What really killed the loudness wars?
As the music industry shifts to a streaming model, mastering engineers have a new set of rules to follow. But what really killed the loudness wars?
Much has been written about 'loudness wars' and their history. It seems it all started back in the 1940s when musicians relied on vinyl records or radio to share their music with an audience.
However, with the introduction of CDs in the 1980s, the loudness wars expanded exponentially. The idea was simple- encode music to digital format with a predefined maximum amplitude. It became a usual practice to amplify the volume of CD recordings with signal processing technologies like equalization and dynamic range compression to maximize the original sound quality.
Fast Forward to 2020. The true era of streaming music has begun and all the incoming music files are being driven down to ~-14dB. This automated adjustment protects your ears and results in a loud/compressed production not so attractive, hence incentivizing the producers to remaster the music, placing dynamics back into the mastered music, resulting in better quality via Streaming Music services.
A good video to understand this featuring Alan Silverman is linked below:
The journey to listening and enjoying music only gets better from here.