RMS level and maintaining odb

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by jazzbass12, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    I was reading an article that said your final mix should be between -10rms and -15rms and be at about 0db (Sound on Sound Aug 03 issue).
    How do you get your mix at at that level (RMS).
    My mixes are at 0 db but my avg RMS is at -8. Would this not proove to be tiring for the listener over time?

    I think Ihave asked another loaded question.
  2. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    if your numbers are correct, then your mixes are louder then they recommend. depends on what kind of material it is as to whether it's too loud. If it's a hip hop record and the kicks are hitting -8rms then it's not too loud. if it's a classical record and the strings are riding at -8 rms then it's too loud.
  3. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    Hey JazzBass12 (why the 12, are there 11 other Jazzbasses around here? :D )

    I think that all depends on the style of music the tracks are. A solid rock song without much difference in volume between chorus and verse could (in my opinion) end up being about -8 average RMS and still sound ok, but a sensitive ballad would probably sound 'squished' if it had an average RMS like that. That is if you maintain a peak level of O dB, which is in fact what you want to do.

    However, in the end, what matters is not the numbers, but ya ears. The numbers are just an imperfect representation of a single particular measure of the sound. But I do think that for most tracks, averaging -8 RMS while not screwing up the song will be hard to achieve. Not necessary either. Dig up any other thread on this forum and find out that most people here agree that louder is not always better.

    For your reference, I usually end up with something between -15 and -10 RMS, but I settle for less if trying to increase it messes up the dynamics in the song. For example, if I would have a song with a relatively quiet intro of about 30 seconds (whether one should do that in a 3 minute song is a question for a different forum), the average RMS will logically be lower than if I had a song with a more steady volume throughout. I think trying to get an average RMS of -8 would not be a wise thing to do in that case. In general, setting that kind of measurable goals for mastering is not a wise thing to do in my opinion.

    The best way to go is to compare your own stuff to commercial releases that sound like you want your tracks to sound.

    Please note that I am an utter amateur, this is just my experience, for what it's worth.

    Regards, Rob.
  4. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    Seems like Michael's advice got posted while I was typing mine, but he appears to be saying about the same thing. :D
  5. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    I am a amatuer myself. My particular track is a rock song with some strings (how typical of a home studio recording).
    Well here is the thing my song is -8rms and I really dont want it to be loud and sound like the newer stuff. I have been A/B a ref song that one is -15rms and sound great.
    How do I lower the RMS value and still stay at my 0db? :p:
  6. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Hi Guys,
    From what I've learned over the years, the "Industry Standard" is -14. There has been a lot of talk about newer recordings being mastered so hot it's stupid. You look at them on the wave window and it's one big huge wash with no definition and all the peaks are chopped! This becomes very tiresome to listen too, and is totally uncalled for in my mind. Make "dynamic" music, after all...that's what music is. It's a shame to record a great cd and then master it so loud that you can't listen to it, and it loses all it's character.
    **And on another note, if you have any plans to have your songs on the radio, anything above -13 will get Squashed to bits and sound terrible.

    As far as trying to stay at 0db, I woundn't be concerned with that. Concentrate on getting each song to the same RMS level. This will make the biggest difference.

    Strive for between -14 and -13.

  7. mjones4th

    mjones4th Active Member

    you're right launchpad, but record execs don't give a flying hoot. they just want their stuff as loud as the guy down the hall.

    I do hip hop and I squish my stuff. Hip hop is not a dynamic music (maybe certain songs or artists, but not overall) and most of my instrumentation is MIDI and samples, so I'm already short on dynamics.

    I don't even pay attention to RMS levels with my stuff, what I do is compare it to commercial music of the same genre, and kinda 'earball' it.
    But then again, I only work with my stuff, and I'm not capable of that pro, gleamy sound, and I have no budget, and....
  8. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    Thanks for all the input.
    If my mix is at 0db and-8rms,how do I get the rms down to -14 or reasonable level without dropping my 0 db?
  9. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Don't worry about the 0db. You are at -8db right now and that is way too loud. Just drop the master until you reach an average RMS of -14 to
    -13. This will give you the best results!
    I just mastered a cd for a client and not 1 song was at 0db.(most peaked around -3 if I remember) But they all are between -13/-14 db RMS. Just as loud if not a little louder than most commercial products.

  10. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Why would you worry about maintaining it at 0dB in the first place? That's not the objective of the exercise - maintaining a high signal-noise-ratio is. And if you drop from -8 to -14 RMS, it doesn't matter if your peaks are still 0dB or not. Noise still "increases" anyway.

    -14dB RMS does allow for more dynamic interaction compared to -8dB without clipping, though. Much better to have a tiny bit more noise than have squashed-sounding music.
  11. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    Falkon2: I agree with you. What you say is along the lines of my reply to the original post. :c:

    Anyone correct me if I'm wrong, but simply lowering the master will not do any good to the dynamics. You'll merely lower the overall volume, while maintaining about the same peak to average ratio, right? Like falkon2 says, this will only increase the noise share of the track. It does allow for more dynamics, but you will have to adjust your other equipment as well (limiter, compressor, etc.) to open up the space.

    To a certain extent I agree with launchpad67 on being concerned with the 0 dB for peak level. But on the other hand, why not aim for 0 dB peak level while at the same time aiming for -14 (or whatever) RMS?? This will in principle allow the largest dynamic range. If everyone's so concerned about all music being squished to death, I think it is worth emphasising that it is *not only* average RMS that matters.

  12. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Yeah... sorry if I sounded a tad offensive in that post. Not my intention at all.

    What I was trying to say was don't do something just for the sake of doing it (or because everyone else seems to do so). Find out WHY they do what they do, what benefits and limitations there are, etc, and THEN apply to the situation at hand.
  13. launchpad67a

    launchpad67a Guest

    Very well said gentlemen. You are exactly correct.

  14. Rob de Boer

    Rob de Boer Guest

    I think Jazzbass knows what he should do now. Don't use your eyes to see if a track sounds good, you got ears for that. Use the numbers as rough guidelines only.

    :c: to everyone

  15. jazzbass12

    jazzbass12 Active Member

    Thanks for all the input. I agree with the ears as the primary tool. I have always been a "why" type person. My CD is sounding pretty good. I am avg. about -1.3 db the rms is about -15 and sounds fine for a project studio.
    Once I got my levels close I just closed my eyes and adjusted accordingly.

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