Compressed Music: Week 1

This week we were introduced to the Loudness War, a trend which record companies increased audio levels. In order to increase the overall volume of a song, record companies increased the soft bits so they match the same intensity of the louder bits. With any new development comes a wave of criticism. There are those that feel compressing music compromises the quality of a song. I disagree with these critics, and am going to provide a few reasons as to why I think compressed music is better.

  1. As a Palestinian-American, I tend to listen to both Arabic and English music. Most Arabic songs are not compressed and when an Arabic song is played, I have to constantly change the volume of the song. It can either be too loud or to low that it’s almost a punishment.
  2. Compressed music provides instant gratification. When you want to listen to a song, you can be anywhere and hear everything you want with little to no effort.
  3. Compressed music serves another role. In modern songs, the beat is just as important as the lyrics. By compressing music we can hear all aspects of the song.
  4. The location at which we listen to music has also differed. At restrains music is almost always played as a backdrop. When music is compressed, the volume can remain constant and all the lyrics can be heard. On the other hand, if music was not compressed we would not be able to hear everything.

Although I do believe compressed music better, I have to agree with some of the comments against it. I do agree that compressed music cannot invoke emotions as its precursor. A song like Adele’s “Hello”, which I do believe is beautiful, would have been much more powerful in invoking emotion had there been tension through volume being built. Therefore I think, music being performed in person should not be compressed, but produced music should.

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