Dynamic Range Day

Today is Dynamic Range Day! A day where the industry as a whole celebrates dynamics in music and where the holiday’s founder, Ian Shepherd, gives his annual keynote address. If you haven’t yet seen one of Ian’s live webcasts, you really should, as he is not only a fantastic speaker in his own right but also always has some interesting hands-on listening demo for your ears to feast on as well. Think of it like a TED Talk. It’s loads of fun and this year’s live webcast starts at 5:30PM EST today. Don’t be late.

But given that it is DRD, I’d also like to take this opportunity to briefly reflect about the state of dynamics in metal in general. And it’s not a pretty picture.

The sad truth is that most metal records today are still too compressed, with the overwhelming majority of them hovering around the DR6 mark and the occasional clip thrown in for good measure. Worse still, most of the vinyl that makes it way to your turntable is usually sourced from the digital master. So if the CD has already been bricked, its analog counterpart will now sound even worse. Same is also true for remasters where the overwhelming majority of them act as yet another excuse to hypercompress music. To add insult to injury, now a label has the option to put out a high-res version of it as a vain attempt to shield its production disgrace in the guise of higher sampling rates and esoteric formats.

I wish I had better news to report but the fact is the Loudness War is still alive and well today – especially in metal.

However, there is hope. Although we are still a small community, we are a growing one. And the number of artists and engineers who continue to release dynamic metal seems to be also growing with us too. This year we’ve seen a slew of dynamic releases ranging from Moonsorrow to Inverloch to Gorguts to very shortly Monolithe and Witherscape as well. And I’m fairly certain that we are going to see even more dynamic releases by year’s end especially from artists who traditionally release heavily compressed material. Even more encouraging is that this year I got an unexpected email from an engineer who told me that he was actually instructed to lay off DRC from a big label exec in an effort to save an album’s fidelity. Fancy that.

Related Pages:

Terrible Lie

The Best And Worst Sounding Records

But even more importantly, and what I am most proud of, is that many of you who are reading this rant right now respect artists like Dan Swano, Colin Marston, and Damien Herring not just for the metal they create, but also for the metal they produce. You know that when these guys are given free reign without silly volume requirements, it’s a pretty much guarantee that kick ass, hi-fidelity metal is gonna pop out. In fact, the greatest complement I ever received for co-founding this website is someone once emailed me that because of Metal-Fi they for the first time in their whole life actually looked who mixed and mastered a recent album they bought (Boooogggrreeeennnnnn!!!!!! -Dave). Mission accomplished.

Happy DRD!