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LOUDNESS AND DYNAMIC RANGE
And how they affect Airplay. A short Guide that explains Key Concepts.
 
Do you really know what "loudness" and "dynamic range" mean and how these concepts affect airplay? This knowledge is crucial for any producer and artist that want to produce music eligible for airplay.
 
Follow us: You enter a big room and within the room you can place yourself wherever you want: You is you and the room will not change that. You love to jump up and down in the room but if you would try to break through the high ceiling you would just break your bones.
 
What has this analogy to do with Loudness, Dynamic Range and Airplay? A 24 Bit file, to mention an example, is nothing else but an audio room: A room that is empty but offers space for an audio signal that loves - just like you - to jump up and down in the audio room. The audio signal is smaller than the audio room and it can place itself almost anywhere in the room.
Your size is measured from your head to your toes in cm. The audio signal's "size" is measured similiarly: The measuring unit is LU (Loudness Units) and the audio signal's "size" is measured from the softest part (lowest jump) to the loudest part (highest jump): The space in between (the "size") is called Dynamic Range.
The audio signal knows - just like you - that there is a ceiling that cannot be broken through. The audio ceiling is very high and beyond the ceiling, space and time end. Every attempt to break through the ceiling is stupid and breaks the audio signal's bones.
 
Now imagine: You enter a room and an audio engineer throws you against the wall, breaks your bones, ties you up to the ceiling and says: “You are a better person now for you hang higher and scream louder!” Would you agree?
No? But this is what most audio engineers do to audio signals: To make them loud, the engineers break the signals' bones, cut transients, diminish the dynamic range, cause distortion and clipping and say: "I tied the audio signal up to the ceiling and paralysed it! Now it is better for it screams louder! Ideal for radio, TV and airplay!” 
The conclusion "Louder = Better" is a misbelief many engineers share. "Loudness" (a high position of audio material within the audio room) has never been and will never be a quality criteria in professional music production.
"But loud songs stick out against competitors". Yes and no. The simple truth: Anyone can relativate the crafted loudness by turning the
volume knob up (I love that song!) or down (dislike!).
Unfortunately, the volume knob can't fix the broken bones of defect audio material that is loud at the expense of the sound quality. Too bad! For sound quality is what matters in professional music production.
"But isn't loudness great for airplay?" Radio and TV stations level all audio signals before they are aired. After loud tracks are reduced and soft tracks are raised in volume, the sound quality is the only difference left.
Since radio and TV stations do care about a good sounding programme they prefer intact and dynamic material that is likely to survive the heavy signal processing by broadcast stations: Thus, originally loud but defect material will probably be sorted out.
We illustrate the relationship between loudness, dynamic range and airplay:
Understanding Loudness and Dynamic Range - Key Concepts of Music Production - Music Today Europe

Author: MTME Date: 08.08.2018 Version 1

DOWNLOAD THE FREE PDF VERSION:
Loudness, Dynamic Range and Airplay.

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