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How to get super loud pop tracks?
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#121
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#123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
What's your plugin chain?
Compression, EQ, Multiband compression/exciter, M/S EQ, Limiter
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What monitors are you using to mix with? Are they super hyped in the treble, or do you mix dark?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls View Post
Here is my take on it...
48kHz...? mp3...? Thursday...? -15dB rms...? WTF...?


this is a really shitty mix though...i wouldn't even touch it, i'd send it back and have it mixed half decent before i attempted to master...
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Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Cool, and obviously there are no strict rules, but i think you guys should give it a few days before you post your work...this way others wont be able to use your work as a benchmark to strive for and beyond.
I'll post my version next week, tuesday probably.
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Here's my version, a zipped 16/44.1 .wav file:

http://darkflame.hermetech.net/LuvU2DeathHM.zip

If people want to compare before uploading theirs, I have no problem with that!

Chain:

First limited peaks to -3dB with Elephant, going for loudness right?

Out Crookwood DAC into Chandler Germ Comps with no more than 1.5dB GR. Pullet EQ. Chandler TG2 (make up gain for passive Pullet). Bax EQ. (I'd be happy to share EQ settings if people want them). Hit Crookwood ADC hard (clipped it). -0.3dB on Sum/Mid/Mono (however you like to think of it) channel. Elephant set for maximum of 3.7dB limiting, 0.3dB ceiling, OS x 4 for no overs/ISPs. Sonoris Dither to 16 bit. Voilà.

Tried to get it to a reasonable commercial loudness level without destroying it. I know a lot of people like it louder, and a lot of people like it quieter, but this is where I felt I could push this particular track, whilst keeping some sense of taste. Others may disagree, of course.

Haven't got RMS or DR figures, as I never look at/worry about that stuff. Just listen and tweak till it sounds good...

TIA for any comments,

Gregg
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#129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls View Post
Compression, EQ, Multiband compression/exciter, M/S EQ, Limiter
Sounds like it was processed in Ozone...a little small sounding. The high end was also audibly distorting, and the low end was quite clamped down. With that said, thanks for having the stones to be the first one out.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
Here's my version, a zipped 16/44.1 .wav file:

http://darkflame.hermetech.net/LuvU2DeathHM.zip

If people want to compare before uploading theirs, I have no problem with that!

Chain:

First limited peaks to -3dB with Elephant, going for loudness right?

Out Crookwood DAC into Chandler Germ Comps with no more than 1.5dB GR. Pullet EQ. Chandler TG2 (make up gain for passive Pullet). Bax EQ. (I'd be happy to share EQ settings if people want them). Hit Crookwood ADC hard (clipped it). -0.3dB on Sum/Mid/Mono (however you like to think of it) channel. Elephant set for maximum of 3.7dB limiting, 0.3dB ceiling, OS x 4 for no overs/ISPs. Sonoris Dither to 16 bit. Voilà.

Tried to get it to a reasonable commercial loudness level without destroying it. I know a lot of people like it louder, and a lot of people like it quieter, but this is where I felt I could push this particular track, whilst keeping some sense of taste. Others may disagree, of course.

Haven't got RMS or DR figures, as I never look at/worry about that stuff. Just listen and tweak till it sounds good...

TIA for any comments,

Gregg
Hey Gregg, very nice effort on this.

By the way, it's obvious there's a bit of distortion in the vocal in the chorus that's inherent in the mix, but i was interested to see how you guys would deal with it, verses replacing it with a non distorted take. Because a lot of tracks that i get have distorted elements in the tracking.

Here's your stats. Your average RMS was -12.5 and your peak RMS was around -9.5.

First off, really like the kick and snare, they sound big and full, definitely hitting the right kind of attitude. The low end in general sounds really good to me. Did you do any widening, because the stereo field sounds a little wider to me, like the pads are more defined and the vocal fx in the chorus seem more in focus. On my system perhaps the low mids could sound a little more open, but it's by no means bad. The top end sounded nice to me too, not searing or strident, and the vocal has a nice polish and glued in well.

Do you think this is a competitive level, do you think the client would be barking for more. Personally speaking i think it sounds really good, but certainly not really loud.

Nice job
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Sounds like it was processed in Ozone...a little small sounding. The high end was also audibly distorting, and the low end was quite clamped down. With that said, thanks for having the stones to be the first one out.
Agree, something a little strange about the high end. A little "phazey". Maybe Ozone, like you say engmix. Also pretty low in perceived loudness. I think if we were really going for loudness here, you would maybe not win the prize! And agree, great job having the balls to go first!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Hey Gregg, very nice effort on this.

By the way, it's obvious there's a bit of distortion in the vocal in the chorus that's inherent in the mix, but i was interested to see how you guys would deal with it, verses replacing it with a non distorted take. Because a lot of tracks that i get have distorted elements in the tracking.

Here's your stats. Your average RMS was -12.5 and your peak RMS was around -9.5.

First off, really like the kick and snare, they sound big and full, definitely hitting the right kind of attitude. The low end in general sounds really good to me. Did you do any widening, because the stereo field sounds a little wider to me, like the pads are more defined and the vocal fx in the chorus seem more in focus. On my system perhaps the low mids could sound a little more open, but it's by no means bad. The top end sounded nice to me too, not searing or strident, and the vocal has a nice polish and glued in well.

Do you think this is a competitive level, do you think the client would be barking for more. Personally speaking i think it sounds really good, but certainly not really loud.

Nice job
Thanks for the kind words.

Distortion in the vocal didn't bother me at all. I happen to like such things here and there, not a problem!

Checked it with Elephant again, it was telling me the RMS (AES +3dB) for the whole track was around 9.5dB, so maybe you're using a non +3dB RMS meter to measure it? Seems likely being the difference is exactly 3dB! The DR figure I got with the Foobar2K DR plugin was 7.

I boosted the low end with the Bax, plus 1.5dB at 84Hz (with HPF set at 24Hz).

Only stereo widening I did was the aforementioned drop of the M channel by -0.3dB with Voxengo MSED (should have mentioned what I used before). So the "mid" channel has been dropped to slightly enhance the stereo width. I often find with no M/S gain/attenuation my chain/limiting slightly reduces the stereo width, so I will use MSED to compensate (and occasionally increase/decrease stereo width if needed). Was a subjective call, but I liked it very slightly widened here. Am checking against the original file all the time with the Crookwood monitor controller, to make sure I'm not over-doing it. The compression will also help bring up the background details, I noticed it on the delay on the vox in the breakdown too.

Yeah, I could possibly have scooped some low mids out for clarity, but I thought the mix was very good in most respects (just a little dark on top, but I like that more than too bright), and didn't really need it.

Top end was a mix of shelving boost with the Pullet and a LPF with the Bax. Slight mid EQ boost was applied to enhance/pop the vocal.

I personally think that this is a competitive level, but as I said earlier, some people want it way hotter, and some people way quieter/more dynamic. I seem to err on the Bob Katz/K Man side of things, as I like to turn it up and the transients to really hit me, but I can accept that some clients would want it another 2 or 3dB louder. This would be something I'd decide with the client themselves in communication (that discussion is always missing from these kind of shoot-outs, which makes them not really representative of what it is we really do every day). I wouldn't be "happy" to push it much further, but I would do so if asked.

Thanks once again for running this, and all the great comments!
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Should we be submitting 24-bit if you're going to do level matching on your end?

BTW, this is about the mix for this particular competition. Though, I think I can say once again that I will be all too happy if I never hear pitch correction again.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
Thanks for the kind words.

Distortion in the vocal didn't bother me at all. I happen to like such things here and there, not a problem!

Checked it with Elephant again, it was telling me the RMS (AES +3dB) for the whole track was around 9.5dB, so maybe you're using a non +3dB RMS meter to measure it? Seems likely being the difference is exactly 3dB! The DR figure I got with the Foobar2K DR plugin was 7.

I boosted the low end with the Bax, plus 1.5dB at 84Hz (with HPF set at 24Hz).

Only stereo widening I did was the aforementioned drop of the M channel by -0.3dB with Voxengo MSED (should have mentioned what I used before). So the "mid" channel has been dropped to slightly enhance the stereo width. I often find with no M/S gain/attenuation my chain/limiting slightly reduces the stereo width, so I will use MSED to compensate (and occasionally increase/decrease stereo width if needed). Was a subjective call, but I liked it very slightly widened here. Am checking against the original file all the time with the Crookwood monitor controller, to make sure I'm not over-doing it. The compression will also help bring up the background details, I noticed it on the delay on the vox in the breakdown too.

Yeah, I could possibly have scooped some low mids out for clarity, but I thought the mix was very good in most respects (just a little dark on top, but I like that more than too bright), and didn't really need it.

Top end was a mix of shelving boost with the Pullet and a LPF with the Bax. Slight mid EQ boost was applied to enhance/pop the vocal.

I personally think that this is a competitive level, but as I said earlier, some people want it way hotter, and some people way quieter/more dynamic. I seem to err on the Bob Katz/K Man side of things, as I like to turn it up and the transients to really hit me, but I can accept that some clients would want it another 2 or 3dB louder. This would be something I'd decide with the client themselves in communication (that discussion is always missing from these kind of shoot-outs, which makes them not really representative of what it is we really do every day). I wouldn't be "happy" to push it much further, but I would do so if asked.

Thanks once again for running this, and all the great comments!
Although i use soundblade for mastering these days, i also have Wave Editor that has an analyze tool that i use from time to time, i will admit that i might not be reading it right for this type of application. I'll post the read out for you to check out, maybe on a geek level you'll find it interesting.

Thanks for the details on your process, i'm hoping all those who participate will do the same. It's interesting to see who's doing what and why.

My question was more about "do you" think it's loud in the realm of what most feel is loud. I personally couldn't see it getting any louder without starting to hear the pinch as well, but then again, maybe someone will step it up. Either way, this was an excellent job and to me captured a loud sounding master without sounding like crap, and what others often complain about.

Although this was a songwriter demo, perhaps we will see a link between overly processed mixes (the track i posted had moderate dynamics processing) being the culprit for flattened sounding masters verses poor mastering jobs. Or maybe some other type of realization, maybe even getting back to the old debate of analog verses digital.
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Never mind then. Since all the rules are out the window, here's mine.
https://www.yousendit.com/download/W...RkU4NVhtcXNUQw

What I did... It sounds like the mix is pretty much what the client wanted (wild guess, but there's nothing out of place) so I stayed fairly minimal. I up-converted to 88.2KHz. EQ: -2dB @60Hz Q1.4 to get some overwhelming deep bass under control, +3dB @150Hz Q1 to warm up the overall mix, -1dB @ 840Hz to tame some hollowness in the girl's voice & percussion samples, +1.5dB @ 5KHz Q2 for some presence, +2dB shelf @ 5KHz for clarity.
Compression: 1.2:1, 40ms attack, 180ms release, max reduction of about 2dB to help the percussion speak while bringing up some body in the overall mix.
GClip, soft clipper, just taking down a few stray peaks here & there.
Millennium Limiter, bringing up the level about 6dB.

I did this one all "in the box" on my wife's office computer since it's about 40 degrees F in my studio right now.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Should we be submitting 24-bit if you're going to do level matching on your end?

BTW, this is about the mix for this particular competition. Though, I think I can say once again that I will be all too happy if I never hear pitch correction again.
I'll be happy when gas goes back to $2.50 a gallon....

I'll be happy when the loudness war is a thing of the past....

I think you get my drift.

Looking forward to hearing what you come up with.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurend View Post
Here's my contribution:
wetransfer.com
Hey, nice effort on this. The power of the low end is cool, it seems a bit extended way down deep, it's moving my speakers in a nice way. Something sounds maybe a little pinched in the upper mids or even higher, almost like there's some dynamic eq / frequency dependent compression to tame the upper mids...i obviously could be way off...it just seems a little constrained. You got some good volume overall without total destruction as well.

I compared it to the Hermetech master, his sounded a wee bit more open to me, maybe a little more 3d i suppose. Although i do think yours came off a wee bit louder.

Maybe we should all do 16 bit 44.1 files to be fair.

What was your processing chain? And what speakers are you using?

Thanks so much for participating, nice job.
Quote
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
Never mind then. Since all the rules are out the window, here's mine.
https://www.yousendit.com/download/W...RkU4NVhtcXNUQw

What I did... It sounds like the mix is pretty much what the client wanted (wild guess, but there's nothing out of place) so I stayed fairly minimal. I up-converted to 88.2KHz. EQ: -2dB @60Hz Q1.4 to get some overwhelming deep bass under control, +3dB @150Hz Q1 to warm up the overall mix, -1dB @ 840Hz to tame some hollowness in the girl's voice & percussion samples, +1.5dB @ 5KHz Q2 for some presence, +2dB shelf @ 5KHz for clarity.
Compression: 1.2:1, 40ms attack, 180ms release, max reduction of about 2dB to help the percussion speak while bringing up some body in the overall mix.
GClip, soft clipper, just taking down a few stray peaks here & there.
Millennium Limiter, bringing up the level about 6dB.

I did this one all "in the box" on my wife's office computer since it's about 40 degrees F in my studio right now.
I actually like the vocal on your master, there's something about the shine factor that sounds quite good to me. But i think the track overall is missing some impact...it sounds maybe too vocal heavy, i think the balance isn't quite there. But you did this in an office so i can't be too critical. Also, this thread was about uber loud pop mixes, and yours was definitely on the quiet side.

Thanks for revealing your processing, and it would be cool to hear what you could do from your studio.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Hey, nice effort on this. The power of the low end is cool, it seems a bit extended way down deep, it's moving my speakers in a nice way. Something sounds maybe a little pinched in the upper mids or even higher, almost like there's some dynamic eq / frequency dependent compression to tame the upper mids...i obviously could be way off...it just seems a little constrained. You got some good volume overall without total destruction as well.

I compared it to the Hermetech master, his sounded a wee bit more open to me, maybe a little more 3d i suppose. Although i do think yours came off a wee bit louder.

Maybe we should all do 16 bit 44.1 files to be fair.

What was your processing chain? And what speakers are you using?

Thanks so much for participating, nice job.
I appreciate your comments.

That's pure data processing. No fancy cryo tube in A class electronics, using snake oil capacitors, feeding zillion dollars static speakers thru 99.9999% pure silver cables.
Your track was processed using my standard on line algorithm. No dedicated treatment was applied.

Here's the chain:
Analyse > exciter > 32 bands de-expander (upward compression) > limiter
Here are some details about: white_paper.pdf

It was developed using PSI monitors with subs and grace design converters.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babaluma View Post
Agree, something a little strange about the high end. A little "phazey". Maybe Ozone, like you say engmix. Also pretty low in perceived loudness. I think if we were really going for loudness here, you would maybe not win the prize! And agree, great job having the balls to go first!
You are correct, I didn't aim for 'loud'. I felt with the distortion already present it was better to work around it. Also, my transients might sound a little plain, but they stay intact. I didn't feel a tape sim would have brought any benefit, because those clean transients were the only thing bringing contrast to the distorted vocal. The irregularity in the highs is parallel compression, which was a lame attempt to bring up the cymbals. I really half assed that part, thanks for noticing
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Also, this thread was about uber loud pop mixes, and yours was definitely on the quiet side.

You said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
Then we can reveal our process (gear, converters, plugins) and see what the results are... And if someone feels that keeping their Master at -18 RMS verses someone at -8 then cool, we can debate the impact of the results.
Therefore, I thought it was about what gives the best impact, not just "how hot and distorted can you make it." I pushed this as hard as it wants to go. I can get it a lot hotter, but prefer to concentrate on what's best for the music. It's just as distorted and crackly as everything out there.

You want TYPICAL pop levels, here you go.
https://www.yousendit.com/download/W...NkdWRC9sZThUQw
I did basically the same thing except for a few minor tweaks here & there. I also replaced the Millennium Limiter with Elephant to push it harder and added two hard clippers after the limiter, pushing 1dB and another pushing .3dB after conversion back to 44.1KHz.
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As everybody seems to be in a hurry, I've done a quick 100% digital master.
http://www.archive-host.com/files/18...utz_SD1_d2.zip
I used the Fabfilter desser, Ozone5(EQ and limiter) and VadgLimiter6. I tried to achieve "maximum loudness before destruction" as stated by engmix. If loudness hadnt been specifically requested, I would not have pushed it so far.

If the topic is still alive in a few days, I'll try to go analogue. I never work on this kind of mainstream pop and I'm very curious about the results.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurend View Post
Here's my contribution:
wetransfer.com
Could you do me a favor and re upload to a site that doesn't use flash? I can't download it
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I hope nobody else is going to try to "beat" wado's master, but if someone gets a louder average during the chorus, I'll certainly match it and re-upload.

I'm measuring with realtime (per 240 sample/channel response) R128 compliant meter of mine, set to 10 second integration, which I think should be used instead of RMS if any comparisons are done since the mean deviation of RMS is nearly 6dB. That's a pretty lousy measurement of subjective loudness.

LUV U 2 DEATH FOR GEARSLUTZ - Masterful Audio -7 LUFS.wav

My chain was simply the declipper from Undo™ (only publicly available in a $10,000 and up box depending on configuration), and a distortion-masking clipper (not publicly available in a form suitable for mastering). The dithering is Apogee's UV22 HR from my Mini-ME's FPGA.

And since I don't have my glorified business card in my signature... Masterful Audio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanddigger1 View Post
As everybody seems to be in a hurry, I've done a quick 100% digital master.
http://www.archive-host.com/files/18...utz_SD1_d2.zip
I used the Fabfilter desser, Ozone5(EQ and limiter) and VadgLimiter6. I tried to achieve "maximum loudness before destruction" as stated by engmix. If loudness hadnt been specifically requested, I would not have pushed it so far.

If the topic is still alive in a few days, I'll try to go analogue. I never work on this kind of mainstream pop and I'm very curious about the results.
Yea, no one wanted to heed the few days thing, but whatever, in the end there are no rules. I'm glad you guys have stepped up, it's been interesting to hear the results.

To me this one is interesting. I feel like the push that you did to achieve loudness brought out a certain toughness to the track that i like. Yes, its a little more crunchy, but i wonder if the attitude pays off. The song is meant to be on the dark side of a pop song lyrically, you know, not a sweet sugary thing, and i think the aggressive nature of your mastering exploits that. The mid range immediately stood out to me as needing some work, but for a first go at it, and purely in the box i would say well done. I wonder if your analog chain would bring some depth and elegance to the mastering. The most elegant sounding mastering so far, to me, had a pretty extensive analog loop involved.

Could you layout some of the details of your settings ie...boost and cuts, limiter settings etc. And what speakers are you using.

Nice job
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Graffam View Post
I hope nobody else is going to try to "beat" wado's master, but if someone gets a louder average during the chorus, I'll certainly match it and re-upload.

I'm measuring with realtime (per 240 sample/channel response) R128 compliant meter of mine, set to 10 second integration, which I think should be used instead of RMS if any comparisons are done since the mean deviation of RMS is nearly 6dB. That's a pretty lousy measurement of subjective loudness.

LUV U 2 DEATH FOR GEARSLUTZ - Masterful Audio -7 LUFS.wav

My chain was simply the declipper from Undo™ (only publicly available in a $10,000 and up box depending on configuration), and a distortion-masking clipper (not publicly available in a form suitable for mastering). The dithering is Apogee's UV22 HR from my Mini-ME's FPGA.

And since I don't have my glorified business card in my signature... Masterful Audio
Woo, that's hellishly loud Jesse, but i'm glad someone stepped up and did the Brittney Spears thing. I wonder if you backed it off even 1 dB if it would sound loud as f**k but a bit less nuclear. And by the way, you did no eq what so ever?

Thanks so much for joining in...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Graffam View Post
I hope nobody else is going to try to "beat" wado's master, but if someone gets a louder average during the chorus, I'll certainly match it and re-upload.

I'm measuring with realtime (per 240 sample/channel response) R128 compliant meter of mine, set to 10 second integration, which I think should be used instead of RMS if any comparisons are done since the mean deviation of RMS is nearly 6dB. That's a pretty lousy measurement of subjective loudness.

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My chain was simply the declipper from Undo™ (only publicly available in a $10,000 and up box depending on configuration), and a distortion-masking clipper (not publicly available in a form suitable for mastering). The dithering is Apogee's UV22 HR from my Mini-ME's FPGA.

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Whatever you are using really brought out the impact of the drums in a good way. I felt the treble was too recessed through the mix, but EQ at the playback stage lifted too much vocal sibilance and the cymbals were buried.
#149
20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engmix View Post
I wonder if you backed it off even 1 dB if it would sound loud as f**k but a bit less nuclear. And by the way, you did no eq what so ever?
On average, it's as loud as wado's slammed version during the chorus, but the loudness peaks higher. No EQ, which wouldn't be a typical master for most people, myself included. If I made the peak loudness in the chorus the same as wado's slammed, it would have quite a bit less loudness on average.


Quote:
Originally Posted by OpusOfTrolls View Post
Whatever you are using really brought out the impact of the drums in a good way. I felt the treble was too recessed through the mix, but EQ at the playback stage lifted too much vocal sibilance and the cymbals were buried.
Limiters tend to homogenize the crap out of the peaks, which means good-bye drums. Limiting usually makes the bass all the same loudness, so lots of the openness is lost. Clippers don't have those problems, but they distort. There's a few clippers out there that use an indirect method of distortion testing (FG-X, NC-17, Transparent Limiter) and distortion control via protection limiters (FG-X, NC-17). The latter technology has been around since the late 1970s in analog form. I'm surprised nobody used one of those 3 yet.
#150
20th December 2012
Old 20th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse Graffam View Post
On average, it's as loud as wado's slammed version during the chorus, but the loudness peaks higher. No EQ, which wouldn't be a typical master for most people, myself included. If I made the peak loudness in the chorus the same as wado's slammed, it would have quite a bit less loudness on average.
It seemed to be audibly the hottest of the group. Maybe the stats are close on paper so to speak, but just throwing them up back to back yours is seriously hot. I'm impressed that the transients are as intact as they are. And like Opus chimed in on, the drums are quite snappy.
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