The Loudness Wars

I’m sure we’ve all heard the ultra processed and uber-squeezed tracks coming from various labels, fronting to be the ‘loudest’ label out there.

But why? and where did all this start. What does it acheive apart from a dynamic mess?

I read a lot about this ‘dynamic slaughter’ every day and wonder why labels and producers feel the need to completely ultra-compress and limit the shit out of tracks in order to be the loudest.

Is it just virtual e-peen swinging or what?

I understand why people want to make their song very loud.
Listen to remixta 5 And listen how low the volume of my song is (the fall) compared with the others.
That’s because mine wasn’t compressed at all. (now it is btw)
I understand you have the control of your volume-knob but in a podcast everything must be the same level.

I also think the use of compression, especially in electronic music (netlabel-breakcore ;) )is bad.
But hey! most of the badly compressed music is bad anyhow, because if you take your own music serious, you make sure your stuff is well mastered.

This can be an interesting link for the thema.

Dynamic Range

On this site is an software to have an overlook about the dynamic range.

I think I’m gonna do a loudness war track for my upcoming album. I’m a huge advocate of dynamic range… so perhaps overtly abusing compression will make a point :P

interesting thread… this is a very frustrating issue indeed :smashed:

what if huge artists like u2, madonna, daft punk, metallica (and whatever) would DARE to release an album NOT following this destructive trend, like a protest war against the dynamic killing… imagine the confusion.

this way it could quite easily turn into a positive “if you care about music, follow us” thingie, with a protest-stamp of some sort on the cds - like it has been done with ecologic food, recycling / enviromental stuff, and whatnot


NIN releases albums all the time that don’t follow the loudness war. They’re full of dynamic range. Mars Volta is also known for using a wide range of volumes.

It’s because most of your everyday music listeners don’t pay attention to the dynamics of a song. They just want music to jiggle their fanny to. They believe that if they have to turn up the volume to listen to a song, that it’s poor quality. I shit you not, I’ve been around some dumb people in the past two years (luckily not anymore). I’m especially thinking of three chicks that used to be friends with my home boy, every time they got in my car I wanted to sock them. No variation in music (same 5 tracks over and over), and it’s gotta be speaker bustin loud. They’re an extreme case, but I’ve noticed a lot of people like that in this area (arizona).

Speaking of which, two weeks ago I was playing at a club (very nice place), but my music sounded like it was lacking a pulse. I like to pump it a little and then drop to some ambiance for a bit and back again (none of that 133bpm the whole night crap). Later on I found out that my signal was unwillingly run through a compressor that was beating the shit out of my audio. So even though I was calming down, it didn’t let my quieter parts be quieter.

I love the loudness war, props for whoever is winning.

If you like dynamics in your track, leave em there, but if you wanna
know why there is a loudness war, perhaps its time for you guys to go
to clubs once in awhile?

Yes, maybe so for that kind of music.
But I think it’s not without reason those metallica fans are angy hordes about the new album.

I don’t know jack about metal, let alone mixing it. I know about Metallica fans tho, wanting
a brand new album to sound like it was recorded in the frikken 80’s …

I guarantee you don’t love the loudness war BotB … quite simply speaking, the term refers to misuse of compression which kills dynamics, and actually makes music sound less agressive as a result.

Things the loudness war does not refer to:

  • The race to build bigger sound systems
  • The trend towards making harder, darker, or more agressive music

I’m pretty sure the loudness war has occured mainly because of radio and music TV. It’s actually the result of having to market one’s self more effectively to gain an audience than actual quality of sound. Did you ever notice that at some point advertisers started compressing their ads to make them sound louder than the show being broadcast… so that listeners would pay more attention to the ads? This was following the psychology of the loudness wars.

So yah. If you like hard, heavy, agressive music… you should by all means HATE the loudness wars. If you like watered-down bland sounding music that sounds like it was played on an indy FM channel, then the loudness wars is probably your kinda thing.

What? Metallica has FANS?! No wonder they’re angry… someone should let those fans in on the fact that IT’S METALLICA.

I don’t care about big soundsystems and hard music.
I want PUMP and PUMP has no dynamics. It has PUMP.
You get PUMP from misusing compressors. ;)

So who’s winning the loudness war? Oh wait, no winners in a war… sorry…

Further interesting articles by Bob Katz regarding the topic:…ces-part-1.html…e-k-system.html

BTW: is anybody here using the Katz-System ?

Moreover see also:

Personally I think there is no black and white. Sometimes I really love to hear loud tracks, because they sound just massive.
On the other hand I wouldn’t want to miss the nice dynamics heard in classical or cinematic music.

A real problem seems to be that one gets accostumed to loud levels too quickly and “unlearns” how to listen closely.

Here ya go:

wow look at that! exactly what i meant :yeah:
i hope we will see some of those labels around soon,
and that ppl here joins for support.

excellent find.

That’s awesome. +1 for support.

Actually you can get pump whilst still keeping dynamics. This is what sidechains are for.

… in fact, the best, most pronounced pump DOES have dynamics, as the pumping is so extreme. Compressors alone can’t do this.

I recently went through some of my favorite CD’s to check the levels. I’m sad to say that most all of them were maxed out on the screen. Damn. Only my Bauhaus and Klaus Schulze CD’s had dynamics.