Low Mix Volume @ +6db

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by longofest, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. longofest Editor emeritus

    longofest

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    #1
    Okay, so this has been an issue with all of my recordings. I thought I had a way to tackle it but now I'm not so sure.

    The issue is that my mixes are always softer than "professional" CD cuts. This befuddles me, since my mix is just below clip on the main mix and various tracks are compressed about 2:1 or 3:1... enough to bump up the sound a bit without making the compression obvious.

    What am I missing?
     
  2. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    #2
    The over-compressed un-dynamic sound of most modern mixes?
     
  3. longofest thread starter Editor emeritus

    longofest

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    #3
    :cool: I suppose, but it seems to me like that's not all there is to it. Like I said, I do have compression on the tracks, and the volume hangs between +2 and +6 on my mix, but it still sounds very soft compared to other mixes.
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #4
    imho, you should be shooting for lower levels, like -36 to -18. let mastering bring them up to "modern" levels.

    in the meantime, turn up your volume knob when listening back.
     
  5. longofest thread starter Editor emeritus

    longofest

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    #5
    I'm a one stop shop. I do primarily my own stuff but now I'm gearing up for some stuff for my church as well, so I want to know how to do the mastering better. Obviously I don't have the process down, so that is what I'm looking for insight on.
     
  6. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #6
    doing your own mastering is tough, as you should really try to separate the concepts not only in your mind but in process, as well.

    when mixing, don't think about mastering at all. get a good-sounding, dynamic mix which holds together when the volume knob is real low but is slamming when the volume knob is way up. (hint: mix at low volumes, as a mix done at high volumes probably won't be cohesive at higher volumes).

    also, as i mentioned earlier, shoot for low channel and buss levels rather than higher. i'm serious about -36, because in reality your peaks are much, much higher than you think they are.

    once your mix is done, only then start thinking about getting those peaks closer to zero. find yourself an accurate intersample peak meter. if you're on PT, massey has a free one.

    if possible, now try to hear your mix "for the first time" and concentrate on what frequencies are out-of-whack and when how loud you want it. there's a whole other art/science to mastering of which i'm (blissfully?) unaware, but i do know you're better served by having removed your mixing "hat" completely. in that regard, i honestly don't think i could ever master my own tracks.
     
  7. DJJONES macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Location:
    Newengland usa!
    #7
    my opinion on this situation is:


    when your mixing down your mix try to get it to sound as balanced and final as possible. in other words try to eq certain things to your liking and make it almost sound like a mastered track.
    the better the mix is mixed the better your mastered final track will sound.

    i wouldnt worry to much about overall level of your track because most of the time when you take a vst limiter and start pushing the levels its very easy to destroy the sound and you lose allot of the punch and dynamics.
    people own the volume control so if its too low for them theyll just turn it up and its better for them to get a lower clearer and dynamic mix turned up on there system then an overcompressed mess turned up.

    somepeople may disagree with me on this but
    as far as mastering goes its just all up to the person to get the track sweetened.
    sure there are alot of process involved but theres really no right or wrong way.
    as long as the track comes out sounding good and translates job done imo.

    i love how my tracks come out and if im unsatified ill go back to the mix and adjust it to get it right.
    at the end of the day its my mix and if it comes out sounding how i want job done.
    remember the avg joe will enjoy your music aslong as it is good music.

    just my opinion on the situation.
     
  8. cschreppel macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #8
    Because of shrinking budgets these days, I find myself doing a lot of mastering for my mix projects. How do I approach this? I stay fairly conservative with my average (or RMS) levels with my mix, with the peaks staying between -1dBFS and -6dBFS. I mix at a pretty low level so that when I crank my speakers, the mix is pretty slammin', but is still cohesive at lower volumes.

    Once I'm finished with the mix(es) for a project, I usually create a new Pro Tools project specific for mastering applications. There I'll get a little crazy with automating peaks down a little bit in spots so that I can boost my overall level even 1-3dB further PRIOR to compression. After that, I'll apply whatever "shimmery" processing (read: EQ or global reverbs -- although 'verb is usually rare at this stage).

    Then I'll get into compression. Usually, I'll have 2-3 layers of compression, each boosting the level a little bit. Several compressors in series give a much more natural sound than one compressor that's slammed. I may have my first compressor catching the peaks with some mild make-up gain, with the second compressor affecting more of the "meat" of the track also with a touch of make-up gain, and then add a mastering limiter toward the end to boost the level up to "commercial loudness".

    I'll use the same principle for EQ as well. I'd prefer to have one EQ to clean up my high end, one for the mid range, and one for the low end on the track. That way, high end boosts or cuts in one band won't be affecting the low end boosts or cuts on that specific plugin or hardware EQ.

    The concept of layering these devices and processors took a bit of trial and error, but I find that it gives you a much more natural result without squashing the dynamic range. It's really like mixing, to be honest in that you're using several layers of processing to create a single, unified sound.

    Hope this helps.
     

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