A place to feel safe asking other teens for answers.


    The Volume Wars

    Share
    avatar
    Cpt. Barbarossa
    Moderator
    Moderator

    Male Posts : 157
    Join date : 2010-06-07
    Age : 25
    Location : UK

    The Volume Wars

    Post by Cpt. Barbarossa on Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:33 pm

    *Star Wars theme tune plays*

    Some of you may have heard of the Volume Wars, other won't have. Some of you might actually be in the Volume Wars as we speak!

    'But what are the Volume Wars?!' I hear you cry in anguish. Well, fear not, I am here to explain (and rant) to you just what it is, and what it is all about.

    In a nutshell, it is the art of making one CD naturally louder than another one, through the use of compression, which is to say 'squashing' the sound so the frequencies can be pumped to a higher volume, and subsequently pumping said frequencies up ridiculously high.

    Now, the general idea of this cranking of volumes and frequencies is so that, obviously, the CD (or single that's been taken from the album) will be louder than anything else on the market at the time - so for example, Lady Gaga's Fame Monster will have been mastered louder than, say, Kasabian's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The theory behind having one song on the radio louder than the last is so that if someone is just flicking through radio stations, then the louder song will stand out better, thus making the listener more likely to pay attention to it, and subsequently purchase the song (or illegally download it.. But that's a whole different kettle of fish).

    'This is all very and well good,' I hear you say, 'What could possibly go wrong?' In the words of one Jeremy Clarkson. The answer, however, is that a lot is wrong with this technique.

    Granted, it has earnt the big 5 of record companies many millions of USD, but this improved sales technique comes at the cost of sound quality. Most sound technology is digital (binary) these days, so frequencies are represented by '1's and '0's indicating 'on' and 'off'. Now, when a frequency is maxed out, the binary code will be fully open (all '1's), and if the volume has been pushed beyond that point, then it will 'clip', or distort. This is because the frequency 'peak' has gone beyond the range of the software, so it should have been higher but it has been cut off.

    This cutting off of the frequency peaks results in distortion of cetain parts of the sound of a CD when played through a hi-fi or some other sound system, for example the bass drum might distort ever so slightly, or the high notes sung during a chorus might be a bit scratchy. Not only does this get worse the more you compress it and increase the gain of the CD, but it has an almost tiring effect on the listener. You will notice it if you listen to anything newer than, say, 2002. Try and listen to an album released on a large Record Label all the way through. It's not easy, even if the songs are amazing. It is a subtle effect, so you may not be able to trace it at first.

    Sadly, more and more bands have succumbed to this. Even Heaven And Hell, their album The Devil You Know (2009) suffered terribly, as did Rush's albums Vapor Trails (2002) and Snakes & Arrows (2007). I have to say, the worst culprit in recent years that I've come across is the soundtrack to Pirates of the Carribean. It has been mastered so loud, practically everything except the string section distorts.. all the brass, and all of the percussion, distorts to high hell. Listen to the main theme, 'He's A Pirate', and you'll know what I mean.

    More and more mastering engineers are being forced to master work in such a deliberately shoddy way, and while some are standing up for the sound quality of modern music (and risking their high-paying jobs to do so), other are content to let the companies put it out, while the engineer will simply use a psuedonym, to avoid embarrassment. You wouldn't put your own name on a school assignment that you'd been forced to complete at a rubbish standard, would you?

    Has anyone here got any stories, horror or otherwise, relating to the Volume Wars? Questions/thoughts are also very welcome. Smile

    I also heavily referenced from here.


    _________________________________________________
    Like Metal?

    Man In A Caravan

    You can reach me at Jay@teen2teenforums.com or PM me if you need help, or have any questions. Nothing is too crazy Smile

    And you can't always get what you want,
    Honey, you can't always get what you want.
    You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes, yeah,
    You just might find you get what you need!

    Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones
    avatar
    Maverick
    Mr.1980
    Mr.1980

    Male Posts : 718
    Join date : 2010-06-02
    Age : 25
    Location : Miami, Florida

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Maverick on Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:31 pm

    Notice how most of this has happened in this "new age" millennium music.
    With all the distortion and "Auto-Tune" where those waves are completely changed. Here are a few sources Distortion Auto Tune To be honest when I look at the music that I listen to (80's) and everything that is out now I feel kind of disappointed. Some genres to me I find just have no background/talent or heart. I like to listen to songs that really have the full sound of every instrument used. I want to be able to connect with the song. Like if there is a bass that's really low, I want to be able to hear it. Otherwise the player of the instrument might as well not even exist on the CD itself. I don't even know if I'm making sense, but when I listen to music, I listen to a song over and over to completely analyze and connect with every sound, instrument, vocal point.

    It's what makes it music and not sound. That's why I have a very strong bias for music because if I can't either understand what the person is saying. Or find any meaning or tune to it. Then I just can't listen to it at all. The fact that a lot of what I just described is the "modern day" taste. I hate it. When I hear something like Molly Hatchet or someone else I hear drums, I hear lead guitar, along with the vocals alike. Equally, and evenly. No static or any sort of interference, if you will.

    Now if you go back to the 70's slightly, I'll listen to to Black Sabbath "Bloody Sabbath" you will hear a bit distorted taste to it, but it didn't ruin the song or the band as a whole. I don't think I made much sense, but I might add more to this later.
    avatar
    Cpt. Barbarossa
    Moderator
    Moderator

    Male Posts : 157
    Join date : 2010-06-07
    Age : 25
    Location : UK

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Cpt. Barbarossa on Wed Jul 14, 2010 6:02 pm

    Auto-tune is so over done now, it is actually audible in a track Neutral

    These new CDs are part of the reason that vinyl is making such a resurgence - you can pump the volume on a piece of vinyl, but only so far before the material would break on the turntable.

    I'm not a fan of burying the bass player in the overall mix either, they're there for a reason, people!

    Sabbath Bloody Sabbath? Ahh, legendary track. Admittedly, you could tear the sonic quality of just about every Black Sabbath album (prior to Dio) down to the ground, but I think that was part of the mentality of metal at the time. Rough and ready. To say nothing of the sheer amount of Coke they were ingesting at that time..




    _________________________________________________
    Like Metal?

    Man In A Caravan

    You can reach me at Jay@teen2teenforums.com or PM me if you need help, or have any questions. Nothing is too crazy Smile

    And you can't always get what you want,
    Honey, you can't always get what you want.
    You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes, yeah,
    You just might find you get what you need!

    Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones
    avatar
    Mudz
    New
    New

    Posts : 7
    Join date : 2010-07-16
    Age : 23

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Mudz on Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:47 pm

    I think you're wrong on some points. For one, making one track louder than another does not make it 'stand out'. Volume wise, it does stand out, but not music wise. It's up to the listener to what song stands out. Also remember that it is up to the artist at which volume they want the song mixed and/or remastered. It's not record companies doing this.

    The Rush albums you listed (Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows) actually don't suffer from this. Every Rush studio album was produced by the band themselves. The guys are professionals and I highly doubt they would go to the lengths of heightening most of the songs on the album to such a high level. My copies don't give this.

    If the engineers are being forced to do this, they wouldn't do it now would they? Most engineers don't take kindly to being told what to do to songs if it's NOT by the artists demand.

    Auto-tune, I can agree with you on. In at least 95 percent of all popular music, it is used. However, this isn't really a bad thing. There are many songs, and yes you CAN find them if you look, that use auto-tune but not overuse it to death. They use it at the right time. For example: "Alejandro" by Lady Gaga has a use of auto-tune and it is used very lightly, though you can still hear it. It's ok to use auto-tune, but using it in every song is slightly ridiculous.

    Vinyl has been in a resurgence stage since 2007, and it is gaining popularity among artists old and new. I have a very good original vinyl collection, and it's probably the best format music was every put on. But new requirements came along. It's also easy enough for one to mix the track properly themselves, giving the bass player a bit more power in the mix, maybe mess with the treble a bit...it's all very simple and can be done in any media player.

    I think you bring some valid points, but to an extent you are a bit lacking.
    avatar
    Cpt. Barbarossa
    Moderator
    Moderator

    Male Posts : 157
    Join date : 2010-06-07
    Age : 25
    Location : UK

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Cpt. Barbarossa on Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:57 am

    Mudz wrote:I think you're wrong on some points. For one, making one track louder than another does not make it 'stand out'. Volume wise, it does stand out, but not music wise. It's up to the listener to what song stands out. Also remember that it is up to the artist at which volume they want the song mixed and/or remastered. It's not record companies doing this.

    I agree with you on the whole 'volume not making something stand out' point, but don't shoot the messenger, that's the ethos that record companies are working by.

    As for it being up to the artist about mixing and mastering, to a certain extent it is, but at the last minute before publication the record company will step in, and boost the overall gain of the album. I think you underestimate the amount of interfering that goes on in the 'Big 5', which is to say, astronomical.

    The Rush albums you listed (Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows) actually don't suffer from this. Every Rush studio album was produced by the band themselves. The guys are professionals and I highly doubt they would go to the lengths of heightening most of the songs on the album to such a high level. My copies don't give this.

    Then sir, you either are very lucky or your ears are failing you. Vapor Trails has been pulled up so many times on this fault (as you can see here and here), and I can sure as shit hear it on S&A.

    If the engineers are being forced to do this, they wouldn't do it now would they? Most engineers don't take kindly to being told what to do to songs if it's NOT by the artists demand.

    Granted engineers take pride in their work, but most of them will just stick a fake name on a piece of work they don't like - it's still money, and it doesn't affect them if it sounds bad or not. Those who do stick up for audio quality will lose their jobs, as you can see here.

    Auto-tune, I can agree with you on. In at least 95 percent of all popular music, it is used. However, this isn't really a bad thing. There are many songs, and yes you CAN find them if you look, that use auto-tune but not overuse it to death. They use it at the right time. For example: "Alejandro" by Lady Gaga has a use of auto-tune and it is used very lightly, though you can still hear it. It's ok to use auto-tune, but using it in every song is slightly ridiculous.

    Well it was invented for correcting mistakes,and has even been used as an artistic tool (I can't remember which tracks, but I remember being shown a few Dubstep tracks with it being used as an instrument). But yeah, I agree with this point.

    Vinyl has been in a resurgence stage since 2007, and it is gaining popularity among artists old and new. I have a very good original vinyl collection, and it's probably the best format music was every put on. But new requirements came along. It's also easy enough for one to mix the track properly themselves, giving the bass player a bit more power in the mix, maybe mess with the treble a bit...it's all very simple and can be done in any media player.

    I don't quite understand what you mean.. I know that Vinyl's been on the underground for decades, it's just not become mainstream until roughly the mid-noughties. I've found that CDs are rapidly becoming obsolete next to MP3 and vinyl formats, so I think vinyl is a case of moving backards to go forwards.

    I think you bring some valid points, but to an extent you are a bit lacking.

    Likewise yourself. I say everything with the utmost respect Smile

    I'm interested to know if you work within the industry?


    Last edited by Jimy on Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:12 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling & Sources)
    avatar
    Mudz
    New
    New

    Posts : 7
    Join date : 2010-07-16
    Age : 23

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Mudz on Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:17 am

    Jimy wrote:
    I agree with you on the whole 'volume not making something stand out' point, but don't shoot the messenger, that's the ethos that record companies are working by.

    Good point, but there is also a little something called original recording volume.

    Jimy wrote:As for it being up to the artist about mixing and mastering, to a certain extent it is, but at the last minute before publication the record company will step in, and boost the overall gain of the album. I think you underestimate the amount of interfering that goes on in the 'Big 5', which is to say, astronomical.

    It also comes down to the artist either consenting or not consenting to it. Of course, we don't hear this very often, and I'm sure if any artist doesn't consent to the record company they belong to, it ends up in serious issues. The gain of the album is within the songs themselves, not just the actual mastering (but this is coming from a self proclaimed audiophile).

    Jimy wrote:
    Then sir, you either are very lucky or your ears are failing you. Vapor Trails has been pulled up so many times on this fault (as you can see here and here), and I can sure as shit hear it on S&A.

    I know my ears can not be failing me, I simply just don't hear it. Rush by their very nature are a loud as hell band. Have been ever since they started (example, "Working Man"). It's been about three years since I had a good listen to both albums, and from what I can honestly remember, it sounded like any other Rush album. But I AM listening to the "Spirit of Radio" compilation from 2003 where some tracks are slightly louder than others. I compared them to the original versions and they sound the same to me (once again, this is all from MY ears).

    Jimy wrote:Granted engineers take pride in their work, but most of them will just stick a fake name on a piece of work they don't like - it's still money, and it doesn't affect them if it sounds bad or not. Those who do stick up for audio quality will lose their jobs, as you can see here.

    You've got me cornered here I'll admit. I don't have a counter point for this.

    Jimy wrote:
    Well it was invented for correcting mistakes,and has even been used as an artistic tool (I can't remember which tracks, but I remember being shown a few Dubstep tracks with it being used as an instrument). But yeah, I agree with this point.

    Ever listen to Cher's "Believe"? She actually hates the song because it was auto-tuned. But she actually agreed that it was for the better. If it's for fixing a small mistake, and if the person mastering the track can actually make it seem unnoticeable, that's fine by me. But using it in every song (Justin Bieber, Lil' Wayne, etc.) is going too far. Also, dubstep...what a shitty genre Razz.

    Jimy wrote:
    I don't quite understand what you mean.. I know that Vinyl's been on the underground for decades, it's just not become mainstream until roughly the mid-noughties. I've found that CDs are rapidly becoming obsolete next to MP3 and vinyl formats, so I think vinyl is a case of moving backards to go forwards.

    CDs are going to be around for a very very long time. They've been in use since about 1980. They've been around for thirty years, but other media outlets like iTunes are actually seeming to become more popular. Artists seem to be more concerned with online downloads than physical buying.

    Jimy wrote:
    I'm interested to know if you work within the industry?

    Well, it's something I've been interested in, but I find it would be difficult to get into. I'm going to study in Communications as a radio broadcaster, so I do know a fair bit about the things discussed here. Trust me, if I were working in the industry, I probably would have killed myself by now Laughing


    Last edited by Mudz on Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:18 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fixed quote codes.)
    avatar
    Cpt. Barbarossa
    Moderator
    Moderator

    Male Posts : 157
    Join date : 2010-06-07
    Age : 25
    Location : UK

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Cpt. Barbarossa on Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:26 am

    Good point, but there is also a little something called original recording volume.

    I wasn't saying that it wasn't a factor, just that record companies think that if a song is physically louder than others on the playlist, then it will stand out, and be more noticeable (assuming the radio is on in the backround. I can sorta see where they're coming from - if all you have is a load of songs as background noise, then this one louder song comes on, you're more likely to stop and pay attention to it. Ofc, some people would just turn the radio down slightly, but hey).

    It also comes down to the artist either consenting or not consenting to it. Of course, we don't hear this very often, and I'm sure if any artist doesn't consent to the record company they belong to, it ends up in serious issues. The gain of the album is within the songs themselves, not just the actual mastering (but this is coming from a self proclaimed audiophile).

    An artist won't get asked if they want their album gain ridiculously high, it'll just happen. Oftentimes an artist won't hear the public version of their album until it's released. Of course individual gain of songs is a factor too, that just adds to the overall effect of distortion.

    I know my ears can not be failing me, I simply just don't hear it. Rush by their very nature are a loud as hell band. Have been ever since they started (example, "Working Man"). It's been about three years since I had a good listen to both albums, and from what I can honestly remember, it sounded like any other Rush album. But I AM listening to the "Spirit of Radio" compilation from 2003 where some tracks are slightly louder than others. I compared them to the original versions and they sound the same to me (once again, this is all from MY ears).

    What kind of speakers are you listening to the albums through? Listen to them through some high-end ones, and listen carefully. Take, for example, 'One Little Victory'. I can clearly hear the guitars and cymbals clipping. You will also notice a distinct lack of dynamics within the song, something with which Rush is known for doing well. They used the original masters to create the compilation, and I doubt the band really had much to do with it.

    I also suggest this. It's a very good read, an interview with Alex Lifeson shortly before the release of Vapor Trails.

    Ever listen to Cher's "Believe"? She actually hates the song because it was auto-tuned. But she actually agreed that it was for the better. If it's for fixing a small mistake, and if the person mastering the track can actually make it seem unnoticeable, that's fine by me. But using it in every song (Justin Bieber, Lil' Wayne, etc.) is going too far.

    I love that song. I think auto-tune was used as an effect here, and if not intended that way, then certainly a good accident. I do agree with you on your second point though - if it can be made unnoticeable, or used artistically, then it has a reason for existence.

    Also, dubstep...what a shitty genre

    There are people working within that genre with talents you could only dream about. Have a little respect, yeah?

    CDs are going to be around for a very very long time. They've been in use since about 1980. They've been around for thirty years, but other media outlets like iTunes are actually seeming to become more popular. Artists seem to be more concerned with online downloads than physical buying.

    You make it sound like you're surprised the iTunes and online media outlets are becoming more popular. They've been incredibly popular since the eary noughties, with the the introduction of iTunes and the iPod, and has grown to the point that CD sales are virtually pointless. I'm not saying CDs are going to stop being produced, just that they pale in comparison to vinyl and MP3, and so will become the underdog, in much the same way vinyl has been for a few decades now.

    Well, it's something I've been interested in, but I find it would be difficult to get into. I'm going to study in Communications as a radio broadcaster, so I do know a fair bit about the things discussed here. Trust me, if I were working in the industry, I probably would have killed myself by now

    It depends on what you wanna do. Being an engineer of some description would take years to get right, but at the end of it you would still need the right contacts.. Oftentimes I've found that within this industry, it's not what you know, but who you know. Although knowing something tends to help Razz

    I don't blame you for killing yourself if you were in this industry, only fools and madmen get into it at this stage of the game.

    As for myself I'm a music student, having only recently written an essay about they very things we're discussing, and I'm a gigging/recording musician.


    _________________________________________________
    Like Metal?

    Man In A Caravan

    You can reach me at Jay@teen2teenforums.com or PM me if you need help, or have any questions. Nothing is too crazy Smile

    And you can't always get what you want,
    Honey, you can't always get what you want.
    You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes, yeah,
    You just might find you get what you need!

    Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

    Sponsored content

    Re: The Volume Wars

    Post by Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:57 am