In the past I wouldn’t have bothered writing a blog about music especially such a geeky topic as music compression, but here it is. If you read it then you are as geeky about music as me!
Don’t listen to music from websites or streaming radio if you have a recorded alternative and what is better by far – listen to live music.
A couple of months back Sally and I went to see a symphony by Shostakovich (7th). One section has the most enormous crescendo, starting very quetly with a drum it ends with the whole band blaring at top volume. It was very impressive. You can trust a live concert, from their instruments to your ears – perfect.
But use a recording and you are starting to ask for trouble. The recording will almost certainly make the music sound like it simply cannot sound in the hall. Multi-microphone mixing results in a sound you couldn’t hear even if you were standing in the orchestra. But the worst evil by far is compressing – ah what sad sacrilege is meted out to recordings by use of this cruel and perverted technique. The music is flattened. It is like watching a football match where everyone jogs everywhere, not walking, not running – just jogging.
See the picture below. The shape from Chicago is from left to right the correct shape showing contrast between soft and loud. Now see Barcelona from YouTube – NEUTERED! It is a painful thing to hear. Barcelona aren’t quite the lions of Chicago but believe me they got very loud indeed in the hall. And in case you doubt the horribleness – just listen for yourself: