We talked a lot last week about mastering.

(By the way, the price on Ian’s Home Mastering Masterclass is going up TOMORROW. Today’s the last day to sign up at the 40%-off introductory price. Grab your copy here before you forget: www.homestudiocorner.com/recommends/hmm)

But one simple mastering question is this:

How do you balance the volume difference between tracks?

Maybe you set up the gain, EQ, compressor, and limiter, and everything seems to be working well.

You’re monitoring the loudness of each track with some sort of loudness meter to make sure it still has plenty of dynamic range.

You’ve checked the songs on several different systems, and they’re sounding great.

BUT…the volume difference between tracks still seems off.

Here’s what I do.

Not sure where I learned this little trick, but it seems to help a lot.

I start playback, then I jump to the middle of each song, skipping from one song to the next. And rather than listening to the overall volume of each song, I listen to JUST the lead vocal.

Then I simply make sure that the lead vocal is a consistent volume across all of the tracks.

What if it’s a bit louder on a particular track? I just turn that track down. I don’t compress it more or add more processing, I simply turn down the fader. 1 dB might be all it needs to make it sit at the right volume.

See, I told you it was quick and simple.

But sometimes we can avoid the simple solutions, thinking we need to do something far more complex.

I’ve been there.

Keep it simple as much as you can, and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it!

Joe Gilder