Hi-fi, lo-fi, and the death of good vibes
It's not just new music that's too loud. Many remastered recordings suffer the same problem as engineers apply compression to bring them into line with modern tastes.... MP3 and other digital-music formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. That means more convenience but worse sound.... MP3s don't reproduce reverb well, and the lack of high-end detail makes them sound brittle. Without enough low end... "you don't get the punch anymore. It decreases the punch of the kick drum and how the speaker gets pushed when the guitarist plays a power chord."
And further (this is great):
Now, I am not advocating abandoning iPods and other MP3 players.
Still, "it's like going to the Louvre and instead of the Mona Lisa there's a 10-megapixel image of it... I wouldn't look at a Kandinsky painting with sunglasses on."
It is just the fact that art, literature and music have been so diminished in the last couple decades that most people in our culture couldn't tell quality art, literature or music if it was served them on a silver platter with a cue card reading "applause."
For my generation, Gen-X, the touchstone song is Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Robert Levine, writer of the article, illustrates -- with graphics -- the difference in audio architecture of Nirvana's anthem and Arctic Monkey's hit "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor."
Suddenly I feel old.