Posted by admin on 2009 Nov 28

Mixing, Mastering Audio and the Loudness Wars

Dark Side of The Moon Dynamic Range Meter

Ever since the first LPs and CDs were pressed, some record companies have been engaging is what is called the Loudness wars, where LPs and now CDs are being mastered to be louder and louder in order to get more radio airplay, to the point the ever increasing loudness has escalated to ridiculous levels, where sound quality is degraded and distorted.
Case in point: The Metallica’s Death Magnetic CD brouhaha that you can read more about here.
Things have gotten so out of hand that some record companies are even re-calling some of their CDs for being TOO loud and distorted!

Being an electronic musician, i want my music’s sound quality to be as good as possible, before the CDs go into the mastering process, so i read up as much as possible about mixing techniques and audio mastering.
Some of the most useful instructional videos that i have watched about mixing and mastering come from German audio engineer Friedemann Tischmeyer. My mixing techniques and the sound quality of my recordings have improved inmensely after watching his Internal Mixing videos over and over.

Friedemann is also an active voice against the loudness wars, to the point where he was involved in founding a non-profit organization, called the Pleasurize Music Foundation, based in California, to raise awareness and provide tools to help engineers bring dynamic range into today’s music.

One of the most useful things that that organization produced was a tool called the Dynamic Range Meter, a multi-platform VST, RTAS, AU and stand-alone plugin / application that allows you to assess the dynamic range of any recording in digital format. The website even provided free artwork showing the acceptable Dynamic Range of your CD so you could include it somewhere in your CDs artwork.
The tool used to be free for download from the Pleasurize Music Foundation’s website, but unfortunately the site now requires a donation to download updated versions of the Dynamic Range Meter.

Fortunately i was able to grab a download when it was still free, and i did some really interesting tests on my own upcoming CD’s tracks.
Before i measured my entire album, I ran the stand-alone tool against one of the best sounding albums of all time: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and not surprisingly, the album had a Dynamic Range of 11, which is well within acceptable Dynamic Range levels. (see pic above)

Using this tool, I was able to make sure that my album had an acceptable Dynamic Range and i even used the tool to fix a song that had been mixed too loud, and was throwing my albums’ Dynamic Range off.

For those who are interested in am providing the free copy of the Dynamic Range Meter i was able to download for VST, AU, RTAS and Standalone for Mac and PC: (4.3 MiB, 117 hits)
You need to be a registered user to download this file. (1.5 MiB, 108 hits)
You need to be a registered user to download this file. (547.6 KiB, 125 hits)
You need to be a registered user to download this file.

If you are a musician and are interested in making your own recorded music sound better, i recommend the following websites:

Pleasurize Music Foundation

Ian Shepherd’s blog about Audio Mastering and Engineering (Ian happens to use the Dynamic Range Meter extensively in his own Mastering work, which he shows how to use in this post)

Turn Me Up!™ a non-profit music industry organization

I am not associated with any of the websites above, nor i am an active member of any of the two non-profit associations, although i do plan to do so in the future.

Post a Comment

2 Responses to “Mixing, Mastering Audio and the Loudness Wars”

  1. admin says:

    It is good to know some big-name musicians like Weezer, are avoiding being part of the loudness wars:

  2. admin says:

    The TT meter is available for free again:


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