G3 Tech

Gaming, Gadgets & Gizmos (And Music, Movies & TV)

Why new music doesn’t sound as good as it used to

Posted by g3tech on July 10, 2007

Never mind that today’s factory-produced starlets and mini-clones just don’t have the practiced chops of the supergroups of yesteryear, pop in a new CD and you might notice that the quality of the music itself—maybe something as simple as a snare drum hit—just doesn’t sound as crisp and as clear as you’re used to. Why is that?It’s part of the music industry’s quest to make music louder and louder, and it’s been going on for decades, at least since the birth of the compact disc. Click the link for a nice little video, a mere 2 minutes long, which explains it in detail, with audio cues that you’ll be able to hear in crisp detail.

The key to the problem is that, in making the soft parts of a track louder (in the process making the entire track loud), you lose detail in the song: The difference between what’s supposed to be loud and what’s supposed to be soft becomes less and less. The result is that, sure, the soft parts of a song are nice and loud, but big noises like drum beats become muffled and fuzzy. But consumers often subconsciously equate loudness with quality, and thus, record producers pump up the volume. Anything to make a buck.

The bigger problem is that this is all unnecessary. Stereo equipment is more powerful today than ever, and last time I checked, every piece of music hardware had a volume knob.

Don’t take my word for it: Pop in the first CD you bought and play it at the same volume level as the most recent one you bought. You might be shocked by what you hear. 

Anyone still wondering why the music business is suffering? 

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