What Is The Loudness War And How Does It Affect The Quality Of The Music?

By analysing the audio products from the 70s to the present, I’ve noticed that overall music volume is increasing more and more.

Why? Because music at a higher volume is more prefered by the human ear.

Something with a higher volume will give the sensation of close proximity and will easier impress the hearing.

Have you noticed that when you like a certain song you tend to increase the volume? 

This has grown into a reflex for me, good that I don’t have any neighbours to disturb.

I also remember a quote on this theme “increase the music volume, because I like it!”.

What does happen if the music is too loud?

Is there any problem if the music volume is too high?

Of course it is!!! Music at an exaggerated level of volume is not recommended.

There are a lot of discussions with the subject of phonic pollution in big cities.

It seems that this type of pollution has devastating effects on general health.

The big cities are very noisy, having a level of dB over the average.

Even though it seems interesting, we are here to speak about the loudness war and how do the music producers choose to increase the volume.

First of all, there is no problem to increase the volume in certain moments.

Normally, in a song there must be variation, even in volume: high-low, high-low etc.

Here is a image to prove what I just said.

The problem appears when a song has the same volume from the beginning to the end! 

The biggest mistake that I have made when I started making music was that I was missing space in songs!

Basically, I had the same level of volume in the whole song.

Music needs dynamic!

Music needs spacing and breaks.

That is why any song has some quieter moments, some breaks and in other moments, like in the chorus the song sounds like it is ready to explode.

The human ear needs to be able of processing with ease a song, no matter the genre, this is why some portions of the song are simpler, and quieter while others are more overlapped.

In my opinion, this is the biggest mistake I could have ever done, and if you are a beginner and you are reading this article you probably won’t do the same mistake.

The compressors kill the natural loudness!

It might sound shocking, but the execs use of compressor might destroy the dynamic of a mix.

The truth is that a natural sound that respects a certain equilibrium is more pleasant for the ear!

Did you notice how do some hardcore, electro or dubstep songs sound?

Some sound hypercompressed, and this kind of songs are hard to listen because they are exhausting for the ear.

Basically, in the whole song is the same level of volume.

It’s normal for the ear to get tired, and it’s hard to listen again and again. 

Certainly not all projects sound like this.

I’ve encountered songs that even though they were in a more aggressive style of music they sounded elegant and balanced. 

I’m against this style of hypercompressed tracks.

Keeping a balance in music and a somewhat distance between peaks is ideal for making a high quality mix.

I don’t want to be misunderstood so I will explain a few aspects a bit more detailed.

A good compression can do miracles.

But hypercompresion (which is an exaggerated compression) does quite the opposite.

So what is the solution?

The solution is simple in my opinion.

We don’t need to lower the volume.

We need just to create distance between the sounds in the mix.

Especially the sounds that have a higher volume.

The background sounds must have a longer duration.

Their energy is mostly blurred.

But the primary sounds that dominate the mix must be shorter because their energy is more focused.

Some producers and sound engineers prefer to keep the music at a lower volume and more dynamic.

Others have chosen to hypercompress their own productions, untill they get to the same level of volume overall during the whole song, making the whole song sound unnatural.

I would like you to leave a comment about how do you use compression in your own music projects.

If this article has aided you, don’t forget to share it with your friends.

Thank you!

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