PS Audio: Wouldn’t it be a cool feature for a DAC or digital music player to have variable dynamic compression tied to the overall level?

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Paul McGowan writes: Most of us know what dynamic range is: the distance between the loudest and the softest music.  Most of us would always want the most dynamic range possible – it more closely mimics real life sound.  And most of us would do whatever it took to make sure we didn’t compress the dynamic range.  But let me suggest an idea that might change your mind.

What happens when we turn the TV, radio or even the hi-fi down so the loudest peaks aren’t overpowering our conversation?  We basically lose some of the sound below those peaks and the intelligibility level of the program material is reduced dramatically.  Basically, when we turn down our sound systems to a point of background music we lose much of the detail in the softer passages of the music.

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.

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