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Over the years, it's become easier and easier to make recordings that are hotter and hotter in perceived level. Mostly because of new digital technology that has resulted in better and better limiters. Today's digital look ahead limiters make it easy to set a maximum level of usually -0.1 or -0.2 dB full-scale and never worry about digital overs and distortion again. The problem is this can come at a great cost in audio quality if you are not careful. Too much buzz compression are over limiting either when mixing or mastering results in what's become known as Hyper Compression.
(music playing) Hyper compression is to be avoided at all costs because it can't be undone later. It can suck the life out of the song, making it weaker sounding instead of punchier. MP3s have a hard time encoding hyper-compressed material and can insert unwanted side effects as a result.
Studies have shown that it causes listener fatigue so the consumer won't listen to your recording for as long or for as many times. A hyper-compressed track has no dynamics leaving it a loud but lifeless and unexciting. On a DAW, it's a constant wave form that fills up the audio region in the timeline. Here's how the levels of change and recordings over the years using this hit recording from the '80s and its subsequent reissues as an example. Now let's take a listen to a hyper-compressed song.
(music playing) If you listen to it with more dynamic range, that may not sound as loud, but it sounds more exciting. (music playing) The whole art of mastering is making a song loud and making it sound punchier, not worse for the process.
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