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The Loudness War: Dynamic Range over the years, An analysis of the DR database
guerrillero
post Feb 19 2013, 14:16
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QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 19 2013, 12:41) *
Although I had this concern as well, I don't think it is that much of a problem. Note that almost 15,000 albums were included, I have sufficient reason to believe that there is enough 'spread' in genre, dynamic range, etc.

if self-selection is going on, a large sample size does not help you. stats can and often will be biased even asymptotically. the representation of certain genres may never approach their population counterparts. so, if certain genres are under- (or overrepresented) and those genres had a different path of DR, your stats are misleading. and i can very easily imagine that certain genres (such as classical, folk music, country) which are quantitatively important in the population as a whole are not too much included in the database you got.
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Kohlrabi
post Feb 19 2013, 14:21
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QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 19 2013, 13:21) *
QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 08:20) *
This is hardly scientific, ...
Indeed. It's also possible to say that the US album sales decline started with the introduction of foobar2000 smile.gif
I'm very well aware that correlation does not lead to causation, but isn't the decrease of product quality leading to a decrease in sales a very straightforward hypothesis? At the very least it's not too far fetched. smile.gif I'm merely trying to point to yet uninvestigated grounds.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Feb 19 2013, 14:26


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extrabigmehdi
post Feb 19 2013, 14:42
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QUOTE (Kees de Visser @ Feb 19 2013, 12:21) *
QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 19 2013, 08:20) *
This is hardly scientific, ...

I think one of the problems is that consumers probably don't know the exact reasons why they buy less albums, so that's for researchers to find out. Sound quality should be on the list, but I doubt that it's a main factor.


I think the availability of very varied content on the net, is such, that people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists".
We don't believe anymore in "stars". And often the productions that we hear on radio appear as unoriginal (auto tune ,"standard" forgettable pop).
There was a time I was obsessed by anything released by Michael Jackson, now thank to Internet my musical taste are wider, and I just don't have the mood to hear any Michael Jackson album again. I'm also tempted to say that the pop music died with its king.
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rick.hughes
post Feb 19 2013, 14:42
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I have the impression that a lot of people buy mostly singles online instead of albums. And music services like Spotify, Pandora. The album format is probably just not as popular among new buyers as it was for us.
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dhromed
post Feb 19 2013, 14:57
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QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Feb 19 2013, 14:42) *
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".


I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

The past had plenty of such forgettable popular artists, but... you've forgotten them.
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bug80
post Feb 19 2013, 15:03
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QUOTE (guerrillero @ Feb 19 2013, 14:16) *
QUOTE (bug80 @ Feb 19 2013, 12:41) *
Although I had this concern as well, I don't think it is that much of a problem. Note that almost 15,000 albums were included, I have sufficient reason to believe that there is enough 'spread' in genre, dynamic range, etc.

if self-selection is going on, a large sample size does not help you. stats can and often will be biased even asymptotically. the representation of certain genres may never approach their population counterparts. so, if certain genres are under- (or overrepresented) and those genres had a different path of DR, your stats are misleading. and i can very easily imagine that certain genres (such as classical, folk music, country) which are quantitatively important in the population as a whole are not too much included in the database you got.

I understand your points, and agree with them for a large part. However, I still think that self-selection is more likely to result in an "overall" bias than a "per-year" bias, in other words, it should not affect the trend(s) too much. I still believe the size of the database is a strong point; and if I browse through it I do not observe a clear bias towards low or high DR-values (this is not scientific at all, I realize that).

For completeness: here is the distribution (# albums per DR-value):



Now, we could debate if this looks like a valid distribution for a big population... I have no idea personally.
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guerrillero
post Feb 19 2013, 15:12
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Feb 19 2013, 14:57) *
QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Feb 19 2013, 14:42) *
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".

I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

i think it should be relatively easy to find evidence which supports extrabigmehdi's hypothesis. there is more and more fragmentation. i haven't looked at the numbers, but i would fully expect that the numbers confirm this. the number of sales you need nowadays to make it into the billboard top 40 mainstream (or hot 100) are at historic lows. fewer and fewer album make gold or better. which mainstream superstars remain except for adele?
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bug80
post Feb 19 2013, 15:15
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QUOTE (guerrillero @ Feb 19 2013, 15:12) *
QUOTE (dhromed @ Feb 19 2013, 14:57) *
QUOTE (extrabigmehdi @ Feb 19 2013, 14:42) *
people are loosing interest for "mainstream artists". We don't believe anymore in "stars".

I see nothing in the current world that suggests this.

i think it should be relatively easy to find evidence which supports extrabigmehdi's hypothesis. there is more and more fragmentation. i haven't looked at the numbers, but i would fully expect that the numbers confirm this. the number of sales you need nowadays to make it into the billboard top 40 mainstream (or hot 100) are at historic lows. fewer and fewer album make gold or better. which mainstream superstars remain except for adele?

In the current musical climate, maybe the number of concert goers is a better measure for 'popularity' than album sales? In that case, I think there are more superstars than ever. Lots of artists sell out big arenas, from Justin Bieber to Muse to Taylor Swift to Kanye West.
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extrabigmehdi
post Feb 19 2013, 16:03
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Well I believe in fragmentation of market, because of the exploding number of new musical "genres" available.

Roughly 20 year before, I've never heard of:
- psytrance
- psychill
- dark ambient
- witch house
- progressive metal / progressive rock / progressive whatever
- dark wave
- ebm
- idm
- glitch music
- shoegaze
- krautrock
- noise music
- stoner rock
- industrial
- etc..

But I shouldn't omit stuff that depend of world regions:
- surf music
- gamelean music
- jpop & kpop
- etc...

From what I've understood , back in time, disco music, was the mainstream music. Then for an unknown reason there was a backlash,
and it switched to pop. Maybe pop music need a backlash too, because I don't consider that pop music is as popular as before.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco#Backlash_and_decline

This post has been edited by extrabigmehdi: Feb 19 2013, 16:03
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hawkeye_p
post Feb 19 2013, 16:07
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Well at least Krautrock was invented way longer than 20 years before!
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probedb
post Feb 19 2013, 16:07
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Prog rock, industrial, stoner etc were around over 20 years ago smile.gif Some others are just maybe more precise classifications than before whilst others are simply different names for existing genres.

This post has been edited by probedb: Feb 19 2013, 16:08
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extrabigmehdi
post Feb 19 2013, 16:19
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QUOTE (probedb @ Feb 19 2013, 15:07) *
Prog rock, industrial, stoner etc were around over 20 years ago smile.gif Some others are just maybe more precise classifications than before whilst others are simply different names for existing genres.


Perhaps, but my point is that Internet helped to increase awareness for alternate musical genres.
Before the taste of people was "formatted", because of what was available on radio, and "brick and mortars" stores.
So it was easier for an artist to please everyone, and for an album to sell well.
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greynol
post Feb 19 2013, 16:33
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Don't tell Kansas and Yes fans that!

Also, disco was pop. Pop is and always will be a transitive genre.

So quickly the youth forget that before the internet there was a thing called radio. You could listen to different types of music by choosing a band and changing stations.

I don't doubt that music has grown with the population and the communication age has helped to increase awareness, but the sub-division of music styles is hardly new. Have a look at the various types of jazz music as an example.

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 19 2013, 16:45


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Porcus
post Feb 19 2013, 16:44
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Obviously there's a greater chance of knowing more about musical genres after having been obsessed with music for twenty years, than before.

Still, I think more diversity has evolved out, and that the information technology has made narrower niches more available, both through the opportunity to find it without a radio antenna and airplay, and through the diminished costs of creating and releasing music. The huge increase in the number of releases seem to confirm this ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/...at-the-numbers/ ).


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2Bdecided
post Feb 19 2013, 18:07
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I suspect people's assumptions about music sales are incorrect (in the UK at least)...
2012 was the biggest year for sales of singles in British history
http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/t...-revealed-1784/

Popular tracks routinely sell more than half a million copies in the UK...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...st_century_(UK)

best selling single each year...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...es_by_year_(UK)

lowest selling number ones...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Singles_Ch...ling_number_one

I am not sure you can make a case for long-term decline in album sales, or decline of concentration of sales in major artists either...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-..._United_Kingdom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-...ms_by_year_(UK)


It is a somewhat fanciful comparison across the decades (a single has never cost so little as a download does today!), but still, they are still selling major artist music in huge quantities. People are freely streaming and illegally downloadling major artist music in major quantities too...
http://www.officialcharts.com/official-streaming-chart/

Cheers,
David.
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ianshepherd
post Feb 19 2013, 21:22
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For those who are interested, I'm compiling a page of research materials on the loudness war here:

http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk/research/

In particular Earl Vickers has shown that there is in fact no correlation between loudness and sales:

http://www.sfxmachine.com/docs/loudnesswar/

And as far as efforts to persuade Apple are concerned, there is also this initiative:

http://music-loudness.com/

Personally I feel the war is very far from over, and would like to invite anyone who feels strongly about this issue to take part in Dynamic Range Day this year on March 22nd.

Cheers,

Ian

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icstm
post Feb 28 2013, 15:55
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is this dataset somewhere to download?

I would love to cut this by year and genre and see these distributions for each.
To me it is clear that we have lost DR and that this is a shame as live music is very much about DR.

This post has been edited by db1989: Feb 28 2013, 19:20
Reason for edit: A question this general in no way warrants a screen-high quotation of an old post, graph and all.
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bug80
post Mar 11 2013, 09:10
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QUOTE (icstm @ Feb 28 2013, 15:55) *
is this dataset somewhere to download?

I would love to cut this by year and genre and see these distributions for each.
To me it is clear that we have lost DR and that this is a shame as live music is very much about DR.

I downloaded all pages in the database recursively using wget and parsed them using an Octave script. You could do the same?
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icstm
post Mar 11 2013, 19:54
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As you have so expertly done teh work can I just ask you for a copy? ermm.gif
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bernhold
post May 4 2013, 21:15
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I always wondered what the reason of the loudness war for CD albums is?

I understand the motivation behind increasing loudness for competing radio channels and commercials, but why do they increase loudness on audio CDs? How does it increase sales? I mean, it's not like, "wow, this album is louder than the last one I listened to, I'm gonna buy this", is it? How are potential customers affected by it?
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db1989
post May 4 2013, 21:22
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I won’t claim to speak for our industry-minded members or anyone else who has thought about the question analytically, but honestly, it might be as simplistic as the labels thinking they should maximise all of their songs in case any of them get played on radio—and not realising that radio stations tend to have their own compressing systems anyway, which will make the labels’ pre-processing not only unnecessary but also often detrimental.

Of course, talk of the original impetus might not be so relevant now if engineers are just riding a long-established bandwagon. Who needs a reason for something when all you’re doing is following a trend? All those other albums are loud, so this one has to be too. An even simpler reason.
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smok3
post May 5 2013, 14:21
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Is there a link/explanation to what exactly DR is and how it was measured/calculated? (My limited LRA tests show that situation is not really that horrible and that the LRA can change wildly across the album, so probably average is not really a good measuring point. And I don't really listen to trash/death-metal)
example: https://bash-o-saurus-rex.googlecode.com/gi...ample-scans.txt

This post has been edited by smok3: May 5 2013, 14:43


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soundping
post May 5 2013, 17:19
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Maybe hearing loss inspired the loudness wars?
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Gecko
post May 5 2013, 19:26
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I've always pictured a room full of record-label executives auditioning a large number of potential new releases in a very short time. If all records are played with the same gain, quiet records will sound weak in comparison to the hard limited competition and will thus flunk.

Of course I don't know if any labels actually operate like that.
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2Bdecided
post May 6 2013, 19:43
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QUOTE (Gecko @ May 5 2013, 19:26) *
I've always pictured a room full of record-label executives auditioning a large number of potential new releases in a very short time. If all records are played with the same gain, quiet records will sound weak in comparison to the hard limited competition and will thus flunk.

Of course I don't know if any labels actually operate like that.

That's pretty much how they compiled the BBC radio 1 playlist. I've seen a film from the 1970s showing just what you describe. I guess it took the widespread adoption of CDs to make the loudness war go nuclear though.

Cheers,
David.

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