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Perception Plugin from Ian Shepherd

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Is it better? Or just louder?

Our friend Ian Shepherd just released Perception, a plugin we’ve been excited about for a long time. It’s the most effective way to find your music’s loudness “sweet spot.” You’ll never look at reference tracks the same way again.

How Loud?

Ever wonder, “how loud should my music be?”

Many people prefer louder music — that’s how the loudness wars started — but too much “loudness processing” can do more harm than good… Squashed, dull, flat sound — or even pumping and distortion.

Now, with Perception, you can zero in on your music’s loudness “sweet spot”.

Better? Or Just Louder?

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…


Loudness Deception

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.

How Does it Work?

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.


Does Your Music Stack Up?

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.


“Since adding Perception to our plug-in library, we’ve become almost addicted to it. Perception won’t suddenly make your mixes or masters sound better. But it might help you become a better engineer, and that has far more value” — Mike Hillier, MusicTech Magazine

Just purchased Ian Shepard’s plugin. Just wanted to say that in my 25 years of mixing, this is the first time I could truly A-B before and after compression/limiting/FX without having to set up some elaborate thingamajig with duplicate tracks in Pro Tools, and do it quickly and easily at any point in the mixing/mastering stage.

Though I don’t work for Ian I must say that this plug-in is one of the most useful tools to ensure my mixing and mastering techniques and settings pay off and result in actual improvement rather than a faux loudness perception. — Ulf Olofsson

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Learn more about Perception here


Dan Comerchero

I'm Dan, Founder of The Pro Audio Files and Quiztones ear training apps.