Next-Gen Reference Tracks: 12 Top Engineers Share Their Essential Reference Mixes

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It is very helpful to play a track with sound characteristics that I am already quite familiar with. Hearing how these characteristics reproduce in any given room through a system reveals critical acoustic properties such as the frequency response and dynamics of the space and the equipment.

Next-Gen Reference Track #1: “Loose” by Allen Stone

I mastered this track myself, and really like the way the master came out, not to mention the mix’s having been a great one to begin with—the master is fairly loud, yet it remains clean, warm, and punchy with full frequency range extending in both, high and low, directions.

I am very familiar with the dynamic and frequency properties of the master, therefore, it becomes a very useful tool to reveal the tendencies of the listening space and the speakers, just by hearing to how this master reproduces. If I were to master a new song in an unfamiliar listening environment, “Loose” will serve as a great reference to see where my new master really stands, without being confused by the “artifacts” and “illusions” the room may create.

Classic Reference Track

In Da Club” by 50 Cent

I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

Voodoo” by Allen Stone

The Bed I Made” by Allen Stone

— David Weiss


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  • Fliz Kayce

    I’m in shock that someone would use “Shake It Off” as a reference track.

    Side by side with “Thriller”, it sounds laughably flat.

    For reference quality production in the last 5 years, Jamie XX’s “In Colour” is fantastic and so is The xx’s “I See You”.

    “Vehl” by Kidnap Kid is right on the edge of “Next-Gen” but it’s fantastic. On a good system, it should really fill the room.

  • Michael Murray

    There is no “Wallflower” album by Alison Krauss & Union Station as far as I can find?