How do I add volume to a song without clipping?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by JSRockit, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    I have a new batch of about 20 songs I just finished working on and when I put them on a CD, they are low in volume. The last CD I did was much louder in volume. Basically, they are all pushed as much I can push them without clipping. How can I get these tracks to have more volume?
     
  2. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    There is an easy way! Hire a talented pro mastering engineer and you will be very happy.
    Anything else is ...
     
  3. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    Typical response, to a typical question... I guess. I'm not going to a mastering engineer...so what are some things I can try on my own?
     
  4. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    So, there is nothing I can do I my end? I'm not selling my CD, so I am not paying a great deal of money to get it mastered. I also do not mind lo-fidelity...but the low volume is killing me. Especially since I have done better before.
     
  5. Caisson

    Caisson Guest

    Ive ran my low volumed mixes through T-Raks...I used the limiter and boosted the Dbs no problem..
     
  6. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    Hmmm...don't have T-Racks. What are the setting you should use on a "Brickwall" limiter (which I keep reading about)?
     
  7. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    How are you mixing your tracks down to stereo? When you play them back what are your stereo output meters reading?

    Need a bit more info to be able to properly address this question.
     
  8. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    In logic express...I am mixing down 8-20 tracks to a stereo wav. On the stereo out (master out) I have the levels as high as I can get them before they go into the red. When I try to use the limiter on the master out it either pumps or sounds horrible. I've never had this problem before. I can't figure it out.
     
  9. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    You may have reached the volume where the mix wants to be.

    It may take serious coaxing to go further (not T-Racks or a brickwall limiter).

    You might try adding judicious compression at the track and bus level where needed (IF needed). If the tracks and buses are already heavily compressed or limited, that very well might be your problem - Ramming overly comressed tracks into a compressor (or limiter) dosen't tend to sound pretty.
     
  10. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    I can compress the tracks, but then the output goes into the red. If I turn down the output from the master fader, then I'm back to having my track that is too low.
     
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    THERE IS NO SET IT AND FORGET IT FIX.

    It takes years for people to get to the point of cranking their mixes to compete with commercial releases.

    I don't know how else to say it. If it were as easy as popping a plugin on the mix bus, then it would be that easy and there wouldn't be any mastering engineers.

    Until that day, you'll have to try different things until you get it where you like it. But since every mix has it's own issues, i don't think that day will come. Only experience will get you there. I know it's not the answer you want to hear, but that's the way it is. Even if one person has an opinion, that's one guys take on the situation. Every ME will have a different opinion.
     
  12. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    Well, I am glad you are so full of yourself Michael. This forum is the most unfriendliest place I have been to. I wasn't asking for set it and forget it fix... just some things that I could try on my own to figure out what I am doing wrong. However, all you get here is people telling me to spend money or that it is not easy. If I took that advice, I will never learn. Yes, if I was recording for a living, I would spend the money on an ME. However, in the mean time...I just am trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong so I can make mixes that are barable to listen to.
     
  13. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Whoah, easy JS. This is a friendly place, but just because you don't like the answer (which was spot on, by the way), don't sling mud at Michael. I can't go to an auto racing forum and ask an IRL mechanic how to make my pickup truck run like an Indy car. Why? Because

    1. I don't have the specialized tools that he has.
    2. I don't have his experience.
    3. He doesn't know the first thing about my truck or what kind of condition it's in.
    4. We may be talking apples and oranges, since he works on Indy cars and I'm working on a pickup truck (the problem may not be with your final levels, but further up the chain, perhaps with the mix itself).

    among other things.

    But, as a starting point, make sure that you understand exactly what it is that makes digital audio on a CD "loud." You're saying that even when the master meter is indicating clipping, the audio still isn't loud. At the same time, you say that under heavy limiting on the master bus, the mix pumps. I'd explore those 2 points deeper and see if they might be related.

    In a mix, with regard to mastering (which is FAR more than making a mix "loud"), dynamics and overall level (what you refer to as "loud"ness) are typically mutually exclusive. More of one means less of the other. For maximum overall volume, you will need to find a way to maintain a consistent level on the master bus. This means that that slammin' kick that you love in the mix may either need to come down in level, or be compressed to sit in the mix a little better. I'm guessing that when you say the master meter indicates clipping, it's only momentary (the attack of a given instrument; maybe the kick, maybe the snare, maybe the attack of the guitar). Consequently, when you limit the master output, that one instrument is engaging the limiter, causing an audible pump across the whole mix. Go back to the original mix and see if you can identify any one particular track or combination of tracks that are punching through periodically. They may sound great, but if they're sticking out front and eating up your headroom, you'll have a very hard time getting a good sounding, louder CD with the rudimentary tools that you are using. So, if this is the problem, find a way to tame that track(s). It would be easiest to address this by either reducing that track's level in the mix, or applying compression to that/those individual track(s).

    Additionally, there could be some very low frequency information that is eating up headroom, but isn't that audible on your playback system(s). Maybe try a highpass filter in the neighborhood of 40 hZ to make sure there's nothing nasty sneaking through and getting in the way.

    These are only 2 suggestions and potential fixes to your problem. It is absolutely impossible for anyone here to give the specific quick-fix answer that you have demanded without having heard your mix. Again, please don't fly off the handle and get upset because you don't like the answers you've been given. It's the old addage "Don't ask a question to which you don't want the answer."

    Good luck.
     
  14. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    Ok, thank you. I have a feeling the tracks are doomed. However, it gives me a good idea of what not to do in the future.
     
  15. heathen22

    heathen22 Guest

    There you go thats the most intelligent thing you've written,you just had your first mastering lesson.What not to do,whatever it was.
     
  16. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Well here's a thought right off the bat - If you're COMPRESSING something and it INCREASES in volume, something is very, very wrong...

    Unless you're using one of those goofy maul-the-band (multi-band) compressor/maximizers... If that's the case, try it with standard compression - The volume and dynamic range should DECREASE approximately the amount of gain reduction, allowing you to then push it back up. MBC's in the hands of someone who doesn't really, REALLY understand how to use it will almost always case much more harm than good...
     
  17. Rider

    Rider Guest

    its probably an auto-gain adjustment making it louder. a lot of plugins compensate volume by default.

    okay, anything you do is gonna be half assed as far as finalizing goes, but thats unavoidable unless you wanna shell out the cash to have an engineer do it.

    basically.

    EQ it if it needs it, want to make it decently flat. listen A/B to a mixed song through your stereo with your EQ settings, and without. if you mix it where it sounds 'right', then youll end up running it through a stereo and getting extreme sharpnesss and boominess.

    multiband compression. generally about 20 attack, 100 release, 1.2:1 ratio on mids, 1.4:1 on the rest. sub can jack the peak up fast if its not balanced well in the mix. you want 3 bands. only sub in low (where you cant hear any instruments really, just thump and low end bass) generally roll off around 150hz at most.highs usually above 8khz, only capture the cymbols and the highest breathy noises. set the thresh so it is only shaving off a few dB from each band. this will pump a few more dB out. theres a good free multiband compressor out there, by slim slow slider (i think thats the name).

    -----you might skip the multiband if you dont really know what your doing, as said above, you could end up messing up your songs with it, especially if you overcompress it will sound detatched-----

    limiter. get one that has out celling, set it to -0.1. set the thresh down to as loud as you want, if you go too far youll end up oversquishing your mix, or sometimes actually distorting it. youll definitely notice its too far when a huge sub part hits and it ducks everything else down (unless you like that effect, sometimes has a nice musical quality to it). if you hear pumping in your song youve set it too far down.

    USE THE LEVEL METER and set it to peak/rms.

    generally mixes have an RMS of -10dB, at least rock/metal does. if you can hit -10dB without any problems, youre doing pretty good, as itll sound pretty clear on any setero system. your mix is probably sitting at -20dB or so.

    also use a spectrum analyzer after youve tweaked, it can show you a lot of things if you know what to look for. usually you can do it by ear, but an analyzer can point out overlooked problems. also will help you tell where your sub lies (usually is solid and doesnt move much) and highs are (they usually move a LOT) as well as tell how flat your response is.

    as i said its better to get an engineer to go through it, since they can pinpoint problems that you may only hear years down the road in a matter of seconds. they have the equipment to push your songs to competitive mixes without any problems.
     
  18. JerryTubb

    JerryTubb Guest

    exactamundo! :wink:

    as a constructive suggestion:

    you might hire a friendly qualified mastering engineer in your area to do 3 of your tunes,
    see if he'll let you attend the session, maybe you'll pick up a few pointers. 8)
     
  19. JSRockit

    JSRockit Guest

    Yeah, the problem is that I switched computers, so I made loops of all of the beats I was working on. Those beats were not ready though...and my BX5s did not let me know that. Before I got rid of everything, I should have listened to them on other cheap systems...and I didn't. It is a rough lesson, but oh well.
     
  20. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Ahh my good friend experience has come to visit.

    Now don't throw it out without learning as much as you can from it. You paid for it already so you might as well get all you can.

    Engineers that work alone have a pretty hard time figuring it out. When I was a budding mix engineer back in the late 80's, I made friends with experienced veteran's. I would take something I was working on and walk down the hall to where one of them was working and they would listen to it with me and give me some ideas. they are called mentors. They would point out problems and acknowledge good things. over the years you build up enough knowledge to make things good. I would wash their car, get them a sandwich, whatever I could to show my appreciation.

    Very skilled engineers that I know still do this. They have other engineer friends and they all listen to each others stuff and throw their 2 cents in. They go out to dinner, buy each other drinks. This is even after engineering 20 years.
     

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