Mastering Engineer, Online mentor and founder of the now annual "Dynamic Range Day" Ian Shepherd has once again teamed up with Plug-in developer MeterPlugs to bring to life a new and very useful real-time dynamic range metering plugin for music production and mastering or in fact any material at all.
Ian has worked very hard in recent years to try and bring awareness to the seemingly out of control "loudness wars" where modern production techniques are more and more squashing the "life" and dynamic range out of popular commercial music by founding an annual Dynamic Range Day a cause spawned via Ian's own "Production Advice" mentoring website where he seeks to help educate people on Production and Mastering techniques and encourage them to develop their skills further with courses and blog posts exposing shortfalls in modern techniques and debunking myths with great example demonstrations check out the websites I highly recommend them!
Dynameter shows you a realtime, at-a-glance view of the dynamics of your music.
To use Dynameter, simply add it to the stereo output of you mix or master, and hit Play. You’ll see a realtime graph of the short-term peak-to-loudness ratio of you music, or PSR for short. The graph has a “history” function so you can see how the PSR varies over time.
Wide readings show a large PSR, small readings show a low PSR. The graph is also colour-coded - purple and blue are the largest; red, brown and grey are smallest. So, a very “dynamic” song will show lots of green, yellow and blue, whereas a song with very low PSR will show lots of brown or even grey.
You can expand or contract the time-scale of Dynameter’s display by clicking and dragging vertically. You can also adjust the horizontal scale by shift-clicking and dragging horizontally, if you like.
Dynameter also allows you to choose a “Target” PSR value, to help you achieve your musical goals. To help you get started, we’ve added some presets. Each preset defines a recommended minimum PSR. To achieve the result you desire, simply make sure that the PSR graph rarely dips below the Target value at it’s loudest moments - the minimum Target PSR is indicated on the graph by dotted vertical lines.
- “Wide” dynamics (PSR > 14)
- “Balanced” dynamics (PSR > 12)
- “Competitive” dynamics (PSR > 10) - This is Ian’s favourite choice for mastering !
- “Limited” dynamics (PSR > 8)
You can also choose your own Target PSR.
Interpreting PSR values
If you’ve used the TT Meter, you’ll find the idea of Dynameter familiar. Often, the PSR reading of a piece of audio will be similar to the realtime “DR” reading given by the TT Meter, and we’ve deliberately tuned Dynameter to give results that will feel intuitive to users of the TT Meter. So for example, the graph turns red at PSR8. And accordingly, if you aim to make sure your music never goes below PSR 8, you will probably find it achieves a “score” of DR 8 in the offline TT Meter.
However DMeter does not measure DR, so there are important differences in the readings it will give, and you’ll have to adjust to these over time. In particular, Dynameter uses R128 loudness, which is most sensitive in the mid-range, just like the human ear. So, don’t be surprised if some music gives a different result than you would expect with the TT Meter.
For example, Dynameter will “judge” music with very limited PSR in the mid-range more “harshly” than the TT Meter, whereas songs with lots of bass may give higher PSR readings than the TT “DR” value. In our experience this fact makes Dynameter more useful for judging the impact of limited dynamics on your music than the TT Meter, which sometimes gives very low readings for music that sounds OK dynamically.
Also - don’t be fooled by the fact that Dynameter’s display looks quite like a waveform !
We’re used to interpreting spiky waveforms as “dynamic”, and “sausage” waveforms as compressed. This doesn’t apply with Dynameter. Songs with varied dynamics will show a spikier PSR graph, but if the PSR is always below 8 that doesn’t mean it has great dynamics. Whereas a “solid” looking graph that is consistently near PSR 10 probably has good dynamics even if it doesn’t have as much variety.
Finally, remember more is not always better. In our experience all music suffers if the PSR regularly goes below 8, but otherwise it’s about finding the “sweet spot” - the right balance for your music. Choose a Target PSR that works for you, and always use your ears !
You can pickup Dynameter right now from the MeterPlugs Website here for an introductory price of just $69 (Normal price $99)
Dynameter is Available in AAX VST and AU Formats for Windows PC and Mac OSX