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Low volume question



Hi all,

I write and record music as a hobby. I have read a lot of posts on here about mastering, and that most artists DO NOT master their own tracks.

I don't know if what I'm really trying to do is mastering per se, basically, my finished products of recorded songs seem really quiet on my computer speakers, or on my JBLs on my stereo. I have used compression sparingly when recording, to tighten up the mix and get signals for each track that stay consistent between -6 and -3 decibels, but still, the final product seems really quiet.

Basically, my question is, how can I get more loudness on my final mix? Something more along the range of a commerical CD. Like I said, although I take writing and recording very seriously, right now it is just my hobby and not my profession, but I still want to have final products that have a good volume level, that don't require me to crank my speakers to hear.

Any suggestions on how I can bring up the volume of my mixes without clipping? I'm using Cubase SX right now, and I'm not sure what procedure I'd use to achieve this end, or if there is software that would be better for achieving this goal. Like I said, I'm not looking for a perfect sounding, professional mix, just something that is listenable and has a decent volume level. The quality of my finished products now is good, it's just that they're awful quiet. :(

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,


Massive Mastering

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2004
Chicago area, IL, USA
Long drawn-out stories... Mixes that "want" to be loud tend to get loud with little effort. It starts before the "RECORD" button is every pressed with the original sounds before they are recorded. Arrangement, "space," dynamics inherent in the original sounds, etc.

You could try simply putting a limiter across the stereo bus and turning it up. This obvioulsy isn't the "ideal" way to deal with this, but it's quick-and-dirty and loud.

If you can't get it much louder without it sounding like complete crap, you have to work backwards to find out *why* the mix doesn't want to be loud. Is there not enough space? Are the lows taking up too much? Are individual tracks being compressed too much (or not enough)? EQ adjustments? Limiting?

The thing is, for a finished track to come out with a high crankability factor, *everything* must fall into place from the very first instrument. One weak link - A guitar that's too fuzzy, a bass with overtones, a flabby kick drum - not to even mention everything that can happen during mixing, can severely limit a mix's "potential" optimal maximum level.

With the right gear and experience (i.e., what you'd get from an experienced mastering engineer) there are ways to "cheat it" into being louder - sometimes. There's almost always a compromise (less dynamics, distortion, thinning, etc.) to the original when sheer volume takes priority over sound quality.