Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

High-Resolution Music Is a Marketing Ploy

Kirk McElhearn (via Michael Tsai):

However, if someone really wants to provide “music as it was intended to be heard,” they’d do a lot better to look at the mastering process that’s been destroying music in recent decades. Colloquially known as “the loudness wars,” music producers, prodded by record labels, use dynamic compression to increase the overall volume of music, making it sound horrendous. Since, in general, louder sounds better, or brighter, when you compare two songs, producers have been cranking up the volume to make their songs stand out. But string together an albums worth of overly loud tracks, and it’s fatiguing. But it’s a war of attrition, and our ears are the losers. No high-resolution files will make this music sound better, ever.

I’ve been working on an article of my own on the Pono, but I think McElhearn nails the biggest problem with high resolution audio: the source files directly from the studio are generally terrible. It doesn’t matter if you listen to “Californication” in shitty YouTube quality or via the finest amplifier $150,000 can buy; the original album is mastered so horribly that it’s an affront to proud owners of ears.