A $300 home studio? REALLY ?

I didn’t expect my last post to get me in trouble.

But it did.

It seemed simple enough – I was just letting you know that Graham from the Recording Revolution website had been interviewed on Pensado’s Place.

I included a brief intro to Graham, for people who didn’t already know him, and I mentioned that he recently set himself a challenge – to record a song using a home studio setup costing only $300. And that’s where the trouble started.

Because it turns out, some people don’t like that idea !

They don’t believe that you can get great results using affordable gear, and they think Graham is deliberately misleading people by saying so. Telling them what they want to hear, rather than being realistic and honest.

So, what’s my opinion?

It’s a nice idea, sure, and Graham’s mix sounded pretty good – but can you really get good sound in a home studio costing only 300 dollars, especially when you put it under the microscope for mastering ? REALLY ?

I decided to find out. Watch the video above to hear the results for yourself, and let me know what you think in the comments…

Stereo width in mastering – how to measure, monitor and modify it

People are always asking me about stereo width, image depth and “three dimensionality” in audio – and whether you can influence them at the mastering stage.

The answer is Yes – although it’s almost always better to get it right in the mix, just as with almost everything else !

That isn’t always possible though, and the truth is you really can get a surprising amount of control over these aspects of a master, even though you’re typically only ever working with a stereo file at the mastering stage. In this video I show you:

  • How to measure the stereo width of your mix, in a simple, affordable way
  • What it sounds like when there is too much (or too little) stereo width in your audio
  • Why you should never use the “polarity flip” trick to try and get more width in your mix
  • Another two much more powerful & sophisticated ways to analyse the stereo image and phase content of your master, using the excellent Nugen Visualizer plugin
  • A simple, effective way to take detailed control of the phase coherence of your audio – and when you shouldn’t use it

Take a look, and let me know what you think in the comments !

FACEPALM: “It sounds great! Now can you make it louder ?” – My simple four-step solution

louder facepalm


It’s the question we all dread.

You finished the master, everyone is really happy, and then they hit you with it:

Can you just make it a bit louder ?

Because even though we know that loudness is pointless, even though we know that if you want to sound louder on YouTube, or Apple Music or Spotify or anywhere, the answer is to master with balanced dynamics – no-one else believes it yet.

The artists don’t believe it

The labels don’t believe it

The producers don’t believe it

The A&R people don’t believe it

And plenty of mastering engineers still don’t believe it, either !

Even though we know that:

No-one believes us.

They’ve bought into the myth, they’re feeling the FUD.

Don’t Panic

Luckily, they don’t have to believe us, because now we can show them. Quickly, and easily.

This strategy is free, non-techy and simple to implement.

Here it is: [Read more…]

So Taylor Swift is louder than Motorhead, AC/DC and The Sex Pistols… – wait, WHAT?

Loudness War - Taylor Swift versus AC/DC
(Click on the image for a larger version)

This is a 2015 re-boot of one of the first, and most popular memes I created for Dynamic Range Daynot a “Top 10″ as some sites have reported, it’s actually the “selected high (and low) -lights” of recorded music levels over the last few decades.

And the information it gives is just as crazy as it ever was.

As a result of the so-called loudness wars, mainstream pop releases are being pushed onto CD and into mp3 files at such high levels they’re technically much ‘hotter’ than some of the loudest acts in history, in an attempt to make them stand out from the competition.

Why is it crazy ? Because it doesn’t work.

None of these “loudness” differences will be audible in any of most popular places we listen to music.

Not on Spotify.

Not on iTunes Radio.

Not even on Youtube, any more !

And certainly not on radio or TV.

Replay volume is ‘normalised’ in all of these places, to improve the listener experience, because the number one source of complaints about audio is always big variations in loudness – we hate to have to keep adjusting the volume control.

So if you’re wondering – “why do people still bother?” – you’ve got a point!

It’s not all bad news

Take another look at that infographic, though.

There are some interesting features.

Look at the 2015 releases.

[Read more…]

YouTube just put the final nail in the Loudness War’s coffin

This is HUGE.

It may not look like much, but if you’re involved in music production, recording, mixing or mastering, this image could be the most important thing you’ll see all year.

What is it ?

It’s the loudness output of a YouTube playlist, as measured by the MeterPlugs LCast loudness meter.

So what ?

First – it’s quiet. The loudness levels are all quite low, especially by modern “loudness war” standards.

Second – it’s very consistent. More importantly than the low loudness, they’re almost all playing at the same loudness.
[Read more…]