Maximizing after Mastering:

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by kabb, Oct 5, 2004.

  1. kabb

    kabb Guest

    I'm in a bit of a dilema..

    After testing out the demo versions of various mastering plugins (Waves,Tracks,PSP etc) I still can't seem to get my tracks as loud as others in my itunes library.

    Whilst the plugins added an overall leveling of balance and some nice sonic tweaking.. they still have not made my mixes as loud as I want them.

    I know that if they become too loud then some nasty distortions can start to occur but how do other artists get their tracks at a good loud level? That's all I want.. just to be able to put MY CD on after someone elses and not need to crank the volume up!!

    Any suggestions/advice would be very much appriciated.

    Thanks in advance

  2. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Ahhh, the eternal "make-it-hotter" question.

    Hotter, Bigger, Wider, ect.. Starts at the very beginning not the end. You need to use alot of tender lovin' care.
    The loud chain looks something like this
    Great Musicians-Great Mics-Great Preamps-Great Room-great signal chain-great monitors- great engineer-great mixdown-great mastering engineer.

    I don't mean to be cute, It's the just the only way that I know how to make a mix sound "loud and great" not just "loud and bad".

    Which, describes about 90% of what I hear on the radio these days. The "race to the top" in volume, has sucked all dynamics out of music AND is creating a terrible paradigm for what the general listening public regards good quality as.

    Sorry for the rant, but a well deserved one at least.

  3. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    If you are just wanting to have YOUR copy of the track be as loud as the rest of your I-Tunes library - run your mix through the Waves L2. This is probably the most over-used mastering limiter, but it does what you ask. As far as hard limiting goes, the L2 is the easiest, and one of the most transparent limiters avalible to get rid of any signs of dynamics (a bit of sarcasm there). Use it in moderation.

    I know Windows Media Player can add "Automatic Volume Leveling" (AVL) to the media. All this does is get a rough RMS level for the track, and "indexes" it. When the track is played, the volume control will automatically adjust to bring the average RMS level of the track to a "standard" level. It does NOT affect the Audio File, it just adds a "volume index value" to tell the volume control how high/low to go.

    If you are looking to release your CD or do anything somewhat serious with it (not just play it on your PC), have a good Mastering House give you a hand. They will likely do less damage than an L2 would (but it takes talent and time - I don't have either ;) )

  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Amen, brother (LDA).

    The "maximum potential volume" of a mix is decided when the song is written - It's the arrangement, instrumentation, mic selection, recording technique, mixing style - It's all nickels trying to add up to a dollar.

    On the plugins issue, I haven't found a set of plugs that can give the "beef" of quality analog gear. Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan and user of the UAD collection (I gave up on Waves). As cool as those plugs are, they aren't a substitue for (A) a good mix, (B) great mastering gear and (C) an experienced engineer.

    Again, I'm not "dissing" plugins - I WISH I could get a $1000 set of plugs that would take over for $5000 compressor, but I just don't see it happening.

    Remember the remake of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum? Remember the steak that was run through the pods? Technically, it was a steak, but it just "didn't taste real" in the end.
  5. kabb

    kabb Guest

    "remember the steak that was run through the pods? Technically, it was a steak, but it just "didn't taste real" in the end."

    LOL and very true.

    Hey.. I really appriciate the advice and wisdom so far.

    As an experienced musician/composer/producer I have always left the mastering to the main men at Metropolis or Town House here in the UK. But with regards to sending mixes out to clients (weather they're in early stages or later stages) .. I just want a quick and easy plugin to do my volume maximizing for me.

    The Waves bundle I tried.. I was mostly impressed with the Multimaximizer as it seemed very transparent but I wish I'de have given the L2 more time now as I have heard good things from many sources.

    Should I master/maximize the tracks in Waveburner or at the end of my Mix in Logic?

    Seems that the end of the mix thing just doesn't get the volume up there..

    Thanks for now

  6. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    I'd do it seperately whether in Waveburner (I'm not familiar with the program) or open up a new session in Logic. Then you can concentrate solely on the "mastering" part of it.

    The other thing you can do is compress your "stems"...
    meaning, run a compressor for your drums, one for your vocals, one for your band (non drums)...this may or may not make your MIX itself punchier, but I do it almost every time when I mix. Especially since you're mixing in Logic, it kind of simulates the way a bus on an analog console sums audio.

    You also may want to undo this (or not) when you send it for "real" mastering. ;)
  7. mark4man

    mark4man Active Member

    Massive Mastering,

    Have you used the new Precision mastering grade limiter in the UAD-1 suite? If is it:

    Also: If you had to choose one plug from UAD-1 that would be comparable to (or better than) the L2...

    would it be the:

    Fairchild 670 (a compressor I know,but isn't it true it sports a great limiter preset?),
    Teletronix LA-2A,
    (or the new Precision limiter)?

    Thanks very much,


    BTW - kabb, I too suffer from the same syndrome (seeking that industry standard RMS.)
  8. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I've had the Precision Limiter from only moments after it became available.

    IMO, it is THE best digital limiter plug out there.

    As far as comparing to the L's, the only brickwall limiter on the UAD is the new Precision Limiter. At $200, it's a steal.

    Keep in mind that I'm very much NOT a fan of squashing a mix with ANY limiter. Mine is on as a safety net and I rarely if ever use more than .75-1dB of gain reduction on it. There are MUCH better ways to get "loud" than using a digital limiter. But if it needs to be done, the PL does it in a style that the others just don't have. Head-to-head, the difference and transparency was plain to hear.

    It was the death blow to my Waves collection, which I'm transferring to another studio now that they have absolutely no use here anymore.
  9. Ed Littman

    Ed Littman Guest

    the big boys clip the converters when capturing from the analog chain.
  10. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Really? I guess this will vary with the quality of the A/D? I have noticed in my feeble attempt at a fatter drum sound, some light A/D clipping WILL fatten it up. Only on transients, but it still seemed to help - but I have sense (the past year) tried leaving some headroom whilst tracking. Maybe I sould dive further into experimenting with this A/D clipping? Any suggestions for a semi-pro (me)? :cool:
  11. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Have you heard the free TLS Maximizer? When I did I was very surprised at how much better it sounded than the L2.
  12. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    how do you mean better than the L2? The only thing i've found that competes with the L2 is the L3. That is if you're using it as a peak limiter and not a compressor.
  13. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I should probably mention that I've never been crazy about the software L's to begin with - At least when smashing.

    Again, I almost never use ANY plug limiters for increasing sheer volume. Just as a final "wall" to keep me at -0.3dB. If I'm ever more than 1dB into the limiter, I did something wrong somewhere along the way.

    David - Tried the TLS and I agree - It has a much more transparent "smash-factor" than the L's do. However, I still find that the UAD-PL still has an edge - Especially in the low end. It's freaky how hard you can push that thing...

    Randy - Yup - Sometimes a little light clipping is in order. And yup, just like limiters, certain converters have more "style" when being abused. One of the reasons I went with the Lavry is how much more transparent they were compared to Apogee's SoftLimit or the Nova stuff. Not that I "normally" push them, but it's nice to know that they're able to be pushed.

    Of course, "IMO" and "YMMV" yada, yada, yada...
  14. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    ...Not all the big boys.
    But i often hear that on CD's, it sounds interesting but also more diffuse.

    - If you do it to much(with still not audible clipping) you will get a wierd diffuse sound out of it.
    - If you put the level to low you will not have the effect.

    It's a compromise!
  15. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    John, Do you use your UAD with a Mac or PC?
    I've been using it with PC and MAC. With both platforms there was issues.
    But maybe the problem with it on mac was the magma pci expansion?
    I did like the werb though.
    Does anybody use/like that Sony harware convolution rewerb thing in mastering? what about Wilder at Sony NYC?

    I don't use plugs for mastering. Maybe I'm old fasioned but when I've first seen something wrong then I'm not turning back to it.

    How many ME's in here use plugs?
  16. radarhead

    radarhead Guest

    Why is everyone obsessed with having their tracks louder than everyone elses? Whether its in plug in form or whether you go through a professional mastering house it seem the norm is about +14 db these days. Whatever happened to dynamics in music????I'd rather my masters were allowed to breathe a bit than come out of the speakers at a constant loudness that gives one a headache after to 2 tracks of listening. I dispair at the constant desire to squash programme material till it all ends up one loudness. Someone start mastering like they used to maybe we can re-educate people about dynamics. I blame protools myself! yuch.
  17. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I guess it depends on what your chain is in regards to the L2. My L2 hardware comes after my weiss gear and I think it's very transparent. Again, this is if you're using it as a peak limiter and not a compressor. The amount of peak reduction is not the measure of whether or not you're hitting it too hard. It's what it's hitting. If it is kicking in on RMS program, then it becomes a really hard compressor and it sucks as a compressor. I'll use a plugin here and there if I need something and my outboard gear is attending to something else. But I don't rely on any plugin to do the meat and potatoes work. I haven't found 1 plugin that outperforms dedicated hardware. Maybe it has to do with the architecture of plugins and the limitations of having to run inside a DAW designed for another purpose? could be. If a piece of gear is designed and built to do a specific task without restricting it to having it be able to perform other tasks or have to conform to a code because the hardware was designed to do something else, how could a plugin compete.
  18. eddies880

    eddies880 Guest

    After running my final through my finalizer,Ive found that running it through a sonic maximer,or through my aural exciter really helps it quite a bit,especially the exciter (Big bottom,really roomy,gotta be careful though,sometimes too much is not a good thing)
  19. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Henrik -

    I use the UAD in a PC. Agreed, sometimes it took a little nudge to get it working correctly (it was an IRQ issue here).

    Agreed on the plugs also - I *almost* always use some sort of brickwall (currently the UAD-PL) and *maybe* the Pultec plug (that thing is amazing) but for the most part, it's in the hardware.

    The plugs can sure come in handy with the projects that need "body work" though. I find that the ratio of plugs to harware sways with how good the mix is. If I'm simply enhancing a good mix (what every project should be), it's almost exclusively hardware.

    If I'm trying to make a bad sounding mix "less irritating" the plugs tend to come out in force.
  20. beachhunt

    beachhunt Guest

    I noticed the question was about "maximizing after mastering" rather than during, so if you still want to do that, then instead of trying to squash your songs UP to the other itunes tracks, how about bringing all those other songs DOWN in volume? Assuming they're mp3 (I don't use itunes, so I might easily be wrong there), you can use MP3gain from to level all of the volumes without affecting the sound quality (it changes a gain bit in the mp3 file, instead of performing an actual gain change in the music). Then, at least, all of your dynamics will remain intact, instead of being flattened by a leveling amp. Not only would your song be "as loud as" the competition, but it could sound better, since it'd be more dynamic ;)

    MP3gain only works with mp3s, though, because of the "gain bit" which isn't present in stuff like wav files. If your itunes songs are wavs, you could still open them up and quiet them down a bit but, unless you have a batch program that can match levels, that might take too long to be worth doing.

    Just a couple thoughts,

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