LOUDNESS WAR - alternative mix for hifi/headphones



This post is for people who listen to spotify using either a hifi, any decent cans (headphones), or any decent speakers in general. We need to fix the following problems BEFORE increasing bitrate in the future.


Better mastered version as an option for spotify paying members (see above links). The loudness war really started to affect music quality on albums released from mid-late 90s onwards. Even putting more non remastered CD versions on spotify from albums pre 90s, as an option for people to listen to is a start (many originals blow the remasters out the window - they shouldn't, but they do because of all the compression that's added to a lot of remasters).


In the 21st century, typical digital albums and CDs to have a very Low Dynamic Range (see 1999 in the image above - the signal is all loud and there's no quiet parts. Everything is effectively the same volume which sounds crap on headphones or hifi)


For modern albums, every paying member should have the option of a well mastered album version to listen to. Before you tell us this can't be done, every modern vinyl and CD comes from the same pristine digital master, yet only CDs are intentially compressed to hell before being released. The high quality digital master for the vinyl rarely contains any compression, even on new albums. Spotify and amazon mp3 etc encode there collections from the loudness war'd CDs, why can't premium members have the option of listening to a 320kbps of the actual master or the audiophile master intended for vinyl, so that there's no DR compression. Paying members deserve high quality!!!


Music on spotify should have a dynamic range reading so that people can pick the version at a glance. The only alternative to a DR rating is descriptive terms such as Quiet Version (must be non compressed album version for headphones or hifi) or LOUD Version (for the standard commercial compressed version). There is a dynamic range scanner available at the 2nd link above.



By far my favourite feature in spotify is the drop down menu next to the album. If you don't care about audio quality, then you don't have to click on it (just listen to the album on top). However If you care about audio quality, you can click on it and go searching for a better sounding version.

If you've seen the 2 links above, you'll note that the thing that bothers me the most about new commercial cds, spotify and iTunes etc is that all the audio is encoded from the same master, quite the problem when most of your cds mastered or remastered after 1995 look and sound as squashed in dynamic range as the 1st waveform in this audacity screen shot from wikipedia.
This first waveform is usually called LOUD version by the music industry, due to the style of mastering. All the detail in the commercial CD, done away with before being shipped, just to make it sound louder in comparison to another CD when played at exactly the same volume. The mp3 in the 2nd wave form, taken from a more careful mastering job shows the detail that is missing from the 1st wave form.

Lossless is of course the future, but through years of experience with audio quality, let this sink in, a 320 kbps mp3 ripped from a high quality master (e.g. a well mastered new vinyl or well mastered CD) will easily sound a lot better than a CD that is taken from your average dynamic range compressed master. If a CD has crap audio quality (as most do now) and you encode it to FLAC, then what's your FLAC going to sound like??? You know the answer! People don't realise how bad the quality is that they're listening to until they get hold of an older CD. The labels choose to create masters with the loudest possible audio signal, because the music labels don't care about audio quality. There are many people out there including myself that want that to change.

Another example, Nevermind by Nirvana officially remastered and released on hdtracks as 24/96khz flac has severe dynamic compression (DR7), the 2496 was compressed to bits because it was intended to be the new version used for the CD remaster. The original CD (DR12) or a 320 kbps mp3 taken from that well mastered cd (therefore DR12) easily blows that crappy remaster out the window.

Updated: 2015-11-17


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