Ian Shepherd's Perception $149
Eliminate "loudness deception."
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Loudness changes our perception of music. As a mastering engineer, you must constantly ask yourself, "Is this really better? Or just louder?" Making accurate, impartial judgements about this has always been a key skill of the mastering engineer, which can take years to learn. Until now...
Perception allows you to hear through “loudness deception” and make truly impartial, accurate decisions about the best possible sound for your music - quickly and easily. You can instantly bypass entire FX chains to make A/B comparisons of EQ settings, compression and more. Even better, Perception will level-match and sync your sources so that "loudness deception" and plugin delay do not influence your decisions.
Simple. First, insert the Perception Source plugin before the FX chain you want to A/B test. Second, insert the Perception Controller plugin after the FX chain. Now you can toggle Perception’s Bypass FX button to compare your music with and without the FX chain. Then press Balance and Sync to level-match and sync the sources.
Now you can hear how your music compares to that song you've been hearing on the radio. How do the loudness levels compare? Do they have the same dynamic range? What happens if you add some compression? Mastering is iterative - tweak, compare and tweak some more. Perception speeds up the process so that you can quickly nail down the sound you're going for.
The time saved easily justifies the price. It's so good you'll be asking yourself why nobody came up with the idea before. I just wish I had this in my toolbox long ago! Bill Lacey (Resolution Magazine)
Every now and again a plugin comes along that makes you think 'How did I work without this?' - Perception is such a plugin... even as an experienced engineer, Perception helped my workflow massively. Alan Branch (Audio Media International)
The phrase 'game changer' is flung about too often these days... [Perception is] as near as you'll get these days. Recording Review.com