Mobile music makers using iOS already have a number of excellent options when it comes to audio mastering — for example, Positive Grid’s Final Touch and iMusicAlbum’s Audio Mastering. However, for users simply looking to get the final audio levels right with a bit of compression or limiting, Fred Anton Corvest’s new Maxima app might be an interesting alternative. Maxima is a universal app, requires iOS 10 or later and runs as an AU plug-in in a suitable host.
The main purpose of the app is to apply dynamics processing to control your overall audio levels — yes, increasing the overall loudness if required — but in a transparent fashion and without letting your audio exceed 0dB. The UI provides a rack-like appearance with a left-to-right signal flow through the controls and a waveform display. The latter is particularly useful as it shows the original waveform (light grey), the processed waveform (dark grey) and red peaks if you are crossing the 0dB point (er... don’t!).
The control set includes input gain and output gain, stereo output meters, a bypass switch and, so you can get a taste for parallel processing, a wet/dry control (although this control doesn’t seem to influence the waveform display, which might make a nice option in a future update).
In terms of the dynamics, the five red controls are where the action is. Threshold is a familiar compressor/limiter concept and Reset is effectively a release time control. The Raise knob allows you to add gain compensation (and increase the overall level if that’s what’s required). The Detector mode offers slow, mid, fast and instantaneous options and is equivalent to a compressor’s attack time, while the Filter options offer low-cut, high-boost, both or clean, allowing you to be selective about which frequencies exert the most influence upon the compressor. Different settings here might suit different genres of music.
The app ships with a good number of presets that are suitable for both mastering applications and use on individual mix busses (for example, a drum buss). Even a quick flick through these demonstrates that, used with some suitable restraint, Maxima can do a very respectable job of providing some transparent dynamics control and — if needed — a level boost. Yes, if you choose faster Reset and Detector Modes, and push the levels too hard, it is easy enough to hear the consequences. That is, though, very much in the ‘user error’ category of issues as, otherwise, Maxima provides some excellent results via a streamlined interface. If you are not sure you want to dig into the deeper depths of mastering offered by apps such as Final Touch or Audio Mastering, Maxima is a very creditable solution for adding a quick polish to your final mix. Well worth a look.