Research:

Hyper-compression

in Music Production

Further Publications Related to this Research

October, 2018

Hyper-compression in Music Production: Testing the "Louder is Better Paradigm"

Taylor, RW

Proc. of the 145th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society, New York, USA, October.

ABSTRACT

Within the scope of the literature surrounding the Loudness War, the ‘louder is better’ paradigm plays a cornerstone role in the motivation and also presumed justification for the continued use of hyper-compression. At the core of this assumption is the non-linearity of frequency response of the human auditory system, first identified by Fletcher and Munson [11]. Previous research into listener preferences concerning hyper-compression has attempted to rationalise this production practice with audience expectations. The stimuli used in these studies have invariably been loudness normalised to remove loudness bias in audition so that only the perceptual cues of dynamic range compression (DRC) are under examination. The results of these studies have proven less than conclusive and varied. The research study presented herein examines the extent of influence the ‘louder is better’ paradigm has on listener preferences via a direct comparison between listener preference tasks that present music that is loudness normalised, and music that retains the level differentiation which is a by-product of the hyper-compression process. It was found that a level differential of 10dB had a significant influence of listener preferences as opposed to the arguably weak perceptual cues of DRC. 

2017 - Book Chapter

Hyper-compression in Music Production: The Loudness Normalisation Revolution and Implications for Music Streaming Delivery Platforms

Taylor, RW

in: McIntyre, P & Fulton, J (Eds.) Creating Space in the Fifth Estate, Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle, United Kingdom.

October, 2016

Hyper-compression, Environmental Noise and Preferences for the Ear Bud Listening Experience

Taylor, RW & Miranda, L

Proc. of the 141th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society, Los Angeles, USA, October.

 

ABSTRACT

 

The notion that compressed music performs more effectively in automobiles as a consequence of the background noise present has been widely accepted, and particularly relevant to classical music that traditionally encompasses a very large dynamic range. The environmental noise can act as a masking agent that can interrupt the listening experience when sections of the music fall below the noise level. Similarly, it has been assumed that the hyper-compression of contemporary popular music fulfils a similar function when using ear bud headphones in noisy environments. This study examines this assumption and can find no evidence to support the practice. It is suggested that contemporary music most likely does not have a sufficiently large enough dynamic range regardless to support its use in this instance.

July, 2016

Hyper-compression in Music Production: The Loudness Normalisation Revolution and Implications for Music Streaming Delivery Platforms

Taylor, RW

Proc. of the 2016 Conference of ANZCA, Newcastle, Australia, July.

ABSTRACT

 

Music streaming services are creating a new space in the digital world for audiences to connect with artists and acquire music on demand. Innovations such as these, however, present a range of uncertainties insomuch as it is never fully known at the point of formation how the innovation will render antecedent models obsolete and generally interact within the system it is be introduced into. Apart from the fact that music streaming appears destined to be disruptive to the traditional method of physical sales, there have been some other unintended consequences that could not have been predicted. Music streaming in conjunction with a relatively new concomitant technology, loudness normalisation(that mediates the perceived loudness of audio content), has been heralded by some within the audio community as a mechanism that will solve a problem that has been endemic in music production practice for two decades; the over use of hyper-compression, dubbed the ‘Loudness Wars’. Through the lens of Rogers’ ‘diffusion of innovations’ approach, a theoretical framework is presented to qualify this claim by examining these interrelated technologies, streaming and loudness normalisation, and discuss the possible changes that might occur within the social system of music production and dissemination.

October, 2015

Hyper-compression in Music Production; Agency, Structure and the Myth that "Louder is Better"

Taylor, RW

Proc. of the 10th conference of the Art of Record Production, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA, November.

Journal of the Art of Record Production, issue 11.

ABSTRACT

 

Producing ‘loud’ recordings is a prevailing expectation within music production via the process known as hyper-compression; associated with the ‘louder is better’ paradigm. Despite tensions between the empirical evidence of science and the subjective interpretation of creative agents, the use of hyper-compression continues unabated. This paper proposes an examination of these tensions from a systemic perspective; agency, and symbolic and social structures. A synthesis of both objective and subjective viewpoints of this creative system is presented, coupled with theories of habitus and capital, to expose the relationship between agency and structure in the use of hyper-compression as a creative tool.​​

November, 2014

Hyper-compression in Music Production: Listener Preferences on Dynamic Range’

Taylor, RW & Martens, WL

Proc. of the 136th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society, Berlin, Germany, April.

ABSTRACT

 

Achieving ‘loud’ recordings as a result of hyper-compression is a prevailing expectation within the creative system of music production, sustaining a myth that has been developing since the mid-twentieth century as a consequence of the ‘louder is better’ paradigm. The study reported here investigated whether the amounts of hyper-compression typical of current audio practice produce results that listeners prefer. The experimental approach taken in this study was to conduct a subjective preference test requiring listeners to make a forced choice between seven levels of compression for each of five musical programs that differed in musical genre. The presented seven versions of each musical program were carefully matched in loudness as the versions were varied in compression level, and so differences in loudness per se cannot account for the differences in preferences choices observed between musical programs. In addition, it was found that subject factors such as age group, and speculatively the amount of exposure to different genres, were of considerable influence on listener preferences.

© 2018 By Robert W. Taylor.