I’ve mentioned The Loudness War before – squashing the dynamic range of a track to try and boost the loudness to make it stand out – but MusicMachinery.com has a great post with an in-depth explanation and the data to back it up. Paul Lamere of The EchoNest analyzed over 15,000 tracks to measure their loudness (and shows his work by making the source code available).
I have analyzed the loudness of about 15K tracks from the top 1,000 or so most popular artists. The average loudness across all 15K tracks is about -9.5 dB.
The loudest artist on the list was Venetian Snares, weighing in at an astonishing -1.25dB, Slipknot, Andrew WK and Queens of the Stone Age weren’t far behind. Brian Eno clocked in at -17dB at the lower end of the scale. I was surprised not to find The Red Hot Chilli Peppers in the ‘loudest’ table, although their earlier albums may have offset the louder albums such as ‘Californication’, which simply sounded terrible. As Paul said in his post
It is interesting to see that Avril Lavigne is louder than Metallica and Katy Perry is louder than Megadeth.
I’ll repost the video from the post, demonstrating why ‘louder’ does not equal ‘better’.