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Please help! Getting my mixes louder - Mix for me?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Gear Head
 

Please help! Getting my mixes louder - Mix for me?

Hi everyone,

I have been struggling with this for many years and would love to finally discover how to get my mixes louder so I can focus on making music again.

Recently, I recorded with a band that I'm in on keys, at a studio nearby. The studio provided the audio stems but didn't have time to mix in the end so I'm expected to do this myself among the band.

Raw Audio files are here:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folde...CX?usp=sharing

reference for mix style and loudness:
https://open.spotify.com/album/2XdTS...Q9WVQWXlfvEedw

Can somebody please do a very rough mix to at least bring it to this similar level of loudness and clarity? I have put blood sweat and tears into this and the best I could do sounded a little squished and still quieter than the reference album. If somebody can please do a quick mix and attach a Logic Pro X project file so I can learn from it, that would be much appreciated.

I tried compressing pretty much every single channel without overdoing it, applying EQ and not much else, the levels were all way low (-18dbfs) but then as soon as I try applying a limiter on the master it gets louder but also obviously "squished" sounding and it loses overall quality, boom, and roomy feeling of the recording. No matter what paramaters I try on the limiter it still doesn't really get much better. It honestly sounds better cranked up and clipping slightly (but barely audible) - at least it isn't squished sounding. I know that this is what happens from compressing generally but in my case I must be doing something wrong, because it sounds really obvious and ear fatiguing.

Any help much appreciated.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Try less compression and mix through an aux, set that track at -.1 bus to a stereo track and print, less clipping. I don't use a limiter no more and I can get plenty loud without distorting too much. but I don't use many plug ins mostly hardware.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Mixes aren't supposed to be loud. That's your first misconception you need to deal with.

Mixes should come in at about -16dB RMS or -12dB Average. DAW meters read peak levels, not RMS. Typically having the DAW meters peak just below 0db is usually enough to get you where you need to be.

From there you "MIX DOWN" to a stereo file, at the same bit rate as you recorded. If you tracked at 24/88, 24/48, 24/44.1 key the sample at that level when you mix down to stereo.

THEN, come mastering which is where you polish them make the recording as loud as any other commercial recording.

What you been trying to do is make one giant step when mixing, going from Tracking to a finished master. That's dam near impossible unless you buss everything and use mastering tools within the mix. Sometimes you can do that is the mix is simple enough and recorded really well, but why punish yourself trying to do everything at once.

Mastering is the key step you're missing and its just as important as the other 3 steps in the recording process, (Musical performance, Tracking, Mixing) Without mastering you have no consistency at all and you have no benchmarks to target getting where you need to be.

I suggest you first get yourself a decent stereo editor program that lets you run VST plugins. I'm not a fan of mastering suites. They are totally useless to someone who hasn't learned how to master first. I'm still using Cool Edit from the 90's. There are plenty of others, Sound Forge, Wave lab, Gold Wave, and dozens of others which are free or under $50.

First thing you do after mixing down to stereo is, you bring it into the audio editor and do some testing using the built in tools to determine if you mixed properly.
If the tools show the mixdown level was wrong or the tracks were unbalanced/out of phase, then there's no sense proceeding with mastering. You need to go back to the mix, tweak a few things then mix down to stereo till you get things closer to being in the ball park.

Why would I suggest that? Cant you just tweak the levels and move on? You can but you would completely disregard proper gain staging when you do that.

Once your mix is measuring around -16dB RMS then you can follow this Tutorial "to the letter" That means No touchy feely guesswork. Mastering isn't like mixing where you get emotionally involved which what's going on. Mastering is far more regimented where you take the Mix from point A, to B to C and end up with world class audio (if your mix has what it takes to begin with)

Print this tutorial and use it from now on. Don't even consider changing what's in it for a year or two till you know every aspect of what's in this tutorial.
You can use substitute tools if need be, but I do suggest investing in the tools they use. It makes the job that much easier.

https://www.har-bal.com/customer-sup...ing-tutorial-2

There are three basic tools you want to use.

1. A high quality EQ in conjunction with a frequency analyzer so you can visually see what's going on.
2. Multi band compression. This is essential in getting your lows, mids and highs to push the speakers in balanced amounts. The waves is great because it has automation for detecting the thresholds. Just play the tracks and key in the amounts in.
3. Brick wall limiter. You can use a variety of different limiters to get you different tones. For warmer tones I often using something like Voxengo elephant. For vintage sound I like using the Opto limiter in T Racks. For rock music its hard to beat the Waves L1, L2, L3 limiters. They add that kick ass edge most rock music has.

As the article says you can add or remove tools as needed but the three above are Essential, at least until you have developed the experience needed to eliminate them. I been using that mastering process for at least 16 years now. Prior to that I used something similar but spent way too much time experimenting and chasing the tail of the dragon. I'd get decent results on one song then get half assed results on others. There was no consistency because I failed to adopt one methodology and then gradually improve on it over a number of years. The tutorial above works. I have thousands of great recordings to prove it.

In the beginning you'll wind up spending allot of time undoing the things you been doing wrong. Don't feel, bad, just realize you been following the advise of many others doing things the wrong way, blind leading the blind. Once you get a handle on it you'll begin to realize how the advice you got from many pro's begins to make sense. I'm sure you've heard it said, Less is more, especially when it comes to adding compression on tracks. When you use Multiband and limiting mastering, you'll "Really" begin to notice just how deadly over compressing can be. you may in fact go completely without and simply allow what's added mastering to do the job.

In the beginning you may do a half dozen different mixdowns with all kinds of various tweaks added just to see how they pan out after adding the mastering effects.
That's normal till your figure out what works and what doesn't. After a few years your mixes will improve to the point where you can predict how they will sound after the mastering tools are used. You may even get to the point where you can drop using some of the tools. The last couple of years I've refined my tracking and mixing to the point where I often don't need to use the master EQ or Multiband. I may simply EQ then brick wall, or use Multiband and brick wall. I may use a single band compressor and brick wall too.

Like anything it takes repetition to get better. I can master most recordings in a matter of minutes so long as nothing horrific happened in the previous stages. My mixes are pretty consistent these days even when I am being creative with them and working within fixed benchmarks isn't very difficult once you know where those benchmarks are. Takes time to learn though. If you're impatient, it will show in your finished work. Having patience doesn't mean you work at a turtles pace either. It simply means you follow your methodology and avoid skipping important steps that yield effective results.
Old 6 days ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
Mixes aren't supposed to be loud. That's your first misconception you need to deal with.

Mixes should come in at about -16dB RMS or -12dB Average. DAW meters read peak levels, not RMS. Typically having the DAW meters peak just below 0db is usually enough to get you where you need to be.

From there you "MIX DOWN" to a stereo file, at the same bit rate as you recorded. If you tracked at 24/88, 24/48, 24/44.1 key the sample at that level when you mix down to stereo.

THEN, come mastering which is where you polish them make the recording as loud as any other commercial recording.

What you been trying to do is make one giant step when mixing, going from Tracking to a finished master. That's dam near impossible unless you buss everything and use mastering tools within the mix. Sometimes you can do that is the mix is simple enough and recorded really well, but why punish yourself trying to do everything at once.

Mastering is the key step you're missing and its just as important as the other 3 steps in the recording process, (Musical performance, Tracking, Mixing) Without mastering you have no consistency at all and you have no benchmarks to target getting where you need to be.

I suggest you first get yourself a decent stereo editor program that lets you run VST plugins. I'm not a fan of mastering suites. They are totally useless to someone who hasn't learned how to master first. I'm still using Cool Edit from the 90's. There are plenty of others, Sound Forge, Wave lab, Gold Wave, and dozens of others which are free or under $50.

First thing you do after mixing down to stereo is, you bring it into the audio editor and do some testing using the built in tools to determine if you mixed properly.
If the tools show the mixdown level was wrong or the tracks were unbalanced/out of phase, then there's no sense proceeding with mastering. You need to go back to the mix, tweak a few things then mix down to stereo till you get things closer to being in the ball park.

Why would I suggest that? Cant you just tweak the levels and move on? You can but you would completely disregard proper gain staging when you do that.

Once your mix is measuring around -16dB RMS then you can follow this Tutorial "to the letter" That means No touchy feely guesswork. Mastering isn't like mixing where you get emotionally involved which what's going on. Mastering is far more regimented where you take the Mix from point A, to B to C and end up with world class audio (if your mix has what it takes to begin with)

Print this tutorial and use it from now on. Don't even consider changing what's in it for a year or two till you know every aspect of what's in this tutorial.
You can use substitute tools if need be, but I do suggest investing in the tools they use. It makes the job that much easier.

https://www.har-bal.com/customer-sup...ing-tutorial-2

There are three basic tools you want to use.

1. A high quality EQ in conjunction with a frequency analyzer so you can visually see what's going on.
2. Multi band compression. This is essential in getting your lows, mids and highs to push the speakers in balanced amounts. The waves is great because it has automation for detecting the thresholds. Just play the tracks and key in the amounts in.
3. Brick wall limiter. You can use a variety of different limiters to get you different tones. For warmer tones I often using something like Voxengo elephant. For vintage sound I like using the Opto limiter in T Racks. For rock music its hard to beat the Waves L1, L2, L3 limiters. They add that kick ass edge most rock music has.

As the article says you can add or remove tools as needed but the three above are Essential, at least until you have developed the experience needed to eliminate them. I been using that mastering process for at least 16 years now. Prior to that I used something similar but spent way too much time experimenting and chasing the tail of the dragon. I'd get decent results on one song then get half assed results on others. There was no consistency because I failed to adopt one methodology and then gradually improve on it over a number of years. The tutorial above works. I have thousands of great recordings to prove it.

In the beginning you'll wind up spending allot of time undoing the things you been doing wrong. Don't feel, bad, just realize you been following the advise of many others doing things the wrong way, blind leading the blind. Once you get a handle on it you'll begin to realize how the advice you got from many pro's begins to make sense. I'm sure you've heard it said, Less is more, especially when it comes to adding compression on tracks. When you use Multiband and limiting mastering, you'll "Really" begin to notice just how deadly over compressing can be. you may in fact go completely without and simply allow what's added mastering to do the job.

In the beginning you may do a half dozen different mixdowns with all kinds of various tweaks added just to see how they pan out after adding the mastering effects.
That's normal till your figure out what works and what doesn't. After a few years your mixes will improve to the point where you can predict how they will sound after the mastering tools are used. You may even get to the point where you can drop using some of the tools. The last couple of years I've refined my tracking and mixing to the point where I often don't need to use the master EQ or Multiband. I may simply EQ then brick wall, or use Multiband and brick wall. I may use a single band compressor and brick wall too.

Like anything it takes repetition to get better. I can master most recordings in a matter of minutes so long as nothing horrific happened in the previous stages. My mixes are pretty consistent these days even when I am being creative with them and working within fixed benchmarks isn't very difficult once you know where those benchmarks are. Takes time to learn though. If you're impatient, it will show in your finished work. Having patience doesn't mean you work at a turtles pace either. It simply means you follow your methodology and avoid skipping important steps that yield effective results.
Here is the final result I came up with. I'm pretty sure I did everything right for the mix in terms of levels and headroom (I only did a rough mix as it's just a demo).

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z7...8s5M62zvz02sn4

There's a Mix & Master wav file at the above link. What am I doing wrong between the two?? It seems no matter how much headroom I leave or how good the mix sounds, as soon as I crank it up using a limiter and applying some EQ, it sounds "squished" yet it sounds significantly quieter than most commercial tracks.

Thanks for the response. I'll look into more detail the link you provided and see if there's anything else that could help me there.
Old 2 days ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 
leary's Avatar
 

nice track!
Attached Files

resistorlearymix1.mp3 (2.29 MB, 68 views)

Old 2 days ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
You need to be happy with the mix, before you start "enloudening". wrgkmc is quite right to say a mix doesn't need to be "loud" - at least in the sense of lufs or whatever - you can adjust this in mastering. But the mix does need to have (apologies to vegans) some meat in it. Listening to the OPs mix, it seems to me that it's not going to be satisfying once enloudened - apart from anything else, too much metalwork and not enough guitars.

It's not a genre I've got any experience in - so I may be talking out of my arse.


(incidentally it looks like yr overheads are out of phase / polarity - I dunno if that's important, I just flipped the right channel)
Attached Files

snippet.mp3 (1.78 MB, 18 views)

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