UK: 'The Loudness War - Mastering Abuse or Compression Paranoia?' was the thought-provoking title of an event organised by the Music Producers Guild (MPG) recently. Held at London's Alchemy Studios, the seminar featured presentations and a Q&A session that drew on the input of Mick Glossop, Tony Platt, Ray Staff and Tim Young, reports David Davies.
Points raised by Tony Platt included the trend for mastering tools to be used at the mix stage, resulting in CDs that sacrifice dynamic range for loudness. He revealed that he frequently faces pressure to make louder recordings and said that there is a need to educate A&R departments about the importance of promoting overall quality rather than volume.
Mick Glossop noted that loudness was far from being a new issue, and that over-compression to make tracks sound louder has been an issue for many years. He also pointed out that there is a widespread ignorance about the difference between measurements of dynamic range and musical dynamics.
Providing a mastering perspective, Ray Staff said that over-compressed files are much harder to EQ and refine because there isn't sufficient headroom. He also made the argument for an agreed industry standard across all formats that would ensure SPL levels never rise above -3.
Highlighting the problems created by using limiter plug-ins prior to mastering, Tim Young moved on to call for a reintroduction of the mentoring system that would help A&R staff to understand the technical issues involved.
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