I got to the point where I was intending to really finish some music I’m producing, and realized I wasn’t real clear on what he current standards where for levels, compression, the mastering stage stuff. Which I say lightly, as there’s always some drama over presuming to “Master” material, but let’s face it, the window is closing on that role being an end stage that was beyond the capability of mere mortals. New tools come along every day which make the results speak for themselves.
Listen Hub doesn’t make a lot of wild claims, but what it does do is get you focused on your listening experience, and the perceived quality and loudness of the material you’re auditioning. You can do that within your Daw on your master channel or Listen Hub as with Studio One, or you can set it up (On Mac) to be your output device, routing your whole system through the standalone app, which you can then control remotely with your iPhone or iPad. Is it Mac only, I think so? There are several similar products already available for Windows, and whatever Linux folks are up to.
I already had a Mackie Big Knob, which is in constant use. Listen Hub has similar basic features and then goes beyond that with plug-in hosting (which might be useful for previewing clipping), gain matching, secondary inputs and several additional comparison listening modes.
Once you’ve checked a mix during playback with the various filtering modes and loudness levels, your attention turns to the liveliness/Lufts meters which rolls along with playback giving you an idea for the overall dynamic range and dynamism of the track. The low down is you want 10-12 Lufts and A “competitive” -14 loudness for most of the streaming services and video sites. Mixing club music or to a specification for video will represent different challenges.
I found that reverb became a tool to add some buffer to the sound stage. Some fluff to smooth out harsh passages that were stark at full volume. And of course synthesizers and EQ and compression to tweak and enhance the sound stage. Then working and reworking the master bus, do I emulate a vintage signal chain in emulation? What really works to get the levels and dynamics where I want them, consistently. Then a sprinkling of modulation and FX and we start to dare I say… Have a Mix?