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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-15-2004, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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Louder Mixes

I have a bit of a problem. Everytime I mix something (whether it's something I've recorded, or something I'm mixing in Acid for fun) it comes out quiet compared to stuff I have off of CDs. The mix sounds decent, but it takes all my effort to keep the mix from peaking out, and yet it's still quiet.

How do I get something louder out of my final mixes?
Two hands31 is offline  
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-15-2004, 09:54 PM
 
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Re: Louder Mixes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Two hands31
I have a bit of a problem. Everytime I mix something (whether it's something I've recorded, or something I'm mixing in Acid for fun) it comes out quiet compared to stuff I have off of CDs. The mix sounds decent, but it takes all my effort to keep the mix from peaking out, and yet it's still quiet.

How do I get something louder out of my final mixes?
Some very wise words here...
http://www.prorec.com/prorec/article...256C2E005DAF1C
JESTER700 is offline  
post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-15-2004, 10:42 PM
 
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I had this very same problem when I first started messing with recording. Here are the steps I take to make sure the mix is loud enough:

1. Make sure there are no weird peaks in the tracks - compress them if there are

2. Normalize all tracks individually

3. Screw with the volume/panning/etc of each track until everything sounds OK

4. Mix down all tracks to one track

5. Normalize that track

6. Output this track to wav/mp3/whatever
keithb is offline  
post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 11:55 AM
 
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That Rush article is great. I agree with Keith, and that's pretty much my strategy. Although if you normalize a track, and then add compression (for sonic reasons, not to repair peaks) you may want to normalize it again.
As far as the wierd peaks, I like to hard limit those intstead of compress them, like that article said, as a safety device, like on "Roll the Bones". But not as a means to get the track louder at the expense of the dynamics. (read the article and then think: "Somewhere between Counterparts and Roll the Bones") Find maybe your 4 or 5 highest peaks in the track, and hard limit to that point. Then when you normalize it will be "more normal" rather than "tricked" by the peak. And the beauty is, even though the peaks were hard limited, they are still at 0db, which, at that moment, will still be the "highest" peak in your overall mix. And it's whatever peak that "wins" at any given time that controls your mastering compressor or limiter when the song is done. If you compress a track to knock down a few peaks, you could be reducing them to below "impact" level, even if the peaks (after normalizing) are at 0db, because you've affected the attack and duration of the peak, sometimes elongating it enough to reduce it's transient attack "cutting power."
Of course all this can be ignored and maybe you just want to 2:1 compress your master and normalize it before burning. Or maybe even apply the 4-5 peak limiting/normalizing to your master only, if you're already happy with your mix.
frankfalbo is offline  
post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 12:37 PM
 
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Good read, jester.

You definately need to do some sort of mastering to the final recording after you mix it down, twohands. I mean, the mixing process is pretty crucial, too, and when you're dealing with performances with widely varying dynamics, a little compression can sometimes be a godsend, but mastering is where it's at.

Actually, let's break this down into two spots, recording/mixing tips, and mastering tips.

1.) SPACE. Think of the audio spectrum as a physical area. You want instruments to fit around each other and work together, like peices in a puzzle, to give you a musical picture. You don't want to try to shove everything into the same frequency range or same space in the stereo field. If you're careful about making sure your guitars aren't overpoweringly bass-y and compliment the bass tone, you'll get a bigger, heavier sound than you would with a dual recto super-death-metal chunk tone fighting for low end representation with your bass guitar. A properly mixed relationbship here will sound clearer and "bigger" than it's unbalanced counterpart, and will be able to be savely mixed louder without clipping.

2.) Compression is fiendishly difficult to really get the hang of when you're starting to learn how to mix. The thing is, everything else in your "effects" selection on your computer, when you put one onto a sound, you expect to hear a change. Nine times out of ten, with compression, used correctly you shouldn't hear a difference. You should only be seeing a couple decible change in the peaks. sure, there's a time and a place where a heavily, unnaturally compressed signal can sound more "right" than one that's only subtly compressed, so don't be afraid to experiment.

Mastering tips:

1.) Don't mix down to 0dB. When you're opening a file in an audio editor, -3 to -6 is probably ideal,a nd will leave you a bit of room before clipping if you're going to be doing light EQ tweaks to the mix. You're going to normalize it anyway, so you might as well leave yourself a little room for safty now.

2.) when I'm in a hurry and need to get a rough master together (i-e- sending someone a rough mix or posting something over at www.guitarwar.com), i usually just use the sonic foundry wave hammer plugin. It combines a compressor with a volume maximizor, and can give you perfectly serviceable results on short notice. I usually use this as the last step anyway, but when i'm using it in conjunction with a number of other applications, i use it a bit more subtly.

3.) This is as much a "clarity" tip as a volume tip, but try running a high-pass filter at around 20-40 hz to throw out everything below that point. Most mic's don't record that low, your ear doesn't really register anything that low, yet especially if you've been using a lot of synths or reverbs or something, these frequencies can still make their way into your mix. cut them out and you'll have a clearer low end, and a slightly quieter actual volume, with little change to the percieved volume. normalize from there, and...

4.) you should be checking for this while you're tracking, but the DC offset function is your friend. Make sure your "zero" amplitude really IS zero. when I'm recording with a mic, for some reason there always seems to be a slight offset- the "zero" point on my waveis always slightly above the "zero" line in sound forge. If it's, say, a half-decibel too high, that's a half-decibel you can't use later on in the recording.

idunno... i'm hungry. breakfast time. Hope some of this is helpful...

-D
Drew is offline  
post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 04:00 PM
 
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Yup... IMO, be careful with levels on the individual tracks. careful not to over-modulate. Loudness, or rather, "apparent loudness" is pretty much made during mastering wih EQ and limiting. It's up to the individual how much compression to use, but a multi-band compressor-limiter gives the most transparent results.

Hint: There are some pretty nifty plug-ins out there. Just be careful not to over-use them like I do.
bob oakman is offline  
post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-23-2004, 06:56 PM
 
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some excellent advice here guys! has given me LOTS of room for thought. That article is excellent by the way. Nice to see someone backing up arguments with facts for a change!
Kev Brigden is offline  
post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-26-2004, 01:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev Brigden
some excellent advice here guys! has given me LOTS of room for thought. That article is excellent by the way. Nice to see someone backing up arguments with facts for a change!
Ahh, you've been reading Bush administration press releases?

(note- that was a joke i couldn't resist. please treat it as such. )

-D
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