#1
Hey guys...a major issue I'm having with all my recordings is that they're all way quiet compared to any professional music. I record using a Tascam digital recorder, but I've also been doing recordings at a friends studio with a Mackie Console and Alesis harddisc recorder, and I feel like I have my mixes as loud as I can without them clipping, but they're still way too quiet...
#2
This is all about headroom and proper mastering.
"If money is the root of all evil, I'd like to be a bad, bad man."

- Huey Lewis & the News
#4
Basicaly you should check the levels of your tracks when recording. Raise the gain and level knobs until it sounds loud enough without any cliping. Then if you have everything in correct levels make sure you dont have any high end raised on the on board eq while recording.I would suggest not doing any eq at all while recording (unless you record for e.g. a drum track with 6 mics as one stereo track). Without raising any high end you will be safe and sure that there wont be any unwanted cliping from the tone. Try to get as less sharp sound as possible. Remember!Its always beter to raise than try to cut out. Then when mixing you can raise the volume of your headphones or monitors so that you can hear everything properly without raising the master fader. When raising the master fader theres 90 procent posibility that you will have cliping. When you have everything done,export everything as a stereo track (thats the way i do it) then do the Mastering. While mastering you have to shape the final choice of your song tone. Pro's use 10000 dolar worth monitors.I would say listen through at least 5 headphones,monitors,speakers. That way you will be sure that everything sounds pleasent.And then use the Classic Limiter that i was talking about. Just turn the treshold knob until its loud enough without cliping.Also compressors.
Excuse me my grammar,busy day.Hope this helps.
#5
Quote by fattyDQ
Hey guys...a major issue I'm having with all my recordings is that they're all way quiet compared to any professional music. I record using a Tascam digital recorder, but I've also been doing recordings at a friends studio with a Mackie Console and Alesis harddisc recorder, and I feel like I have my mixes as loud as I can without them clipping, but they're still way too quiet...


The reason you can't raise the sound above a certain level is due to transients, an example of this would be - if you look at a waveform of a snare sound you will see that it is very sharp and spikey, it has a large vertical axis, the actual body of the sound is not the peaks of the snare sound but the center of it. These peaks push the loudness of your tracks up if you will without any real need for them to be there - they are not contributing to the sound other than clipping when you push the volume.

Pretty much all tracks have these peaks (everything apart from heavily distorted guitars), you need to reduce these peaks through subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) use of compression and sometimes clipping the peaks with a clipping program (such as gclip) to reduce the dynamic range of the signal (ie even out the volume of the track so there are less peaks) - this is the function of compressors.

Also, to achieve commercial loudness you have to use some form of limiter on the master tracks, limiting performs the same function as compression in a much harder manner to bring the full stereo waveform up to commercial level after each element has been well compressed.

If you're unsure about what any of this means then you should look up more information on limiting and compression, they are both an essential part of mixing and mastering.
#6
The limiting advice seems to be what I'm getting the most but wouldn't using a limiter on the master track greatly decrease the dynamics of my mixes, and just leave a big chunk of loud material with no dynamics?
#7
Quote by fattyDQ
The limiting advice seems to be what I'm getting the most but wouldn't using a limiter on the master track greatly decrease the dynamics of my mixes, and just leave a big chunk of loud material with no dynamics?

Short answer: yes. Hence the problem with most current/recent music, and it's getting worse. Don't contribute to it.

This is just my opinion, but there are a rapidly growing number of people who share it, that you should only be concerned about your music sounding good, not about it sounding loud. Don't let, "is it loud enough? How can I get it louder?" enter into your mind. If it sounds good but is on the quiet side, listeners have a volume knob. This is what it was invented for. Problem solved.

Not what you want to hear I'm sure, so listen or not.

If you choose not to listen, just slap 6 limiters on your master bus and crush your tracks until they're stupidly loud and distorted like everything else these days. Dynamics are teh suxxors and stuff.
#8
Quote by Matthias King
Short answer: yes. Hence the problem with most current/recent music, and it's getting worse. Don't contribute to it.

This is just my opinion, but there are a rapidly growing number of people who share it, that you should only be concerned about your music sounding good, not about it sounding loud. Don't let, "is it loud enough? How can I get it louder?" enter into your mind. If it sounds good but is on the quiet side, listeners have a volume knob. This is what it was invented for. Problem solved.

Not what you want to hear I'm sure, so listen or not.

If you choose not to listen, just slap 6 limiters on your master bus and crush your tracks until they're stupidly loud and distorted like everything else these days. Dynamics are teh suxxors and stuff.


You should not be giving out advice, you are a musician that has caught onto a bandwagon that knows nothing about audio engineering. Please refrain from informing people on a subject you know nothing about in the future.

To the OP, Limiting is a VITAL part of audio production, every single album you listen to on a regular basis (whether it be the Rage Against the Machines very dynamic self titled or a more modern deathcore album that has been heavily limited) has limiters and compressors on it. Apart from anything else compression usually has its own character that we associate with and subtly enjoy the sound of. Compression gives a snare more "crack" for example.

Compression and limiting will reduce dynamic range, but this in itself is no bad thing, it can make the music more punchy and hit you harder, any good rock album will be heavily compressed - rock engineers do not go light on the compressor, with good reason.

It is true that there has been a recent trend to go overboard with limiting, but the hard and fast rule is that you stop when your music starts to clip, clipping is what is bad about modern mastering - not usually limiting in itself, a well limited album will also still have dynamic range - see Guns N Roses Chinese Democracy for an example of a well limited album, it is slightly on the quiet side compared to most modern music, but you would hardly notice - plus it still retains all its dynamics. An uncompressed album would sound terrible in comparison - nobody wants to crank their speakers to hear a band whos mix does not gel together because they do not use compression - I mean really.

The problem with the whole loudness war argument the person above me represents is that its indicative of a musician that has just got into audio engineering, heard about compression, heard about limiting and then decided that because too much loudness = bad that compression and limiting are one less thing they have to learn about. It's a pretty ignorant view point and as someone who does a good bit of engineering I'd advise you to steer clear of it.
Last edited by Beefmo at Oct 31, 2009,
#9
I hereby support every single word Beefmo has said and anyone who disagrees with him is ****ing WRONG.

He nailed it.
#11
as a professional sound engineer, i can say that beefmo is partially correct. but also partially incorrect.

clipping is not what is bad about modern mastering. clipping is what is bad about modern mastering when done by amateurs using a stupid plug-in they found in their DAW. any decent engineer can work the shit out of a track to make it sound huge and loud without clipping. even i can do that, and i'm not great at mastering. when you compress sound, you aren't going to be compressing the waveform a uniform amount across the board. higher transients will be reduced exponentially more than lower, ergo if you have any clue as to what you're doing, you can avoid clipping while still increasing the volume of the track.

to the OP: the best advice i can give is don't worry about it. so your tracks are a bit on the softer side -- who's going to hear them? if it's just you working on your/your band's music, who cares? reach over and turn the knob up. if you're actually trying to create an album that you can sell, then find yourself someone who knows what he's doing (i.e. a mastering engineer). they do a hell of a lot more than just making your tracks louder, and if you want a product that actually sounds good and cohesive, you're going to need proper mastering.
#12
Quote by Beefmo
You should not be giving out advice, you are a musician that has caught onto a bandwagon that knows nothing about audio engineering. Please refrain from informing people on a subject you know nothing about in the future.

You don't know me and you don't know anything about me. I've been an engineer for over a decade, and also, bandwagon? I don't know what bandwagon you're referring to, and I wonder if you do either, or if that just sounded like something snippy to say.
#13
Beefmo, i am gonna argue with you


you don't need compression to glue your tracks. you'd do that in your mastering stage with the limiting, harmonic enrichment, etc.not your mixing stage. if you need to use a compressor to make it stick even while mixing, go back and check your tracks.


i totally 100% agree with climbhazard on the other hand


but i guess thats also agreeing with you.
#15
Quote by Matthias King
You don't know me and you don't know anything about me. I've been an engineer for over a decade, and also, bandwagon? I don't know what bandwagon you're referring to, and I wonder if you do either, or if that just sounded like something snippy to say.


He has a point though, what you sad about limiters was a big enough generalization to be considered flat out wrong, limiters don't severely mess up your dynamics unless you use them at fairly extreme settings.

However, beefmo is wrong when he says that good records are limited almost to the point of clipping, that works for certain types of EDM and metal, otherwise it sounds like ass.
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#16
Quote by Kid_Thorazine
He has a point though, what you sad about limiters was a big enough generalization to be considered flat out wrong, limiters don't severely mess up your dynamics unless you use them at fairly extreme settings.

However, beefmo is wrong when he says that good records are limited almost to the point of clipping, that works for certain types of EDM and metal, otherwise it sounds like ass.

I wasn't making generalizations about compression and limiting so much as about the way they're applied to bad-sounding extremes on a lot of modern recordings.

Arrogantly, he would paint me as someone who is new to recording, and who doesn't know what compression really is or how to use it. Sadly, he is quite wrong on both accounts.

If his stance is that this practice doesn't exist of making records louder and louder and louder over the years, dynamic range shrinking and shrinking all the time, and some modern mixes containing squared off peaks and audible digital distortion in some cases, all for the sake of loudness, then it's a waste of time to even try to discuss.

My point was simply that it seems very often that rather than asking, "how do I make my mixes sound good?" people will instead ask "how do I make my mixes really loud?"

To me, that seems like a pretty fundamental problem, but if you disagree and think that loudness trumps good sound, then do whatever you like.
#17
Quote by Matthias King
I wasn't making generalizations about compression and limiting so much as about the way they're applied to bad-sounding extremes on a lot of modern recordings.

Arrogantly, he would paint me as someone who is new to recording, and who doesn't know what compression really is or how to use it. Sadly, he is quite wrong on both accounts.

If his stance is that this practice doesn't exist of making records louder and louder and louder over the years, dynamic range shrinking and shrinking all the time, and some modern mixes containing squared off peaks and audible digital distortion in some cases, all for the sake of loudness, then it's a waste of time to even try to discuss.

My point was simply that it seems very often that rather than asking, "how do I make my mixes sound good?" people will instead ask "how do I make my mixes really loud?"

To me, that seems like a pretty fundamental problem, but if you disagree and think that loudness trumps good sound, then do whatever you like.


I don't presume to know anything about you or your circumstances, but the implication of your post was that compression and limiting was bad (without implication that you meant in the hands of an amateur), whilst I agree that they can sound bad if mistreated, I don't like the fact that you encouraged the OP to overlook them as he was interested in the mixing and mastering process - get a professional to do it? What sort of advice is that to someone who perhaps wants to learn a little bit more about something they care about - and that could help them along their way. I'm sorry but encouraging ignorance is a very amateur thing to do - regardless of how long you've spent doing AE.

I am not about square peaks, I merely meant to say that clipping is the ultimate cardinal sin, you can definitely get away with square peaks in some genres as aforementioned, but you can see I am not lying when I say this as in my original post I pointed out Chinese Democracy as a "well limited" album, Chinese Democracy is very tastefully compressed and limited for modern standards and something to aspire to in the world of AE.

Ryan, that sounds like you are all about gluing your mixes together at the mastering stage - this is ok if you are doing your own mastering, but if you're having to rely on other people to fix your incoherent mix then its not as professional, getting a mix to glue before mastering is more professional imho.

I did not mean to mislead the OP into thinking that loudness = good, and indeed I never tried, but I think it is wrong to encourage ignorance on a subject he wishes to know about.
#18
Quote by Beefmo
I don't presume to know anything about you or your circumstances, but the implication of your post was that compression and limiting was bad (without implication that you meant in the hands of an amateur), whilst I agree that they can sound bad if mistreated, I don't like the fact that you encouraged the OP to overlook them as he was interested in the mixing and mastering process - get a professional to do it? What sort of advice is that to someone who perhaps wants to learn a little bit more about something they care about - and that could help them along their way. I'm sorry but encouraging ignorance is a very amateur thing to do - regardless of how long you've spent doing AE.

I am not about square peaks, I merely meant to say that clipping is the ultimate cardinal sin, you can definitely get away with square peaks in some genres as aforementioned, but you can see I am not lying when I say this as in my original post I pointed out Chinese Democracy as a "well limited" album, Chinese Democracy is very tastefully compressed and limited for modern standards and something to aspire to in the world of AE.

Ryan, that sounds like you are all about gluing your mixes together at the mastering stage - this is ok if you are doing your own mastering, but if you're having to rely on other people to fix your incoherent mix then its not as professional, getting a mix to glue before mastering is more professional imho.

I did not mean to mislead the OP into thinking that loudness = good, and indeed I never tried, but I think it is wrong to encourage ignorance on a subject he wishes to know about.

I wasn't trying to encourage ignorance. I was only trying to make the point that loudness shouldn't be considered as important as it has become these days, and that mastering used to be about a lot more than just making things really loud.

Chinese Democracy may sound good, I don't know, I've never listened to any of it, and that's fine. But there are albums out there that were mastered not by amateurs but by professionals, yet are still pushed way beyond what is reasonable and sound awful. Death Magnetic comes to mind.

Anyway, everyone is free to do whatever they want, and being that I know there will be people coming into the thread giving advice on what limiters to use and "default master buss chain A" and so on and so forth, I wanted to offer another opinion; that loudness isn't as important as it seems. And as I stated, it's just my opinion. I just wanted to offer it.