Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Loudness Wars

This is an image from wikipedia's entry on loudness wars and this is a perfect example of what is happening in the recording industry. Why does this matter? Its not because it really is all that loud, you can turn down the volume of your stereo. Its because all the good part of the music lives on the fringes. Example: image #1 there is plenty of space for "sparkle" to exist in this song. image #3, there is absolutely no space for "sparkle" to live. This occurs because in digital sound there is no going over a maximum level, period.

Loudness Wars suck because the song looses its sparkle. Sparkle is what makes you feel like the musician is in the room with you. It gives a song life. So what can you do about it if everyone is producing louder and louder songs? Well, nothing at the moment. But that will change soon with some exciting products. This also goes back to yesterday's post, What is Sound?

Loudness wars matter and sound matters because if everyone is listening to highly compressed recordings, the dynamic range is lost (i.e. sparkle). Its like eating pure sugar without flavoring. The crazy thing is that this has been going on so long that we don't even know what we are missing.

Why do you care about sound?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What is Sound?

Sound is perfect. We and our instruments are imperfect. We damage or poorly recreate sound waves and they slowly lose something as they move through the air. So what is our role as listeners? Do we try to perfect our ability to recreate or process sound or do we just give up and make sound what we want it to be? It will never be perfect anyway.

This is a philosophical question about truth and authenticity the answer to which plays out in the relationship we have with our surroundings. And this is important because it helps us understand our preferences.

Do you care about sound? Do you care about it being perfect? Or do you care that it just not suck?

This is an important question. I will tell you where I stand, but you have to tell me where you stand first. Don't miss out.