Music News

Who Is Louder: Lemmy or Justin Bieber? (Warning: Trick Question)

Here’s another example of insanity in the Loudness Wars, the crazy notion that cranks up the apparent volume of a recording to absurd levels with the use of compression. This completely obliterates the dynamic range of a song, making the quietest parts sound almost as loud as the loudest bits.

The result is that today’s music is sonically inferior to music made more than 30 years ago.

Loudness War Comparison

You can hear the results of this over-compressed crap in terms of distortion and feel it as listener fatigue–all because someone music industry knobs thing that people want apparently loudness over audio quality.

Here’s a chart from Production Advice that shows the severity of the problem. The worst offender (so far) is Metallica’s St. Anger, a record so compressed that it’s unlistenable.

Loudness Comparisons

Now go down through the list. Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0 was recorded louder than Motorhead’s Ace of Spades. That Bieber album is also louder than Nevermind the Bollocks from the Sex Pistols and Back in Black from AC/DC.

At the bottom (actually the top of the list when it comes to good sounding music) is Dire Straits’ 1985 album, Brothers in Arms. Now that’s how you master an album.

(Link via Irish Alan)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37884 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Who Is Louder: Lemmy or Justin Bieber? (Warning: Trick Question)

  • I love the fact that Oasis is listed at the upper range of compression. I vaguely recall an OGHONM anecdote that Liam Gallagher was later upset by the album, blaming a cocaine-derived aural numbness for adding layer upon layer of guitar in an effort to get a more powerful sound.


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.