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Is this the end of the loudness war?

Is this the end of the loudness war?

We’ve talked about the loudness war before, and also about one of the new standards that might put an end to it. We’ve even talked about how annoying it is when you listen to music on the bus and you’re always having to turn the volume up and down.

Although that was in a slightly different context.

You Tube loudness normalisation

Recently though, things have possible taken a turn for the good: it appears as though You Tube has brought in loudness matching for music.

You Tube loudness normalisation

This is a big deal.

In two articles on his site, mastering engineer and dynamic range proponent Ian Shepherd leads with an interesting graph: the loudness profile of a nearly three-hour You Tube playlist.

And the loudness remains fairly consistent…

You Tube playlist equal volumeNow, when you’re listening to your You Tube playlist, perhaps while cooking, relaxing in the bath or hosting a sophisticated cocktail party, the juxtaposition of Bryan Ferry’s Jealous Guy with Gangnam Style will now only be one of taste and style, rather than how loud they are.

It seems as though You Tube’s very clever algorithms are working out how loud each song is, then adjusting the playback level to give a loudness of -13 LUFS. Hey presto! The loudness war is over and it doesn’t matter how hard you compress and limit your master it will still be just as loud as a song with dynamics.

It will just sound worse.

Stepped waveforms in the right direction

Now, Ian’s article points out that the You Tube loudness standard does not appear to conform to the EBU-R128 standard, it appears to float around that -13 LUFS figure, and -13 LUFS is also pretty loud, meaning that some tracks with particuarly long-quiet sections can’t have their level increased sufficiently to hit that level without the peaks clipping, so these songs will sound a bit quieter.

However, it is a step in the right direction; with iTunes’ Sound Check and Spotify’s constant volume playback also offering a level-loudness playing field, there’s now much less incentive to crush your masters, as a huge proportion of a song’s listens will be over one of these media.

There is more work to be done, particularly until we get to the loudness benchmark of digital television, but hopefully we’re on the road to tunes with dynamics and a bit of breathing space in them.

Which then of course brings us back to having a built-in compressor so you can listen to dynamic music on the bus again…

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Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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