Mastering dynamic Jazz

Hi Randy,

Thanks for your great video series on MWTM!

I’m an Eastman graduate (who recorded multiple times with Lou Chitty, including an album (Harder Bop) that you mastered 14 years ago) who opened a studio primarily recording and mixing jazz music. I’ve recently started learning more about mastering, though I’m mostly mixing these days. I have three questions here… feel free to answer whatever you’d like!

  1. I’m wondering if you have any advice on preserving the dynamic integrity of a jazz recording, while still bringing it to competitive listening levels. One issue is drums, where you may go from consistent brush playing to heavy-handed snare hits in the same track. Because it’s less predictable when these moments are happening, I’m struggling to use a clipper and limiter in a musical way to reduce the overs without squashing the tone.

  2. Do you measure average LUFS differently for more acoustic or dynamic music, where the overall aesthetic (brushes, sticks, etc) and perceived volume can change a lot throughout?

  3. How do you approach level matching something like a ballad versus a harder-hitting tune? I find that I can push ballads to louder levels (which I feel has more depth/detail overall) comparatively, because the overall dynamic and volume is more consistent. I’m guessing experience and taste influence this… but curious for any input.

Thank you for any advice! I know these are probably elementary questions, so I really appreciate your time here.

Warm wishes-
Danny ziemann

Why would you use a clipper and a limiter on a dynamic jazz record? Just let it stay dynamic. minimal compression, and clean gain, maybe true peak just so the acoustic instruments won’t distort. bring it to a level where it sounds good and appropriate. you really don’t need to hit -5, I wouldn’t go further than -6.5 on the loudest part, but again depends on the material. just keep it light processing.