Alsihad, making it work with just a DAW

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
i've been trying some things.i totally appreciate all of everyones advice who have answered my questions. i have definitly improved my mastered product.

i only have one more question. well it's kind of a statement and question.

there is no friggin way i can get my mixes as loud as say a sum 41 , avril lavinge or even the wwf forcebale entry album with just a daw is there?

sure i could get it as loud, but it would wind up squashed. all of these examples some would say are already squashed but i don't puke when i hear them . when i have my tunes that same loudness level it sounds dreadfull.

i guess when it comes right down to it with just a daw,if you want the music to have dynamics and tone, there is only so far you can take it.

have i come to the undeniable truth or is there hope out there.

chris perra
 

audiowkstation

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
Their are some tricks.

I had a client that wanted their CD LOUD!

I wanted to maintain high definition (hell, my name was going on it and I have a reputation to serve), wide freqency response, wide dynamics and plenty of slam.

The top level with both compromises (my definition still there etc.. and their average volume level achieved) in the DAW was about 2dB shy of the "super loud" CD they brought by as a reference. When I was about to say, that's it fellows, cannot go any louder, I brought out another bag of tricks and we all got what we were wanting.

Seems as though my Philips Stand alone CD recorder using analog inputs (Modded CDR870) can get above the digital zero in metering without clipping the wave tops. It does things to the dynamics to fool the meters into over without really being digital clipping..hence it loads and unloads the dynamics to bring up the average even more, and unloads quick for the peaks. Kind of like an inaudible trampoline..physically speaking.

Well, I ran the 2-bus into the analog input of this machine and hand edited the burn to CD. They were delighted. We both got what we wanted in the compromise.

As it has been pointed out above, the mix needs to sit really tight. Some mixes I get are so close that any eq adjustments seem to be detrimental to the vibe. A shade of dynamic sweetning, channel balance, and it is done. Editing heads and tails etc..

Look at all options.
 

Michael Fossenkemper

Distinguished past mastering moderator
Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2002
It's really the sum of all the parts. It all adds up in the end. 1) the best mixes you can get 2) pulling the mixes off the best player you can get your hands on (DAT, CD, 1/2", etc...) 3) Running all your signal through high quality cable. 4) have a great pair of monitors to reveal every little thing because you can't tweek what you can't hear. 5) having the best gear money can buy ( the cd's you mentioned are running through some serious gear. I've spent more on 1 piece of outboard gear than most entire DAW's cost. It does make a difference). 6) experience! This is the most important thing of them all. The more you work and experiment, the better your masters will sound. the more knowledge you have with eq's, compressors, limiters etc... the more you'll be able to exploit them. You are comparing your work to others that have spent most of their life refining their skills and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars equiping themselfs with very specialized tools and even more on the environment in which they use them. Mastering is a progression, just like guitar playing or piano playing. A great guitar does not make me a guitar player, but a great guitar player can make even the cheapest guitar sound pretty good. You can make your DAW sound very good, but your DAW will not make you sound good. Keep pluggin away and you will get better and keep improving your tools.
 

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2002
Bill,
In your previous post you said,
"Seems as though my Philips Stand alone CD recorder using analog inputs (Modded CDR870) can get above the digital zero in metering without clipping the wave tops. It does things to the dynamics to fool the meters into over without really being digital clipping..hence it loads and unloads the dynamics to bring up the average even more, and unloads quick for the peaks. Kind of like an inaudible trampoline..physically speaking."
I have heard that with the O/F ADATS there's 8 dB headroom past digital zero. I have hit ADATS at 0dB reasonably hard in the past and have never detected any clipping but I have never had the ability to graphically examine the waveform. It always sounded good to me. I used to print my mix to 2 tracks of ADAT when I mixed, being able to punch in and out of mix's was pretty cool before DAW's became so prevalent. I would "pack" the meters pretty hard and the mix's always sounded good. The only negative feedback I ever heard was from mastering engineers who would complaine that I wasn't leaving anything for them to do. Not one complaint about clipped waveforms. Have you heard this about ADATS too?...........Fats
 

audiowkstation

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
Oh yes, the adat can do damn near a 10dB above. What it is really doing is using the (opps time to flip the steak)

Ok..

What it is really doing is accepting a hard hitting analog input and it is circuitry compression. The actual head is blocked from reproducing scattered bits of digital overlead..it runs out of bits, it simply layers them accordingly. ADATS I am told have a small buffer. Not asd in storage so much as in anticipation and release.

I would love to dig into this further but I also agree that pushing an adat channel up to and beyond the limit does not have sonic benifits. It may be said that certain freqencies could have them..but imho, I tend to lay off the ceiling on the adat. They do not clip the wave and they do have a powerful line pre inside.

It is about high time for a new standard in level to be discussed and stipulated as the standard..but as long as their is a limit, so many folks will toy with it..just human..
 

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2002
I didn't slam them! About 2 or 3dB of movement but I didn't freak when it hit 0 like I would with a CDR or DAT..... Fats
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
i was thinking about trying to get more level. like everyone else.

for me, when i look at my wave files and listen at the same time to my peaks, even if i pull them down a bit are still mostly kicks, snares and sometimes slight vocal spikes.

i was wondering if multiband compression is a potential solution.
if my kick is a problem at times and my snare is a problem at other times, having diferent compression/limiting settings for different freq might give me a little more control.

what do you guys think? is it worth bothering with or will a great limiting compressor on the whole mix be better? keeping in mind i just have a daw.

also, does anybody take 3 or 4 manleys, or what ever totally pro compressor limiters they have, cross them over and have multiband compression/limiting with stellar outboard gear? or does the single stereo one do the job?

chris perra
 
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Bob Olhsson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2001
A multiband can be great for when you can't fix the mix but just going through that many filters sounds pretty bad compared to a simple peak limiter. I'd be looking at low frequency problems and at my vocal balance before assuming a mix needs to be crushed.

There's a whole bunch of people trying to profit off of selling exotic outboard gear by not mentioning that a simple volume control is one of the most powerful effective loudness tools we've got!
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
thanks bob, i think i might be exagerrating with my mix problems. there not so bad that i can't turn anything up. but when you look at a wave file for me anyway, you see kicks and snares jumping out here and there.

it's not consistant, like huge spikes through the whole tune, but for me kicks and snares are a little hotter than everything else.

i think my problem might also be related to the fact theat i have my mix running through a tascam cd burner.

i check various store bought mixes throught the same cd player. i just recently heard that tascam sets it's zero level as much as 3 db less than zero to make sure that there are no errors. so, i may not be able to hear it as loud. running through the burner.

has anybody heard of tascam burners being quieter? when i play some cd's i want to match the level of, the db meters are fully buried, 90% of the time.

no matter what i do i can't get it the same level without squashing the sound a bit. i am a relentless psycho for trying to get the most out of everything i do. unfortunately i don't know what's realistic as a final result with what i have.

i'm sure at some point i can't go any farther. how loud is the max? with just a daw, considering it's alternative rock with crushing guitars and a female singer?

chris perra
 

Gold

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Originally posted by chrisperra
no matter what i do i can't get it the same level without squashing the sound a bit.
/QUOTE]

I think you have answered your own question.
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
to mr. gold:

do you mean to say that in your opinion it's not possible to get things that loud just using a daw?

chris perra
 

Gold

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
No. I meant you have to compress and limit things to get them that loud. Mostly limit. With analog tape you lose a lot of transient information. So it is acting like a peak limiter. Audio transformers also shave off transients. All good analog stuff. So in the old days you had no choice but to lose transients. Digital keeps all that peak information and to get rid of it many people save the limiting stage for mastering. This doesn't work very well. The poor L2 just can't do that much work. You might try peak limiting induvidual tracks to bring up the average level of a mix.
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
thanks for the info paul... i can understand and appreciate your direct advice better than a vauge comment, that to me insinuates i haven't got a clue what i want, or what i'm talking about.

i'm not a heavy tracking or mastering engineer, far from it.

i haven't even owned a computer untill jan. of this year. but i am eager to learn and appreciate the wisdom of experience.

for me your initial statement was derogatory and somewhat elitist. but your follow through was to the point and has me thinking.

i realize that every situation is different and for most part, trying to get alt rock pinned and sounding musical is an oxymoron, but who else do i ask?

i'd rather harrass seasoned pro's of 10 to 40 years, than go out and buy a ton of gear only to find that 10% of it is worth anything.

at any rate, thank you mr. gold and everyone else that has given advice.

chris perra
 

Michael Fossenkemper

Distinguished past mastering moderator
Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2002
IMO, the key to getting mixes to compete in volume to commercial releases is a combination of stages. Most commercial releases run through analog in some form or another. If your mixes are stuck in DAW land the entire process, then your missing some of the natural benifits that analog brings. whether its a good console, outboard gear, tape. All of these stages gradually smooth out the wave in each stage. certain stages can be really benifitial to your mixes without going out and buying a 2" or Neve console. A really nice front end is a good place to start. depending on what kind of sound your looking for, you can look into a transformer, tube, descrete piece of gear. just running your source through this gear will naturally shave off really pointy spikes that DAW limiters really have to work hard getting rid of. And/or a nice stereo piece of gear to run your mixes through will gently shave a little more off. Tape is the most noticable and IMHO the most benifitial in a DAW only evironment. Printing your mixes to a 2 track tape machine can really do wonders to you mix if it's never touched analog yet. If you can't buy one, you can try borrowing or renting one and print your mixes to tape and then dump them back into your DAW. Tape is a very dynamic medium in that printing lower or hotter sounds different. Also the time you let your mixes sit on the tape will change the way it sounds. Anyway, all this adds up and in the end you will work your DAW limiter much less and therefore be able to crank it up louder.
 

Gold

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Originally posted by chrisperra:

for me your initial statement was derogatory and somewhat elitist. but your follow through was to the point and has me thinking.
/QUOTE]

Sorry Chris, I didn't mean it that way. All I meant was that if the only way you can get the level you need is by compression than use it. You are obviously using your ears and don't belive all you need is another piece of gear to make everything all right. You are fighting an uphill battle with only a DAW but if you use your ears you will have a leg up. I've mastered many good records that were done in a DAW only. There is no reason you can't get acceptable results with a DAW. If you get good sounds with your limited setup you will appreciate quality gear even more. Don't think that all you need is better gear to get better results. Balancing a mix well is far more important than anything else-and all you need is a fader. You' ve isolated one problem you have and may find a piece of gear that solves that problem. I would advise you to buy things that do one thing very well. That way you will have it forever and it will always sound good. Only buy quality.
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
i'm happy to say that at long last i have discovered that you can do alot with a daw. a hellova lot.. an album i was working on. my own original band, was finally completetd and was sent to l.a. to be mastered. i just recieved the finished product and was pleased to find that my hack mastering, was very close and actually a little bit louder than what was done in a pro mastering house by an engineer of 15 years. over all the pro was better. it sounded a little fatter the eqing was smoother, but overall a daw is pretty heavy just by itself.

chris perra
 

chrisperra

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
for me, it's also going through a whole project and getting it done by a pro masterer and then comparing it with your own. the pro's is better but mine is pretty close. now i know how far you can push it and know what to expect from it.

chris perra
 

audiowkstation

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
First of all excuse the typos..No time to edit them now.

The reason the pro house was not quite as loud is the juggling act between quality and quantity.

I can make the loudest mastering on the plenet..but it "phucks" up the vibe.

Combination of good vibe and plenty loud is what is cool.

To those who espressed regards in the illness I am getting over..a sincere THANK YOU..I am feeling better (I think by choice) but the body plays wierd trics on you. Take care of your health and do not do 36 to 42 Hr. Obsession Mastering. It was some fine work..I am paying the price. The only drug that induced it came from the heart...they have drugs to extinguish that..and I am on them for lifes sake. Sometimes being single makes you give too much away at an artform and vibe..well prehaps I learned my lession. Remeber, these were charity affairs so it is not like I ws being Money Greedy.

Enough of that..Now to blow my horn some .

I had a comment from one of my clients:

"Bill, Your work makes me want to keep on turning it up to find the limit of my playback system in volume because it will sound great up there, then when I put anyone elses CD in it simply shouts at me and sounds like Dog $*^t. I love it" (I gave them 3 db to play with)

Next comment "We listened to the airplay of one of our tunes on the FM. It sounded larger and louder than the rest of the misic being aired, why is that?"

That is what a mastering house can do, if willing to stick their neck out and be trusted.
 
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