Compression Kills

This is probably the 4th time in the past 18 months I’ve seen an overcompression story surface.

The Death of High Fidelity : Rolling Stone

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:

  1. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys (some remastered version)
  2. Hello, It’s Me – Todd Rundgren
  3. True Faith – New Order
  4. Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through – Meat Loaf
  5. Pardon My Freedom – !!!
  6. What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani
  7. Nobody Wants To – Crowded House

Waveforms

After you get done making fun of my music tastes, guess which one is the loudest.