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How do you set the levels on a ten song album?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Question How do you set the levels on a ten song album?

I'm attempting to master an album and need to lead each song into another while making it sound pretty even, but each song was mastered separately with limiters on each track. Do I mess with the output ceiling on each limiter or what?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
I'm attempting to master an album and need to lead each song into another while making it sound pretty even, but each song was mastered separately with limiters on each track. Do I mess with the output ceiling on each limiter or what?
Each album will be handled and processed differently. You just use your ears to decide what volume is right. Its that simple. You can use any tools that get you the best results at your disposal. If that is using a combo of dynamic controlled processing effects, EQ, mid and side, and faders levels, then you us that.

what i do not get is that you said you want to master the album, but then you said the songs are mastered already?? You need the pre-masters to master, not something that is mastered already.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
Each album will be handled and processed differently. You just use your ears to decide what volume is right. Its that simple. You can use any tools that get you the best results at your disposal. If that is using a combo of dynamic controlled processing effects, EQ, mid and side, and faders levels, then you us that.

what i do not get is that you said you want to master the album, but then you said the songs are mastered already?? You need the pre-masters to master, not something that is mastered already.
They were individually mastered and then we decided to put them all together for an album. So the song levels don't really flow into each other properly. Should we use a limiter or just set the mixing faders for each song? We put all ten songs in one timeline (separate tracks) and made 10 regions
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
I wouldn't run them through a limiter again, if they were already mastered, but Try both and see what gets you the best results. Or even try other things. That's the only way to know what will work for those specific songs.

If it was me, i would get the pre-masters and master them again as an album. That's the right way top do it, in my opinion..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
I wouldn't run them through a limiter again, if they were already mastered, but Try both and see what gets you the best results. Or even try other things. That's the only way to know what will work for those specific songs.

If it was me, i would get the pre-masters and master them again as an album. That's the right way top do it, in my opinion..
The thing is, I do have the files and every song has a different limiter setting that greatly effects the tone of the song. FabFilter Pro-L. I can go into each one and set the threshold to make the album flow, but I can't use one setting on the whole album, since some settings were chosen for bass, or clarity, or wideness, etc.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
but I can't use one setting on the whole album,
Who said to do that? They have no clue, who ever told you to do that!!!

No one does that, as each song is different and has different characteristics. You will always have different settings when mastering an album.

Just do what sounds best for you. Try and experiment, as this is the only way for you to know what will sound best for each song and the entire album.

If it was me doing it, i would master each song , so they flow into each other just right. Unfortunately, the only way for me to know (or anyone else to know) what tools i need and the settings for each tool used is to actually master them myself and then write down what i did. Yugo have to hear each song and you have to hear each song in the context of the whole album.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by goom View Post
They were individually mastered and then we decided to put them all together for an album. So the song levels don't really flow into each other properly. Should we use a limiter or just set the mixing faders for each song? We put all ten songs in one timeline (separate tracks) and made 10 regions
If each song is on its own track, that's good, but now you should go back and use the pre-mastered mixes as CJ said

Quote:
I do have the files and every song has a different limiter setting that greatly effects the tone of the song.
Put the same mastering plugs you used on each individual track. and copy the settings you originally did on your first master. To save time, you can save the settings as presets and open them up in the mastering session.

You should now be back where you "started" but with the ability to tweak the settings for each song with the subjective "cohesion" of the Album As A Whole in mind. This way you can keep the overall character of your original masterings, and fine- adjust the limiters for volume. You may find that an EQ might be needed to balance the frequencies to match the other tunes. You might even find yourself using the fader! But at least you are not "starting all over again".

one thing I like to do when mastering an album or EP is to stick my cursor in the middle of a track, play a few seconds, then skip to the middle of another track and play a few seconds. Volume discrepancies will really 'jump out' at you this way, and let you hear where the changes need to be made.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Murky Waters's Avatar
 

"I can't use one setting on the whole album..."

Yeah, no kidding.

Try simply normalizing (level matching) the tracks before you get into adding compression to already mastered tracks. Once they are all peaking to the same level (if that is what you are going for), then you can work on getting their average levels (LUFS) comparable, one at a time.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Just put them all in a project and turn down the one's that are loudest to match the lower level ones. That will probably be the easiest way.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
Goom, i have read a few of your posts and i admire your desire to learn.

but mastering a 10 song album is a job for someone who Truely knows what they are doing.

i suggest with zero malice, and the best of intentions, that you Farm that job out.

i have assisted in mastering studios back in the 80s, before i became a full time Track/Mix engineer.

Mastering is a Profession, and there is a lot to learn before one becomes an expert.

just my advice. Buddha
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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I use Har-Bal for this kind of stuff. It does an excellent job at matching the "perceived" loudness of the songs.

One of the more important aspects to focus on getting the songs to match is the bass frequencies. The ears will typically overlook
other frequencies, but when the bass goes from being soft and non existent to booming out and flapping the speaker cones, that's what's going to drive you nuts the most.

When I suggest is you find out the approximate dB level of each song by frequency using a frequency analyzer. Just keep it simple, Bass Middle and Highs, then put them on a scale of 1~10 for loudness. Find your two extremes. If you have one songs that's got bass at 8 and another at 4 with the others in between you may need to target 6 as your medium. Anything louder comes closer to 6, anything lower comes up to 6. You take the mid and highs into consideration too.

Normally, if you were mixing and mastering your songs properly you shouldn't have an issue where songs vary greatly in volume, but that comes from many teyears of practice and following some strict guidelines and hitting specific targets when finishing a mix and then mastering. it took me a number of years to learn those tricks. Today I can do it blindfolded because I know exactly how loud a finished song can be and what can be done to master it properly.

For future reference make sure your mixes wind up at about -12dB RMS. (for all frequencies) and make sure it sounds balanced at low volume.
This will allow your mastering tools to work properly and get much more even results. Its usually when you're trying to get the mix too loud or not calibrating your monitors for 83dB you run into issues. If your monitors are set for 95dB one song then 75dB the next I guarantee you wont have any luck getting them to match.
Set and leave the monitors for 83~85dB then match the mix loudness to the fixed speakers and you'll have much better luck getting them to match on a CD. Proper mastering takes care of the rest.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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bitman's Avatar
I make a cd and drive around for a few days taking note of weak songs and boost them by and appropriate? guesstimated amount until it sounds passable. Not all album balance is volume though, differing keys and eq choices can alter the apparent loudness of adjacent tracks. That's why mastering enginners make or made the big bucks.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Deleted 5edf3fa
Guest
If you don't want to engage in rocket science per recommendations above, there's a very simple way.

Line them up in 10 audio tracks below each other in DAW. Align them so that the chorus (usually the loudest part of a song) of each song is under each other. Then simply play them all together or in any combinations of two or more and bring down louder ones until you can play any two together and they'll be roughly the same loudness (when you hear cacophony without one being more prominent than the other).
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