Still a loudness war out there despite streaming normalisation

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Topic Starter
6271 posts since 24 May, 2002 from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Post Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:03 pm

I thought I'd actually check out some of the loudness of music on YouTube, having read a bit about the normalisation and target LUFS of -14 etc. Quite an eye opener! Seems like there's very little electronic or even pop music being put out at -14LUFS or even close to it. I checked some of the standard trance stuff - d/led a few Astrix tracks (just cos he sprung to mind first and pretty standard formula). TBH I can't remember the names of the tracks I tested - they all sound the same after you've heard 2 of them. Same bassline, same pitched sound FX, same delayed techniques ad infinitum. :hihi:

Anyway - d/l'd then sent the tracks to master out so that they peaked at zero or as close as I could get (not an exact science as I got a shitload of massive overs on conversion but nevertheless enough to get an idea). Turns out most of his tracks were -10LUFS or less on the YouLean meter with loudness range of 8 or thereabouts (probably way more squashed because my d/l conversion overs likely skewed it). Went on to check out quite a few other dancy electronic tracks and most were similar. Quite a lot of pop stuff is equally heavily squashed too.

I only found out today that thing where you right click on the vid and it gives you "stats for nerds" - gives 2 percentages e.g. 100%/56% - which is how loud your own volume is up then how much the youtube vid has been normalised. If you check on all kinds of stuff - say these Astrix tracks - they've been normalised anywhere between 5-7 dB and the %s given range from <50% to 60% for most heavy compressed stuff. I'm sure there's a direct correlation but off the top of my head, 60% or more normalisation = LUFS -10 or less

Interestingly - Adele, a couple of her recent singles were normalised by over 5dB and were anywhere between 50-60%, i.e. heavily normalised because they're heavily squashed. R'n'B tracks that I wouldn't expect to be so dense - all normalised at least 4dB often more. Pretty well ALL of the ads inbetween were normalised at least 2dB usually a lot more - i.e. heavily squashed. About the only stuff that wasn't were ambient or soft instrumental vocal tracks. Strangely I checked a few U2 tracks and some were very barely normalised. And of note is that most that are under the target are NOT normalised upwards. They may be better dynamically but they just sound very quiet on the whole.

So...seems that despite streaming normalisation, nobody is actually cutting down on their squashing, they're just accepting these services normalising down. So we still hear heavily squashed sausages, no difference to before. TBH doesn't look like anyone is paying any attention to releasing at -14 LUFS, as far as I can see it's all just talk. :shrug:

recursive one
5667 posts since 7 Feb, 2013

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 12:44 am

Psytrance is ridiculously loud these days, Astrix is not even the loudest, check out some new Electric Universe or Outsiders tracks.

Not sure why they are doing this, just because they can I guess.
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Topic Starter
6271 posts since 24 May, 2002 from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:19 am

Yeah, it's obvs still a thing - some of those sausages are pretty flat. Seems like all the streaming services normalising tracks down ends up with the fix being punters turning their volume knob up. Makes you wonder why TF streaming services do it at all? Even when they're normalised down the heavy compressed/limited stuff still sounds louder even though it's technically quieter. Seems like streaming services are shooting themselves in the foot simply because they have to be seen wielding a gun? Apparently they were normalising down for a few years now and it hasn't achieved anything.

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DJ Warmonger
4474 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:33 am

Club bombs follow different rules than streaming services, and are not the target for some producers.
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2055 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:26 am

I'd argue that people turning up their speakers is a good and desired result of loudness normalisation. More dynamic tracks can make use of that headroom.

There was some interesting discussion below Dan Worral's videos re: idiot DJs who demand loud masters. My takeaway from this was:
  • Many DJs are idiots
  • Many DJs are playing far too loud
  • Said DJs are playing with the master fader turned up to full
  • As a result, brutally loud masters are "needed" to compete with other DJs performing on the same system.
No idea why Adele's producers are taking part in that competition, but I suspect it's something to do with radio.

Topic Starter
6271 posts since 24 May, 2002 from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:41 am

Adele - really surprised me how squashed hers were. Radio? Maybe. TBH I dunno how radio works nowadays, where they get their tracks from etc. I'd think that with streaming being so big nowadays they'd have tracks mastered specially for that platform, but obvs not. Either they just can't be arsed with the extra effort/expense of making more than one master (not much considering) or they still think that sausages sound louder when streamed even when turned down...TBH they do. The sausages still sound louder even at lower volumes. But Adele really doesn't need squashing to sound big. :?

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13636 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 4:55 am

kritikon wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:41 am TBH I dunno how radio works nowadays, where they get their tracks from etc.
Good question. But they still apply extra compression & limiting on top of whatever they are playing. As if it can improve anything, I'd like to think: not very much to be gained (pun intended)
kritikon wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:41 am But Adele really doesn't need squashing to sound big. :?
She lost like halve of her sausage since "25", so perhaps she does ;-)

Now where's my cap, I left it somewhere...
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1188 posts since 7 Apr, 2019 from Canada

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:21 pm

never louder imo.
those savvy can play the game just by lowering their true peak and get a lower dynamic which decreases pumping and creates an effect almost like a brickwall limiter.

it's amusing that the solution allows a gain so much louder than ever before, and yet on the audible level. imo, the lu mechanism should have a specific guage for punch so to then better decided what percieved loudness truly is.

Infact I find the c&a weight contour for bass far too high anyways, it avoids the fact that bass at 100hz is really boomy [loud -_-]. rms would ruin the results, and the very mechanism's nature will always have latency if considering averaging as well as true peak.
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Googly Smythe
3343 posts since 12 May, 2011 from Everywhere and nowhere, baby

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:15 pm

Using loudness to make tracks stand out from the crowd has been a thing since the juke box was invented. Back then it was juke boxes, now it's Spotify playlists.
As long as there are playlists, there will be loudness "wars".
What is life without a little whimsy?

Topic Starter
6271 posts since 24 May, 2002 from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 9:12 pm

BertKoor wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 4:55 am
She lost like halve of her sausage since "25", so perhaps she does ;-)

Now where's my cap, I left it somewhere...
Oooh, naughty. I guess Adele is more of a chipolata nowadays.

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Hermetech Mastering
1620 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Milan, Italy

Post Sat Jan 22, 2022 4:04 am

Yeah it's as bad as it's ever been, IMO.

2 posts since 3 Jan, 2021

Post Sat Jan 22, 2022 7:55 am

I still deliver mixes to clients hot (-8lufs -ish) and they come back from mastering around the same volume. The loudness wars isn't what it used to be back in the early 2000's, but it's still there. They key is mixing with limiting engaged early on and making decisions that help keep you record dynamic. Loud doesn't always have to equal "squashed."

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