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Thread: small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

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    greez to all,

    first of all i wanna say hi and thank you for all the input i got from this forum over the years!

    i'm mixing for over 10 years and am quite happy with my mixes by now. i think i manage issues like tonal balance, frequency seperation and stereo image pretty well but i do have a serious issue with dynamics which i can't seem to solve:

    when A/Bing my mixes/masters with commcercial tracks i find that they can compete very well regarding tonal balance, stereo image, frequency separation but my dynamic range is way too small compared to commercial mixes. i can easily tell this from watching my stereo out meter: when my track is playing it will barely move but when the reference track is playing it does move a lot. this lack of dynamic range results in small LUFS values and in times of loudness normalisation makes my music sound way lower and also more fatiguing to listen on streaming platforms. i tried to indentify the culpid for my lack of dynamic range: i think i do not overcompress in my mixes (i usually never comp more than 2db of gain reduction on a single track in my mixes). after some experiments i found that when playing my mixes without the most prominent low end track (in most cases the bassline and/or sub) my dynamic range looks still fine on the meter: the kick and snare really peak/spike nicely. but when unmuting the sub/bassline the meter kind of stops moving only moving tiny bits when the kick/snare hits. i then did some research and found that for genres with SUSTAINED low end like eg. long 808 notes this is quite common. i think this is caused by the long 808 notes eating up the headroom kinda permanently and also the commercial tracks with these kind of sustained long sub notes seem not to move on the meter but still they sound much more dynamic than my masters. btw when mastering i use to MB comp with a ratio of 1:4 and slow attack and fast release times and at the end i rarely have the limiter reducing more than 3db. so i think my mastering is not the reason for my small dynamic range, it s in the mixes - most likely in the low end. i couldnt live without my compression on single tracks since then they wouldnt sound right to me and since i just comp around -1.5db this should be ok, right? also i couldnt live without long sustained sub/bass notes since they are part of my composition. maybe in fact it might be a leveling issue: should the percussive sounds (mostly drums) just be much louder in my mixes so they will spike/peak more and result in an overall more dynamic mix? or am i maybe mistaken and my frequency seperation ain't that good as i think it is and i am therefor dealing with a muddy low end which might affect the dynamic range as well? please listen to some examples of my mixes here and tell me if you have any idea what could be wrong with my small dynamic range, frequency separation and/or tonal balance:


    chiptune by Warriorstance | Free Listening on SoundCloud


    synthwave by Warriorstance | Free Listening on SoundCloud


    dancehall by Warriorstance | Free Listening on SoundCloud


    bagpipe by Warriorstance | Free Listening on SoundCloud

    boom bap:

    boom bap by Warriorstance | Free Listening on SoundCloud


    dub techno:


    heavy metal:


    while i'm at it i also wanna comment on my view/approach on suggested -14 LUFS in times of audio normalisation: my average master still has a loudness of around -8 LUFS (short term). i do leave a 1db TPFS headroom though. i found aiming for -14 LUFS when mastering doesnt work, at least not for my genres. they still demand loudness since it s part of their aestetic. also when checking commercial tracks of my genres on youtube and right clicking them and checking "stats for nerds" all current commercial prods are at least getting reduced 5db so everyone still masters way louder than -14 LUFS. however as i mentioned earlier their (over limited) tracks sound louder than mine, mostly due to my small dynamic range i assume, the human perceived loudness factors come into play. if u fancy please feel free to also comment on this -14 LUFS statement/opinion of mine but please only shortly since this topic should concentrate on hopefully solving my small dynamic range issue

    thanks a lot for your help in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    USA: NorthEast Coast
    Thanked 279 Times in 254 Posts
    Any amount of limiting can become over-limiting without lots of caution. And this does effect bass frequencies. That would be a good place to start.

    Gregg Juke
    Nocturnal Productions
    The Sonic Vault Recording Studio
    Drum! Magazine Contributor

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    Not sure if this helps but there are plugins like ozone with which you can wide or narrow your dynamic range with boosted or reduced harmonics!
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."
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