SPL balance for hearing health vs getting max low end information

Hey Mike!
For optimal long term hearing health, and getting the low end information you need for rap records (or any record of course) Do you have a Max SPL/average SPL that has worked for you over the years? I find it difficult to feel the true power of the low end below peaking at 95 SPL myself. I also have permanent tinnitus in my right ear from my musician days.

I just leave my monitor controller alone at the higher level. Is that how you roll. or do you find that temporary turn ups are a better method to get the full low end picture?

And i guess another follow up is do you take mandated breaks or just go go go?

Hey Paris,

I haven’t taken a measurement in a while, but I tend to monitor my system somewhere around 70-80 SPL. Of course, there are moments I get a bit louder but not for any prolonged periods of time. My client may ask for a loud listen once we have something dialed in, but I tend to leave the room if it’s for a long period of time. I also find turning the volume down to an almost quiet level helps me located some of the energy in the low end, especially the impact of a kick.

I have spent my career listening in the same room, haven’t switched up my speaker brand and don’t have subwoofers in my monitoring system when mastering. I think that combination helps me get a clearer low end picture.

Hope that helps,


Absolutely. At the same time, clients have deadlines, so managing that along with ear fatigue is sometimes a battle.

I typically do anywhere from 3-6 different projects a day, ranging from singles to EPs to full length albums. Singles being the easiest as there’s little to no comparison to other tracks and the prolonged focus tends to be less intense.

Albums tend to take the most continuous focus, and I prefer to complete that first pass in one sitting. Once I have my ears dialed into a specific sound or vibe, I like to keep that momentum.

If I’m mastering a full length album, that’s the main focus of my workday. Maybe a single of two sprinkled in, but after hours on a project your perspective wanes.

Breaks are absolutely necessary.