Audio Metering – The Most Important But Always Overlooked Aspect of Audio Production

music metering

Today is Dynamic Range Day.

It was created to raise awareness of the loudness wars and how audio production has less and less dynamic range each year.

Some of those remastered records that sounded so good way back when now sound terribly squashed because somebody ran them through the newest UltraMegaMasterizaTerrorizer!

You can record and mix as hot and loud as you want obviously, that’s your prerogative. But keep some of the dynamics for us to enjoy.

It actually brings me to something that’s never talked about enough.

Not compression. We know that’s the topic on every engineer’s mind.

Not limiting. That’s definitely an important topic to discuss but I think it’s covered pretty extensively.

And not even mastering in general. Beginners might think it voodoo magic but you can get the hang of some dirty mastering pretty easily enough.

No. What I wanted to talk about is way less sexier.

Audio Metering

You know, those plug-ins that don’t do ANYTHING to your audio, but if you don’t use them you might as well be flying blind.

Audio metering is such an important tool, one that I’ve talked about extensively before, but it doesn’t get enough support.

Metering keeps your tracks….err….on track.

Here’s just the two ways metering always help me when I mix and master.

1. Peak and RMS – It lets me gauge the loudness and peaks of my mixes. It helps me gauge my dynamic range.

2. Frequency Distribution – It lets me see any weird frequency build-ups or if the track is lacking in a specific frequency range.

Sure, my metering plug-ins might not actively do anything, but they help me do my job better.

Metering helps in every part of the production process. It helps you see the gain of your instruments when you record, the loudness of your tracks when you mix and the dynamic range of your mixes when you master.

So even if you think they’re un-sexy and boring, they’re invaluable to making your productions better.

So go grab a meter and make some music!

P.S.

Grab a copy of the 19 week Production Club music production course(you can watch it at your convenience) right here:

http://www.audioissues.com/productionclub

Here are some of the things you learn:

  • How to get a good performance out of a singer, even if he/she is having an “off” day.
  • How to set up your studio to get it “right at the source.”
  • How to create space in your mix for your electric guitars.
  • How to use multiband compression in mastering

And that’s only a small fraction of the content you receive.

http://www.audioissues.com/productionclub

Image by: Micah Taylor

  • Hans

    Nice Björgvin! I’d like to ask something: Is there a VST plugin to analyze Peak, RMS and Frequency that you can recommend? I know there are Peak and RMS in Wavelab (for instance), but i use Cubase and i really want to know if i can have those also there.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      I use the VUMT meter that was recommended to me by Ian Shepherd over at http://www.productionadvice.co.uk. Maybe check his website out and do a search for some other recommendations.