Welcome, Guest

The Loudness War Has Been Won: Press Release

14 Oct 2013

Orlando, Florida: “The debilitating loudness war has finally been won,” said mastering engineer Bob Katz on the eve of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in New York City. The last battle will be over by mid-2014.”

“I have just completed loudness measurements of iTunes Radio using iTunes version 11.1.1. Tunes Radio’s audio levels are fully-regulated, using Apple’s Sound Check™ algorithm. This is a very important development,” Katz said.

During several hours’ testing, Katz measured the output level of several stations, and concluded that each song’s loudness averages -16.5 LUFS, within better than 2 dB, usually plus or minus 1.5 dB. The Apple release notes state that version 11.1.1 “improves stability”, which he interprets as having solved some loudness regulation issues which were present in the previous iTunes release.

It is clear that music producers want their music to sound as good as possible on the nascent but already popular iTunes Radio platform, given the many listeners instantly available. This immediately opens an opportunity to curtail the loudness race within the next few months. Added Katz, “The way to turn the loudness race around right now, is for every producer and mastering engineer to ask their clients if they have heard iTunes Radio. When they respond in the affirmative, the engineer/producer tells them they need to turn down the level of their song(s) to the standard level or iTunes Radio will do it for them. He or she should also explain that overcompressed material sounds wimpy and small in comparison to more open material on iTunes Radio.

Katz suggests, “The engineer/producer should also tell their clients to turn on Sound Check in iTunes to hear their music exactly the way they will be broadcast on iTunes Radio. This makes all music played in iTunes, whether it be on IOS devices played while jogging, connected in the car, or on the desktop computer, perform consistently. It’s a revolution in the making, with instant positive results.“

Katz’s discoveries show that current squashed and smashed pop releases are being attenuated more than 7 dB in order to make their loudness equal to that of more-conservatively mastered releases. In other words, true peak levels of current pop songs are as low as -7.8 dB below full scale! “There is so much available peak headroom now in iTunes Radio that anyone who wants to master their songs with more conservative levels and prefers higher peak-to-loudness ratios will produce music with immediate loudness and sound quality advantages, compared to what’s being played out there now. The cream will soon rise to the top. The music will sound better, even a bit louder, and will attract more listeners. iTunes Radio is already so popular that it will end the loudness race by force majeure. This development is a great opportunity for producers to explain and demonstrate to their clients how to make their songs sound better on iTunes Radio and everywhere else.”

Sound Check is on by default in iTunes Radio and cannot be turned off. However, currently, song files which are on the computer or the iDevice are not loudness-regulated by default, so consumers and musicians who listen to iTunes Radio will quickly discover that Radio sounds more consistent than their playlists, that they don’t have to turn their volume controls up and down when listening to Radio. iTunes Radio also reveals that overcompressed songs sound worse, and not louder than their competition. Therefore, it is imperative for producers and engineers to educate clients to turn on Sound Check so they can hear what their songs will sound like on Radio, and for better listening. “Magazines, newspapers and other media outlets should encourage their readers to turn on Sound Check to make their devices conform with iTunes Radio,” said Katz. “All it takes is a little educating and self-discovery.”

“There will be still some skirmishes, but the main battle has just been won. Producers, engineers and musicians will ultimately discover this news themselves, but journalists and producers can hasten the close of the war, starting right now.” To discuss this important event, Katz invites musicians, producers and engineers to join the free discussion forum at www.digido.com.

The discovery that iTunes Radio may be regulated with the Sound Check algorithm was made by engineer Robin Reumers of Galaxy Studios, Belgium, on September 20th. Reumers then began a discussion with fellow loudness researchers Thomas Lund of TC Electronic and Bob Katz of Digital Domain Mastering. Katz immediately made measurements and found some iTunes Radio Stations that were inconsistently regulated, and he suggested that iTunes Radio might not conform to Sound Check. However, the maintenance release of iTunes opened up a possibility, and on October 15th, Katz tested iTunes 11.1.1 and confirmed that Apple appears to have conquered the loudness inconsistencies. Reumers pointed out that this must mean that Sound Check metadata is being broadcast on iTunes Radio and that Apple had to tweak the receivers in order to properly react to the metadata. Apple does not normally comment on their technical data or procedures, leaving the task of confirming measurements to the audio community.

“I urge readers of this press release to enter into discussion on the forum at www.digido.com,” said Katz. “Especially if you have any information on Apple’s technical practices. The forum will serve as a central meeting place for producers and engineers who want to see the loudness war end as quickly as possible.”
Contact: Todd Hays or Mary Kent, tel. 407.831.0233 or write This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Time to create page: 0.124 seconds
Latest Posts: Mouse Over to see content
Posted by: bobkatz48bit
18 Aug 2014 11:06
Mastering DAW Dear "Reel" I have Sequoia in bootcamp on my Mac Book Pro for traveling. I can switch back and forth between OSX and Windows in less than a minute with an SSD in the machine. Maybe after two or three iterations of Moore's law when we can fit more cores in...
Posted by: bobkatz48bit
18 Aug 2014 10:58
Mastering DAW I use S-D all the time to get rid of noises between tracks when I switch my analog equalizer between tracks. It's MUCH MUCH faster and more efficient than copy-paste. Ordinarily I don't use S-D for most of my mastering work and for most mastering work you...
Posted by: TheMightyReel
17 Aug 2014 18:57
Mastering DAW Its an interesting one, this. I'm currently supporting both OS platforms - Windows for Sadie and Mac for everything else (notably Logic and Protools). For a "quick job" (i.e. something that will not see a CD plant and is just intended as a download or...
Posted by: granmiku
17 Aug 2014 11:20
Mastering DAW Hi Bob, can you please explain, why source-destination in mastering is so important? If I understand the term correctly, it's a technique that's used in film editing. In my mastering work I don't need to perform either S-D nor crossfades very often -...
Posted by: Duda
17 Aug 2014 01:56
Mastering DAW Thanks for the explanation, Bob! It makes a lot of sense when you say "..I know how many man-years were necessary to get the big three mastering DAWs up to the performance level they are at now. There's a reason why Sadie, Pyramix and Sequoia cost a little...
Posted by: bobkatz48bit
16 Aug 2014 11:00
Mastering DAW I wouldn't pay an outrageous price for a steak if I couldn't taste the difference and if I was not an aficionado of steaks. Same goes for fine wines and fine cars. Same goes for mastering DAWs. My profession is mastering engineer and I have to pay the...
Posted by: bobkatz48bit
16 Aug 2014 10:53
Mastering DAW Dear Duda: Join in! The more the merrier. I've been a Mac fan since the 80's! I have owned over 20 MacIntosh computers since then and currently own about 6 Macs and 6 PCs running in our studios. Our mastering DAW of choice is Sequoia, which only runs on...
Posted by: bobkatz48bit
16 Aug 2014 10:31
DSD, bit depth and amplitude Dear Lackie productions: Thanks for writing in. The problem is simply semantics. The language of the Benchmark article regarding DSD is confusing. The author made a bit of (pardon the pun) a confusion by saying that since DSD is only one bit that...
Posted by: lackieproductions
16 Aug 2014 03:54
DSD, bit depth and amplitude Ok so this article is published on the Benchmark site challenging everything we know about 1bit vs. 24bit systems. The authors claims made me think it was April fools day. It seems to me that he is conflating terms for different technologies. 1bit DSD and...
Posted by: Duda
14 Aug 2014 20:56
Mastering DAW This is a good question, Michael. SADiE, Sequoia and Samplitude are not for Mac. So, Bob, are there anything better than WaveLab for Mac? Thank you! Duda
Powered By nZambi!