This is an interesting article posted on the jazz guitar discussion group. Jeff Kaiser and I had some interesting discussions about the abuses or misgivings of compression and the quest for hotter levels in newer CDs when I was mastering the discs for the Boise Experimental Music Festival....all the different ways you can increase levels (for CDs to sound comparable to other professional CDs in your player), yet maintain natural dynamics, etc. Now, it has occured to me that often times when I hear a CD, especially pop/rock CDs, and I think to myself, wow that is a really hot and "in your face" level", the mix also doesn't have much of a dynamic range...some guy is screaming his lyrics, or you can tell that is is practically blowing his brains out to get that tone out of his horn...but it is no louder than the section where he is wispering poetry over an ambient section. It's like compress, compress, compress, limit, limit, limit....turn that wave form into a solid bar, and then raise it to 0db...in your face, 100% of the time. Below is the first time I've seen this referred to as exhausting, but it makes sense. Even if you turn your stereo down, there might be something to be said of giving the human pyche a break with natural dynamics and more space. Tension....release....tension...release....louder....softer, etc, etc. This article/topic, could I suppose turn into the discussion of the pschological results/benefits of adding more space to one's compositions (not making the composition "better" or "worse," mind you). Can adding more space and natural dynamics put the human psche at ease? Is it more condusive to generating natural emotive responses? (natural meaning those that one might expect on the bell curve of a person, day to day). Good questions. I suppose part II of the article below could explore this: "Natural dynamics in music and 'Horror of the Vacuum'." What would be hilarious, or maybe frightening, is if something happened to our atmosphere, such that it added a form of compression and normalization to 0db to all sound....imagine walking down the street, hearing a boy wisper to his mother, a man scream at his dog, a streetworker jackhammering, cars beeping, etc...but everything never veered much from 0db....even the ambience in the atmosphere (white noise) would be 0db. We might go insane. :) I included some excerpts from the article below, as well. Kris ----- Original Message ----- Everything Louder Than Everything Else: Have the loudness wars reached their final battle? http://www.austin360.com/music/content/music/stories/xl/2006/09/28cover.html "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like - static." - Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone magazine "There's something . . . sinister in audio that is causing our listeners fatigue and even pain while trying to enjoy their favorite music. It has been propagated by A&R departments for the last eight years: The complete abuse of compression in mastering (forced on the mastering engineers against their will and better judgment)." "The mistaken belief that a 'super loud' record will sound better and magically turn a song into a hit has caused most major label releases in the past eight years to be an aural assault on the listener," Montrone's letter continued. "Have you ever heard one of those test tones on TV when the station is off the air? Notice how it becomes painfully annoying in a very short time? That's essentially what you do to a song when you super compress it. You eliminate all dynamics." For those already confused, Montrone was essentially saying that there are millions of copies of CDs being released that are physically exhausting listeners, most of whom probably don't know why their ears and brains are feeling worn out.