Sky Mastering

Wavelab metersAh yes — Mastering. That mysterious but all important last step in the recording/mixing  process, known by some as the “Black Arts” — part voodoo; part science; a large part intuition and “feel”  … all culminating  to result in a sonically superior final product.


Sadly, such is not often the case these days, as the corporately-propelled mania referred to as ‘The Loudness Wars‘ continues to surge forward, leaving thousands of songs squashed, lifeless victims in it’s wake of aural annihilation. (decidedly UN-rock and roll)

That just has to stop — for the sake of  music itself, never mind the unheard/undetected damage all that added distortion is doing to peoples’ hearing (irony not lost here).


But what, exactly, IS Mastering? Click HERE for an in-depth explanation…


How Loud is TOO Loud??  


"Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were never THIS loud?!?"

“Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were never THIS loud?!?”

 the ‘Loudness Wars’  greatest casualty — MUSIC!!


If that seems like an odd, philosophical or subjective question, there actually IS a correct answer, and it’s at this point I’m going to turn it over to a few veteran ‘sonic sorcerers’ who might have a slightly more persuasive angle than I where this conundrum is concerned and therefore be well worth your time when considering the fate of your musical expression…


BOB KATZ – Living Legend and author of the definitive source for all things audiophile talks about the Loudness Wars:

"In Bob we Trust."

“In Bob we Trust.”



Greg Calbi – On loudness, over-compression and the “new nuisance” — the iPod shuffle. ’nuff said:


Bob Ludwig — Is louder really “better”?


Why not strive to be in the best company?


Average RMS levels of some of the greatest albums of all time — both sonically as well as sales:


– Guns n Roses – ‘Appetite for Destruction (-15db)

– Nirvana – ‘Nevermind’ (-16db)

– ACDC – ‘Back in Black’ (-16db)

– Jeff Buckley – ‘Grace’ (-15db)

– Alanis Morissette – ‘Jagged Little Pill’ (-13.5db)

– Peter Gabriel – ‘Us’ (-17db)

– Pink Floyd – ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (-15.5db)

(more great examples coming soon!)


Worried about the “ipod shuffle effect”? Don’t be — R128 is about to save your music — and your hearing… check it out!


Thomas Lund – Innovation at TC Electronics — talks about loudness, distortion and M/S problems with Apple files and the emancipation of music via R128 — long and technical, but if you’re serious about your music, don’t miss it!


Do louder albums sell more? Research shows NO — quite to the opposite. Alan Parsons discusses with several award winning  producers and engineers why louder is NOT better:


Okay, so you’ve checked out some (or all — hopefully!) of the videos above, and you now have a better idea of the process, the back story, ‘geeky’ stuff like peak levels, RMS levels, hard and soft clipping, volume vs. loudness, etc. I entertained including a list of the worst albums level-wise to provide some context — and likely will do so at a future date – but suffice it to say that just because modern albums and singles are being “pancaked” at the behest of record company A&R types who wrongly believe “louder is better!” doesn’t mean YOU should buy in to that myth — I sure don’t. In fact,  although the new average RMS levels over the past 8-10yrs or so have gotten as ear-splitting loud as -3db to -6db, you’d have to have a pretty legitimate reason why I should do that to YOUR mixes. And we both know none exists.

Instead, you can count on me to keep the RMS levels of your mixes somewhere between -8 and -10db, depending on genre and style, in an effort to properly convey to your audience what you first intended when you recorded and mixed the songs initially. Those are very healthy and loud levels, yet your music will still breathe with a life of it’s own!

To hear some examples of sane masters, head over to the LISTEN page…