This is probably the 4th time in the past 18 months I’ve seen an overcompression story surface.
The thesis is that since the development of digital audio it has been much easier to increase the perceived loudness of a recording by compressing the heck out of it, thus destroying dynamic range. My perception is that the mid-90s were probably the golden age for CD mixes: it was picking up steam, engineers were getting more comfortable mastering for it, and the loudness war hadn’t quite set in.
Plus, it was around that time that I was buying my first CDs.
I placed some tracks into Soundtrack Pro 2 to check out the waveforms. From top to bottom, roughly chronologically, these are:
- God Only Knows – The Beach Boys (some remastered version)
- Hello, It’s Me – Todd Rundgren
- True Faith – New Order
- Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through – Meat Loaf
- Pardon My Freedom – !!!
- What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani
- Nobody Wants To – Crowded House
After you get done making fun of my music tastes, guess which one is the loudest.