Black Hawk Down at home - the dynamic range was incredible, especially the gun shots. Completely the opposite esthetic than the mastering style of pop music.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @slovokia: Fortunately we still get good dynamic range in blu-ray movies. How long will it last? DM

@Comedy4cast:  Thank you for the blog link. The Estonia Eurovision/Spotify comparison is a great example to hear. Listening to the Spotify version you would never even know that there had ever been a soft, quiet section to the song. Amazing.

@CountryMouseCityCrimes replies to @Comedy4cast: Streaming services still use a sample rate of 44,1hz despite the industry "move" towards 96hz. So when you have people mixing than mastering digital files at a sample rate of 96,000 then uploading to Spotify it's down sampled back to 44,100.

This is where you get all that compression haha. Same concept as old school boiling water Mp3s from back in the day.... those sounded worse because you were down sampling from 44,100 to 32,000 or lower.

So basically this part of the industry has just created better highly compressed music... because... server/storage space and bandwidth. Profits.

@andymouse:  Not a big Euro fan myself but I totally get what your saying in terms of dynamic range, it's night and day. Oh and the last act from Sweden, forgive me but wasn't Kate Bush doing that stuff bigger, brighter and decades ago ?

@niclaslindman:  It actually sound better on youtube also Songs ste there to see from that show 🎤👏🇪🇺 Be in Sweden next year will be awsome show snd probebly Send it together with Finnland For how often are 1 snd 2 come 👏🇪🇺🇸🇪❤️

@nsfeliz7825:  my father worked in an fm s1tation years ago. audiophiles and technical people would cringe at the level compreeession tv and fm station transmit thier audio. fm and 5v audio sux.the audio is butchered.

@user-vz9yg2km6b:  Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge with us.
Following your video, I checked my Qobuz downloaded audio files and was amazed to see some reaching as much as +2dBFS. I then checked some of my CDs rips and found some reaching +3.5dBFS. (Exact Audio Copy shows 100% max regardless). I thought this was not possible and that 0dBFS was a brick wall limit.
I intend to tame those files (using ffmpeg), what would be your recommended settings?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @user-vz9yg2km6b: 0 dBFS is the limit for a fixed point WAV file but (much) higher levels are possible in 32-bit floating point. What Qobuz is sending you to reach +2 dBFS is a puzzle but I'd suspect that it's actually +2 dBTP (true peak) due to intersample peaks. While in the digital domain it's possible to lower the level and everything should be OK. Note the 'should' there. ffmpeg can do so many things - there's information on audio levels at https://trac.ffmpeg.org/wiki/AudioVolume DM

@user-vz9yg2km6b replies to @user-vz9yg2km6b: @@AudioMasterclass You are right! I meant dBTP sorry! Confused!

@fredashay:  What about foreign music and indie songs and "copyright-free" songs? Are they mastered like that?

@straymusictracksfromdavoro6510:  For people interested in audio, who, (like me), aren't experts, I'd recommend a really good book about recorded music called "Perfecting Sound Forever" by Greg Milner. Apart from anything else it has a chapter on the loudness war titled "The Story of the Band That Clipped Itself To Death (and other dispatches from the Loudness War)" which contains some startling information on how and why it all got this way.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @straymusictracksfromdavoro6510: Yes, good book. DM

@ksteiger:  People tend to forget that mastering only came about to transfer tape to disc to deal with the limitations of vinyl.

@mlambrechts1:  Why not let the listener mix the music to his likenings with the controls on the HiFi?

@dweblinveltz5035:  Maybe someone can correct me, but I suspect that Spotify and other streaming servcies have this standard to appeal to the majority of people who will be listening on their phone (with crappy DAC/power) and mediocre earbuds. Softer audio (with more dynamics) might still sound too quiet even with the phone cranked up all the way.

@headfirstonly:  As prog fans know, the initial release of Rush's "Power Windows" was so badly crushed at the mastering stage that it was almost impossible to listen to. The band eventually funded a complete remix and remaster of "Vapor Trails" and the updated release is a huge improvement.

@nicc5122:  Thank goodness for standards. Any reason why you use VU meters and not PPM in this demo? My TC electronic mastering display has a whole host of standards (including EBU) I can display, so while there are standards, there are different 'standards'!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @nicc5122: PPM meters are good for reading peaks in analogue audio. They don't catch the fastest peaks but the BBC engineers who invented the PPM thought it didn't need to. The VU however gives a better idea of how loud the audio will sound subjectively, which is why I used them in this video. DM

@nicc5122 replies to @nicc5122: @@AudioMasterclass This is probably a topic for a whole video, metering. My primary use of PPM is for streaming/broadcasting, and the 'BBC' standard of levels and missing those peaks, are not that important as the original intent is not a mastered recording, but an intelligible broadcast. Peak overloads now ignored rather than being consigned to a master archive forever ruined.

My point about using VU was about the ballistics of a physical VU meter. When using calibrated PPM and VU using tones (PPM 4= -7 dB VU), I noticed that the VU was appearing to read low, that increasing the level (and clipping/distortion) was very likely. The VU needle unable to display even average level, the PPM making a much better attempt. Your average physical VU isn't capable of showing instantaneous peaks either.

When I was recording my cassettes, 'bouncing in the red' was my preferred recording level, limiter switched off, and ALC (automatic level control) disengaged.

I also have some RTW meters (1020 and 1020E) that have the electroluminescent display. The analogue PPM version (1020) I have set to 'fast' which then does show the instantaneous peaks, overriding the BBC spec. I also have a logarithmic digital (AES) RTW meter (10220) post A to D, I find that the fast acting (not normal PPM behaviour) meter is easier to use than any VU.

Are there also psychological interpretation of using VU meters, misusing, bouncing in the red, encourages loudness war behaviour?

@BenceToldi:  Thanks!

@houseofbeck-zhong:  Major recording studios would probably re-release the same albums in the future with better dynamics just to "milk" more money. Either just add water and/or follow the copper💰 smell.

@johnscrip5322:  If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you made this video just for me. I'm probably wrong - but thanks anyway.

@VPR2B:  Good video - thanks! Sad to say though that in the U.S. it's virtually impossible to hear ANY dynamics on broadcast (or cable/satellite) as virtually all channels use very heavy-handed compression/limiting. It not only sucks the life out of everything, but totally ruins the mix as background music/effects are pulled up to be as loud as the dialog. Then when someone speaks, it punches holes in the background. Just terrible. I've gone to 100% streaming to get away from this madness.

@lancegfoin9117:  A bit pointless without the audio but well done! 😂 YouTube strikes again!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @lancegfoin9117: I could have done it with the audio but it's a lot of bother. I've made quite a few videos that review music, normally technically. I expect to get copyright claimed, but since my use is always fair use according to UK legislation, all of these claims have been waived without exception. But I have to fill in forms, perhaps appeal, wait 30 days for a claim or longer for an appeal before the video is monetized again. And a stubborn copyright owner could always dig in their heels. This would be fraud of course, but there's nothing in practical terms I'd be able to do. DM

@martineyles:  ITV's Dancing on Ice always seems a lot louder than the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. The announcers as well as the music. One has prerecorded music and the other a live band, but no idea how much effect that has. Any chance you could compare their volumes, when their next series eventually come round in autumn/winter?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @martineyles: I might be able to do that. It largely depends on whether my memory lasts that long. DM

@sorepaws:  This and the previous episodes go a long way to explaining why when I got my first CD player there was a significant variation in volume between discs. This was 37 years ago, when I was just moving from Vinyl to CD and discovering the pleasure of crackle/hiss free music. Thank you for the insites from a professional perspective. It does seem a shame that we are in some cases losing, dynamic range in exchange for "louder" recording. 😁

@timharbert7145:  Thank you for your videos.

@istankimjong-unbutcantstan3398:  I wonder if there is a place to hear all my EDM jams "unmastered"....

@jackspeed650:  My thought is that all song's were mastered as "usuall" (maybe a bit less crushed) but just the output level was brought down to the level which Eurosong demands.

@MikeDS49:  3:39 This was one of the things that drove me away from broadcast TV and to only streaming. Oddly here in Canadaland about a decade ago, the audio for Agents of Shield on over the air HD broadcast was noticeably more dynamically compressed than the audio from the streming source (Netflix I think).

@SuperMcgenius:  A concise explanation of the volume wars.I will pass this on as it is A great tutorial. 👍 Montreal, Canada.

@nocturne7371:  I really really really really, no I really mean it, hate the loudness war and just want it to end. I have a hearing disability and dynamics is very important for me in song and speak in order to distinguish things from each other.

@bigbabatunde1218:  With the exception of Later....with Jools Holland, the BBC is notorious for having bad sound with music broadcasts.
As for TV ads? Where have you been?
Their sound is now louder and more grating than ever across the industry.
With few exceptions, I permanently have my TV sound as low as I can get away with and rely on rubbish subtitles for dialogue because modern sound on TV is so bad.

@metalvisionsongcontest7055:  That joke used to be about football and the Germans winning. Which used to be our main coping mechanism for Eurovision. But by now, we’re great at losing both in Eurovision AND in football.

@paulstubbs7678:  MMM, thanks, now I know to leave Spotify alone.
I run the sound etc. at my church, I usually record any bands, yes there is quite a bit that is unusable, but I do get some gems, anyway, it sounds so different to commercial releases it's not funny. after listening to this I can hear the compressors and limiters screaming on your average CD.

It would be interesting to hear what you say about the band AC/DC, it can be played on most systems with you been totally unaware when the volume is wound up so severe clipping occurs, no real difference.

@Mikexception:  I record (for my own archive) music and vocals which I perform myself since almost 20 years. All settings were done with home no pro equipment and in advance of planned preformance. Later was no mastering. Within that long time I used different speakers and headphones - have hundreds of them on CDs

I would say that with my audio setup in comparaison they top originaly brand produced and purchased. They are no predictable in sounding and are surprising by not standarized apparent balancing , Their dynamic is also no comparable do those masterd original albums

In my own view they could be appreciated by demanding listeners without any mastring and use pf today music industry

@davidfromamerica1871:  WOW, you deserve a Trophy.
That is a spectacular achievement. 😀

@BurninSven1:  I am just so glad to be an amateur so I do not have to bother about stuff like that. What a relief try it. People do not buy records any more and people complain about the low quality of audio and video over the internet and how many owns a good hifi system these days that can be hooked up to the internet? So what do you gain for what you pay I say pretty much nothing. But you might say but people do buy and download music, yes but what do they listen to it on? Well I guess it is a handheld device of some sort not a good hifi system with good speakers.

@Gary_Hun:  Commercials are still twice as loud than anything in Hungary.

@classicallpvault8251:  I'm a producer of uplifting trance using FL Studio. Since this genre is heavily oriented at sharp transient kick drums combined with parallell side chain compression on the synths and drums, as well as confining individual sounds to a specific EQ range, way more than any piece of acoustically recorded music, already applied before mastering, the difference isn't quite as big as in many other genres as even brickwall limiting has less effect because the sound, to some degree, has already been flattened on every attack of every single quarter note/beat.

@andreaboi8566 replies to @classicallpvault8251: Some weeks ago I listened the soundtrack of Nausicaa, a double CD from 1986 where the second disc where a mix with synth beats that blow my mind how deep the bass was! Also with spectacular use of highs going up smoothy. All this without any distortion, so clean. That is a lot better than any average EDM modern music produced today.

@johngabris9690:  most of the euro contest was badly mixed vocals lost and lost of shounting

@tisbonus:  You sir, just earned yourself a subscriber. Thoroughly enjoy the vids. When you mentioned the tv standard for loudness in the UK, my interests peaked! I remember some 20 years ago in the US, a law was passed prohibiting the same behavior of louder commercials to program content. Nothing changed. The American voters should have seen the writing on the wall, then. But this isn't about politics thank goodness! Love the content and the attention to detail.

@JohnFraserFindlay:  WhTever happened to the “richter” scale😊.?

@JohnFraserFindlay:  Very interesting!, broadcast versus streaming😮

@CaptHiltz:  The bass player in my band has worked as a studio engineer in the past and does all our mixing. He's a genius IMO. Because of time constraints we normally use LANDR to master. We used them on our debut EP and were pleased. Our bass player did such a good job with the mix on our latest single however that we could have easily done without mastering it. All we maybe need to to was put on a limiter and bring it up a bit. He mixes so the sound bar doesn't look like a tube. We plan to continue with old school mixes.

@jimallen1485:  All that's needed is.... MORE COWBELL. 🙂

@reallyniceaudio:  Great video. Now I know why 'Angela' by Bob James sounds so good!

@fredygump5578:  in America, TV advertisements are 100% louder...as in yes, they are louder, not 100% as loud....which would be the same level... If you have quality speakers, you will feel like the advertisements are attacking you, and then the show's audio feels distinctly under-produced. But if you have bad TV speakers, you don't really notice the difference! Horray for cheap speakers.

@MikeKoss:  You may be the one man who knows the answer to this: when I watch music performances on Saturday Night Live, the vocals always sound mixed WAY below the instruments. Is it just me? Just my equipment? Some deranged audio engineer on the SNL staff??? I have wondered about this for years.

@MichaelBeeny:  While watching the BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY MOVIE 2018 in my home theater, I remember thinking how good the sound was. Next day I purchased the CD of the film's music. I was so disappointed, sounded flat, lacking dynamics and extreme low end. It was hard to believe it came from the same material. Not what I had expected from a CD.

@nealo814:  If you want it louder. Turn up the volume. Classic example. Listen to something from the 70s with dynamics. Fleetwood mac rumours. Turn it up to reasonable level then put on something new and you'll be reaching to turn it down immediately. They compress the life out of the music!

@nukiepoo:  God, I love this channel. Intelligent commentary… witty in a deliciously British way… and we are of the same generation.

@sidesup8286:  LETS all go back to CASSETTE! If. they won't give us dynamics anyway. I have a cassette rewinding as I write this. Sure there's some slight tape hiss if you don't listen with Dolby (the way to go), but listen to that smooth liquid sound; the tonal beauty. And they're cheap. A little old lady put some out a yard sale. Only a quarter each. Not much more than that in some thrift stores; and they're compact. More compact than a compact disc. And best of all; they're all analog. You need a thousand dollar player like the one I have that's rewinding; to hear their true capabilities though. My expensive machine even rewinds faster than the others. You can hear a fabulous loud vibration sound from the cassette as its being rewound....Wait a minute, I hear a different sound now; all of a sudden. Only one reel is spinning and it's spinning like mad. Drats!.... It snapped the tape.

@tagoldich:  It should be acknowledged that there are exceptions. I bought the 50th anniversary remaster/remix CD of Dark Side of the Moon and was astonished to find that they hadn't added a bit of compression to it!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @tagoldich: That would have been sacrilege of the highest order. DM

@joesmith4443 replies to @tagoldich: @Audio Masterclass I did hear that Dolby Atmos mixes/mastering DOES retain a lot of the dynamic range as it requires a LUFs -18. Atmos is a bit of a fragmented format because it’s not mix and mastered in stereo and is often down mixed. It’s also rare to get the true lossless files of dts and they require a Blu-ray player

@editingsecrets:  I'm just here to appreciate the dry wit. Jokes are so subtle that they float by at -30 below most people's awareness. Delightful presentation of an un-delightful subject, other than Eurovision's showmanship. Will there ever be a way for those who prefer clean and full range audio to buy it?

@jongvyn:  Love this! Don't really like the contest but dynamics and no distortion I do! ;-)

@tagoldich:  Yes, at its worst this added compression for LOUDNESS is ruinous. So many exquisite, meticulous remixes from scratch have been "brick-walled." The average volume level has been brought up so close to maximum volume that the result is unlistenable. Thanks Audio Masterclass for being among the very few to complain about this dreadful practice. Too few are even discerning enough to be aware of it.

@paulgrant8665:  Network commercials were louder so they could still reach you if you went for a snack in the kitchen, or the bathroom

@editingsecrets:  Youtube homepage today has five different people whose thumbnails show incredulous shock at the virtual watermelon they envision shaking in front of their face. That's one scary, dismaying giant piece of fruit they're all trying to help us see before it's too late. Now, on to the video.

@MrCool144:  The loudness war is a positive thing in a counterintuitive way. Since it protects your hearing by keeping everything at a similar volume so you don’t have to turn it up and down to hear what’s going on in the quiet parts. And you don’t get sudden loud peaks which are terrible for your ears. It’s good when in a loud environment too since everything is up front in the mix. But some people take it to far these days and like you said they crush the track at all costs. I am not a fan of hard clipping which many people do now. Hard clipping is also harsh on the ears and defeats the purpose. But yea just a silver lining to think about.

@MrCool144 replies to @MrCool144: @Douglas Blake probably the same thing that a 20 decibel peak does when it suddenly hits out of nowhere because your drums are overlapping and you decided not to compress them. Don’t argue with science. Sudden loud quick noises cause more damage because your ears don’t have time to adjust. Look it up. And you must be blasting your music because most brick walled music is saturated. Not distorted. And harmonics are naturally occurring. If the song is distorting, it’s on purpose. Using the correct attack and release times you could technically squash all the transients and have no distortion with modern plugins. And if the artist purposely distorted it, dynamics won’t make that distortion go away. Audiophiles don’t know anything because engineers are the ones who actually know how this stuff works. If audiophiles had there way music would sound like frail trash. If you have a track that is dynamic then you have to turn up the volume for it to sound as loud and then the peaks are going to be much louder and cause more damage. That 20% distortion you speak of comes from clipping, not compression.

@andresjacobsen4551 replies to @MrCool144: ​@Douglas Blake Well said

@nickwallette6201:  "I suppose that label bosses know what they're doing"

You suppose an awful lot, there. ;-D

@Rudolf_Edward:  Allright, the huge differences between tv commercials and tv programs are gone. Instead, you get too much of dynamics in a tv programme itself, wich isn’t fun to watch on a flatscreen. Also, during evening hours you don’t want to bother your neighbours when you crank your tv set up to understandable dialogs. So it’s not all glory. And don’t forget radiostations, they don’t bother as long it’s LOUD. And also: you can brickwall a mix for tv, you just get minus punichment points to meet the LUF-standard.

@Rudolf_Edward replies to @Rudolf_Edward: @Douglas Blake Absolutely true. But they can’t compete with professional limiter/compressors. Most of those ‘night mode’ limiters haveslow attack and long release times making them more like levellers (you don’t want that 😊)…

@cdl0:  I would venture to suggest that on the question of to what extent the mastering methods presently used for popular music might apply in future to classical music has an obvious answer: it would never be tolerated by listeners. Classic music recordings necessarily must attempt to reproduce as closely as possible what a listener would hear when physically present at a performance, otherwise it will be completely rejected. Notice also how BBC Radio 3 VHF FM broadcasts sound significantly quieter on average than other channels, until there is a crescendo in the music, when the blast of sound will easily awaken anybody who has nodded off during the performance. There are many live performances, as well, which serve as a good reference for the reasons covered in this excellent video.

@freaky.studio:  splendid, you are so funny and educational, let's get rid of Spotify's ridiculous "standards" immediately!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @freaky.studio: It isn't really Spotify's fault. Their standard of -14 LUFS is, in my opinion too high, and I'd need to make another video on that. But the masters that are being sent to Spotify can be 6 dB louder than that. This is getting into the zone where audio will be unpleasant for most listeners. And when Spotify turns that down to -14, the unpleasantness doesn't go away. DM

@andreaboi8566 replies to @freaky.studio: ​@Audio Masterclass That's true, even -14LUFS is too high, especially for some genres, but way better than average music mastered at -7 or also at crazy levels of -2!! The unpleasant sound don't go away after the normalization because they are too compressed or clipped. Many music are bad even at background volume. As the Audio Engineers Society suggest, must be implemented a serious control on dynamics and not just a integrated value!

@spandel100:  I wish other YouTubers would use the camera the way you do for vlogging...the blurred background literally puts you right in my living room.I nearly offered you coffee once 😂👍

@AudioMasterclass replies to @spandel100: Sufficient coffee will lead to the continuation of pleasantly blurred backgrounds. DM

@MostlyBuicks:  I have heard songs and artists that sound great on Youtube or TV and when I buy their CD, it HURTS to listen to them. The examples are legion. So now before I buy a CD I listen to it on Spotify first. Needless to say, I seldom by CDs anymore. Nor do I listen to them on Spotify after the first listen.

@prutser67:  I owned over 2k CDs, quite a lot of them are popular music and I didn't like listening to them because of poor sound quality. Most of it caused by mastering and the loudness war. I sold most of them. I still buy CD and BluRay DVD, but only if the recordings are nice.
The labels under estimate the effects of bad mastering on the sales.
The loudness was originated from poor portables and poor car stereo, but nowadays both are quite decent. It only seems that the minds of the labels doesn't understand it. On the long term they are digging their own graves.

@andreaboi8566 replies to @prutser67: I refuse to listen any average modern music on CDs and streaming for the same reason. Most music is mastered like crap, I don't blame audio engineers, usually not their fault, but labels for asking them these stupid loudness levels. Even if many engineers and artists are so used to this sound that cannot hear this crap. For a lot of albums I must to search the vinyl, usually is the best version with better mastering. The loudness is not the only problem, also lacking bass due to poor quality mainstream devices and stereo mix narrored without instruments separation, everything in the center like mono - maximizing mono compatibility. Fortunately there're amazing recording on SACD, old CDs and some labels making great recordings in DSD/DXD. There're even faboulous reel to reel copies.

@davidsotomayor8713:  Technically in an ideal world nothing would be mastered (in terms of volume/dynamics) and the listener just uses their volume knob and their own comp/limiter if they want.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @davidsotomayor8713: This is the way things should be. DM

@davidsotomayor8713 replies to @davidsotomayor8713: @Douglas Blake for modern digital recording noise isn't even an issue anymore; there's more than enough room there to make a recording that's loud enough to render the noise floor of both the recording itself and playback equipment inconsequential, while also retaining a respectable amount of dynamics.

@digitalvinyls3544:  If anyone `s asking himself, what the hell this lady is doing at the end, as a Slavic, I must give you explanation. It`s has nothing in common with milking and cows. It`s for dried paprika grinding. You put paprika in it and hit it with a bat (preferably steel one), until it became powder. And you got yourself a good spice . Sometimes is even hot like chili.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @digitalvinyls3544: Everyone over here thinks she's churning butter. Thank you for the enlightenment. DM

@editingsecrets replies to @digitalvinyls3544: Wonderful how music helps us appreciate diverse cultures more than ever

@DWHarper62:  Certainly there must be some sort of limiter in the audio/broadcast chain, especially with the -23 lufs standard in place... I doubt very much that the music mixer is not using any compression on the main bus... And what about the vocal compression on the live sound? Again, I am sure there is plenty of that going on...

@AudioMasterclass replies to @DWHarper62: Yes of course, I mentioned all of that. The broadcast audio, even so, is clearly different from Spotify. DM

@DWHarper62 replies to @DWHarper62: @Audio Masterclass I will download both files on to my DAW and check the dynamics of both signals after setting them to same volume level... I will get back to you with the analysis...

@DWHarper62 replies to @DWHarper62: @Audio Masterclass I have the visual analysis done of the 2 Estonia tracks and will email the jpg... the Estonia track is really crushed...

@DWHarper62:  Wow, did they crush the Estonia song on Spotify... It essentially brick wall limited the lead vocal at the top of the track sound level... Sounded like it was coming from a 2 inch speaker with no backing track...

@shipsahoy1793:  😎Great video as usual DM 👍☕️

@shipsahoy1793:  -23 LUFS makes a lot more sense for music that needs to have some dynamic range than -14 LUFS, which seems like just short of pushing limits in many cases, but -7 LUFS is just asking for trouble and unhappiness for the enlightened. It’s all kind of ironic with 16 bit audio capable of 80 dB DR fairly easily, and the best of vinyl probably barely reaching 50 dB a half century ago before digital supplanted it for
a spell. I don’t know if anybody even ever addressed the sweet spot for amplifier gain in our playback systems. I remember back in the day, I had a high compliance Shure cartridge, and I always felt the phono preamp gain was on the low side by about 6 dB.

@marktubeie07:  I worked in television through the period when 'Optimods' were installed when they laws changed for 'loudness' levels - us audio engineers had a nightmare scenario... The bosses would yell BRICKWALL IT from their offices on high!

@shipsahoy1793:  We still have the “ridiculous, stupid, crass” scenario on cable here in the US!😫

@AudioMasterclass replies to @shipsahoy1793: Oh dear. DM

@1622steve:  I wonder if we can ever create an AI that can "unmaster" a song.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @1622steve: Considering what AI has achieved already, it wouldn't surprise me. DM

@maidsandmuses replies to @1622steve: It wouldn't surprise me at all if the music publishing industry would put an immediate legal injunction on that practice, and then lobby to have it banned 🙄. Or they would insist on royalties from that software, just like they managed to get a proceeds share from all blank cassette tape sales...

@Anybloke:  Twenty six !!! You sir must be a glutton for aural punishment. I live close enough to Liverpool to be concerned about it and was praying for a pandemic. I can't stand Eurovision. Not even bloody Abba. It's a festival of faux poovery. Most of the winning songs are in D by the way.

@duncan-rmi:  you really don't like mastering engineers, do you? 😂
time was they would just balance the individual tracks so that there is no jarring change in level or eq during the album, so that the monkeying around by the band's sequencing of same doesn't ruin anyone's listening pleasure, but now... they want the stems, the outboard.... come to the damn mixing session, then!

@AudioMasterclass replies to @duncan-rmi: I don't like the current fashion of mastering. I don't think many mastering engineers like it much either. DM

@gabrielgodwin9953 replies to @duncan-rmi: It's a bit sad. While the advent of the LUFS measurement option is certainly a step in the right direction, it's still not perfect. You can game the system, especially when the LUFS Integrated value is all that most services are looking at. IMHO it would be better if there was more focus on the Short Term and Momentary values and then marry that back to the "old school" RMS values.
As many times as I have tried, it's always, "louder!, louder!"
I think a somewhat reasonable compromise would be -18 LUFS Integrated with a short term that somewhat mirrors a floating RMS value around -20 - -15. Pipe dreams.
I can't even imagine trying to deliver a master with an Integrated value of -23. The musicians themselves would be at my door with torches and pitchforks.

@darryldouglas6004:  You are helping me out with my question. Do I need to master my mix? I do the gain staging, normalization, EQ, compression etc on each channel and then put a mastering EQ on the mains with a limiter that I just barely kiss the limit on and when I mix it down to an MP3 it sounds fine to my ears. The only time I’ve used my mastering section on Studio One is to make a CD. For the purpose of making the songs sound like they came from the same session and level them. I can’t see the point of mastering a single song when I’m going to use the exact same plugins that I use on the main buss. Mind you I’m a complete amateur and someone with a more refined ear might think it’s awful. But I’m not producing for them. 😃

@AudioMasterclass replies to @darryldouglas6004: In an ideal world the frequency balance of the mix would be good just through the EQs done in the channels. But there is usually room for improvement using an EQ in the master. Adding a mastering limiter after that is fine in the way you describe that you're using it. I'd say stick with that until you're really comfortable with mixing. DM

@Fastvoice:  The Song Contest playbacks were of cause all mastered - and the live voices were processed too. Plus: In the signal chain of TV audio you also have a load of processing going on - including compression. Ever wondered why some TV stations in Europe are louder than others? Same is (even more so) with radio stations. That's of course also some kind of "mastering". How come you thought otherwise?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @Fastvoice: Mastering to me, and I think to most people, is where a finished mix is sent to a mastering engineer who will spend time in their own studio with their own equipment improving the sound or meeting the label's requirements. Mastering is not a real time process and not something that happens in live audio. If you watch the video again, I said that there may be some processing of the entire mix, but it is not mastering in the sense that most people understand it. DM

@Fastvoice replies to @Fastvoice: @@AudioMasterclass Yes, that's why I wrote that the playbacks were mastered beforehand - to the likes of the labels/producers and of course not in real time. And nowadays you also have the tools to compress, saturate und multiband EQ the tracks in real time with only minor latency - not much different than a traditional mastering process.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @Fastvoice: @Fastvoice We are not getting anywhere with this. I mentioned mastering of the backing tracks in the video. Other than that we have different views on what mastering is. I'm not going to change my view so I suggest we agree to differ and go our separate ways. DM

@musicman3569:  The sad thing is that for most pop/rock, even -14 LUFS would be a huge improvement if people would actually do it. I have many mixes that target this and it is low enough that only a few peaks just barely hit the limiter in the loudest sections, and under these conditions the limiter is able to properly do its job at being virtually transparent. So I don't really feel like I'm "losing" anything for most popular genres (classical needs more, but they don't typically have this problem anyway), it generally sounds gloriously dynamic. It is usually low enough I don't even have to think about the final limiting and I can just work towards "the sound", which is how it should be (although -16 is even better and usually leaves things free and clear). I was hopeful that these -14/-16 LUFS standards in streaming services would start to correct the problem since it takes away the "perceived advantage", but sadly it seems like mastering engineers (or the people dictating terms to them) just ignore it and go right on targeting ridiculous levels anyway (which then get normalized down by the service regardless)! However, in a number of smaller and more independent artists (like the mixes I have done) I do find some real gems though, so maybe there is still hope. Cheers! Love the discussion.

@nickwallette6201 replies to @musicman3569: I've been downloading multitracks from places on the Internet (e.g., "Produce Like a Pro") and mixing them myself. It is amazing to me how much more I enjoy new music when it's mixed in a way I can stand to listen to. I really really wish there were a market for buying popular music as source tracks. There are so many songs that I like, and just can't stand the sound of, so I never listen to them. What a waste.

@bigbabatunde1218 replies to @musicman3569: Nevermind music, adverts on TV need a severe limiter. It's criminal what advertisers and broadcasters have been getting away with over the years.

@andreaboi8566 replies to @musicman3569: That's true, unfortunately too much people including musicians and producers, they think streaming standards only mean the level where Spotify for example, normalize the song, that's wrong. These standards are here for a reason, to lower the stupid loudness levels. If the music was mastered at least at 14LUFS with dynamics... but not, often they trying to bypass the normalization with tricks or not care at all and leave the sound as is.

@andreaboi8566 replies to @musicman3569: @Nick Wallette That's why I don't listen any music from modern average CDs and streaming. I can help you to find better versions, because I've the same problem. I cannot stand the average music today, so I built my own music server with the best as possible versions, sometimes really hard to find. Let's say for example: the album of Michael Jackson Thriller on MOFI SACD, sounds similar to the multitracks version you find on web but with a lot better dynamics. The old SACD version was too loud(some tracks was reaching many peaks at +3dB!! The max volume for the DSD). That's a pity music is ruined by compression and clipping.

@brucetungsten5714 replies to @musicman3569: @@andreaboi8566 Where can I find better versions of popular music?
One can buy LPs but the problem is that I do not have theproper equipment to listen to them.

@lukastemberger:  So that's why I had to turn up my media center volume ridiculously high when we watched Eurovision?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @lukastemberger: Yes, but I'd say you're turning it ridiculously low when you're listening to anything else. DM

@hectortorres8188:  If companies want money they have an opportunity with audiophiles and enthusiasts by releasing FDR versions of the albums as, let's say, limited editions or something. By the way if you like metal, check the FDR series of earache records. And also check the Metallica's death magnetic guitar hero project. Greetings

@AudioMasterclass replies to @hectortorres8188: Here's a link for anyone who is interested, and you should be interested... https://webstore.earache.com/all-vinyl/fdr-vinyl DM

@benjaminedwards9751:  You can't have loud without soft.

@RagedContinuum:  I noticed that he doesn't have the dogs playing poker painting in his room -what gives?

@AudioMasterclass replies to @RagedContinuum: That's not going to happen. Did you recognise the art though? DM

@darryldouglas6004 replies to @RagedContinuum: @Audio Masterclass Is that American Gothic on the left?😃

@AudioMasterclass replies to @RagedContinuum: @Darryl Douglas Correct you win a silver star. Now for the gold star..? DM

@teashea1:  Terrific video ------ so well done.

@josetrigueiro5978:  Sir, in the link with the songs to listen to, you identified Portugal as Poland.

For the rest, 5 stars! I hope younger people, including my kids, watch this video, so they start to understand how recording nowadays is killing music.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @josetrigueiro5978: All those P's getting me confused. I'll see what I can do to fix it. DM

@editingsecrets replies to @josetrigueiro5978: The original video was right, but mastering for Youtube only had headroom for seven letters with distortion

@letsplayskyrimle9391 replies to @josetrigueiro5978: @Editing SECRETS revealed! 😄

@MikeWilsonWelshCountryside:  In the distant past I heard it suggested the best source for high quality audio is an FM radio live broadcast from BBC. I wonder if this is still the case.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @MikeWilsonWelshCountryside: It certainly used to be an excellent source, with a good aerial or close to the transmitter. Whether it still is... Well who has an FM tuner in their hi-fi these days? (And who has a decent aerial?) DM

@Fastvoice replies to @MikeWilsonWelshCountryside: We used Optimod processing in our FM radio signal chain about 40 years ago. Multiband compression is not a new thing.

@AudioMasterclass replies to @MikeWilsonWelshCountryside: @Fastvoice Just to be precise here for anyone reading, I did not suggest that multiband compression is new. DM

@Fastvoice replies to @MikeWilsonWelshCountryside: @@AudioMasterclass Yep, I was just answering the thread starter.

@joesmith4443 replies to @MikeWilsonWelshCountryside: Not sure of the BBC but not necessarily in the US as radio stations did compress hit singles. In this situation it made more sense since if you were scrolling through radio stations you’d often did land on the one that came in the loudest.

@joelcarson4602:  I recently ran across a Frank Zappa interview video where he was promoting his book and said it had "Large type and pictures" which were perfect for our "post literacy society". I think we are post a whole lot of other things these days.

@BassistPaul:  Very informative. Although, I wasn't previously aware that the the Eurovision S. C. featured any kind of music...

@andrewbrazier9664 replies to @BassistPaul: 🙃 🎶

@oilyway8063:  And this is why the BBC audio from Glastonbury is always so good.

@x7heDeviLx:  i LOVE YOUR CONTENT. Seriously you are the Paul McCartney of Youtube. Keep it up.

@classicallpvault8251 replies to @x7heDeviLx: At least this man is real, while Paul McCartney has been replaced by an imposter since he was killed in a car crash right before the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club

@x7heDeviLx replies to @x7heDeviLx: @@classicallpvault8251 um Faul(fake paul) died in 1990 in a furby accident and was replaced by Ant Man's Paul Rudd in makeup wake up sheeple.

@eddiester replies to @x7heDeviLx: @Classical LP Vault lol people still think it?

@istankimjong-unbutcantstan3398 replies to @x7heDeviLx: @@classicallpvault8251 Well he still sounds good.....

@mk1st:  “Can we have everything louder than everything else”
Talkback on Made in Japan

@AudioMasterclass replies to @mk1st: I've had the experience on a number of occasions of playing live on stage with the monitoring at an enormous sound level, yet can't hear anything. DM

@rabit818:  Some commercials are loud In Spotify US, like Disney, Ford...

@AudioMasterclass replies to @rabit818: This is a good point. It's a few years since I used the free version of Spotify with ads. Listening to classical music was very pleasant... until the commercial break. Ouch. DM

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Monday May 15, 2023

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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