The loudness war has been won, and the era of crushed, flat-lined mixes is fading fast. Here’s everything you need to know…
But today I want to talk about the birth of loudness compensation.
A couple years ago, this feature started popping up – first in iTunes – maybe in YouTube – where these services started compensating for the level discrepancies between various different tracks. The idea was that if we’re switching between Metallica and Norah Jones, we don’t want to change the volume knob. Ideally, we want everything to play back at a consistent level.
Fast forward to the streaming era and now we’re seeing that all of these services are starting to incorporate loudness compensation that’s turned on by default. Every track, regardless of how loud or soft it is, is actually going to be played back at the same volume on one of these services.
As music creators, what this means is that we can slam a track into a limiter and make it super loud, but if it’s louder than that standard that Spotify or Apple Music or any of these services compensate to, it just means that it’s going to get turned down by these services. There’s actually no benefit anymore to slamming your tracks into a limiter. It’s actually going to make it sound worse, compared to other tracks that haven’t been limited as heavily that may have more punch, dynamics, and impact.
In this new world, as we transition into streaming and into these services that are using loudness compensation by default, you don’t need to over-limit anymore. The era of slammed mixes – flat, brick, redlined mixes – is over. It doesn’t make sense anymore. If you realize this – if you really understand this, then you can actually make better-sounding records.
Hope you found this helpful. You can check out more mixing tips at BehindTheSpeakers.com. Take care.