Main Article: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/aug07/5429 (Its a year old. So what?)
Also found here: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/23/1219205
The “Loudness War” has been taking place since the invention of the jukebox and the radio, any place where music from different people might be heard subsequently. Because a song with a higher average loudness stands out to the human ear, record companies are in a mad race to make their songs louder, to make their songs stand out. Everyone out there is recording songs louder and louder to beat out all of the opponents. Since the invention of CDs, they could begin to do this without compromising play time like they would have with the vinyl records, which have limited physical space.
However, in order for these companies to give a track more ‘loudness’, they sacrifice what is called Dynamic Range. Dynamic Range is the difference between the louder and quieter parts of a song. When the average loudness is raised, the dynamic range is compressed, making it significantly smaller. This is considered by many to degrade the quality of the music as well as not letting it “breathe”. The constant volume of every element of the song can also be damaging to the listener’s ears, while music with a higher dynamic range reaches high and low points of loudness, allowing the listener’s ears a rest before the next high point.
In the smaller article from Slashdot.com, it is mentioned that this increase in volume and over-compression of the dynamic range could very possibly be bringing future improvements in sound quality to a screeching halt. Because all of today’s music is recorded so loudly and the dynamics are so static, there is essentially no room to improve that kind of noise. Also, when the music sounds so static, it becomes very flat and tiresome to listen to. Basically, the entire song sounds the same from beginning to end.
CDs, jukeboxes, and radios aren’t the only places that compression is occurring. On the internet, mp3 files and other popular formats are compressed to make the file smaller, which degrades the quality of the song. Whenever these files are copied, the quality continues to plummet.
To sum it all up, the “Loudness War” is no good for anyone, at the very least in the long run. Consumers get sick of the music, technological advances are extremely difficult to make, and overall, all the new music begins to sound the same.
Actually, it makes sense now why it is becoming tiresome to listen to my old CDs.