Saving Dynamic Range #DYNAMICRANGEDAY

Saturday was Dynamic Range Day – part of a campaign to help fight the trend of making music recordings as loud as possible. Being louder might seem like a good idea, but there is a high price to pay…

What Is Dynamic Range?

Music is essentially a waveform; the recorded signal is passed to your speakers or headphones, and it causes the speaker cones to move in and out, which vibrates the air, and these vibrations are then absorbed and interpreted by your eardrums.

A good recording has significant variations between quiet passages and loud passages. The dynamic range of the recording can be described as the gap between the loudest and quietest parts.

What’s The Problem?

Particularly since the mid 1990s, producers have been making records louder and louder. They do this by compressing the waveform – flattening out the peaks and troughs, and then using the extra space to raise the overall volume level.

So, it sounds much louder, but there isn’t so much variation. Basically, your speakers (and your eardrums) are being constantly battered in a way which is completely alien to how we are supposed to hear things. This has gotten to a point where prolonged listening to hypercompressed recordings can actually induce nausea.

More About Dynamic Range Day

March 20th was Dynamic Range Day, and you can find more information about it over at Production Advice. Tim Prebble also shares some thoughts on dynamic range from the perspective of a Foley artist, and considering audio in film. He makes the interesting comparison between pop music and junk food, and posits that we have a choice of what we listen to (which we do). However, as pointed out on Production Advice, a recently released acoustic mandolin ballad is actually 3dB louder than Nirvana’s Nevermind…


Home | Canabrism | Guides | All Music Technology Posts | XML Sitemap