Etikett: mastering

Nya priser

Från årsksiftet har vi justerad våra priser. För att kostnaden ska motsvara arbetsbördan vid olika projekt har vi gjort så att mastering av enskilda spår blir dyrare medans en längre EP eller album blir billigare.

Lite prisexempel
Nu kostar 1 spår av medellängd 700:- ex moms, tidigare kostade det 600:-

4 spår kostar nu 1 720:-, tidigare 1 750:-

10 spår kostar nu 3 520:-, tidigare 3 850:-

Använd vår priskalkylator för att beräkna vad just ditt projekt kostar!

Hur mycket kostar det?

Automated Mastering Services

About once a week I get the question -“What do you think about automated mastering services such as Landr?”. There’s a very short and a profoundly more detailed answer. I tend to go for the short answer since the real answer is a lecture and I’ll probably lose you half way through. The short answer is: Remove mastering from that sentence and I’ll tell you it can be a useful tool to test your mix. Keep mastering in the sentence and I’ll tell you that it sucks monkey balls.
Luckily I stumbled across an article written by Mastering Engineer Justin Perkins (Mystery Room Mastering) that pretty much cover everything there is to be said about Landr and similar services, so from now on I won’t answer, I’ll just give people this link:

What Automated Mastering Services Can’t Do For You



Spotify Album mode?

It seems like if Spotify silently implemented an album mode to their loudness compensation algorithm!

I was doing some online loudness experiments when I happened to notice that the volume varied on a track in Spotify depending on how I listened to the track. If I browsed my way to the album it was quieter than if I were listening to the same track from a playlist.
Spotify has been criticized for not taking the inherent dynamics within an album into account when compensating for loudness so I was quite happy with my findings. Especially since I just finished master an album for a movie that had huge dynamic differences and I had done some crazy edits to trick Spotify to interpret the loudness in a way so it wouldn’t totally ruin the dynamics of the album and even if it worked it may have sounded better without those edits.

Test it yourself
I made an album with three versions of the same song. The masters are pretty much the same except that they have different loudness targets. The tracks are named with the original files LUFS value, the True Peak value (dBTP) and the Sample Peak value (dBFS). After uploading it to Spotify I created a playlist with just the quietest and the loudest version (if I included all three Spotify handled it as an album play). I played the same part of the track from the Playlist followed by the Album version and measured it all with IzotopeRX and here’s the result.
Note that the original LUFS value is the whole track while the Spotify measurement is made from just the loudest part of the track. I choose to save me some time since what’s matter is that it measures differently and not the values themselves. If I would’ve measured the whole track from the Spotify stream it probably ended up at about -11* (the Spotify target) and not -9LUFS.

*Spotify has since this test was performed lowered their loudness target by -3dB. You can read more about that here:



ISP/True Peak limiter test

ISP, Inter Sample Peak or TP, True Peak, refers to peaks in the analog domain. That is, how your peaks will look after your waveform has been converted from a digital stream within your computer, phone, iPod or CD to electrical impulses that can be amplified and played back through your speakers.

Aren’t the waveforms the same as they appear on my screen after the D/A conversion?
No, Your D/A will create a waveform that continuously moves from one sample point to the next. In that process the newly created waveform may peak above the 0dBFS ceiling which individual samples adhere to, thereby causing distortion. Just how bad this distortion depends on the converter used. In some extreme cases, the actual peak can be as much as 3-4dB above the sample peaks detected in the digital domain.

Many of the top mastering business don’t care about ISP so why should I?
No, you don’t have to treat or be aware of ISP but:

  1. Digital limiters without oversampling (or other ways of detect ISP) will react to the digital waveform, not the true waveform, and thus won’t react as a limiter should react. This does not mean it will sound bad in any way, just that it doesn’t react as intended.
  2. -Tip: If you want to work with limiters that lack oversampling;  up-sample your 44.1 or 48KHz projects to a higher sample rate and by that have the limiter react more accurately.
  3. We’ll most probably have a loudness standard for streaming media within a couple of years and that standard will be ISP aware and set at -1dBTP. This means that if your audio peak at +2dBTP it will be turned down by at least -3dB before reaching the end user. All that extra loudness you gained by letting random equipment create a positive peak (that might distort) will be lost.
  4. Encoding to lossy formats; ISP will make it harder for encoders to do a good job. If you don’t have the tools or knowledge to check how your audio will perform post-encoding I would recommend to stay away from positive True Peaks.

Since it’s more or less guess-work, or at least really hard to create a real-time limiter that handles ISP perfectly, we thought we’d put as many limiters as possible to the test. So a handful of mastering colleagues and I (Ian Stewart, Sigurdór Guðmundsson, and Johan Eckerblad) went to work.

The Test

We used a mastered track that we boosted by 7.5dB (the peaks were at -1dBTP/dBFS in the mastered file so max Gain Reduction would be 6.5dB), we set the limiter ceiling to -1.0dBFS (or -1dBTP if available in the plugin), rendered it as 44.1KHz, 32bfp wav and measured the True Peaks of the resulting waveforms. Limiters with a result as close to -1.0 dBTP as possible have handled ISPs the best, whereas values over -0.8 dBTP (shown with increasing values in white, through yellow, to red when they exceed 0 dBTP) mean that the limiter has failed to handle ISPs to within the margin of error for measurement we observed during testing (more on that in a bit).

Here’s the track that we used:

    • “Yes” or “No” in the TRUE PEAK column indicates whether the developer mentions or claims that the plugin handles True Peak or ISP, either in the manual or marketing.  A “No” does not necessarily mean that it doesn’t handle or try to handle ISP, just that it’s not explicitly stated by the developer.
    • The results published here are measurements taken using Izotope RX. Additionally, we did measure with Sequoia, Wavelab, and Nugen, and even though we observed slightly different results, they were negligible. The biggest differences were in iZotope’s products.  Since they probably use the same detection algorithms in all their software, this was expected. The other software measured within a 0.1 to 0.2 dB difference, which still puts iZotope amongst the best performers.
    • Where other settings such as Attack and Release were present we used either the default or adjusted it to a value as close to standard as possible
    • This test did not take into account sonic qualities at all.  That will have to wait for our planned podcast or another post.
  • It’s not recommended to use any of the limiters with a positive score in 44.1KHz projects. They should handle ISP better as your sample rate goes up.
  • If your favorite Mastering Limiter ain’t here, send us a link so that we can try it out. However, we’re not in the business of buying every limiter out there, so any you’d like us to try must have fully working demo-versions.

Loudness compensation – Said what?!

Many streaming services (most actually) have some kind of loudness compensation. What is that? It’s a little robot with a more or less advanced gain knob who adjust the level between songs so that they hit your ear with about the same pressure/volume. Right now different services use their own system. Spotify, iTunes, Beatport, Youtube… They all have their own little robot. In time there will emerge a standard but until then we’ll just be glad they all chip in to clean up the loudness mess out there.

We have set our own loudness standards here at Saintpid and we ain’t going to deliver anything louder than those. But, we won’t give away our limits, we don’t care much about loudness at all so we just don’t talk about it. Sorry if you think it’s not loud enough… or… Nah, we’re not that sorry, there’s plenty of services for loudness if that’s what you’re after.

Here’s a video that demo the differences between streaming services. Enjoy!

The tiny nuances in mastering

It’s always hard to go into detail about what a mastering engineer does, everyone understand that you try to enhance the audio in different ways but as soon you try to explain how it start to get complicated because every sound is different. Here’s a video that show the enhancement bit where very small changes add up to a huge difference.
What it does not show is how you also adapt the audio so that it will not only translate sound wise but also technically to different media (online, mp3, vinyl, CD, video), we do that in another post.