You know what I like about Ian Shepherd?

He calls it like he sees it.

He says things that aren’t popular (but are absolutely true).

Ian is one of the leading voices in today’s “Loudness Wars,” the fight against mastering music at louder and louder levels at the expense of the actual SOUND of the music.

I watched a video presentation he did recently, and it perfectly demonstrated how louder is absolutely NOT better.

He played various versions of a song from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. (I forget which song now, but that’s beside the point.)

That album has been remastered a couple of times since it was first released. Each time it was made LOUDER. (As you probably know, the only way to make a mix louder is to use compression and limiting, which takes away dynamic range as it increased volume.)

The latest version of Thriller is much louder, which people tend to assume is better, but if you level-match the loudest version with the original version (meaning you set them at the same RMS level), you notice something.


The louder, heavily limited version lacks a lot of punch and depth. It just seems “flat” when compared with the original version.

Is the newer version louder? Yes.

Is the original version loud enough? ABSOLUTELY.

You just need to turn up your speakers a little bit, and you get to listen to a nice, punchy, dynamic mix.

To a lot of people, mastering is a black art.

They assume that:

  • you can’t master in a home studio
  • you can’t master without really high-end gear
  • louder is better

Ian debunks all these myths in his Home Mastering Masterclass.

He teaches solid techniques for mastering music (and maintaining good dynamic range), and he does so while using ALL sorts of tools. He doesn’t use the same 3 plugins from one song to the next. In fact, he masters one song in Pro Tools, another in Logic, and another in Reaper, etc. etc.

It’s good stuff.

Sign up using my affiliate link below, and I’ll throw in a free copy of my Understanding EQ or Understanding Compression videos.

Just forward me your receipt.

Sign up here:

Class starts this Friday!

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner