Mastering for Digital Music

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Modified on 2017/12/04 17:38 by Mark Categorized as AAC, Mastering, Mixing, MP3

Tips to improve encoded sound quality

  • Master at -2 dBFS instead of -.1 dB. - Audio encoders tend to output hotter than the source.
  • Don't overcompress. Keep some dynamics in your master, it will encode better.
  • Roll off a little of the top end (16K+)
  • Keep the master at or below -15 dB RMS/-16 LUFS to avoid iTunes "Sound Check" from lowering the level on playback.

Master at -2 dBFS

Mastering lower than -.1 dB provides some headroom for the codec to do it's work.
Audio encoders tend to output hotter than the source, leaving a little bit of headroom can prevent clipping when the audio is encoded. Søren H. Nielsen and Thomas Lund wrote a great paper detailing the Overload in Signal Conversion problem.

Roll off a little of the top end (16K+)

Rolling off the top end serves two purposes:
  • These frequencies take up a lot a bandwidth and cause your encoded audio to need more storage space, which leads to:
  • Audio encoders roll off and cut higher frequencies to reduce the resulting file size.

See also