Music is about tension and release. With very "hot," un-dynamic music there is no release because the sensory assault simply doesn't let-up. By the time you've listened closely (or tried to) to a whole album that's heavily compressed, you end up feeling like Alex at the end of A Clockwork Orange — battered, fatigued by, and disgusted with the music you love.
—Nick Southall, Imperfect Sound Forever
I'm not a fan of some of the modern mastering techniques, where you squash all the upper harmonics out of the music in order to make it louder.
[In current rock songs] there's a certain level of power involved to the drums and the guitar...everything. "Everything's the loudest thing in the mix", I like to say.
— John Fields, producer (Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers)
Volume wins any contest, except for someone who actually cares what it sounds like.
— Richard Dodd, recording and mastering engineer (Kings of Leon, Dixie Chicks)
[Digital limiting] essentially takes all the information and chops off the spiky bits— transients— that you don't hear as much as you perceive subconsciously. Those are the things that make you feel connected to the music. So something can be 10 dBs louder, but it somehow sounds slightly less involving. Each of those chopped-off peaks puts a little piece of distortion there instead, so the overall sound gets this hard, unpleasant kind of sheen, and you can't hear it as well.
— Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine
The debilitating loudness war has finally been won.
— Mastering engineer Bob Katz in 2013, in reference to iTunes radio (we shall see).
"As you can see, the [quiet] wave is weak, fancy, and pretentious, and the [insanely loud] wave is professional and majestic.