It turns out I’m not just getting old – according to this Times article, music really is louder these days.
For ages now I’ve been using MP3Gain to normalise my tracks after I rip them onto the computer, just to take the edge off of them. Initially I was surprised at the number of albums that crept up over 100 decibels, when the target level for comfortable listening is closer to 89 decibels, but now I realise it’s fairly common practice.
I even had to drop using the OGG format due to the sound spikes, because I couldn’t normalise them along with my collection of MP3’s. It was easier to re-rip my OGG stuff in MP3 than to suffer the assault I’d get on the ear drums when my music player went from a quiet MP3 to a much louder OGG while I was at the gym.
Thinking back over the last few years of buying albums, they really have been getting flatter & louder – proved by the lack of volume spikes when I rip an old CD as opposed to a modern one. I guess that’s why I thought that first Arctic Monkeys album was a noisy pile of crap that hurt my ears, when the rest of the world seemed to be fawning over them.