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The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years, An analysis of the DR database
bug80
post Feb 19 2013, 00:05
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I thought it would be interesting to see how the Dynamic Range (Album DR) has developed over the years, and if this shows a clear picture about the development of the Loudness War. In order to check this, I made a dump of the DR database. I choose to focus on the period 1985-2012. The figure above shows the mean DR-value per year (the error bars represent the standard error). It is clear that, overall, the Dynamic Range of albums has decreased in this period from approximately 13 dB to the 8-9 dB range. It is also interesting to see that the minimum mean value is reached in 2008, the year that Death Magnetic was released. In 2009, we see an increase of +/- 0.5 dB (a double-sided t-test shows that this difference is statistically significant at the 0.01 level). Maybe this has to do with the awareness created by this album with respect to the Loudness War?

Furthermore, it seems that the Dynamic Range does not further decrease over the last four years. Has the Loudness War come to an end?

Finally, the figure below shows the number of albums per year that were analyzed. In total, 14,680 albums were included in the analysis.



This post has been edited by db1989: Feb 19 2013, 10:12
Reason for edit: as per request in post #11
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DigitalMan
post Feb 19 2013, 03:58
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The increasing sample size of albums analyzed in later years would explain the narrower error bars.

Nice work compiling this data.

Just for entertainment purposes - can you tell us which albums have the highest and lowest DR in the database and what value are those DRs?


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Kohlrabi
post Feb 19 2013, 08:20
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QUOTE (DigitalMan @ Feb 19 2013, 03:58) *
Just for entertainment purposes - can you tell us which albums have the highest and lowest DR in the database and what value are those DRs?
Lowest and highest. The lowest DR is an electronic music album, the highest a spoken word one. DR database sadly misses info about producer, mastering engineer and label. I guess you could easily see a pattern, then.

I tried to dig up album sales numbers from 1970 to 2012, but I only found a graph from a blog entry going up until 2009 (the blog entry is also highly critical of the inference by the RIAA):

If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

My point is that not only the availability of cheaper alternative might explain the dwindling sales, but also a decrease in product quality. This is Business Administration 101. I also expect to see the delay I mentioned in models and real data, I just have to spend some time going through papers now...

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Feb 19 2013, 08:57


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cliveb
post Feb 19 2013, 09:29
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QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 07:20) *
If you apply a phase of a few years, the decline in sales very much fits to the decrease in DR. The phase can be explained by the delay with which people realize that their CDs sounded worse and worse, until they stopped buying. This is hardly scientific, yet, but I think nobody has looked into correlations between dwindling sales and the DR/fidelity decrease due to the loudness war? Everyone always sprouts the conjecture that digital sales/piracy is to blame, but who can really tell? Maybe people got fed up paying and listening to tiresome recordings, and found other, cheaper, sources to obtain them. At least the knee in the graph which says "Napster begins" could also say "Loudness War in full effect".

There are plnty of other possible reasons for the decrease in sales, and IMHO the primary reason is the increase in entertainment vehicles chasing the domestic buyer's dollar. A person's disposable income is simply shared out amongst a greater number of options. That knee in the graph could just as easily say "video games consoles take off", "PC sales escalate", or "home video becomes widespread".
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Posts in this topic
- bug80   The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years   Feb 19 2013, 00:05
- - extrabigmehdi   Interesting graph. QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 18 201...   Feb 19 2013, 01:19
- - Fandango   Hm, I wonder how they managed to produce CDs in th...   Feb 19 2013, 02:06
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (Fandango @ Feb 19 2013, 01:06) Hm,...   Feb 19 2013, 02:59
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Feb 19 2013, 02:59...   Feb 19 2013, 10:10
- - DigitalMan   The increasing sample size of albums analyzed in l...   Feb 19 2013, 03:58
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (DigitalMan @ Feb 19 2013, 03:58) J...   Feb 19 2013, 08:20
|- - cliveb   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 07:20) If ...   Feb 19 2013, 09:29
||- - bug80   QUOTE (cliveb @ Feb 19 2013, 09:29) QUOTE...   Feb 19 2013, 09:53
|||- - db1989   QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 19 2013, 08:53) Howeve...   Feb 19 2013, 10:12
|||- - bug80   QUOTE (Porcus @ Feb 19 2013, 10:10) QUOTE...   Feb 19 2013, 10:22
||- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (cliveb @ Feb 19 2013, 09:29) QUOTE...   Feb 19 2013, 12:58
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 08:20) ...   Feb 19 2013, 10:07
||- - Porcus   QUOTE (dhromed @ Feb 19 2013, 10:07) QUOT...   Feb 19 2013, 10:28
||- - Jplus   QUOTE (dhromed @ Feb 19 2013, 10:07) QUOT...   Feb 19 2013, 13:06
|- - Kees de Visser   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 08:20) Thi...   Feb 19 2013, 13:21
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 19 2013, 13:2...   Feb 19 2013, 14:21
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 19 2013, 12:2...   Feb 19 2013, 14:42
|- - dhromed   QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Feb 19 2013, 14:42...   Feb 19 2013, 14:57
|- - guerrillero   QUOTE (dhromed @ Feb 19 2013, 14:57) QUOT...   Feb 19 2013, 15:12
|- - bug80   QUOTE (guerrillero @ Feb 19 2013, 15:12) ...   Feb 19 2013, 15:15
- - mzil   QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 18 2013, 19:05) Furthe...   Feb 19 2013, 07:01
|- - bug80   QUOTE (Fandango @ Feb 19 2013, 02:06) Hm,...   Feb 19 2013, 08:10
- - LithosZA   QUOTE There are plnty of other possible reasons fo...   Feb 19 2013, 09:46
- - shadowking   I have to sadly agree: We lost - at least with ...   Feb 19 2013, 10:04
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (shadowking @ Feb 19 2013, 09:04) A...   Feb 19 2013, 10:33
- - Engelsstaub   I would honestly settle for the solid DR 9 average...   Feb 19 2013, 10:43
- - guerrillero   the problem i have with this data is the following...   Feb 19 2013, 11:17
|- - bug80   QUOTE (guerrillero @ Feb 19 2013, 11:17) ...   Feb 19 2013, 12:41
|- - guerrillero   QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 19 2013, 12:41) Althou...   Feb 19 2013, 14:16
|- - bug80   QUOTE (guerrillero @ Feb 19 2013, 14:16) ...   Feb 19 2013, 15:03
|- - icstm   is this dataset somewhere to download? I would lo...   Feb 28 2013, 15:55
|- - bug80   QUOTE (icstm @ Feb 28 2013, 15:55) is thi...   Mar 11 2013, 09:10
- - Porcus   Re the selection issue: I am not so concerned abou...   Feb 19 2013, 14:15
|- - BFG   It's interesting that Muslimgauze has an album...   May 20 2013, 19:21
|- - delusionn   QUOTE (BFG @ May 20 2013, 14:21) It's...   May 20 2013, 19:26
- - rick.hughes   I have the impression that a lot of people buy mos...   Feb 19 2013, 14:42
- - extrabigmehdi   Well I believe in fragmentation of market, because...   Feb 19 2013, 16:03
- - hawkeye_p   Well at least Krautrock was invented way longer th...   Feb 19 2013, 16:07
- - probedb   Prog rock, industrial, stoner etc were around over...   Feb 19 2013, 16:07
|- - extrabigmehdi   QUOTE (probedb @ Feb 19 2013, 15:07) Prog...   Feb 19 2013, 16:19
- - greynol   Don't tell Kansas and Yes fans that! Also...   Feb 19 2013, 16:33
- - Porcus   Obviously there's a greater chance of knowing ...   Feb 19 2013, 16:44
- - 2Bdecided   I suspect people's assumptions about music sal...   Feb 19 2013, 18:07
- - ianshepherd   For those who are interested, I'm compiling a ...   Feb 19 2013, 21:22
- - icstm   As you have so expertly done teh work can I just a...   Mar 11 2013, 19:54
- - bernhold   I always wondered what the reason of the loudness ...   May 4 2013, 21:15
- - db1989   I won’t claim to speak for our industry-minded mem...   May 4 2013, 21:22
- - smok3   Is there a link/explanation to what exactly DR is ...   May 5 2013, 14:21
- - soundping   Maybe hearing loss inspired the loudness wars?   May 5 2013, 17:19
- - Gecko   I've always pictured a room full of record-lab...   May 5 2013, 19:26
|- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Gecko @ May 5 2013, 19:26) I'v...   May 6 2013, 19:43
- - audiofilaid   I'm reading "Appetite For Destuction: The...   May 15 2013, 23:20
- - delusionn   I just did a data visualization and a background p...   May 20 2013, 18:29
- - AliceWonder   I can't comment on why sales have declined but...   Mar 23 2014, 22:05


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