Tracks are quiet, even limited to 0 DB with no dynamic range

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
dented42ford
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Re: Tracks are quiet, even limited to 0 DB with no dynamic range

Post by dented42ford » Fri May 20, 2016 12:01 pm

Tarekith wrote:Not to come across as giving conflicting advice, but multiple stages of dynamic reduction doesn't always give you the loudest master. It's definitely something I use a lot (and I'm glad limiters like DMG's Limitless offer this internally in one plug in), but there's times I've found it backfires too. Trying to limit an already heavily compressed signal can occasionally lead to distortion a bit earlier than if you were just dealing with a limiter and dynamic signal. Depends on the track, limiter, etc and all that, but thought I would offer that suggestion in case you're still having issues getting the volume you need.

Most of it seems to be sparse arrangements and a really tight low end balance IME, when you get get those right a lot of the heavy lifting later on is much easier/forgiving.
Tarekith, you are of course right in the "general sense", but I was referring more to mixing issues rather than mastering ones. Though many mastering engineers will use many stages of minor dynamic range modification on a master, that is indeed often not the best way of going about things in many cases. This is especially true in transient-rich material, where maintaining the integrity of the "groove" is of paramount importance, and pushing the limiter to get more loudness can indeed cause undesirable audible non-linearity.

The issue is when the individual mix elements are too dynamic. In that case, nothing that is done on the 2-buss can really push the loudness without destroying the mix. The best way to address that is in the mixing stage, making sure the mastering engineer has a more "coherent" mix to work with - hence the recommendation of multiple stages of mix level dynamics processing, rather than excessive limiting, clipping, and compression on the 2-buss.

In the case of electronic music, which is what I suspect most on this forum are interested in, the real trick seems to be giving the mastering engineer a lot of dynamics to work with in the drums in particular. That was why I gave the "frequency rules of thumb" - typically the trickiest element to balance is the kick/subs, and the more dynamic that area is the easier it is to get a loud, but still exciting, master.

Shift Gorden
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Re: Tracks are quiet, even limited to 0 DB with no dynamic range

Post by Shift Gorden » Fri May 20, 2016 2:32 pm

After reading this thread I decided to experiment with a lot more sub groups/busses and taming different busses with gentle dynamics/EQ. Wow. It's made a huge difference to the depth of my overall mix.

Everything is so much more balanced now - things seem a lot more stable.

Pitch Black
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Re: Tracks are quiet, even limited to 0 DB with no dynamic range

Post by Pitch Black » Fri May 20, 2016 10:40 pm

IMHO, subgroup bussing is vital during mixdown. 20+ years ago I watched a studio engineer buss a rock band mixdowwn to "the drums" + "the music" + " the vocals". and he finished the mix by subtly manipulating these 3 faders to "sell" the song - honstly it was crazy how much he massaged these three levels at the very end of his mixdown process.

When you think about it, most people (non-musician/tech types) really only hear 2-3 "things" in music: the vocal + "the music" mostly. I always buss my mixes down to 3-4 busses at the end. I love it because it gives me a "creative" burst at the end of the long, involved, sometimes tedious process of mixdown. You get to play with broad, emotional strokes again after doing all that donkey-work. And as mentioned by others, it gives you a good technical base for the final blending of your elements.
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