Audio Metering – The Most Important But Always Overlooked Aspect of Audio Production
Today I want to talk about 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.
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.
I highly recommend the metering plug-ins from Meterplugs and Ian Shepherd. The Dynameter never leaves my master bus and always tells me how good of a job I do of conserving dynamics.
So go grab a meter and make some music!
Image by: Micah Taylor