Have you heard of the Loudness War?
Yes it is a kind of a war, indeed. And the outcome of that is a disease
for music and for music listeners.
"Loudness War" is a phenomenon in music production,
where producers (maybe also some artists) want to make their
sound louder than others. Human perception will pick up a louder
record more easily than a quieter one. At first, a loud production
might seem somehow 'better' than a quieter version. This was
exploited by the record industry to make records, that "stand out" when
played e.g. in jukeboxes.
the first impression fades, however, music listeners will have to
face with the drawbacks of the Loudness War! The 'overloud' recordings
tend to loose all their life, appeal and impact.
The two main technical problems/aspects of such recordings are clipping
as a result of digital overdrive) and huge amounts of dynamic compression
Why not have a look at some of your albums?
The Ber-SD ClippingAnalyzer
(Excel-Sheet) will perform a detailed analysis of clipping and loudness content
of your tracks/album.
& Loudness Database
shows some albums as examples (original CD versions). Old, as
as newer, records were analysed using the ClippingAnalyzer
You don't want to wait for a more dynamic re-release of your favourite
artist's album (or have doubts, something like that will ever come)?
Then you might be interested in these free tools
, to 're-dynamic' some
overloud and clipped albums...
You can try the DeClip
(command line based) written by Graham Wilkinson at CuteStudio or test the Pro version (www.cutestudio.net
You may also have a try with other declippers, like Terry West's Re-Life VST plugin.
A declipper uses mathematic algorithms to 'guess back' the
missing data in the clip.
2. Expanding /
"De-Compressing" / "Un-Compressing"
This has to be done by
in most cases, unless you have information on the compressor settings
used during production. To do a 'reverse compression' (of a classic
compressor), you will need a software/device called upward expander
You may have a look at Jeroen Breebaarts site
Here you can download the JB VST plugin bundle
free! Included you will find the RedPhattPro
dynamics processor. This tool can be used as an upward
For that purpose, you
will have to use ratios smaller than 1 in the 'Ratio1' setting.
VST plugins can be hosted in many audio editors and audio players. In
the picture you can see the RedPhattPro plugin hosted by Winamp via the
Winamp VST Bridge
by Christian Budde.
Be sure to first declip,
then afterwards expand, as this will be the
reverse order as used in production (1st compressor, 2nd limiter).
(This is only how I am
doing this, using free software, so anyone can
repeat the procedure for free. You may also try other tools, of course)
Un-Mastering Example (*new: now also as YouTube video, hell that video-editing was, LOL... :-))
at sharoma.com (Robin Sharrock's Loudness War article)
at cutestudio.net (Information on clipping and the DeClip routines, including the CD Hall of Fame & Hall
Vickers' Loudness War paper
The (future) cure for the music disease