compression reponse

Saturday, April 25 by ernie

yup. thats the name of the game now. mastering engineers now are all pros at maxing out levels to the brim. most music these days is compressed to "tape." compressed during mixdown. compressed during mastering. and radiostations and TV will compress again during playback. so that your everyday pop song looks like this. with no digital headroom.

and this is a waveform of a beethoven symphony:

its one "better" than the other? not really. its just different. apples and oranges. and is compression a bad thing? not at all. its a completely necessary and very useful tool for controlling dynamics. is a lot music out there compressed to death? yup.


Blogger JR said...


i don't know. it just seems obese for no reason.

4/25/2009 7:57 AM

Blogger chris rue said...

dude cool post... it actually drives me crazy when i'm listening to music on my compy and a song comes on that's not compressed to the max. i have to manually change volume and then the next song is ridiculously loud.

yeah the crazy thing to me is that even in the long bands of maxed out sound in the first waveform, u still get the idea that there are quiet parts and loud parts. like, a person will be singing or playing softly, but it sounds super loud, as if the singer is right up in ur ear. i dunno, i quite like it.

4/25/2009 1:35 PM

Blogger ernie said...

yeah chris, its all sonic trickery. like listen to "mistaken for strangers" by the national. during the verses the drums are HUGE. but then in the chorus when there is a lot more going on, there is a lot less sonic space for them. so they disappear a bit into the mix. and thus, the overall "loudness" of the song is maintained.

and what you were referring to about songs being at different levels, while compression does have something to do with it, its just that the mastering engineers didnt pump the song up to the max digital threshold. like the beethoven symphony could be much "louder" while not being compressed because even the loudest part has a lot of headroom. so if the entire song was pumped up 10 db then itll be hotter level wise while maintaining its original dynamics.

and also, different eras had different loudness standards. like, ever notice how new order songs are always sooo quiet?

4/25/2009 1:58 PM


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