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Thread: It just doesen't get loud enough (mastering problems)

  1. #11
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    The right kind of loudness does matter. Bad, distorted, squashed = bad.
    But, professional recordings do tend to rely on a sense of volume, amplitude or loudness. The thing that tricks most people up I believe, is perceived loudness, which is about a lot of secrets and tricks in mixing and others in mastering. The goal in my opinion, is "big" versus loud. Everyone who slams their levels to a software limiter is accomplishing loud, but there's a reason why this question will always come up- because the balance to make it appear louder goes to the mix and then the master. Just getting a formula for levels isn't going to help either. General terms- assuming you love the sound of the mix, you will want to understand rms or average levels versus peak levels. Finding a balance from the quiet parts to the loudest parts and accommodating this will help. Next- working with the width of frequency ranges- stereo width on certain instruments and in the low mids can help make the same volume mix sound louder without destroying transients. Compression type- pumping intentionally versus more transparent- sending compression to limiter etc- these are all techniques you'll want to understand to get better results. DIY mastering is going to be best accomplished by practicing your mixing technique more and more. I don't mean that as dismissive but truthful. Mix and master are both art forms and science- and being a pro takes years, but in the meantime learning the basics in why things aren't getting loud enough will help fast track you to your signature sound. Choose whether the lowest lows will be on bass or kick- substitute ranges in the lows to get a blend and keep the volume from peaking on certain frequencies- listen on numerous sources, and then when mastering it helps tremendously to listen to music you like the sound of and help tune your ears to what sounds good about them. If you arent sure keep asking for input til you find "that" sound. If it is urgent you can get help with submitting to sites that give professional input on the mix until you get it where it needs to be. I hope that helps.

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    i would simply boost the gain of your parameters, instead of -8dB for your bass (kick?), try -3-4dB, and -15 to -5dB for the rest, that way your window will be tighter for your mix.

    I haven't downloaded the sample as i don't download unprotected sources, but given your explanation, it seems to me that you would achieve quality and loudness by simply raising your dB Level in your windows.
    https://soundcloud.com/djlfd | Sincerely, Michael K McKeon

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    "enough" for what ?
    Mastering 2 € per minute - 7/24/365 - 1 Hour turnaround - Free test - Try now
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    This Tutorial uses FL Studio Producer Edition, but the basic concepts are there, have a good mix, and you'll have short-work Mastering... It covers "Commercial-Loudness", which is probably what the OP is looking for.

    Last edited by Mike McKeon; 12-12-2017 at 03:21 AM.
    https://soundcloud.com/djlfd | Sincerely, Michael K McKeon

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    It's not a good thing, but loudness is crucial nowadays in electronic dance music (I doesn't mean only "EDM"). If you want to tweak serious loudness you have to sacrifice a lot of things such as dynamism, warmth, clarity.
    But if you want to achieve a profession loudness you have to sacrifice these things first of all:
    - Cut down everything under 200Hz except kick and bassline for sure
    - Choose one "key" bass element: bassline or kick? You can't have strong kick and strong bass. I strongly recommend to use short kicks with aggressive attack and big basses (sidechained)
    - Use very sophisticated compression but very hard brickwall limiting.
    These essential steps gives the basic of loudness, but there are many other important things aka. "tips and tricks how to kill a clean mix".
    I'm not against loudness, we also strive for but I'm not a fan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peril View Post
    Yes I know I can't accomplish the perfect sound just like that, I have only produced for a year and mastered my stuff only for two. All though, if you look at monstercat artists like Tristam, Rogue and Muzzy you can tell they have great talent. Their songs are all in the ideal volume I'm looking for. Tristam has produced for 5 years, Rouge only for 1-2 years.
    Haha Don't let 'em fool ya. Most of those guys usually have someone doing it for them once they get signed. For instance, Alan Walker somehow ended up a genius mixer/masterer/engineer after Sing Me To Sleep was released. And yet Fade's mixing levels were pretty meh. Avicii also had others master his music as well. You don't have to be a master engineer or mixer to make good music.

    Project Reality by Avyde | Free Listening on SoundCloud

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    Fhew, this threads got some life still! [IMG]file:///C:/Users/LOGANM~1/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.png[/IMG]

    Perhaps it would be interesting to mention the mechanics of commonly used "loudness" tools/approaches.

    It short I'm tempted to throw out a general statement: ideally perceived loudness is a thoughtful use of both steady-state dynamic range and musically included balances of silence---this meaning individual tracks and their individual collections of frequencies often need minimally shifting dynamic ranges (SteadyState dynamic movement of frequencies, and ultimately SteadyState dynamic movement of the track's audio output as a whole), AND musical utilization of silence in the song itself (arrangement of track's to aptly project the intended musical story or emotional message as a whole).

    The need for SteadyState (control) of individual dynamic ranges aides the listener’s ability to hear (perceive) individual tracks when played in conjunction with multiple other tracks---this is obvious when dynamic range of specific frequencies dip or rise in/out of the listeners perception in full context, thus our temptation to eq or compress for consistent perceptibility of these inconsistencies. Multi-band comp/limiting is perhaps quickest for this path to SteadyState balance at an individual level, but eq pre/post limiting or (ideally: "and") compression can get you there too. Ideally the MIXER is managing and actualizing these frequency and dynamic swings per track so the mastering engineer can apply full track processing with minimal compression/limiting artifacts. This sounds dull perhaps, as the previous paragraph is essentially saying “mix good and you can master good”…well, devil’s in the details it would seem

    Back to the musical use of SILENCE. this is a bit more straightforward and the song writer/producer perhaps is (and should be, imho) familiar with the notion that CONTRAST has frickin potent artistic power. Absence makes the heart grow fond yez? This does seem so with audio as well, imo. What initially seems perhaps contradictory to my previous rant, I'd like to mention this: balance thy frequencies and dynamic movement, yes indeed, BUT use ur frickin faders too, creating shifting volumes (arguably dynamic range for the song as whole, not at an individual level). Arrange, automate, second guess, automate, blow up speakers, rinse repeat.
    Seriously tho, an example: make your bass seem bloody LOUD, and do it by casually automating the volume down -2db (whatever the song sections need of course) in sections that don’t scream for a rampaging bass line. Follow the song's emotional intent. identify each instrument's IDEAL emotional impact for listeners, and use the ABSENCE of volume (or audio all together, "-inf") through automation. This can be subtle stuff, but if attention is given to all emotional key instruments/tracks it will add up to an accurate trajectory of emotional content and things like RMS, LUFS, DBs etc wont frickin matter because people will FEEL things as was originally hoped. Again, and immediately-former statement aside, your freq and dynamic balance per track will allow your mixbuss or masterbuss limiters/compressors/saturators to squeeze down harder with less freaky downward dynamic shift-artifacts, edging closer to the front lines of the loudness war and their unholy target loudness numbers… so perhaps the cake can be had, and eaten on too...but hey, to each his/her own!
    Best,
    -MadHat

  8. #18
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    Hi MadHat,
    Nice points.
    When I mention perceived loudness, it isn't so much about the dynamic changes in the song (aka making some parts quieter or pausing before profound breaks and chorus etc.) but learning how to control frequencies so they give the perception of bigger, louder, deeper bass, without taking up the actual spectral bandwidth in the process.
    Some people start the process in the mix by hi-passing every track to kill all the subharmonics before slamming the buss comps. I personally prefer not to do so. I personally like to check stems all through the process, compare to some good mix results, tune out some of the muddy range where it isn't helping the mix so it leaves some room for the long waves to take some volume.
    Parallel and dual-stage compression at mix or stem time can make the mastering for loud and big (in a good way) to be more natural, avoid pumping if desired, and get more gain while still having a healthy rms.

    I learned early on in mentoring that the absolute perfect master (which almost never exists) is the one where literally nothing is changed other than balancing final volume and space between tracks on an album. Personally I don't even see it being ideal with orchestral performances- there are always small things that can be improved if the intention is for the benefit of the song.

    So, perceived loudness can be figuring out the low lows that are the most impact-friendly to the specific mix (the key signature, the instrumentation) and which ones are taking up details we aren't really listening to. then, doing the same in the low mids where a lot of volume gets eaten up but depending on the arrangement a lot of that might just be overshadowing things we want to hear better. When messing with the frequencies this way, it's also important to pay attention to the timing elements that go with the frequencies- sometimes making a good boost or cut is nice for the mix, but it was a piece of the puzzle for really slamming snares or an articulation on guitar-musicianship before squeezing of levels :-)

    Hope that adds some food 4 thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by MadHat33 View Post
    Fhew, this threads got some life still! [IMG]file:///C:/Users/LOGANM~1/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.png[/IMG]

    Perhaps it would be interesting to mention the mechanics of commonly used "loudness" tools/approaches.

    It short I'm tempted to throw out a general statement: ideally perceived loudness is a thoughtful use of both steady-state dynamic range and musically included balances of silence---this meaning individual tracks and their individual collections of frequencies often need minimally shifting dynamic ranges (SteadyState dynamic movement of frequencies, and ultimately SteadyState dynamic movement of the track's audio output as a whole), AND musical utilization of silence in the song itself (arrangement of track's to aptly project the intended musical story or emotional message as a whole).

    The need for SteadyState (control) of individual dynamic ranges aides the listener’s ability to hear (perceive) individual tracks when played in conjunction with multiple other tracks---this is obvious when dynamic range of specific frequencies dip or rise in/out of the listeners perception in full context, thus our temptation to eq or compress for consistent perceptibility of these inconsistencies. Multi-band comp/limiting is perhaps quickest for this path to SteadyState balance at an individual level, but eq pre/post limiting or (ideally: "and") compression can get you there too. Ideally the MIXER is managing and actualizing these frequency and dynamic swings per track so the mastering engineer can apply full track processing with minimal compression/limiting artifacts. This sounds dull perhaps, as the previous paragraph is essentially saying “mix good and you can master good”…well, devil’s in the details it would seem

    Back to the musical use of SILENCE. this is a bit more straightforward and the song writer/producer perhaps is (and should be, imho) familiar with the notion that CONTRAST has frickin potent artistic power. Absence makes the heart grow fond yez? This does seem so with audio as well, imo. What initially seems perhaps contradictory to my previous rant, I'd like to mention this: balance thy frequencies and dynamic movement, yes indeed, BUT use ur frickin faders too, creating shifting volumes (arguably dynamic range for the song as whole, not at an individual level). Arrange, automate, second guess, automate, blow up speakers, rinse repeat.
    Seriously tho, an example: make your bass seem bloody LOUD, and do it by casually automating the volume down -2db (whatever the song sections need of course) in sections that don’t scream for a rampaging bass line. Follow the song's emotional intent. identify each instrument's IDEAL emotional impact for listeners, and use the ABSENCE of volume (or audio all together, "-inf") through automation. This can be subtle stuff, but if attention is given to all emotional key instruments/tracks it will add up to an accurate trajectory of emotional content and things like RMS, LUFS, DBs etc wont frickin matter because people will FEEL things as was originally hoped. Again, and immediately-former statement aside, your freq and dynamic balance per track will allow your mixbuss or masterbuss limiters/compressors/saturators to squeeze down harder with less freaky downward dynamic shift-artifacts, edging closer to the front lines of the loudness war and their unholy target loudness numbers… so perhaps the cake can be had, and eaten on too...but hey, to each his/her own!
    Best,
    -MadHat

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeatsByMichaelAngel View Post
    Hi MadHat,
    Nice points.
    When I mention perceived loudness, it isn't so much about the dynamic changes in the song (aka making some parts quieter or pausing before profound breaks and chorus etc.) but learning how to control frequencies so they give the perception of bigger, louder, deeper bass, without taking up the actual spectral bandwidth in the process.
    Some people start the process in the mix by hi-passing every track to kill all the subharmonics before slamming the buss comps. I personally prefer not to do so. I personally like to check stems all through the process, compare to some good mix results, tune out some of the muddy range where it isn't helping the mix so it leaves some room for the long waves to take some volume.
    Parallel and dual-stage compression at mix or stem time can make the mastering for loud and big (in a good way) to be more natural, avoid pumping if desired, and get more gain while still having a healthy rms.

    I learned early on in mentoring that the absolute perfect master (which almost never exists) is the one where literally nothing is changed other than balancing final volume and space between tracks on an album. Personally I don't even see it being ideal with orchestral performances- there are always small things that can be improved if the intention is for the benefit of the song.

    So, perceived loudness can be figuring out the low lows that are the most impact-friendly to the specific mix (the key signature, the instrumentation) and which ones are taking up details we aren't really listening to. then, doing the same in the low mids where a lot of volume gets eaten up but depending on the arrangement a lot of that might just be overshadowing things we want to hear better. When messing with the frequencies this way, it's also important to pay attention to the timing elements that go with the frequencies- sometimes making a good boost or cut is nice for the mix, but it was a piece of the puzzle for really slamming snares or an articulation on guitar-musicianship before squeezing of levels :-)

    Hope that adds some food 4 thought.
    Hello BeatsByMichaelAngel! Perhaps I can dig deeper here with your thoughts in mind

    Yes, I see the use of frequencies for bigger,louder, etc as especially helpful as well! I believe I follow your ideas there. It certainly is tricky achieving balance as a whole while utilizing your mentioned thoughts about bass for "big" and treble for sense of "width/height". If I could mention: for deep bass (parallel, MB, and two-chained comp esp) slamming sub bass frequencies with dynamic control seriously aides achieving audience-chest-rattle with cranked volume---so much fun for all involved haha. And Yes! I see cutting sub-harmonics and frequencies as often no good and takes far too much time when done with detailed precision. I think this fad with HPF needs to go away as "EQ induced phase shift" and "the need for frequency fundamentals" are not getting as much press/talk as quick functional tricks like "HPF forever and always".

    I would like to throw in my appreciation for mids here as well! I've found strategic (and rarely to the point of obvious frequency resonance build up/or deficit) boosts of mid and/or midhigh frequencies really aid accentuate the deeep subs or bass. My understanding and appreciation here seems related to harmonics----high frequency shelf's are wonderful for smooth or sparkling clarity with harmonics, but I especially find use of mids help particular mid harmonics bring up a sense of centerness or up-front quality balance to deep and wide massive qualities you've mentioned. I feel especially pulled to give mids attention whenever possible as a public fear of mids is always present (myslef included hah)! lol mids need love too it seems to me. god bless em they have a place in this world too I certainly see your ideas with low mids as well, cleaning them up as you mentioned. It seems live recordings truly build up these murky frequencies as tracks fight for space in the freq spectrum/acoustic field. often, I tempted to blame microphones (*cough cough &goofy studio engineers cough cough) with their specific frequency ranges and the trouble it brings when tiny errors in placement (*cough cough silly engineers cough ) capture dead air or phasey room resonances. Ah!

    I hear your thoughts about overall compression as well here, I very much enjoy working as much as possible into mixbuss( parallel comps, grp busses as well), and I hear what you've mentioned with low mids and bass----the fight for space under compression---by working into compression whilst shifting things here and there, to-and-fro. To me the smudgyness and artifacts in full context compression here become the compass for what changes are helpful or not, I believe you have perhaps mentioned this above. your thoughts have reminded me nonetheless!

    Perhaps my last lingering thought about timing/rhythms: there is always time for automation. always always. Especially faders relevant to grp/buss compression or individual compressor units on individual tracks. To me there is little better than percussive rhythms precisely placed into compression, for me the deeper compressing unit doing this --the compressor post the track's initial limiter catching unmusical peaks. This compressor for me can get away with being snug on the audio as the 1st limiter is removing unpredictable peaks (though always preserving bulk of needed transients) and 2ndcompressor input volume is precisely placed relative the specific moment in the song/performance.

    wishing the best, and cheers!

    -MadHat

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