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Can't Get It Loud Enough--?

Member for

21 years 2 months
I'm doing demos in my home studio using Cubase VST on a Mac. I'm mixing to stereo at 24 bits and then putting the mix through Cubase Dynamics for mild limiting and then BBE Sonic Maximizer, and then using the Dithering stage for the 16bit conversion. Then I burn to disc with Jam. So far, no matter what I've tried gets my CD even close to the loudness level of the average commercially-mastered disc. What I've tried includes doing the mix at +3db in Cubase and then boosting the gain by another 3db in Jam. It seems to have no effect. Anyone have some advice on how to get more level on the disc?
Thanks.

Comments

Member for

21 years 2 months

archived member Mon, 03/24/2003 - 09:28
It is all in the compression and limiting by the mastering engineer. You will not be able to find a plug in or find the answer in your DAW.
even though your meter says -1 or 0dBfs, you still won't be as loud.

Most mastering engineers in the loudness war, that do digital, will use a Waves L2, in conjunction with some ther outboard eq, compression and brick wall limiting. The L2 alone is not the pill.

It is all really silly. The loudness wars are causing people to give up sonics, and use more bits, to represent little dynamic range that would normally take 12-16 bits. It is stupid. But it is necessary.

If mastering at home, I would not dither. I would convert to analog, do the mastering compression and limiting in the analog realm, get it smoking, and then go to 16-bit with it. IMO, you will have a better recording than processing after it has been converted to 16-bit.

Member for

20 years 8 months

Jon Best Mon, 03/24/2003 - 09:50
Really? I think you'd have to have a couple grand in converters to beat some of the better SRC programs. Not to mention a couple grand in outboard. If you have that, then great, rock on.

Either way, choose your tools on a case by case basis, and try really hard to be objective in finding out which way sounds better to you.

Originally posted by lowdbrent:

If mastering at home, I would not dither. I would convert to analog, do the mastering compression and limiting in the analog realm, get it smoking, and then go to 16-bit with it. IMO, you will have a better recording than processing after it has been converted to 16-bit.

Member for

19 years 2 months

Doug Milton Mon, 03/24/2003 - 10:45
My question to Brew would be: besides the level not being as loud as a commercially released CD, do you like how it sounds? If your finished product sounds amazing and the end user has to turn the volume knob on their stereo, that’s ok. I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but that’s why stereos have volume knobs.

I always try to get levels to be relative to what’s happening around me, but never at the expense of sonic purity. A really loud piece of crap is just a really loud piece of crap. A great sounding CD is the goal. If that can happen in conjunction with not annihilating dynamic range, fine. Unless a client specifically asks me to hit a matching level, (as loud as Nellyville or Shania, or Saliva) I get as loud as I can without killing dynamics or squeezing the life out of it, and then it is what it is.

You may find that using individual channel compression when you’re in mix mode will help certain elements like kick, snare, vox, to have more presence in the mix without adding to the peak levels. Also, when you master it may be helpful to use several compressors in a row with very light (1.2 / 1 or 1.3 / 1) ratios which will allow you to gently squeeze your mix without smashing it. You will still have dynamics but will gain a little headroom for overall level.

Member for

21 years 2 months

archived member Mon, 03/24/2003 - 15:58
Thanks for all the input--really good info. It seems just by virtue of posting my problem, I got a little more aggressive about solving it. So, I figured out that I've just been being much to timid with master level faders--figuring that anything beyond 0db would result in distortion. However, I just decided to go for it and really slammed the level--and it worked. The newly-burned mixes sound completely in the vicinity of the average commercilly-produced CD. I really appreciate the comments about not over compressing in order to get more level as that goes along nicely with my philosophy. My music is a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars along with bass and drums. So the dynamic range considerations are very important.

Thanks again for the help--I'm new here and am amazed at the quick, constructive responses.

Member for

20 years 8 months

Jon Best Mon, 03/24/2003 - 09:50
Really? I think you'd have to have a couple grand in converters to beat some of the better SRC programs. Not to mention a couple grand in outboard. If you have that, then great, rock on.

Either way, choose your tools on a case by case basis, and try really hard to be objective in finding out which way sounds better to you.

Originally posted by lowdbrent:

If mastering at home, I would not dither. I would convert to analog, do the mastering compression and limiting in the analog realm, get it smoking, and then go to 16-bit with it. IMO, you will have a better recording than processing after it has been converted to 16-bit.

Member for

19 years 2 months

Doug Milton Mon, 03/24/2003 - 10:45
My question to Brew would be: besides the level not being as loud as a commercially released CD, do you like how it sounds? If your finished product sounds amazing and the end user has to turn the volume knob on their stereo, that’s ok. I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but that’s why stereos have volume knobs.

I always try to get levels to be relative to what’s happening around me, but never at the expense of sonic purity. A really loud piece of crap is just a really loud piece of crap. A great sounding CD is the goal. If that can happen in conjunction with not annihilating dynamic range, fine. Unless a client specifically asks me to hit a matching level, (as loud as Nellyville or Shania, or Saliva) I get as loud as I can without killing dynamics or squeezing the life out of it, and then it is what it is.

You may find that using individual channel compression when you’re in mix mode will help certain elements like kick, snare, vox, to have more presence in the mix without adding to the peak levels. Also, when you master it may be helpful to use several compressors in a row with very light (1.2 / 1 or 1.3 / 1) ratios which will allow you to gently squeeze your mix without smashing it. You will still have dynamics but will gain a little headroom for overall level.
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Member for

21 years 2 months

archived member Mon, 03/24/2003 - 15:58
Thanks for all the input--really good info. It seems just by virtue of posting my problem, I got a little more aggressive about solving it. So, I figured out that I've just been being much to timid with master level faders--figuring that anything beyond 0db would result in distortion. However, I just decided to go for it and really slammed the level--and it worked. The newly-burned mixes sound completely in the vicinity of the average commercilly-produced CD. I really appreciate the comments about not over compressing in order to get more level as that goes along nicely with my philosophy. My music is a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars along with bass and drums. So the dynamic range considerations are very important.

Thanks again for the help--I'm new here and am amazed at the quick, constructive responses.
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