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Mastering Essentials – watch my free 6-part Sound On Sound video series here

June 22nd, 2021 BY Ian Shepherd

Mastering is simple. Not easy, but simple.

That's the message behind this series of 6 video tutorials I made recently for Sound On Sound magazine.

In them, I walk you through my entire mastering process from beginning to end, explaining how and why I work the way that I do at every stage.

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STOP looking at waveforms !!

July 12th, 2024 BY Ian Shepherd

Waveforms are everywhere - in your DAW, in online audio platforms, in books... everywhere.

And the trouble is, you can't trust them !

At least, not in some fundamental and very important ways.

In this video I show you exactly what I mean by that, and explain why waveforms can sometimes be so deeply misleading – and how you can avoid being fooled.

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The 80/20 Rule of Mastering

June 5th, 2024 BY Ian Shepherd

You've probably heard of "Pareto’s Principle", or the 80/20 rule. In a nutshell, it says:

80% of your results will come from 20% of your activity

The numbers aren't exact of course, in reality they'll be slightly higher or lower, but the point is, not everything we do is equally valuable - in fact often most of the value we get often comes from things we don't spend a huge amount of time doing. You only spend 1/5 of you time getting 4/5 of the results !

Usually this idea is used to help us improve our productivity - for example, I spend a lot of time on social media, but the reality is it almost certainly doesn't do nearly as much for my success as writing blog posts like this one.

But it occured to me the other day that it also applies in exactly the same way to actual mastering - the process and skills we use when we're working. So what do I mean by this ?

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Higher LUFS - do they REALLY always sound louder ?

May 16th, 2024 BY Ian Shepherd

Everybody keeps telling me that higher LUFS masters always sound louder, even when they're loudness-matched - for example when people listen via YouTube or online streaming services.

But I just don't hear it.

So in this video, I investigate...

Did I miss your favourite example ? Drop a comment on YouTube so I can check it our for myself, and maybe feature it in a future video !

To find out more about the Loudness Penalty Studio application, click here.

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Brian Eno's generative documentary – and why YOU should see it

April 23rd, 2024 BY Ian Shepherd

I almost didn't go !

This is post is going to be a long-winded way of saying that the new Brian Eno film "Eno" is amazing, but also to remind myself to Always Do The Slightly Crazy Thing.

On Saturday, The Slightly Crazy Thing was jumping on a train to go and see the premiere of the world's first ever 'generative' documentary. So why was that crazy ?

Well, London is a fair way to travel to watch a 90-minute documentary, even in a venue like the Barbican Hall – and with tickets plus train fare the cost soon mounts up. Especially when it was such a spur-of-the-moment decision – I'd only known about the event for a couple of days. "Never mind", I thought – "it's a birthday treat, so provided I can find someone to keep me company, I'll go".

Except I couldn't. There were plenty of friends and contacts who would have liked to join me, but none were able to at such short notice. But several of them insisted I should go anyway, and eventually I decided… what the hell. And I'm so glad I did !

Partly because this was the UK premiere of the film, including a live Q&A with the film-makers and Eno himself afterwards (and famous faces like Peter Gabriel wandering around the lobby) – so it had only ever been shown a handful of times before.

But mostly because this screening of the film would be genuinely unique – as have all the others – because of that word 'generative'. So what does that mean ?

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My name is Ian Shepherd - I've worked as a professional mastering engineer for over 20 years and I run the Production Advice website with over 50,000 readers each month



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