Discussion in 'Mastering' started by sioux, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. sioux

    sioux Guest


    I could use a little enlightenment...

    Since I first set up camp all I heard was compression and limiting. I've struggled with that forever. Finally I ran into an audio engineer who explained the peaks and valleys of audio wave forms, etc. He suggested bagging compression and limiting and just using normalizing. I did and it worked like a charm.

    So my question is, why do most people seem to use compression and limiting to make things louder when all you have to do is hit the normalize button? My music sounds a lot better too because all the dynamics are there.

  2. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Normalization will keep the dynamic relation entact, and just boost the loudest peak up to 0dBfs. This does not compress or limit the dynamic range in any way, it just makes the loudest passage on the CD peak exactly at 0dBfs. It is equivalent to a precise overall amplitude boost.

    Compression and limiting will change the dynamic content and the peak-to-rms crest factor (more RMS energy with a lower peak ratio) so the levels ride "in the red" if desired, and perceived volume is louder.

    Normalization can still be used with limiting, it is just usually the last thing you do. Depending on the accuracy of the limiter, you may have a track that is already at 0dBfs and normalizing will do nothing more.

    I'm sure others can pout it moch more eloquently...

    Later :cool:
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    depends on what you want to achieve. Compression is not only for increasing the volume, it's also used to taylor the sound. I can take a mix and a compressor and with some fine tooth tweeking, make it sound very different. different compressors achieve different results.
  4. sioux

    sioux Guest

    Thanks guys.

    I didn't know that compression was also used to tailor the sound. That's interesting news.

    My initial problem was that the end result (MP3) was never loud enough. I tried to fix that through compression and limiting. That was terrible. Finally I think I solved the problem by more accurately recording the audio tracks so that the wave forms were all close to the same, instead of some being louder than others. Then the final bounced track was very close to the correct volume before compression, limiting or normalizing. After that little discovery, I just did the normalizing to give it the final boost in volume.

    I'll reconsider adding a taste of compression and limiting and then normalizing.

    I would love to hear more information from anyone who knows their stuff. :) I would like to get this right finally.

  5. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    This is a common misconception. As stated before the reason to use a compressor should be to tailor the sound not just make it louder. How you use a compressor can change the level. The idea is the more you compress the more the levels are being averaged. Therefore you may want to use the make up gain or output gain on the compressor to "make up" for it.

    Many less experienced engineers are doing just what you are talking about. Trying to make there mix louder and turning up the output gain on the compressor. This is fine if it's the result you are looking for. But most of the time it's tailoring the dynamic range first that gives a mix that big fat (phat) warm sound we all love.

    If you are not going to have you song/record professionally mastered and as you said are happy with sound quality then it's fine to normalize.

    But as far as mastering: (this is a mastering forum) if you have your mix sounding great and the next step is to have it properly mastered, don't normalize it. It's not doing anything positive to the music and in fact is doing a lot of math to get the level up. Any good mastering engineer wants to work with the mix before anything gets done that can alter it. The mastering engineer will use what's necessary to get the level and more importantly the proper EQ and dynamic range with far better tools.
  6. sioux

    sioux Guest

    I see. Maybe I posted in the wrong place. Sorry about that. I wasn't really sure. everyone here a mastering engineer? Arrrrg.

    I am interested in getting my music professionally mastered when I think my music and production is good enough. Until then, I'm trying to master it myself and learn about it as I go along. Ideally I would like to be able to master my own cd but I'm not thupid. :)

    To tell you the truth, Joe, I think you answered my question completely and perfectly. I really understand that. Thanks. :)

  7. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    I'm glad I could help.

    I didn't mean to imply you were in the wrong place. I think it's a great question.
  8. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    I thought it was a great question as well........ one of the things i would suggest you do would be to take advantage of the critique forum.......

    you can set up an account at Nowhere Radio and post your mixes there - the reviewers can critique what you've done and you'll find a lot of helpfull suggestions on things you can try to enhance what you're going from a professionals point of view.

    It's really pretty great........

    good luck,


    [ August 27, 2003, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Rod Gervais ]
  9. sioux

    sioux Guest

    Thanks a million everyone. :)


Share This Page