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Mastering Essentials: How Loud Should You Master?

Part 3 - The SOS Techniques Guide | by Ian Shepherd By Ian Shepherd
Published November 2020

How loud is loud enough, and how loud is too loud? In this third episode of his video series for Sound On Sound, mastering engineer Ian Shepherd describes his simple strategies to help you find the ideal balance of loudness and dynamics for your music, and why it's so important. Is louder always better ?

VU Meter plugin mentioned in this video available from


Mastering Essentials: The SOS Techniques Guide
In this six-part series, produced in association with Steinberg, well-known mastering engineer Ian Shepherd takes us through his approach to mastering. Whether you’re polishing individual tracks or assembling EPs or albums, Ian will explore the tools, skills and decisions that can help you achieve great-sounding results.

1. What Is Mastering?

2. The Three Ms of Mastering 

3. How Loud Should You Master? 

4. Mastering EQ: Balance, Don’t Match

5. Compression & Limiting In Mastering

6. Final Delivery: Requirements & Specs

For more detail on Ian’s approach to mastering, you can get his free downloadable Home Mastering Guide at

For more info about Ian Shepherd, visit his site: