Loudness Wars

Great presentation by the mastering engineer Alan Silverman at some event for mixing and mastering engineers on how to deal with mixing and mastering todays music for the streaming world. It’s really sad what music has become today sacrificing dynamic range for loudness. So glad my music taste isn’t so narrow minded to this music and actually enjoy older recordings in pop, jazz, rock and classical that are audiophile demo worthy quality.


Outstanding video… thanks for sharing.

Just saw this thanks to Paul’s inclusion in the newsletter.

@Paul l described it as " kind of depressing" but unless I misunderstood the whole thing (possible!) it seems the opposite to me.
What I understood is that the loudness wars are over- the volume averaging used by streaming services means the massive compression that resulted in the loudness wars now has the opposite effect: it diminishes rather than increases perceived loudness.
In the end Silverman says if you want to stand out on streaming services you need to increase dynamic range, not compress. That sounds like progress to me.

Yes, of a sort, but I’d be a lot happier if they’d just leave it alone.

Yes but you can see why they can’t, as by his example of music with vastly different levels.

During all the years as music/hifi lover and seller my findings were and still are, that almost uniformly all recordings, that made and still make my ears bleed, are enormously dynamically compressed. The better the DAC/system, the more obvious, the less joy. The equipment is only the “messenger”. Everybody here, who is a little bit spoiled about “Sunlight” at the moment, should maybe either take a look into this database https://dr.loudness-war.info/, or install the “TT DR offline meter”. I’m still shocked, how MUCH digital stuff (highres and SACDs as well) is massacred like this… Even from artists/labels You would never imagine. To know that, helps to get a new view. And the big paradox is, that the vinyl is mostly left unharmed…

P.S.: My post was moved from “Sunlight sound impressions”. I postet there, because I wanted to remember, that the “brightness” some listeners feel now, could come from the “honesty” and transparency of its sound…

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I love https://dr.loudness-war.info/. I checked and apart from releases specifically targeted to an audiophile market (hi-res). Each subsequent release of Thriller, by Michael Jackson, was more and more compressed.

Remember that a huge part of digital listening is “on the go”, so most music intended for digital release is compressed to compensate. It makes sense that vinyl is relative immune to this as it’s not intended for “on the go” listening. To bad digital releases aren’t released with both a compressed and uncompressed version for the price of one.


Yes that’s a pity. During rhe first years of “multibit” remasterings I swapped many of my old CDs for them. A BIG mistake!

As far as I know, portals like Quobuz or highresaudio.com, who care about quality, are not that happy about the situation. …but they have to take, what they are given. For owners of high qualiy digital gear, its a pity either. Many listeners often do not recognize, where the real problem is…and tweak there systems to death trying somewhat to “neutralise” the bad sound of many CDs (and fail). If somebody is not into classical music or jazz, he/she is almost lost to find really good sounding stuff with popular music.

Default volume leveling seems like a win but think of how much music has been released where the brick-wall approach ruined the music. Leveling is the answer to stop the record label suits from demanding loud but they can still squash mastering into obliteration.


Oh man…please don’t get me started. It’s criminal what’s being done over the 25+ years with compression. There are a few companies that do it half right and that’s it. I mostly go back to my CDs from the 1980’s that I ripped to my Aurender N100H. Other than that it’s vinyl all the way for me.

Sorry…end of rant.

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What is the loudest digital recording in your library? For me it’s Dave Matthews Band Everyday
Here is how it looks in roon:

The loudness graph is nearly maxed all the way across. This is an ALAC rip of the original CD.

That is probably also the least dynamic recording in your library.

I just listened to that song. It’s graph is like that because there’s no sense of space in the recording. It’s almost as if they choose to put the vocals and the instruments all at the same level throughout the track. I’m not opposed to this, especially if that’s the artist’s intention. I’m of the opinion that it could have been recorded/mixed a little better. I have lots of friends who are rabid Dave Matthews fans. I am sure sooner or later, I’ll get grief for my blasphemy.

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Yes. It is both loud and compressed.

Good question about most brick-walled album in our collections.

I don’t think the album below is the worst in my collection but it always comes to mind because it sounds so squashed. Cymbals often disappear like on many metal albums. In my experience, this is somewhat uncommon on jazz albums.


Agree entirely with you @kerosene - part of the joy in listening to Jazz for me, especially with the 3 and 4 member recordings, is the space they give one another and the underlying support given as one instrument pulls forward during a session.