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Why is modern music so loud?
20-12-2021

Why is modern music so loud?

Have you ever wondered why we have so much fun in a rock concert or loud nightclub? Coloured lights flash to the beat, your friends and loud music inviting you to move.

Some studies have revealed that loud music relieves stress, invokes emotions, blocks out the world, stimulates and sounds better. That is why most people actually enjoy music playing really loud

When listening to music on your headphones, have you ever thought a song was too quiet? I never have, in general, you turn the volume up to enjoy the tune more, right?

But, what made record executives and artists produce albums louder? Since the early days, it was believed that loud music equated to “sells more” (even though studies have proven that no correlation exists between volume and sales). The truth, however, is that engineers and artists made their music louder because they wanted to and it had more to do with technology trends rather than commercial concerns.

All in all, that is why since the late 1980s the music industry focused on producing louder music leading to a “loudness war” with the aim to make each different track more impactful than the next.

During several years, music was compressed upward so even the quieter bits sounded loud. This trick is known as dynamic range compression (DRC). The problem with these practices is that, for music to work it needs contrast. Thus, over-compression may lead to a sound with no light or shade. 

Luckily this trend seemed to start slowing down around 2004. What caused this change? Streaming services such as Spotify or iTunes started using volume adjustments to make all tracks appear to be equally loud. Thus, if the music produced is overly compressed when played through the cloud service the advantage is gone and all that is left is distortion.

So, now you know that compression practices need to be done to the right extent for the best quality possible. As it is said, enough is good as a feast.

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