Getting the most out of the mix
Old 20th November 2012
  #1
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Getting the most out of the mix

So i started a new track today, with a different approach to my usual. I started with my kick peaking at -10, and worked everything around that. When i had all the elements in there, i was peaking at -7db on the master, so i brought it up on the master using the L3 Maximizer (7db gain)

The mix sounds louder, but ive heard that even thou it doesnt look like its clipping, i.e, going into the red, it could still be, and also that this L3 will destroy any dynamics

Now, i'm happy to leave the L3 behind, i was thinking, instead of just wacking a limiter on the master, to apply compression, limiting, overdrive, to the individual channel, and bring it so the master then peaks at at 0bd. Are they any negatives to doing it this way?

Ive uploaded a test version of the track with the L3 on the
master (320kbps sample)

I'm basically looking to improve my mixes, any advice would be great

With L3

http://soundcloud.com/broken-bordom/test-1

Without

http://soundcloud.com/broken-bordom/test-2
Old 20th November 2012
  #2
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instead of relying on a limiter on the master. you should try to glue things together as you go. That way, by the time you get to mastering You mix is already sounding good. I work in sections.

Do the drums sound tight? ok move one.
Do the drums and bass sound tight? ok move on
Do drums bass and synths work together? ok move on.

See?
Old 20th November 2012
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GhostDad View Post
instead of relying on a limiter on the master. you should try to glue things together as you go. That way, by the time you get to mastering You mix is already sounding good. I work in sections.

Do the drums sound tight? ok move one.
Do the drums and bass sound tight? ok move on
Do drums bass and synths work together? ok move on.

See?
Is it possible to get loud sounding track hitting 0db peak just with channels ? and Nothing on master except maybe an EQ? with say just a slight high shelf?

What im asking i suppose it, i i want to know if i can reply on just the channels to get my loudness, and not on some form of mastering that could ruin my sound

And also the best way of achieving these results for EDM music?
Old 20th November 2012
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by targus28 View Post
Is it possible to get loud sounding track hitting 0db peak just with channels ? and Nothing on master except maybe an EQ? with say just a slight high shelf?

What im asking i suppose it, i i want to know if i can reply on just the channels to get my loudness, and not on some form of mastering that could ruin my sound

And also the best way of achieving these results for EDM music?
There have been a few threads about this recently. The key is this: loudness is in the mix. Nothing more, nothing less. Why? Because loudness is a perceptual thing, not physical.

Loudness correlates somewhat with amplitude: If you turn up the volume on your stereo we actually perceive it as getting louder. However, there's more to loudness than just that. Think of a recording of someone screaming. It'll sound "loud" even if you turn the level down. Or, conversely, someone whispering will continue to sound soft even if we bump up the volume.

In other words, our brains are looking for more cues for "what is loud" than just air pressure.

"Limiting" or any mastering-type process which gets rid of the headroom only provides your tune with more amps, and increases the air pressure differences your speakers are making. This alone doesn't make it sound "louder," at least not in every respect... it'll only sound louder than it did to begin with, but it's always bound by the sound of the mix. If you've done a quiet mix, then mastering processes won't significantly change that. Does that make sense?

Your approach at the start - getting the kick drum sounding good then working around that, with a clear 10 DB of headroom, this is a fine approach.

I wouldn't suggest bringing up levels without the use of a limiter. I only say this because that would be non-standard, and many people achieve fine results simply by using a limiter (ie if it's not broken don't fix it). If you're having trouble with getting loudness, it's not because of the way you're using your limiter.
Old 20th November 2012
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by targus28 View Post
And also the best way of achieving these results for EDM music?
Something to remember about EDM.... people "master" (if you can even call it that) very, very hot. They do this because they believe it makes their tunes more competitive. It's reached the point where people cannot physically make their tracks much louder.

So you have to ask yourself, "is this really going to make my track more competitive?" In other words, are more people going to notice it just because its on average a DB or two louder? Record companies traditionally would suggest it will, but it's gone way past that in EDM.

So I tend to think it's better to focus on a) the musicality, and b) a well-crafted mix. These things still have a place in terms of having people notice your music, regardless of the "loudness war." Get your music good... that's most important.
Old 20th November 2012
  #6
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If I understand your op correctly you basically normalized your track with the limiter, and didn't actually limit the track, so your mix actually should be pretty much untouched soundwise and only louder(unless the L3 performs some shenigangs when it's actually limiting). If you're just unsure if the L3 does any bad stuff to your signal, why do you use it? Just use some a dedicated gain tool & and a neutral limiter after that to catch any peaks your meters might not display.

Generally speaking your mix shouldn't hit 0, and the way you worked right know sounds perfectly good. Bringing the tune to 0 dbfs should be the job of the mastering engineer. If you're mastering yourself, just increasing the gain with a neutral tool and a neutral limiter to catch peaks should be enough till you know what you're doing.

If you want a loud mix, you can work towards any arbitrary number of -dbfs, -7 is great. Then try to make the mix perceived loudness higher without increasing that number on the master channel. Use compression on individual channels, eq, on groups, arrangement etc. Also, don't forget that a maximized perceived loudness ain't neccesarily good, as punch and clarity might suffer greatly if you don't know what you're doing.
Old 20th November 2012
  #7
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Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
If I understand your op correctly you basically normalized your track with the limiter, and didn't actually limit the track, so your mix actually should be pretty much untouched soundwise and only louder(unless the L3 performs some shenigangs when it's actually limiting). If you're just unsure if the L3 does any bad stuff to your signal, why do you use it? Just use some a dedicated gain tool & and a neutral limiter after that to catch any peaks your meters might not display.

Generally speaking your mix shouldn't hit 0, and the way you worked right know sounds perfectly good. Bringing the tune to 0 dbfs should be the job of the mastering engineer. If you're mastering yourself, just increasing the gain with a neutral tool and a neutral limiter to catch peaks should be enough till you know what you're doing.

If you want a loud mix, you can work towards any arbitrary number of -dbfs, -7 is great. Then try to make the mix perceived loudness higher without increasing that number on the master channel. Use compression on individual channels, eq, on groups, arrangement etc. Also, don't forget that a maximized perceived loudness ain't neccesarily good, as punch and clarity might suffer greatly if you don't know what you're doing.
Thanks for your reply. So your saying the L3 isnt limiting, but normalizing the sigal? I'm confused with this, could u explain more please?

Also whats the difference between the L3 im using and a 'Neutral limiter'?

I guess having everything brought upto 0db is best left to an engineer with a proper acoustic setting and knows what hes doing, but i find when sending tracks to labels, or friends, having everything brought up to 0db before i send for proper mastering can help it sounds just that little more, finished and professional

Praxisaxis: Thank you, im understanding more now about this, and really its about getting everything sounding right, clean, loud, punchy, BEFORE mastering, so when it does then get mastered, it should sound great. I tried putting a compressor on the kick drum, and set the attack quite high and it added some punch without loss of low end. I guess alot of it is finding the right sample too, and maybe layering
Old 20th November 2012
  #8
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Thread Starter
Also, would could anyone advise on if its a good idea to shave off the 20hz region and below for EDM? Ive heard this creates 2-3db headroom, is this right? If so, should this be applied for all instruments, or is this just a matter of using ones ears?

Edit: Ive just tried shaving 20hz off the kick, and i am 'feeling' a difference, its def taking some low end rumble out, and prefer it there really?......
Old 20th November 2012
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by targus28 View Post
Thanks for your reply. So your saying the L3 isnt limiting, but normalizing the sigal? I'm confused with this, could u explain more please?

Also whats the difference between the L3 im using and a 'Neutral limiter'?

I guess having everything brought upto 0db is best left to an engineer with a proper acoustic setting and knows what hes doing, but i find when sending tracks to labels, or friends, having everything brought up to 0db before i send for proper mastering can help it sounds just that little more, finished and professional
I haven't used the L3 myself, but any limiter should have a threshold and a gain control. If you're only using the gain control to up the level from -7dbfs to 0 and did not specify any threshold, you're not using it as a limiter but just a a gain tool. The sound itself should not be altered by this (besides volume), because no actual limiting occurs. Limiting only happens when the signal goes above the threshold level. Maybe this is all clear to you, but you didn't mention a threshold or limiter gain reduction in your post.

Neutral limiter should mean that the limiter only alters the signal when the signal is pushed past the threshold. That's the way most limiters work, no idea about the L3, I just mentioned this because you mentioned you were worried about it destroying your dynamics. Again, as long as the signal is not higher than the threshold of the limiter, it should not do anything to the dynamics of your track (provided the overall signal does not go above -0dbfs).
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Old 20th November 2012
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
I haven't used the L3 myself, but any limiter should have a threshold and a gain control. If you're only using the gain control to up the level from -7dbfs to 0 and did not specify any threshold, you're not using it as a limiter but just a a gain tool. The sound itself should not be altered by this (besides volume), because no actual limiting occurs. Limiting only happens when the signal goes above the threshold level. Maybe this is all clear to you, but you didn't mention a threshold or limiter gain reduction in your post.

Neutral limiter should mean that the limiter only alters the signal when the signal is pushed past the threshold. That's the way most limiters work, no idea about the L3, I just mentioned this because you mentioned you were worried about it destroying your dynamics. Again, as long as the signal is not higher than the threshold of the limiter, it should not do anything to the dynamics of your track (provided the overall signal does not go above -0dbfs).
Yes i was using the Threshold pulled down to -7. So if im peaking at -7 and use the limter to gain upto 7 i shouldn't lose any dynamics?
Old 20th November 2012
  #11
Gear maniac
 

Okay, didn't realize that. But yes, you would absolutly loose dynamics in that case. 7 db of gain reduction is quite a lot.

Like Praxisaxis said, most loudness should be reached at the mixing level. Limiting the master buss, a step that should only be doneat the mastering stage wheter you or a pro does it, should normally consist only of about 1 -3 dbs of gain reduction.
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Old 20th November 2012
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Okay, didn't realize that. But yes, you would absolutly loose dynamics in that case. 7 db of gain reduction is quite a lot.

Like Praxisaxis said, most loudness should be reached at the mixing level. Limiting the master buss, a step that should only be doneat the mastering stage wheter you or a pro does it, should normally consist only of about 1 -3 dbs of gain reduction.
Thanks mate. If i want to bring everything upto peak, say, to send to labels, or friends, whats the best thing to use?

Obvioulsy, i would be taking it off if i did send to label and got signed
Old 20th November 2012
  #13
Gear maniac
 

Just mix the tune like you said yourself in the op. Hitting -6 dbfs on the masterbuss is generally considered good practise. Try to get the perceived loudness as high as you feel it needs to be. Compare it to a released tune in your genre, lower the volume of the commercial tune so that it peaks at -6 as well. You should be roughly in the same ballpark if your mix is good. The released tune will still feel a bit louder due to mastering, but it shouldn't be too much. This would be the file you could send to a mastering engineer.

If you want to give it to friends, play it in a dj set or send to labels, you can rise the volume on the master channel with any gain tool. Ableton has one that is called Utility and other DAWs have their own. Set the tool so the overall volume is at about -0.3. Put a limiter after that with a threshold of -0.3 as well, so the limiter will only catch peaks that might go above 0 and would cause distortion. If you want a bit of additional loudness, set your limiter to about 2 db of gain reduction with the output still at -0.3. Any standard daw gain tool or limiter should be good enough for this.
Old 20th November 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Just mix the tune like you said yourself in the op. Hitting -6 dbfs on the masterbuss is generally considered good practise. Try to get the perceived loudness as high as you feel it needs to be. Compare it to a released tune in your genre, lower the volume of the commercial tune so that it peaks at -6 as well. You should be roughly in the same ballpark if your mix is good. The released tune will still feel a bit louder due to mastering, but it shouldn't be too much. This would be the file you could send to a mastering engineer.

If you want to give it to friends, play it in a dj set or send to labels, you can rise the volume on the master channel with any gain tool. Ableton has one that is called Utility and other DAWs have their own. Set the tool so the overall volume is at about -0.3. Put a limiter after that with a threshold of -0.3 as well, so the limiter will only catch peaks that might go above 0 and would cause distortion. If you want a bit of additional loudness, set your limiter to about 2 db of gain reduction with the output still at -0.3. Any standard daw gain tool or limiter should be good enough for this.
Legend

Ive just started using the K-meter, great tool! Although its in the demo mode and when i starting ableton i have to wait 15 secounds, im hitting the sweet spot in it, already got a nice groove going, can i send you for your thoughts on mixing?
Old 20th November 2012
  #15
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Old 20th November 2012
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Limiting the master buss, a step that should only be doneat the mastering stage wheter you or a pro does it, should normally consist only of about 1 -3 dbs of gain reduction.
That's not quite right... pro mastering studios want you to leave as much headroom on your mix as you can manage. -10 DB is their quoted standard. This has to do with the way their converters (and analogue gear) is calibrated. It's part of good gain staging. Most modern mastering people cope if you give them less, but traditionally a decent chunk of headroom is requested.

When you produce in 24 bit, having -10 DB of free space is no problem - 24 bit gives us massive potential detail and 10 DBs is a drop in the ocean. I say that because some people needlessly worry about leaving headroom in their mix.
Old 20th November 2012
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Just mix the tune like you said yourself in the op. Hitting -6 dbfs on the masterbuss is generally considered good practise.
Sorry didn't see this... yes, -6 is ok, though i've spoken to pro mastering guys who prefer even more... eg -10. The fact is you can leave a good deal of headroom in 24 bit virtually without in making any difference.
Old 21st November 2012
  #18
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Yeah, -10 are probably even better, but I think most enginners will be content with -6. But sure, there's no real reason not to aim for -10, although I never understood why the engineer can't just turn down the track to his desired volume. As long as your track does not clip, it shouldn't be a problem, no?
Old 21st November 2012
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Yeah, -10 are probably even better, but I think most enginners will be content with -6. But sure, there's no real reason not to aim for -10, although I never understood why the engineer can't just turn down the track to his desired volume. As long as your track does not clip, it shouldn't be a problem, no?
To be honest I'm not entirely sure either, but I have it on good authority. Last time I read about it, it has to do with the D/A conversion which works best when there's plenty of headroom, and if that's the first step in the process then there may be no better way of "turning it down" than having the mixing guy just supply it at the right level in the first place. I'll have to read up on it again... I'm reading the Bob Katz book over the weekend so I'll report back if I get the good info on it.
Old 21st November 2012
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by targus28 View Post
...The mix sounds louder, but ive heard that even thou it doesnt look like its clipping, i.e, going into the red, it could still be...
if you are concerned with ISPs, try something like THIS as the last plug in your chain.
i found that usually -3dBFS is a 'safe' output/ceiling, but ISPs can be up to +6dB depending on what you have going on, so it's best to use caution and stay around -6dBFS or less (imo).
Old 27th November 2012
  #21
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I Like to use Ozone 5 to get the most out of my mix when mastering. There are many tutorials and I have found it the best tool in mixing and mastering your stuff. My latest track is below and I used ozone and have gotten compliments on how decent it sounds for self mastering. Anyway, give ozone a try....
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