Podcast: hifi world vs. studio world with Jules Standen

  • Who does the inviting? For Darko.Audio podcast guests, it’s almost always yours truly; in the first instance, hoping to persuade a potential interviewee to appear on the show and then nailing a mutually convenient date and time. Sometimes we even have to vault remote recording hurdles. At time of writing, I’m in the ninth month of pursuing (on and off) a well-known pop/rock musician whose debut album opened my mind to Bob Dylan and whose second album changed my attitude towards Prince.

    For today’s story, however, we start with Momus whose second album The Poison Boyfriend was produced by one Julian Standen: the American-born but London-based Standen had spent much of the eighties and nineties working across the UK capital’s recording studios before founding the pro-audio focussed Gearslutz forum in 2002.

    Our first contact went something like this:

    Hi John,

    I founded about 18 years ago. I have been digging your videos and podcast since discovering them this year. An audio engineer and producer by trade, I started the forum as a hobby in 2002. I would be interested to chew the fat with you on your podcast. Perhaps we could discuss the different hopes and wishes of consumers in the hifi world and the recording studio world?
    There is crossover!

    My reply:

    Hi Jules,

    Thanks for reaching out and yes, it would be great to have you on the podcast. I really don’t get why the home listening world and studio world are such cleanly separated markets. Perhaps we can explore the similarities and differences?

    Listen to my and Jules’ ensuing podcast conversation via SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn or the embedded player below.

    Oh — and if you find yourself bristling at the Gearslutz name, cool yr jets. At the time of podcast recording, Standen had just announced that the site would soon be renamed to better fit the mood of the times. is an interim name/logo.

    Further information: Gearslutz

    But our story of self-inviting guests doesn’t end there. A few days after the above podcast’s publication, I received an email from Eelco Grimm who, as well as being the Creative Director at Grimm Audio, sits on an Audio Engineering Society committee that discusses, among other things, mastering ‘loudness’:

    Dear John Darko,

    My Tidal contact pointed me to your podcast with Jules Standen. I enjoyed listening to it, but I just had to respond to you about the loudness war part at the end. My impression is that both of you were not aware that Spotify, Tidal and YouTube already have loudness normalization on by default, which means that loud tracks are attenuated automatically. So effectively the incentive to master loud is gone because CD is dead and the large majority of the listeners consume streams from these services.

    All the very best,
    Eelco Grimm
    Grimm Audio and HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, The Netherlands

    My reply:

    Hi there Eelco

    Yes, I am indeed aware of the LUFS-based normalisation taking place on Spotify. And yes, I can see how this removes the *incentive* for engineers to crush the dynamic range of their masters. But as it currently stands, and especially for much of the music I listen to, loud masters are still a reality. Besides, my and Jules’ conversation about the loudness wars was very much about the past, not the future.Β 

    I would be more than happy to have you as a podcast guest whenever you feel the time is right to discuss the work being done by the Audio Engineering Society to counter unnecessarily loud masters.



    A date hasn’t yet been set but arrangements for a podcast about the future of the loudness wars (and how they might soon end) are already in motion.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

    Letters to the editor – Week #5, 2021