Saturday, March 21, 2009

#"Dynamic Range" - Pleasurize Music?

Just recently I've found out about this web page:

This time behind the initiative are serious companies such as:
Tischmeyer Technology
Tomo AudioLabs

The initiative of the "Pleasurize Music Foundation" is proposing an open source VU/RMS meter, which can be used to calculate a "Dynamic Range" value of a audio track - offline or real-time with hosted plugin. The main idea is to standard-ise the use of a specific tool in any studio across the world, a tool that determines what the "Dynamic Range" of the tracks examined is and if these track are unnecessary loud. I strongly support this proposal!

Here is more info I've gathered from personal experience:

"Dynamic Range"
From the website explained as:
...This is the average cumulative difference between peak and loudness (RMS) over a specific period of time (duration of a song or album) and is a whole number value given in decibels. Just the top 20% of the loudness are taken into consideration to ensure that songs with a long intro and an over compressed refrain doesn´t appear with a too high DR value.
For the quick tests I did with the "Offline Meter" they are providing, the returned DR values seem completely adequate. Tracks which I think sound super-loud had DR values of 6 for example. Tracks with normal volumes were around 11-14 DR.
Basically the manual of the tools says that an acoustical musical performance for example should be around DR=12, DR=14. For electronic club music I guess it can go a little bit lower around DR=10. But still! This means that the limiters will begin to kick in and DR=12 still will be absolutely reasonable value.

The "Offline Meter"

The offline meter can be used outside of your DAW application (since it is a standalone exe). Loads and analyzes the tracks very fast! The DR value returned from the meter should be considered the "official" DR value for this track. Not the DR values returned from the "Realtime Meter"

The Plug-in "Real-time Meter"

So far the plugin version of the DR meter is only available in the VST format. They are saying that AU/RTAS versions are on the way too.
The plug-in version loads almost instantaneously on my old PC. It has peak meter, RMS meter, mono switch, link switch, and DR value meter along side a very nice moving colored block which turns from green to red if the DR values begin to lower too much.
The only remark I must make here is that apparently the RMS has "Display gain" value of 3dB applied to it. So if you compare the RMS values with other meters (such as Voxengo Span for example) you will have to add 3db more to DR meter values to make them equal. So far I think they are using a 300ms window for RMS calculation which is ok.

Both the plug-in and the offline versions are developed by Tischmeyer and Alogorithmics. Algorithmics alongside Isotope are probably one of the most respected DSP code algorithm suppliers. Tischmeyer Technology is an offspring of Tischmeyer Publishing GMBH with their excellent mastering studio located in Germany and publishing of mastering books and tutorials.

So far so good. I've already started using the new meter. If you are interested give it a try, register on their website and spread the word on forums and blogs if you support the initiative.