Ian Shepherd

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Ian Shepherd
Ian Shepherd, Mastering Engineer
Ian Shepherd, Mastering Engineer
Background information
Born1971 (age 51–52)
Occupation(s)Mastering Engineer, DVD and Blu-ray author
Years active1994–present

Ian Shepherd (born 1971) is a British mastering engineer, Blu-ray and DVD author. He runs the Production Advice website and is the founder of Dynamic Range Day, an annual event raising awareness of the Loudness War.[1][2]


Shepherd first trained and worked at Sound Recording Technology, near Cambridge in the UK, from 1994-2010. He started by copying tapes but was working as a mastering engineer by the end of the first year. He later developed SRT's Enhanced CD and DVD services, including mixing and mastering in surround-sound. Shepherd left SRT in 2010 to form Mastering Media, Ltd.[1] His recording, mastering, re-mastering and authoring credits include Keane, Tricky, Deep Purple, Tina May, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Culture Club, Christine Tobin and King Crimson amongst others.[3][4]

Dynamic Range Day[edit]

In 2010 Shepherd founded Dynamic Range Day to raise awareness of the negative impact that the so-called Loudness Wars have had on audio quality. The event was a success and has grown in popularity each year, with industry support from Solid State Logic, Bowers and Wilkins, and TC Electronic.[5][6]


Shepherd has been interviewed in Music Tech magazine [1] and has been quoted by the media for his commentary on music production issues in the news.

In 2008 he was the first person to provide detailed analysis of the production and mastering of Metallica's Death Magnetic album, the sound of which was widely criticised. Shepherd argued that the music was excessively compressed and distorted, and suffered as a result. His opinions of the album's sound were widely reported, and his comments were echoed and amplified by the band's fans. Over 20,000 people signed a petition calling for the album to be remixed and remastered.[7][8][9][10]

Shepherd also contributed to the intense debate following allegations that Beyoncé mimed the American national anthem at President Obama's second inauguration. He assessed her performance and concluded that Knowles had in fact sung alongside a pre-recorded "safety" version, citing a video where her live performance can be heard at the same time as the backing.[11][12] His findings were confirmed several days later at Knowles' press conference prior to the 2013 Super Bowl.[13]

Educational work[edit]

Shepherd runs an online course called the Home Mastering Masterclass.[14] He has written for Future Music magazine [15][16] and also regularly writes on the Production Advice website covering issues related to audio quality, mastering and the loudness wars.[17][18]

In April 2013 Shepherd spoke at the AES Convention in Mexico City, giving a talk called "Lust for Level - Audio perception and the battle for great sound".[19] The presentation focused on the crucial role that audio levels play at every stage of music performance, recording, production and mastering. Shepherd went on to speak about the use of levels to measure "loudness", and demonstrated a beta version of his 'Perception' plugin. The talk was well-received, with many members of the broadcast industry attending.[citation needed]

Perception plugin[edit]

In 2014, Shepherd announced the release of a new audio plugin, 'Perception', developed by MeterPlugs.

Described as a 'one click reality check' for mastering and mixing, Perception allows synchronised, realtime "before and after" comparisons of any audio processing chain, loudness-matched using the new EBU R128 standard. The intent is to allow users to objectively assess the effects of mastering processing without changes in loudness biasing their opinion.[20] (This kind of bias is widely accepted as the driving factor behind the Loudness War.)

Perception was well-received, with Music Tech magazine giving it a 10/10 review and an Excellence Award, commenting that "Perception won't suddenly make your mixes or masters sound better, but it might make you a better engineer, and that has far more value. If this plug-in helps point the way towards more dynamic mixes, then... we all will benefit."[21] Hugh Robjohns, writing in Sound on Sound magazine, said the plug-in was "a very clever idea, and works extremely well in practice – so well, in fact, that I found myself wondering how I coped beforehand!", and concluding that "Perception is recommended without reservation for anyone involved in mastering at any level".[22]


  1. ^ a b c "The MTM Interview: Ian Shepherd". (September, 2012). Music Tech Magazine, Issue 114 Archived 20 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, p.40-43
  2. ^ "Loudness Wars Coming to an End?". Cepro.com. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Ian Shepherd - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Mastering Media Ltd — Blu-ray, DVD and audio excellence". Mastering-media.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  5. ^ "DRD goes global for latest skirmish in the loudness war". ProSoundNewsEurope.com. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Dynamic Range Day Supporters". Dynamicrangeday.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Heavy Metal Mix-Up - Fans threaten to send back Metallica album". Bbc.co.uk. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  8. ^ Kreps, Daniel (18 September 2008). "Fans Complain After "Death Magnetic" Sounds Better on "Guitar Hero" Than CD". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  9. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot (16 September 2008). "Analysis: Metallica's Death Magnetic Sounds Better in Guitar Hero". Wired. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  10. ^ Michaels, Sean (17 September 2008). "Metallica album latest victim in 'loudness war'?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Beyonce Inauguration Performance: Audio Engineer Says 'No Question' She Was Singing". Mtv.com. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Beyonce May Have Been Live And Pre-recorded". Npr.org. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Beyoncé admits singing 'with my prerecorded track' at inauguration". Edition.cnn.com. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  14. ^ "The Home Mastering Masterclass". Homemastering.com. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  15. ^ "The Pro Producer's Guide to Compression". (July, 2011). Future Music, p. 36-44.
  16. ^ "The Pro Producer's Guide to EQ". (September, 2011). Future Music, p. 32-40.
  17. ^ "Don't Blame the Format for Bad Sound, Blame the Suits". CEPro.com. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Production Advice – Mastering, Mixing, Recording, Music Production | Latest blog posts". Productionadvice.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Conferencistas Conferencia Anual AES Mex". Aesmex.org. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Ian Shepherd and MeterPlugs release Perception Plug-in". kvraudio.com. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Review - MeterPlugs Perception" (July 2014). MusicTech Magazine, p. 97.
  22. ^ "Product Review - MeterPlugs Perception". soundonsound.com. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.