“The music available today isn’t musical at all. It’s best described as anti-music. It’s anti-music because the life is being squashed out of it through over compression during the tracking, mixing, and mastering stages. It’s simply, non musical. It’s no wonder that consumers don’t want to pay for the CDs being produced today. …. It’s time for all of us in the music industry to wake up! Our musical heritage is being threatened by this wave of anti-music.”
Read the article, then go to the links near the end, where you can see comparisons like this:
and a 1999 CD:
I’m not a big fan of pop music, but I have been noticing the compression and actual hard clipping described in these articles when listening to the radio. I attributed this distortion to poor engineering at the radio station, but it appears the CDs are now being made “radio-ready” by being clipped and distorted already.
Sometimes clipping and overdrive has its place - just listen to some of the old Motown records. However, this modern clipping is hard, digital clipping, not the softer clipping of a tube mixer or magnetic tape.
The push for louder music comes from radio station managers who think that, as a listener spins the tuning dial, they will stop at the “loudest” station. This may be true for heavy metal rocker who is loosing his hearing but wants “more”, or for someone with a crappy radio where a soft sound is equated with a weak signal, but is increasingly no longer the case. More people are listening to music over the computer or through satellite radio, where station selection is no longer so applicable. Most radios are digitally synthesized, so “spinning the dial” doesn’t happen any more, either.
I found this article through a link on Ran Prieur’s web site, where he uses the metaphor of what’s happening to music to what is happening to modern life. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but worth considering.