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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: bug80 on 2013-02-18 23:05:19

Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-18 23:05:19
(http://www.themindgap.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/dr_vs_year.png)

I thought it would be interesting to see how the Dynamic Range (Album DR) has developed over the years, and if this shows a clear picture about the development of the Loudness War. In order to check this, I made a dump of the DR database (http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/). I choose to focus on the period 1985-2012. The figure above shows the mean DR-value per year (the error bars represent the standard error). It is clear that, overall, the Dynamic Range of albums has decreased in this period from approximately 13 dB to the 8-9 dB range. It is also interesting to see that the minimum mean value is reached in 2008, the year that Death Magnetic was released. In 2009, we see an increase of +/- 0.5 dB (a double-sided t-test shows that this difference is statistically significant at the 0.01 level). Maybe this has to do with the awareness created by this album with respect to the Loudness War?

Furthermore, it seems that the Dynamic Range does not further decrease over the last four years. Has the Loudness War come to an end?

Finally, the figure below shows the number of albums per year that were analyzed. In total, 14,680 albums were included in the analysis.

(http://www.themindgap.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/albums_vs_year.png)
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: extrabigmehdi on 2013-02-19 00:19:16
Interesting graph.

Furthermore, it seems that the Dynamic Range does not further decrease over the last four years. Has the Loudness War come to an end?


More like it reached a limit.
Personally, a Dynamic Range  of 6 seems the minimum I  can bear, but for less there are few music genres that can still work (such like merzbow...).
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Fandango on 2013-02-19 01:06:13
Hm, I wonder how they managed to produce CDs in the 70s before the invention of the CD...
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: extrabigmehdi on 2013-02-19 01:59:46
Hm, I wonder how they managed to produce CDs in the 70s before the invention of the CD...


There must be a confusion between the release date of an album, and the cd release of that album.
I  guess these dates are mixed.
Also , there are different cd release of same album, with different dynamic ranges.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: DigitalMan on 2013-02-19 02:58:48
The increasing sample size of albums analyzed in later years would explain the narrower error bars.

Nice work compiling this data.

Just for entertainment purposes - can you tell us which albums have the highest and lowest DR in the database and what value are those DRs?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: mzil on 2013-02-19 06:01:25
Furthermore, it seems that the Dynamic Range does not further decrease over the last four years. Has the Loudness War come to an end?

The war is over: we lost, heavy compression won, at least with most pop music.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 07:10:12
Hm, I wonder how they managed to produce CDs in the 70s before the invention of the CD...

I realize those are albums that were released on CD later. I made the assumption that they were not re-mastered, which seems right given the results. But maybe this is a wrong assimption? I could leave out the data from before, say, '85

Furthermore, it seems that the Dynamic Range does not further decrease over the last four years. Has the Loudness War come to an end?

The war is over: we lost, heavy compression won, at least with most pop music.

This might be the sad truth, although I have the feeling awareness is still increasing.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-02-19 07:20:41
Just for entertainment purposes - can you tell us which albums have the highest and lowest DR in the database and what value are those DRs?
Lowest (http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?sort=dr&order=asc) and highest (http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/index.php?sort=dr&order=desc). The lowest DR is an electronic music album, the highest a spoken word one. DR database sadly misses info about producer, mastering engineer and label. I guess you could easily see a pattern, then.

I tried to dig up album sales numbers from 1970 to 2012, but I only found a graph from a blog entry (http://portablemusings.blogspot.de/2011/04/according-to-riaa-we-should-blame.html) going up until 2009 (the blog entry is also highly critical of the inference by the RIAA):
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GWOzMXSH48/TbQPLdiwFgI/AAAAAAAABGY/Tpjz0glJ1R8/s1600/RIAA%20-%201.gif)
If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

My point is that not only the availability of cheaper alternative might explain the dwindling sales, but also a decrease in product quality. This is Business Administration 101. I also expect to see the delay I mentioned in models and real data, I just have to spend some time going through papers now...
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: cliveb on 2013-02-19 08:29:06
If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

There are plnty of other possible reasons for the decrease in sales, and IMHO the primary reason is the increase in entertainment vehicles chasing the domestic buyer's dollar. A person's disposable income is simply shared out amongst a greater number of options. That knee in the graph could just as easily say "video games consoles take off", "PC sales escalate", or "home video becomes widespread".
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: LithosZA on 2013-02-19 08:46:26
Quote
There are plnty of other possible reasons for the decrease in sales, and IMHO the primary reason is the increase in entertainment vehicles chasing the domestic buyer's dollar. A person's disposable income is simply shared out amongst a greater number of options. That knee in the graph could just as easily say "video games consoles take off", "PC sales escalate", or "home video becomes widespread".


To resolve the sales they probably are thinking: "Maybe because it isn't loud enough? Make it louder..."
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 08:53:29
If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

There are plnty of other possible reasons for the decrease in sales, and IMHO the primary reason is the increase in entertainment vehicles chasing the domestic buyer's dollar. A person's disposable income is simply shared out amongst a greater number of options. That knee in the graph could just as easily say "video games consoles take off", "PC sales escalate", or "home video becomes widespread".

I agree. I don't think there's a correlation between decreased dynamic range and decreased sales here.

Btw, I edited the graphs so that they now represent the 1985-2012 period (I agree with Fandango that this makes more sense).

However, some things in the text need to be changed now as well, maybe a moderator can do this for me?

Quote
I choose to focus on the period 1970-2012, since the database does not include many albums from before that period (in fact, not all albums in the database have a year associated to them). The figure above shows the mean DR-value per year (the error bars represent the standard error). It is clear that, overall, the Dynamic Range of albums has decreased in this period from approximately 12-14 dB to the 8-9 dB range.

Should be:

Quote
I choose to focus on the period 1985-2012. The figure above shows the mean DR-value per year (the error bars represent the standard error). It is clear that, overall, the Dynamic Range of albums has decreased in this period from approximately 13 dB to the 8-9 dB range.
.

and:
Quote
In total, 15,652 albums were included in the analysis.

should be:

Quote
In total, 14,680 albums were included in the analysis.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: shadowking on 2013-02-19 09:04:24
I have to sadly agree: We lost - at least with 'energetic' music. Ten yrs ago I wished to go back to 80s-90s mix but now thing have deteriorated even more that i wish we could go back to 2002 or so. Sure we are stuck at -10 db forever but the mix has become more obnoxious to my ears - many releases sound now have the 'death magnetic' harshness.

Also no one is doing nothing about volume normalization. I realize its a tough one commercially but many albums are released in P2p. They are never replaygained and I believe Apple has soundcheck 'off' .  Seems no one knows what to do or lack initiative / standards. There is still an element of fear to tamper with the original sound level.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: dhromed on 2013-02-19 09:07:13
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GWOzMXSH48/TbQPLdiwFgI/AAAAAAAABGY/Tpjz0glJ1R8/s1600/RIAA%20-%201.gif)


"Predicted sales based on history?" Really? I can draw any red-dotted line at any point and claim it was an extrapolation from that graph. How dishonest can one get?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Porcus on 2013-02-19 09:10:19
Also , there are different cd release of same album, with different dynamic ranges.


Any idea how they are counted?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: db1989 on 2013-02-19 09:12:52
However, some things in the text need to be changed now as well, maybe a moderator can do this for me?
Done. Thanks for the interesting thread!
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 09:22:23
Also , there are different cd release of same album, with different dynamic ranges.


Any idea how they are counted?

I believe that most of the dates in the database represent the actual release date of the CD. Other than that, I think there is no way to separate re-issues/re-masters from the orginals using the data available.

However, some things in the text need to be changed now as well, maybe a moderator can do this for me?
Done. Thanks for the interesting thread!

Thanks, and you're welcome!
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Porcus on 2013-02-19 09:28:34
[img ]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GWOzMXSH48/TbQPLdiwFgI/AAAAAAAABGY/Tpjz0glJ1R8/s1600/RIAA%20-%201.gif[/img]


"Predicted sales based on history?" Really? I can draw any red-dotted line at any point and claim it was an extrapolation from that graph.


Especially if you assume that your successful format shifts, selling your customers the same music over again, is bound to not only repeat itself immediately, but also in a larger scale.  Then you can "predict" pretty lucrative figures.  Here's a graph from Techdirt:
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4029/4691016561_be73bb7653.jpg)


How dishonest can one get?


At least as bad as ...
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100611/0203309776.shtml (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100611/0203309776.shtml)
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/arts/mus...ong-rights.html (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/arts/music/springsteen-and-others-soon-eligible-to-recover-song-rights.html)
... and, now they claim that these remasters are indiviual sound recordings which the record companies have the exclusive rights to (how do they think they can be allowed to make those recordings?):
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091117/1157566973.shtml (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091117/1157566973.shtml)

Regarding how crippled some of the remasters are, they should maybe be equipped with a big sticker saying "this is not the original recording though it sounds remotely similar".
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2013-02-19 09:33:36
Also no one is doing nothing about volume normalization.
The field has never been more active! EBU PLOUD, R128, CALM act, etc.

Quote
I realize its a tough one commercially but many albums are released in P2p. They are never replaygained and I believe Apple has soundcheck 'off' .  Seems no one knows what to do or lack initiative / standards. There is still an element of fear to tamper with the original sound level.
Ignorance too. However, the PLOUD group are gently pushing Apple to enable Soundcheck by default, and to move to album-based rather than track-based calculation. It'll be interesting to see if they succeed on either account this year.

Cheers,
David.

Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Engelsstaub on 2013-02-19 09:43:02
I would honestly settle for the solid DR 9 average of 1995 for louder and more aggressive forms of music.

Whenever I have a discussion with people about the so-called Loudness War I'm, more often than not, seemingly dismissed as an "audio snob." This is just an opinion and I hate to sound like the old fart chasing kids off my yard but: it seems to me that most of the people that scoff and are dismissive of legitimate complaints are younger people who didn't grow up with music sounding any better than Death Magnetic. ...but then again there's my brother who, at 41, is a few years older than me and doesn't seem to care or notice...unless we talk about later Slayer albums.

In reference to David's comment about PLOUD gently prodding Apple that would be great. Regardless of how some feel about Apple, it would really help if it started there. I believe that they can have the most influence on the rest of the industry that deals in sales of music.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: guerrillero on 2013-02-19 10:17:13
the problem i have with this data is the following. the submissions to dr.loudness-war.info are probably biased due to self-selection. i expect that the site is frequented primarily by very tech-savvy users (i.e., "geeks" or "nerds"). there is no reason to believe that group's musical taste to be identical to the entire population. it's also conceivable that users elect to submit albums not randomly, but are more likely to submit releases that stand out in one way or another.

not saying the stats are entirely meaningless, but they should be taken with a grain of salt, just as you should take studies in experimental psychology in which all subjects were undergrads in psychology with a grain of salt.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 11:41:15
the problem i have with this data is the following. the submissions to dr.loudness-war.info are probably biased due to self-selection. i expect that the site is frequented primarily by very tech-savvy users (i.e., "geeks" or "nerds"). there is no reason to believe that group's musical taste to be identical to the entire population. it's also conceivable that users elect to submit albums not randomly, but are more likely to submit releases that stand out in one way or another.

Although I had this concern as well, I don't think it is that much of a problem. Note that almost 15,000 albums were included, I have sufficient reason to believe that there is enough 'spread' in genre, dynamic range, etc.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-02-19 11:58:28
If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

There are plnty of other possible reasons for the decrease in sales, and IMHO the primary reason is the increase in entertainment vehicles chasing the domestic buyer's dollar. A person's disposable income is simply shared out amongst a greater number of options. That knee in the graph could just as easily say "video games consoles take off", "PC sales escalate", or "home video becomes widespread".
And that is exactly my point, they always use the piracy argument as a strawman, without even considering other possibilities.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Jplus on 2013-02-19 12:06:56
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GWOzMXSH48/TbQPLdiwFgI/AAAAAAAABGY/Tpjz0glJ1R8/s1600/RIAA%20-%201.gif)


"Predicted sales based on history?" Really? I can draw any red-dotted line at any point and claim it was an extrapolation from that graph. How dishonest can one get?

Heh. When I see that graph I think, "Gosh, album sales were elevated around 1994-2000, perhaps because CD players were adopted by the majority around that time, and then they slowly sank back to normal". I'm curious how the graph continues after 2009.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Kees de Visser on 2013-02-19 12:21:28
This is hardly scientific, ...
Indeed. It's also possible to say that the US album sales decline started with the introduction of foobar2000
I think one of the problems is that consumers probably don't know the exact reasons why they buy less albums, so that's for researchers to find out. Sound quality should be on the list, but I doubt that it's a main factor.
BTW, does the loudness at live (pop) concerts follow the cd-trend? If so, it doesn't seem to have a similar influence (http://www.statista.com/statistics/193016/attendance-at-popular-music-concerts-in-the-us-since-2003/) on the attendance at popular music concerts.

@bug80: Would you be able to do some similar statistics for classical productions ? I'd be very interested.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Porcus on 2013-02-19 13:15:21
Re the selection issue: I am not so concerned about genre as such (that could be counted and weighted afterwards, if necessary), but rather the “that one was totally ruined, that's gotta go into the black book” selections.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: guerrillero on 2013-02-19 13:16:49
Although I had this concern as well, I don't think it is that much of a problem. Note that almost 15,000 albums were included, I have sufficient reason to believe that there is enough 'spread' in genre, dynamic range, etc.

if self-selection is going on, a large sample size does not help you. stats can and often will be biased even asymptotically. the representation of certain genres may never approach their population counterparts. so, if certain genres are under- (or overrepresented) and those genres had a different path of DR, your stats are misleading. and i can very easily imagine that certain genres (such as classical, folk music, country) which are quantitatively important in the population as a whole are not too much included in the database you got.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Kohlrabi on 2013-02-19 13:21:08
This is hardly scientific, ...
Indeed. It's also possible to say that the US album sales decline started with the introduction of foobar2000
I'm very well aware that correlation does not lead to causation, but isn't the decrease of product quality leading to a decrease in sales a very straightforward hypothesis? At the very least it's not too far fetched.  I'm merely trying to point to yet uninvestigated grounds.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: extrabigmehdi on 2013-02-19 13:42:03
This is hardly scientific, ...

I think one of the problems is that consumers probably don't know the exact reasons why they buy less albums, so that's for researchers to find out. Sound quality should be on the list, but I doubt that it's a main factor.


I  think the availability of very varied content on the net, is such, that people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists".
We don't believe anymore in "stars". And often the productions that we hear on radio appear as unoriginal (auto tune  ,"standard" forgettable pop).
There was a time I  was obsessed by anything released by Michael Jackson, now thank to Internet my musical taste are wider, and I  just don't have the mood to hear any Michael Jackson album again. I'm also tempted to say that the pop music died with its king.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: rick.hughes on 2013-02-19 13:42:52
I have the impression that a lot of people buy mostly singles online instead of albums. And music services like Spotify, Pandora. The album format is probably just not as popular among new buyers as it was for us.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: dhromed on 2013-02-19 13:57:45
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".


I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

The past had plenty of such forgettable popular artists, but... you've forgotten them.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 14:03:03
Although I had this concern as well, I don't think it is that much of a problem. Note that almost 15,000 albums were included, I have sufficient reason to believe that there is enough 'spread' in genre, dynamic range, etc.

if self-selection is going on, a large sample size does not help you. stats can and often will be biased even asymptotically. the representation of certain genres may never approach their population counterparts. so, if certain genres are under- (or overrepresented) and those genres had a different path of DR, your stats are misleading. and i can very easily imagine that certain genres (such as classical, folk music, country) which are quantitatively important in the population as a whole are not too much included in the database you got.

I understand your points, and agree with them for a large part. However, I still think that self-selection is more likely to result in an "overall" bias than a "per-year" bias, in other words, it should not affect the trend(s) too much. I still believe the size of the database is a strong point; and if I browse through it I do not observe a clear bias towards low or high DR-values (this is not scientific at all, I realize that).

For completeness: here is the distribution (# albums per DR-value):

(http://www.themindgap.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/dr_dist.png)

Now, we could debate if this looks like a valid distribution for a big population... I have no idea personally.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: guerrillero on 2013-02-19 14:12:46
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".

I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

i think it should be relatively easy to find evidence which supports extrabigmehdi's hypothesis. there is more and more fragmentation. i haven't looked at the numbers, but i would fully expect that the numbers confirm this. the number of sales you need nowadays to make it into the billboard top 40 mainstream (or hot 100) are at historic lows. fewer and fewer album make gold or better. which mainstream superstars remain except for adele?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-02-19 14:15:30
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".

I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

i think it should be relatively easy to find evidence which supports extrabigmehdi's hypothesis. there is more and more fragmentation. i haven't looked at the numbers, but i would fully expect that the numbers confirm this. the number of sales you need nowadays to make it into the billboard top 40 mainstream (or hot 100) are at historic lows. fewer and fewer album make gold or better. which mainstream superstars remain except for adele?

In the current musical climate, maybe the number of concert goers is a better measure for 'popularity' than album sales? In that case, I think there are more superstars than ever. Lots of artists sell out big arenas, from Justin Bieber to Muse to Taylor Swift to Kanye West.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: extrabigmehdi on 2013-02-19 15:03:07
Well I believe in fragmentation of market, because of the exploding number of  new musical  "genres" available.

Roughly 20  year before, I've never heard  of:
- psytrance
- psychill
- dark ambient
- witch house
- progressive metal / progressive rock / progressive whatever
- dark wave
- ebm
- idm
- glitch music
- shoegaze
- krautrock
- noise music
- stoner rock
- industrial
- etc..

But I shouldn't omit stuff that depend of world regions:
- surf music
- gamelean music
- jpop & kpop
- etc...

From what I've understood , back in time, disco music, was the mainstream music. Then for an unknown reason there was a backlash,
and it switched to pop. Maybe pop music need a backlash too, because I don't consider that pop music  is as popular as before.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#Backlash_and_decline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#Backlash_and_decline)
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: hawkeye_p on 2013-02-19 15:07:03
Well at least Krautrock was invented way longer than 20 years before!
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: probedb on 2013-02-19 15:07:28
Prog rock, industrial, stoner etc were around over 20 years ago  Some others are just maybe more precise classifications than before whilst others are simply different names for existing genres.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: extrabigmehdi on 2013-02-19 15:19:39
Prog rock, industrial, stoner etc were around over 20 years ago  Some others are just maybe more precise classifications than before whilst others are simply different names for existing genres.


Perhaps, but my point is that Internet helped to increase awareness for alternate musical genres.
Before the taste of people was "formatted", because of what was available on radio, and "brick and mortars" stores.
So it was easier for an artist to please everyone, and for an album to sell well.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: greynol on 2013-02-19 15:33:41
Don't tell Kansas and Yes fans that!

Also, disco was pop.  Pop is and always will be a transitive genre.

So quickly the youth forget that before the internet there was a thing called radio. You could listen to different types of music by choosing a band and changing stations.

I don't doubt that music has grown with the population and the communication age has helped to increase awareness, but the sub-division of music styles is hardly new.  Have a look at the various types of jazz music as an example.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Porcus on 2013-02-19 15:44:41
Obviously there's a greater chance of knowing more about musical genres after having been obsessed with music for twenty years, than before.

Still, I think more diversity has evolved out, and that the information technology has made narrower niches more available, both through the opportunity to find it without a radio antenna and airplay, and through the diminished costs of creating and releasing music.  The huge increase in the number of releases seem to confirm this ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/...at-the-numbers/ (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/01/21/does-online-piracy-hurt-the-economy-a-look-at-the-numbers/) ).
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2013-02-19 17:07:53
I suspect people's assumptions about music sales are incorrect (in the UK at least)...
2012 was the biggest year for sales of singles in British history
http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/t...-revealed-1784/ (http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/the-official-top-40-biggest-selling-singles-of-2012-revealed-1784/)

Popular tracks routinely sell more than half a million copies in the UK...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...st_century_(UK) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_singles_of_the_21st_century_(UK))

best selling single each year...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...es_by_year_(UK) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_singles_by_year_(UK))

lowest selling number ones...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Singles_Ch...ling_number_one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Singles_Chart_records_and_statistics#Lowest_selling_number_one)

I am not sure you can make a case for long-term decline in album sales, or decline of concentration of sales in major artists either...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-..._United_Kingdom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_albums_in_the_United_Kingdom)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...ms_by_year_(UK) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_albums_by_year_(UK))


It is a somewhat fanciful comparison across the decades (a single has never cost so little as a download does today!), but still, they are still selling major artist music in huge quantities. People are freely streaming and illegally downloadling major artist music in major quantities too...
http://www.officialcharts.com/official-streaming-chart/ (http://www.officialcharts.com/official-streaming-chart/)

Cheers,
David.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: ianshepherd on 2013-02-19 20:22:46
For those who are interested, I'm compiling a page of research materials on the loudness war here:

http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/research/ (http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/research/)

In particular Earl Vickers has shown that there is in fact no correlation between loudness and sales:

http://www.sfxmachine.com/docs/loudnesswar/ (http://www.sfxmachine.com/docs/loudnesswar/)

And as far as efforts to persuade Apple are concerned, there is also this initiative:

http://music-loudness.com/ (http://music-loudness.com/)

Personally I feel the war is very far from over, and would like to invite anyone who feels strongly about this issue to take part in Dynamic Range Day this year on March 22nd.

Cheers,

Ian

Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: icstm on 2013-02-28 14:55:49
is this dataset somewhere to download?

I would love to cut this by year and genre and see these distributions for each.
To me it is clear that we have lost DR and that this is a shame as live music is very much about DR.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bug80 on 2013-03-11 08:10:09
is this dataset somewhere to download?

I would love to cut this by year and genre and see these distributions for each.
To me it is clear that we have lost DR and that this is a shame as live music is very much about DR.

I downloaded all pages in the database recursively using wget and parsed them using an Octave script. You could do the same?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: icstm on 2013-03-11 18:54:27
As you have so expertly done teh work can I just ask you for a copy? 
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: bernhold on 2013-05-04 21:15:04
I always wondered what the reason of the loudness war for CD albums is?

I understand the motivation behind increasing loudness for competing radio channels and commercials, but why do they increase loudness on audio CDs? How does it increase sales? I mean, it's not like, "wow, this album is louder than the last one I listened to, I'm gonna buy this", is it? How are potential customers affected by it?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: db1989 on 2013-05-04 21:22:40
I won’t claim to speak for our industry-minded members or anyone else who has thought about the question analytically, but honestly, it might be as simplistic as the labels thinking they should maximise all of their songs in case any of them get played on radio—and not realising that radio stations tend to have their own compressing systems anyway, which will make the labels’ pre-processing not only unnecessary but also often detrimental.

Of course, talk of the original impetus might not be so relevant now if engineers are just riding a long-established bandwagon. Who needs a reason for something when all you’re doing is following a trend? All those other albums are loud, so this one has to be too. An even simpler reason.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: smok3 on 2013-05-05 14:21:41
Is there a link/explanation to what exactly DR is and how it was measured/calculated? (My limited LRA tests show that situation is not really that horrible and that the LRA can change wildly across the album, so probably average is not really a good measuring point. And I don't really listen to trash/death-metal)
example: https://bash-o-saurus-rex.googlecode.com/gi...ample-scans.txt (https://bash-o-saurus-rex.googlecode.com/git/bash/user_bin/r128-example-scans.txt)
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: soundping on 2013-05-05 17:19:56
Maybe hearing loss inspired the loudness wars?
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: Gecko on 2013-05-05 19:26:13
I've always pictured a room full of record-label executives auditioning a large number of potential new releases in a very short time. If all records are played with the same gain, quiet records will sound weak in comparison to the hard limited competition and will thus flunk.

Of course I don't know if any labels actually operate like that.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2013-05-06 19:43:21
I've always pictured a room full of record-label executives auditioning a large number of potential new releases in a very short time. If all records are played with the same gain, quiet records will sound weak in comparison to the hard limited competition and will thus flunk.

Of course I don't know if any labels actually operate like that.

That's pretty much how they compiled the BBC radio 1 playlist. I've seen a film from the 1970s showing just what you describe. I guess it took the widespread adoption of CDs to make the loudness war go nuclear though.

Cheers,
David.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: audiofilaid on 2013-05-15 23:20:43
I'm reading "Appetite For Destuction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age" and it does talk about how the CD Player saved the music industry.  It would be facinating to see the buying patterns against the studio's compressing albums.

The issue I'm seeing in the book is how music studios were so paranoid of being ripped off even with CD's they could not fathom file sharing. They literally were a deer in the headlights. They were so bloated from record sales of music from the 90's to the 2000's, the main people all retired instead of facing file sharing.

Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: delusionn on 2013-05-20 18:29:05
I just did a data visualization and a background post here (http://&quot;I%20aggregated%20the%20data%20from%20your%20website%20and%20plotted%20it%20over%20release%20year%20onto%20a%20heat%20map%20and%20average%20line.%20<a%20href="http://www.unhelpful.org/2013/05/20/the-loudness-wars-and-dynamic-range/&quot;"%20target="_blank">http://www.unhelpful.org/2013/05/20/the-lo...ic-range/&quot;</a>).  It didn't occur to me to see if anyone else had already done this, but the heatmap approach allows a different overview of what's happening by year.

(http://www.unhelpful.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/loudness-war.png)
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: BFG on 2013-05-20 19:21:11
It's interesting that Muslimgauze has an album in the top 10 of the lowest DR albums AND the highest DR albums.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: delusionn on 2013-05-20 19:26:38
It's interesting that Muslimgauze has an album in the top 10 of the lowest DR albums AND the highest DR albums.
Yeah, he had an obsessive habit of recording everything, and a lot of the time, the mastering is just awful because they're sourced from tapes he probably never thought would see the light of day.  I love Box of Silk and Dogs, but it's a clipping nightmare.
Title: The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years
Post by: AliceWonder on 2014-03-23 21:05:53
I can't comment on why sales have declined but I wonder if a decline of actual music videos on MTV has had an impact.

I have bought fewer albums last decade, but for me, it mostly is because I don't like most new music.

That being said, the reason I came to this thread -

1993 remaster of Jesus Christ Superstar:

(http://i1246.photobucket.com/albums/gg611/AliceWonder32/JCS-1993_zps29785451.jpg)

2012 remaster of Jesus Christ Superstar:

(http://i1246.photobucket.com/albums/gg611/AliceWonder32/JCS-2012_zps9d9c3668.jpg)

Source: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/new-...perstar.290588/ (http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/new-remaster-of-jesus-christ-superstar.290588/)
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