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Magic Mastering

What is Magic Mastering

The Apple Podcasts Authoring Best Practices states that podcast episodes should be "pre-conditioned in such a way that the overall loudness remains around -16 dB LKFS, with a +/- 1 dB tolerance and a true-peak value that doesn’t exceed -1 dB FS."

Apple articulates their reasoning by saying: Content that is heavily compressed and amplified might be too loud, will lack the dynamic range, and can introduce harmonic distortions. Alternatively, content with low audio levels will have dynamic range but will be too quiet, inaudible, or unintelligible in the case of spoken content. In either case, a listener might have to adjust the playback volume to a comfortable level.

Confusing right? Well good news; Buzzsprout can automatically master your episodes to match the Apple Podcasts Authoring Best Practices, and optimize the encoding for spoken word (96k mono) or music heavy (192k stereo) podcasts - based on your preference.

Beyond that, Buzzsprout will also apply an adaptive leveling process to correct for any distracting volume differences between multiple speakers or segments in your episode.

Magic Mastering Waveforms

Why is there an additional charge for this?

Ensuring an audio file is correctly pre-conditioned and encoded is a time consuming process. Yes - it's an automated process, but doing this right means the audio file must be analyzed multiple times. That takes about 3x longer to complete than a standard encoding. Since we're processing thousands of episodes each day and no one wants to wait hours for their episodes to publish, we charge a small fee to cover additional servers and maintenance.

Can I try it for FREE?

Yes - you can enable Magic Mastering at any time and give it a try. If you don't like the results you simply delete the episode that was encoded with Magic Mastering (it will have a small MM icon next to it), and then disable Magic Mastering. You won't be billed for Magic Mastering unless it's enabled for your account at the time your monthly cycle renews.

Is Magic Mastering an Auphonic alternative?

Possibly. It depends on why you use Auphonic. If your using it to get the correct loudness, true-peak, and adaptive leveling for your audio - then Magic Mastering can serve as a suitable replacement. If you are using Auphonic to correct or enhance a bad recording, you'll want to stick with them. Magic Mastering offers no noise reduction or frequency filtering.

Is Magic Mastering a FixMyLevels alternative?

Yes. For the most part Magic Mastering and FixMyLevels do the same thing. The benefit of Magic Mastering is that it offers a simplified workflow (just upload to Buzzsprout and your done). The benefit of FixMyLevels is that they offer a free plan.

Why does my episode sound louder/softer?

One of the main things Magic Mastering does is set the loudness of your audio file to match the Apple Podcasts Authoring Best Practices. So it's very possible that if you upload an episode that's too loud, Magic Mastering will reduce the overall volume. Conversely, if you upload an episode that's too soft, Magic Mastering will increase the overall volume.

Our targets are -19 LUFS for a mono (single channel) recording and -16 LUFS for a stereo (two channel) recording - both with a -1 dB FS true-peak value. Not sure what that means? You don't have to. That's why we built Magic Mastering. 😉

Should I choose Spoken Word or Music Heavy for my podcast?

We understand that almost all podcasts have some music in them. Mostly it's in the intro/outro and occasionally there are subtle music beds throughout the episodes. Even if a podcasts contains some music, when it's mostly people talking we would consider that a Spoken Word show.

Music Heavy podcasts are the complete opposite. These are shows that feature more music than talking. It would also include shows like audio dramas, that use the stereo effect as part of the production (like someone entering a room and that sound effect only plays through the left speaker). These shows need to be encoded in stereo, which is the main benefit of selecting Music Heavy and enabling the 192k stereo encoding.

IMPORTANT: Please don't think that even though your show is Spoken Word selecting Music Heavy will be a better choice. This will needlessly double the size of your episode files which consumes additional bandwidth, increases the time it takes your listeners to download episodes, and takes more storage space on their devices.

What if I don't want Buzzsprout to alter my file at all?

That's not a problem at all. Without Magic Mastering enabled, you simply upload an MP3 encoded at 96k or less, mono (1 channel). Buzzsprout will NOT re-encode these files.

With Magic Mastering enabled this doesn't make much sense unless you want your episodes encoded at 192k stereo. In that case you would simply uncheck the Automatic Podcast Mastering box, and then switch the slider to Music Heavy (192k stereo). Now when you upload an MP3 encoded at 192k or less, stereo or mono, Buzzsprout will NOT re-encode these files.

Did we cover everything?

If we missed anything please feel free to email our amazing customer happiness team.