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The recent Loudness Wars was through music streaming giant spotify with making an update similar to Youtube to normalise all the levels of their audio files to end certain techniques making some music appear louder than others.

A common term is the deceptive relationship between volume and amplitude which I wrote a while back. As listeners our perception of loudness is not as simple as one is louder than the other in volume but also across frequencies.

Loudness Wars: Volume and Amplitude

The relationship between Volume and Amplitude seems obvious but has a hidden secret to many beginning in sound or working without full understanding. We all know that to turn something up means to increase both volume and amplitude and often I have heard some new directors say make it louder. Of course this isn’t their specialist field so of course they shouldn’t know everything.

But you may be a working in production sound having to explain to others different concepts. Maybe just for your own knowledge because you are clearly awesome.

So in theory to increase volume and amplitude you just amplify any frequency till it’s loud enough. However our ears are biased to different frequencies. This has been plotted on a graph for easy understanding. The graph is called the Flecher-Munson Curve. Bet you can guess the two last names of the guys that invested it.

Now back in 2008 this video was uploaded to show that people lose out on these loudness wars. The uploader had the description:

Protest online against the Loudness War – take part in Dynamic Range Day 2011 -This video is a comparison of the CD and Guitar Hero game versions of a song from Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” album. Is the CD raw rock, or just distorted mush ? You decide !

This can hopefully mean dynamic range is taken more into account in mixes overall and though there is something to be said for artistic choices the loudness wars just seem to muddy up everything in a race to be heard. Loudness Wars.

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Matt Price

Matt Price

London Sound Recordist

I am a London Sound Recordist and Sound Editor for many types of projects around the film genres. This covers creative content right through to feature films. I am passionate about sharing my journey and knowledge to help the rest of the community. If you need anything from me, feel free to get in touch with me at London Sound Recordist.