NYT: interesting take on the "loudness wars" in studio engineering


Came across this article today and I have to say that I'm glad that an outlet like the New York Times is writing about something so fringe to the mainstream reader. I think most people don't care about loudness and dynamic range in recordings, but the NYT does a good job in trying to appeal to the average reader by equating engineering techniques with record popularity and the Grammy's,

"Several years ago, Chris Johnson, an audio software developer, tested a theory, espoused by some anti-loudness activists, that the hyper-compression roiling the industry was partly to blame for shortened careers. Using a list of all-time best-selling recordings, he rearranged them by “commercial importance,” assigning each a score derived by multiplying an album’s number of platinum certifications (how many millions sold) by the number of years it had been on the market. These were records that were not merely popular — they also displayed longevity. He then used software to analyze the sound waves of each album."

One of the things that stood out to me in the graphs within the article is that some of the truly dynamic pieces of music have a range of loudness values (pink dots) that I think contributes to their engaging and complexly layered sound. I think the effort to equate loudness in a recording to commercial importance might be a flawed concept. The findings might relate more to societal changes in how we listen to/make music, however it is an interesting study to undertake; nothing exists in a vacuum. It would be interesting to hear some comments from people who have been in the industry or who have experiences related to this article!
An enlightening site, for those interested in finding recordings with less/no compression: http://dr.loudness-war.info/
Like everything else, it’s all relative, though to me: compression sucks! Interesting article, links and vids, here: http://www.turnmeup.org/   (BE PROACTIVE)