Howard Popeck wonders about variable dynamic compression

Are you unfamiliar with the term Dynamic Range? Okay; dynamic range, explained simply is the distance between the loudest and the softest parts of a piece of music. I don’t find that description entirely satisfactory and so before reading more of this post you might want to glance at

Whatever the description though, the point is that most of us want the most dynamic range possible. This is because it more closely mimics real life sound. Consequently, and at face value we’d do whatever it took to make sure we didn’t compress the dynamic range. There’s a conflicting view though.

You have (say) a guest in your living room and the system is playing. The guest want to make a comment. You reduce the volume so the loudest peaks aren’t overpowering the conversation. As a consequence you’ve lost some of the sound below those peaks and the intelligibility level of the music is reduced dramatically. In short, when you turn down the system to a point of background music you and everyone else will lose much of the detail in the softer passages of the music. So what’s the solution? Paul McGowan has one and I quote him verbatim below.

"Wouldn’t it be a cool feature for a DAC or digital music player to have variable dynamic compression tied to the overall level? So the lower the volume control and the music, the more compressed or “squished” the dynamics become. This two-step process means the lowest level sounds are turned up in volume while the loudest dynamic peaks are turned down in volume.

Of course we’d want this to be a switchable feature, but imagine background music that is just as intelligible as louder music, yet it’s still in the background. When you turn up the volume to a proper listening level, the dynamic squishing is gone.

I’d sign up for it.”

Quite so Paul; me too!

Thank you for your attention

If you have any comments re this post then I’ll be happy to take a look and I’ll respond if I can.

I’ll return tomorrow – hopefully.