Producing for today's digital music services
Mix & master for the listener
MasterCheck is the complete solution for optimising your mixes for today’s music delivery services. Streaming apps, download stores, websites and podcasts all use data compression, loudness matching or both. These processes can affect your mixes in various undesirable ways: your loud punchy mix could end up quiet and flat, or suffer clipping or distortion.
The good news is you don’t just have to mix for CD and hope for the best. MasterCheck reveals problems ahead of time, and enables you to deliver masters perfectly tuned for specific playout systems.
MasterCheck instantly de-mystifies loudness normalised playout systems, demonstrating the effects of compression so you can find the sweet spot between perceived loudness and dynamics. Now you can quickly find the point beyond which these systems kick into effect, putting you back in control. MasterCheck provides the tools to make sure your mix reaches the listener as intended.
How do people listen to the music you mix? You work hard to deliver masters that sound great at home, in the car or on earbuds, but that’s only half the story. How does your mix sound on Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play? What about YouTube, digital radio, or Beatport?
MasterCheck will show you, giving you a unique advantage and empowering you to take back control of the listening experience. You’ll instantly hear how your tracks are affected by loudness matching algorithms on different devices and services, and you’ll know how your masters respond to different codecs and bandwidths.
- Instantly check your loudness levels
- Make sure your Mix is not over compressed
- Optimise masters for streaming services
- Avoid codec distortion
- Minimise codec artefacts
- A|B references at matched loudness
- Objectively measure audio dynamics
The major online music services and stores encode your music in various formats, often using different bit-rates depending on your device or account type. Encoding “hot” mixes can often introduce True Peak overs that will clip on playback. MasterCheck will detect these errors, allowing you to stay within a safe limit. You’ll also be able to hear any obvious frequency masking or other artefacts, and try to mitigate these effects at the mixing and mastering stages.
- Ogg Vorbis
- HE-AACv1 (AAC+)
- HE-AACv2 (DAB+)
Reference & comparison
Via the 'External ref.' button, MasterCheck's accompanying 'SEND' plug-in allows you to compare your tracks to reference material in order to measure the differences in loudness, PLR and True Peak readings. If you wish, you can use the 'Offset to match' function to match the loudness of your material to the reference audio for a direct comparison.
'Offset to match' can also be used to remove loudness from an FX chain. This can be a useful technique for evaluating the impact of signal processing, without being influenced by the 'feel good factor' of increased loudness which might have been introduced by other plug-ins.
Playout services have a ‘letter box’ through which they deliver your audio. If you’re lucky it slides through, if not then the service will force it to fit. A heavily maximized master might win the loudness war on CD, but would simply be turned down on your music service or player. This leaves valuable headroom you could have used for transient detail and punch.
It is important to be aware of how true-peak clipping can cause downstream distortion in encoded audio. Hyper compression will result in audible 'fizzing' and loss of stereo definition, especially with lower quality codecs.
When mastering for digital music services, podcasts or digital radio, MasterCheck is an ideal tool for detecting potential codec distortion, and for directly comparing your loudness and dynamics with appropriate reference material.
With some recent updates to playout loudness levels, the main platforms now only differ by 3 LU between the loudest and the softest. Clearly there is no benefit in mixing louder than the loudest platform (at which point all platforms will be turning down your audio).
Some of this is primarily a concern for the mastering engineer, but if you over-compress your mix the mastering engineer has nowhere to go. If you compress above a platform's target level, transients lost cannot be regained at mastering. Try using MasterCheck to audition at the service playout level and compare against reference audio at the same level to hear your mix in context.
With a resizeable interface and many user configurable options, MasterCheck can easily be adjusted to suite any application. Dynamic colour splits for PLR can be set to indicate desirable ranges and meter splits can be easily set to show 'safe zones' and indicate inter-sample clips etc.
- Preparing mix dynamics for mastering
- Mastering for digital music services
- Ensuring consistency and measuring contrast
- Producing audio to a loudness target
- Measuring dynamic content
- Avoiding downstream clipping
- Comparing dynamics with reference material
- Auditioning loudness matched FX chains
- Mastering for podcasts and digital radio
"MasterCheck has now become the most essential part of the end of my mixing and also mastering process."
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Minimum system requirements
Mac OSX 10.7.x / 512 MB RAM
Windows (64 bit) Vista or above / 512 MB RAM