How to Compare Reference Tracks for Mixing & Mastering with the REFERENCE Plugin [In-Depth Tutorial]

Get the FREE DEMO of REFERENCE: by Mastering the Mix&utm_content=Free Demo
Buy REFERENCE: by Mastering the Mix&utm_content=Plugin Store

Skip to Somethin’:

0:10 Intro
1:04 First look at REFERENCE
1:22 Demo of the track to be mastered
1:53 Adding a reference track
2:23 How to A/B between reference & original tracks
3:05 Mirror vs Match function
3:20 How to set up & activate a loop
3:54 Using Track Align & Gain Match
4:51 How to use LUFS to match loudness
6:02 The Trinity Display
6:23 Analyzing dynamic range
6:39 Adjusting dynamic range with multi-band compression
8:08 How to analyze & match stereo width of each band
8:32 Using EQ Eight to adjust stereo information
9:10 Final A/B comparison of the quick master to the reference

We’ve all heard that using reference tracks while mixing and mastering is a good idea. But how, exactly, do you do this properly? Comparing your music to fully mastered tracks is rife with problems:

Your track may not be in the mastering stage, so A/Bing against a mastered track can lead you astray.
If your track is mastered, what if the amount of dynamic range, or loudness, is totally different? How do you gain match them?
How do you objectively compare things like dynamic range, stereo width, or frequency balance?
How can you hone in on how different frequency bands are treated in your referencing process?

Merlyn Silva, an Ableton Certified Trainer on our team here at Warp Academy, is here to answer these questions for you. In this in-depth tutorial, you’ll learn how to properly compare reference tracks when mixing & mastering using the REFERENCE plugin from Mastering the Mix.

This plugin has a unique and useful take on how to handle the referencing process. It allows you to load in a number of reference tracks, and it allows a detailed analysis of them. You can loop specific parts of the reference tracks to align them with the proper part of your track. For example, comparing a drop or a chorus. You can create frequency bands to scrutinize what’s going on in the bass, mids, and highs.

There’s a special “Trinity Display” that shows you if each frequency band is more or less compressed in the reference track than your song. It’ll also show the level and stereo width of each band, relative to your reference tracks. Most importantly, it allows you to accurately gain match all the songs you’re listening to using LUFS (loudness units full scale). This gain adjustment will allow you to load up tracks that have been mastered louder or quieter than yours, and still use them to make very useful judgments.

We’ve been using REFERENCE for our own mixdowns & masters for some time now and it’s by far the most effective plugin for the job. It’s dramatically improved our ability to learn from the production and engineering on tracks we love. It gives you laser focus on exactly the type of details that are important when putting the finishing touches on your new song.

Follow along with Merlyn as he puts REFERENCE through its paces in a real example with one of his own songs.

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BEATSURFING#6: HOW-TO: Build a CoreMIDI app Controller

Here is a step-by-step video explaining how to build the Minor/Major scene (a Synth-like controller that you can see in action at the end of the Teaser here:, using Beatsurfing and only the ThumbJam App (through CoreMIDI).

More info on – More videos on


Additional Text info:

(*1) The Slave app we use here is Thumbjam, but any CoreMIDI enabled Synth app works with this tutorial.
You can also map the controller to an Ableton rack, a MIDI keyboard/Synth, etc…

(*2) The Slave app will continue being active. Select ‘new scene’ in your Beatsurfing welcome panel.

(*3) The color-codes is used to show that the upper triggers (the yellow rounds) only act on the ‘middle’ yellow square. It’s the only note that will change, but the change in interval will transform all the minor chords to major chords. Blue squares remain unchanged by the triggers.

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Blocs Wave | How to use Airdrop – Quicktip

Blocs Wave – Make & Record Music on iPhone & iPad
Download the app:
Blocs Wave is a music creation app designed to inspire new musical ideas. Easily combine original professional sounds across a wide array of genres. Tweak your sounds using beautiful touchable waveforms, and make your ideas even more unique. Record your vocals and instruments, and bring your ideas to life within minutes.

About Ampify
The Ampify team was born out of talent from established electronic music brand Novation. The team were responsible for previous innovations such as the original Launchpad hardware. Their latest accolades include Launchpad, Blocs Wave and Groovebox for iPad and iPhone.

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