Understanding the actual effect of plugins on a signal chain, without perception being colored by loudness changes, is crucial.
Use case: User is evaluating the effect of an EQ, compressor, and limiter on a bass track. The user wants to listen to the exact change to the signal without being steered by an increase/decrease in overall volume (which, due to Fletcher-Munson and the effect of loudness itself) can unduly influence perception of the changes being made.
The user can buy specialized plugins for this task, such as MeterPlugs Perception, TB Pro Audio’s AB_LM and Melda MCompare. These plugins work pretty well, but they’re a hassle to set up (two instances per channel - a feeder instance at the top of the chain and an evaluator instance at the end of the chain) and they’re expensive relative to their functionality. Advantage is the continuously integrating loudness matching for precision.
More imprecisely, the user can utilize loudness meters to roughly match loudness manually. This is also a bit of a hassle because the user has to set up metering correctly and make manual level compensation changes every time a change is made to the chain.
Also imprecise, the user can “eyeball” it with their ears. This avoids the hassle and expense of setting up meters or specialized plugins, but it will likely be the most frustrating, time-consuming approach.
Feature Request: Include optional loudness compensation as an integrated part of the plugin system in Cubase (similar to the Smart Bypass in WaveLab, but using a more accurate algorithm like MeterPlugs’).
The user could:
- turn on overall loudness compensation for each track (keeping levels consistent regardless of plugins used); or
- set numbered “in and out” points for each loudness compensation thread. For example, the user could set the source (starting “in” point) before a specific plugin on a bass track, and set the compensation (adjustment “out” point) after a specific plugin on the master buss. (For lateral-thinking examples of this sort of numbered matching scheme, see Blue Cat Audio’s metering plugins, where tracks can be assigned numbers and all represented within one plugin instance. Not a direct analogy, but the numbering idea is similar.)