Adventures In Audio

Why your audio is bad and why you can't do anything about it

Learn how to become a better producer in your own home recording studio >>

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Billy The Kids Ghost:  I agree 101% with Dr. Seuss.

SPINNING MY WHEELS:  I don't do 'streaming services' . LIke.. I listen to online radio podcasts streaming but I would NEVER pay for that outrageous content that they pass off as new music.

SPINNING MY WHEELS:  I have a ton to say about this but it would only compliment your video :) . Thanks I never saw your channel until today - subbed.. cheers.

SPINNING MY WHEELS:  I like dynamic range variables in my music :) Even grass roots small bands are hiring dim-wits from the college mastering programs.. to 'master' their audio and they blow it up (brickwall) .. I tried to convince some friends recently to have me master it... but they go for the hype.. I was going to charge them more like the guy they got to master the Rock album.. but they wanted to pay more , for more decibles squashed into oblivion - In my opinion the mastering ruined their performance (duh) .. but the sad part is.. the Band was happy with the results. I explained every way I could. Cognitive dissonance is real in the loudness wars.

SPINNING MY WHEELS:  garbage in garbage out. My signal chain is as neutral as they come until I apply something recorded to it. 😎

Richard Harkness:  The "loudness wars" resulted from people not "really" listening. Try listening to a wonderfully dynamic pre 1995 track while driving to the store, doing the dishes, sitting in a cafe, buying that new drill or sander you've always wanted or gabbing with your friends. IT WON'T WORK. You would have to keep playing with the volume knob. If you will take the time and have a seat on the sofa you can listen to a wonderful (maybe even post 1995 like Tom Waits CD) and enjoy it. Alas, we don't have time for enjoyment....we might miss out on something......so the industie did what we want and made things worse. We bought into there "like that and that"....NO...we are the cause of it.

1974UTuber:  By the way. You know you could double easily for Paul McCartney right. I mean William Shears, the guy currently impersonating Paul since Paul died in 1963

Audio Masterclass replies to 1974UTuber: If only I could make some money from it. DM

1974UTuber:  You sir have described exactly what I experience with new music.
The best way I can describe it is that I feel like the space is missing between the instruments. The space between lead and backing vocals is not there any more. The roomy sound has gone. 😢 This is also evident when playing older music through a good quality led bar graph. Older music has gaps, waves, peaks and troughs in the music that are evident by the dancing lights. Todays music is almost a flat line of ON all the time and only pushes further into the red with every beat of the kick drum.
The result is something a little flat and lifeless where older music seems to breathe more and change directions. Its sad that the labels are pushing a product and really stifling the artwork

Simon Gills:  I love audio equipment that looks good as well as sounds satisfying. Satisfying is possibly different to accurate. Sometimes faithful doesn't warm my soul and I am not sure why that is even possible but it seems to be.
I'd love to hear your opinion on the valve, er, revival. Why do so many people want to go backwards, especially those who can afford to choose?

Peter Heinen:  As a semi-pro engineer, i use all kinds of emulated equalizers on the mix buss. Compressors: just 1, but not every mix the same one. True peak limiting only to prevent clipping. And sometimes mastering grade saturation

K. Gergő:  Can it be that the masses condemn CD audio because they hear how distortedly raw everything has become and they think it is the inadequate capacity of CDs?..

Because it certainly isn't the super revealing apex speaker tech at everybody's homes, or phones with the crap earbuds that could ever reveal shortcomings of anything.

jsalvatori:  Move away from top 40 pop, and you'll find lots of albums that are beautifully mastered in the last 10 years.
The loudness wars are over everywhere else.

This video is about 10 years too late.

Adrian Pollard:  A topic close to my heart. I have spent too much time trying to source early copies of cd album releases for exactly the reasons you mention but it is worth it. Music needs to have quiet as well as loud. Pre 1990 cd’s of the AAD type provide the best compromise for me if you are shopping in that era.

Zachary:  Yes I would love it if I could make my vinyl rips sound 'like that'.

Audio Masterclass replies to Zachary: Well, you just need digital audio workstation software, SoundToys Decapitator and a brickwall limiter. That will do exactly what you want. DM

chrisz78:  There is no_reason at all for using dynamic compression and limiting on ANYTHING previously laid down on analogue tape, vinyl, or 78rpm shellac, as even 16-bit PCM exceeds the dynamic range of any of these sources if properly and carefully handled (24- or 32-bit so far overwhelm all analogue carriers that not even particular care to use their full dynamic range while remastering is necessary!). I firmly think that dynamic compression, limiting, loudness maximizing and all similar effects belong INTO THE PLAYBACK EQUIPMENT as a switchable option and not on the saleable record itself. Listening in a noisy environment (car or outdoors!) and/or at low average volume (living room at night!) are typical situations make an evened-out dynamic range desirable. But burning the limiting into the master means it cannot be reverse-engineered and undone when not needed (i.e. in any dedicated listening situation at least similar in volume to an unamplified live performance). And this kills the "liveliness" and "realism" that used to be the main arguments for High Fidelity equipment. Another unwanted ingredient in master recordings is reverb, no matter whether caught during actual recording or added digitally in post-processing, as it also destroys any chance of illusion to hear the performers "in your room" (instead, many classical recordings in particular seem to attempt to turn your humble room into the Carnegie Hall, with the performers not in front of you but dozens or hundreds of feet away - a good trick to hide rough playing, yes, but robbing the music of any intimate and spontaneous quality)! Like compression, extra reverb is today an ingredient for which playback chains should have a knob to mix it in or leave it out. The record itself should only contain the sound actually made by the performers, with as little deformation as technically possible. There are century-old 78rpm records that are - despite all their noise and restricted frequency range - considerably more vivid (because recorded "dry" in a highly dampened room and with natural dynamics) than most that passes for recorded music today....!

Dance Music Organisation:  I'm confused, I thought professionals today and the standards within the industry state you should ensure that it still doesn't clip including using a True Peak analyser while master limiting to ensure even in the analogue domain the audio doesn't clip? You can achieve loud, clear, quality music without smashing the hell out of it by hard limiting and pushing the level all the way to 0DB.

I would also add that 'like that' is exactly what any good producer does, using reference tracks for tonal balance guidance is industry standard and paramount in honing in on a particular sound profile you are trying to achieve, it doesn't mean you have to smash the shit out of the audio, you can change LUFS / increase volume without affecting the tonal balance profile if mastered correctly.

Dance Music Organisation replies to Dance Music Organisation: @Audio Masterclass I must have been lucky to have garnished most of my knowledge from places that do care about quality, though I do tend to master to @ -0.3 dbTP , something izotope taught me! I also use a mastering plugin that the preset for 'CD' in terms of LUFS as well as many Google results state that LUFS should be between -9 to -13, and I know you consider -14 LUFS loud because broadcast is @ -20 to -25. I agree there is an issue with 'loudness' in the industry as a whole and as I produce electronic dance music, a DJ isn't going to play your track if it is considerably quieter than all the other tracks in their repertoire, I do my best to find a balance where it's loud enough to compete, but not smashed into oblivion. It is actually quite a skill to have a smashed brick-wall waveform at 0dB (+3dBTP) and make it sound good and not hurt the ears, perhaps I'm just not skilled enough to even try to compete in the loudness wars, so simply try to make the best sounding music I can.

Audio Masterclass replies to Dance Music Organisation: Coming from the broadcast industry the highest level should be -1 dBTP (Europe) or -2 dBTP (USA). The music industry doesn't seem too interested in this and the highest level will often be 0 dBFS and to hell with the true peak. DM

Søren Markov:  I love distorted sound, I like it when it's very distorted and even sounds bad, I don't care I see it as extra flavor

OSXlover:  True, I can show people different cd's with tremendous differences. Best is to buy State of the Art Remasters. Normal pop and rock albums are compressed cr*p.

CrueLoaf:  Come on. We can all appreciate Saxondale here. But is he correct in his statements made in the HiFI shop? … https://youtu.be/KgiFjcnZeoY

zmoney1212:  I wonder when the spectrum will cease to be strong with people like this. There is a point for the songs to be mastered louder. They usually play after other songs, and we want our song to be louder than the previous song. Why? Well because louder is better. The same spectrum warriors that say "louder doesn't mean better" will also tell you to be sure to level match your reference tracks... because louder sounds better. They will tell you to adjust the output on a plugin, again because you don't want to be tricked because...louder sounds better. It's quite comical.

Brandon Payne:  are u paul McCartneys Paw paw

C Simpson.:  What you should be moaning about is the commercialization of the music industry. Labels in general are more interested in money than finding great new artists who may not make them an instant profit. Loudness is just a knock on effect. There is good audio out there it's just harder to find and promoted far less than it used to be. (Also there are plenty of terrible recordings made before 95 so your title is a little unfair).

Kevin Tan:  Thanks for this. You are absolutely right. Thankfully, classical recordings have been far less susceptible to the loudness battle.

Andrea Boi replies to Kevin Tan: Not really... A lot of soundtracks are affected by huge compression, for example all Studio Ghibli soundtracks, the oldest (like Nausicaa from 1986) are perfect. Even Telarc had admit they apply soft clipping, compression and peak limiting to their CDs to be competitive, the DSD is not edited and have the full original dynamics. The same for all new Deutsche Grammophon recordings. While usually classical recordings do not have the same loudness of other genres, not mean they are not compromised in some way.

Tim Miller:  You forgot something very important, you focus without mentioning (at least in the beginning till i stopped to comment) its all about pop music. The amount of modern western pop music I listen to is below 1 %, so i am not affected by the problem and i am quit sure i am not the nonly one. You cannot change big business or politics, but the music you are listening to and classical music or Jazz is far better than western Pop anyway.

Bigbro:  I would like your opinion on the album/cd/stream of 'Point' made by the Swiss duo Yello. This is available in Atmos and sounds like heaven to me. Am I fooling myself?

LA Voodoo:  I'd also note that not ALL records released after '95 have horribly smashed audio. Radiohead comes to mind, and there are others. OK Computer was released in '97 and it's every bit as dynamic and nuanced as Pink Floyd's DSOM. With much better sonic accuracy, headroom, signal to background noise and harmonic distortion ratios due to OK's digital recording, mixing, mastering and distribution processes. So digital technology isn't the problem - it's human competitiveness, greed that corrupted the sonic purity of digital mastering. To sell more records by exploiting human foibles for loudness over nuance when listening to music. Our urban enviroments and cars were already loud. Lotta background noise for the signal to overcome through crappy speakers and headphones. Dynamics mean nothing if you cant hear them. Live performances overcome this through volume - not compression. The only thing that sounds good compressed to me is my guitar - and so I've chosen and stacked my gain pedals in such a way that I can modulate and vary the amount of compression and feedback to create a dynamic sonic landscape.

Then I crank up my BOSE S-1 Pros as loud as the venue and feedback permit, and I let 'er RIP:

https://youtu.be/APWqN9w8bms

The thing about Radiohead has always been their live shows - just like Pink's. No way to capture that fully, until virtual reality bandwidth takes a massive leap forward.

LA Voodoo:  Wow! That explains the nosebleeds. I bought "What's the Story Morning Glory" when it came out in 1995. I didn't like it AT ALL. It sounded harsh to me. Now I know the mix was utterly smashed. No dynamics.

Just an awful blast furnace of noise. Searing my brain. Through my ear holes.

The nosebleeds were my cooked brain jucies leaking out. Of my face. There were tears. And vomiting sometimes. Anything to cleanse my sonic palette after the assault.

The best way to experience music will always be live, in person, sitting right in front of the mixing board. With an expert mixing through a top quality PA system.

Amplified music requires careful mixing and equalizing at each venue. As long as the person working the board has a good ear and know what they are doing, your're halfway home. The other half is of course the muscianship on stage.

Then there's the problem of acoustics, but that's for another time ;-)

Thommy Sides:  I'm an independent Christian artist from America who is living in South Africa. I was able to produced my dream album here some years ago, and I feel it all turned out quite well.... thanks in part to a great music arranger I found here. I'm glad that I've watched a few of your videos, as I'm hoping to put my album on a classic limited edition vinyl. I had no idea that the mastering for this should be different from a cd etc. I'm mainly a singer/song writer and not a tech guy, but I know it pays to learn as much as you can about the production process. I'm glad I was right there during most of the time my arranger was making his magic with my songs. I know I guided him in the right direction more than once. At the end of the day the music has to make you..... the artist happy. It has to tell the story you want the world to hear. If it doesn't do that..... it's pretty much done in vain. That's why I'm glad I own my own music. These record labels control far too much of the production process, and I think gain more than a Lions share of the profits. But.... each to his own. This all reminds me of a biker from "Easy Rider" - My music, much like those Harleys; can roam the wild blue unhindered by the men in dark suits who sit behind solid oak desks in lofty high towers! I may be a struggling artist, but at least my music is just that; "My Music!" Here is one of my songs I hope you enjoy. I put it on YouTube for free, as an mp3. Cheers!
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMdvI4K-RLs )

dj Victor Nova:  This video gave me an idea.. In the future we should have A.I robots that can play instruments like all our favourite bands of the past.. Now you can have a listening room in your house with a life like performance with real instruments.. Solving the audio problem because music will be consumed live and recordings will be a thing of the past... Just an idea in 2023 , but maybe reality in 3023 😁

Audio Masterclass replies to dj Victor Nova: I fear it will become reality a lot sooner than you think. DM

Grace Notes:  Thanks!

Joel Schlecht:  Well... You can get a hold of the stems from questionable sources and remaster your music yourself exactly the way you like it - After a few years of practice.

André Cantin:  Is it the same in classical music?

André Cantin replies to André Cantin: @Audio Masterclass Please really consider it. In the same video, you could also tell us and the quality of their offer. You just got a new subscriber.

Audio Masterclass replies to André Cantin: @André Cantin I'll make a note but I can't guarantee anything at the moment. DM

André Cantin replies to André Cantin: @Audio Masterclass Please explain... If possible in a video?

Audio Masterclass replies to André Cantin: No. Not yet. DM

Ships Ahoy:  The results are in … the more technology we have, the more stupidity we endure. Technology has made many people lazy, and their ignorance is a result of that laziness. 👨🏻

Ships Ahoy replies to Ships Ahoy: @Audio Masterclass Alright Dave, I should look into that; Thanks for the info. Sounds interesting. 👨🏻

Audio Masterclass replies to Ships Ahoy: @Ships Ahoy Idiocracy the movie is about how people become more stupid in the future. Like the novel 1984, most people think it's a work of fiction, some however think it's an instruction manual. It's worth a watch. DM

Ships Ahoy replies to Ships Ahoy: @Audio Masterclass
I hardly ever watch movies. I have no idea what you’re referencing.
👨🏻
Edit: btw Dave, I was generalizing for effect.
I know “everybody” wasn’t affected in that way, but I find that when offense is taken, it has usually “hit home” in some capacity, or the ones that want to view the world with bliss and positivity over dealing with reality of human “errors” will target an attack, thinking that it’s people like me that disturb their reality, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. I trust that wasn’t the case here.
I enjoy your videos. You raise some good points. I just hope it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. (See what I did there?! Lol). Cheers🥳👨🏻

Audio Masterclass replies to Ships Ahoy: I think you've watched that movie ... Idiocracy. DM

Joaquim Fernandes:  That explains a lot.

Christian Rottler:  I tend to disagree with you: Pumping up the volume does serve the important purpose of more airplay instead of fidelity. I remember a 1980's book on US radio stations and programming and they explicitly stated: "The loudest station on the dial wins." Cue the first loudness wars— amongst FM stations using the good ol' Orban Optimod.

Audio Masterclass replies to Christian Rottler: Yes, good old Orban. For listening while driving, loudness trumps a lot of other aspects of sound. DM

Robert.Novack:  Wonderful explanation, clear and comprehensible. Thanks.

Y HA:  If I can’t then I can’t and wont bother watching this video

disklamer:  The loudness wars really obliterated sonic nuances.
(CD) mastering for analog sources introduced the possibility for more sonic quality, if nothing else in the form of dynamic range that you could exploit.
CD mastering digital sources became almost pointless with everything already normalized and compressed into a single solid brick wall. So we had to hunt down Eventides and tube gear to make the crappy audio palatable again. If there is one thing that people do not generally seem to grok is that compression and limiting also changes the harmonic balance, and with that potentially reduces the extent of the timbre of the source.
Which is another reason for a mastering engineers to resist excessive dynamics processing. “You are making everything flat” does not register with tonedeaf people anyway - thery just want hits, and hits are loud. Even at 24 bit people will still insist on riding that high bit all the way, which makes matters worse on any system that isn’t playing at full blast, which in turn necessitates wearing noise cancelling headphones thereby refuting the whole concept - again.

meilstone:  I'm just an amateur producer but after many years of careful listening, failing, going back and forth DAW and analogue as well as different monitoring sources and environments, I completely agree! Sometimes I make a track and get carried away by jamming, forgetting that my ears have become dull. The next day, I wonder how the mix could end up so crowded, dense, rough, and dirty when the night before I felt like I had just come up with the next polished club hit. Then I go back to getting the gain staging and track levelling right, reducing harmonic fx settings and voilà: clarity and "air" to breathe sound much better, especially at higher volumes.

Luca:  Grateful to you for creating such a video. The topic is almost a taboo among audiophiles, a lot of them seem to believe that it's not an issue at all, or that the loudness war is over. Needless to say, the majority of people is not even aware that this is an issue, so it's good to talk about it.

Nicholas:  Streaming applications and modern audio programs all normalise audio by default anyway - these louder tracks are being 'corrected' by software so the listener doesn't have to keep adjusting their volume for tracks that want to be louder. Making the entire loudness war pointless.

Audio Masterclass replies to Nicholas: This is correct. Spotify for instance has normalize volume, as they call it, set to 'on' by default. It does make the loudness war pointless, but like so many other wars it doesn't mean they don't get fought. DM

YoungBlaze:  Welp, since i cant do anything about ... Time to throw away all this equipment and build time machine

Fallen Star Features:  In a modern mix, occasional waveform clipping of the outlying peaks of an individual instrument track is not often perceptible. That's because it only produces transient harmonic distortion, which blends in with the original harmonics of the waveform. What sounds bad is waveform clipping at the mastering stage, after all tracks have been mixed together. That produces intermodulation distortion as well, which blurs together instrument textures in an unnatural manner. It can also occur with a brick wall compressor, or any compressor with a ratio greater than about 5x. If you want clean audio, avoid compression on submixes and master mixes. This is not hard to achieve with 24-bit headroom, but you will often run the risk of your mixdown being perceived as "too quiet".

Jethro70:  Great explanation, and big "amens" to your comments on what is technically distortion ("warmth", etc). It seems the "make it sound like that" movement has progressed beyond the walls of the recording studios. I do livestream audio mixing for our local church, which has a rather large congregation for a small town (on ProTools DAW, with signal coming from Yamaha CL5 on a Dante network); and we have received pressure to mix our worship band's music so that our live broadcast "sounds like that" -- meaning like a mega church's worship band YT videos that have been post-mixed, EQ'd, etc. The "like that" is often not requested for better musicality, but just to imitate -- mostly cranking the drums, especially the snares; and back those vocals off so they're not so forward in the mix. It can be tough to balance what my ears hear as musical, with the "make it sound like that".

BAT HEAVY:  A good example of this are the recent Led Zeppelin remasters vs the Album by Zeppelin for CD in late 80’s called Remasters. U can hear that the decision was clearly more recently to not make anything sound louder so that the listener can turn the music up and experience the correct levels of headroom in the actual mixed masters…😮

Jamie Durrant Musician - Talking Sonics:  Quality of audio from a technical standpoint is completely disconnected to how many producers, engineers and artists choose to use the equipment. While I agree loudness wars are idiotic and can potentially degrade the dynamic range of tonality of recordings, in some cases the decapitators and brick wall limiters are creativity good and completely intended by style, taste and desire and not just for a commercial consideration. I say this from being closely connected to two of the worlds current hit music producers and I have discussion choices with them on this subject weekly. There are plugins and use of good old tape saturation that add distortion; however pro digital mastering limiters, if any good, do what they should in a good way, limit the audio before clipping occurs - and there is nothing MORE degrading of an audio source than that… well unless you completely cut tape, smash CDs and melt records. There seems to be a strong narrative here that all sources of post 97 audio is not the best it can be. And I can promise you that your words on this very strong point are highly generalised and completely incorrect. It feels like your mouthing off just a touch too much here. There are still many thousands of great engineers out there today and it feels like your putting all of them down with such highly generalised terms. That’s an ignorant view if that’s what you’re trying to put across. How about some balance mate!?

John Scrip:  (Mastering engineer of nearly 30 years). Excellent stuff, but I disagree with a key point - This isn't about mastering engineers competing to be louder than other mastering engineers - This is (and has always been, IMO/E) a pissing contest between LABELS and LABELS (and subsequently, ARTISTS and ARTISTS).

Mastering engineers never asked for this - and I don't personally know any ("actual" mastering engineers) that take pleasure in beating audio to death. I'm convinced that if the average listener knew how much better the material could have sounded, there would be an uprising.

I'm as guilty as the next guy for presenting ridiculously loud master recordings, but my first allegiance is to the audio -- For at least the last 20-ish years, I've kept my 24-bit audio as-captured at the AD and saved it (or forwarded it to the client with a note like "You might want this down the line some time"). No additional processing, no additional volume adjustments, no limiting, no dithering, etc. The source "at its best" (as far as I can help it). With some luck (and some sense from the rest of the industry) maybe some of those recordings will be the "remasters" of the future.

I mean, I can hope, right...?

Audio Masterclass replies to John Scrip: I agree. We should hope for 'de-mastered' releases. DM

Alec Grolimond:  I think and I hear bossted music just by plaing different tract I do not use the auto kevek and ajust the volume myself. Mind you good headphones and a good DAC the soubd may not be top but better.

Lew Barrett:  I made my living in the technology of pro audio for 40 years. You’re spot on. Subscribed.

Dj George Tsagkadopoulos:  The funny thing is that one of the great selling points of CD was it's much greater dynamic range..
Only to get it squished back to the absolutely minimum.
However there's also another issue these days: Heavy compression / limiting is now considered an acceptable "effect/texture" and there are artists that actively seek it on their recordings!

SPINNING MY WHEELS replies to Dj George Tsagkadopoulos: yep.. it's sad because CD is a great way to listen to Vinyl transfers in the car. ... shows off that dynamic range in an incredible way when not compressed.

Philip R Olenick:  The loudness war was an effort to break through background noise in mobile listening to radio. By reducing the amount of time that the music was quiet, the listener didn't have to turn their volume control up and down but could leave it be. The competition was less with other recordings than with the surrounding world. This should not be considered the same thing as deliberately "dirtying up" the sound.

Philip R Olenick replies to Philip R Olenick: And there are always a few folks releasing clean uncompressed recordings. Sheffield Labs, AIX Records, etc. Just not the "Big Boys."

cyber-psych:  digital killed audiophile

Rhett Moir:  Pet peave, people who pass off their opinion as facts due to inflated ego

zero umashi:  The biggest culprit lies with dynamic range compression.
They like to raise the quiet levels to make it sound consistently loud throughout the tracks.
I think it sounds better with some dynamic range. This can actually make a good song sound great, when used properly.

passenger62:  I've got a tip for y'all. If you're thinking of upgrading your system (and probably spending a lot of dough), try inserting a BBE 362 sonic maximiser between your source and your amp. They're going for peanuts right now (probably because of plug-ins) and are quite subtle when used correctly. They're dynamic signal processors that can really change the sound of the media you are using.

Emlizardo:  Steely Dan's entire catalog was remastered around 1999 with dynamics intact. In the 20-teens vast swathes of progressive rock catalogs by the likes of Yes and King Crimson were remastered by Steven Wilson, who is well known for preserving dynamic range and making not-loud masters. About ten years ago Jimmy Page oversaw the remastering of Led Zeppelin's catalog, also without squashed dynamics. Within the past decade superproducer Tony Visconti supervised the remastering of David Bowie's output, without engaging in any loudness one-upmanship. The exceptions to the not-after-1995 rule are so numerous that it might not be worth following.

Audio Masterclass replies to Emlizardo: So I had a quick listen to David Bowie 'Heroes' (individual song) remaster from 2017 and compared it with a vinyl rip. 2017 measures -9.8 LUFS, which is more than 4 dB above Spotify's -14 LUFS normalization level. Looking at the waveform, I suspect harmonic generation or parallel or possibly multiband compression rather than brickwall limiting. A rip of the vinyl measures -14.7 LUFS which is still quite loud. Of course there were issues with the 2017 remaster to consider and I might look at that in a future video. DM

Davide Grecchi:  Applausi....perhaps only in jazz or classical music do we not see this disaster

Doug Jane:  Find a copy of Espresso Guitar by Martin Winch. I mixed and mastered it using my own special process, and it is definitely not brickwalled, and sounds great. People are making albums every day that are not brickwalled. Get your facts right.

Audio Masterclass replies to Doug Jane: Wow, you've found an exception that proves the rule. My facts, for the most of current popular music, are solid. DM

Roger McCormick:  Boring

W:  boomer take

W replies to W: @Audio Masterclass lol ok boomer

Audio Masterclass replies to W: Haha, you're criticising me because of my age, not my arguments. Proves you have nothing useful to say. DM

David King:  You should do a video describing how to find the fundamental frequency of an instrument.. there's literally hundreds of videos that could be done just on e.q..
And how do we know if our monitors SUCK? i paid thousands for mine and I'm not sure if they actually speak to truth..
JBL with that sine wave that eqs the speakers to the room.. 8 inch woofers..
Use that big brain of yours and tell it like it is! Is DIGITAL E.Q. better than analog like the SSL lunch box stuff?

Herman Munster:  Tell me again, why you spent possibly thousands on your speakers behind you, if all modern day music sounds crap?

Herman Munster replies to Herman Munster: @Audio Masterclass Maybe your speakers are the weak link then, lol!
But you could be more specific when describing what sort of music is affected by the so called "loudness wars." . As in my experience, listening to certain rock, jazz, electronic, ambient types of music, Just don't sound like what you describe.
Listening could also be affected by the system you listen to music with! For example, if you listen via a Bluetooth speaker, then there are codecs that compress your music to make the speaker handle the data streams more efficiently, compressing your music in the process. And also streaming services, not all of those output music in High Res formats. So there are many variables that can affect sound quality.
You cannot beat the good old physical CD to ensure you get the best sound quality possible, or Vinyl, if you are an analogue guy. But I do realise it largely depends on the final production and mastering to determine what you get as a consumer.
And if you want to digitise your music, use LOSSLESS codecs, such as WAV, FLAC, or ALAC.
But just be aware, that the type of music most affected by over production and excess loudness, will be mostly mainstream titles, and this video is probably absolutely right, in that regard.

Audio Masterclass replies to Herman Munster: One answer might be to listen to jazz or classical, which isn't as mangled as pop. The other might be that the speakers cost way less than thousands. Mere hundreds. DM

Herman Munster:  Not all recordings post 1995 are over recorded, or sound rubbish. Take YELLO'S "Touch Yello" album, from 2009. I have that album on CD, and it sounds fantastic, dynamic, dimensional, with a great tonal balance and vocals. But then, most Yello albums are really well produced. Their "Flag" album from 1988, which I have a remastered copy of, and their "Baby" album from 1991, and their "Zebra" album from 1994, and their "Pocket Universe" album from 1997. All of those albums sound fantastic, regardless of when they were pressed.
Yeah, some albums might sound crap, but even some prior to 1995 sound crap too.
I have a copy of "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp from 2015, and that sounds fantastic.
So it is a little ambiguous to say that all recordings post 1995 are affected by the so called "loudness wars"
Some may have, but definitely not all.
However, I will agree with your theory somewhat. In that I have two albums from Enigma, well three actually. But for example, 'MCMXC.A.D'. recorded in 1990, sounds very nice and relaxing. But their 'Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Let Roi' album, sounds VERY rough in places, and over recorded. Especially on tracks such as 'T.N.T. for the brain' which really does have the potential to make your head explode. So I get what you mean. I just wanted to say, that not all music is affected in this way though.
Have a blessed day.

Digital Vinyls:  Well, who recorded and mastered Oasis album at Abbey Road in 1995? 😂 And yes, Daft Punk do sounds better on vinyl.

Leif S:  The hunt for the beyond perfect audio is more than often completely disregarding the music and only looking at the audio technical aspect. Ie philistines.

John Smith:  ok boomer

Audio Masterclass replies to John Smith: Haha, oh you're so funny! Congratulate yourself on your genius. DM

Dennis Kielton:  #1- loudness wars are officially over now with the parameters required for Dolby Atmos masters, look into it. #2- HOWEVER: This is literally ONLY a problem if you consider awful, no-brained, ruining-the-music-world, modern pop music to be "music." That ALSO ended in '95. Music was progressing, rock progressed to metal, pop progressed to hip hop & EDM, yet for some ridiculous reason the people in charge decided to take a step back instead of forwards, and literally regress music from the heights it was heading towards. (as much as I like grunge, it's their fault. They took the simple route, and the rest of us put too much stock in it so now we're stuck with labels saying "screw it don't make it too complex, we just need a nice simple hit with the formula we always use." The progress didn't actually stop though, it only stopped in the MAINSTREAM. So no if you want to hear good inspired music, you need to look to the "underground" world. Progressive metal, indie rock, underground hip hop. The problem is not with the music being made, it's with the people controlling the radios & whatnot TELLING you "this is modern music" when in reality, what they call popular is straight up embarrassing to most o the general public. Notice that NO ONE listens to radio anymore because they don't play anything anyone likes? And literally everyone listens to stuff while streaming that you'll never hear on air? Seriously, I don't know a single person who listens to the radio and thinks "this is good" usually it's "can I see the aux cord?" How long is it seriously going to take before the executives realize how much money they could make if they actually put out good music, not just another pop song that "sounds like THAT."

Carlos Costa:  Very informative video. Thanks. Where, in which musical area - Pop, Jazz, classical - does this degradation occur most? It would be great if you indicated the labels that do not make these sound degradations. ECM?, 2L?, ...?.

Carlos Costa replies to Carlos Costa: @Audio Masterclass Thanks. What a relief, it's my area.

Audio Masterclass replies to Carlos Costa: You're more likely to get clean sound in classical and jazz. DM

Gabriel Godwin:  When I first began teaching myself mastering I made terrible mistakes. This was also long before the LUFS system of measurement. It was still in the RMS days. I would often push into the -8 -10 RMS range. I cringe when I listen to many of those albums now.
While I am quite fond of the LUFS system, I don't think it's perfect. Even if I'm hitting a target of LUFS Integrated of -15 I still see momentary values of -6 though I try to keep the short term values as close to Integrated as possible.
That said, I think sometimes it's the musicians themselves that push for me to "get louder". I think many people have become so accustomed to the sound of the loudness war era that they just don't understand what is really happening to the music.
While I don't consider myself a professional mastering engineer, I do think that I'm decent and have learned a lot in the last 20yrs. I just often wish that people that should know better would lose that mentality of "it's not as loud as that"
If anyone read all that and has any thoughts about my target LUFS levels I would welcome polite and constructive input/insight.

Anders Hansgaard:  9 days old? I thought I'd gone back 9 years... We're pretty much over the loudness war.

Lee Hawkins:  Could we ask Mastering Engineers to send the loud version to the label, then the best version to distribution?

Lee Hawkins replies to Lee Hawkins: Or... give the record-buying public a choice of masters to pick from? Then sell us them all in a shiny box at 3 times the price (ideally!).

spunkfish:  Great upload it the dynamic range that suffers with this high gain then limited

Le Frenchgineer:  I absolutely love your channel. Thanks from France :)

Tony french:  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, boring, boring yawn. Yawn

Tony french:  Talk. Talk, talk ......he pours out and repeats blah, blah, yawn yawn

Mark:  Get a good case of Tinnitus and nothing will sound "good." Even this guy talking.

Polo:  Why am I thinking of Paul Mc Cartney watching you?😁 Fascinating stuff and great insight!

John Talbot:  Its sad knowing that there are the original masters, then the first product mixes and then the final (over produced, over boosted or over compressed) mix available - as available code files! So why cant they simply release different versions ... the direct master cut, the second producers cut and then the overworked mainstream cut? Problem solved!

Audio Masterclass replies to John Talbot: I don't know why the labels miss this. There are plenty of people who would pay a premium for product without extreme mastering. And collectors would buy the item in both versions. DM

Stan Steel:  This will go way over the heads of the millennial generation. They buy expensive phones, cheap headphones and hardly pay for music… so what to they care if a sound ain’t right. With the shit music these days on the radio and in the top one hundred tunes they will never know the feeling of having a sound that is so good it can make your heart sing and your eyes cry.

Emmanuele Valente:  Chi vivrà, ascolterà 😁

Jim hardiman:  "That's just like, your opinion, man"

Brett Gregory:  Time for a comment indeed! Rick Beato says that Pop & Rock is (or at least was) mastered to sound best through a car radio, and he may well be correct. However, I suspect that Jazz, Fusion and Classical productions are much more faithful to the original recordings, particularly in this age of 24b-96kHz.

ECM label, for me, is responsible for exquisitely recorded self-indulgent crap too much of the time, but when the music is also good, it is a sublime listening experience (e.g. Manu Katché's wonderful albums – the decay of his cymbals, in particular, is gorgeous).

In any case, I don't really care how loud or quiet a record is presented as I have all music analysed and then levelled through JRiver Media Center.

KING9SOUND:  How loud are the original Beatles masters??

Audio Masterclass replies to KING9SOUND: This is a good question to which only those with access to the masters can answer properly. One could measure the loudness of a single or album from the 1960s, but how much is that going to cost? DM

Gandalf47:  I am 75. I, too, experienced all of this audio evolution and de-evolution. I relate to everything you say. My Junior High graduation present was a Grundig PORTABLE RADIO, and it was the greatest tech thing that I knew existed at the time - 1962, When I was 20 - 1967 - I was fortunate enough to work for an 8-track cassette recording company locally. We bought new albums directly from a local record store, carefully placed the vinyl record on a professional grade turntable and stylus, and recorded a master tape of the pristine original on a professional grade reel-to-reel tape deck. After that, we were able to repeatedly create high quality recordings piggy-backing to multiple recorders, cranking out a high volume for the 8-track market, which was voracious at that time. Albums in your car! OMG! Anyway, I got to keep those pristine albums, played only once (well, some played more than once). I was not thinking of investment value at the time. Likely I was high, too). I have 500-600 vinyl records, most of which are in good shape, and some of which are in excellent shape. I am either going to buy a good record player and listen to them all again, but that seems tedious, as I can listen to any sone I desired digitally, usually by asking Siri. If that doesn't work, Alexa usually can. So, I ned to create a log of them for sale. If any of you are interested in inquiring about a specific album or albums, I have most rock albums dating from 1964 theu the mid-70's, and qutre a few others.

Gandalf47 replies to Gandalf47: @Robert Brinton I live in Santa Barbara, CA. I've lived here continuously since 1962, though it has been my hometown since 1953, when my family lived abroad for a while. Santa Barbara had the only venue large enough to attract the big name bands, and we often got to see all the big groups, mostly before they were famous, as they would stop in Santa Barbara on the way to or from a gig in SF or LA. The company who produced the shows also bought 8-Track tapes to selll at a huge "Music Emporium". I got free backstage passes to all the shows. Jimi Hendrix (he burned his guitar less than 10 feet away from me, offstage), the Doors, the Airplane, Big Brother, Country Joe and the Fish, Moby Grape, Santana, The Mothers of Invention, Sweetwater, the Who (my roommate, a drummer, caught a drumstick thrown into the crowd by Keith Moon while the rest of them distroyed their guitars and amps), Love, Cream, and more. I also got to see the Yardbirds and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental band play live at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1968. Those were good times. Best.Music.Ever. Last note - in 1967-68, tickets to these events ranged from $2.50 - $3.50, never more. As I said before, we had backstage passes, so we didn't have to pay those exorbitant prices! lol I never figured out how they made money, since the venue was relarively small. Maybe they did it for the gas money, as they were all in vans and busses back then.

Robert Brinton replies to Gandalf47: Where are you located?

Mark Davis:  You are totally spot on with everything you said. I would add that if you want to upgrade the sound of your audio choose the music you listen to carefully. Look for artists on independent label who have a bigger hand in the production. Its not a guarantee it will sound better but a good place to start.

As a music lover and someone who appreciates good audio I feel that critical listening is something your not born with and takes many years to develop. Someone who is not too bothered about quality of audio and happy just to listern to music on there phone BT speaker will never learn this ability and so if they can hear an even balance in the mix ( more or less ) then they are happy. In order for that to happen the music has to be compressed to a fraction of a DB of the maximum head room. After all the people who are critical listening to expensive audio equipment are a minority compared to the people who are just music lovers.

Glade Swope:  When it came to the loudness war, I dodged the draft. Good old -15db RMS rules.

Jaap Vermeulen:  As I stumbled on a library of popular songs and listened to them, every time I did this I got so bored. Surely because what is reasoned here. But I figured out something else. When people digitise CD's they switch on 'normalize' which pushes every song into a same level. And by this makes everything 'the same'. This same feeling I get by nowedays published hiits and 'loud' recordings. Let's celebrate SteepleChase records!

Andy Bond:  This was very informative. There are a few occasions when these tools are justified: a) if somebody actually likes the distorted sound b) if the speaker / amplifier is not loud enough in a certain frequency range. For example, I'd like to use compressor on the piano because I can make it louder while using smaller speakers. Especially soft piano play sounds better with compression. I also like to use compression on sound when watching movies, often the speech is not loud enough while the music is too loud. Finally, I really like distorted sounds (guitar or singing). At the same time as with everything - using too much distortion or compression degrades the sounds - so I agree, it is important to talk about it.

the bear lebanon:  He's right the decades before 1995 was like this〰️ sign wave And now it's binary curve

Herr Unsinn:  Ok... Let me see if I am getting this straight... My audio is bad, and I can't do anything about it. Right? Please tell me one more time, so I can be sure. 😉

Audio Masterclass replies to Herr Unsinn: You can listen to classical and jazz. They're mostly not bad. DM

Wram Accorsi:  It's too bad whenever a few people at the money-making top make decisions for the masses without these same masses having been consulted beforehand. Anyway, there are things we've got no power against, that's life, regrettably.

Larry Saideman:  I don't know what's worse, audible distortion or constant repetition. I would have limited this video to 5 minutes. This sounds like sweeping generalizations to me but I don't have my fingers on the pulse of every audio engineer or producer. Regardless, music sounds pretty good in my room with my system. Maybe it's not audio Nirvana. Since their hits were recorded before 1995, I guess Nirvana is Nirvana.

Andrew Peter Collins:  Hi everyone from Australia. I'm a 62 year old gay Aussie DJ and an A/V engineer. I get told I look around 45 which can be bad around audio philistines. My favourite, almost expected form of distortion came from the idea that you invent a cassette deck with Dolby B noise reduction and with out teaching the consumer ANYTHING, throw every tape type at them and expect them to configure the equipment to sound absolutely fabulous. They don't even realize how bad their HOT recording from a vinyl record is. When I show and tell them to buy decent blank tapes.....not $1.00 tapes from a supermarket, they arc up. As I type the next bit, I will feel here the hairs on your arms raise up. You have a bad quality tape! The meters are pegged into total distortion. They will let me show them how to configure their sound system to sound as best as it can but they don't care. I own a from new NOS Akai GXC46D cassette deck and had the bias for low noise and chrome adjusted by a technician to sound as good as they could with Dolby B noise reduction On. I managed just recently to find a NOS erase, record playback head and pinch roller which was pliable after all these years. It has overload suppress and an automatic distortion reduction built in by Akai in the factory. I got it back and it looked wonderful. I managed to get great low noise and chrome tapes. I fired up my CD player and selected Clair de Lune by Isao Tomita as a test disc. I recorded it and left the OLS off (overload suppression) and tried both cassettes as a test gain riding the record sliders myself but only when needed. This piece by him is challenging to any tape deck including reel to reel at 15 ips. I was champing at the bit to get to playback. The sound quality of both tape types was out of this world. I turned the Dolby off then on again which removed the hiss leaving the treble alone. It was probably the best analogue copy i'd heard on play back. I tried dance, funk, Queen etc and the low noise tapes were perfectly fine with a minor improvement using the chrome tapes. I had friends arounds around for a party and was playing ambient ethereal music but made sure the tape deck was out of view. Most of my friends know I'm a sound nut as are they. I had recorded Enyas Dark Sky Island for dinner as it was her brand new album. About 15 minutes in, someone wanted to see the CD cover. I went in and as a joke, grabbed the cassette case which was blank by the way and a friend said what's this....a joke? I said no it's on tape. Everybody wanted to see the tape deck thinking it was a Nakamichi or something ultra high end. Hey. That deck was released in 1971 at a cost of $350! That was a fortune in that era. My friends were stunned. They said are you going back to tape and I said no. It was there if I needed to dub or record rare albums. The loudness wars are a joke. I actually left the business and watched as CDs got a very unfair ride. Now vinyl is coming back...a bit too commercial for me but I wouldn't mind a new copy of The Alan Parsons Projects " I Robot. My copy looks immaculate but with an Ortofon Blue cartridge it is making the noise of my youth obvious. I buy what I need on any format. The loudness wars apply to the general public not us audiophiles, cheers from down under, Andrew.

hauskahirvi:  Good video. However, Steven Wilson is very much against the "loudness wars" and he knows how to produce, mix, etc. To me all of Steven Wilson's solo work sounds great. Excellent dynamics, etc. There are many other artists today that are doing it right. It is unfortunate that many reissues/remasters in the last 20 or 30 years are over compressed and the dynamics are compromised.

Mark Winston:  Now couple this with a highly resolute speaker and accurate amp like the AH2B and you will see why many people dislike such a setup. Little do they know they dislike the track itself and not the system but eventually find a way to blame it all on the accurate hardware.

Douglas Blake:  Okay, it's been a few days and I don't see any real discussion of one of the lead points in this video ... How many "audiophiles" have dumped a small fortune in cables, trinkets and various googaas trying to get better sound from a system, only to discover the problem has been their music collection all along?

I've even had service calls where the complaint is "bad sound quality" and upon getting there and playing my own demo-tracks, the client has been sitting in his chair, jaw on floor, amazed at the lifelike sound his system just reproduced for him. Then the realization sets in and he slowly catches on to one simple fact ... the more refined your system is, the worse your crappy brickwalled source recordings are going to sound!

So lets ask the key question from the title of the video... Is that bad SQ you're trying to fix from your electronics or from your recordings?

Douglas Blake replies to Douglas Blake: And an afterthought ...

This problem is why we use test equipment to evaluate the performance of your equipment. By removing the probability of bad or damaged source material and working with pure tones and precise measuring equipment we are able to look right into the soul of an amplifier or speaker (etc) and see what it is or is not doing wrong.

Meeps music:  @Audio Masterclass you covered a lot of details there, But i enjoyed it right till the end. Hope ya doing great. kudos

Meeps music replies to Meeps music: ps. lol @ 14:06 lol

Ian Jones:  As a older ,late in life parent, who grew up with always trying the next best system for perfection, I am amused by ...
Teenagers when asked "do you think this system sounds good?"
I can see there is not the slightest interest of what I'm talking about.
They have grown up with digital and do not understand what I am referring to.
Even 'Boomer' music ,as they refer to is now digitally processed.
All those years striving for what now have, these youngsters just don't realise what they have.
It cost me a lot over the years, different formats,players, now it's a phone and ear buds for them.

Shannon Miller:  So you’re a Brit who hasn’t heard of Steven Wilson? Porcupine Tree (also Steven Wilson)? The Pineapple Thief? (another great British prog band)
Simon Phillips Protocol? That’s just a few that have been releasing fantastic recordings for the last 20 years or so. You seem to confuse music with mainstream music which are absolutely not one and the same. There’s been loads of fantastic recordings made post 1995. Listen to crap music, get crap results. Find the bands worth listening to, producing their own music and you’ll often find artists who still care about the finished product who are unwilling to compromise. My music collection is full of post 95 recordings that frankly rival anything ever recorded pre 95.

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Tuesday May 2, 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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