Definitely agreed. Tape and vinyl can be boosted to pretty loud levels without distorting, and when they do distort, it doesn't happen in the harsh way that digital distorts. It has a "warm" feel to it, which is why there is quite a market out there, for musicians using modern synths and synth emulations, for extra effects such as tape saturation and tape distortion. (In an attempt to add that warmth back in.)
Digital/CD sound cannot go beyond a certain point, and if you simply boost the volume levels using compression and limiting (like they show in that video) you instantly lose all the dynamics. Which is why there is also a very big demand for the original CDS from the 80s, because those were more or less just straight transfers from the original analogue tapes. As soon as the remasters arrive, they're almost always inferior to the "unmastered" versions.
There's a moral in there somewhere...
Actually the very act of mastering an LP in vinyl is itself the act of maximizing the loudness -- trying to get the most volume in without distortion or clipping. They've been doing this for the most of a century. This is because with 60db, you have to compress the sound so that everything is audible. With 92db, you can still hear the triangle next to the kick.
But now that they are doing the same thing to CDs that they've been doing to records, all the vinyl purists are trumpeting their chosen format as superior, when the whole compression issue came from their vinyl in the first place.
The loudness issues on vinyl are mainly to do with 45’s. In the earliest 45’s, 1948-1955, there is actually a softness issue. RCA wanted its single 45’s to play at the same volume as its EP’s, which require reduced volume to get more playtime on the record. But these soft records were more quickly rendered useless by surface noise.
When Rock & Roll came in, and it became apparent what kind of abuse 45’s needed to survive, volume was raised, and EP’s went out of style. Thus Rock & Roll 45’s have survived the ages better.
It was not until the mid-60’s that they started making 45’s so loud they were distorted. That would have been the first loudness war. But not every label participated. Motown is one offender that comes to mind. But this only lasted till the late 60’s when someone got the bright idea of making 45’s in stereo. At that point the same Hi-Fi standards that had always been applied to LP’s were applied to 45’s. The loudness went down. And there after the loudness of 45’s was determined by the length of the recording. A 7 and a half minute song on a 45 is naturally much lower than a 3 and a half minute song.
So, yes, excessive loudness was tried with 45’s for a short time, but never on LP’s. You were always able to get a popular song in Hi-Fi stereo if you bought the album. And, especially in the 70’s, you could often get a longer version on the LP.
So it’s really not proper to compare what happened in the mid 60’s to what’s happening now. Today, no uncompressed versions are available. The music of today, already suffering from lack of talent and quality production, is being completely stripped of its Hi-Fi properties. Thus, Hi-Fi, as it was initially defined by the RIAA in the 50’s, no longer exists. And there is no longer any point in anyone investing in proper Hi-Fi equipment, unless they intend to collect old recordings.
The loudness wars? Yes, I know. But may I point out that in fact this has been going on for half a century? The mastering process of vinyl was precisely to adjust it so that the most sound came out of the record as possible, the same thing they are doing to CDs. I find it funny how people dislike the loudness wars and trumpeting the superiority of their vinyl, when vinyl has had the same mastering technique for most of the century.
The only difference is that now we have heard what dynamic range sounds like, and we don't want the "remastering" idiots to eliminate it in order to make a "louder" CD.
It's such a shame they are doing this but then nowadays you have idiots whose idea of high fidelity is to crank the bass and treble all the way up on their highly compressed mp3 source material. To them if it's louder it has to be better. Unfortunately the record companies must think this practice translates into increased sales :/
I started using ReplayGain on all of my .mp3 files several years ago. That at least fixes the differences in the volume levels. Unfortunately it can't repair the damage caused by clipping or dynamic range compression. If more people used ReplayGain it might reduce the incentive for record companies to push the loudness of all their recordings so much.
It's been about two years since I bought an .mp3 player. Before I bought it, while I was still checking out various makes and models to consider, there were two features I had decided early on that I wanted enough that not having them was virtually a deal breaker. The features were gapless and ReplayGain. I had expected that by then, .mp3 players had matured to the point where those two features were standard on most models, and was shocked to discover how few had them. Any model I could install Rockbox on was a viable choice since it supports both of those features. I ended up buying a Sansa Fuze, and installed Rockbox. Anyhow, the fact that so many .mp3 players don't support ReplayGain leads me to think there are still a lot of people who don't know about it.
If you mean altering the .mp3 data directly to adjust the sound level, I never do that. All I do is calculate the album and track gain and the peak levels, and store them in tags, without changing the audio frames in any way. In that situation, ReplayGain capability in a player depends on its ability to read the tags and apply the adjustment.
I dislike modifying the .mp3 frames directly. For one thing, it deprives me of the ability to choose between album vs. track gain. For another, anytime you alter the music data, there is some however small degradation in the sound quality. This approach does, however, have the advantage that the resulting files can be played on any player and don't require any particular ReplayGain capability. If I were to do it that way for that reason, I would make listening copies of the files and apply the adjustment to the copies, keeping the originals untouched.
Thank you for posting the link.
""Remastering"" is definitely A BIG OLE DRAG.
I notice things more like arbitrary choices changing mix levels from the originals... like more of some instruments and less of others, greatly altering the sound of the original.... but this video illustrates another travesty indeed... :/