6dB headroom on pain of death, and other ramblings

​Instagram debate: why do people believe mastering engineers will only accept mixes that peak at -6 on your daw meters? Where did this come from and provided it’s not clippped what’s stopping the mastering engineer gaining it down if needed?


It’s because people take a general recommendation (‘leave some headroom, about 6dB will do’) and it becomes a Sacred Dictum from The Lords Of Holy Audio, and thou shalt obey or face famine and pestilence. 

You see it everywhere – ‘be careful with too much stereo bass’ >>> ‘if you have any stereo information below 300Hz your descendants will suffer plagues of locusts for 20 generations’, ‘sidechaining can help’ >>> ‘sidechain everything to everything all the time or face death’, etc. 

I’ve had, on numerous occasions, people mailing about premasters saying ‘ZOMG it peaks at -2.84dB and not -3’ and things like that. Daft. Yes, there’s an argument for avoiding digital gain, but (IMO) it’s an outdated, overblown, feeble one. So there. 

That do you? 🙂 

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