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#1
Just a question from pure curiosity.

How loud do most of you shoot for with your masters?/ feel that others should aim for?

A year or so ago I was always wanting to get my music as crazy loud as something you'd hear on the radio, but I sort of re-considered that when I got more into it all.
Because music is supposed to be dynamic.
Can you imagine listening to a classical composition that has been slammed with compressors and brickwalled to death?
Sure, different sounds for different styles.. But still. Sometimes it can sound horrible as well. (Californication anyone?)

If it's loud enough to enjoy and still sound good then I don't see much of a reason to go any higher.
If I want it louder I can turn my volume knob up a whole half inch more. It really isn't complicated.

What about you?
Do you feel it's necessary to get music as loud as the major labels do?
I've noticed a lot of indie labels like StandBy Records (Dot Dot Curve, Black Veil Brides, Emarosa) have masters that are a good bit lower in volume. It isn't something I ever noticed until making a direct comparison. But it seems it's like that from everyone excluding the major labels.
..And it was plenty loud enough I'd say.

How do you feel on the subject?
Fight in the loudness war or fight against it?
Last edited by TechnicolorType at Apr 5, 2011,
#3
I pretty much slam my 2 buss until it's the tiniest bit noticeable then back off. If the mix is well-balanced getting commercial volume isn't too much of a problem while still retaining the clarity of the original mix.

I do think it's necessary to get commercial level perceived volume because to the average listener, louder is always better.
#4
I compress and limit heavily on the master buss. Never to the point of distorsion like on Death magnetic but I do bring things up pretty high. It's not quite up to commercial standards but people expect a certain loudness these days.
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#5
I compress quite a lot on my drums and bass tracks, but a lot less of the other tracks. I compress the everloving shit out of the master, but never to level of major label comercial mixes, because it doesn't really suit the style of music I play (punk/rock/pop) and I just plain don't like the sound.
#6
I try to go as loud as I can really. Can never really go that high without clipping though.
I think just because it's loud doesn't mean it's not dynamic though.

I'd like to be able to match my own material to other stuff on my Zen, cause constantly hitting the volume control is a pain in the ass, and then you forget and go to something that's really loud and your ears get blown off.
#7
I'm guilty of slamming the master bus most of the time. But you're right, it does depend on context. Most of my mixes are of the "big guitars" variety. The reason is that it isn't ME that I'm making recordings for. I make recordings for OTHERS to listen to, and the culture being what it is, OTHERS will complain if the mix of their song (or even my song) isn't as loud as what they are used to. Without saying it, their complaint basically translates to "it's amateur, because if it was professional, it would sound more like the other professional mixes."

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#8
I'll shave anywhere from 3 to 6db of peaks off with a limiter. I've tried compression too, but I always end up bypassing it and liking the mix better without it.
#9
I always listen to other songs to compare the loudness and adjust according to that.
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#10
A good middle-ground

Also, this wholly depends on what kind of music it is.

In acoustic stuff I'll leave the dynamics as much as possible and in metal, I like a wall of sound
Last edited by xFilth at Apr 5, 2011,
#11
I guess I didn't answer the rest of the questions. On brickwall limiting: I'm pretty much against it. Everyone has a volume knob on their cd player. If they want it louder they can turn it up themselves. How can you spend all that time and money making a great sounding recording to in the end effectively run the whole mix through a distortion box? I don't mind bus compression if done properly (probably why I don't do it myself- or perhaps I don't have a nice enough stereo compressor) but I don't like mixes squashed to death.

Here's a question for you all:

How loud are you when you shoot?
#12
On my mixes, i aim for around -3dB on the master bus and try not to use limiters alot but hey it happens lol, I like alot of dynamics though so try to leave some headroom. . . . .

Its very difficult to get a great sounding mix loud

Its all in the texture of the sound.

Maximum illusion/Minimum Voltage

Not much today though, meters are slammed hard haha.

Good luck.
Last edited by smokeysteve22 at Apr 5, 2011,
#13
I range from -3dB to -.3dB it depends on the type of music. I try to make sure there is a good amount of dynamics though (especially in my instrumental music) so I don't compress a lot. So in future if you ever listen to any of my instrumentals and it is super quite then a shit ton of noise comes in and you shit yourself I am sorry :p

EDIT: I should clarify I don't compress on the master....actually most of the time my master track is usually pretty dry for the most part (occasionaly an EQ or compressor/limiter) I usually do individual track compression and such...
Last edited by FireHawk at Apr 5, 2011,
#14
i generally try to limit it to -0.3 / -0.5 with a little compression as needed to balance everything tightly and throw a brickwall on at the end and add gain until the loudest point of the song hits my peak. i do like to have a wide dynamic range but i need to also make sure its loud enough.

that being said i'm still learning
#15
I do rely on compressors a fair amount, but I try to leave a fair amount of dynamic range in there. My stuff is basically a fusion of classical/rock/techno, so you can think of it as a mastering balance too: still loud (like rock), but not without its quieter moments (sort of like classical. Not nearly as much, though)
#16
i dont typically worry about the overall level of my mix, because most of them dont go anywhere outside my computer. i get the whole thing even sounding with the dynamics i want, then bump the volume up so it never gets above -1 or -2 dB on the master track. on stuff that i ask other people to listen to, i tend to work with the compressor a bit more, but i prefer the dynamics to over doing it.
#18
Loudness have pretty high priority for me, lately i've been compressing most of my tracks, i sidechain a lof of stuff (pads, basslines etc.) to the kick drum, i lowpass everything, no shit shows up in my music under 40hz so you can crank it more, then i multiband compress and limit it at the mastering stage. It even influence my arrangments and instrument tone selections. I have to say that i learn a lot of stuff with every new "finished song" i make, for example i realised the usefulness of multi band compression only a week ago. Deadmau5 can still be louder so i have some shit to do.
Or Daft Punk on Homework but i think that is because of the ear piercing amount of highs (or my stuff is too dark) and relatively low track count on most songs so individual instruments can be louder.
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Last edited by Daneeka at Apr 6, 2011,
#19
Quote by Daneeka
Or Daft Punk on Homework but i think that is because of the ear piercing amount of highs (or my stuff is too dark).
Yep. There's quite the difference between actual volume and volume perceived.
#20
Also, if you don't already, look for unwanted peaks, especially in the lower frequencies. You can sometimes raise the overall volume of the mix by a dB or two without squashing anything
#21
I can get my latest mix to -6 RMS without any major pumping or squashing on the master. So unnecessarily loud, haahaha.
#22
-12 to -9 if i care about quality

if its just for a shitty youtube clip or joke project or something i go for a little bit louder

i also think dynamics are overrated
#23
^ do you bring it up any after that?

also on an unrelated note, does anyone know where i can find any good resources on actual vs percieved volume. i've googled it and not had much luck. ive read before that you want the 2 to match as closely as possible but im having issues with that. its one of the last things im trying to learn thats not being easy. i could go get lessons at a pro studio but those are $70 an hour.
#24
Quote by z4twenny
^ do you bring it up any after that?

also on an unrelated note, does anyone know where i can find any good resources on actual vs percieved volume. i've googled it and not had much luck. ive read before that you want the 2 to match as closely as possible but im having issues with that. its one of the last things im trying to learn thats not being easy. i could go get lessons at a pro studio but those are $70 an hour.


You might be thinking of peak vs rms levels? Volume is always perceived. What you're doing by putting a limiter on the master bus is bringing down the maximum peak level of the material and bringing up the rms level.
#26
I put it pretty loud with a bit of breathing room. I figure if the person wants to listen to it loud, they'll turn it up themselves.
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#27
Quote by Kivarenn82
I put it pretty loud with a bit of breathing room. I figure if the person wants to listen to it loud, they'll turn it up themselves.


How exactly do you got about doing this? I find usually you get one or the other.
#28
Quote by FireHawk
How exactly do you got about doing this? I find usually you get one or the other.


keep in mind i'm a hobbyist recorder.. but, when i turn it up, i just don't turn it up all the way. If i can see maybe a few transients clip but most of it stays below the threshold, then i figure that should be fine. If its not quite loud enough, then I'll do a couple passes of very light compression and and volume increases until i'm satisfied.

I'm betting the real recording engineers have a better/easier process about it.
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#30
Parallel compression is a good way of getting mixes louder in a less-noticeable way. As for pumping artifacts people are mentioning... obviously really heavy compression will do this anyway, but try rolling off on the release time a little so the compressor cannot 'pump' back up to a non-compressing state quite so quickly.

Anyway, I usually get it sounding good to the point where I think everything is great before I consciously try and make it 'loud'. Then I'll just listen to a few tracks of similar material and bring up the volume a bit towards them, depending on if I think those songs are too hot/could do with a bit more 'oomph' etc. I also use TT Dynamic Range Meter to make sure I have at least 6-8dB average of headroom between Peak and RMS, unless something really does sound quiet (though that would be unlikely).


Oh, and I aim to get my finished mixes (or should I say 'masters'?) to a level that I'm happy with, if it's for me, and to a level that matches the competition, if it's for a client.
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#32
No probs, been a while since I posted here regularly! Need to get back on track with my guide to Sel-production when I get a chance, as things have progressed a little and I bought a replacement hard drive after my old one broke lol.

I also forgot to mention, though I think other people mentioned it, but several stages of lighter compression through different plug-ins/outboard can be less obtrusive than the same combined compression from one plug-in/unit. I like to use Waves CLA-76 going into Logic's compressor set to FET mode, before a stage of EQ to make sure it still sounds good and then a limiter. I also use CLA-76 on the drum buss sometimes, with only a little compression, to gel things together, though I recently acquired the API-2500 series comp. that I was told is pretty nice for getting the different elements of a kit to sit nicely with each other.

Other than that, I think most of my processing that gives my mixes their loudness actually comes in part of my tone-shaping of individual channels, particularly in heavier mixes where heavy compression of drums/bass and vocals is part of the tone.


Edit: And yet another tip, I use high pass filters like I have OCD for them... literally on pretty much every channel, as it's pointless having low end energy you don't need. I high-pass bass the lowest - depending on the tuning, between 30 and 42Hz usually - then progress up through the channels, with kick usually being treated to one around 50-60Hz, sometimes even higher, and then most other things are around 100Hz or higher.
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Last edited by DisarmGoliath at Apr 9, 2011,
#33
^ thats good to hear, i've actually been doing a lot of what you recommended myself lately. i havent had a chance to tweak with parallel compression but i have been trying to basically compress everything in light stages and i've been noticing a definite improvement in quality. im still trying to figure out how to get a super tight low end sheen between the kick and bass in lower tunings but i have a feeling thats a mix of parallel compression, eq and patience
#34
By the way, how come that if i play some commercial tracks in Reaper, it shows 2-3db over 0db overshoots, sometimes even +5db and i can't really hear them clipping. (those are peaks)
Or in other words if i raise the master volume up to a point where my own mix is peaking around +3-5db, my mix sounds clipped and distorted as hell.

Do they have some "magic headroom"? Or those transients are so fast that i can't hear them clip? Or those peaks happen in the higher frequencies where they mask the harmonics of clipping and/or most of the harmonics of the clipping will be above my hearing range?
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#36
Quote by z4twenny
^ thats good to hear, i've actually been doing a lot of what you recommended myself lately. i havent had a chance to tweak with parallel compression but i have been trying to basically compress everything in light stages and i've been noticing a definite improvement in quality. im still trying to figure out how to get a super tight low end sheen between the kick and bass in lower tunings but i have a feeling thats a mix of parallel compression, eq and patience

A few things that might help with the last bit you mention: Find a compressor that allows a 'keyed sidechain input', in other words is triggered by an external signal, and then put it on the bass, with the kick drum selected as the key input. This way your bass can stay loud, but is ducked to your taste while the kick hits. Then you can get both louder with fewer issues of competition.

Another thing is to EQ the low end of your kick almost in reverse to your bass - basically boost the kick where you cut the bass, and vice versa. It's up to you how you do it, and depends on the genre, but for heavy rock and metal I prefer to have the bass as the lowest element of the mix, and have the drums above it. So I heavily compress the bass so it won't eat up too much headroom, then try and keep it in the range of 35-55Hz, cut it around 60 where I have a steep HPF on the kick, and then boost it again around 70-85 Hz with the kick cut there; then I have a boost on the kick around 90-105Hz (typically, so remember to experiment with all these frequencies I list as they won't be the same for all mixes) so the bass is cut there, and then the mid of the kick is cut quite a lot from 120-130Hz onwards, with a huge chunk taken out from 200-500Hz, so the bass can be boosted there to blend with the guitars better.


Quote by Daneeka
By the way, how come that if i play some commercial tracks in Reaper, it shows 2-3db over 0db overshoots, sometimes even +5db and i can't really hear them clipping. (those are peaks)
Or in other words if i raise the master volume up to a point where my own mix is peaking around +3-5db, my mix sounds clipped and distorted as hell.

Do they have some "magic headroom"? Or those transients are so fast that i can't hear them clip? Or those peaks happen in the higher frequencies where they mask the harmonics of clipping and/or most of the harmonics of the clipping will be above my hearing range?

Are you sure you have Reaper's master fader set to 0dB? It sounds very odd that a commercial mix could clip so heavily... you're definitely not applying any gain to it either? The amount you've stated is waaaay too much to be Reaper determining several consecutive samples of 0dB as being a peak beyond 0dBFS.
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Last edited by DisarmGoliath at Apr 9, 2011,
#37
^ that was my idea as well, that the preview volume was set with gain added to it.

thanks again for those suggestions, i have a small host of digital compressors and will see if i have one that has a keyed sidechain input and give that a shot. i'm basically going to copypasta everything you've suggested and give it a shot before the end of the weekend and see what happens.
#38
Haha no problem, if you need any help with it feel free to PM me. You'll be looking for a drop-down menu with the title Sidechain or Input, most likely, on most compressors.
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#39
thanks man, i'll definitely give it a shot. im pretty confident in my high end mixing but the low end has taken a lot longer to get the hang of and im ready to start recording my cd. BUT i don't want to worry about mixing it right once im done recording it. nothing would suck more to me to have 12-15 songs waiting to be mixed and me sitting there twiddling my thumbs or worse, making bad mixes
#40
It's all good, I enjoy sharing stuff I've learnt from forums in the past

Anyway, here's the sidechaining process in Logic, which is hopefully similar to with other compressors:


Ignore the 'Preferences' thing, must have had mouse hovering



After clicking 'Sidechain', you get a choice of inputs from your tracks



And there it is showing the Kick (Audio 1) as the sidechain input.



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Last edited by DisarmGoliath at Apr 9, 2011,
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