I caught up with my old friend, mastering and recording engineer Bob Katz at the Audio Engineering Society convention held last week in NYC. He was there to proclaim an end to the "Loudness Wars," which refers to the overuse of dynamic range compression to flatten the soft-to-loud volume changes that naturally occur in music. Katz was way ahead of the pack in decrying the overzealous use of compression in mastering recordings, he has been in the trenches, fighting the good fight for more than 20 years.
At the end of this month, I'll turn the last page of the longest single chapter of my life: 13 years at CNET (minus a brief departure in 2003 to O'Reilly Media), during which I've done just about every editorial job possible, and developed a career that was completely unexpected, wonderful, and enriching. I've grown up at CNET, and now I've decided to leave the nest.
I'll be pursuing independent projects that I'm extremely excited about. More details on that will be forthcoming, and you can check my blog, TheMolly, for more.
I'… Read more
CNN recently reported on the "death" of the home stereo system, and while that's an exaggeration, few people -- young or old -- have "stereos" anymore. CNN was asleep at the wheel on this one; precious few folks have had stereos for decades. Music is now almost always consumed in cars, and over phones and plastic computer or Bluetooth speakers. If there's an imminent "death" on the horizon, it will surely strike MP3 players and iPods. Phones have already taken over as the portable music players of choice. Do you know anyone … Read more
I've lived in NYC since birth, so you might think I wouldn't have a hard time with noise. It's always been part of my life, but restaurants used to be a lot quieter than they are now. The noise isn't just an annoyance; in some places it can reach dangerous levels, according to standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The noise is generated by the restaurant's sound system and people talking, in an acoustic setting too often designed to exacerbate and reflect, rather than absorb noise. Bare floors and … Read more
How loud is loud? I know loud when I hear it, but if you want a number, I'd say at home anything over 90 dB is getting up there, and might annoy neighbors in adjacent apartments, especially after 10 p.m. If you live in a house, 90+ dB would definitely disturb other family members not watching the movie or listening to music. Of course, the volume at concerts and movie theaters is much, much louder than most people would ever tolerate at home. Loud music, games, and home theater takes on an almost physical quality; you don't … Read more
A great-sounding recording will sound its best only when it's properly mastered to LP, SACD, DVD-Audio, or a high-resolution file. Those formats will reveal the full glory of the music in ways that lower-resolution formats like MP3 or analog cassette always miss. But if you didn't have access to the high-resolution file to compare it with, a great recording will still sound pretty terrific as an AAC, M4A, or 320kbps MP3 file, because the recording's innate quality would shine through. On the other hand, a heavily compressed, processed and crude recording will always sound heavily compressed, processed … Read more
Each Tuesday, the newest episode of "Always On" will premiere at 11 a.m. Pacific time, 2 p.m. Eastern, with a live viewing party on the show page. I'll be there with pre-show and post-show commentary on video, and we can watch the first episode together in chat on the page. I'll give behind-the-scenes insights, if I have them, or we can groan at my bad jokes together, or you can give me make-up tips...whatever seems appropriate.
In last Sunday's Mad Men episode, "Lady Lazarus," the advertising agency's creative director, Don Draper, asked, "When did music become so important?" Draper's clueless about what's going on outside his Madison Avenue office window. The episode was set in the summer of 1966 when the culture revolved around music; in 2012 the Web is where the action is.
What went wrong with music? Some blame the record companies, believing they mismanaged themselves into a crisis, then again, maybe it was inevitable that our tech culture would move away from music. In the … Read more
At 1,588, it's the final episode of Buzz Out Loud, the podcast that launched a thousand news stories, arguments, hosts and co-hosts, producers, and good times. We packed the studio full -- Tom Merritt, Veronica Belmont, Jason Howell, Rafe Needleman, Donald Bell, plus, of course, Molly Wood, Brian Tong, and Stephen Beacham...and it's possible there was some Champagne, a little whiskey, some cake, and even a couple of news stories. Oh, and tears. Definitely tears.Part 1 Part 2
It's the end of an era and it's the birth of an era.
If you're a CNET fan, you may have listened to a CNET podcast or a thousand since Molly Wood and Tom Merritt launched the trailblazing Buzz Out Loud podcast in 2005. Buzz Out Loud (all 1,588 episodes!) and the shows that followed in its footsteps, from Rumor Has It to Crave and Dialed In, number among the most creative, fun live shows on the Internet.
But here's the thing: we've closely observed over the past few months how our audiences watch … Read more