Commercially acceptable volume

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by G, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. G

    G Guest

    Hello. I am brand new to the forum and have been spending a lot of time reading this forums' archive.

    I am not a mastering engineer but it is really challenging stuff. So I decided after about three months of studying and a bunch of trial and error on my own recordings I would say 'yes' to a home recorded mastering job.

    Here is what I was/am up against:

    Rock album recorded in a house with SM57's and an AKG dynamic mic of mystery origin, and an Apex 450 condenser. It was handed to me on CDR with stereo WAV files. It was mixed on a pair of BOSE speakers.

    (I know I am kind of stacking the odds, but I figure the more the folks who read this know about the process, the better answer I might get to my question...)

    No matter how close to zero I get these masters, they can't get as loud as some of the albums these guys listen to. Now I know that if the content is not there to begin with the job is hard, but I have heard crappier recordings get louder than what I end up with, so I know it's not impossible!

    Can anyone point me in the right direction of how to get a master louder without completely destroying the dynamics?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Lots of experience and Great gear and excellent monitors.
  3. G

    G Guest


    I am working on it. I have been working on this EP for 4 days solid with all kinds of outboard gear and software, burned about 7 versions, tested it against Nirvana's In Utero, The Mars Volta Deloused in the Comatorium, (Two of the loudest records I am familiar with) on I don't even know how many diferent sets of monitors and home speakers.

    I hope this post isn't looked at as some guy asking an accountant's group how they keep their books... I just really want to do a great job and learn this craft. It's also really frustrating when I know people are charging money to master with T-Racks and a pair of broken eardrums.

    Anyway, thanks very much.

  4. markwilder

    markwilder Guest

    A tough one. Level is always tricky. You have to forgo a certain amount of dynamics for level. No way around it. But here are a few ideas. First decide what you think each song needs. Pick a chain of gear to reach that end. Optimize each piece of gear in the chain. Optimize your conversion. Transfer. Each piece of gear in my room has it's own "sweet spot", and everyone is different. You just have to experiment until you hear each piece "sing". You might have to revisit each element in your chain over and over, making small changes each time until everything is optimium. You're home, I know it's been 4 days, but keep plugging at it. Try every possible combination. You'll find it, just keep trying.

  5. G

    G Guest

    Thanks Mark.

    Revisting the gear chain has been where the time is spent I think(making notes on recall sheets etc. there's hardly any room left:)

    I am afraid of overprocessing. Especially in the digital domain where my knowledge is the least reliable.

    I am starting to realize that making something sound loud, and better are part of the same mastering process, not two seperate processes. Learning is goooooood.

  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Just remember mastering is a process that is never ending. You'll get better every day if you keep going at it. There isn't a magic box or special trick. It's just sweat and blood.
  7. jpworldwide

    jpworldwide Guest

    Bringing your levels up

    Try the WAVES L2 Ultramaximizer. This is a great tool and I use it all the time.
    Hope this helps

  8. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    The waves L2 is a great tool if used in conjunction with other great tools. On it's own, it can get the volume up but not to the extent that the big guys get and without the detail and depth. I know, i tried for many years.
  9. G

    G Guest

    The L2 was what lifted the anvil off the headroom! Still not magic, but made the band happy. A friend helped with a UAD-1 Pultec EQ that helped with the vocals. A tiny hump in the higher mids make the whole recording seem a little louder -- the vocals are not as buried. It also made the snare attack a bit more papery a good way....I am reading that and I don't know if papery makes sense:)...snappy?

    Thanks a ton for the support. I feel better knowing it's supposed to be this difficult!

    I wondered if anyone has used the Drawmer 1969 in their chain. I have a question about the Mercenary upgrade.
    It is a really nice and dirty sounding thing, and the Big switch is a helpful option.

    If I use the Big setting and compress hard, fast, and with a program dependent release, and crank the output gain is that sub just going to run amuck, or is the 1969 still skimming those frequencies? It sounds like it is getting some of it, but not the resonant lower frequencies. The rumble works for some stuff but feels wierd on kick drums played sloppy.

  10. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Michael, how often do you use the L2?
    I often find the L2 adding an edge to the sound, witch is maybe usefull for something that needs it.
    But with acoustic recordings i use another limiter because just putting the L2 in the signal patch makes a nasty harsness over the sound.
    Maybe the L2 is Jitterish?
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I don't really find that the L2 adds anything when in the path. When it starts working it will bring out certain things in the mix that could give the impression that something is harsh. Actually now that I think of it. I'm using a chain of weiss gear and I can say that when the single runs through this gear, it's much cleaner(I would guess) and I'm able to push the l2 harder because of it. Maybe it's eliminating jitter in the single? I have heard of a few people that thought there units sounded funny and it turns out they were going. had them repaired and all was good. I've had my unit modified by a company here. I can't say that it sounds any different but it's definately more stable.
  12. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Michael, more stable?
    Is the standart L2 unstable?

    I also find the Weiss gear very smooth sounding.
    When I use the DS1 I find myself not using the L2 because I get a better result just with the DS1... even if i get one or two 0.1db overs.
    I often find that simple is better.

    Best Regards,
  13. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    The reason a song sounds loud is not just because of the level. It is very much tied to the proper balance of precence, low end, dynamic range..
    If the sound is not EQ'd well no matter what level you put it at it won't have that big sound.
    This is the biggest shortcoming of improperly mastered music. If the eq is bad it doesn't matter how loud it is.
  14. G

    G Guest


    That's a more succinct way to say what I was trying to get across in my earlier post.

    "I am starting to realize that making something sound loud, and better are part of the same mastering process, not two seperate processes. Learning is goooooood."

    I kind of started going about it pretty wierd, but it seemed logical at first. I would get something sounding what I thought was good, and THEN I would make it "louder".

    I am smarter than I was yesterday.

  15. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    The L2 hardware is a little unstable at times, especially if you have ANY static electricity on your fingers when you touch the knobs. The knobs are not grounded and can sometimes freak out the L2. There are also some other grounding problems too but I can't remember what they are now. Anyway, this guy modified My L2 to make it more stable and so far It's great. The DS1 is one mean unit and I definately don't use much L2 anymore but i still do use it on everything i do, just not as much as before. I don't use the safe mode on the DS1 because I can hear it when it's in. I also like the way it clips for those hotter than hell records.
  16. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    I use an L2 most of the time as well. But honestly I don't use it to make things much louder. I lower the input to my A/D so I don't hit it to hard. Then I use the L2 as make up because it actually sounds better with it's limiter than clipping an A/D.

    As I'be seen here before I don't think I ever use it more than +3DB. I have done some very loud rock and hip hop records. But again it's the processing before the L2 that is giving me 90% of my juice.

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