Is The Music BUSINESS Working Against Music Lovers
Average Dynamics / Headroom Of Recordings Over The Years
Have been trying my best to make sense of the music BUSINESS, yet when you constantly read about mastering engineers being perplexed you know there's a problem. Furthermore, there's a voice inside of me saying you should, make that must, speak your truth. It's no secret that I read an abundance of industry inside information. This is not just high-end audio, it also pertains to musicians, recording studios, FOH / live performance personal, and mastering engineers (to name a few). What I find very interesting is that those who dare to speak up have many of the same concerns we audiophiles do! Loudness wars, proprietary (perceived money grab) MQA, plus there are many mastering engineers who seem not to be happy with the current status quo. When we combine this with a near total lack of educating the public about the benefits of Hi-Res Music, we're getting exactly what is expected and not what many music lovers desire imho.
Sure many of us also enjoy music 'in the
such, this means everything just 'sounds the same' from song to song so as
not to 'interrupt' your workflow. It also means you'll keep the background
music on without much thought to the matter. Don't know about you, yet I
prefer a more 'interactive' listening experience over background droning. This
usually entails music that explores the dynamic range, not just ff to fff
as many experience within today highly compressed
Of course those in the know see the play here, and imho it is not a positive thing yet am holding steady that Big Money Grab wins so MQA will be the format winner over longstanding proven lossless FLAC and the like. Apps such as that from Qobuz, a streaming music service that provides true lossless digital music, can easily be set to curtail bandwidth use at the choice of the music consumer via settings option. This provides music lovers a choice in sound quality from mp3 and the old 1980's CD standard of 16-bit/44.1kHz to upwards of lossless 24-bit/192kHz.
Yet again, am betting MQA may be around for some time as there's some seriously juicy money to be made. Key players have an interest in MQA (read into that as you so choose). So screw you music lovers to the future of decades old lossless 24-bit/192kHz sound quality, as some BUSINESS entities feel that you can't 'handle' that ol' lossless stuff bandwidth.
So yes, MQA is a solution seeking a problem. And yes, we music lovers may have to endure yet another proprietary compression scheme so that BUSINESS types can make (more) money. Meanwhile sound quality goes the way the music BUSINESS wants it to over musical artists' choice. How about working on 32-bit/384kHz lossless instead, just as video is going from 4k to 8k. For you smart readers out there, check out the bandwidth needed for 4k... and 8k. For 24-bit/96kHz, current Wi-Fi is fine as is 4G, yet when we go to 5G and Wi-Fi 6's massive bandwidth.... As an FYI, Wi-Fi is the primary medium for global Internet traffic, as more than 80% of traffic on the average smartphone is transferred via Wi-Fi.
Am not pointing fingers, ok maybe I am, yet DAW plugins and the like have forever changed the music BUSINESS. How capable do you feel commercially available software packages are via automation (batch) processing the wide variety of sound files versus hiring an experienced mastering engineer (human) to master the music?
Many truly talented musicians, recording and mastering engineers are not that impressed with today's BUSINESS side of the music industry. They are hearing their incredible efforts and love of music distilled down to a 'lowest common denominator'.
Food For Thought
Well Steven, you say, "if it aint broke don't fix it". That only works for lazy people without creative thought-process imho. Because it is hard for me to fathom that someone within the music BUSINESS doesn't truly care about music. It's just another SKU in your BUSINESS spreadsheet cycle and all that, right? Of course if you as an contracted employee of the music BUSINESS do not follow along, you may lose your job. Does that truly give someone who loves music and wants to bring something inspiring to the table a true choice in creatively achieving the best experience for the listener?
Personally, I highly admire and respect the many mastering engineers who are trying their very best to 'swim' within today's scope of the BUSINESS side of the industry. They seek to achieve the very best final mix and sound quality we hear in commercial music recordings. Yet if these mastering engineers find their efforts thwarted by the BUSINESS side of the music industry, how much longer until talented mastering engineers simply give up and seek other rewarding endeavors.
A Last Gripe
Thank goodness there are mastering engineers who are speaking out, and audiophiles who easily hear the difference and thus push the envelope of what is truly possible. Sadly, it seems to me that the past few generations of popular music aurally trains people to accept ever-lower sound quality standards. Eventually it all just becomes background noise.
How can we break out of this downward spiral by the music BUSINESS to better benefit and engage music lovers? Of course we're all still waiting for the BUSINESS to actually promote Hi-Res Music in a meaningful way. For now, few people truly know about higher quality music other than going from mp3 to vinyl LP, so we're basically waiting to see if / when a true effort by the major recording labels to promote Hi-Res Audio / Music. Perhaps this will happen when Apple goes Hi-Res?
As always, in the end what really matters is that you...