AES New York 2009
Workshop W20

Monday, October 12, 2:00 pm — 4:00 pm

W20 - Turn it Down! Consequences of the Ever-Escalating Loudness Wars

Martin Walsh, DTS Inc. - Scotts Valley, CA, USA
Bob Katz, Digital Domain - Altamonte Springs, FL, USA
Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering and DVD - Portland, ME, USA
Thomas Lund, TC Electronic A/S - Risskov, Denmark
Susan Rogers, Berklee College of Music - Boston, MA, USA

The adage that "louder is better" has been put to the ultimate test in recent years. Modern recordings have gradually been mastered louder and louder over the past twenty or so years using techniques such as aggressive dynamic range compression. In some of the latest album masters, this ever-increasing loudness "arms race" is reaching its limit, whereby the average level is almost the same as the peak level. This leads to audible distortion and listener fatigue. In this workshop we will describe the history of the"loudness wars" along with their impact on modern mastering. We will also provide examples of extreme loudness mastering (or re-mastering). A tutorial will be provided by an invited "master" mastering engineer on how one can provide maximum loudness without incurring audible distortion. Finally, we open the discussion to the floor with a variety of topics relating to today's loudness wars and the possibilities of brokering a peace process in the future.