FAQ

08
Will you make my CD louder than a hydrogen bomb if I ask nicely?

Sure. But we don't recommend it. If you're reading this, then you've probaby heard of the so-called "volume wars". Here's our quick take on things.

The basic volume ceiling or capacity of a CD is a preset value, a level that was decided many decades ago when the CD standard was invented. The trend in popular music over the past two decades has been to milk this capacity for all it is worth, and it has caused people to produce louder and louder CD's -- this means that your stereo (or smartphone or computer or whatever is playing back) has to do less work for a record to sound loud, i.e. you don't have to turn up the volume control as much. On cheap stereos there is some benefit to this, as bad components are very inefficient and don't perform well when made to work hard. A really quiet CD sounds thin and empty on fresh-out-of-the-box bargain white ipod headphones.

However, people have lost sight of the middle ground, and there has been a recent movement to sacrifice depth, dynamics, and clarity in the name of being LOUD. Many discs released in the last few years have distortion, tiny stereo images, reduced depth, and an overall two-dimensional sound, all done on purpose in the name of making a CD a little louder. The general consensus is that this gimmick is already going out of style. The point being, you don't want your CD loud just for the sake of being loud -- we will help you achieve the optimal combination of volume, dynamics, breadth, and depth that will make your music sound wonderful in all listening environments. This is the recipe for making a record with staying power.

A great open letter by mastering engineer Bob Ludwig on the mastering of the Guns 'n Roses album.

A brief and helpful primer article by the IEEE on the loudness wars.

This Youtube clip is not entirely accurate nor definitive, but it offers a good audio/visual primer to loudness issues.

There is also a lengthy Wikipedia discussion on the loudness wars.






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