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Mastering For CD
Old 28th September 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Mastering For CD

An indie/folk client of mine had me master her songs for streaming. She chose a ceiling of 14 LUFS which I had no problem complying with and she was pleased with. Now she wants to release the songs on a CD and wants the songs all remastered at -8 LUFS. When I try to push limiting to reach those levels the songs that sounded fairly relaxed and even at -14 LUFS are now sounding edgy and pinched. I have most of the highly regarded limiter plugs (aside from ST Weiss) and have tried combinations of them without much success. I know a lot of commercial CD's that are louder but still manage to sound warm and somewhat relaxed. One of the things I've tried is to use 3 or 4 limiters in series not exceeding 1-2 db in gain reduction each instead of using 1 limiter to do a single large GR. But I'm still not happy with the results. Can anyone offer any advice other than send it to a professional mastering facility? There's no budget for that. I'd appreciate any tips or insight that might help me deliver a better product.

TIA,
Sid
Old 28th September 2019
  #2
Quote:
hen I try to push limiting to reach those levels the songs that sounded fairly relaxed and even at -14 LUFS are now sounding edgy and pinched. I
There is more to it than just slapping a limiter and pushing it to raise the overall volume of a mix.
Quote:
One of the things I've tried is to use 3 or 4 limiters in series not exceeding 1-2 db in gain reduction each instead of using 1 limiter to do a single large GR. But I'm still not happy with the results.
Doing that is not a good idea, as you just noticed. Limiters are not the solution. You need to use EQ, mid and side maybe, and compression.
Basically, all you need to master a song is an EQ, compressor and limiter. Those 3 things can get you far and to your goal, when used right.
Old 28th September 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 

Often music prepped for minimal limiting needs to be prepared differently for more extreme limiting. You may have to go back and revisit EQ with the limiter(s) in place to try to mitigate some of the artifacts. It may mean also cutting in some areas of the spectrum you wouldn't have for purely aesthetic reasons to get it to play nice with the limiter. You kinda want to try to keep sustained tonal content away from the limiter's threshold. Also try lengthening release time to mitigate some edginess.

This is the trade off when shooting for arbitrary loudness beyond where mixes naturally want to sit. It's not fun making changes to music purely for the sake of loudness. The music/mixes may simply not be suitable for -8LUFS.

I would also work on having a conversation with the client about the trade offs. If you can convince her that -9 or -10LUFS would still be 'loud enough' with less compromises then that extra 1 or 2 dB can make a big difference to sound quality.
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