Creating filtered version of banner image.


Bob Katz K System


When dabbling in your DAWs workings or playing with your plug-in. Have you ever come across Bob Katz K-System and wondered what it is?

Q: What is Bob Katz K System and why should you use it when mixing audio?

A: Bob Katz K-System is a metering and monitoring standard that integrates the best concepts of the past with current psychoacoustic knowledge in order to avoid the 'loudness war' chaos that currently exists See the K-System link above for background information and a more in-depth knowledge. Assuming you have looked at the essay on Bob Katz site "Part II: How To Make Better Recordings in the 21st Century - An Integrated Approach to Metering, Monitoring, and Levelling Practices".

Q: Why should you bother to set it up and use it when mixing? A: This is why I would urge anyone who mixes music to set up a fully calibrated K System (bear in mind this is my personal experience, it may not be as beneficial for you). The following is written assuming you have a clear understanding of monitoring levels and metering concepts. If anything is unclear to you, please ask -

  1. The K System is optimised to past known standards that work. It ensures that the listening position is monitoring at 83db with a K20 meter (K20 metering ensures 20db of available headroom up to 0dbfs. Bob Katz recommends mixing to a K20 meter and mastering using a K14 meter. This method leaves 6db of dynamic reduction to the mastering engineer, achieving a K14 master).

83db is important as this has been proved to be the optimal listening level for the film industry – it works. It's not too loud, but it's up there at the top end of our listening levels. This is where I feel the importance is for mixers. Because the monitoring level is up there at the peak of our listening, anything you boost above this 83db comfortable, but loud, reference will stand out as being wrong (unless it's an emotional dynamic push within the song). So judgements on levels of individual instruments or degrees of frequency boost become so much more obvious. If you are monitoring at low levels, you can boost a frequency by way too much and it will not become apparent until you crank up the level of you playback system and go OUCH, that hurts, because the individual frequency has been boosted too much.

  1. Mixing to the K System will give you better mixes. Because of the above and because you don't need to reference any other meter than the K Meter on output, you will become a better mixer making judgements on feel alone. Also monitoring at 83db for K20 gives the instruments and mixes the natural punch that is missing at lower levels (this is why loudness buttons are on playback systems – to add the missing punch at low levels). The problem we have as mixers is that we monitor at low levels where the punch just isn't – never has been – but we try to un-naturally give our mixes this fake punch at low levels, which gives un-desirable results when playback levels are increased. The K system overcomes this; you won't feel the need for adding compression that's not needed.
  2. It is based on average and peak levels. If you mix to the K System you will bring dynamics back into your mixes. The K System you mix to relates to the average level of audio. Mixing to K-20 standards, there is no worry of peaks distorting as you have a clear 20db of available headroom.

Another really important thing for mixers is, there is the RED section on the meter this is the special treatment area used in the film industry for the last few DB where explosions etc would jump out at you over and above the average constant level. This area has a special place in mixing too, as this is the area where you boost the emotional highs of the track. Make sure the emotional high of the track goes into the red on the K Meter for that brief moment and you give listeners and emotional experience that has been lost with square block wave mixes/masters of today.

  1. It sets a standard for enhancing mixing and mastering audio and enriching the listening experience for everyone. Audio mixed using the K System will give your mix the best chance of "travelling well" i.e. being played back on different systems. K System mixes give the playback medium what they were set up to receive.
  2. One last important note is. This is to be used as a reference standard. It's not to say you will always mix at 83db (K20) monitoring levels. You can mix at whatever monitoring level you are comfortable with, BUT the important thing is that you will push your monitoring level to 83db at some stage and it will give you the true reference.

I hope this is not too much information and that it helps if you are thinking of using the K System.

If you are still interested in using the K System my next post will deal with setting a K System up.

Cannibalization of the music industry

The cannibalization of the music industry. Is it me or is it getting worse?

It seems the only people making money within the music industry these days are the people making money from the musicians who are devoted to making music. It seems we're feeding off ourselves within a virtual circus while everyone outside the industry looks on enjoying the show for free! Feed us to the lions!

Cannibalization within buisness circles is described by Wikipedia as a reduction in sales volume, sales revenue, or market share of one product as a result of the introduction of a new product by the same producer. 

We certainly have the demise of one product by the introduction of another. File sharing replacing physical copies.

It also goes on to state, While this may seem inherently negative, in the context of a carefully planned strategy, it can be effective, by ultimately growing the market, or better meeting consumer demands. Cannibalization is a key consideration inproduct portfolio analysis.

So, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Is this new way of delivering musical content ultimately going to grow our market to a better place? Who knows.

Many words have been written on this subject, but if you know where we're all going with this, drop me a line and share your insight as no-one else seems to have a clue!

Can I make money as a songwriter?

If you are wondering, can I make a living from songwriting?

Check out this FAQ sheet from the International Songwriters Association. It makes interesting reading and also highlights a few scams to be wary of.

Thanks to all at ISA. An association for published songwriters.

Alice Gullick

This months 'Featured Artist' is Alice Gullick (find her in the featured artist section).

Thanks for sharing a great song Alice - 'Devil's Heart'.

2014 was a big year for Alice, highlights included releasing her debut single in November, performing on the Plymouth MTV Crashes stage and being highlighted on BBC Introducing as a featured artist. Also in 2014 she appeared as featured artist in The Herald (Plymouth) and PL magazine and blog for We Close Tonight.

Alice has already performed at several top London venues including The troubadour and Spice of Life and was back again at the end of January performing in Camden.

Watch out for her in 2015 as she has already been booked to perform in 2 local festivals here in the Southwest of England.

Recording Acoustic Guitar Tips

Great post for anyone looking to record an acoustic guitar. Goto The comments are worth a read too as they have some interesting content.


If you are reading this post, the site is already live, welcome.


I have decided to make the site live earlier than anticipated. Having started the undertaking of the new build it has become apparent that there will be no end to this project.


This site is work in progress and will always be work in progress! There is just so much to add this site will be continually updated on a daily/weekly basis. The content will always be updated and new stuff added. It will build over the comming months and years, I hope you'll join me for the ride and spread the word. It's all about music, song writing craft, recording, mixing and creativity.


Many thanks for stopping by.

10 steps to becoming a visionary songwriter


Do you have a vision for your latest production?


It's all to easy to jump into record mode once you've sketched out a new song, but as with many things in life, good preparation will improve the outcome of your task.

Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW everyone from


May 2015 bring you everything you imagined.


Hope it's a wonderful, musical year.

Getting a cleaner signal chain!!!!!

Can Light Be Copyrighted?


I am currently uploading my back catalogue of song lyrics to a virtual songbook on the soon to be launched, all new, (look out for the new site in 2015).

I am happy that my songs are copyright protected and I totally get that I have created something in my mind that has never been created before, is totally unique and wouldn't have existed if it weren't for my creating them. This got me thinking about light images and copyright laws.

RSS feed