Sound volume when mixing down with Cakewalk

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by talibksm, Oct 20, 2002.

  1. talibksm

    talibksm Guest


    I'm using SONAR XL 2 and a MOTU 2048 mkii for my recording. I'm monitoring through a set of medium quality headphones. Typically, I record everything into SONAR and mix the tracks down to a WAV file.

    Within SONAR, the volume levels sound great. When I mix the audio tracks down and listen on the computer through the computer's SoundBlaster card, the volume also sounds good. However, when I burn the songs onto Audio CDs, the volume levels are much different (generally, they are lower) from what I heard within Sonar or the WAV file.

    I try to keep my volume levels just below redline levels to avoid distortion. However, that doesn't seem to be sufficient once it's on CD.

    Any suggestions about what I can do to improve or tweak my set up generate sound that is consistent from monitoring to recording?

    Thank and all the best,
  2. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    This is normal...This is what we call MASTERING!!!! You need to take the final mix and and master it....what you are listening to is just your mix and due to your ability to boost the volume on your speakers you can get a decent listening level...also because Sonar is not a Floating point math scheme you can not push the level that high. That's what Steinberg rules! They have a floating point integer system and not a fixed point like Sonar!
  3. Blutone

    Blutone Guest

    Ah hell... You mean to tell me you don't have to master after you mix down in Nuendo!? I really need to start using Nuendo. I'm just so used to Sonar I haven't messed with it yet. But, I will.

    And yeah, Opus is right about your mix volume. You'll need to use something to master your mixes. I use T-racks, buuuttt since I have Nuendo I don't think I'll use it for long...LOL.
  4. suspec57

    suspec57 Guest

    Yeah even I switched to Nuendo and when I looked at Sonar again and thought about that same problem you're having now, I stopped using cakewalk. Doesn't come close to what Nuendo can do especially in a semi-pro/pro studio environment. I even convinced the owner to switch to Nuendo from Cubase SX as far as recording. As far as midi, Cubase SX is actually really good and for those who don't do any serious recording and already has it, then I would suggest to just stick with it.
  5. RonKuper

    RonKuper Guest

    Opus 2000 wrote:
    SONAR uses 32-bit floating point throughout its internal audio mixing path. The only system which uses fixed-point math AFIK is Pro Tools, because that's the architecture of the DSPs.

    FWIW, our mix engines have been fully floating point since Pro Audio v7 (about 4 years).
  6. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Cool Ron! Thanks for the info....I was always under the impression it was not!
    Hope to see you here more often!
    Opus :D
  7. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Whether or not a system is floating point or fixed point has absolutely no bearing on the output volume. The only fixed point system I know of is PT and the differences between 32bit float and 48bit fixed are hardly worth mentioning. Although I do vaguely remember a very technical discussion that came to the conclusion that 48bit fixed has the slight mathematical edge, but nothing to get excited about in the real world.

    Opus is absolutely correct that the answer lies in the mastering. Top class mastering engineers are expensive beasts as is the range and quality of the equipment they use and the experience they have behind them. There are a range of mastering boxes and plugins available and some of them are very good at certain aspects of mastering, but I've yet to hear any bit of gear that can come close to what a well equiped, experienced mastering engineer can achieve.

  8. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Aww C'mon Greg....Waves L1 peaked to the max!! lmao!!!! Hee hee
    Opus :D
  9. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Opus,

    Agreed, I used the L1 right up till the L2 came out, which gives even higher levels with less artifacts than the L1. However, I'm not just talking about full band compression. I know that you were joking and that you're aware of all this already Opus but others might not be.

    A mastering engineer will use multiband crompression, EQ and a range of other tools to add to the mix what he feels it is lacking, and to make sure your mix sounds similar on a range of output devices. The L2 is a great tool for just raising the levels but just raising the levels is not what a (good) mastering engineer does and cannot be considered "mastering".

    Another problem that you are likely to encounter Talib is that even if you do manage to get your levels higher, using some form of compression/limiting, it will probably not sound quite how you expect when playing it back through other monitoring systems.

    I can't really offer any solutions to this problem. Pretty much all decent quality professional recordings go through the hands of a decent mastering engineer.

  10. jdier

    jdier Active Member

    Mar 20, 2003
    Home Page:
    Ron Kuper,

    Techincal talk aside, what would you suggest to the original poster regarding getting a better level for his final mix?

    It seems that there are plenty of Sonar users out there and certainly all of their mixes are not under volume, right?

    So how does a new Sonar user over come this?


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