LEVELS is a mix metering plugin designed to give quick and easy to access information on all the elements of a good mix; the aim being to discern issues quickly, enabling you to spend more time creatively and less time staring at meters.
LEVELS addresses four areas of metering, and these are reflected visually by quartering a circular GUI – with each quarter representing a different meter. The four areas are: Dynamic range, headroom, bass space and stereo field. All four areas have a green-lit logo that will turn to red if they are overloaded. Clicking on each logo changes the main circular window to show metering for the specific levels you want to focus on.
There are two saved settings, for Mix, and for Master. However, most of the settings can be altered manually, if you’re wanting more precise, or personal settings for metering.
Headroom gives you the general level meter, with the added advantage of true interpeak sample levels. For those who don’t know what true peak metering is, 29 Palms have done a great little tutorial explaining it here:
The level meter is EBUR128 compliant – which is most network TV standards for volume levels today. Clicking on the LUFS button allows you to view the short and intermediate term loudness, which is useful for perceived volume levels, which is something that broadcasters have set standards for. I wouldn’t say this is precise or flexible enough to be able to check perceived levels over the course of a film, or TV episode, but for commercials, or short form it may suffice.
This meter gives you clear imagery of the width of the stereo image. It also contains a correlation meter, which is very useful for phase issues that you might not perceive with your ears immediately. There’s a lowpass button, so you can view the stereo image below 300Hz. Again, some of the main elements you need to check with just a button click.
I found this one interesting. It checks that your music is not over-compressed. It’s a live waveform that glows different colors depending on the amount of compression. When it glows green the dynamic range is a good amount.
This is far and away the most useful meter of LEVELS – in that it doesn’t really exist anywhere else, whereas the other meters can be found in most DAWS. I found myself referring to this meter first every time when mixing, and found it extremely helpful. The Bass space meter analyses the amount of bass in the track, after reminding you to mute the kick and bass tracks. once they’re muted the Bass Space meter shows levels at 4 frequency ranges: 40, 80, 120 and 160 Hz.
Conclusion If you’re looking for something to fix your mix, unfortunately there is no such plugin. You have to work at your craft, and learn tips and techniques to ensure your mix is cracking. However, until (and even when) your ears are fine tuned, LEVELS is great for showing you elements of mix that are out of whack. It’s true at-a-glance metering – if it’s red, it needs fixing, otherwise, get back to focussing on the music. It does a great job of providing quick reference to check you’re within the levels you set, and ensure you’re not going to be printing music that clips, or phases etc.
LEVELS is on sale for $69 and you can find more info here. A 15-days trial version is available.
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About The Author
Composer/Producer, and keyboard player. He has written and recorded soundtracks for a wide variety of media and co-owns DOsounds.com with Jake Owen, a music production company that gives him an excuse to buy more analog gear.
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