Audio software specialists NUGEN Audio continue to come up with great audio analysis and processing tools for today’s audio professionals. Ideal for both mix and mastering engineers, the new MasterCheck Pro plug-in enables producers to audition different codecs in real time to help avoid codec distortion or over-compression, resulting in masters that are perfectly tuned for each digital music streaming service.
“Consumer demand has never been higher for music on streaming apps, download stores, websites, and podcasts. All of these services use data compression and/or loudness matching, which can affect mixes in various unforeseen ways,” says Jon Schorah, founder and creative director, NUGEN Audio. “With MasterCheck Pro, producers can take back control of the listening experience and mix to the streaming services’ criteria. They can identify problems ahead of time and optimize their mixes, resulting in music that reaches the listener sounding exactly as originally intended.”
With MasterCheck Pro, producers can instantly hear how their tracks are affected by loudness matching algorithms on different devices and services. Real-time codec auditioning helps users understand how masters respond to different codecs and bandwidths by giving them the ability to preview the mix through different encoding schemes and quality settings. Industry-standard meters show loudness and peak-to-loudness ratio (PLR or dynamic range) and how these factors are affected when the music is played on the target platform. Producers can also A/B the master FX chain with other reference tracks or with the uncompressed mix.
In addition, MasterCheck Pro’s loudness auditioning reveals any level changes that may be applied by the streaming service. MasterCheck Pro’s true-peak metering ensures the mix is within the delivery spec and guarantees the music won’t be clipped at later encoding stages.
“With regard to loudness and codecs, most playout services have a ‘letter box’ through which they deliver audio. If the music doesn’t meet those criteria, then it will be forced to fit. A heavily maximized master might win the loudness war on a CD, but would simply be turned down on a music service or player — leaving valuable headroom that could have been used for transient detail and punch. With MasterCheck Pro’s loudness and PLR features, producers can find the sweet spot between perceived loudness and dynamics, resulting in a master that’s optimized to the format,” Schorah adds.
For a limited time, MasterCheck Pro is available at an introductory price of $149 (regular price $199). The new plug-in supports AAX, VST, AU, and RTAS for both Windows and OS X operating systems.
Recently, at the 2016 AES Show in Los Angeles, NUGEN Audio introduced new tools on MasterCheck to the audio engineering community, including new presets for Spotify and YouTube, and support of the new AES streaming recommendations. This enabled valuable discussions that contributed to the development of the new MasterCheck Pro plug-in.
NUGEN Audio also demonstrated its ISL 2 true-peak limiter - available in stereo (ISL 2st), surround, and newly optimized Avid HDX versions (ISL DSP) - offering the essential true-peak compliance producers need to prepare audio for streaming services. ISL prevents the distortion that often results from the codec conversions required to deliver audio via online platforms.
Another tool from NUGEN to have in mind is the new AMB Audio Management Batch Processor, a suite of modular software that enables post-production facilities to speed workflows significantly and reduce delivery times for a range of different tasks, such as surround upmixing and loudness management. AMB is now available for Windows and OS X and offers new features including threaded algorithm processing and multiple processing threads that are addressable for simultaneous parallel handling of files and queues.
AMB comes standard with two watch folders/processing queues and two independent processing threads. If users need extra power and speed, the AMB Queue Expansion provides additional watch folders/processing queues, and the AMB Thread Expansion activates additional processing threads up to a total of 16. Applications include automated upmixing of stereo/multichannel audio to 5.1 or 7.1, rapid file-based loudness analysis, logging, and correction, applying the AMB DynApt Module, which allows dynamic adaptation for content repurposing and LRA targeting, and native processing of PCM audio in ProRes, .mov files, or MXF files.