Author Topic: Too loud!  (Read 3293 times)

Joe R

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Too loud!
« on: February 11, 2009, 03:46:21 PM »
Okay, here's a problem I have never seen discussed anywhere else, but maybe someone here can offer a few insights. Or maybe I'm just nuts.

It seems that CDs are getting progressively louder, especially my ambient discs, and especially through headphones. How can this be? It's gotten to the point that I play my ambient discs on less-than-1 on a scale of ten. And at that level the volume is fine, but then unfortunately it sounds terribly compressed. I recently bought a new receiver to replace my old clunker, but that made no difference. I've finally begun re-burning my favorite CDs/CDRs a half volume to combat this problem, but that gets old, and expensive, and time-consuming after a while.

So what's up? Are musicians recording their music at increasingly higher volumes to compensate for ambient's inherent quietness? Can something be haywire with my disc player itself? Can a volume control be out of whack somewhere? ??? ??? ???

Any advice or info would be appreciated.

mgriffin

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 03:53:19 PM »
Maybe ambient artists & labels are just trying to keep up with the "louder is better" phenomenon that has taken over every corner of popular music.

Actually I would say that there's a problem many ambient CDs not having been properly mastered, so that the volume of different tracks is all over the place within a given CD.  I have a number of small label releases that have tracks that are much louder than other tracks on the same CD, which can be kind of a jolt when you're just listening, relaxing, and all of a sudden your speakers are vibrating like they're trying to shake themselves to pieces.  I'd argue that a volume level, once set during early playback, ought to remain approximately suitable the rest of the way through the CD.
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APK

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 04:37:52 PM »
I've picked up a number albums in the past few years that sound like no one bothered to consider whether the volume or style of tracks was consistent. I assume the label simply released what they were given, and that the artist simply put his most recent 60 minutes of work on it (whether the tracks really went together or not).

Its annoying, especially when a small amount of thought (by the right person) could have easily corrected much of it.

On the loudness thing: yep, I'd imagine more and more ambient artists are upping the levels of their final mixes a bit. Not so bad if the tracks remain consistent (as Mike points out) and are not overly compressed.  Volume, though, can bring out what's bad in a mix ... especially wayward resonances. I have many albums that I think sound better played low. Low volume tends to emphasize low-middle frequencies and drop off the extremes.
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Joe R

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 04:56:40 PM »
Perhaps I should Clarify. I don't think it's all a matter of mastering or mixing. I've re-burned several discs of yours, Anthony- Both of the most recent Lammergeyers (And when they were new they didn't have that "loudness" problem!), the latest Winterhouse, and a few Nunc Stans. And last night I slipped in Roach/Obmana- Spirit Dome, and noticed I had to lower the volume control to well lower than 1, and then the volume was fine, but it sounded compressed. But the worst offender is Fabio Orsi- Audio For Lovers. Virtually unlistenable! I had to re-burn that at 20% volume.

I've heard of people needing a power booster, but never a power diminisher. ???

Immersion

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 04:59:01 PM »
If there is one thing good with the more modern masters and more powerful/rich sounding cds, is that they sound good on all volume levels, both low and high, I guess that is the whole point..to make a more stable and powerful output...while 90s album usually sound way more weak/thin/one dimensional....And you do not need to play it loud as fuck to get the full dynamic range within all sounds like with 90s albums ..As long as you do not overdo and create a brickwall...max the sound volume at Zero...then I think it is alright...
And not all mastering jobs are good either..there is both good and bad example of loud mixes.. but their is certainly not impossible to make good/smooth sounding mixes using compression technology...The limits is within the master engineer...

Also there is many ways to bring up the volume level..so we shall not generalize..And say that everyone just want to sound as loud as possible...I am quite sure that the artists themselves decide what they feel sound best... But I could agree that it easier to be "fooled" that louder sounds better though...the louder it is mostly the more powerful and overwhelming it sounds...
It might be true that not all artists are aware of the phenomenon when doing mixes...

depending on the music..some music sounds way better on lower volume levels...
Steve Roach Immersion series is a good example..  even though I think he have taken the low volume concept to the extreme with "A Deeper Silence", I always need to put the volume up a lot when I listen to that cd.

But Yeah even though I can agree that the ambient music as an genre gets louder and louder mixes I must say the ambient genre sounds better and better...
so I do not see this at an problem at all..
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 05:00:50 PM by Immersion »

mgriffin

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 05:00:01 PM »
Joe, do the same CDs sound extremely loud to you on other playback systems?  I'm wondering if something's "off" with your stereo system.
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APK

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 05:07:54 PM »
And is this only on one system you are talking about?
How about when played on the computer or mp3 player?
Have you accidentally turned on a volume boost switch?
Or switched your CD player to a different amp input that is designed for a lower input?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 05:59:26 PM by APK »
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mgriffin

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 05:31:28 PM »
I was thinking maybe Joe might have plugged his CD player into the Phono input on his stereo receiver or amplifier, which would have an additional level of preamplification.  But then you'd find that all CDs should sound too loud, then.
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Joe R

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 06:47:22 PM »
Nope, everything seems to be plugged in correctly, and I don't see any volume boost button that I may have pushed by accident. And the CDs don't have that "loud" problem in my "minor" stereo system... so I assume the problem is with my main system -but what, and why?

Maybe it's just the worst combination of loud CD player + loud receiver + loud headphones. The headphones DO amp up the sound quite a bit. But still, oddly, ambient discs are far louder than any other style of music I play. Led Zeppelin 4 sounds far quieter by comparison.

APK

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2009, 06:57:46 PM »
That is odd.

I was going to mention an equalizer that might be on and boosting some range.

Or, what often happens to me by accident with my Yamaha amp, you have engaged an effect.
My amp has effects that a button cycles through (classical, jazz, rock concert, and so on).
Maybe yours has this too ?  When music sounds wrong here I know I've hit that button by accident.
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Joe R

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 06:27:22 PM »

My amp has effects that a button cycles through (classical, jazz, rock concert, and so on).
Maybe yours has this too ?  When music sounds wrong here I know I've hit that button by accident.


No again. My previous receiver had that pre-set button feature, but this one has nothing like that. I dunno -maybe my receiver has some kind of internal gizmo that automatically "adjusts" quieter sounds, but if that's the case it's a dumb idea.

But anyway, thanks for your input. :)

Altus

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Re: Too loud!
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2009, 05:12:09 AM »
maybe my receiver has some kind of internal gizmo that automatically "adjusts" quieter sounds
My amp has a setting like that.  It's called Midnight Mode.  The idea is you have the volume fairly low, so it brings up the quieter parts so you can still hear it.  No chance a settings like that is on?
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