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Thread: Can't get songs loud enough!

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    Can't get songs loud enough!

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    I never use to have this problem before but now I can't even get songs anywhere close to radio level without it COMPLETELY distorting.

    I'm using Izotope Ozone 7 for mastering.

    Any tips?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeatsbyDre11 View Post
    I never use to have this problem before but now I can't even get songs anywhere close to radio level without it COMPLETELY distorting.

    I'm using Izotope Ozone 7 for mastering.

    Any tips?
    Hi my friend. Part of making it loud is knowing how to release some of that pressure that is building up as you are making it louder. If you take the whole mix stereo track and maximize its loudness a lot with some limiter like the one you are using, then chances are it cannot cope with that much limiting without distorting.

    Working with the dynamics of a mix involves handling it end-to-end, meaning all the way from arranging all the way to the final master. You cannot skip it and then in the final stages of mastering push the loudness up a lot with a limiter. It cannot sound good like this, because the limiter basically eats up the signal at random frequencies until it distorts.

    Instead, what you should do is already when you arrange, produce an arrangement with short and long term dynamics in mind. So for instance you might want a slow compressor release on an electric guitar but now this has to integrate with the rest so that you get a good dynamic footprint in the recording. This means you can totally mess up things already during the arrange stage and have a hard time with the dynamics later on.

    Therefore often times it is really the session players that know how to express themselves dynamically for the track to come out great sounding and when not the producer should ensure it.

    In other words, good dynamics is something you build from start to end, when so you can easily match radio level loudness with a good sounding result.

    Also keep in mind that it is to some degree the size of elements in the mix that contributes to the perceived loudness. If your long term dynamics are such that all elements in the mix are small, then it is not going to sound that great when you maximize it. It also does not sound that great when a few sound sources play over all other sound sources.

    So you simply need to work yourself up to good dynamics by understanding how to put it all together. But this can be something an engineer can be very unaware of how it comes together and how it works. With some experience you are learning how to distribute your dynamics work and integrate it with your overall production workflow. It is a feeling of coming home when you finally master the art of dynamics processing.

    Also, do not underestimate the importance of having the right hardware and monitoring situation for the job.

    All of these factors (and more) play a role in getting good quality at some desired loudness level.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-18-2017 at 01:00 PM.

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    Wow thats a very detailed answer. Thanks.
    I feel like certain sounds are to loud in my mixes which also is adding to the distortion when I boost volume with a limiter.
    I have been using reference mixes to try and match my mix with their mix. Do you have any tips for picking the right reference mix?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeatsbyDre11 View Post
    Wow thats a very detailed answer. Thanks.
    I feel like certain sounds are to loud in my mixes which also is adding to the distortion when I boost volume with a limiter.
    I have been using reference mixes to try and match my mix with their mix. Do you have any tips for picking the right reference mix?
    Thanks, I am here to help. One way of dealing with this is to review what air/silence you have within the arrangement and how sound sources are in sync relative to each other, then work with the arrangement/dynamics accordingly. As you know when all sound sources in the arrangement hit with a high velocity all at the same time, you get a big spike. This might create a big mix peak-rms ratio. If you then still need lots of more loudness, these spikes might turn into distortion because the software limiter might not react quickly enough, so you will have samples that cut through the ceiling. To deal with this, think of it like you need a few layers of protection against the negative impact those peaks could have on the mix.

    Yes, you should use reference mixes that feel "right", meaning that when you listen to them it is as if something within you falls into place. It should give you a feeling of "lighter". This gives you an emotionally true reference that is what you personally find is sweet sounding, because of how it feels when you hear its sound.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-19-2017 at 02:31 AM.

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    Also for a simple starting point: check your individual tracks with a spectrum analyzer - I'll bet there's a lot of unnecessary low end in almost every track. Solution: highpass the shit outta everything (no, not really, do it with consideration and care, but you'll probably end up freeing a lot of headroom which in turn enables you to make it louder).
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    Quote Originally Posted by krushing View Post
    Also for a simple starting point: check your individual tracks with a spectrum analyzer - I'll bet there's a lot of unnecessary low end in almost every track. Solution: highpass the shit outta everything (no, not really, do it with consideration and care, but you'll probably end up freeing a lot of headroom which in turn enables you to make it louder).
    Yes, below 700 Hz there is usually some low end clutter that can be removed with EQ to make the whole mix a bit smoother in the low end. This makes both the short and long term dynamics in the high end a bit edgy so it is good to combine it with a multiband compressor and/or de-esser and/or EQ that targets the highs. But usually these moves are better than leaving it untouched. Removing uncomfortable low end clutter usually works. One should be careful not to remove the warmth though. But rounding off the high end usually adds rather than takes away warmth.
    Last edited by DarkRed; 09-19-2017 at 01:40 PM.

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    Gain staging, High pass brickwall EQ on everything that isn't supposed to be in the lower frequency spectrum (bass), Low pass bell-cut EQ on stuff that might take to much space in the higher spectrum (hihats, snares, vocals, synths etc.). The key as already mention before is balance and dynamics. Pan your sounds and instruments slighty to create a wider picture. Keep the bass and vocals mono though, that is usually the golden rule.

    Also, don't push one limiter too hard in your master-chain. Leave the izotope maximizer (limiter) at a low rate and add another limiter afterwards and push it a little bit further like Fab-L or FerricTDS.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Trout Beatz; 09-22-2017 at 08:34 AM.

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    Because fighting the "loudness war" is a very trendy cause, behing loud and clean isn't a well documented domain. It isn't an easy job. That's why mastering engineers are paid for.
    Mastering 2 per minute - 7/24/365 - 1 Hour turnaround - Free test - Try now
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