#1
I can't seem to make my songs as loud as professionally produced songs are. On each track I cut frequencies rather than boosting and that helped a little, but the song's maximum volume without clipping is still significantly quieter than other songs. Also, I'm not talking about making quieter parts louder, I'm talking about bring the song's volume up as a whole. Any help?
#3
Do you have a compressor? Either a plug-in or an actual piece of equipment will help. The compressor lets you bring up the softer parts of a song or instrument, while helping to prevent peaks from clipping. I use an ART Pro VLA II with my Presonus 16.4.2 StudioLive mixer to compress any part of a song, or the entire song. I also have access to plug-in compressors through my recording software.

Edit: In other words, a compressor makes your music sound louder, since the average audio level can be brought up higher. Kind of like those in-your-face commercials you hear on the radio and TV.
Last edited by KG6_Steven at Feb 18, 2012,
#4
Quote by professorlamp
Master from the loudest part of the song, a clean mix helps a lot and remove any unwanted bass as it is a massive headroom hog.


Yeah, I cut a ton on everything from like 30-40 Hz and below, on the more trebly instruments, ilke high synths, I cut from like 80 and below and that helped but I'm still not able to boost it up another dB so it's a decent volume.
#6
Quote by professorlamp
maybe post a clip up so we can listen to it?

Alright, should be up in about 5 minutes or so. It's a soft hip hop song.
#7
ok, it's up on my profile. On the kick drum, you'll probably hear a little crunch at the end of each hit that sounds like distortion due to clipping, but thats actually how the sound of the kick drum is, so don't worry about that.
#9
maybe filter out the extreme subs from the kick and clip the peaks off the clap/snare, some of this stuff can probably be pretty heavily high passed without any major side effects, just make sure you don't go too far with it.
#10
Quote by professorlamp
maybe filter out the extreme subs from the kick and clip the peaks off the clap/snare, some of this stuff can probably be pretty heavily high passed without any major side effects, just make sure you don't go too far with it.


I have filtered out the subs but I'll clip the peaks on the snare. And can someone give me the lowdown on high passes and low passes? I've never really known how to use them
#12
Ok I've taken closer look and it seems that the kick and the snare are definitely holding the volume back. It's just that every time each of these hit, the volume peaks immensely, but I can't figure out a way so that they don't do this without them being too quiet. EQing a little more has helped some, but I don't want to EQ too much to sacrifice the tone of the kick and snare.
#13
Honestly, unless you're really very good at mastering, I'd say don't even worry about trying to make your recordings as loud as pro stuff - that way lies ruin. You're already talking about sacrificing the quality of your mix in order to achieve an effect that can be similarly achieved by the end user with a simple turn of a volume knob.

Truth is that professional mastering studios have been trying to outdo each other in terms of 'loudness' for the last few decades, and as a result of this the techniques and equipment required to reach said level of loudness without severely compromising mix quality are at a pretty advanced level.

P.S - your kick and snare will look like that on the waveform, since they rely on an extremely loud transient to be heard in a mix. A good way to get a little more juice out of these with a little less level would be to compress with a slow attack (~100ms) and a quick release. you can pretty harsh with these if you want that sound - but as always use your ears! However, those transients will probably still look quite pronounced!
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#14
Quote by ItsOnlyGNR
Ok I've taken closer look and it seems that the kick and the snare are definitely holding the volume back. It's just that every time each of these hit, the volume peaks immensely, but I can't figure out a way so that they don't do this without them being too quiet. EQing a little more has helped some, but I don't want to EQ too much to sacrifice the tone of the kick and snare.


Then compress your drums, that way you get less wild peaks.
#15
I honestly don't understand compression and I've really only used it on vocals... I'm trying to use it on the snare, and yeah, it brings down the peaks, but it makes it quieter as a whole and I have to bring the volume on it back up and then it's basically right back to where it was to begin with.
#16
Quote by ItsOnlyGNR
I honestly don't understand compression and I've really only used it on vocals... I'm trying to use it on the snare, and yeah, it brings down the peaks, but it makes it quieter as a whole and I have to bring the volume on it back up and then it's basically right back to where it was to begin with.


Well let me give you a quick explanation.

Compressor attenuates the sounds from a certain Threshold point. When the volume goes pass the threshold point the compressor lower that volume depending of your RATIO. So basicly it helps create a sound that is more even by reducing the dynamic range.

To make up for the loss of dB, there a Make-up GAIN section usualy so you can up the few Db you've loss while still keep the compressed sound ....compressed

Be careful with your Attack and release setting, for drums you want a Fast attack and a kinda slow release. Otherwise you might get a ''pumping'' sound that doesn't sound so great.


Hope that helped, I'm not the best at explaining stuff.
Last edited by ShevanelFlip at Feb 18, 2012,
#17
Quote by ShevanelFlip
Well let me give you a quick explanation.

Compressor attenuates the sounds from a certain Threshold point. When the volume goes pass the threshold point the compressor lower that volume depending of your RATIO. So basicly it helps create a sound that is more even by reducing the dynamic range.

To make up for the loss of dB, there a Make-up GAIN section usualy so you can up the few Db you've loss while still keep the compressed sound ....compressed

Be careful with your Attack and release setting, for drums you want a Fast attack and a kinda slow release. Otherwise you might get a ''pumping'' sound that doesn't sound so great.


Hope that helped, I'm not the best at explaining stuff.


It did help... But it still doesn't really work out for me when I do it to the individual tracks, I don't know what I'm doing wrong... So is the solution to do it to the entire mix, and that will even out the kick and snare?
#18
Quote by ItsOnlyGNR
It did help... But it still doesn't really work out for me when I do it to the individual tracks, I don't know what I'm doing wrong... So is the solution to do it to the entire mix, and that will even out the kick and snare?


Check around there might be some presets settings, that a good way to learn what is suitable for each instruments.

And Compressing to much will take out some of the dynamics of the song, kinda like most pop music sounds. But generally I wouldn't do it on each instrument. but You might wanna add one on your master track in the mastering phase(after the mix).
#20
I still just don't get it. I even took it to the extreme, I put the Threshold at -40 dB, the ratio at like 6:1, the attack at 0.01 ms, and yeah, the kick gets a lot quieter. But once again, I have to bring the gain up, and it's just right back to how it was before the compression, sometimes peaking even higher than before.
#22
Quote by FireHawk
It got quiet because at -40dB you "engaged" your compressor. So now above -40dB it takes 6dB to move it up 1dB. At 0.01ms is how long it takes for it to compress.


Ok, I think I get it now... So let's say my electric keyboard track is consistently right around -20 dB and I want to even the rest of the tracks out with that track... So I would put the compressor for my kick and snare to engage at -20??
EDIT: But what isn't make sense to me, is that even though the keyboard is around -20 dB on it's compressor, the kick and snare are only around -40 dB, but yet they are still louder than the keyboard? How does this make sense
Last edited by ItsOnlyGNR at Feb 18, 2012,
#23
Quote by ShevanelFlip
Well let me give you a quick explanation.

Compressor attenuates the sounds from a certain Threshold point. When the volume goes pass the threshold point the compressor lower that volume depending of your RATIO. So basicly it helps create a sound that is more even by reducing the dynamic range.

To make up for the loss of dB, there a Make-up GAIN section usualy so you can up the few Db you've loss while still keep the compressed sound ....compressed

Be careful with your Attack and release setting, for drums you want a Fast attack and a kinda slow release. Otherwise you might get a ''pumping'' sound that doesn't sound so great.


Hope that helped, I'm not the best at explaining stuff.


Fast attack and a slow release? On drums? I would say the opposite actually. You don't really need to worry about pumping that much with drums since they are only playing for a split second each time they're hit. Pumping is really a problem with an instrument that is playing continually, as overly harsh compression settings can cause the compressor to clamp down too aggressively on certain parts of a sound (certain notes, or palm muting on guitar, for example), and make them actually appear quieter than they should. Drums make sound intermittently, not continually, so we don't really see this effect (this is assuming you're compressing individual drums, not the whole kit, which is a different matter).

Imagine it this way. The part of the waveform that gives your drum its punch and attack is the transient - the big spike. If you get rid of that, your drum is going to sound much quieter, and disappear into the mix very quickly. By setting a fast attack, this is exactly what you're doing, the compressor jumps into action straight away and slices the transient of your drum hit clean away.

If you set a slow attack, however, the compressor won't jump into action until after the main transient has been let through. It will act instead on the decay portion of the sound. You won't save as much headroom, but you'll preserve the sound of your drum, and be left with a sound that cuts through the mix much better without needing so much of a gain boost. You'll want to set the release to auto, or to something pretty fast, because otherwise the compressor may stay engaged for too long and take the transient off the next hit.

You'll want to set the Threshold low enough so that it catches the delay portion of the sound (don't set it by the transient, since we're not compressing that bit!), and set the Ratio where you think it sounds best (have make-up gain switched on so you can make a fair comparison). Usually I'll then take make-up gain off and apply the amount of gain I think is right at this stage, but it's really up to you.

Once you've done all this, you should find the drums are a little punchier. Here's the clever bit - you should find you can be a bit more aggressive with your mix bus compression now. Because each drum hit isn't 'lingering' for so long, you'll hear less pumping on your track when you compress the whole thing together. So you can compress your mix harder and squeeze a little bit more loudness out of it.

However, what I'd really say is don't worry about it so much. This is pretty difficult stuff to grasp at first, and really no amateur stuff is as loud as the stuff coming out of professional studios (or at least from experienced engineers). When it is, it's pretty easy to hear that sacrifices have been made to the sound quality to get it there. My advice is to get it sounding how you like it then let the listener turn up the volume. The end result will be much more pleasing to listen to.
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#24
Quote by Daemos
Fast attack and a slow release? On drums? I would say the opposite actually. You don't really need to worry about pumping that much with drums since they are only playing for a split second each time they're hit. Pumping is really a problem with an instrument that is playing continually, as overly harsh compression settings can cause the compressor to clamp down too aggressively on certain parts of a sound (certain notes, or palm muting on guitar, for example), and make them actually appear quieter than they should. Drums make sound intermittently, not continually, so we don't really see this effect (this is assuming you're compressing individual drums, not the whole kit, which is a different matter).

Imagine it this way. The part of the waveform that gives your drum its punch and attack is the transient - the big spike. If you get rid of that, your drum is going to sound much quieter, and disappear into the mix very quickly. By setting a fast attack, this is exactly what you're doing, the compressor jumps into action straight away and slices the transient of your drum hit clean away.

If you set a slow attack, however, the compressor won't jump into action until after the main transient has been let through. It will act instead on the decay portion of the sound. You won't save as much headroom, but you'll preserve the sound of your drum, and be left with a sound that cuts through the mix much better without needing so much of a gain boost. You'll want to set the release to auto, or to something pretty fast, because otherwise the compressor may stay engaged for too long and take the transient off the next hit.

You'll want to set the Threshold low enough so that it catches the delay portion of the sound (don't set it by the transient, since we're not compressing that bit!), and set the Ratio where you think it sounds best (have make-up gain switched on so you can make a fair comparison). Usually I'll then take make-up gain off and apply the amount of gain I think is right at this stage, but it's really up to you.

Once you've done all this, you should find the drums are a little punchier. Here's the clever bit - you should find you can be a bit more aggressive with your mix bus compression now. Because each drum hit isn't 'lingering' for so long, you'll hear less pumping on your track when you compress the whole thing together. So you can compress your mix harder and squeeze a little bit more loudness out of it.

However, what I'd really say is don't worry about it so much. This is pretty difficult stuff to grasp at first, and really no amateur stuff is as loud as the stuff coming out of professional studios (or at least from experienced engineers). When it is, it's pretty easy to hear that sacrifices have been made to the sound quality to get it there. My advice is to get it sounding how you like it then let the listener turn up the volume. The end result will be much more pleasing to listen to.


Ok thanks. I was messing around though, and I found that when I just exported the song and pulled it up into another project to master it, compressed it there, then normalized, it got somewhat close to a professional volume. I also noticed that while comparing it to another professionally produced song, my kick was a little too loud, even for hip hop, and this is probably because my headphones don't emphasize the low end too much so I was overcompensating. So I think taking what you said and then lowering the volume of the kick, I should be able to get it up to a decent volume.
#25
Three questions. 1) How long have you been mixing? 2) Are you mixing through any mastering-type plugins on your master out? 3) What are your reference tracks?

Learning to mix takes a long time. I've been at it for a number of years and I wouldn't call my mixes more than passable (they're certainly not up to commercial standards). One thing I've learned when it comes to styles that don't really have a "natural sound" like electronica, dance and some types of pop, you can get away with some serious EQ work to fit things together. If you're just cutting your high lead synth at 80-100Hz you're still using up a lot of headroom that by leaving in frequencies that, in the context of the mix, won't affect the subjective feel of the sound. Cut hard and curt high, most instruments can handle far higher low cuts (in the context of a mix mind you) than mixing beginners think.

Using a simple setup of mastering plugins on your master out is a good way to A/B your mixing. A lot of times the kind of heavy compression and limiting that goes into getting mixes to commercial levels will affect the sound so much that the mix needs to compensate for that. If you can check your mix every now and then by putting the mastering effects on it you'll save yourself a lot of back-and-forth.

Reference tracks and critical listening is everything. If you want to learn mixing you have to listen, listen, and then listen some more. Only when you think you know what kind of sound a certain part has can you try to emulate it and build a mix. Listening will also allow you to identify what really matters in a mix. For any kind of hip-hop that means the vocal and the groove. I don't care how much you love that little arpeggiated part that carries the harmonic structure, if it gets in the way of the vocal and the beat it has to be pared down and made to fit around those two.
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#26
^ +1 That's a fantastic post right there from ebon00.
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#27
Quote by ebon00
Three questions. 1) How long have you been mixing? 2) Are you mixing through any mastering-type plugins on your master out? 3) What are your reference tracks?

Learning to mix takes a long time. I've been at it for a number of years and I wouldn't call my mixes more than passable (they're certainly not up to commercial standards). One thing I've learned when it comes to styles that don't really have a "natural sound" like electronica, dance and some types of pop, you can get away with some serious EQ work to fit things together. If you're just cutting your high lead synth at 80-100Hz you're still using up a lot of headroom that by leaving in frequencies that, in the context of the mix, won't affect the subjective feel of the sound. Cut hard and curt high, most instruments can handle far higher low cuts (in the context of a mix mind you) than mixing beginners think.

Using a simple setup of mastering plugins on your master out is a good way to A/B your mixing. A lot of times the kind of heavy compression and limiting that goes into getting mixes to commercial levels will affect the sound so much that the mix needs to compensate for that. If you can check your mix every now and then by putting the mastering effects on it you'll save yourself a lot of back-and-forth.

Reference tracks and critical listening is everything. If you want to learn mixing you have to listen, listen, and then listen some more. Only when you think you know what kind of sound a certain part has can you try to emulate it and build a mix. Listening will also allow you to identify what really matters in a mix. For any kind of hip-hop that means the vocal and the groove. I don't care how much you love that little arpeggiated part that carries the harmonic structure, if it gets in the way of the vocal and the beat it has to be pared down and made to fit around those two.



I've been mixing for about a year or so now, and just recently started using Logic Pro (I was using Garageband before). As reference tracks, I'm listening to some of Kanye West's songs, because he's my favorite hip hop producer as well as some Mac Miller songs because the hip hop beats I create seem to have that type of vibe, and also because I've noticed that his songs are mixed very very well compared to most others.

And I understand what you're saying about hip hop mixes. But the problem with mine, is that all the instruments are down at a consistent level whereas the kick and snare peak extremely high every time. It's probably because they are clips that I'm using and aren't actually part of an actual kit, because I've noticed that most kits that are on logic pro stay at a decent level as well, not really peaking really high.

However after many hours of obsessing over this, and EQing and re-EQing and compressing and re-compressing, I finally figured out how to bring the levels of the kick and snare down
Last edited by ItsOnlyGNR at Feb 19, 2012,