Mastering for loudness!!

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GRAYSKALE
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Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:01 pm

So I was doing some reading up on mastering today, and read some advice somewhere that at the mastering stage limiting shouldn't be doing much more than 2-3db of gain reduction, which really perplexed me because whenever I do a self-master (I'm no expert at all by the way!) I always tend to blast a clean limiter (usually pro-l) to get my tracks up to levels similar to commercial tracks. Presumeably I am absolutely ruining my audio at the mastering stage, yet, I really don't understand how I could get my tunes to match commercial track volumes without doing it, because whenever I apply a light limiter the tracks just sound 3 or 4 db quieter than most commercial tracks I listen to. Anybody have any tips to get tracks to a nice beefy volume without sacrificing dynamics?? I know the consensus tends to be to leave mastering to the experts but I guess if I'm ever gonna be good at it then practice is key?? I'm always really happy with my mixes pre master, and will always tend to mix to -3db maximum, but usually around -5db so I have plenty of space for mastering processes. Hopefully I'm not being too noobish, figure this sort of question is far removed from the "how do i make skrillex bass" that normally surfaces every 10 minutes nowadays!!

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by charliefoy » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:48 pm

GRAYSKALE wrote:So I was doing some reading up on mastering today, and read some advice somewhere that at the mastering stage limiting shouldn't be doing much more than 2-3db of gain reduction, which really perplexed me because whenever I do a self-master (I'm no expert at all by the way!) I always tend to blast a clean limiter (usually pro-l) to get my tracks up to levels similar to commercial tracks. Presumeably I am absolutely ruining my audio at the mastering stage, yet, I really don't understand how I could get my tunes to match commercial track volumes without doing it, because whenever I apply a light limiter the tracks just sound 3 or 4 db quieter than most commercial tracks I listen to. Anybody have any tips to get tracks to a nice beefy volume without sacrificing dynamics?? I know the consensus tends to be to leave mastering to the experts but I guess if I'm ever gonna be good at it then practice is key?? I'm always really happy with my mixes pre master, and will always tend to mix to -3db maximum, but usually around -5db so I have plenty of space for mastering processes. Hopefully I'm not being too noobish, figure this sort of question is far removed from the "how do i make skrillex bass" that normally surfaces every 10 minutes nowadays!!
Just because your track is loud doesn't mean it's a good mixdown. Leave a good amount of headroom before sending it for master. Theres loads and loads of threads on this stuff.

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by skimpi » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:08 pm

charliefoy wrote:
GRAYSKALE wrote:So I was doing some reading up on mastering today, and read some advice somewhere that at the mastering stage limiting shouldn't be doing much more than 2-3db of gain reduction, which really perplexed me because whenever I do a self-master (I'm no expert at all by the way!) I always tend to blast a clean limiter (usually pro-l) to get my tracks up to levels similar to commercial tracks. Presumeably I am absolutely ruining my audio at the mastering stage, yet, I really don't understand how I could get my tunes to match commercial track volumes without doing it, because whenever I apply a light limiter the tracks just sound 3 or 4 db quieter than most commercial tracks I listen to. Anybody have any tips to get tracks to a nice beefy volume without sacrificing dynamics?? I know the consensus tends to be to leave mastering to the experts but I guess if I'm ever gonna be good at it then practice is key?? I'm always really happy with my mixes pre master, and will always tend to mix to -3db maximum, but usually around -5db so I have plenty of space for mastering processes. Hopefully I'm not being too noobish, figure this sort of question is far removed from the "how do i make skrillex bass" that normally surfaces every 10 minutes nowadays!!
Just because your track is loud doesn't mean it's a good mixdown. Leave a good amount of headroom before sending it for master. Theres loads and loads of threads on this stuff.
did he say that, he said he is happy with his mixes, that sometimes are mixed to -5db, so there is good headroom there. he is asking if anyone knows how to get it as loud as mastered tracks, but by doing it himself, he doesnt want to send it to get it mastered, he just wants it loud enough to play out and stuff probs.

i mix down to whatever headroom really, i always try to get it lower than -1 even -2db, but if its peaking at like -1.9db ill leave it as that. but sometimes it could be like -6db. then ill bounce it, and put it back in logic and then use the gain plug-in to probably lift it over 0db, but then i use the ad limiter and limit it to like -0.2db and then i may add a little gain with that too, maybe take a bit off on the gain plug-in, then like squeeze it with the limiter, i dont take any notice of the gain reduction, i just do it so that it seems loud enough, but i cant hear any distortion or anything. obviously the distortion is bad, so when i can hear distortion on certain parts, or it just generally sound nasty, then i drop it down a bit so that its not there. i just mess around with the threshold or whatever its called and gain, until it sounds alright. they still seem a little quiter than released tracks, but its good enough.
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GRAYSKALE
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:07 am

skimpi wrote:
charliefoy wrote:
GRAYSKALE wrote:So I was doing some reading up on mastering today, and read some advice somewhere that at the mastering stage limiting shouldn't be doing much more than 2-3db of gain reduction, which really perplexed me because whenever I do a self-master (I'm no expert at all by the way!) I always tend to blast a clean limiter (usually pro-l) to get my tracks up to levels similar to commercial tracks. Presumeably I am absolutely ruining my audio at the mastering stage, yet, I really don't understand how I could get my tunes to match commercial track volumes without doing it, because whenever I apply a light limiter the tracks just sound 3 or 4 db quieter than most commercial tracks I listen to. Anybody have any tips to get tracks to a nice beefy volume without sacrificing dynamics?? I know the consensus tends to be to leave mastering to the experts but I guess if I'm ever gonna be good at it then practice is key?? I'm always really happy with my mixes pre master, and will always tend to mix to -3db maximum, but usually around -5db so I have plenty of space for mastering processes. Hopefully I'm not being too noobish, figure this sort of question is far removed from the "how do i make skrillex bass" that normally surfaces every 10 minutes nowadays!!
Just because your track is loud doesn't mean it's a good mixdown. Leave a good amount of headroom before sending it for master. Theres loads and loads of threads on this stuff.
did he say that, he said he is happy with his mixes, that sometimes are mixed to -5db, so there is good headroom there. he is asking if anyone knows how to get it as loud as mastered tracks, but by doing it himself, he doesnt want to send it to get it mastered, he just wants it loud enough to play out and stuff probs.

i mix down to whatever headroom really, i always try to get it lower than -1 even -2db, but if its peaking at like -1.9db ill leave it as that. but sometimes it could be like -6db. then ill bounce it, and put it back in logic and then use the gain plug-in to probably lift it over 0db, but then i use the ad limiter and limit it to like -0.2db and then i may add a little gain with that too, maybe take a bit off on the gain plug-in, then like squeeze it with the limiter, i dont take any notice of the gain reduction, i just do it so that it seems loud enough, but i cant hear any distortion or anything. obviously the distortion is bad, so when i can hear distortion on certain parts, or it just generally sound nasty, then i drop it down a bit so that its not there. i just mess around with the threshold or whatever its called and gain, until it sounds alright. they still seem a little quiter than released tracks, but its good enough.
Sounds like good advice mate!! I was listening to a track in the car yesterday and the snare on one of my tracks and it sounded really distorted, but everything else was okay (It's a clean snare by the way, lol) so I'm guessing it[s moments like that you[ve gotta back off with the limiting juice!!

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by charliefoy » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:10 am

Sorry, misread. Heres two really good articles on eq and compression that could answer a few things :) http://www.dnbscene.com/article/88-thin ... q-tutorial http://www.dnbscene.com/article/1474-co ... n-tutorial

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by Quantize10 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:16 am

The levelling in your mix down will play a huge part in the final volume and of course compression can and often does play a part in this. As an example, lets say you have a kick and snare playing at the same time, the transients combined might make for a very large peak that pushes your limiter hard. Changing one of the samples or nudging it a little so that the volume spike decreases can be enough for you to gain an extra 1-2db on the master out and hence increase the volume of your entire track by that amount!!

There are lost of considerations but this one can play a big part.
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by atticuh » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:51 pm

Quantize10 wrote:The levelling in your mix down will play a huge part in the final volume and of course compression can and often does play a part in this. As an example, lets say you have a kick and snare playing at the same time, the transients combined might make for a very large peak that pushes your limiter hard. Changing one of the samples or nudging it a little so that the volume spike decreases can be enough for you to gain an extra 1-2db on the master out and hence increase the volume of your entire track by that amount!!
Very interesting. So then a good rule of thumb for optimal mastering is to smooth out those dB spikes in order to gain back additional headroom?
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GRAYSKALE
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:57 pm

Quantize10 wrote:The levelling in your mix down will play a huge part in the final volume and of course compression can and often does play a part in this. As an example, lets say you have a kick and snare playing at the same time, the transients combined might make for a very large peak that pushes your limiter hard. Changing one of the samples or nudging it a little so that the volume spike decreases can be enough for you to gain an extra 1-2db on the master out and hence increase the volume of your entire track by that amount!!

There are lost of considerations but this one can play a big part.
I'd never even considered this, but it makes a lot of sense, definately going to be implementing this into my next mix down. Cheers for teh advice and those articles look pretty interesting too!!


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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by charliefoy » Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:21 pm

??????????????????????????

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by Ldizzy » Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:53 pm

mastering engineers will assess these and will also assess a lot of things u prolly wont be able to assess with ur plugins... but if u really wish to do it urself, ur biggest responsibility will be to ensure the job of the MIXING engineer is well done. (and since he is the same guy then the mastering engineer, who is the same guy then the composer, who is u... itll be hard). i think this is where most people who self master fail.

ur goal as a composer is to make a good tune.
ur goal as a self mixing engineer is to make a good tune sound clearer, more intelligible (processing), and to consolidate its meaning (fx)... etc

u say ur mixes are just the way ud like them to be. but u also say u dont achieve the heaviness of commercial releases... a lot of people will automatically say that badass gains come from mastering... but the impression of loudness or heaviness mainly come from a cleaver mix... a good example would be jack beats imo (which i cite way too often)

i dont mean to question ur mixes.. as mine are prolly poorer.. but i think the core of ur problem is to ensure u dont have a "we'll fix it at mastering" type of approach... a good mix would technically require very little mastering...

i guess im stating the obvious here : (as usual) good comp is the key to a good mix, and good mixing is the key to a good master.. once uve done ur two first steps the best way you can... and are positive that your job is done... u may move on to mastering.. but i really mean to say maybe ur mix isnt as perfect as it should be..

OP, others, ur thoughts?
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GRAYSKALE
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:24 pm

Ldizzy wrote:mastering engineers will assess these and will also assess a lot of things u prolly wont be able to assess with ur plugins... but if u really wish to do it urself, ur biggest responsibility will be to ensure the job of the MIXING engineer is well done. (and since he is the same guy then the mastering engineer, who is the same guy then the composer, who is u... itll be hard). i think this is where most people who self master fail.

ur goal as a composer is to make a good tune.
ur goal as a self mixing engineer is to make a good tune sound clearer, more intelligible (processing), and to consolidate its meaning (fx)... etc

u say ur mixes are just the way ud like them to be. but u also say u dont achieve the heaviness of commercial releases... a lot of people will automatically say that badass gains come from mastering... but the impression of loudness or heaviness mainly come from a cleaver mix... a good example would be jack beats imo (which i cite way too often)

i dont mean to question ur mixes.. as mine are prolly poorer.. but i think the core of ur problem is to ensure u dont have a "we'll fix it at mastering" type of approach... a good mix would technically require very little mastering...

i guess im stating the obvious here : (as usual) good comp is the key to a good mix, and good mixing is the key to a good master.. once uve done ur two first steps the best way you can... and are positive that your job is done... u may move on to mastering.. but i really mean to say maybe ur mix isnt as perfect as it should be..

OP, others, ur thoughts?
I never use the "fix it at the mastering stage" philosophy, I think I probably haven't explained myself very well. When played at similar levels to other tunes I feel like my tracks are definitely close in terms of sounding full (something which I probably spend more time on than actually song writing!!). Its literally volume that seems to be the problem, I can get the volume there but stuff just tends to sound over squashed. I'm hopefully going to be starting an apprenticeship in a studio within the next few weeks (assuming I pass the interview), so I guess I'm gonna have a lot more time working on mixing and mastering than actually making music. Hopefully i'll learn some usful tools, which I will of course be sure to post on here! ANybody know any good books on mastering?? I've looked at a few but there seems to be precious little in the way of dance music mastering which I think is substantially different from mastering bands etc.

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by charliefoy » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:32 pm

I went to a seminar (a really upclose and personal one) with the main master engineer from Metropolis (http://www.metropolis-group.co.uk/) and to be honest, he had thousands of pounds worth of equipment at his hands, and all he did was add 1db of hi end to the track and i couldnt tell the difference, he's probably much better working in the studio than trying to explain it to other people. But the guy who did Duran Duran's last album, and beyonces last album did a seminar about mixing and recording, and one point he tried to make clear was try to take away frequencies rather than add them. He called it ying and yang, for example taking the low mids out of a synth or guitar or something to make it a little more toppy, and adding slight saturation to bass and kicks to make them stand out in the mix. Those tiny little things help so much, and i know its nothing to do with the original post but i thought id just post it cause im ridiculously bored...

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by tavravlavish » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:36 pm

I used to never even touch my master channel, I just left my tunes quiet. But lately I'll take my mix, say its at -4db, and throw a limiter on the master, and usually just use the gain to bump it up that extra 4 db. I keep it simple, my tunes are a lot louder than they used to be and the mixes are still awful 8)

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by macc » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:50 pm

That's a nice post up there Ldizzy ^ :Q:

It's quite simple, conceptually; if the mix is right it will go loud with greater ease, without sounding squashed. If you have to compromise the sound to get the level to where you want it, most likely there's more you could be doing in the mix. A good ME (with good room, speakers etc etc) will hear flaws and correct them, thereby improving the track's chance of getting louder, cleaner.

If you're doing your own stuff, then you probably should have spotted the problems by that point, and should go back to the mix to address them. If you don't hear them and can't fix them, you're going to end up with an unbalanced tune (to a greater or lesser degree) and subsequent crushing trying to get the level up. This is why you hire someone with objectivity and accurate monitoring; they'll hear the bits you missed.

Or you can just forget quality, turn down your sub and wang up 2 to 5kHz on everything. Then the sky's the limit :6:
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by Ldizzy » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:02 pm

^^thx macc :Q:

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:07 pm

macc wrote:That's a nice post up there Ldizzy ^ :Q:

It's quite simple, conceptually; if the mix is right it will go loud with greater ease, without sounding squashed. If you have to compromise the sound to get the level to where you want it, most likely there's more you could be doing in the mix. A good ME (with good room, speakers etc etc) will hear flaws and correct them, thereby improving the track's chance of getting louder, cleaner.

If you're doing your own stuff, then you probably should have spotted the problems by that point, and should go back to the mix to address them. If you don't hear them and can't fix them, you're going to end up with an unbalanced tune (to a greater or lesser degree) and subsequent crushing trying to get the level up. This is why you hire someone with objectivity and accurate monitoring; they'll hear the bits you missed.

Or you can just forget quality, turn down your sub and wang up 2 to 5kHz on everything. Then the sky's the limit :6:
Durr . . . that's why my mixes sound so good :6:

Yeah, I think you're on to a point there actually, my set up probably isn't even good enough for me to hear my mixes properly, let only do a good mastering job. I noticed today when I was using my speakers in my room every single kick drum in my library was giving out a horrible resonat peak between 100 and 150hz, when I moved to the study they were gone. Think so room treatment should be the next line of purchase . . .

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by macc » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:10 pm

GRAYSKALE wrote: Durr . . . that's why my mixes sound so good :6:
:lol:

Good call on the treatment man, go for it!


I was thinking, it's a bit like.... food! :D

No one wants a nasty bit of fatty meat, you want that shit trimmed off. Even though it's the same meat, it just feels nicer to have a bit with no fat on. Trim the excess fat from your mix, and there's more room for everything.
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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by hifi » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:28 pm

macc wrote:
GRAYSKALE wrote: Durr . . . that's why my mixes sound so good :6:
:lol:

Good call on the treatment man, go for it!


I was thinking, it's a bit like.... food! :D

No one wants a nasty bit of fatty meat, you want that shit trimmed off. Even though it's the same meat, it just feels nicer to have a bit with no fat on. Trim the excess fat from your mix, and there's more room for everything.
your a legend macc. my mixes have gotten better by 65% from listening to you in the past. (moneyshot thread and me lurking on your posts ahah) big up man

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Re: Mastering for loudness!!

Post by GRAYSKALE » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:59 am

Hypefiend wrote:
macc wrote:
GRAYSKALE wrote: Durr . . . that's why my mixes sound so good :6:
:lol:

Good call on the treatment man, go for it!


I was thinking, it's a bit like.... food! :D

No one wants a nasty bit of fatty meat, you want that shit trimmed off. Even though it's the same meat, it just feels nicer to have a bit with no fat on. Trim the excess fat from your mix, and there's more room for everything.
I wouldn't be half the man im today without the money shot thread

your a legend macc. my mixes have gotten better by 65% from listening to you in the past. (moneyshot thread and me lurking on your posts ahah) big up man

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