Apple & Spotify to end the Loudness War?


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It was over a year ago, on September 1st 2012, that a new EBU-regulation was put in effect. Its goal: to put an end to the notorious and quite annoying Loudness War going on. But just recently two companies which are clearly not members of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), but two of the most important music distribution channels worldwide seemed to follow this regulation as well.

If I get this press release from October 14th this year right, it was mastering engineer Bob Katz who claimed at this year’s 135th convention of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) that the loudness war will be over mid-next year. He examined and measured the audio signals of iTune Radio’s last release 11.1.1 and he found that they now apply more stable than ever the so-called Sound Check-algorithm which does not allow to overcompress audio signals to simulate greater loudness: it simply turns it down to its actual volume and generates a constant playback volume. So compressed loudness in audio production provides no gain in attention anymore; it is even a loss in volume and so in presumed attention.

With this algorithm Apple (and also Spotify, which seems also to make use of this algorithm) apparently does take up the new standard proposed by the EBU. This new standard is not anymore oriented towards the Maximum Peak level but orients playback volume towards a quite complex mix of Programme Loudness, Loudness Range and Maximum True Peak Level. The Sound Check-algorithm seems to pursue a similar goal and accomplishes it apparently quite well.

In my earlier post on this issue in June 2012 I still was quite unsure how the new EBU-regulation would affect professional music production and distribution; but as two of the biggest players in distribution now do apply this new standard at least indirectly it seems that it has an effect indeed, even on the new digital music market in general. Stay tuned!