Reference tracks are professionally mixed and mastered songs that you use as a tool to either measure your mix against or use as a roadmap to guide your arrangement.

Using reference tracks when mixing or mastering your song ensures that your mix is up to professional standards. They also help you develop music that translates well on different playback systems and in different environments.


When comparing your mixdowns or masters to reference tracks, focus on the various elements, loudness, balance, width, depth, and other key aspects of the mix. Below are a few suggestions to listen for:

  • Loudness: How load is the overall level compared to the reference mix?
  • Width: Listen to where particular elements are panned in the mix.Also, pay attention to how wide the overall mix is in the stereo field.
  • Depth: Listen for front-to-back placement. For example, elements that are either louder, brighter, or have less reverb will sound closer and more up-front in the mix. Conversely, sounds that are quieter, have more low-end or reverb applied will sound farther away.
  • Balance: Compare how loud various elements are to each other and balance the levels. Also, listen to the overall tonal balance. For example, is there too much low-end or frequency masking?

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