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Listener Preferences for Alternative Dynamic-Range-Compressed Audio Configurations

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Some audio experts have suggested that using Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) to increase the loudness of music compromises audio quality. Conversely, other researchers sometimes find that audio subjected to DRC is preferred over uncompressed audio. This research tests the hypothesis that it is DRC configuration, rather than the use of DRC that determines listener preferences. In this study 130 listeners completed 13 A/B preference trials using pairs of RMS loudness-equalized stimuli with different DRC configurations. By manipulating the point in the mix chain at which DRC was applied, this study supports the hypothesis that listeners prefer music with DRC applied to fewer signals simultaneously (tracks prior to grouping and summation). Findings also suggest that listeners prefer compression over limiting and they prefer moderate DRC over none.

JAES Volume 65 Issue 7/8 pp. 540-551; July 2017
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AES - Audio Engineering Society