How to use Reference Tracks when Mastering Using MultiBand Compressor

So you need to reduce the overall volume of the reference commercial track by -12dB.

6.) In the reference commercial track go to Effects–> Amplitude–>Amplify/Fade. In the presets select 10dB cut, but change this value from -10 to -12, since this is the value you need to reduce the volume of the reference track. Click OK to implement.

7.) In the reference commercial track, launch the LinMB multiband compressor effect. Then under “Preset”, select “LinMB full reset” and then click “Multi Opto Mastering”.Click “Preview”. Do not make any adjustments and just let it play from start to end. When the track is completely played, stop the preview and take note of the peak energy level of each band as recorded in the LinMB compressor. Screenshot (enclosed in green box are the peak energy levels):

LinMB reference threshold

LinMB reference threshold

8.) In the track to be mastered, launch the LinMB multiband compressor. Follow the mastering process steps discussed in the audio mastering tutorial with LinMB waves ; except that in Step6 make the thresholds values to be same as the commercial reference track peak energy level. So adjust the thresholds based on the data you get in Step7 of this tutorial.

9.) Proceed with the rest of the mastering process steps (describe in the audio mastering with LinMB waves tutorial) until it is now the time to adjust the gain.

Using your ears and your accurate studio monitors, adjust the gain so that the bass, mid and high frequency levels are similar to the reference commercial track. Playback is not a problem because there are two Adobe audition windows open. Just play the reference track first and then take note of the bass, mid and high freq level. And then start adjusting the gain of the track to be mastered.

10.) If you are happy with the settings, click OK to implement. You can then use limiter to make your tracks the same loudness level as the reference commercial track (before attenuation). The final result is that your mastered track has the same dynamic response with your favorite commercial tracks.

Other Important Tips for Accuracy

1.) It important that you properly select the reference track to be used during mastering. It should belong to a comparable genre to the mastered track. For example, you cannot use the “Sweet Child o Mine” as the reference track if you are mastering an acoustic track that sounds like “Leader of the Band”.

2.) Similarity of instruments are also important. For example, if you are mastering a heavy punk/grunge alternative track consisting of one drum, one guitar and bass. Then it make sense to use reference tracks of similar instrumentation such as Nirvana, Blink 182 or Green day; as long as it is a 3-piece band.

3.) Similarity of effects being used is also very important. For example, if you are mastering a modern alternative rock that is dry and sounds up-front, you cannot use reference track in the early 70’s or 80’s where instruments are heavily applied with reverb.

Content last updated on August 22, 2012