mastering fo vinyl/different volume of tracks

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by romeojesus, May 3, 2004.

  1. romeojesus

    romeojesus Guest


    right about know i am about to finish a lp master that´s supposed
    to be released on vinyl...

    thats what i did so far:

    analog eq-ing and some compression


    eq and dynamic wise all the tracks sound homogenous now !!

    everything good so far......

    now i have all the tracks down on my daw
    all levels close to 0db...

    but the subjective volume levels are very different from one track
    to another...

    know what should I do??:

    a: take the tracks that appear too be loud and reduce gain digitally to the subjective (rms) level of the other ones...


    b: take the tracks that appear to be too silent and put them through a loudness maximizer a la waves L1 ... so that they keep up with the louder ones??

    this has the advantage to me that the vu levels turn out to be homogenous,too...


  2. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    I suggest using a standard (NOT peak reading) VU meter to readjust levels on your tracks. I personally would not use the L1 to make the quiet tracks louder. Also use your ears when setting levels. Do not worry about making all tracks super loud on the DAW. Make them sound the same to the ears when listening to the entire program. The cutting engineer will adjust overall level to make the side fit on vinyl anyway. It is your job to have the music flow from one track to another over the whole side so he can just set one level and the result seems natural.

    You may possibly have to rethink the levels on some of the tracks or use different EQ / compressor settings so this happens overall.

    Good Luck,
  3. romeojesus

    romeojesus Guest

    hi don!
    thanks for the reply..

    well i don´t feel good about the l1 thing,too

    so ehat i did is:

    opened some audio tracks on my logic audio
    first one with level set to 0db
    second one with level set to -1db
    third one with level set to -2db
    and so on

    then loaded the eq´ed and compressed songs (all close to0db) into the system and placed them on the different audio tracks mentioned above...loud ones on the lower level audio tracks silent(subjective) ones on the 0db audio track etc...

    so that everything sounded homogenous to the ears when switching between the different songs...

    then bounced the whole thing in logic to one big file...

    great..but some songs LOOK really thin on the bounced file..

    also i guess i lose some bits when bouncing songs to a lower level..

    listening to rercords i noticed that the peak meter shows the same
    amount of db´s when skipping through songs...

    i guess this won´t happen when using my method mentioned above...

    by the way..its a rap record...

    still a little confused.....

  4. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    just north of NYC
    Home Page:
    So, are we dealing with one song per side with, for example, "dirty", "clean", "accapella" versions?
    And, if so, are the versions mostly the same program?

    Or are there completely different songs across the side? If there are different songs (not just different versions), then perhaps the compression & processing for each song are making them look different although they still sound alike in character & level overall.I would think that despite how they looked, they would all sound like they're at the same level & this would be reflected by the readings on a regular VU meter. Then this should be no problem.
  5. romeojesus

    romeojesus Guest

    thanks for your more try....´s the deal

    it´s an album
    5 different songs per side

    now the whole album sounds homogenous

    i made the level adjustments (I reduced gain on the digital level on some tracks...

    to my ear all the tracks seem
    to have the same volume, skipping between songs sounds good to me....

    searching for peaks in this final (good sounding) mastered lp version shows me that some songs are around 98% (close to 0db)
    and some end up being around 78%...

    this big gap makes me kind of unsecure!

    thanks for the help


  6. TeeME

    TeeME Guest

    As long as ballads don't start out as loud as something that starts punchy, cool. Perspective of volume should be as the performers would do it normally. Some songs are simply louder than others and musically and production wise this should show.

    When Don said 0VU, what he was saying is that peaks close to zero may be way over zero VU. The cutting engineer will need to adjust the gain anyway for the it does not hurt at all to run them less hot than peaks at zero. For most of the upbeat music I do, a zero VU will peak around -2dB and this is for the really quick ones. It does not have to hit zero on every song at all. This is the trend that is ruining the recording arts.
  7. DefBringa

    DefBringa Guest

    i think that i quite understand what you worry about

    some files have less amplitude but the subjective loudness is the same.
    this might be the result that you have used more compression in this track or that you have less sub bass in this song that is eating a lot of the loudness in other songs.

    i would rather do less compression and/or limiting on the louder tracks than maximising the quieter ones.
    more dynamic range is a musical profit !!!

    i would also try to as less processing on the finished material as possible.
    when applying processing to finished tracks you should really be very carefull, you can easily damage a lot.

    even a digital change of gain will subtract some of the sonic information from the material.

    the bouncing in logic definitly changes the material !!!

    this is what i am very concerned about at the moment.
    i am trying to set up my system the way that i do not have to bounce to audio at any time.

    i am still sarching for the best way of digitally recording the mixdown on one of my two DAW systems that are hooked up together.
    although you bounce to 24bit or do proper dithering you will always hear a difference between playback from your sequencer and the bounced down file.

    this is because the digital system is playing back your tracks like parallel.
    so you hear all the individual parts just playing back together.
    then all the information is calculated into two stereo tracks and that changes the material.
    that is one of the main differences of mixing down digitally or analog.

    this is a quite complicated thing and the reason why there are prof mastering engineers...

    if you want to get into it i recoomend bob katz`s mastering audio book...
  8. romeojesus

    romeojesus Guest

    i did some research yesterday and skipped through
    some of my records at home observing
    db levels on a 30segment meter very closely
    and i found out that the levels of the songs
    differ up to 4-5 db´s within one side of an album...
    (hip hop there´s no ballad issue here :)

    then i checked my songs and they just differ about 2-2,5 db´s

    so i guess everything is ok....

    just got misleaded by the visuals appearance of the audio files
    on my daw and picking one album that had very close db levels...

    should´ve trusted my ears in the first place

    thanks you for helping me

  9. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Oct 17, 2001
    321 West 44th Street Suite 1001
    Home Page:
    He Don,

    When did you move to Masterdisk? Hope all works out for you over there.
  10. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    Home Page:

    I have a question for you. When you listen to the sides of the album, as one songs flows into the next do you find yourself reaching for the volume controls (or anything else? - EQ or compression?). If you do, I would consider changing those songs by the amount you tend to want.

    I have recorded a fair number of vinyl LPs - admittedly, a good number of them were schlock records by unknowns to be sold at festivals or revival meetings, but they were good practice for developing methods that lead to consistency between songs.

    One thing I learned when mixing was to ALWAYS mix at the same volume level. That way the the Fletcher Munsen curve always gives your ears the same aural perceptory EQ.

    Try listening to your sides all the way through without touching anything. Do it at 85dB on a sound pressure level meter to see how the balance between lows and highs is (that is the level that FM tells us our ears have the flattest freq response at). Then listen all the way through at lower levels to see if the songs still flow, because most people will probably listen at a lower level than 85dB.

    I do not recommend relying on the mastering engineer to do anything. They can only do so much while the lathe is cutting. If you need a lot of changes between songs you are going to pay for a lot of setup time. If you don't want to do that, he might set his limiter to handle any unexpected peaks rather aggresively and you are going to get unexpected results.

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