'Loud' Renders?

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mikesena
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'Loud' Renders?

Post by mikesena » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:17 pm

Hi,

I'm really hoping this isn't too simple of a question, or too complex to be answered.

I'm making electro songs; elements of house, dance and hard trance. When I generate / export the song as a WAV, its really quiet compared to other dance songs. I've been working with Ableton for a couple of months now, and have been getting better at using my EQs to leave room for the kick, additional headroom for the melody by lowing certain frequencies etc. but, I want to generate a track at normal, 'standard' volumes, but how it just seems to boom if I request it to generate. However, if I'm listening through my speakers or headphones at an appropriate volume / one I'd like, it sounds great.

My master, to avoid things going red, is about 2/3 of the way down, but I can kinda boost that to the standard line when exporting. Also, I'm exporting as a WAV, normalisation on, high bit-rates/low doesn't seem to make a difference.

Any tips, areas I can look at?

Cheers,
Michael

flippo
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by flippo » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:37 am

mikesena wrote:Hi,

I'm really hoping this isn't too simple of a question, or too complex to be answered.

I'm making electro songs; elements of house, dance and hard trance. When I generate / export the song as a WAV, its really quiet compared to other dance songs. I've been working with Ableton for a couple of months now, and have been getting better at using my EQs to leave room for the kick, additional headroom for the melody by lowing certain frequencies etc. but, I want to generate a track at normal, 'standard' volumes, but how it just seems to boom if I request it to generate. However, if I'm listening through my speakers or headphones at an appropriate volume / one I'd like, it sounds great.

My master, to avoid things going red, is about 2/3 of the way down, but I can kinda boost that to the standard line when exporting. Also, I'm exporting as a WAV, normalisation on, high bit-rates/low doesn't seem to make a difference.

Any tips, areas I can look at?

Cheers,
Michael

normalisation will mean that the peak of the whole tune will be at 0db on the master, so if you're using that it won't matter where you put the master fader.

There are two reasons why other tunes are sounding louder than yours - they are mixed better, and they are mastered. It usually takes much more than a couple of months to start to approach professional sounding results so just keep at it and be patient.

Do some more reading on mixing and just keep cracking at it.

As for mastering, best to worry about that once you've tackled mixing, but you can do a quick-and-dirty for the sake of getting your works in progress up to an enjoyable level of perceived loudness.

Don't be too hard on yourself if you've only been at this for a couple of months is the take home message, just keep learning - there is no magic bullet :)

yur2die4
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:52 am

This is just a few small indirect pointers.

1. Headphones are evil. You hear what you Want to hear because the speakers are so close to your ear. There is no space to really determine what is sticking out.

2. Check out the spectrum on your tracks and compare to other tracks. You might find that some of your parts are overwhelming the available headroom, taking away space for loudness.

3. Center channel for things that need to be center. A little bit of panning/stereo effects can go a long way for things that don't need to be dead center. Taking advantage of two channels can really give you extra space to push some sound in. (still, give left/right/mono individual listens to make sure your stuff doesn't disappear on bad systems). So don't overdo it :P

o_theo
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by o_theo » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:02 pm

Are you using a limiter?

Easiest way to bounce your tracks with more volume is to use one on your master track - but be wary not to crunch your mix too much. Also, don't do this if you intend to get the track mastered as has been said. I tend to do this when working with unfinished songs, bounce a copy for a bandmate to listen/work on.

Tarekith
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:55 pm

Obligatory "how to master your own songs" link:

http://tarekith.com/assets/mastering.html

kairotik
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by kairotik » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:37 pm

mikesena wrote:Hi,

I'm really hoping this isn't too simple of a question, or too complex to be answered.

I'm making electro songs; elements of house, dance and hard trance. When I generate / export the song as a WAV, its really quiet compared to other dance songs. I've been working with Ableton for a couple of months now, and have been getting better at using my EQs to leave room for the kick, additional headroom for the melody by lowing certain frequencies etc. but, I want to generate a track at normal, 'standard' volumes, but how it just seems to boom if I request it to generate. However, if I'm listening through my speakers or headphones at an appropriate volume / one I'd like, it sounds great.

My master, to avoid things going red, is about 2/3 of the way down, but I can kinda boost that to the standard line when exporting. Also, I'm exporting as a WAV, normalisation on, high bit-rates/low doesn't seem to make a difference.

Any tips, areas I can look at?

Cheers,
Michael

In short, your question is quite complex. Ableton has nothing to do with having quiet tracks. It's how you are mixing them.

Are you using parallel compression? Are you side-chaining the bass and the kick?

Where are your MIDI/audio channels peaking?

There is an infinite amount of ways to mix.

I prefer to mix with my loudest channel level (Usually kick by itself or as a full drum loop) hitting at -6dBfs and no higher!

Keep your channel levels low. Get your mix balance based off the kick. To compensate for the quietness at this stage, just turn your speakers up.

Once you've got a good mix balance, apply your EQ adjustments and compression to whatever channels may need it. EQ'ing and compression take A LOT of practice and good ears. You have to understand how and why you are altering sounds. Re-adjust your mix balance as needed.

At this time, your master channel should be hitting no higher than -3dBfs at any time. If it is, you need to apply a bit of compression to the master channel to control the dynamic range so that it peaks no higher than -3. I'll explain why in a minute.

If your compressor on your master channel is squashing your signal by more than 7-10dBs, you need to re-adjust the levels of your other channels so that it's only squashing about 3-5dBs to maintain that -3dBfs peak on the master channel. The reason why is you don't want your compressor completely squashing your whole track so much at this point. Otherwise all your sounds are going to come out sounding really flat.

Now you are ready to make your track loud.

First understand that this process is a part of mastering, which is a whole other beast to mixing. This really is best left to somebody with trained ears and a well-tuned listening environment.

If you don't have the Waves L2 Ultra Maximizer like I do, use your best quality compressor/limiter that has an RMS compression function (not peak).

DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT use Ableton's compressor for this. I love Ableton, but it's compressor sounds just terrible. Use a good plugin. I strongly recommend the L2.

On the limiter, where you set the threshold that starts to squash the signal is up to you. I normally set it at -.3dBfs or somewhere around there. I like to be close to 0, but still allow a tiny bit of room in case the signal peaks above. Whatever you do, don't allow your signal to go over 0dBfs. On a digital system, this results in nothing but harsh distortion.

On the compressor side (left side of the L2), start to lower the threshold and you'll begin to hear your track get louder. How loud you want to make it is a matter of your own taste. Generally, you can keep lowering the threshold until your limiter starts catching some of the peaks. If it's only catching a peak here and there, it's probably good where it's at, however, if your limiter is showing a consistent gain reduction with no let-up, raise the compressor's threshold until the limiter is only catching a peak here and there.

If you've done this all correctly, you should have a much louder track that is comparable with some of the commercially released tracks.


**********

flippo
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by flippo » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:11 am

I'd recommended isotope ozone if you want a nice all-in-one software mastering package - quite liked it myself.

outershpongolia
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by outershpongolia » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:19 am

Tarekith wrote:Obligatory "how to master your own songs" link:

http://tarekith.com/assets/mastering.html
^ These are awesome, btw.

Superchibisan
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by Superchibisan » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:06 pm

yeah, pretty much need to learn how to mix better and how to master.

most tracks do not come out of mixing as loud as you hear them in the club, this 'loudness' is a result of mastering (usually very poor, highly compressed mastering imho).

first thing to do is to learn how to mix. balancing frequencies so that everything can be heard at every volume level, is very important. once you do that, mastering is a breeze cause all you need to do is add weight and 'perceived' volume :)

outershpongolia
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by outershpongolia » Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:26 am

Superchibisan wrote:yeah, pretty much need to learn how to mix better and how to master.

most tracks do not come out of mixing as loud as you hear them in the club, this 'loudness' is a result of mastering (usually very poor, highly compressed mastering imho).

first thing to do is to learn how to mix. balancing frequencies so that everything can be heard at every volume level, is very important. once you do that, mastering is a breeze cause all you need to do is add weight and 'perceived' volume :)
If you're going to be playing out without mastering your tunes, should you throw a compressor, limiter, or something else on your master bus? or should you trust the sound guy to help you out with extra volume?

anyone have a rack on their master for EQ - comp - limiting that they might change around depending on the room, etc?

yur2die4
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by yur2die4 » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:09 pm

Wow, I really like that last question. Kinda like the swiss-army-knife of live audio problems!

outershpongolia
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by outershpongolia » Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:30 pm

yur2die4 wrote:Wow, I really like that last question. Kinda like the swiss-army-knife of live audio problems!
I figure the response would be that it's up to the sound guy to take care of those things, but I feel like if I could help the matters on this end it would lead to a better result - as far as playing unmastered tunes goes.

docprosper
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by docprosper » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:28 pm

Tarekith's tutorial is a good start, and there are lots of other great mixing/mastering tutorials out there; i'm pretty partial to Snoman's "The Dance Music Manual (Second Edition)". I found this as a free download somewhere but can't seem to find the link out there. Looks like it's available for purchase as a hardbound book as well.

What both this manual and Tarekith's tutorial suggest is that you shouldn't master your own music. This is fine advice, except that (IMO) there are hobbyists out there (like me) who just want to get some music out there for free that sounds comparibly loud. If my goal was cutting vinyl, I'd probably be better off paying Tarekith to master my tracks. :mrgreen:

I use multiband compression on the master to mildly compress each frequency band. I follow this with a limiter that is tweaked to only limit signals sporatically and mildly. My compression is in the 1-4dB range for each band, and there are pointers in the Dance Music Manual regarding typical compression levels for different music types. I spend a lot of time twaeking an EQ8 on the master to get the overall balance right prior to compression. I render and normalize.

This technique typically yields tracks/mixes that are comparibly "loud" when compared to commercial music, without being crushed and distorted. I burn to a CD along with a baseline commercial release in the same genre that I cosider to have proper EQ & loudness. I play both tracks over and over on different soundsystems. I go back, tweak compression and EQ, and repeat the process. I went through 8 renders with my last mix before I was happy with the comparison. At this point, I post on Soundcloud and watch as no one downloads :cry:

Good luck!
-Hamish
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Dr. Fluffenstein
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Re: 'Loud' Renders?

Post by Dr. Fluffenstein » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:55 am

Here's another piece of the puzzle, it's a tutorial for getting your kicks loud without using a limiter / crushing them:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/electron ... sdrum.html

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