RE: Amnesia A Machine for Pigs sound design
Hunter of Shadows: I think a good example of what samueljustice is talking about is the difference that can be noticed between old pop records and new pop records. everything these days has very low dynamic range, and is compressed so that everything is loud. unfortunately this also reduces the punch and dynamics of a piece which changes the perception of volume and importance in music. You can even go back and compare a modern recording to a recording of classical music and you'll see often the amount of compression applied at the mastering stage is minimal to none. with music, it is more than just notes, but the sum of everything. the production, the tones, the dynamics, and the composition. likewise sound design can have a much stronger impact if dynamics are used wisely. having more headroom on your levels for larger dynamic range doesnt necessarily mean vastly louder sections either. it can simply mean that sounds that have stronger punch or attack to them, or even bringing out details that can be lost or squashed after the act of brickwall limiting and compression at the mixing or mastering stages. there are also plenty of studies that demonstrate the fatiguing nature of highly compressed audio (as opposed to highly dynamic audio). so in the long run, its easier on your ears, and should, in theory produce a better sounding experience.
one other thing to consider if you are experiencing pain when listening to audio is that the pain could very well be a result of your room and audio equipment. think of your speakers as a guitar string and the room as the body of your guitar. you would be surprised how vastly different audio can sound on different sound systems, in different rooms, and different positions of the same room. with variable frequency responses from audio equipment (boosting and cutting frequencies due to materials and on board electronics), and other unknown variables like the amount of flutter echo a room has, or the specific frequencies in which bass resonates too much or too quietly in specific spots in a room can greatly change the sound of audio. what might sound pleasant, warm, and full in a flat an properly treated environment, can sometimes sound hollow, boomy, sharp, and painful in another.
while paying 300 dollars for speakers isnt going to get you quality, paying 1000 dollars doesn't guarantee it either. You still have to take into consideration the nature of your room. good strings on a bad guitar are still going to sound bad. another thing to consider is what your sound system is designed for, or whether you have EQ settings enabled which make your favourite music sound "better." some music these days are mixed with ipods and low end speakers in mind. often this means they will raise the high end and sub/mid bass to compensate for poor bass response and filtered out high frequencies on smaller speakers and earbuds. however, when you listen to these same mixes in a studio monitoring room, they can sound incredibly fatiguing and harsh on the high end, and on normal mid range consumer speakers, overly boomy in the bass end. so if your speakers have EQs that bring out the high end and low end of older recordings from the 70s, or muffle the high end and lack sub frequency response, your experience is going to be vastly different from what was "intended." and there really isn't any way to get around this outside of trying to flatten the frequency response of your speakers and your room as much as possible.
dynamics are generally a good thing. they can be misused, but all in all, they are sorely lacking in modern audio production.
(This post was last modified: 03-01-2012 08:16 AM by Japface.)