With broadcasters and modern streaming services managing their own loudness levels, how loud should your mix be? How will loudness treatment effect the balance of your mix? The loudness war has almost gone full circle, and now there’s a strong argument not to go ‘all-out’ with your final limiting. But do you know what the current expectations are and how the various codecs can effect your mastered track? Nugen Audio think they have the answer with MasterCheck Pro, following on from the successes of their MasterCheck plug-in, to help you see and hear what’s going on.
Nugen Audio MasterCheck Pro Plug-in
It’s slowly becoming acknowledged that smashing the life out of your master isn’t necessary today. (I won’t begin that argument here, but for reference see: dynamicrangeday.co.uk.) There are several metering plug-ins available, including a few accurate free plug-ins which use the new EBU R128 measurement algorithm. However, measuring loudness under the new recommendations is only half the story. But what do the numbers ultimately mean and how does any of the jargon actually effect the sound of your record? Well MasterCheck Pro is the first time I’ve seen these modern measurement techniques implemented alongside test simulations so you can actually hear what’s going on. This looks like it could be a really useful tool for pro’s and amateurs alike.
MasterCheck Pro offers the usual metering suspects including; Program Loudness, Short Term Loudness, PLR dynamic range and ITU compliant inter-sample peak measurements. These are likely to be amongst the most accurate available, which MasterCheck Pro provides via most of the international standard methods of loudness detection. Being a Nugen product, there’s a very good chance that future updates will help you stay up to date in this forever -changing world of loudness. The plug-in is available in AAX, VST, VST3, and AU formats in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions. An RTAS version is also available but only as 32-bit.
MasterCheck Pro’s real party piece however is its simulation side. This begins with a choice of reference inputs so you can compare you mastering chain before or after processing, or to compare your master against some other reference material. This is actually quite a simple yet often over-looked feature which should speed up decision making. Then, for the first time as far as I’m aware, MasterCheck Pro offers presets simulating various service codecs. These include Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube amongst several others so you can appreciate how these various formats will effect you master. This will allow you to check for any peaking that might distort one codec, but not another perhaps. It will also audibly demonstrate certain frequency masking or un-wanted artefacts, which could then be avoided as early as the mixing process.
For more information and for a free trial, head over to the MasterCheck Pro webpage on Nugen Audio’s site. Until the 31st January 2017 they are running an introductory offer of 149 USD, after which the price will rise to 199 USD. This might seem quite a lot for just a metering plug-in, but if there was anyone you could trust to build such a critical tool, then Nugen would be amongst the best. Let’s face it, after months of hard work, blood sweat and tears getting your track how you want it, if you get the mastering wrong then you might as well have not bothered.