Compressed sound from your new CD's - here's why!


Jul 25, 2006
One of the biggest complaints that audio fans have with cd?s anymore is the compressed sound quality. There seems to be a total lack of definition between instruments, everything is nearly the same volume. Some have called us audio fans nuts, saying it?s all in our screwed up brains. Recently, on one of the audio sites I saw a link to a YouTube site that proved just how bad the practice has become. Please check out this video,
Thanks for the link. Now I know why some of my old CD's sound better on my Hi-Fi system compared to the new ones released now-a-days.
It seems some modern albums not only sound horrid when played on a decent hi-fi system, but could actually be bad for you; the lack of dynamics, the clipping and the distortion can make some listeners feel nauseous. And it's not the fault of the bands: the compression is usually applied at the very last stage before mastering, the intention being to make the music sound more exciting when played over the radio or heard in your mp3 players.

It's all done with peak limiting, which is also designed to make tracks 'cut through' better against road noise in cars or when played on the mp3 players and in noisy pubs. This technology was originally designed to ensure the stylus stayed in the grooves of LPs when huge dynamic shifts occurred - the classic example being the cannon on Tchaikovsky's '1812' Overture! - but now it's increasingly used to change loud and soft parts of a track to a similar level.

It seems that nowdays record companies are competing in an arms race to make their album sound the "loudest". The quieter parts are becoming louder and the loudest parts are just becoming a buzz. This kind of recording CDs induces a sense of fatigue, becomes psychologically tiring and almost impossible to listen to over extended periods of time.

It seems that a lot of albums released today is basically a scrunched-up mess for mp3 players. Whole layers of sound are missing. What people listen to on mp3 players is background noise, anything that keeps a beat will do. For me proper music ie the music as it is produced will need to be felt as well as heard to give the ultimate experience. I guess only those privelidged with proper sound reproduction equipment and an ear for perfection can enjoy this. The rest will listen to any mass produced rubbish they are directed to, by the media.
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So are we now stuck with this... or is there an alternative? More expensive productions of the same CD perhaps? When I buy CD's abroad , for example, the same album from two different recording companies can be differentially priced.
One extreme example: a Beethoven / Karajan CD was priced at $35 inside a store; then outside the store (in a sale bin) the same album from a lesser known recording company was $8.99. Why is that? Quality?
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