Hello everybody and welcome to this week's article!Today we're going to talk about the Loudness War! What is it?
In the last decades, music productions have become louder and louder, why?
Because if the artist "A" wants to be heard in the radio louder than the artist "B", he will want a louder mastering.
Then artist "B" will want an ever louder mix to be heard even "better" than artist "A", and this mentality ignited a "war" (or a downward spiral): every artist wants to sound louder than the others, so in the last decades we have witnessed to a general increase of the average loudness in music.
Is there any downside of this war? Yes. more than one: As we have seen on our article about Limiters (Click Here for a dedicated article about Limiters), the ceiling is always the same: -0.1db, so the only thing that can be used to push a mix is the the threshold; the more we lower it, the less headroom the mix will have, the more we will lose transient, and in the end the result will be (and it often is) a distorted, lo-fi mess, as can be heard on Metallica's "Death Magnetic" album, which is often taken as an example of excessively loud mastering.
During the last few years a group of mastering engineers have created the Pleasurize Music Foundation, a foundation with the aim of explaining to the people, and expecially the producers, how an excessively loud mastering can ruin a song and result unpleasant and ear-fatiguing.
This foundation (which also sometimes promotes a "Dinamic Range Day" in which people on social networks tries to sensibilize the others about this problem that is said to be ruining modern music) has also created a tool, called the TT Dynamic Range Meter, which is a free standalone program, and a Vst Metering Tool (click here for a dedicated article about metering tools).
This tool should be put on the last slot (which usually is the post-fader one) of the Master Channel of our Daw, during the Mastering Phase (click here for a dedicated article about the mastering phase), in order to check out the final levels of our song: the particularity of the tool is that it not only it tells us about the volume of the song, but also about the headroom. If the central strip is too short and red, it means that our mix and/or master is over compressed, and this will lead to listening fatigue. When the meter is in the yellow area it means it's acceptable, while if it's green it means that there is a lot of headroom, and the final result will be pleasant and with all the transients perfectly audible (Click Here for a dedicated article about transients).
In conclusion, my suggestion is to check out the Pleasurize Music Foundation, to dowload their metering tool from that page and to master your song according to this tool's judgement: it will really improve the quality and enjoyability of your music.