The numbers for the song we will look at (Just A Closer Walk With Thee) are as follows...
LKFS/LUFS -21.5 dB
Clipped Samples Left 0
Clipped Samples Right 0
DC Offset +0.000%, 0.000%
Dynamic Range 9.1 dB
RMS Level Left -20.51 dB
RMS Level Right -21.50 dB
The first thing you notice is that the LUFS level is -21.5, which is what most vinyl records were at the time that these recordings were made. The true peak maximum is -4.6, so they could have raised the entire level up by about 3.6 dB without altering any waveforms. This would result in an overall level of -17.9 dB. It is very unusual to err to the low side of -16 dB, but -16 dB would have been very possible with this material.
Of course at that level there are no clipped samples and also the DC offset is a rare perfect 0. The dynamic range is good at 9.1 dB and the level difference shows us that the left channel is 1 dB louder than the right. Overall it is a good representation of how it would have sounded on equipment at the time it was recorded in the late 1960s. The fact that the mastering engineer resisted the temptation to slam the material as we are accustomed to seeing is a very encouraging sign.
This will end our monthly look at new releases. There is more than enough material in these blogs to see what the modern state of mastering is like. The vast majority of entries reveal a profound lack of finesse by the majority of successful mastering engineers. The entries for October and December are encouraging signs that there are still some out there who care about doing a good job. We started doing this in March of 2015 and for nearly 5 years have chronicled the state of the audio mastering world. We hope that those of you who have followed along have learned something.