Perceptual Effects of Dynamic Range Compression in Popular Music Recordings

Jens Hjortkjær, Mads Walther-Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

There is a widespread belief that the increasing use of dynamic range compression in music mastering (the loudnesswar) deteriorates sound quality but experimental evidence of perceptual effects is lacking. In this study, normal hearing listeners were asked to evaluate popular music
recordings in original versions and in remastered versions with higher levels of dynamic range compression. Surprisingly, we found no evidence of preference for the less compressed music. We also failed to find differences in ratings of perceived "depth" between the original and more compressed audio. A low degree of response consistency between different presentations of the same music suggests that listeners are less sensitive to even high levels of dynamic range compression than often argued.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Audio Engineering Society
Volume62
Issue number1/2
Pages (from-to)37-41
Number of pages5
ISSN1549-4950
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this

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Perceptual Effects of Dynamic Range Compression in Popular Music Recordings. / Hjortkjær, Jens; Walther-Hansen, Mads.

In: Journal of Audio Engineering Society, Vol. 62, No. 1/2, 2014, p. 37-41.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Walther-Hansen, Mads

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N2 - There is a widespread belief that the increasing use of dynamic range compression in music mastering (the loudnesswar) deteriorates sound quality but experimental evidence of perceptual effects is lacking. In this study, normal hearing listeners were asked to evaluate popular music recordings in original versions and in remastered versions with higher levels of dynamic range compression. Surprisingly, we found no evidence of preference for the less compressed music. We also failed to find differences in ratings of perceived "depth" between the original and more compressed audio. A low degree of response consistency between different presentations of the same music suggests that listeners are less sensitive to even high levels of dynamic range compression than often argued.

AB - There is a widespread belief that the increasing use of dynamic range compression in music mastering (the loudnesswar) deteriorates sound quality but experimental evidence of perceptual effects is lacking. In this study, normal hearing listeners were asked to evaluate popular music recordings in original versions and in remastered versions with higher levels of dynamic range compression. Surprisingly, we found no evidence of preference for the less compressed music. We also failed to find differences in ratings of perceived "depth" between the original and more compressed audio. A low degree of response consistency between different presentations of the same music suggests that listeners are less sensitive to even high levels of dynamic range compression than often argued.

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