Are Dynamics in music playback dead? I sure hope not!

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by Danny Kaey on December 18 '05


Ok, this is getting ridiculous - folks, call your favorite record companies, because this will get ugly really soon. The first image is that of a Whitney Houston track from the 80's - notice how the waveform shows nice peaks and valleys, the lifeline of music. Now look at the image below, which is a top hit of 2005 - no peaks, no valleys - totally compressed and squashed music for only one reason: so the track sounds LOUD. MIX Magazine wrote an article in their last issue about this very subject - problem is: in real life, dynamics are everywhere: from the sound of the car horn outside your house, to the bark of your dog; no sounds we hear throughout the day are equally loud, especially not music! Especially recent "remasters" are becoming the 0db's favorite act - Van Halen's greatest hits two disc package that came out last year is a perfect example of this insane quest for maximum loudness: get the 1997 greatest hits release instead! You will hear the difference and as a result will enjoy the music that much more!


This is a pet peeve of mine as well. So what can we (the minority who care) do about it?
Exactly what I have been saying for the past 7 years ...
It is simple. Don't buy formats or technologies that lead nowhere. I remember a friend at work who was a little inept at audio technology. He bought into the digital compact cassette recording format which turned into a dog technology. Always remember that technology is a product of us and we decide if it serves or disserves us. Think it through, and if if you don't like, don't buy.