Monday 20 November 2017

Distorted, loud rock music is making listeners 'sick'

Adam Sherwin

DAD was right all along - rock music really is getting louder and now recording experts have warned that the sound of chart-topping albums is making listeners feel sick.

That distortion effect running through your Oasis album is not entirely the Gallagher brothers' invention. Record companies are using digital technology to turn the volume on CDs up to "11".

Sound levels are being artificially enhanced so that the music punches through when it competes against background noise in pubs or cars.

Britain's leading studio engineers are starting a campaign against a widespread technique that removes the dynamic range of a recording, making everything sound "loud".

"Peak limiting" squeezes the sound range to one level. As a result, musical detailsare lost in the blare and many CD players respond to the frequency challenge by adding a buzzing, distorted sound to tracks.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Californication', branded "unlistenable" by studio experts, is the subject of an online petition calling for it to be "remastered" without its harsh, compressed sound.

Peter Mew, senior mastering engineer at Abbey Road studios, said: "Record companies are competing in an arms race to make their album the 'loudest'. The quieter parts are becoming louder and the loudest parts are just a buzz."

But Mr Mew warned that modern albums now induce a sensation of nausea. "The brain is not geared to accept buzzing. The CDs induce fatigue in listeners. It becomes psychologically tiring and almost impossible to listen to. This could be the reason why CD sales are in a slump."

(© The Times, London)

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