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Pleasurize Music Foundation

Calling all mastering engineers!
Something that may be of interest to fans of music with a wide dynamic range is the Pleasurize Music Foundation. Based in California, the foundation is a non-profit organisation aiming to improve the quality of recorded music by encouraging the release of musical material that has good ‘dynamics’. For those unfamiliar with the recent ‘loudness wars’ debate, the trend in recent years has been to ‘brickwall limit’ many tracks (usually in contemporary and chart-oriented styles) at the mastering stage, to increase their perceived loudness compared with other contemporary recordings.

This practice has led to the so-called ‘loudness wars’ (a quick search on-line will yield examples), with the loudness of some commercial releases increasing to the point of distortion, and the corresponding loss of enjoyable dynamic light and shade in performances.

The loudness war debate gained momentum last year, as the release of Metallica’s Death Magnetic caused an uproar among fans, audiophiles and mastering engineers with its heavily distorted sound. Artists such as Elbow have fought back, deciding to have their records mastered with more dynamic range than is currently popular (see SOS December 2008).

The Foundation encourages producers and listeners alike to become active members, supporting the cause with a donation of $30 per year (around £18). Membership brings several benefits, including free use of the Foundation’s own TT Dynamic Range Meter software. This meter has been designed to help mastering engineers avoid producing over-compressed mixes and comes in two versions: an off-line version, which analyses a file and gives an official DR value that can be used for registering your release as a ‘wide dynamic range’ track; and a plug-in version for giving a real-time reference to dynamic range values. The plug-in is available in VST, RTAS and Audio Units formats.

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