Innovative, intuitive professional audio tools creator for high-end music producers, post-production engineers, and broadcasters NUGEN Audio have announced the availability of v1.4 of MasterCheck Pro — placing FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and Opus encoding flavours in its indispensable, award-winning loudness, dynamics, and codec toolset to enable mix-optimising music professionals to hear and visualise yet more popular playout encoding and loudness matching techniques increasingly in use by music streaming services such as Apple Music® and Spotify.
The term codec is an acronym for coder/decoder. Music streaming services such as Apple Music® and Spotify use codecs to reduce the data bandwidth required to stream audio to the consumer. Codecs affect audio quality, sadly, so it is important to be able to audition them in realtime in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) in order to mitigate side effects caused by intersample clipping and bit depth reduction. Which is exactly where NUGEN Audio are able to offer assistance.
As implied by name, that all-important auditioning is all accomplished within the company’s award-winning MasterCheck Pro loudness, dynamics, and codec toolset. Today, the latest update brings two new encoding flavours, FLAC and Opus, to the music production table. Opus is one of the YouTube formats; FLAC is often used for downloads as it is a high-quality (lossless) format — for example, exploited by self- styled High Fidelity Music Streaming service TIDAL.
That said, all is not necessarily as it might first appear. As another acronym, FLAC, for instance, is literally lossless. Like other lossless formats, it uses compression algorithms that preserve audio data so the audio is exactly the same as the original source (input=output). On the face of it, this is true… when encoding within the same bit depth, like for like. This is not what happens, however, when audio exits a DAW destined for FLAC; for FLAC is usually used to encode at 16 bit, but this conversion from 32 to 16 bit is not guaranteed lossless. Looking into it further, FLAC also uses integers while DAWs deploy floating-point representations, so there is an additional complication even when producing a 32-bit FLAC stream. So MasterCheck Pro can be used to audition those conversions while an upcoming update to ISL — NUGEN Audio’s transparent look- ahead limiter for true-peak compliance — can soon be used to add suitable dither to mitigate the effect of quantisation errors if necessary.
NUGEN Audio are clearly continuing to support MasterCheck Pro as a complete solution for optimising mixes for today’s music delivery services. Streaming apps, download stores, websites, and podcasts all use data compression, loudness matching, or both. These processes can affect mixes in various undesirable ways with what once sounded loud and punchy possibly ending up quiet and flat, or suffering from clipping or distortion. Don’t just mix for CD and hope for the best. By using the updated MasterCheck Pro problems are revealed ahead of time, enabling engineers like the GRAMMY® Award-winning Mandy Parnell to deliver masters perfectly tuned for online playout systems — including TIDAL and YouTube. Added appeal abounds, then, thanks to those two new encoding (Opus and FLAC) flavours.
Hearing how tracks are affected by loudness matching algorithms on different devices and services so knowing how masters respond to different codecs and bandwidths just became better with MasterCheck Pro v1.4… just ask Mandy Parnell.
MasterCheck Pro is available to purchase as a 32- and 64-bit-supporting AAX-, AU-, VST-, and VST3-compatible plug-in for Mac (OS X 10.7 and above) and Windows (Vista and above).
Watch GRAMMY® Award-winning mastering engineer Howie Weinberg wax lyrical about mastering for the internet age with MasterCheck Pro here: