I've distortion on a few songs using a limiter

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by michaelwookey, Nov 23, 2007.

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  1. michaelwookey

    michaelwookey Active Member

    Nov 23, 2007
    I am mastering my own album and after 2 test runs I have discovered distortion on a few songs, even though it never goes about -0.1db. I think this is because I may have gone a little bit over the top with the limiter in an attempt to get things sounding loud. I didn't realise that when the file is squared off in places (extreme limiting) it is distorted!

    I am going to do it again but with compression and a less severe limiter. What compression ratio/threshold/attack time/decay time etc should I use for best results?

    Time is running out - the deadline is Monday!

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    There are a lot of questions like yours on this web board. Do a search.

    Self mastering is like self barbering. You make get it done but the results may not be what you are really looking for.

    Best of luck!
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    michaelwookey ahhhhhhhh you see that mastering is like black magic. Most of the real mastering engineers here use a great combination of both analog and digital stuff. That's right, some things come in digitally, go through some analog blah blah and back to digital again. Digital is not the be all end-all. In fact the best sounding stuff never seems to be like that. If your mix isn't great to begin with, it will be less great from compression and/or limiting. Either way, that process will either enhance its already good qualities or enhance its already bad qualities. So just remember, less is more. Just a couple DB of compression and a couple DB of limiting is all that's necessary. Will it be as loud as Bob Ludwig's stuff? Probably not but then, you're not Bob Ludwig. He's been doing it a few more years than most of us. So maybe you should have one of Recording.org's many competent mastering engineers Master your project, before your deadline? Then, you might even be able to find out what they did? That's low-cost education in my book.

    I get all my information from crackerjack prizes
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  4. multoc

    multoc Active Member

    Jun 18, 2005
    The best thing I've heard about mastering is it's the process of making eq flat enough to make it possible for the consumer to make their own eq changes (that's on the eq side of things)....when it comes to everything else you must just be careful about not overdoing it, and I hate to say using limiters is not my cup of tea for doing it.

    I prefer using a compression with some sort of ceiling on it....or send it out to a facility and have it done professionally since that's the route you're going on the manufacture of the disc.

    That's what I would do if I were in your situation, save yourself the headache of learning something new, and have it done better on better equipment and ears
  5. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    The one that works best with the mix. And it'll probably be different on the next mix and the one after that might be totally different. Compression *and* limiting.

    You need to do what the mixes are asking you to do. If you're not hearing what they're telling you, I don't think Monday is going to be a reasonable deadline...

    And in any case, the loudness potential is dictated by the mix to a large extent -- Even the most experienced mastering engineer can only push a mix as far as it's willing to go. He (she) might have the gear and the experience to limit (no pun intended) the damage -- But volume is always a compromise. Past a certain point, you are almost universally making the mix sound worse on purpose simply for a little more volume.

    Which still, after decades, blows my mind completely. Don't get me wrong -- I'm "forced" almost daily to bring projects far beyond where they "want" to be -- But I'll never (at least, I hope I never) get used to it. It drives me nuts to see what people will sacrifice for something the consumer never asked for in the first place.

    Sorry -- Just one of those days. For another thread.
  6. mobilelab

    mobilelab Active Member

    Apr 18, 2006
    Real mastering usually takes place in a room that cost several hundred-thousand dollars to build, on another several hundred-thousand dollars worth of equipment, and at the hands and ears of someone with TONS of experience. I've seen Custom Built equipment even. Slapping a compressor on your final mix is just that, compressing your final mix. There are several potential issues with any "final" mix that recording/mix engineers like the rest of us may not even be aware of due to experience, listening environment, equipment, etc. I would do a lot of research as to what mastering IS. This is a great website for it. If Eddie Kramer sends out for mastering, so should everyone else.

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