The Perception of Hyper-Compression by Mastering Engineers

Malachy Ronan, Nicholas Ward, Robert Sazdov, Hyunkook Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Hyper-compressed popular music is the product of a behavior associated with the over-use of dynamic range processing in an effort to gain a competitive advantage in music production. This behavior is unnecessary given the introduction of loudness normalization algorithms across the industry and has been denounced by mastering engineers as generating audible sound quality artifacts. However, the audibility of these sound quality artifacts to mastering engineers has not been examined. This study probes this question using an ABX listening experiment with 20 mastering engineers. On average, mastering engineers correctly discriminated 17 out of 24 conditions suggesting that the sound quality artifacts generated by hyper-compression are difficult to perceive. The findings in the study suggest that audibility depends on the Crest Factor (CF) of the music rather than the amount of CF reduction thus proposing the existence of a threshold of audibility. Further work focusing on education initiatives are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-621
Number of pages9
JournalAES: Journal of the Audio Engineering Society
Issue number7/8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


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