Compression to death

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ppayne
Posts: 417
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 6:19 am

Compression to death

Post by ppayne »

What do you think about the compression that everyone puts on the whole song today, which means that there is no more dynamic left and only maximum loudness is produced from start to finish?

In every Playlist where some guys did a compression for max loudness, all other must do the same to prevent the listeners for changing volume up and down. And if I do not the same compression, the song is to quite between the compressed in the list, because a listener must step through the list with reduced volume setting. Totally stupid I think. I must lose a lot of volume dynamics, because some in a list of songs have done it, to get maximum attention :oops:

It is OK,with the compression, when mastering a CD to get a uniformed loudness for the tracks on the same medium. But youtube, Spotify, mixing competitions in web, soundcloud etc. they all comes to a problem with that like on TV. There are different sources in the same list of songs for a listener and audio players don't address this problem today for the listener and producer.

Does anyone else see this as a problem?
cactus-head
Posts: 1060
Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:09 pm

Re: Compression to death

Post by cactus-head »

I think there are a lot of things going on in this regard. Around 2010, the U.S. standardized what loudness levels for broadcast "sound" could be. Thus the birth of LUFS. Over time, all streaming services whether it be audio or video have to meet that standard.

That's the starting point. Now you have a million content creators out there - most calling themselves professionals in some regard but have no real idea how to to mix and master especially in regards to the standardized measurements. Everyone with a DAW thinks they're an engineer. So you end up with tons of content that is coming in too hot for the streaming services. Even though these creators may have had dynamics in their finals, the overall production is too loud for the various platforms.

The streaming services take ALL of this content and then balance the levels so that everything can only reach the top volume standard. Some services may not accept the content until it is adjusted properly by the submitter, but most will just cap, limit or normalize the output.

Then you have commercials. Historically for television or radio, the commercials BLARED way loader than the program - thus the 2010 legislature to figure out some kind of governing over all of this. The commercials are always going to output to the top of the new standard; but now, everything else can "compete" by also sounding at the top of the standard.

So, back to your disappointment - what ends up happening is the output of everything streamed or broadcast starts to become a homogenized, normalized dynamics box. It's not necessarily that everyone is compressing everything to be one volume, it's more that the standards of streaming or broadcasting content force everyone to only be able to work within a certain dynamic range "if they want to heard."

But that's just my opinion.
Ray Cube
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu May 25, 2023 1:05 pm
Location: Rochester UK

Re: Compression to death

Post by Ray Cube »

Reasons for compression are many fold. For radio it is about being heard above what could be a noisy environment. Be that a factory floor, a lorry cab or car etc. Softer sections can be swamped and not heard in the surrounding noise. Advertisers in particular want their message heard. Also as already stated, you don't want to be constantly adjusting the volume control to compensate. Then there is the transmission side of things, where a too loud signal could damage the output of a transmitter or distortion can be horrendous when heard at the receiving end. In the old days you had to take into account groove noise, tape hiss, and phase differences between channels as well.
Even then there is no control over how it is listened to from systems with limited capabilities in both loudness and dynamic rage as well as the environment it is heard in.
There are dedicated streaming services for those that want and demand better quality and less or even no compression, but all cost a subscription and cater for a very limited number of listeners.
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