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How to make a mix "louder" before mastering?
Old 2 days ago
  #1
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How to make a mix "louder" before mastering?

Whats up everybody, Over the course of the past 7-8 months I have been working on an album of instrumental sample-based hip hop beats. I am pretty happy with the overall mixes of my songs and I want them to sound as good as possible before I release them on to Spotify and the other digital services. I will soon be sending my tracks to be professionally mastered. Something I have been doing however is doing my own "mastering" on the tracks, and using the loudness penalty website to get the level right for Spotify. I then A-B my track in my car with those of songs on Spotify playlists. Something I notice is how much louder the songs that are on Spotify seem than my tracks even though they are technically at the same level. I spoke with my mastering engineer about this and he said that much of this loudness comes from mixing techniques mainly. I was wondering if anyone has some insight on some techniques to help make a mix sound loud and clear for streaming. The bass and kick drums especially of these tracks that are already on playlists like Mellow Beats playlist are to note. i have seen some things about people using limiters and/or soft clippers on individual tracks such as drum hits and bass but I do not know how to properly make that work. I hope this all makes sense and if anyone has some advice that would be greatly appreciated
Old 2 days ago
  #2
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foamboy's Avatar
This might be a good place to start. He has a lot of videos with some helpful info.

Good luck,

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk4D4bMu8uo
Old 2 days ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

IMO you should strongly and consciously not try to worry about loud. Worry about great. The mastering engineer will make it loud.

One thing you can do as a mix engineer to really help your mixes stand out is make sure everything has a relative balance. Imagine if a vocal track is perfect; bright and forward, but the rhythm section is under EQ'd or dark and dull with lifeless transients.... what do you assume will happen at the mastering stage? A compromise of course. If the ME brings life into the rhythm track, then the vocals will sound over hyped and aggressive. It would rip the listeners head off.

So just focus on a balanced mix. It doesn't matter if your mix is dull, or bright, or dark or loud or quiet. As long as EVERYTHING in the mix has the same RELATIVE quality, you're going to give the ME a solid piece of material to work with and then they will make way less compromises and instead, way more complimentary adjustments.
Old 2 days ago
  #4
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thanks traumerei1838 thats solid advice. and foamboy that video is awesome. He does some cool stuff in there using soft clipping and limiting on drums like the snare. I always thought limiting wasnt really done in the mix stage and ive personally never used soft clipping. Have any of you done either of these with any results?
Old 2 days ago
  #5
Gear Head
 

Hi, I have to say I disagree with leaving it to the mastering engineer to make it loud. In my opinion loudness comes with good mixing. So creating a place and space for each instrument/sound. Watch your meters at stems and note how transients sum. Look at good control of short envelopes to place front to back. Basically focusing of why we perceive sounds as being loud helps develop a mix for contrast and loudness. Hope this helps
Old 2 days ago
  #6
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I will straight up tell you that all the dope mix engineers make their mixes sound loud when they mix. When I say “loud” I mean it SOUNDS loud for the levels whether you are talking RMS or LUFS or whatever. If you don’t, then the mastering engineer has to be more heavy-handed to get your mix as loud as someone else’s. That might work okay, or it might just mean accepting more distortion, or accepting more compression from the mastering engineer to get it there without distortion.

Main thing is REALLY GOOD BALANCE. People spend too much time and energy trying to learn all the fancy tricks, but they are meaningless if you don’t have the faders in the right spots. But beyond that, I honestly don’t know how to describe it. I absolutely make my mixes sound loud, but it’s really a million little things that I’m doing to get it there. There’s no magic bullet that if you do that one thing, you’ll get there. It takes a ton of practice and insane attention to detail.
Old 2 days ago
  #7
A loud and good master comes from a mix that was mixed good, not mixed loud. Forget about getting it as loud as you can and concentrate on the quality of the mix. Make sure you implement complimentary EQ techniques and get your mix sound as good as you can.
Old 1 day ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
A loud and good master comes from a mix that was mixed good, not mixed loud. Forget about getting it as loud as you can and concentrate on the quality of the mix. Make sure you implement complimentary EQ techniques and get your mix sound as good as you can.
I think he's referring to a mix that SOUNDS loud. Not in terms of actual levels like pushing to zero. He means like a record that technically comes in at -12LUFS sounding louder than another record that comes in at the same LUFS (or RMS, or choose your measurement). The reality is we DO mix "loud" meaning a record that will sound loud for a given technical volume spec.
Old 1 day ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

thanks you guys, this has been helpful. I think I have been overthinking some things haha gotta focus on the balance!
Old 1 day ago
  #10
SFB
Gear Addict
 

Balance, saturation, compression and distortion. Master these four concepts and you're on your way to getting more "perceived" loudness. Also make sure you understand how gain-staging works because you will ruin your mix without proper gain staging especially if you use lots of plugins . Preserve your transients and use a clipper before your limiter during mastering. If you master super loud drop the output to -2db before you upload to Spotify .
Old 1 day ago
  #11
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How's your crest factor compare to the music your A/Bing against?

Try changing your crest factor (compression, limiting, clipping). The point is not to smash everything to an inch of its life, just to give you a few dBs here and there. You could try if plugins such as Oxford Inflator can give you more loudness without changing the sounds too much.

IMO the whole loudness thing is what I despise the most in music distribution these days. All because tech companies cant be arsed to make proper speaker systems with enough amplification power, so the content makers need to compensate. Stop trying to add profits by using $hit cheap amps, if everything had decnt amps with ample headroom they could just turn playback volume up themselves. Just like us music makers do when working on the stuff (before its made "loud")
Old 1 day ago
  #12
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b0se's Avatar
Don't be afraid to clip (or limit) individual channels either. Taming peaks during mixing will yield a higher RMS overall, and allow for more/smoother mixbus compression due to the compressor not having to work as hard (as it would if hit with large peaks).
Old 16 hours ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergstramental View Post
I have been working on an album of instrumental sample-based hip hop beats. I am pretty happy with the overall mixes of my songs and I want them to sound as good as possible before I release them on to Spotify and the other digital services. I will soon be sending my tracks to be professionally mastered. Something I have been doing however is doing my own "mastering" on the tracks, and using the loudness penalty website to get the level right for Spotify. I then A-B my track in my car with those of songs on Spotify playlists. Something I notice is how much louder the songs that are on Spotify seem than my tracks even though they are technically at the same level. I spoke with my mastering engineer about this and he said that much of this loudness comes from mixing techniques mainly. I was wondering if anyone has some insight on some techniques to help make a mix sound loud and clear for streaming.
I wouldn’t be too concerned with soft clipping (which is just a nice way of saying clipping) at the mix stage, unless it’s a desired production technique that adds to the aesthetic of the song.

Level and frequency balance are key, but it sounds like you want to quasi master while still in the mix stage, which often can lead to diminishing returns, especially by the time the tracks get converted to lossy.

For stuff that’s headed for distribution, I’d look at keeping the 2 processes separate, ..unless it’s for a daily quick check, or unless you have a lot of experience, and a system you trust.

The loudness penalty, and most things that measure loudness are a crap shoot at best, but if your mix is solid, a good ME should be able to obtain nice level with clarity. gl
Old 10 hours ago
  #14
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foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering View Post
I
Level and frequency balance are key, but it sounds like you want to quasi master while still in the mix stage, which often can lead to diminishing returns, especially by the time the tracks get converted to lossy.


. gl
To the OP....I do quasi mastering primarily to be competitive and also to help me make mixing decisions. From my experience the IK Stealth Limiter and the Oxford Inflator seem to do a good job of pushing the limits without effecting the mix too much. I have heard Andrew Scheps say that he has limited stuff as much as 8-9 db and I will say that at that point the Stealth Limiter does start to mess with the transients a bit. However I am usually in the 3-6 db range. Also, I am not going for super loud stuff either. I usually stay at about -11 to -10 db RMS.

Good luck,

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