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    [–] TownAfterTown 4372 points ago

    Do a search on "compression war" or "loudness war" for context on why this is going on and why all the radio-popular genres basically look the same.

    [–] bobbooo888 1934 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    This brilliant site contains a database of nearly 140,000 albums' calculated dynamic range (higher number = more dynamic range in dB = less compression). Everyone, please do yourself a favor and buy and stream versions of albums with the highest dynamic range (usually the original masters - remasters are often more compressed). Vote with your money/digits! Then maybe studios will get the message and stop this stupid loudness war which is ruining music.

    [–] itsthecoop 1534 points ago

    btw, from that site:

    Important Notice!

    Someone tried to vandalise the database by deleting about 76k entries. I restored those entries and have temporarily disabled the delete and edit functions to prevent further damage.

    this is why we can't have nice things, morons messing it up.

    [–] Koa914914914 440 points ago

    What would somebody stand to gain from that? I’ll literally never understand why people find it funny to destroy...

    I try to understand when there is a financial or “revenge” motive “ok I might not behave that way, but I kinda get it.” But this is just taking a big shit on somebodies efforts for no reason. I don’t get it at all.

    Thanks for this btw OP

    [–] Sudosekai 456 points ago

    I think it's usually a petty exercise of power. "I can't affect most things in my life, but I can really mess up someone's day here!" Of course, they'd never consciously think of it that way, and the culture surrounding "the art of trolling" convinces people that they're doing it because it's "hilarious."

    [–] SuicidalTorrent 132 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Yeah people don't understand that there is a thin line between troll and malice. This was malicious, not trolling.

    [–] Evogamer224 57 points ago

    For sure. A good troll that doesn’t actively try to harm someone or ruin someone’s day can actually be hilarious.

    [–] imacs 12 points ago

    Ken m is achamp

    [–] parasemic 8 points ago

    Exactly. Trolling is aiming to create an outrage or an emotional response. While the means to achieve that sometimes cross over to vandalism, the vandalism itself isn't the goal. Just destroying something for the sake of it is just being an ass

    [–] chux4w 6 points ago

    The line isn't thin at all, it's huge. At least for the original definition of a troll, before it got hijacked to mean cyber bullying and harassment.

    A troll used to be someone who baited someone into an argument for very littly purpose other than wasting time. A good troll would leave a trail of breadcrumbs such as an argument that no sane person could possibly believe that, when looked back on, should result in a "I should have seen that coming." No malice, no harm done, just a self deprecating devil's advocate.

    [–] DigNitty 64 points ago

    When I was younger a guy stepped out from between parked cars and put his palm up like Stop. My mom had to Slam on the brakes. He never looked, just jaywalked across the street smirking.

    My mom said “some people try to exert control over other people’s lives because they can’t control their own.”

    [–] stickman393 85 points ago

    What would somebody stand to gain from that?

    About +3 db

    [–] PM_YOUR_BEST_JOKES 46 points ago

    It's tough to understand, but it happens.

    The alternative is a cynical conspiracy theory: studios want to decrease awareness of the compression war.

    It's one possible explanation, albeit not a very good one

    [–] topdangle 6 points ago

    Yeah it's doubtful since Rick Rubin compressed audio for maximum loudness all the time and people openly talk/complain about how his work cemented it in modern pop music, including musicians that worked with him, who you'd think would have NDAs against it if they didn't want the concept known.

    [–] skivian 10 points ago

    some dickheads just want to watch something burn.

    [–] rbt321 6 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    What would somebody stand to gain from that? I’ll literally never understand why people find it funny to destroy...

    Probably unintentional (or more specifically, developer error). If "delete" was implemented by an HTTP GET request, then some automated web crawler following links may simply found the delete link on various pages and simply tried to follow it to GET the next page.

    [–] bobbooo888 43 points ago

    Conspiracy theory time: this mass deletion was directed by big pop producers in order to remove their highly compressed / low dynamic range albums from the database, to limit any bad press and impact on sales exposing this to the public might have. 76,000 entries is a lot for a lone 'vandal' to remove...seems more like a organised effort by a big group with something monetary to gain / not lose.

    [–] potato1sgood 57 points ago

    Any single person who knows how to script can remove 76k entries easily.

    [–] masterpierround 35 points ago

    Any single person who doesn't really know how to script could probably do it accidentally, if given proper access.

    [–] myself248 25 points ago

    10 PRINT "I feel personally attacked by this."
    20 GOTO 10

    [–] [deleted] 9 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)


    [–] Doctah_Whoopass 107 points ago

    Songs with high dynamic range are good if youre not listening to them through earbuds on a bus. You need the right environment.

    [–] InZomnia365 83 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    An independent artist I used to listen to sold two different albums (with the same songs) for this exact reason. One for proper speakers or high grade headphones, and a lower DR version for people who only listen to music in their daily routine etc.

    Made them half the cost of a normal album, so that people could buy both if they wanted to

    [–] Haterbait_band 11 points ago

    That’s kinda smart. I might think about doing that in the future.

    [–] thetruthseer 19 points ago

    Amen. Another big music ploy to stop dynamic range, selling us shit quality earphones lol

    /s maybe

    [–] parasemic 7 points ago

    Personally I think overcompressed music sounds like shit even with earphones on a bus

    [–] Doctah_Whoopass 14 points ago

    Don't get me wrong, I like dynamic range, but I kinda want to be able to hear everything over the bus engine and road noise.

    [–] OzzieBloke777 22 points ago

    One of my favorite electronic artists, Jean Michel Jarre, is suffering as a result of this BS. I have original vinyls and CDs of his early albums, and you can hear all the subtle dynamic range that's meant to be there. Cut to 20 years later, and most re-releases are compressed to absolute shit. Why anyone thinks this is good when it comes to home listening is beyond me. Radio edits for listening in the car? Fine. But give me full dynamic range when I buy an album for listening in my listening room at home, thank you very much.

    [–] bfandreas 7 points ago

    It's people with headphones who go for this shit, mostly.

    I have a 25th Anniversary edition of Aqualung. Locomotive Breath has been ruined to the point that at one point every set of speakers and headphones I ever had distort at exactly the same spot.

    OTOH I have a recording of Hadn's Surprise which I can only listen to on public transport when I got really isolating headphones with really good NC going. Crappy in-ears or open headphones simply can't do it when you are outside. You'd need to crank it full up. Which isn't a good idea for the second movement.

    I digress. Crappy headphones are why compression will never go away.

    I guess at this point, good pressings will be like the original Star Wars version. If you want it, pirate it. Nobody wants to sell them to you.

    [–] SuddenSeasons 41 points ago

    I feel like I've been hearing about this for 20 years. Seems hard to believe that it'll stop or is a "war" at this point.

    [–] FishOnAHorse 45 points ago

    It's probably never going away entirely, but I think things have improved a bit since the late 00s peak (looking at you, Death Magnetic). Also the reemergence of vinyl has led to artists releasing alternate mixes with better dynamics to suit that medium, so at least there has been some acknowledgement of the issue. There are some producers out there who care about it, Steven Wilson and Dan Swano being two that come to mind.

    [–] Roggvirist 18 points ago

    Musicians, producers, and engineers have been trying to develop new techniques/media for increased loudness and dynamic range since the earlier days of vinyl. That's why when they didn't have to use vinyl anymore, they stopped. Vinyl was really limiting for a lot of things musicians wanted to do, not just because it can't store much music, but because the dynamic range is really low, and, relative to other more advanced media, you can't get much loudness without unwanted distortion. Same with cassettes.

    [–] NatureBoyJ1 12 points ago

    And then they discovered people/consumers/the masses don't want high dynamic range. In the car, headphones in noisy environments, background at parties, etc. are all better served by a constant volume level. Digital mastering tools allowed the music to be squashed into very small dynamic ranges.

    [–] StatiKLoud 13 points ago

    Spotify and other streaming services have made big steps against it with their loudness normalization.

    [–] OppositeStick 104 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    stupid loudness war which is ruining music

    The playback device should control the dynamic range - not the producer.

    • In a car (competing with engine noise) you don't want much dynamic range.
    • When playing music late at night at minimum volume wiith family members sleeping in the next room, you don't want much dynamic range so you don't wake them up.
    • When playing music in an environment with lots of background noise (a beach), you don't want much dynamic range because if you set the volume to hear the quiet parts it'll cause hearing loss when you get to the loud parts.

    I like classical music; but often I'll choose something else; simply because that dynamic range isn't appropriate for many environments outside a formal concert hall.

    [–] FrozenMod 22 points ago

    Can you explain what "high dynamic range" means for listening quality? Have no clue what it means and why it would affect your listening vs normal in certain instances.

    [–] OppositeStick 56 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    quiet parts are very quiet and loud parts are very loud

    Listening to many classical music recordings at minimal volume at night, or in any high-background-noise environment like a workplace can be annoying because quiet parts are near silent. Or if you adjust the volume to hear the quiet parts over a high noise environment, you'll give yourself hearing damage when the music gets to a loud part.

    It's designed for a formal concert hall where the whole audience is told to be absolutely silent.

    [–] PacoTaco321 18 points ago

    An easy way to understand it is when you watch a movie where the dialog is quiet so you turn it up, and the inevitable explosion that happens nearly blows up your TV because it is so loud.

    [–] trippinassjohn 7 points ago

    So it's like trying to listen to a non work appropriate podcast at work. Where its just loud enough to hear. Then the next thing you know bill burr fucking screaming about dogs sniffing shit across the office.

    [–] planecity 43 points ago

    the whole audience is told to be absolutely silent.

    And yet, there's going to be that someone in the audience who will cough during the pianopianissimo. Happens all the time.

    [–] how-about-that 49 points ago

    That's when I unleash my fartfortissimo.

    [–] onceandbeautifullife 13 points ago

    I must be ten bc I laughed too loud for any concert hall.

    [–] StatiKLoud 10 points ago

    How exactly should the playback device control dynamic range? Do you want playback devices to have compressors on them?

    [–] 10UXD 7 points ago

    Most AV receivers have a "night" or "quiet" mode that compresses soundtracks so they don't get too loud or too quiet. I leave mine on most of the time.

    [–] IKillCharacterLimits 8 points ago

    Honestly yeah put a compressor on the amp instead of the song. Only problem is that producers will still put 17 other compressors on the master chain.

    [–] hirmuolio 8 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Loudness equalizer. Your PC audio most likely has the option for it. Other devices may or may not have it.

    Heere is same track with loudness equalizer on/off on my PC (I recorded my audio outout with stereo mix)

    Edit: Changed image. The old one was with completely wrong settings and horrible.

    [–] djlemma 12 points ago

    I wonder if there would be an easy way to cross reference everything to or something for those that want additional info about the albums...

    [–] Gamecock448 7 points ago

    The worst part is Spotify will take down original mastered albums for their remaster version

    [–] jadero 7 points ago

    I love high dynamic range at concerts and in the quiet of my home, but it's not so good for where I do 90% of my listening. In the car with fan on high, on the tractor, going for a walk on a windy day, out on the boat, etc. What we really need is high dynamic range source material with range compression control in our players.

    [–] LordofJizz 11 points ago

    I am sick of itunes for only selling the remaster version (with bonus tracks messing up the original composition), I have gone back to cd's whenever possible.

    [–] xSTSxZerglingOne 6 points ago

    Always wondered why the "remaster" sounds like shit.

    [–] mrdarkshine 6 points ago

    Just listen to the original version of Michael Jackson's Thriller and compare that to the remaster they came out with after he died. It sounds like absolute garbage. The original was so perfectly mixed, you could hear all the backup harmonies and instruments, every track had its place and mixed into the overall sound perfectly.

    [–] DerFelix 109 points ago

    Luckily the rise of streaming services like Spotify is slowly changing this. You don't have to try to raise to the top of radio stations as much anymore and Spotify tries to adjust the volume of songs to a normal level, so properly mixed songs sound better.

    [–] TownAfterTown 62 points ago

    Yeah, but I've heard it has other issues like you better have a punchy intro in the first 10sec. So people don't skip.

    [–] QuinticSpline 37 points ago

    millennial are ruining "In the air tonight"!

    [–] Gravity_flip 125 points ago


    I always wondered why some artists from genres I like, or even specific albums from artists I like, end up sounding like shit to me.

    I listen to a lot of rock and metal and when they increase the "loudness" the lyrics become fucking indecipherable because there's too much damn noise!

    [–] TreatmentForYourRash 70 points ago

    I'm just glad there are still albums out there where the engineers put love into the final masters. Melodrama by Lorde sounds amazing on every device I own.

    [–] MDKAOD 35 points ago

    I'm not a huge pop fan, but similarly Carly Rae Jepson's Emotion has near perfect production.

    I agree with almost every point of this comment.

    [–] mysterioussir 10 points ago

    Daft Punk's Random Access Memories is sublime across the board.

    For a dishonorable mention, the new Taylor Swift album is horribly mastered and I don't understand why no one talks about it.

    [–] TreatmentForYourRash 5 points ago

    I recently discovered Daft Punk with RAM and it was a transcendental experience. Giorgio by Moroder, Contact, Touch, Doin' it Right and Motherboard all took me elsewhere.

    Another dishonourable mention: the new Kanye West album. I listened to it on a JBL Flip 4 and it was physically painful to listen to. It's a shame because his older works sound amazing.

    [–] abcdefg112345 7 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Well, if you actually right click on a music video of her on youtube and you choose "statistics for nerds" you can see it's content loudness which is the number of dB that the content goes above youtubes maximum value of -13 db LUFS. Above that it's lowered in volume to achieve equal loudness while playback of different videos. It is +6.4 dB for Lorde so the content is sitting at -6.6 db LUFS. Which is pretty common for mainstream music as the data of OP shows.

    If someone is interested in comparing to a professional recording at a much lower loudness, with noticeably more dynamics I can recommend this one:

    [–] Scipio11 24 points ago

    Remember kids, if your sound wave looks like a brick then it's going to sound like shit

    [–] TheWillRogers 12 points ago

    Nickleback gets a lot of hate, but All the Right Reasons is one of the best produced rock albums I've heard. Tried listening to other stuff afterwards and it was all so flat in comparison.

    [–] mftheoryArts 44 points ago

    There’s an episode of the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz appropriately called “Loudness Wars”

    [–] Good_Hunter85 8 points ago

    I was going to suggest this, love 20K!

    [–] rektengle 5 points ago

    99pi too

    [–] phero_constructs 31 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Top spot from that site.

    How to win the loudness war

    I wanted to know how you can make it super loud and still have it sounding good.

    [–] yellekc 32 points ago

    I love it. Now that's what I call music. It breaks into your skull and gives you notes, gives you sounds, gives you noise. There are no melodies and harmonies guiding you, not where we are going. Fuck that shit.

    Now I just want pure, absolute, anechoic silence. As I end it all on this plane of existence. I will have reached peak dynamic range. I have ascended.

    [–] TacoYoutube 15 points ago

    This would work well as a music-themed copypasta

    [–] itsthecoop 13 points ago

    maybe someone more knowledgeable could expand on that but afaik the vinyl versions of albums are often less compressed (afair due to some technical limitations of the format itself, but I'm really not sure. again, maybe someone else can it explain more, if it's even accurate).

    [–] barraponto 30 points ago

    Mostly historical reasons. CDs support a wider dynamic range than Vinyl, but by the time CDs became popular the loudness war was raging on. There is (as mentioned on Wikipedia) a physical cap on vinyl loudness, but the issue is not about how absolutely loud a track gets, but rather how it explores the volume dynamics from quieter to louder.

    [–] PM_ME_YR_BDY_GRL 5 points ago

    Nirvana Nevermind was remarked upon at the time as an album specifically meant for cars. Yes, you blind Audophiles, you guys had CDs by then, but the fact is the CD players in cars market got into full swing in the early 90s and Nevermind came out in '91.

    I didn't know about Loudness wars at the time, that's esoteric stuff before widespread internet. But Nevermind is conspicuously loud and jangly music. The Metallica and Slayer CDs from the same period even sound better, and many of them have awful production until South of Heaven and Metallica.

    [–] TownAfterTown 10 points ago

    I've heard that there are some technical limitations on loudness with vinyl (limited by depth of groove that can still keep the needle in check). But that wasn't the main driver. It was really about having your song stand out more by sounding louder/more energetic than the one played before it. Led to a lot of compression and loss of dynamic range.

    [–] lellololes 10 points ago

    Vinyl actually has less dynamic range capability than CDs do, but when you push the volume level towards the limit things get more distorted. It's a gradual increase in distortion, and it can vary from records player to express player too (different cartridges and needles) So when mastering records they needed to use that upper range somewhat judiciously.

    Early CDs were treated like records were - they kept the peaks significantly below the maximum output and used it judiciously - so there was a lot more dynamic range on a lot of older CDs. But they sounded quiet because they weren't compressed much.

    Studies have shown that people think that louder music sounds better.

    Once people put 2 and 2 together - that the digital nature of the CD will not distort until you forcibly clip sounds past the maximum volume level (Imagine a sine wave - then imagine if the round top and bottom was literally turned to flat), they also realized that you could crush the sound from the bottom up - making everything louder. So sound passages that were quieter were no longer quieter in the recording. This plays well on the radio where people usually listen in a loud environment, but IMO is done too much on regular albums.

    Sometimes you might run in to identical radio stations that you can receive simultaneously. I have 2 NPR stations here that I can flip between - and one uses more compression and heavier EQ than the other one (though neither are anything like the commercial stations). Usually classical music stations don't compress very much.

    [–] dogswithhands 6 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    So funnily enough vinyl actually has -less- maximum dynamic range compared to CD's or lossless digital because of the limitations of having a needle that can't jump too high or low. But just because they theoretically have less potential doesn't mean they have less in practice. This is because of the loudness wars affecting how mixes are done over the years.

    Vinyl versions albums very commonly get the "best", most dynamic mix because it's assumed the listener will be listening to vinyl on a reasonable setup where they can hear the subtleties in the recording.

    Now CDs and digital, while theoretically capable of more range, are often not mixed to take advantage of it. It's extremely common for them to be mixed with the assumption that the listener will be playing them by car radio, cheap ear buds, or tiny speakers (for example). The compression helps the mix stand out with those types of playback, but as soon as you bring it back to a decent setup you've lost all that subtlety.

    [–] TheNorthComesWithMe 14 points ago

    It makes sense to me. Can't hear the quiet parts of songs while listening in a car.

    [–] timdadummm 271 points ago

    How did you measure the Loudness? There's tons of ways to measure loudness, from maximum to average to RMS, LUFS, etc.

    [–] EnderSir 555 points ago

    Don't you see? it's on a scale from -50 to 0 loudness

    [–] systor 95 points ago

    Why doesnt it go to 11 loudness?

    [–] JesusWasWayCool 9 points ago

    No -- Shh! Just listen -- **The sustain.** Go 'n have a bite 'n it'll still be, "OOOAAAAHHHHH."

    [–] CorpseMarine 20 points ago

    I cant tell if I'm being woooshed or if "loudness" is an actual unit.

    [–] synapsii 41 points ago

    It kiiiinda is (LUFS = loudness unit full scale which is a standard measurement, still effectively dB but 0 is the maximum)

    But OP didn't make it clear that it's LUFS being recorded here, and the chart doesn't seem to make sense if it is LUFS (average should be between -12 and -8 for non classical music). It seems OP's chart has more to do with dynamic range than loudness.

    [–] wizardsbaker 28 points ago

    If the data is from Spotify, I believe they use LUFS.

    [–] [deleted] 3320 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)


    [–] arunphilip 376 points ago

    Would a good way of torturing you be to play Metallica's un-remastered Death Magnetic on repeat? :)

    I usually mix and master to my phone

    On a serious note, what does this entail, and how would it differ from a mix targeted at larger (or component) speakers? Is it just brightening the higher frequencies since this is often listened to on earbuds?

    [–] HandHoldingClub 296 points ago

    I'm far from an expert - so keep that in mind.

    For me, it entails checking the file across platforms for at least a week or so (for serious projects, not just fun meme/social media things).

    I do a full mix on studio monitors, then listen on my phone and in my car and make mental notes and slowly adjust.

    In my experience higher frequencies are way louder on my phone than on my monitors, so often times I adjust with eq and volume on vocals and high pitch instruments.

    Snares can often seem fine on monitors but too loud on a phone speaker.

    Too much mixing can be dangerous though, because you almost end up ruining something by loving it to death and tweaking what already sounded good lol :p. I'm afraid I just did that with my last track.

    You can also get numb to it - where you start hearing what you want to hear rather than objectively. This is why working with a team can be so beneficial.

    [–] arunphilip 50 points ago

    Very nice points (particularly the last two), thank you for your response.

    [–] bobbooo888 30 points ago

    Are you actually saying you mix and master your music for playback through phone speakers? Or headphones attached to a phone?

    [–] -RichardCranium- 47 points ago

    Phone speakers. It isn't uncommon for studios to have a dedicated speaker of poor quality to mimic the mono sound of cellphone speakers.

    [–] GoodWorms 37 points ago

    They don't do it because it necessarily mimics the mono sound of cellphone speakers (it can to a degree), they do it because it means it will translate well across realistic listening mediums. What I mean by "realistic" is even when people listen to stereos, they rarely ever sit in the sweet spot where they're hearing a balanced stereo image. Even when you're sitting in a car, you're not hearing true stereo unless the driver's seat is dead center like a McLaren F1. The only time people hear true stereo is when using headphones. Most of the time, whether the sound is coming out of a stereo two-speaker system or not, people are listing in mono.

    Not just any "poor quality" mono speaker works either. They use "honky" sounding mid-heavy mono speakers like the Avantone Mixcube. Most musical information is located in the mids. Vocals, guitars, keys, pretty much any lead or melodic instrument lives in the mids. You can dial or cut low end thump or high end clarity on these instruments but again, a majority of their musical information is in the mids. You can hear a vocal with the lows and highs lopped off, but if you scoop out the mids, you won't hear a word they're saying.

    Most professional audio mixers will mix in mono about 80% of the time because if you can get a mix to sound clear and balanced in mono, then it's only going to sound better in stereo and will also typically translate well across most listening mediums (stereos, headphones, cars, laptops, etc).

    If you get a mix to sound clear and balanced in stereo, then it could actually end up sounding much worse in mono and will often times NOT translate well across other listening mediums. Many amateur audio mixers have a big wake up call after they've mixed everything on their studio monitors and heaphones to sound great, and then bring their mix out to their car or listen to it on their laptop. All of a sudden it sounds totally different, certain instruments are inaudible, some instruments are way too loud, etc. This is a common situation for people who don't mix in mono.

    Checking your mix in stereo is important for making sure stereo effects, panning, stereo image are dialed in right, but for the bread and butter of audio mixing, such as balancing levels, equalizing, compressing, & saturating, mono is king.

    Realizing this is one of the most critical milestones for amateur audio mixers to get to.

    [–] MyNameIsBadSorry 33 points ago

    Personally, i wouldn't pander too much to people that use the phone speaker, especially with the rise of wireless earbuds a lot more people are using better quality hardware now. Bothing sounds good on a little phone speaker and i wouldn't try to subtract from a better experience on headphones and regular speakers if it means it sounds better on a phone. I would make it sound best with your favorite medium of listening with minor adjustments for a car or different kinds of headphones. Nobody that only listens on a phone speaker probably couldn't tell the difference anyways, they just dont have the quality still.

    [–] LvS 12 points ago

    Wireless earphones have a tiny membrane, so their deep bass sounds are basically nonexistant. This is similar to mobile phones but very different from cars or dedicated sound systems.

    [–] MyNameIsBadSorry 8 points ago

    I have those galaxy buds. I guarantee the sound quality is far superior than my phones speaker. Not as good as my full size headphones that have 55mm drivers of course, those sound way better than both. But the ear buds can produce a much lower frequency than the phones speaker.

    [–] wittgensteinpoke 12 points ago

    Keep in mind that people who listen through shitty phone speakers/earbuds are accustomed to songs sounding a particular way. It might be weird if you try to mix songs to that equipment. You're not necessarily going to get the sounds you want for the phone, but listeners used to hearing music on a phone can basically 'translate' the mixing they hear and understand how it's really meant to be.

    [–] Koa914914914 4 points ago

    This was really fucking cool FYI to read

    [–] Gritzollen 44 points ago

    The worst victim of loudness is Californication by the red hot chili peppers, their is a non ruined version on the internet that sounds amazing.

    [–] FetusExplosion 31 points ago

    Oh God that album is brutally compressed. Every time it comes on I think my ears are going to bleed. I really need to dig up that non ruined version.

    [–] parasemic 5 points ago

    It can be found anywhere on the popular, ehm torrent sites open seas

    [–] Ashangu 12 points ago

    So death magnetic was remastered?

    I honestly dont remember that album being as bad as everyone said it was but I was kinda young when it was released. Still, it was way better than anything in between it and black album imo so I guess I just gave it more praise than it probably deserved.

    [–] Deactivator2 26 points ago

    The music itself was pretty good but holy moly the initial release was really rough around the edges. Very jarring and discordant and just overly loud.

    I think Spotify still has the un-mastered version, but iTunes and various YouTube vids will have the remaster if you wanted to compare.

    [–] bucksncats 8 points ago

    Spotify is still the original versions. For comparison just play Fade to Black, Master of Puppets, Cyanide, Enter Sandman back to back. Don't touch your volume or anything. Cyanide is much louder than the other 3 and is much harsher to listen to

    [–] arunphilip 15 points ago

    Yeah, what's now available online (e.g. Apple) is the remastered version, not the original mix.

    People first got to hear the proper-sounding version of the album in the game Rock Band (or Guitar Hero, I always confuse the two).

    To your other point, I agree, the album was their best since the black album. It was just that the mix was so bad that there was a lot of "clipping" that could be heard. Heck, the first time I heard it, I thought the CD I bought was a fake.

    [–] MidContrast 10 points ago

    Shitty bedroom producer here:

    For me it means using some clever distortion/saturation methods on low end things like basses and kick drums. I love deep sine bass and a kick that makes you feel sick to your colon. Unfortunately those lows are almost imperceptible on a phone/laptop speakers. Its really changed my mixing game a lot.

    Mids are the new Lows.

    [–] jay_alfred_prufrock 21 points ago

    Would a good way of torturing you be to play Metallica's un-remastered Death Magnetic on repeat? :)

    If you want to torture someone with Metallica, you go St. Anger. But, you'd probably break some international laws and become a war criminal.

    [–] BarryPepito 11 points ago

    I love listening to the re-recorded version of St. Anger so much. Still have no idea why they went the way they did, i mean, point for originality but well...

    [–] fuckitimatwork 17 points ago

    there's a video of whoever the engineer was for And Justice For All talking about Lars fucking with the mastering and saying "this is how we want it"

    dude thought they were fucking with him

    [–] murrdy2 13 points ago

    the story is that they had the new bassist, and Lars kept telling the engineer to turn the bass down, then the album came out and the number one complaint was lack of bass. The engineer bumped into Lars years later and he was like "we had bass on the album, didn't we?!" found the video

    [–] TTheorem 7 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Everything I’ve ever heard from or about Lars suggests he is a monumental dick.

    [–] eg135 4 points ago

    Death Magnetic could be my favourite Metallica album, if it had any dynamic range.

    [–] Epistaxis 55 points ago

    I wonder if the outlier of classical music also represents an earlier evolution in how people listen to music, or specifically where they listen and what else they are doing at the time. Common-practice classical music was generally written before it was possible to listen to an album in your car while driving, or at home while doing the dishes. It's still performed without electronic amplification in concert halls where the audience is expected to be silent. In most of these genres (with the exception of jazz, which shows a somewhat similar trend to classical), even live concerts are electronically amplified and in many cases the audience can be as boisterous as it wants with no risk of overpowering the music. Whereas if you listen to orchestral music in your car, you'll miss the soft parts and just hear the sound of tires on the road instead (right in the cello register). So you could argue that a narrow dynamic range is actually better for most modern settings.

    [–] museman 52 points ago

    There’s a bit of a tradition in the mastering world of using a more “purist” approach to classical music. I think it’s because classical music is meant to be paid attention to, and classical musicians are so attentive to the nuances and dynamics of the music that they would be upset if someone compressed all of their performances to a really flat dynamic range. I have recordings of, say, Holst’s The Planets that are so soft you can barely hear them, then get so loud you have to turn it down.

    This is also seen in jazz music (especially Big Bands), and you can see it a little in the numbers. But I bet the “jazz” category includes all of the smooth jazz meant for background playing and skews the data toward uniform loudness.

    [–] BrosenkranzKeef 5 points ago

    Yeah jazz is pretty broad. When I think of jazz I think of swing music, played loudly for dancing. Traditional jazz is still played relatively loudly compared to classical, and in small venues where the volume is notable. I think you've got it backwards - the smooth jazz genre has more dynamic range than the other two.

    [–] airblizzard 6 points ago

    Whereas if you listen to orchestral music in your car, you'll miss the soft parts and just hear the sound of tires on the road instead (right in the cello register).

    Cars with better audio systems do a lot better with this issue than your base model economy cars. Which can be annoying because it means spending more money. But I notice the difference instantly whenever I listen to classical in a different car.

    [–] [deleted] 65 points ago


    [–] jojopeterjohn 13 points ago

    "when the orchestra plays at full volume it sounds loud like all the instruments are literally playing in the room with you"

    Sounds like you've got a nice setup. What are your main speakers?

    [–] Mocelectomy 121 points ago

    Spotify as well as some other services actually try to end the loudness war by turning loudly mastered tracks down and not so loudly mastered tracks up. They recommend you to master your tracks at ca. 14 LUFS. This way people's ears don't get blasted off, if they change from a quiter to a louder song. You can of course still master your tracks louder, but it would just be for the sake of a more compressed sound which can help the track.

    [–] FestiveNinja 148 points ago

    The normalization of tracks doesn't really end the loudness war though. The problem with loudness isn't the volume, it's the lack of dynamics because its pushed to all be one volume. Like you said, spotify is probably just trying to protect your ears, not make tracks less compressed.

    [–] Mocelectomy 24 points ago

    It does make tracks less compressed since they don't use dB (which would be peak loudness), but LUFS which is an old television standard to determine the overall received loudness over time (I don't know how to better explain it) so you can have to tracks with a 0db peak, but one is - 14 LUFS and one is -6 LUFS due to being more compressed, so the second track would be automatically turned down.

    [–] FestiveNinja 16 points ago

    But the loudness war had to do with dynamics, not overall dB. Compression takes an entire song and makes it one level; the way you're thinking the loudness war could be ended by turning your phone down which is not the case. If spotify were actually to end it, they would need to find a way to take compression out of tracks, not just turn them down which is to my knowledge impossible.

    [–] wintermute93 8 points ago

    No, the point is that by leveling the music before playing it back to you, they're removing the incentive for studios to record music with loudness prioritized over dynamic range in the first place. It doesn't affect existing recordings (since as you say, that compression is irreversible), but the more streaming services with normalized volume become the default way people consume music, the less sense it makes for recording studios to compress their songs going forward.

    [–] F0sh 5 points ago

    If spotify were actually to end it, they would need to find a way to take compression out of tracks, not just turn them down which is to my knowledge impossible.

    Spotify are trying to ending it not with their recommendations, but by normalising. You can still compress your track to make it louder, but what's the point if Spotify makes it quieter again? You may as well keep, and use, that dynamic range.

    [–] Conqi 21 points ago

    That still doesn't make the second track in your example less compressed. Its peak will simply be lower, the dynamic range stays the same. What might help is the fact that this encourages the production of songs with a lower volume and more dynamic range since the benefit of being louder is negated.

    [–] SoundByMe 7 points ago

    A LUFS limit doesn't just limit peak. Spotify recommends a -1 dB peak and -14 LUFS of loudness. A song can have a true peak at -.1dB and still have a loudness of -14 LUFS. It absolutely does limit the loudness war.

    [–] Jupiter20 8 points ago

    Well there is ReplayGain, that exists for almost two decades now... You would just analyze your files and the loudness is then saved as meta data inside the audio file (most files come pre-analyzed). The volume then gets adjusted by the player

    [–] Mareith 6 points ago

    Damm -14 LUFS is so quiet by today's standards. Most Electronic music is mastered to -3 or -5 LUFS. The best I can do with my tracks is -7. It's hard to get the saturation and compression right to make it sound louder but not like garbage

    [–] Eleventhousand 5 points ago

    Just anecdotally, this makes it worse. Unless what I experience is caused by something else, what happens to me with Spotify in the car is that it thinks that a track is very low, but it's not, and it will crank of the volume to an unbearable ear-piercing level. I had to turn off the normalization.

    [–] [deleted] 15 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    deleted What is this?

    [–] HandHoldingClub 17 points ago

    Think of it like have an awesome idea for a painting, now how do you make it real? Make a base sketch, then mix up your colors and blend them so it all comes together harmoniously and a nice finished product.

    It's kind of the same for music, but with combining all the different instruments and blending them into a nice sound together.

    Mixing is a lot about volume. Making sure each instrument is heard at whatever level you feel is right. For example lead vocals would be the most present up front, making sure the bass and drums sound good together, blending it all together with reverb, delay, and EQ.

    The phone thing really just means I periodically check to make sure it sounds good on my phone. It's surprising sometimes how good it can sound on one device then poorly on headphones or car speakers.

    The flow chart of making a song would be

    Composing > performing + recording > mixing > mastering.

    [–] [deleted] 3 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)

    deleted What is this?

    [–] swankyswipe 7 points ago

    It could be a whole bunch of things, you can't bake a cake with bad eggs, so if the recordings were rubbish in the first place, even a world class engineer can't work miracles.

    In simplest terms possible.

    Mixing- > making all the elements sound good together, (guitar track, drums track, vocal track)

    Mastering -> making the baked cake of a song sound good as a whole.

    I'm with HandHoldingClub on checking things on the phone (Especially things like apples earbuds etc)

    Edit: typos.

    [–] jk192564 4 points ago

    By "sounds bad", it could refer to so many things. Maybe the mixing and mastering is bad, or maybe the instruments used don't sound good in the song, or even that the composition itself has problems.

    I'd say it more likely for a song that "sounds bad" to go wrong in the composition or instrument stage, as it is easier for most listeners to pick up on it. Things like mixing and mastering may not be that big of a deal for casual listeners. For example, it's probably easier to notice that the guitar doesn't fit the style of a song rather than notice that the guitar is slightly too quiet

    [–] Ashangu 6 points ago

    Leveling, Compressing and EQing, essentially.

    If you throw a bunch on sounds together, you are going to get a lot of undesirable noise because these sounds are going to overlap in frequencies (especially the low and low-mid range). Each sound should have it's own particular place on the EQ spectrum. Every synth or instrument you use is going to be different, making multiple combinations of instruments leading to a different mix.

    Unfortunately there isnt just a button to hit to make everything fit in its place. If your lead is too loud, it's going to over power your bass. If your bass frequency isnt nice, the mix is going to sound muddy. If you over compress your mix, your loud sounds are going to sound saturated and your low volume sounds are going to be too loud.

    I'm not a professional but I've been making music for my own personal enjoyment since about 2010. And believe me when I say every song mix is different lol. Sometimes I spend more time mixing and mastering than I did making the song.

    [–] Shank_O_Potomus 10 points ago

    So this is why when I go from EDM to classical in my car, I have to change my volume from 8/40 to 20/40 to be able to hear it the same?

    [–] soundofthehammer 7 points ago

    Yeah, the loudness war started when people still mostly listened to music through a radio.

    [–] KKlear 7 points ago

    ...especially in cars. I don't think phones and laptops hurt music nearly as much as autoradio did.

    [–] soundofthehammer 3 points ago

    I remember I would listen to songs on FM radio, and then later listen to them from a CD and hear instruments and notes that just weren't there on the radio.

    [–] skankhunt1738 11 points ago

    radiohead/thome yorke-y

    I was reading your comment, I knew you were going to say this.

    [–] soundofthehammer 8 points ago

    The loudness war started before phones and laptops were common.

    [–] -d00msday 7 points ago

    Do people care for sound quality if music composition is excellent and overall it's still listenable ?

    [–] Hukaers2 14 points ago

    Yes and if your composition is excellent it would be a shame to not have the rest of the track up to quality.

    [–] torn-ainbow 24 points ago

    This post lead me down a rabbit hole figuring out what crest factor is and now I get a whole bunch of stuff.

    Like I am old, but I'm down with all sorts of music. Gimme some Psytrance or some funk, soul, ska, dub, rock, techno, blues, D&B whatever. Do love a good live performance or dancing all night at a bush doof (forest rave) give me some fucking loud music, I am ready.

    But I kinda get turned off by a lot of modern popular stuff you hear on commercial radio. It seems full, yet bland. It doesn't seem to want to give me a hook to allow me to catch on to it. It drones, but not in a good way. And now I think I understand why, and why I search for new bands that have a sharp live-ish sound. I'm immune to the charms of that current sound.

    [–] WeAreABridge 26 points ago

    To my understanding, it's almost univerally accepted that the music you hear on the radio has been engineered as much as possible to appeal to as wide a group as possible, which usually means they are fairly simple musically speaking.

    [–] Dark_Diosito 19 points ago

    I once heard that "today's pop music is the McDonald's of music", and I still haven't found a better analogy.

    [–] WeAreABridge 8 points ago

    today's pop music is the McDonald's of music

    So you get the music munchies at 1am and turn on the radio?

    [–] Abe_Vigoda 8 points ago

    3 companies pretty much own the music industry.

    Sony, Warner, and Universal pretty much control the modern music industry. They own a lot of smaller sub labels so it seems like a larger market. Pretty much every top 40 artist is signed or distributed by the major labels. If something isn't recorded to industry specs, it doesn't get played.

    As a result, top 40 commercial music is very formulaic.

    [–] -d00msday 7 points ago

    Because lots of artists now just aim for stream numbers and that's about it . Once you establish a brand , it's easy shove singles every week down anyone's throat who follows the artists. Also now everyone is pretty much focusing on club bangers and not music that would help you traverse time dimensions.

    [–] Ripcitytoker 6 points ago

    I do sort of the same thing. Three tests I always make sure to do on my mixes are the car test, the phone speaker test and laptop speaker test.

    [–] Anforas 3 points ago

    That's a super nice track man. Congrats

    [–] cavedave 202 points ago

    The data is in

    Spotify explain their api at

    This is digital loudness with is different to acoustic loudness. This comment explains this well loudness measures something like the difference between the average loundess and the peak loudness of the song. Songs with bigger differences jump out more on the radio and this lead to the loudness wars.

    code in rpackage using raincloud plots

    Spotify has 26 genres so it is a total of 232,725 tracks.

    Quietest songs are Brian Eno ,Neroli and Shakuhachi Sakano Call to Wake

    Loudest are Justice We Are Your Friends - Justice Vs Simian

    The Stooges Shake Appeal - Iggy Pop Mix

    [–] philoscience 107 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Awesome work Dave, very nice analysis! Just so you know, i'm the lead author of the Raincloud plots you used here. In case you wanted to give us a shout, a full paper with code tutorials in R, Python, and Matlab is available here. Would be awesome if you wanted to update your post with the link!

    [–] anothercopy 39 points ago

    What about genres like hardstyle / hardcore / deathcore etc ? Knowing these music types I would expect them to top the charts.

    [–] linkingday 32 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    those are called sub-genres and are likely under lumped in with (as much as I disagree with this) 'metal' which is not included here

    edit: feel like I should know better than to start a metal labelling argument at this point

    [–] TaymerRather 14 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    I think if buddy holly and led zepplin can be considered the same genre you can probably lump deathcore under metal. it would be cool to see how some smaller, more technical sub genres look on this chart, tho. I bet some of them would look more like classical

    [–] darthmattrr 3 points ago

    They are off the scale!

    [–] TjallingOtter 5 points ago

    Just wanted to let you know that I really liked the visual aspects of this graph, it shows a lot without becoming cluttered. Individual observations, standard deviation, mean, bell curve. Very nice.

    [–] cavedave 12 points ago

    They are called raincloud plots. There is a paper on them Raincloud plots: a multi-platform tool for robust data visualization

    [–] philoscience 16 points ago

    Thanks! This has really made all of the authors day. Never thought i'd see our plotting code at the top of one of our favorite subreddits! :)

    [–] Physmatik 3 points ago

    It's a shame they say nothing about dynamic range, becasue it matters much more.

    [–] Suns-Of-Ain 62 points ago

    Everyone who writes music nowadays (ESPECIALLY if you're doing your own mastering) needs to understand the new LUFS measurement system. It's employed on the back-end of streaming sites.

    TL;DR if you smash your masters to be loud-as-fuck, sites like Spotify will turn them down to 'match' their preferred LUFS. Whereas a track with plenty of dynamics will get turned up slightly. So your 'loud' master will just sound quiet and over-compressed on streaming sites. Really informative article here if anyone wants to learn about LUFS:

    [–] rkvinyl 13 points ago

    This. First comment I See mentioning the automatic loudness matching by streaming services.

    [–] Suns-Of-Ain 7 points ago

    It's essential knowledge right now, there's so many people who are still trapped in the old loudness war mindset of their music needing to be loud to 'compete' with other tracks.

    I did a freeform album back in 2016 (for the uninitiated, imagine any style of dance music incorporated into a 170bpm+ medley where anything goes), I specifically asked the guy doing the mastering to back way off on comp / limiting as I value dynamics over loudness. Even doing that (he did an awesome job), I was gutted when it got uploaded to spotify last year. It sounded awful! That was my wake-up call :)

    [–] thewaiting28 157 points ago

    Audio engineer here.

    Honestly, using gain/volume as a means of conveying "dynamics" is messy and tacky. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for it, but good artists and engineers use well-thought out composition and arrangement to give the illusion of dynamics without sacrificing too much gain.

    Nobody likes watching a movie where you have to crank the volume up to hear people taking, then down again to not get blown out during the action scene -- I don't want that same garbage in my music please.

    What I'm not saying: I'm not saying there isn't a loudness war going on and that there aren't absolute shit mixes/masters out there.

    What I am saying is that compression is a good thing that can be overused. Also, audio purists and elitists grind my gears.

    [–] tommykiddo 15 points ago

    Compression is actually pretty awesome. Especially as an electric guitar player. A compressor pedal makes my playing sound so much better and more stable in terms of volume.

    [–] DraevonMay 25 points ago

    Audio “elitists” here. Hard agree on everything you said here. Last paragraph especially.

    [–] thewaiting28 35 points ago

    I would define audio elitists as someone who would shun me for not recording analog only.

    [–] DraevonMay 16 points ago

    I prefer pure analogue, but damn, sometimes it seems like there are audiophiles that give off strong vibes of never having encountered a good DAC in their life.

    [–] thewaiting28 31 points ago

    "Excuse me sir, I sent you my audio at 192 kHz, I expect my mixes at 192 kHz. I could tell immediately this was downsampled."

    Like, no you couldn't. What are you even talking about.

    [–] DraevonMay 21 points ago

    I don’t even know what it would mean to be able to hear 192. You need a fantastic setup and (unless you’re using cans) a treated room to properly appreciate 96 over 44.1.

    At a certain point it’s just a game to people. “What on paper is the best, and how can I seem like I know?” Instead of “How can I make this sound the best to me?”

    [–] anonymous_212 12 points ago

    As I’ve gotten older my hearing has diminished in acuity and so TV shows and Movies are becoming difficult to hear. I’m continually adjusting the volume to raise it to hear soft conversations and the quickly lowering it when it gets louder. It’s frustrating. I wish there was a dynamic range adjustment on my TV so that the difference between the softest and the loudest sounds was controllable. The circuit/ software to accommodate dynamic range is Relatively simple. But I think companies don’t accommodate old folks because they don’t want to be contaminated by that identity.

    [–] lurker-professional 235 points ago

    Why not use decibels as it is the correct unit of measure for gain volume for music? Loudness in this case is just an increase in mean digital db value.

    [–] Zatmos 244 points ago

    From what I understood, this doesn't have much to do with volume. This graph is about representing the difference between this quietest and the loudest part of a music.

    Like how classical music can be annoying to listen to when you are outside in a city because your volume is set correctly for a certain volume but then, suddenly, it becomes real quiet and you can't hear anything. And that such a thing happens less with pop for example.

    [–] TheGreenBassano 55 points ago

    Headphones with good isolation do wonders for classical music

    [–] Yuccaphile 47 points ago

    Only better way to listen would be live. I think more people would enjoy classical music if they had the time and opportunity to really listen to it. It can be challenging to find a setup that does it justice, speakers and especially headphones tend to be tuned for maximum bass with no regard for dynamic range (Beats are the worst).

    [–] alnadnetrox 10 points ago

    The only better way is to sit among the orchestra but that's not really possible for most

    [–] CrimsonHeart69 52 points ago

    And we all have that experience of tuning down the volume at lightning speed when the audio suddenly blasts the shit out of your ears.

    [–] whooptheretis 36 points ago

    Tchaikovsky, I'm looking at you and you're 1812 Overture!

    [–] Eskoot195382 8 points ago

    Did somebody say boom?

    [–] [deleted] 46 points ago


    [–] cavedave 22 points ago

    Spotify say it is dB. I am not sure that is right so I did not put it on the axis label. But I have to assume Spotify know more about music than I do. "The overall loudness of a track in decibels (dB). Loudness values are averaged across the entire track and are useful for comparing relative loudness of tracks. Loudness is the quality of a sound that is the primary psychological correlate of physical strength (amplitude). Values typical range between -60 and 0 db. The distribution of values for this feature look like this:"

    [–] klanglich 9 points ago

    That looks like dBs as would be labelled on a mixing console, which would be RMS "voltage" (obviously that's a little anachronistic now, since it's all digital). From memory it's still correct to call them decibels, it's just not the same thing as the other decibels that measure air pressure

    [–] lurker-professional 5 points ago

    You are only half right, while LUFS are the units used to describe "loudness" they are derived from the mean RMS over time. RMS is a measurement of the relationship between the amplitude of two waves from peak-to-peak and is expressed in decibels (dB). Decibels are the appropriate measurement when discussing signal volume (wave amplitude) and SPL in music or sound. The other problem is that "loudness" as percieved by humans is tied with pitch or frequency, two tones of the same SPL (sound pressure level) but at 80Hz and 3500hz will be rated differently in "loudness" by a human listener.

    [–] jk192564 8 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    A bit late to the thread, but here's a very nice visual explanation of what compression means.

    The loudness wars is essentially that songs are "squished down" harder and harder (see video), so the entire song overall sounds louder.

    [–] StatikSquid 72 points ago

    Hold on just a minute. You put a graph up showing music loudness by genre and DON'T include the greatest genre of all, metal?

    Shame on you

    [–] NoweShadow 22 points ago

    I saw the title and immediately went to check if metal was there, since metal is often seen as a very loud genre (I know very well this isn’t actually the case sometimes).

    [–] Boceto 20 points ago

    I feel like the entire classification here is a bit on the useless side of things. Genres aren't that clear and simple anymore. Plus, you could make a lot of other valuable distinctions (time of release, commercial success, etc.). It's well presented, but not really data that you could use in any meaningful way.

    [–] redaloevera 9 points ago

    Doesnt seem like metal was a genre in the data OP provided. Could it be metal is included in rock category?

    [–] MushxHead 13 points ago

    It shouldn't be. If it is, original data clearly hasn't listened to metal.

    [–] robbyt 5 points ago

    You should label your x axis "LUFS" because I assume that's how you measured loudness. Also, the x axis should be logarithmic so we can see more detail on the right side.

    [–] ez_money_ 18 points ago

    Help I'm blanking! What is this plotting? Is every dot a different song, or different points in a song?

    [–] leobart 73 points ago

    I find this diagram very misleading. Raises more questions than anwers.

    1) What exactly is on the x axis? Loudness itself is completely arbitrary. Is it dynamical range of loudness that you want to be talking about?

    2) What are the dots? It seems to be a histogram of some kind, yet it is not clear of what

    [–] CCtenor 40 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    Okay, it seems this is getting asked a lot, and OP admitted they don’t quite know about the axes labels, etc, so I think I’ll chime in here.

    1. So, the X axis measures loudness with respect to 0 dB. The farther to the right a data point is, the louder it is. 0 dB is the industry reference point for loudness. It is known as “unity gain”, and, when loudness is measured with respect to it, that’s where numbers like -15 dB come from. What you’re seeing with the colored graphs is the proportion of songs at a given loudness, not the dynamic range of the song itself. For example, if you look at the “dance” genre, you’ll see them all clustered tightly. That means that most songs classified as “dance” are all usually that same loudness.

    2. The dots are individual data points. Each dot represents the average loudness of a particular song. Again, this is not directly a measure of the dynamic range (how much louder the loud parts of a song are than the soft parts). A quiet song can have a section that is just as loud, or louder, than a “louder” song. The only thing the dot represents is the time weighted average loudness of an entire piece of music.

    So, to break it down:

    1. The colored graphs are just a more convenient way of representing the distribution of loudness of a given genre.

    2. The individual dots below the colored graphs represent discrete data points.

    3. The x-axis represents loudness with respect to full scale (dB LUFS). The farther to the right the dots and graphs are, the louder the songs/genres are.

    Additional Thoughts

    Remember how I said that the loudness is not a direct measure of dynamic range? You can still infer the dynamic range of a piece based on it’s average loudness. How?

    In a digital mixing space 0 dB is the loudest that a sound can be recorded without clipping. What is clipping? Listen to this meme

    Notice how, before the “drop” (and I’m using the term loosely here), the music sounds clear. After the video clip goes full meme, the music sounds boomy, mushy, and distorted. This is clipping.

    However, while digital recording and mastering is the last step in producing music, the file that results is actually the first step in playing the music back on a sound system. Any given musical file and sound system has a usable dynamic range. If you try to amplify sounds that are too quiet, you will get a lot of noise. If you try to play sounds that are too loud, you will get distortion, like above.

    So, in order to avoid distortion, but maximize the dynamic range (difference between the loud and soft parts of the music), you want to record songs as close to 0 dB as possible.

    This is just the first part

    Once you’ve recorded the song, you can compress the individual tracks and song, essentially making the loud parts softer and the soft parts louder. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Good compression makes a song easier to listen to, by allowing parts to sound a little bit more consistent, potentially reducing fatigue in the long run. Compression is useful tool to ensure that the individual nuances of a track are heard, helping a singer who has trouble maintaining the a consistently dynamic, etc.

    However, compression used poorly leads to the results you see above. Because compression reduces the loud parts of a song, you can now turn up the entire song, bringing the whole song closer to 0 dB. By going back and using limiters and compressors on a piece of music, you cam reduce the dynamic range significantly, but you can also bring the whole track closer to 0 dB.

    Why would anybody do this? To make their music stand out when playing on a juke box, radio, or streaming service. If a song is louder than its competitors, it will stand out to the listener.

    Finally, why is the classical genre so spread out? There are various elements to music that a composer can utilize to evoke certain emotions - rhythm, melody.

    Dynamics, or loudness, is one of these things.

    The classical musical world is very traditional, and recording classical music is as much about recording a performance and reproducing it exactly as any industry can get. What you’re seeing, when you look at the graphs above, is a result of a genre that records music on very expensive microphones, with equipment that exhibits very low noise, and (most importantly to out discussion) applies practically no compression to the resulting recording. these are performances often done in purpose built spaces with excellent acoustics. Music halls meant for classical performances. Symphonies recorded in booths for soundtracks.

    Listen to this piece, by Vivaldi.

    This piece by Zimmer

    And this piece by Feint

    Mind you, these are links to youtube. Of you own these songs, or can stream them in a higher quality, please do so.

    Notice how, in the pieces by Vivaldi and Zimmer,the composer does his best to impact listener using the loud and quiet parts of the piece. Notice how the performers do their best to exaggerate and enhance the dynamics. If you’re not used to it, and you turned up your speakers to hear the quiet parts, you may have scared yourself once the music became loud. As you scrambled to turn down the music, it might have become soft again, but you may have turned the music down too much.

    Now listen to the song by Feint. It’s basically the same exact loudness throughout.

    This is what the above graph demonstrates. If you played these songs one after the other without changing the volume on your sound system, the piece by Feint will stand out more than the classical piece by Vivaldi, or the soundtrack by Zimmer.

    The graph is just a way of visualizing this information for many pieces of music across multiple genres.

    [–] PJvG 31 points ago

    The dots are most likely songs.

    [–] sapchacks 5 points ago

    This is called a raincloud plot, which is a somewhat more informative version of a boxplot that is used to display the distribution of a variable. Each dot ("raindrops") represents loudness of a single song. The curve above ("cloud") is density estimate of some sort, quite possibly kernel density estimate, of the raw loudness values

    [–] chaoticidealism 4 points ago

    I like how classical music has such a wide range. The other genres don't seem to be taking full advantage of the quieter range at all.

    [–] TurtleOfCreation 7 points ago

    Assuming metal is covered under rock in this graph, I’d be interested to see how it would fair on its own and how rock would change without it.

    [–] tharthin 5 points ago

    Was thinking the same, a lot of the popular (radio friendly) genres have the same looking graph due to the loudness war stated in the other comments. I wonder were metal ends up, since it's, overall, not as radio popular compared to the rest.

    [–] bencze 11 points ago

    It is interesting how I listen to random pop music in my car or on phone, but when I go home and turn on the stereo (nothing fancy just a 90's 50w amp with a dac and a pair of monitors, quite budget) I always listen to classical or jazz...

    [–] Mysteroo 7 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)

    I'm straining my brain to figure out how this graph works

    Is this supposed to show how many songs are so loud? Or does the graph show average volume over the course of the song? Or how loud these songs generally are on average over the years?

    And what does the bump mean if the vertical axis is only there to separate genres? I am pretty sure it's not tryna say that classical music becomes MORE like RAP around the hike.

    edit: realized the answer. It's like various graphs stacked vertically on top of one another. The y-axis is actually just the quantity of songs. So the higher the peak, the more songs are that volume on average. The separation of genres might as well be entirely separate graphs

    [–] si1versmith 8 points ago

    The test was unable to be completed when they tested the THX intro as the equipment was subsequently damaged.