Track volume and mastering question

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russpatterson
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Track volume and mastering question

Post by russpatterson » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:44 pm

Whenever I render/export out a finished track, the volume is always lower when played next to commercially produced tracks.

I use some compression on the master and have normalize on when I render/export but still volume is low. Any ideas?

Here's a sample:

http://www.soundclick.com/util/getplaye ... 25482&q=hi

Thanks!

-Russ

laird
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Post by laird » Mon Dec 08, 2008 5:54 pm

Well, there is a reason why professional mastering engineers get paid lotsa money... they have lots more skill and knowledge than you (or I).
Also, these days wayyyyy too much music is OVER compressed anyway, so don't think that any popular CD will necessarily make a good golden standard for comparison.

Relax. Everyone has a volume knob on their music playback device, as far as I know. If you aren't pro-grade yet... it's totally OK!

in the meantime, keep practicing and learning and have fun.

http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?t=72222&

russpatterson
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Post by russpatterson » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:04 pm

Thanks for the response. I think there's more to it than that. My mixes sound weak compared to Christmas music from the 60's! I must be missing something.

Aequitas123
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Post by Aequitas123 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:26 pm

There's a good argument for having your tracks at the same level as the rest of the (majority of) the music industry.

Purists and assholes on this forum will tell you to not participate in the loudness wars or not to use compression. But if you find that your tracks are quiet and this is something that you're concerned about, don't listen to these people.

Basically you'll want to Compress your master track. Try a hard limiter and raise the output volume as high as it can go without any clipping.

There's many other methods of achieving a "louder" track, but this is probably a good start for you.

Ezmyrelda
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Post by Ezmyrelda » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:13 pm

Aequitas123 wrote:There's a good argument for having your tracks at the same level as the rest of the (majority of) the music industry.

Purists and assholes on this forum will tell you to not participate in the loudness wars or not to use compression. But if you find that your tracks are quiet and this is something that you're concerned about, don't listen to these people.

Basically you'll want to Compress your master track. Try a hard limiter and raise the output volume as high as it can go without any clipping.

There's many other methods of achieving a "louder" track, but this is probably a good start for you.
Assholes are right a lot of the times. Get your levels to -6db and spend $75 to have someone master it. Producers should never be their own mastering engineers. Compressing the master is BAD BAD advice. You want your track to sound good. Not just loud and mastering engineers need headroom. Otherwise your track will sound ok on a decent system but shit on anything else.

Ezmyrelda
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Post by Ezmyrelda » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:20 pm

russpatterson wrote:Thanks for the response. I think there's more to it than that. My mixes sound weak compared to Christmas music from the 60's! I must be missing something.
Artfully compress or sidechain the weak parts. if it's the kick thats low maybe give that some compression, but compressing the master is something that professionals never do.

xherv
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Post by xherv » Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:29 pm

Anybody listen to the track? Anyone think limiting or mastering will help it?

This is critical but hopefully constructive - the arrangement is really sparse and the patches / EQ aren't really cohesive. When Bob Ross or Da Vinci or even a master of monochrome calligraphic art paints a mountain it's in layers - this needs more layers.
http://www.soundcloud.com/xherv
I know EVERYTHING that I know and you don't know, and don't know what I don't know that you know, so I'll ignore that stuff. Wassup now?

CrypticChig
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Post by CrypticChig » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:11 am

not sure if this works with synth tracks like on your hypno trance song. but definitely add layers. clone/duplicate your tracks and try EQ'ing them diffently on each cloned track. try some different compression on each cloned track as well. but i do know that works on guitar tracks. I even clone a bass track and filter out the highs and do some sub boosting. but it's all up to you.

another tip trick i've read and heard about is to put reverb on every track so that it spaces things out a bit. even if it is a little tiny bit of reverb on one track. but never put reverb on the master track is also what i've heard(or any other kind of effect, except maybe some compression), but then again i put some EQ on my master track to adjust certain frequencies on the left and right channels where needed(say i had something panned to one side and another thing panned to the other side somewhere, i then adjust things accordingly).

its all about following rules and breaking them each time you find what fits best for your song.

now if only someone could explain me how to do stereo imaging correctly, in terms of i have no clue where to start. i know its formula kind of but what it exactly means or where you go from one point to the next i am unsure of. but i think thats also what lots of people are unaware of(what stereo means). all i know is that stereo is not just left and right channels and having things panned 0-100& left or right does not make it stereo.

[/list]

Aequitas123
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Post by Aequitas123 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:17 pm

Ezmyrelda wrote:
Assholes are right a lot of the times. Get your levels to -6db and spend $75 to have someone master it. Producers should never be their own mastering engineers. Compressing the master is BAD BAD advice. You want your track to sound good. Not just loud and mastering engineers need headroom. Otherwise your track will sound ok on a decent system but shit on anything else.

I should clarify. I was making the assumption the OP was not going to have the tracks mastered and wanted a cheap way of having louder tracks.

Of course i agree with you that this method would never be done by a pro.

Potato_wi_Jive
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by Potato_wi_Jive » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:16 pm

Hey guys,

I'm having the same issue. Whenever I export a song Ive worked on from Live, the volume is significantly lower than what I hear in Live. Tried toggling Normalize, and Mono/Stereo. Still same result is lower volume on output. I have done no automation or volume changes to Master or any tracks.

Mixing preferences and professional master suggestions aside, my issue is inconsistency between what is in Live vs what gets exported. Is there a way to simply hear what is being played within Live?

thanks
johnny

Tarekith
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by Tarekith » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:31 pm

The link in the first post is dead for me, but I listened to some of your other songs on your Soundcloud page real quick. The one thing that stands out for me right away is that your mixdowns are skewed, everything is really bassy sounding and that's eating into your headroom. As a result, it's likely that you're having a hard time compressing and limiting enough to get the overall volume up where you want. Though those are all a LOT louder than 60's xmas songs anyway.

Here's a couple guides that might help you with the mixing and mastering, though certainly I'm available at a lot cheaper than $75 a song if you want a pro to have a go at it too.

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

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

In terms of it sounding quieter after export than before, what program are you listening to the exported file in?

Cezband
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by Cezband » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:06 pm

The absolute, critical thing that you need to realise is that when you look at your meter levels in Live, and you see that they go all the way up to 0db, and yet the song still sounds quieter than other commercial songs, it's because percieved loudness works differently to just measuring the volume.

Compression is the standard way to improve percieved loudness because it reduces the distance between the loudest and quietest parts, making the overall volume of the song seem louder. However, if you're reducing the distance between loud and quiet, then you're killing dynamics. A good mastering engineer knows how to balance the trade-off between the two, and has a listening environment and ears capable of allowing them to focus on exactly where the problems are.

Of course, the best way to be able to make something louder without killing dynamics is by starting off with an excellent mix anyway. This means that the mastering engineer doesn't need to use workarounds to try to "fix" the mix. If you've got an ok mix and no cash, you might be able to get away with using compression and any other toys (stereo enhancers etc) to boost your mix without hurting it too much. It still won't be as good as if a pro did it though.

Tarekith's guides are gold. Read them, read them again. If once you've read them you still want to find a quick fix, then be prepared to make music that sucks. :wink:
Live 7.0.18 | Axiom 61 | Launchpad | Homous | Nanokontrol | Saffire 6 | Ibanez Jazzmaster Bass | Biscuits
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jsumners
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by jsumners » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:06 pm

I was thinking about starting a very similar topic earlier. Since the discussion is already started, I'll go ahead and post my question here.

When I'm creating my loops, and then arrangements, in Live I try to balance out the levels across all of my tracks so that the master level doesn't break 0.0dB. Once I've decided that the song is "done," I will put a limiter on the master track and adjust the gain such that the limiter's level is peaking at about -6dB.

This method seems to produce rendered tracks that are about equally as "loud" as recent retail music. My question is, is this a decent practice? Am I abusing the limiter tool? Should I be trying to achieve "loudness" in a different fashion?

I know this is no way to quantify it, but well mastered tracks tend to have a nice visual waveform representation (i.e. the waveform render that SoundCloud does for its time progression area). Whereas the method I have described ends up with waveforms that "look loud" throughout.

andydes
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by andydes » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:48 pm

jsumners wrote:I was thinking about starting a very similar topic earlier. Since the discussion is already started, I'll go ahead and post my question here.

When I'm creating my loops, and then arrangements, in Live I try to balance out the levels across all of my tracks so that the master level doesn't break 0.0dB. Once I've decided that the song is "done," I will put a limiter on the master track and adjust the gain such that the limiter's level is peaking at about -6dB.

This method seems to produce rendered tracks that are about equally as "loud" as recent retail music. My question is, is this a decent practice? Am I abusing the limiter tool? Should I be trying to achieve "loudness" in a different fashion?

I know this is no way to quantify it, but well mastered tracks tend to have a nice visual waveform representation (i.e. the waveform render that SoundCloud does for its time progression area). Whereas the method I have described ends up with waveforms that "look loud" throughout.
I think you've got this backwards. The advice people say to leave 6dB headroom is to leave space for the mastering engineer/process. But you wouldn't give the mastering engineer anything which you've limited on master. If your mastering is just raising the overall volume with a limiter (which is enough for many people), mix to around -6dB then use the limiter to get close to 0 (-0.5 maybe? I'm not entirely sure about the best level here).

jsumners
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Re: Track volume and mastering question

Post by jsumners » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:52 pm

andydes wrote:
jsumners wrote:I was thinking about starting a very similar topic earlier. Since the discussion is already started, I'll go ahead and post my question here.

When I'm creating my loops, and then arrangements, in Live I try to balance out the levels across all of my tracks so that the master level doesn't break 0.0dB. Once I've decided that the song is "done," I will put a limiter on the master track and adjust the gain such that the limiter's level is peaking at about -6dB.

This method seems to produce rendered tracks that are about equally as "loud" as recent retail music. My question is, is this a decent practice? Am I abusing the limiter tool? Should I be trying to achieve "loudness" in a different fashion?

I know this is no way to quantify it, but well mastered tracks tend to have a nice visual waveform representation (i.e. the waveform render that SoundCloud does for its time progression area). Whereas the method I have described ends up with waveforms that "look loud" throughout.
I think you've got this backwards. The advice people say to leave 6dB headroom is to leave space for the mastering engineer/process. But you wouldn't give the mastering engineer anything which you've limited on master. If your mastering is just raising the overall volume with a limiter (which is enough for many people), mix to around -6dB then use the limiter to get close to 0 (-0.5 maybe? I'm not entirely sure about the best level here).
Thank you. That makes sense. Especially after reading the Tarekith material (and listening to some of this samples).

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