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I have been reading about how to record and master music. I played all instruments and recorded a song in my little 14' x 14' studio. I have been using Sonar 8.5 for 3 months. I posted this song last week, but everyone here said that it was very muddy, so I have been working on it this week.

My question is:

How loud should it be, or should it not be?

Right now, it is about as loud as I can get it without the life getting sucked out of it. I can make it loud, but I have no idea how to keep the dynamics and prevent compression pumping or limiting, or what ever causes the weak sound pumping thing.

Here is my finished piece.

Also, on a scale of 1 to 10, how does it sound?

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TheJackAttack Tue, 11/23/2010 - 20:19

I haven't listened to it. Your key sentence is "everyone here said that it was very muddy." Muddy has absolutely menta nada to do with loud. Muddy has to do with bad mixing. If you get each instrument and vocal to sit in the mix properly without mud, then you can worry about cranking the master fader to 11. Let the sun shine in and dry up some of the mud.

Telewanger Tue, 11/23/2010 - 20:44

No, I said that everyone was saying that it was very muddy, last week. This is a new mix from today.

I don't know much about Mastering at all, except what little that I have read and I watched a few videos on youtube. Eq, compression, and limiting is like a serious mystery to me, but I want to learn how to do it correctly, or as best that I can for my home projects.


Bertrand Batz Wed, 11/24/2010 - 08:25

Man, actually there is no recipe.

I didn't listen to it too, but some advices are always useful...

When you are mixing, you could do dial in some EQ, and be ruthless about cutting everything you don't need in a track. You should have a space for everything. I mean, the bass drum should be in a frequency range of its own, the bass should have his own 'space' etc... Im my mixes, particularly, I try to cut the low on guitars and keyboards, and voices and the other stuff, to give bass its own space in the bass frequencies...same way, my bass doesn't need to have much highs etc...

each case has its own particularities.

I find it useful to read this material...

has a lot of insights on the subject, but it takes some reading and testing on its principles, to see if they work for you.

Voiceofallanger Thu, 11/25/2010 - 01:15

That thread is amazing. Wonderfind! Nice :) It's also nice to be reminded of some things that I already knew in there but got lazy on. Don't mean to hi-jack, but just wanted to say thanks.

I think if I have anything to say here it would be what jackattack already said.. "Loudness has nothing to do with mud" If it becomes muddy as it's louder that's because you are turning the mud in your mix up just like everything else.

The best way I can propose that you use EQ to get rid of this is. Take one of your tracks and solo it. Set the EQ on that channel to a really narrow band (so turn the range down).. Then whack the DB right up to the top so your previously flat EQ will have a really thin mountain shape on the line. Then move along the range until you use the swishy noise that will inevitably occur as you move along to find a really god awful horrid frequency. Once you've zoned in on this vile noise then you can take the EQ back down again and take a touch or a load of that horrid noise out.

Likewise it works in reverse. Sometimes you can zone in on a frequency which gives things a nice tone. Ie. Lots of things have frequencies which add clarity. If you stumble across something like this then just throw a touch more in by notching it up.

I find it's all a lot of practice and messing about like most things but that's a good way to start clicking on to the general idea.

For a good example of what I mean to help you get better with EQ take a plain old kick drum sound and set your EQ to small range and boost it up. If you scroll to usually like 5-8k (somewhere in there , not the whole range) you will find the click in the bass drum and you can adjust how much of this you want in. This is just a really blatant example of what I'm talking about. Instruments have certain character notched around certain frequencies and once you learn to scoop out the horrible ones a bit and touch up the nice ones, that's when things start to sound nice.

Hope this helps. EQ use is debatable just like everything else but this should help you get a good grounding in what you might be overlooking. Oh and PS. Don't ever rely on EQ. Try to get things to sound good as they go into your mic or w/e. What I'm trying to say is, you can take a lot of the strain off having to use EQ and compression by really focusing on your placement etc originally before the sound hits your software :)

I'll leave compression to the "pros" because whilst I can use it no problem I think that is something that really needs a lot of experience behind it to explain. The principle of it is easy, but "correct" use of it is a VERY broad topic.

Take care man, good luck with the mix :)


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