Loudness Wars Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.08.48 PM

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my blog post on winning the loudness wars earlier this week, so I made some examples to put this in perspective. Don’t analyse or anything first, just play the first one and turn up your monitors until it sounds nice and loud like you’d normally listen to your music:


Now without touching the volume, play the second one:


Both of these were peak normalized to read -20 LUFS (Loudness Units Full Scale), just like they would be in the ITU-R 1770 spec we’re talking about. The actual number doesn’t matter here, just the fact they they are both set to the same LUFS value, and thus should sound the same loudness.

At first listen, not too much different right? So big sigh of relief people, we’re not talking a huge change here. 🙂

However, when you listen a little closer, hopefully you can hear that the second file is a little less punchy, just as loud but not quite the same impact from the sounds. A tiny bit distorted too, a side-effect often times of the volume levels we must master to today.

So there’s definitely an audible difference, but it’s not huge. At least in this example, I’ve heard worse with examples like these.  Like I said, some people won’t care given that it’s not a huge difference. For those that do, likely it means you’re just going to be mixing and mastering the same as before, you just won’t use a peak limiter at the end. That’s it.

Same EQ and colorful compression if you want, but no need to slam it to make it loud, as you can hear it’ll be just as loud as one you do limit. So why bother? Aesthetic reasons perhaps, but it won’t be a knee jerk reaction that you apply to every song as a matter of course like it is now.

Hope that helps!

(Don’t forget to turn your monitors back down 🙂 )

Leave a Reply