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> Competing In The Loudness War, Mastering Question
Chris S.
post Jul 6 2016, 05:26 PM
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This question to anyone with mastering knowledge:

How do I get my tracks as loud as a reference track?

I understand one of the final steps is to use a clipper and then limiter to boost the track and then limit it so it doesn't clip - but it's still never as loud as any reference track I stack it up to.

For example: I mastered a track, and listening to it in the car I needed my volume on 20 when any other song is around 16 or 17 for the same volume.

If I just push the limiter even more I feel like I would be over limiting the track and everything just starts to fall apart - am I missing something here?

Thank you smile.gif

This post has been edited by Chris S.: Jul 6 2016, 05:26 PM


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Mertay
post Jul 6 2016, 05:37 PM
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To avoid buzzing sounds from the clipping stage you need to lower the low-mid.s or sub freq.s. as they react worse to clipping. To push even more increase the 2-4khz range for ear piercing results biggrin.gif

But most important is after adjusting loudness, lower the volume from the limiter to check if it actually sound better/more balanced than the mix. If not, take back the destructive settings you made until it gets better as always aim for the better sound.

PS; Don't limit more than 2-3db as if more then you'll actually decrease the output, its more about the clipper and the eq.

This post has been edited by Mertay: Jul 6 2016, 05:39 PM


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Rammikin
post Jul 6 2016, 05:47 PM
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The key to loudness is to drive up the average signal strength while limiting the maximum signal strength. It's possible to get good results with a compressor (especially a multiband compressor) followed by a limiter, but a plugin designed for this purpose usually works better. For example something like Ozone, Ultramaximizer or Elephant.



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Chris S.
post Jul 6 2016, 10:20 PM
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Thanks guys - I'm definitely saving for Ozone smile.gif

What do you guys think of my second mastering attempt? unsure.gif

https://soundcloud.com/stortzmusic/goodbye-master-test

My biggest thing is translation - especially with levels: what sounds good on the headphones and monitors may be too loud or too soft on the phone or in the car, especially the Overheads and Vocals. Sounds good on the monitors and headphones but on my phone all I hear is vocals are I can barely hear anything else rolleyes.gif

This post has been edited by Chris S.: Jul 6 2016, 10:24 PM


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Mertay
post Jul 6 2016, 10:42 PM
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Oh wait it seems your problem isn't levels but mono compatibility? usually DAW's have a mono buttom somewhere on the output of the mixer, you can also use this if needed; http://www.voxengo.com/product/msed/

Unfortunatly this is a mix thing not mastering. Basically, a song must sound full enough when in mono. Not all elements have to be in the mono area but it has to atleast simply reflect the song. Also mono-compatible mixes usually have very nice stereo image when listened stereo so the effort is rewarding.

This post has been edited by Mertay: Jul 6 2016, 10:44 PM


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Chris S.
post Jul 6 2016, 11:03 PM
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QUOTE (Mertay @ Jul 6 2016, 09:42 PM) *
Oh wait it seems your problem isn't levels but mono compatibility? usually DAW's have a mono buttom somewhere on the output of the mixer, you can also use this if needed; http://www.voxengo.com/product/msed/

Unfortunatly this is a mix thing not mastering. Basically, a song must sound full enough when in mono. Not all elements have to be in the mono area but it has to atleast simply reflect the song. Also mono-compatible mixes usually have very nice stereo image when listened stereo so the effort is rewarding.

Ugh I knew I was forgetting a step haha

I just watched a video where doing part of the mixing in mono can be beneficial and I didn't even apply it rolleyes.gif


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Mertay
post Jul 6 2016, 11:10 PM
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QUOTE (Chris S. @ Jul 6 2016, 10:03 PM) *
Ugh I knew I was forgetting a step haha

I just watched a video where doing part of the mixing in mono can be beneficial and I didn't even apply it rolleyes.gif


laugh.gif it was loud enough and eq balance was good by the way (atleast on my headphones) so after done with mono mixing don't push things any harder than that. You've already done most of the job and it shouldn't take too long to finalize, good job smile.gif


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Chris S.
post Jul 7 2016, 12:32 AM
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Thanks man! Glad to hear it's not a muddy pile of poo haha

smile.gif


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Todd Simpson
post Jul 7 2016, 01:03 AM
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Once you do get ozone, be careful with it. It's quite easy to squash an entire mix just trying to get it loud enough. Make sure the mix is right before jumping in to a plugin like ozone. Too often folks will have an unfinished mix and try to fix it using ozone. The results are typically not pretty. Things get over compressed and squashed in an effort to maximize loudness. Many bands are now fighting against the loudness war on purpose and adding "dynamics" (e.g. soft/quiet part as well as loud bits) in to their songs. But I know how you feel, you want your song to be as loud as the one that the pros made as loud as possible. I get it. smile.gif It's only natural to not want your songs to seem quiet in a playlist.

The "loudness wars" have been going for years in an effort to get each song on the radio to jump out at you a bit more than the last one. This has killed what used to be called "Dynamic Range' or having a gap between loud and soft parts of a song in an effort to create an emotional connection with the listener by creating a "crescendo" (leading to a grand/loud bit) from a soft part in the song.

Also, emotional connection in music has been sacrificed to the Gods of LOUDNESS. It's just the world we live in wink.gif However, to see the difference, put on some older Iron Maiden for example. Here is a track from an album more than 30 years old (older than many GMCers) called FLIGHT OF ICARUS. But listen to the entire album as well, on youtube if you like, to see how they play with softer passage and build to crescendo, just like classical composers do smile.gif

I've noticed many "CORE" bands are quite fond of maxing out the level on every track. Many bands do it. It's just common practice. Sadly so much music is disposable. I don't think we will be talking about the band BRING ME THE HORIZON for example in 30 years.



here is the entire ablum






QUOTE (Chris S. @ Jul 6 2016, 07:32 PM) *
Thanks man! Glad to hear it's not a muddy pile of poo haha

smile.gif


This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jul 7 2016, 01:05 AM


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Rammikin
post Jul 7 2016, 01:44 AM
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QUOTE (Chris S. @ Jul 6 2016, 09:20 PM) *
What do you guys think of my second mastering attempt? unsure.gif


I agree with Mertay, the loudness sounds fine to me.



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thefireball
post Jul 7 2016, 05:54 PM
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Yeah, don't worry too much about pushing a track. I find that getting a track to it's overall max volume is helped along in the mixing process. Compression really does help when you compress most of your tracks. Just make sure you leave enough headroom to allow your "chorus" to explode. smile.gif


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Mertay
post Jul 7 2016, 07:31 PM
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Since the topic expanded my 2 cents, by the way audio mastering is rediculously similar to adjusting tone for guitar as I'll get to that...

Most common problem I notice is beginners usually want to get a mastered sound on the mix process. This is aside levels, as a mastered track must sound balanced on every listening level. The rule of not screwing the mix is to listen on the same levels in the room while working as much as possible, if the overall mid.s are too high no worrys as thats one of the things that should be left to the mastering part.

ps; this rule is specially important if vsti instruments aren't used. VSTI stuff are delieved/sampled usually (like %99 of them, very rare I heard a raw sound) already toned and don't need much eq'ing on the mix side side of the project. On the mastering side again vsti based projects needs much less corrective eq'ing.

-Similar to guitar; we keep wanting to balance the mid.s by decreasing them (specially on marshall type amps) but then notice all the tone is sucked out and what we have is a boring sound.

There is no need for compression on the mix stage specifically for loudness, always aim for the sound. A common thing producers do is add a compressor to the main channel (defoult on SSL consoles) but right after tracking this compressor is engaged and they mix "through" this compressor, the compressor isn't set to behave agressive. It helps them to get a closer feeling to the mastered sound in the mix process which is cool but I recommend this for the experienced (things can go bad very quick too). Anything added after the mix is done is mastering and if done on the middle of the mix stage this will complicate things in a bad way.

-Similar to guitar; All comp. pedals are set for a specific sound, it actually helps to get a punchyer sound rather than loud and dull. There are pedals named "sustainers" which are actually limiters but you don't see them much on professionals pedal boards.

Clipping is the way to get super loud not compression. Before Sterling sound started clipping converters for level, the secret was to force the input of tape machines to get some compression and a lot of saturation. Even this process kept some dynamics, on plug-in limiters some has a knob to add saturation (mimics the tape approach). (hard) Clipping on the other hand directly chops off the transients but the magic is say you're chopping the snare drum (most common peaks in a mix), the clipper saturates at that exact moment giving you the illusion of dynamics. A multiband compressor (or a spectral compressor) can't do that and since it has attack/release times the compression on extremes get too obvious. Key to clipping hard is a good eq balance of mix (where a slightly adjusted multiband comp. comes in handy).

-similar to guitar; Exactly what we do with overdrives. Overdrives/boosters aside slight saturation (like tape) "clips" the amps input and though we guitar players accept this as shreddy distorted sound, this sound is also very compressed.

This post has been edited by Mertay: Jul 7 2016, 07:53 PM


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