What is the Loudness War ?

The so-called “Loudness War” is entirely based on a modern myth – a fairy-tale full of nonsense that has somehow hypnotised the entire music industry for the last ten years – and is permanently damaging the music we listen to as a result.

The Loudness War is a sonic “arms race” where every artist and label feel they need to crush their music onto CD at the highest possible level, for fear of not being “competitive” – and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound.

This short video demonstrates the effect of the Loudness War – and how pointless it is – using real-world examples.

In order to achieve these super-high levels, the music has to be squashed up against the digital maximum level “ceiling” – reducing the difference between the peak and average levels in the music. In the process, the contrast between loud and soft moments (often referred to as the dynamic range) is dramatically reduced.

(Strictly speaking, this terminology isn’t quite correct – the “Loudness War Sound” suffers from limited crest factor, low RMS variability and in the worst cases distortion. But “limited dynamic range” is an intuitive way to describe all this for Dynamic Range Day. For a more rigorous technical analysis, click here.)

What is Dynamic Range Day ?

The “Loudness War” is built on the idea that “louder is better”. However this concept is fatally flawed. The goal of Dynamic Range Day is to reveal this flaw and spread an alternative message:

Dynamic music sounds better

You don’t need to compete in the “Loudness War”. In fact in the 21st Century your music can gain a competitive advantage – not by being “louder”, but more dynamic. To hear this simple secret in action, click here.

The fatal flaw of the “Loudness War” sound

In a nutshell: it doesn’t sound good.

So – “loud” music on CD has no benefit on the radio, online, on an mp3 player, or in your CD player. That’s why I call it a legend – the “Loudness War” makes no sense, in the 21st Century.

And yet almost every new release is crushed to within an inch of it’s life.

The effect is now so extreme that we have reached a bizarre situation where Justin Bieber’s new CD is louder than Motorhead, AC/DC and The Sex Pistols !

So why do people do it ?

Great question ! The answer is here: The Loudness War’s dirty little secret

To find out how dynamic your music is, click here.

What can we do ?

Join in with Dynamic Range Day on March 27th ! Here are some ideas:

  • Click to “Like” the Facebook page
  • Accept the Dynamic Range Day Challenge !
  • Follow @DynamicRangeDay on Twitter - use the #DynamicRangeDay hashtag
  • Put a post on your site or blog telling people about the day – include a link to this page
  • Host your own Dynamic Range Day get-together – all you need is good company and a sound system that goes to eleven !
  • Sign up to the Dynamic Range Day Newsletter for the latest information using this form


Where did the idea for DRD come from ?

Dynamic Range Day is organised by Mastering Engineer Ian Shepherd, a long-standing opponent of the “Loudness Wars”. DRD is also supported by Allen Wagner from TurnMeUp.org, as well as our wonderful sponsors.

You can read more about the original Dynamic Range Day idea here.