WL encoder checker vs nugen mastercheck??

With the streaming loudness normalization, I’m looking into the MasterCheck plugin.

Does anyone have experience with this plugin compared to the Encoder Checker within WL? I’m thinking it may be a nice addition since (to my knowledge) WL doesn’t change level when using the encoder checker. Any ideas?

(Also interested in how up to date the master check plugin is. Will it actually approximate the track uploaded to Spotify, Apple music, etc?)

NUGEN seems to keep things fairly up to date. I haven’t tried their plugins in WaveLab lately but in years past, I wasn’t impressed with their stability in WaveLab. Maybe they’ve fixed that.

That aside, I really find this website to be most useful:

There is a plugin version too.

I don’t find hearing the streaming SOUND to be very useful anymore. I’ve never heard the sound of a particular codec and decided to make an EQ change on my master because of it. However, when these things first came out, it was interesting to hear the “difference” signal or in other words, the audio data that the encoder throws away to reduce the file size.

Mostly I like the Loudness Penalty website because it can analyze the entire song, faster than real-time, and give you a pretty good idea by how much things will be turned down so you can tell your client that yes, we can go louder, but that means in many cases (but not all), it will just be turned down more.

Cool, I’ve heard of this but haven’t tried really.
For the loudness normalization of Spotify I’ve read that they apply peak limiting to quieter tracks when necessary. Do you know if this site or mastercheck will do that?

I really haven’t tried the NUGEN in a few years. The one thing that makes it difficult to do this in real time is that the normalization is applied after the entire song is analyzed, and more services are moving to album normalization meaning the entire EP or album is analyzed and the loudest song is normalized to their spec, and the rest of the songs are adjusted by the same amount so the song to song relationships stay the same.

Trying to simulate this in a real-time plugin is really not ideal.

I’d just demo the NUGEN and see if you like it. I have it and haven’t opened it in a long time. For me, the Loudness Penalty website gets the point across and give you the best info in the quickest way.

Even if Spotify does apply limiting to your quiet track, most people can’t submit right to Spotify (anymore) so not much you can do about it unless you want to compromise your master on other mediums just for Spotify.

Hey thanks a lot Justin. I’ve been feeling kind of spun out after realizing that they are actually normalizing. For a while there it seemed like Spotify was saying they were but I wasn’t hearing any processing aside from catered playlists.

And yeah I hadn’t thought about distrokid and the like not requesting different masters. Thats a great point.

Maybe shooting for something a bit louder than spotify’s rec would help cover bulk streaming needs and would work for those with lower budgets also releasing CDs…
I read one guy suggesting around -10lufs / -1.5dBFS peak, material permitting. Maybe thats a good place for me to start.

Anyways, thanks!

Yeah, Spotify briefly had Spotify For Artists where you could upload directly to them but that didn’t last long. Unless maybe you’re Taylor Swift or at the very top, you’re probably submitting one digital WAV master to your distributor so you have to pick your battles. CD Baby accepts Apple Digital Masters (formerly MFiT) where you can submit a separate master WAV but it’s an extra setup expense and not related to loudness, more about hi-res.

I personally just do what sounds best in digital full scale (no normalizing) and let clients know if and when we reach the point where going louder (if they ask for it) means getting turned down by a growing number of streaming services so it becomes a trade-off.

They all use a different target levels, means of measurement, and not all have normalization on by default (such as Apple Music) so it’s a big mess right now.

Turning down is one thing as that’s purely a level change but it is unfortunate that Spotify turns things up into a limiter which can change the characteristic of a song too much.

Because of all the ever changing variables, I prefer the Loudness Penalty website for it’s simplicity and ability to scan the entire song quickly.

This is great advice

In my jurisdiction, (corrected reference to Spotify Premium) Soundcheck in Apple Music is still ‘off’ by default as far as I know.

I make the observation that there’s like 30 million songs or something on Spotify and the overwhelming majority of these just were just a great sounding master.

I could be wrong but I think if you install Spotify (regardless of the tier) that normalization is by default in both the mobile and desktop app. What complicates things is that the web version of Spotify doesn’t normalize, Apple Music is off by default but iTunes Radio (that nobody really uses) is normalized though. TIDAL mobile is on by default but the desktop app doesn’t have normalization!

Then there is YouTube and Pandora which AFAIK are fixed normalization.

Either way you slice it, it’s a total mess. Make a great full scale master and let what happens in the real world happen. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to cater to everything but a great full scale master should sound great everywhere.