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Author Topic: End of the "loudness wars" ?  (Read 3017 times)

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Offline Glenn

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End of the "loudness wars" ?
« on: August 31, 2015, 12:14:10 AM »
I've rambled on about the 'loudness' wars in the past, and how producers need to voluntarily tame those blistering so called 'masters' down to a level where there's at least some dynamics left in the mix! 

I ass-ume the heavy metal clans may not be hearing this message - but that's probably because the mixes they've been listening to have caused a little tinnitus and 'after burn'.  8)
but I'm not addressing that crowd here... lol

For everyone else... there's good news!  In a way, it's good news, depending on how one looks at the issue of how to cope with this long lived 'loudness war' situation.

Here's how the makers of Harrison MixBus (now with version 3) have said it.....


In the past, it was highly encouraged for mastering engineers to create music at the
highest possible average level, because this made the songs noticeably louder
when they were played adjacent to other performer’s songs on a CD or mp3 player.

However, in the case of modern radio broadcast, online channels such as
YouTube, and internal processing in iTunes and iPods, it is now likely that your
music will be level-matched (based on average loudness) with other songs.

 In this case, it is advantageous to mix at a lower volume, and leave more headroom for
short musical peaks which will make your mixes sound louder and better than the
more heavily-processed tracks that were popular in the early digital era.



=============================================================

yeah, this is cool...  because now, we can simply make our mixes as dynamic as we wish, while aiming for good "K-14" metering levels (in that ball park anyway) and chances are that your tunes will more closely match that of the tune next to yours... if the loud ones are reduced in gain for level matching in certain media.  It means we'll be able to hear more pleasing, more dynamic mixes, without having to worry about pushing the limiter so hard in order to beef up a mixes output volume.

maybe, just maybe, it'll be the beginning of the end of the loudness wars.

It may feel at first, like some are being 'forced' to submit to the new 'loudness compliance' standards... but over time, it may help the industry in managing the 'media' that they work with.
After all, we used to have analogue 'standards' that pretty much all producers went by... but with the advent of digital - it sorta became the wild west of audio production as it got into the hands of well intentioned but somewhat misguided musicians who demanded that producers 'up the gain' to get the edge on the competition.  They wanted to get paid!  lol  ::)

I mean, man... there's tracks out there that easily hit -5dB RMS - that's HOT .... no room for dynamics whatsoever.
Now, under these new 'standards' those tracks will just be 'auto-levelled' and throttled back, and if all other things being equal, they'll suck when put next to a mix that wasn't mixed quite so loud, with the dynamics preserved in the softer mix, it will blow the previous 'louder' file away!

This ball has been rolling for a few years now, with the renowned producer Bob Katz ... when he proposed the new system for 'loudness compliance' in regards to "Mastering Audio" ... and brought forth the "K-14" meter, so producers could have a ballpark to aim at - RMS wise.
You can't argue with a guy who's produced so many great GREAT records - and he says the industry took a big step backward when the 'loudness wars' took over the landscape.   Yay Bob!

So, I guess the moral of the story is, don't make your mixes too hot RMS wise ... or depending on where it's uploaded or streamed, it could be throttled back ... so may as well just mix it at the slightly lower level, which will sound better with the dynamics preserved.

I've been using Mixbus for the past year or so, and I find the built in "K-14" loudness meter comes in pretty handy, as it sits just above the master fader section, easy for reference at a glance.  :)

Happy Mixing.
CHears!
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline way2lon

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2015, 03:37:50 AM »
Nice post Glenn and such good news if it happens. I've been saying similar things as a listener to modern stuff which puts me off taking my interest any further than saying I can't really hear it properly as everything just merges.
That's why I was getting into acoustic things like some of the folk music that's out there.

REAL STUPIDITY BEATS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE EVERY TIME

Offline Glenn

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2015, 01:08:07 PM »
Nice post Glenn and such good news if it happens. I've been saying similar things as a listener to modern stuff which puts me off taking my interest any further than saying I can't really hear it properly as everything just merges.
That's why I was getting into acoustic things like some of the folk music that's out there.

yeah, I know what you mean, - my son plays drums in a "thrash metal" (or is it death metal now) band, and they've done some bedroom recording which they wanted me to "master" for them  :o  So of course, I was willing to help out if I could, and asked them about 'reference' material, since I'm not that familiar with the genre .... and from the half dozen selections I heard from 2 or 3 popular metal bands, it was pretty tiring on the ears.   (unfortunately, the sound they recorded was no where near the sound of their metal idol gods, so the reference material didn't help much to work up a better sound for their demo)

It's hard to listen to more than one or two tunes with the RMS above -10dBFS ... -5 is brutal! 

With iTunes, iPod, and YouTube and others now throttling back the levels on loud tunes and 'upping' the levels on softer tunes, it certainly will 'level' the playing field --- and you can bet that if Youtube and iTunes are doing it...

the rest will soon follow!
 8)
I think it's going to happen, even though it may not prevent those who want to continue to do loud mixes for CD's, it will at least get the ball rolling on 'mass media' ... which will surely have a rippling effect on the industry, and downstream.
 8)
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Wes

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2016, 11:41:49 AM »

I think it's going to happen, even though it may not prevent those who want to continue to do loud mixes for CD's, it will at least get the ball rolling on 'mass media' ... which will surely have a rippling effect on the industry, and downstream.
 8)
Was going back to just re-read some stuff; like the above nuggets of wisdom.  Certainly hope this takes hold.  I'm of the age where, if you want my attention, come near & speak to me in a civil voice. Yelling from the other room gets your idea kicked to the curb.  I've noticed this lately in instro surf music where artists, particularly those who have an engineer attuned to the band's style or who do their own production, are throttling back because of the massive loss in dynamics. You can hear the difference, for example, when someone has a fairly powerful overall vibe, but maybe the bridge contains some light staccato picking, ala ballalaika or some other mid-Eastern flavor.  Lovely when it's allowed to be heard & is allowed to breathe - boring notes all blended into the same big waveform when it's not.

Now, if we can get commercial producers to throttle back the spoken word (and in your face background music) to the dynamics needed to match the TV programming content...  they should understand what causes use of the 'mute' button on the remote or simply flipping to another channel. If not, they should be fired.
Wes
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Offline Glenn

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2016, 10:24:07 PM »
I do believe there is a motion to regulate 'loudness' output of files in many many media today...moreso than just a few months ago.

There are 'audio book' loudness standards.
Radio broadcast loudness standards for various genres!
Loudness standards for film, and another standard for TV, Youtube, etc etc.

When submitting tunes to various media, you have to make sure your files are 'compliant' or they will be rejected after analysis by the format... itunes etc.


This is really good, and very useful - for loudness compliance on your mixes...
Izotope has a very good loudness compliance analysis module in it's Mastering software

It states:
With the adoption of loudness standards worldwide, post production and broadcast engineers are tasked with ensuring loudness compliance during the mixing stage. Yet most engineers' focus is getting a good sound, period—not spending excessive time monitoring levels and meters.
Conforming to LKFS, True Peak, and Short Term level requirements used to mean keeping your eyes glued to the loudness meter. iZotope's offline loudness plug-in RX Loudness Controlremoves the need to constantly watch the meters. Focus on what's really important: the sound of your mix.
It only takes two clicks to ensure a loudness-compliant mix. Simply select a preset (i.e. loudness standard) and apply automatic, transparent processing to your mix. Intelligent algorithms can process an entire hour of audio in under a minute, so it's fast and easy to create mixes for delivering for multiple broadcast territories.

https://www.izotope.com/en/community/blog/tips-tutorials/2015/05/rx-loudness-control-a-better-compliance-workflow/


here is a page of links when searching Loudness compliance.
https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=ebu-compliant%20loudness%20metering

there's a lot more out there too, depends on what the content is, and what media you are uploading to.
 :)



Now, if we can get commercial producers to throttle back the spoken word (and in your face background music) to the dynamics needed to match the TV programming content...  they should understand what causes use of the 'mute' button on the remote or simply flipping to another channel. If not, they should be fired.


They are also addressing this issue in the TV and Radio commercial industry... some producers are trying to find ways around the compliance by cheating on their mixes, keeping certain levels within compliance for x amount of seconds, then WHAM, they hit ya!!! .... I guess there will always be those who try to get 'round the rules... but it's getting harder to short change the system or try to beat it.
 8)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2016, 10:34:05 PM by Glenn »
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Wes

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2016, 07:10:16 AM »
They are also addressing this issue in the TV and Radio commercial industry... some producers are trying to find ways around the compliance by cheating on their mixes, keeping certain levels within compliance for x amount of seconds, then WHAM, they hit ya!!! .... I guess there will always be those who try to get 'round the rules... but it's getting harder to short change the system or try to beat it.
 8)
Yes, we can hope. Someone I'm acquainted with who's familiar with that in the biz-end of it said that - mostly - the rules are there, and they're being followed, but right up to the last "tenth" it can be pushed.  As most have complained about loud commercials, the commercials are loud because the programming is typically throttled back the way we'd do our music, precisely because of the dynamics needed.  Result is the ad is "in your face" relatively speaking. (As you point out they're also obnoxiously EQ'd for a reason heh.)

In the trivia department: Occasionally my Admiral will sleep in her favorite chair if her back is bothering her and put the TV on. She has ID'd a couple of channels where any commercials are the same as the program content. If I walk downstairs at 5:00 am quietly thru the area, a commercial for some new gizmo has the same level as some covering a golf tournament.  So in in the cable or satellite world it's apparently a decision made by the individual station/channel feed, not the overall content provider.

I'm not in the position of having to pay much attention to it, but using the tips you've given on mastering within Audacity have been a big help.  Have found using your recommended master settings, then dropping it a hair further, yields much more clarity when it then gets exported as a less-than-optimum mp3 format in order to keep the size down.
Thanks for the forum. Now back to the surf.
 8)
Wes
SoCal ex-pat with a snow shovel

Offline neilmac

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2016, 01:26:55 PM »
Like everything else in the world - it'll only work if EVERYONE signs up for it :)


Much like world peace, tolerance and economic stability....  ::)

Offline Glenn

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2016, 02:14:45 PM »
Like everything else in the world - it'll only work if EVERYONE signs up for it :)


Much like world peace, tolerance and economic stability....  ::)

good point...   

in this case I'm thinking that when a tune or a file is submitted to a given format - it will first be analyzed by software automatically and then either 'approved' or 'rejected' ....  there is no 'signing up'.   8)

So compliance will be a mandatory thing... just like in the real world, for the 'good' of all.   

I know... I know.....  hey - I don't make the rules... I'm just a messenger.

Unfortunately, I still get huge swings in volume from one YouTube to another, and from Ads that precede a YouTube vid... turn it down, then turn it up, then down..... I'd estimate volume differences of more than 12dB from one to the other in many cases. 
I think the main culprit is that Ad makers know how to use (and over use) a compressor and Limiter - while the amateur or novice has no clue what a compressor or limiter is, and don't optimize the gain on the file they are going to upload, ...often they simply take the camera file and upload it directly with no processing or editing whatsoever, so of course there will be huge differences in files. 

Compliance software and auto adjusting gain will remedy that... and in the above case, I think it's a good thing, and a practical way of handling the wide volume ranges in files uploaded to YT.

 8)
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline neilmac

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2016, 04:09:55 PM »
good point...   


So compliance will be a mandatory thing... just like in the real world, for the 'good' of all.   




Now where have I heard that before...... ??


 ;D


Oh yeah...





Offline neilmac

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2016, 04:11:04 PM »
While I was looking for the meme above I found this....


I laughed so hard......



Offline Glenn

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2016, 07:01:10 PM »

Now where have I heard that before...... ??


 ;D


Oh yeah...




funny.... the very thought crossed my mind... as I was typing 'compliance will be mandatory'  lol  (resistance is futile) lol  :P
Old Eastern saying "Man who run in front of car, - get tired .... man who run behind car, get exhausted"
I like to ride IN cars, it's less tiring and less exhausting :)

Offline Wes

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Re: End of the "loudness wars" ?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2016, 09:28:04 PM »
So compliance will be a mandatory thing... just like in the real world, for the 'good' of all.   

Funny diversion from the thread, but timely. When I see heads moving their lips on TV saying such things it makes me ponder....

Which has better throughput; gallows or guillotine?
 8)
Wes
SoCal ex-pat with a snow shovel