Improving Your Home Recording by Using Reference CDs - dummies

Improving Your Home Recording by Using Reference CDs

By Jeff Strong

A reference CD can be any music that you like or that helps you to hear your music more clearly. For the most part, choose reference CDs that have a good balance between high and low frequencies and that sound good to your ear.

That said, some CDs are mixed really well, which can help you get to know your monitors and train your ears to hear the subtleties of a mix. A few CDs in a variety of music styles are in this list, but it is not comprehensive.

  • Steely Dan, Two Against Nature

  • Lyle Lovett, Joshua Judges Ruth

  • Norah Jones, Come Away with Me

  • Sting, Brand New Day

  • Ben Harper, Burn to Shine

  • Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs

  • Beck, Mutations

  • Peter Gabriel, So

  • Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing

  • No Doubt, Return of Saturn

  • Los Lobos, Kiko

  • Marilyn Manson, Mechanical Animals

  • Depeche Mode, Ultra

  • Bonnie Raitt, Fundamental

  • Macy Gray, On How Life Is

  • Pearl Jam, Yield

  • Metallica, S&M

  • Dr. Dre, 2001

All commercial CDs have been mastered. This is going to affect the sound of them a little — most importantly, they will be louder than your music. If you toggle back and forth between your mix and a reference CD, adjust the relative levels so that each sounds equally as loud coming through your speakers because the louder song always sounds “better.”

And remember: Don’t try to match the volume of your mix to a reference CD.