Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Why adverts sound so loud

I have just been told by a fellow traveller here at 37,000 ft above the icy wastes of northern Canada that although adverts subjectively sound louder, objectively they aren't louder than the TV programmes they interrupt. The reason that they sound louder is that the audio signal has been compressed so that the quiet bits are louder and the louder bits are quieter so there's more sound packed into the same loudness.

What a dastardly trick.


Anonymous said...

This is also true of pop music. It just gets more and more compressed so it's louder and louder so that song 'stands out.'

Don't believe me? Get a song by the beatles, and then something released in the last 5 years that would have a lot of airplay. I'll bet you have to turn down your headphones.

jason said...

this is true, mostly. there is often a difference in actual, not just perceived volume between program and ad, especially when comparing films to stuff made for broadcast. it then really depends on how much a particular broadcaster decides to process the signal.

when it comes to pop music, or to a greater degree dance music, or even infomercials, a problem arises when you listen to audio that has been too heavily compressed for long periods of time.. the brain gets fatigued and it becomes more noise than music, you want to ignore it or make it go away.

Suw said...

Please, yes, make it go away!