Like any war, the loudness wars are a total mess brought on by territorial tendencies amongst those who fear losing their place in the world. And like a real war, the loudness wars cause people to throw rational thought out the window and replace it with reactionary behaviors that only do harm.  I didn't choose the war analogy, but it's apt because we're looking at competition among people vying for territory. In this case it's sonic territory.

The damage done by the loudness wars has been well documented in a number of places by very intelligent people already, so I wont bother you with that.  Instead I just want to say that I'm a huge fan of dynamic recordings, that as a rule I print mixes with lots of headroom for the mastering engineer, and that when I master myself I don't squish the music. I'm really not open to discussion on this topic because I am, simply, choosing not to be at war. I really love dynamic music and 99% of the time keeping dynamics alive is appropriate for the music I'm working on.

But there has been a war on for some time now, and that war has done a lot of damage. That is why I have joined a peace movement called Turn-Me-Up ( Turn Me Up! is "a non-profit organization campagning to give artists back the choice to release more dynamic records." This organization does a great deal to raise awareness about dynamic range and how the loundess wars are destoying it.  They've also "created Turn Me Up! Certification, which would allow records meeting [their] criteria to display the Turn Me Up! Certified label to inform the consumer nothing is wrong, this record is simply more dynamic and all they need to do is Turn Me Up!" I love this, and more than a few of the records I've produced carry a similar note to the listener. To learn more about why this logic works, visit and check out their videos and more.

So, on March 16th, Turn Me Up! is helping to sponsor the third annal Dynamic Range Day. I encourage anyone who believes in dynamics to get involved and show their support by sharing this event with your social and professional networks. "Awareness days" are an effective and simple way to help a cause get an annual boost.  You'll also be among interesting and wonderful industry professionals and manufacturers including Bob Ludwig, SSL, TC Electronics and Bowers & Wilkins.

To learn more about International Dynamic Range Day and get involved, head here.

Allen Farmelo 


Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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