The Mastering Show

The Mastering Show Podcast

with Ian Shepherd and Jon Tidey

The Mastering Show #74 - Spotify begins the move to LUFS normalization. So what ?

January 6th, 2021 BY Jon TideyNo Comments 

It’s happening. Spotify are switching to using LUFS for their loudness normalization. If you’re thinking ‘I thought they already used it', that’s understandable - but they didn’t.

They will in future though, and in this episode we talk about why the change matters, especially in the short-term. But also about when it doesn’t matter, and why it will hopefully matter even less as time goes on.

Topics include:

Why we don’t use Spotify
What we use instead, and why - and some of the differences
How normalization on Spotify used to work
How it’s going to work
What happens in the meantime
Why we mostly ignore the numbers, despite all this !


TMS #73 – Are you having a LUF ? – more about LUFS
Qobuz – Lossless, high spec audio streaming service
Wikipedia page about MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) encoding - used by TIDAL
Spotify Begins the Move to LUFS Normalization - Ian’s blog post
TMS #67 – Minus 14 LUFS – or NOT ?

The Mastering Show #73 - Are you having a LUF ?

November 6th, 2020 BY Jon Tidey1 Comment 

Let’s face it, LUFS don’t work.
No-one understands them, when you set a load of different songs to -14 LUFS they all sound a different loudness, and they weren’t even developed using music. RMS is just better, right ?
These are just some of the objections we’ve been hearing about LUFS recently, and in this episode we investigate them. Is there any truth to these claims and statements ? (Hint - Yes !)
Along the way we also cover:
  • Why loudness is like the weather
  • How EQ affects loudness, and how we hear it
  • Loudness on the radio
  • The ideal podcast loudness
  • What’s up with Spotify’s loudness recommendation

TMS #44 - Loudness Units 101

r128x-GUI – Free loudness measurement app for OS-X

TMS #52 – DON’T aim for LUFS targets online

TMS #67 – Minus 14 LUFS – or NOT ?

Don’t push your music over the Loudness Cliff !

FM broadcast processing - hear it for yourself

The Mastering Show #72 - Off-topic but SO good !

June 16th, 2020 BY Jon Tidey3 Comments 

This is so good it just needed it’s own episode.

It’s a groundbreaking, unique new way to make music online - and everyone should try it out ! It’s not just bleeps and beats, either - there are plenty of people using it to make fantastic acoustic and sample-based live-looping music as well.

I’m talking about Endlesss, the new live-looping-jam-with-friends-online iOS app developed by musician Tim Exile that I mentioned at the end of the last episode - and now it’s going to be available on Mac & PC !

I loved chatting to Tim for this episode, and there’s a ton of interesting ideas here even if you’re not that interested in the idea of Endlesss. We talk about:

  • The problem of perfectionism in music production, and why it’s a mastering engineer’s super-power
  • The best way to develop a new musical instrument
  • How to fit 40kg of music tech in an iPhone - and why it’s worth it
  • How not-live can feel live and how THAT can overcome anxiety and imposter syndrome
  • And how Endlesss got Ian back into creating music after a 20-year break as a result


The Endlesss site
The Endlesss Studio Kickstarter
Tim Exile performing live with the Flow Machine
Ian singing his praises (along with many others) at Music Tech Fest in 2014
More info on the Flow Machine and Tim’s other projects

The Mastering Show #71 - Remote audio - mixing, mastering and more

April 7th, 2020 BY Jon Tidey1 Comment 

Real-time remote audio work IS possible - with surprising quality and flexibility ! In this show I’ll describe techniques and strategies to help you mix, master, teach and even record remotely - and even suggest some ways to jam live. Kind of. Amongst other things I’ll describe how to:

  • Stream lossless, low-latency audio to any DAW or browser, for up to 40 people
  • Combine this audio stream with multi-user video chat
  • Screenshare in sync for easier collaboration during mixing, mastering and even recording
  • Take control of someone else’s screen for teaching or training purposes
  • Use other people’s analogue gear in your project
  • “Jam” virtually online - on an iPhone !

Thanks to Ian Stewart and Lij Shaw for help with ideas and testing for this episode.



Ian’s video: Using ListenTo and Zoom together for high-quality audio & video streaming

Audiomovers ListenTo plugin

Zoom video chat

Endlesss - amazing music collaboration jamming app for iOS


Reaper - affordable, powerful DAW to host ListenTo, free to try

(Check out the ReaperBlog by The Mastering Show co-host Jon Tidey)

Audio Hijack - use ListenTo without a DAW

Other remote audio options:

Source Connect - pro ISDN replacement

Sessionwire - remote realtime audio & video (Mac only)

Steinberg VST Connect - realtime remote audio & video (Cubase & Nuendo only)

Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration - share live audio projects online (Pro Tools 12.5+)

OhmStudio - share live audio projects online in a very affordable DAW

Analogue gear online:

Audiomovers (again!)

Jamming & performing:

Ninjam - online jamming in Reaper - video by Kenny Gioia

JamKazam - play with other musicians online - fast connection required

The Mastering Show #70 - Mastering Billie Eilish - Loudness versus Art

February 29th, 2020 BY Jon Tidey4 Comments 

Our guest this episode is LA mastering engineer John Greenham who just won a Grammy for his work on Billie Eilish’s album. We talk to him about how he came to work with Billie, and dig into his work on the album in depth, discussing topics including:

  • John’s mastering chain and philosophy
  • Whether “Xanny” is the loudest song ever
  • How to get RMS levels above zero (!)
  • Loudness, confidence and client relations
  • Are loud mixes a problem for mastering engineers ?
  • What it’s like to win a Grammy


John Greenham’s site

Ian’s Is Billie Eilish Too Loud ? video

Finneas on Producing Billie Eilish’s Hit Album in his Bedroom

Mix engineer Rob Kinelski on Pensado’s Place

The Mastering Show #69 - Good versus GREAT mastering

January 28th, 2020 BY Jon TideyNo Comments 

We talk on this show about making a master sound great all the time - but what does that mean ? How can you tell the difference between a good or a great master, or whether you’re doing great work yourself, or not ? In this episode we discuss all these questions, plus:

  • Is it even possible to tell a good or a great master ? If not, why not ?
  • Is it about great sound, or great work ?
  • Why “great” doesn’t have to mean “perfect”
  • What about great re-masters ?
  • How to know if you’re doing great work
  • The only person who can really decide


Sandy Denny - The Best of the BBC Recordings (Spotify)

Oasis producer Owen Morris claims to have invented “brick-walling” - Video (Contains Language)

Metallica "Death Magnetic" sounds better in Guitar Hero

TMS #28 – Remastering & Restoration

The Mastering Show #68 - Don't do this ! (Restoring Dynamics)

December 20th, 2019 BY Jon Tidey2 Comments 

I often get asked if it’s possible to restore dynamics to a heavily limited, clipped or compressed source, to achieve a more dynamic master. The answer is… it’s complicated ! So in this episode we do our best to answer the question. Topics include:

  • Why you shouldn’t do this
  • When you might have to do this
  • When doing this is a bad idea
  • How to do it (the simple way, the complicated way and the really messy way)
  • How compression can sometimes add dynamics
  • What these techniques can never do


How EQ can make your music sound louder – using LESS compression and limiting

iZotope RX Elements (affiliate link)

Stereo Tool

TMS #60 - The loudness technique you need to start using TODAY (Automation)

The Mastering Show #67 - Minus 14 LUFS - or NOT ?

November 15th, 2019 BY Jon Tidey1 Comment 

People are talking about minus 14 LUFS loudness more and more these days, but why ? What does this number mean, where does it come from, and why should you care ?

In this episode we answer all these questions and more, including:

  • Which streaming services are using -14 LUFS
  • Why Spotify aren’t using -14 LUFS, and why it matters
  • Why you shouldn’t use minus 14 LUFS as a target (or any number) but
  • Why it’s still important and useful to know about anyway
  • Will mastering to -14 LUFS make your music sound bad ?!?
  • How (and why) Ian’s beliefs about loudness are bring challenged


TMS #52 - DON’T aim for LUFS targets online

Episode 60 - The loudness technique you need to start using TODAY

How loud ? The simple solution to optimizing playback volume online – and everywhere else

TMS 41 - The problem with loudness normalization – and TIDAL’s solution (Plus a brief history of LUFS)

Spotify loudness FAQ

Loudness Penalty

Measuring ReplayGain in Audacity

Loudness normalization in Reaper

r128x-GUI - Free loudness measurement app for OS-X

The Mastering Show #66 - Good Questions

September 19th, 2019 BY Jon Tidey2 Comments 

Time for another Q&A episode ! As always you’ve been asking great questions, so in this episode we discuss:

  • Why Ian talks too much
  • How dynamic is too dynamic ?
  • Fade-outs - before or after compression ?
  • How has the loudness war changed production and arrangement styles ?
  • Mastering for gaming streams (like Twitch TV)
  • Mastering in different genres


TMS 65 - How to make money from mastering - with Graham Cochrane

Billie Eilish - loudness versus dynamics (Video)

Skrillex “mix tour” video

How loud should you master ?

TMS #27 - Mastering audio for games

How to master metal

The Mastering Show #65 - Making money from mastering

August 23rd, 2019 BY Jon Tidey1 Comment 

Can you make money from mastering ? And if so, how ? If you’re already charging people for your work, how can you be more effective and productive ?

Our guest in this episode is Graham Cochrane from the Recording Revolution website, which has been so successful that he’s started helping other people use some of the same ideas and strategies to get them started making money in the audio business themselves.

You don’t have to be an audio blogger or YouTuber to achieve this - in this episode we talk about strategies anyone can use:

  • How to get started charging money from mastering
  • How to decide how much to charge
  • What makes you different - why people really might choose you to master their music, even though you don’t have a million-dollar studio or a legendary credit list
  • Simple strategies to become more effective and efficient with almost everything you do in your business
  • Why telling some clients to use online mastering instead of you might actually be a good business strategy


The Recording Revolution

Graham’s podcast

The 4-hour Work Week

The Go-Giver




Thanks to Caeli Lohr for letting us use his song "Beautiful As It Could Be" as our theme tune - check out his music here.


Copyright © 2022 · Mastering Media (Production Advice) Ltd