The simple secret of real mastering

I was really nervous when I made this video !

I thought it was too subtle, I thought people wouldn’t bear able to hear what I was doing over YouTube, that the “less is more” message wasn’t what they wanted to hear.

I was worried that because I’d used Perception to balance the levels without playing the louder & softer comparison first, people would be confused or miss the point.

I was wrong.

Instead, I got comments, emails and tweets saying things like:​

“The mastered version was warm, clear, and present. And it gave me goosebumps”​


“Your EQ moves on this song revealed it’s heart and emotion like the unmastered version didn’t. I teared up when I was listening to it”

And that’s exactly why I do this job !!!

All I used was EQ, compression and limiting, and the biggest change I made was a 2 dB cut.

Overall, it’s probably one of my favourite videos ever – and I didn’t even post it on my own website – until now. This was originally a guest post on the excellent Recording Revolution site, and Graham has kindly given permission for me to re-post it here.

Take a look, let me know what you think !

PS. In the video I mention the excellent Duelling Mixes site – to find out more, click here.

Compression Versus Art – the Loudness War on BBC Radio 4

compe versus art

At the end of last year I was interviewed by the makers of a new BBC radio documentary called Compression Versus Art, talking about the Loudness War, mp3 compression and their effects on audio quality.

We talked for well over an hour, and I really enjoyed the discussion – but couldn’t help wondering how the final show would turn out ! Presenter Trevor Cox and producer Nick Holmes were determined that it should be detailed, nuanced and accurate – but they only had half an hour to do it in.

Also featuring contributions from Dynamic Range Day award-winner Steven Wilson, legendary producer Steve Levine, members of the BBC Philharmonic and Dr Bruno Fazenda, I was left wondering how they would manage to fit everything in, including an introduction to some quite complicated issues for a general Radio 4 audience.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The show was accessible, clear and comprehensive – really excellent. They packed in an amazing amount of detail – but not at the expense of accuracy. And it was entertaining to boot!

It covered both types of compression (dynamic and data) without confusing the two; it explored both the benefits and the problems of both; it even covered the impact that loudness normalisation on YouTube and elsewhere is having – without needing to dumb the subject down, and including useful demonstrations along the way.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about the loudness war and/or mp3 compression, this is a great way to get up to speed quickly. And please tell your friends !

I did have a couple of minor reservations – I disagree about the idea that we only like compression because we’ve been conditioned to it by listening to so many recordings over the years. I think the reason is more subtle and interesting – but I think that might have to be a new blog post in it’s own right ! And, I was a little concerned that people might miss-interpret the comments about the benefits of high-quality audio being “masked” by our listening situation. It’s true you won’t hear the differences the show was discussing on small, cheap speakers or in noisy environments, for example – but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter, as I discussed in this post.

These are very small quibbles, though – overall the show was excellent. Congrats to Trevor and Nick – this was Hi-Def Journalism at it’s finest. For a limited time only you can listen to the whole show on the BBC website, here. I’m genuinely proud to have been part of it.


Ask me anything – about loudness or dynamics

Confused by loudness ? Not sure what dynamics are, or how to measure them ?

No problem – last night I held a live Google+ hangout, on exactly this topic.

Topics I covered included:

  • What loudness is, and how to measure it
  • Why loudness matters
  • Why loudness doesn’t matter (!)
  • Why “dynamic is the new loud”
  • How to measure “dynamics”, and why you need to
  • How loudness works online, and how to optimise your audio loudness for streaming

Plus answering a load of great questions from the people watching !

You can watch the full replay in the video at the start of this post.

I hope you find it helpful !

Confused about Dynameter ? Your questions answered

There’s already been a huge amount of interest in my new plugin, Dynameter – which is great ! But a few people are confused, and there some common questions being asked – so here are the answers to the most popular ones.

What is Dynameter ? I’m confused !

That’s easy – click here to see a demonstration.

Do I really need this ? I already have an LUFS loudness meter/RMS meter/VU meter

Maybe not ! You can deduce a lot of the information Dynameter displays from any LUFS loudness meter, and achieve similar goals with a VU or RMS meter – for example, I demonstrate one approach here.


I own many different meters, and none of them display exactly what Dynameter does, in exactly the way that it does. For me, it’s more helpful, more immediate, and easier to use, than any of the other options. (Of course, I would say that…)

The main reason for this is:

[Read more…]

Announcing Dynameter – my new plugin is released today !

Today is the day !

My new plugin is ready, and I can finally tell you about it.

It’s called Dynameter, and you can see exactly what it is, and how it works, in the video above.

Stop worrying about loudness – start succeeding with dynamics

In a nutshell, Dynameter allows you to see a snapshot of the dynamic profile of your music, in realtime – and set your own targets, to achieve your dynamics goals for your music, whatever they might be.

When will it be available ? That’s the great news – it’s available now.

For all the details, click here.

Take a look, I’d love to know what you think of it ! And if you have any questions, you may find them answered here: