Compression in Mastering Dance Music

Bob Katz Leave a Comment

Hello Bob,

Thank you for all the amazing information, and everything you do.
Sorry for my english

Recently i went to two mastering studios with my mixes for hearing the point of view of the engineers and to listen in better rooms than what i have.

They noted some problems in the mix, and showed me how to solve them and to listen to them.

So, i took it back and fixed the problem in my mix, 
then, they said the mixes were fine, and now the only thing missing is compressor & limiter.
Both of them practice the loudness war beacouse its their job, mostly Dance and Rock music, and i respect them for that,
BUT, I dont want to compress my music.

When i set the mixes to peak at -0.1 dbfs, the RMS was -13 on one track, and even -17 in another.

Can i release it like that??
Is that ok, if it sounds good and the mix doesnt have problems??
Thank you very much!

Hi from Bob. RMS level is only one measure of the song. How it sounds and how it dances is just as important. Knowing the RMS level without also knowing the crest factor tells you nothing. Apparently the crest factor (measured using flat RMS) of your tracks is between 17 and 13 dB, which measurably is excellent. But of course crest factor just gives you an indication that you’ve got some snappy transients, but it doesn’t tell you about the punch and the sound. You need to listen, to evaluate the liveliness and movement of the track to your ear, its balance, rhythm, and the arrangement of the song itself. How it sounds on the dance floor and translates to different types of speakers. I suggest you get a true loudness meter that conforms with the EBU standard, like the TC Electronic Radar or the Grimm LevelView, or, when it is released, a K-system meter that is weighted to the ITU weighting.

In answer to your question, in these days of the loudness race, you probably cannot successfully release a dance track whose average program loudness (measured on an EBU meter) is -17 LUFS, simply because it will confuse the hell out of the DJs, who don’t understand the issues much at all. They’ll think it’s way too low. And competitively speaking, it doesn’t have a ghost of a chance in today’s competitive environment. But all is not lost! First of all, if it doesn’t dance because it’s so hot that there is not enough bounce or crest factor, it’s even worse than being too low. A good mastering engineer should be able to make a “reasonably competitive” dance track with an average loudness of around (I estimate) -12 LUFS that won’t be rejected and dances and bounces better than anything hotter than that. Let me know if you find a DJ who rejects a great-sounding track with -12 LUFS average loudness, I still think there’s plenty of room for that in the dance field. I hope I’m not wrong, I’ve had success with it (so far).

A poor mastering engineer would ruin the track no matter what the RMS if you get my drift. Hope this helps,


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