In this review, we are going to be going over Reference by Mastering The Mix, a plugin that will help you to get your track to the same levels as tracks you hear in the clubs and on the radio.
Referencing your track to other tracks is an important part of mixing and one that is helpful in all stages of the music making process and Reference can help you with a lot of the decisions you need to make along the way.
Adding tracks to reference is as easy as dragging in a track onto the waveform display or by clicking on the plus sign and choosing a file from the file browser, you can load up quite a few tracks to reference I got up to ten different tracks and thought yea that should be fine.
Once you have a track loaded you can see the waveform you can set Reference to mirror the original track you are working on or set it to free mode and set your own loops for sections you want to work on. I found that setting loops in key areas of your track to be the easiest to work with this allows you to get the main sections of your track to work well.
In the top right corner of the waveform display you can have Reference accurately level match the perceived loudness of your original track and the references you have loaded into Reference this is a crucial stage of referencing as a louder sound can give the false notion of having more bass and more clarity in a track.
Underneath the waveform display, you have two buttons to switch listening between your original track and the reference track as well as their individual meters which can be switched between LUFS, Peak, and Gain.
- LUFS: (loudness units relative to full scale) this gives you an accurate display of the perceived loudness of your track.
- Peak: This tells you the peak that is measured in your track in dB
- Gain: This will tell you how much gain you have increased or decreased your track by.
The Trinity Display in Reference is exceptionally nice as it allows you to set up to 5 frequency ranges and see how the frequency balance, Stereo width and punch compares to your reference track.
The white level lines in the trinity display let you know how the balance of frequencies is in your mix compared to your reference track.
As you can see above my mix is lacking in the Sub range and is too high in the lows, mids and highs.
Atop each frequency range you will find two lines indicating the stereo width of your track and the reference the white line indicates your original track and the grey one is for your reference track.
This is so simple and yet immensely effective as it can show you where your sound is too wide or too narrow compared to your reference track, in this instance you can see that my original track is quite a bit higher than my reference track and I should dial it down a bit.
The Trinity display also has these purplish dots that move either towards the white line or moves away from the white line this represents the dynamic range.
If the dots move towards the white line your original is more compressed in that range than your reference and if the dots move away from the line then your original is less compressed than your reference.
Reference is a great tool to have in your toolbox and has become one of my go to plugins to keep an eye on my mix it gives me a wonderful visual representation of what I’m doing to my track.
Now I know that some people will say oh you shouldn’t rely on visuals but you should rely on your ears and that is true but this thing can really help with delaying the dreaded ear fatigue by allowing you to mix at lower volumes and still see what you are doing.
Reference is also great for people who don’t have a trained ear yet Reference will show you where you are going wrong and you can hear exactly what it was meant to sound like when you get it right hereby training your ear at a faster pace than normal.
All in all Reference is a wonderful product that will really help you to get your mixes to a pro level in no time and is a great plugin to have from novices to professionals.
- Great visuals.
- Not CPU heavy.
- Well thought out and implemented impeccably.
More of a feature request than a con but when you solo a loop in reference that loop should be selected in the daw as well maybe an extra button that activates that feature so you can have best of both worlds.
REFERENCE Utility plug-in by Mastering The Mix is available for £49 and can be used on both Windows and MAC systems – AAX, AU, VST, VST3 formats available.