Mastering is the final engineering stage of audio prior to its consumer use. Often, loudness is the main concern of mastering as loud music makes sales. Human hearing perceives loudness more by RMS than by peak: a clap can be as loud as a motorcyle exhaust, but as the envelope of a clap is all attack and release, with little sustain, the sustain of a motorcycle putter causes constant depression of the cillia within the cochlea, causing ear fatige, and is perceived as LOUDER. Music mastered for loudness also causes ear fatigue, for only a few of those cochlear cillia are being constantly activated, while music with great dynamic range is easier listening for it allows many ear-hairs to take turns perceiving sound.
James Gazzola — New York City Recording Connection
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