Har-Bal: The Scientific Audio Mastering Solution

How does your music sound compared to your favorite commercial recordings?

Har-Bal 3.7 Available for Mac and PC

Match Loudness – Will match your track to the perceived loudness of any commercial recording you input into Har-Bal.
Loudness Compensation – Har-Bal leaves the initial volume level unchanged even after performing spectral correction (EQ changes) thanks to its “loudness compensation” algorithm.
IntuitMatch and IntuitQ – “Eyes to the ears” is a more realistic slogan that we like. It does not mean give way to your eyes if your ears tell you everything you need. More the case that when you are struggling to hear what is wrong (but you know something is wrong) it can give visual insight. We don’t suggest you simply trust what you see and go by that. It’s an interactive process of listening and seeing and experimenting with changes. The key word here is “experimenting”.

New features!!

Dynamics Processing

The dynamics processing in Har-Bal is based entirely on the average level envelope that you see in the time-line. You create a transfer function to map the input average level to a new output average level and Har-Bal uses it to figure out what gain to apply dynamically prior to the limiter at any point in time. Unlike conventional dynamics processing, it doesn’t use attack – decay envelope extraction. The envelope it already has from the analysis. As such the gain change that tracks the music is in sync and symmetrical about the content. By that I mean with a normal compressor you would typically have a fast attack time and slow release which means that the gain quickly drops at the start of a transient and slowly rises at the tail after the transient.

Now you’ll probably think that makes no sense and will sound awful. However it doesn’t sound awful, and here is the reason why. In traditional compression we principally have fast attack and slow release because a compressor cannot predict the future so it doesn’t know when to pull down the level and if it does it slowly a very big transient will push through before it has a chance to bring it down. We have a slow release time because fast gain change will lead to a lot of distortion. Because Har-Bal knows the entire history of the track we don’t need fast attack because we know when to pull the level down. The net result is that the dynamics processing in Har-Bal works more like the volume riding technique of recording engineers of days gone past where they would adjust down the level while the music is being recorded because they knew when the loud parts were coming. This point is clearly illustrated in Figure 11, which shows the difference between envelope detection used traditionally and in Har-Bal.

Figure 11: A comparison of envelope detection in traditional and Har-Bal dynamics processing

By using a slow moving envelope for dynamics processing we ensure that the short term transient material remains largely unaltered and we simply change the relativity between loud and soft passages of a track. This also ensures that very little distortion is introduced by dynamics processing. These two factors are responsible for the clean sound of Har-Bal’s dynamics processing.

Download a tutorial (PDF) on using the Dynamic Node Tool here.

Mid / Side Decoding

Our Mid / Side decoding is defined by the following equations:

Mid = Left + Right

Side = Left – Right

You can see that with a mono source Side = 0 as Left = Right. So the level of the Side component relative the Mid component gives an indication of the stereo spread of your mix.

Now the basic Har-Bal 3 filter block has left and right channels being filtered by left and right filters, then being encoded into Mid and Side using the above scheme with Mid and Side filters applied to those components and then being decoded back into Left and Right.

To get back to Left and right we use the following equations:

Left = (Mid + Side) / 2

Right = (Mid – Side) / 2

The New Air Tool

Har-Bal Air as it is now has been replaced with a more powerful and natural sounding Haas zone ambiance process. The ways you use it will is still the same but it will sound better and have a greater range of possibilities, one of which is stereo’ising mono sources.

The effect the new Air has on the spectrum is actually rather small when used modestly. It is realized as a log normal random deviate applied to a unity gain all pass response with the variance of the deviate tapering at higher frequencies to add warmth. Without the taper it would sound too bright. How the Air then affects spectrum then depends upon whether the peaks and troughs of the Air response line up with the peaks in the spectrum. That alignment can’t be accurately re-constructed with the analysis results because the spectrum resolution is reduced to 1/12th octave and the peaking and troughing of the deviate is finer scale than that.

Time Splitting

Imagine if you will a great recorded part of a vocal that explodes in volume on a couple of notes. Those out of control bursts of sounds will show up as excessive peaks in the peak spectrum trace but not in the average trace as they occur rather infrequently.

Instead on manually trudging through the entire time trace to find the times at where those peaks occur you would use our tool based on placing a threshold line on the peak trace. Any time values with peaks above the line are selected and those below are not.

It’s complex selection not because the process is complex but the selected time line is patchy and discontinuous. But by selecting the time line in that manner and then controlling those errant peaks by highly selective filters that only act on the minimum amount of time required to fix the problem you end up with much better results.

Complex time selection and filtering is our take on how to control errant peaks in highly dynamic instruments such as vocal parts. The conventional approach is multiband compression, for which we have a disliking, mainly because to our mind it seems like a poor match to the problem at hand.

Har-Bal allows you to easily tidy up the sound quality of mastered or unmastered recordings while preserving the original intent of the producer and/or recording engineer.

Click here to read an interesting article about different genres of music and how Har-Bal assists in the process.

Minimum System Requirements:

Microsoft Windows Vista,Windows 7, 8 & Windows 10.

Apple – OS X 10.7


Har-Bal version 3.7 can be purchased and downloaded immediately through RegNet by following this link.

Upgrade from version 2.3 for US$41.95, Upgrade from version 3.0 for US$12.00

(Registered Users will be contacted by email with upgrade instructions)
Haven't been contacted about the upgrade? [Click Here]

Har-Bal 3 Manual

For those who are eager to learn more about Har-Bal version 3 the manual can be viewed on line here.
A PDF version can also be downloaded for viewing offline here

Har-Bal News

What the Pro’s Say

Clarke’s third law says “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. That is what you have done!
Chuck McDowell
Chuck McDowell
All I can say is wow!!! Witness the restoration of an old song “Shake that Body Music” I recorded/released in the mid 1980’s. This demonstration of the Har-bal 3.0 software proves this software is nothing short of amazing! When the song was uploaded to Earle, it had no dynamics, no power, or presence. I had absolutely no idea how much Har-bal 3.0 enhances audio until I listened to how it breathed life back into this song! I am extremely impressed and elated that my song was chosen to demonstrate the Har-bal 3.0 software! There is simply nothing on the market that compares. Thanks Earle and Har-bal 3.0!!!
Donald Harris
Rythmn Machine
Donald Harris
“(Har-Bal is) a cleverly implemented tool that fixes EQ problems with astonishing speed and precision…(it’s) is a welcome, important, well-designed program for those who believe mastering has much more to do with subtle response touch-ups than squashed dynamics. Very cool” Craig AndertonEQ Magazine Jan 2004
“Har-Bal is a truly unique program, extremely affordable and probably the quickest and easiest way to balance your audio material.” Ian Waugh, Music Tech MagazineMarch 2004
“Sounds good enough to use on commercial tracks. I found Har-bal an altogether more serious application than any other EQ ripping utility I’ve reviewed to date.” Martin Walker, Sound on Sound MagazineMarch 2004
“Overall, version 2.0 is a huge step forward, since it not only provides the means to improve the sound of your mixes, but also has a very good stab at doing this automatically. I can see IntuitQ being controversial in some mastering circles, but in my opinion the results speak for themselves.” Martin Walker, Sound on Sound MagazineMarch 2006
Overall, although it’s still initially harder to get to grips with than some rival ‘EQ ripper’ utilities, I still prefer Harbal, with its more considered approach to improving the final sound of an audio track, the detail of its manual and tutorials, and its helpful on-line user forum hosted by Har-Bal’s professional mastering and research engineers. It’s a serious tool that can teach you a lot about why your mixes don’t sound like commercial tracks, at the same time as improving them. Martin Walker, Sound On Sound MagazineJuly 2004
I don’t have to take my product to a high-end studio anymore – I have Har-Bal! Tameko StarMusic Dish
Australian developer Paavo Jumppanen has certainly delivered the goods on this one and turned a sceptic into a believer with this awesome piece of software. Har-Bal really does give eyes to your ears. Todd MacalpineOzmusicweed

Mastering Tutorial

The following is a mastering tutorial explaining many tips, tricks and audio mastering secrets. There are a number of methods used to accomplish harmonic balancing or spectral correction. Your tracks will sound their best when they are first processed in Har-Bal before any digital eq or multiband

Read More


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