Questions & Answers

Overall volume of exported tracks

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asked Sep 10 in Computer Based Recording & Production by frankodee (530 points)
edited Sep 10 by frankodee
I have completed my album, mixed and mastered and ready for distribution.  However, when I burn it to a disc or mp3 player, the overall volume is lower than other music I own.  I have mastered as close to 0dB as I possibly can get it...any further increases cause clipping.  Is this just the fact that it is a Home Recording Studio, or is there something else I can try to increase overall volume output without causing clipping.

4 Answers

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answered Sep 10 by donaldbaarns (6,390 points)
selected Sep 10 by frankodee
 
Best answer
There are a wide set of tools (effects) people use on music tracks.

I assume you are working with limiters, compressors, EQ and such on your tracks?

While improper use of those tools can quickly mess up your mix and make it sound worse, most people are making selective use of tools to make sure stray peaks are not clipping, and the overall volume levels of tracks are within certain ranges.

You don't want your whole track volume decided by a few peaks.

Gain staging is an art with some science, and mastering is rarely something people do well without some experience.

Home recording has nothing to do with it. It's how you use the tools that matters.

There are tons of moving parts, so anything said here is a generalization. I'd suggest you go to a group like "https://www.facebook.com/groups/Homestudiotrainer/"

Ask questions and/or hire someone like Johnny to quickly get you up to speed. (You can learn it all yourself, or cut the time dramatically by paying someone for a couple hours...)
0 votes
answered Sep 10 by frankodee (530 points)
Thank you for your input.  I do have some knowledge as far as using tool...I took several online courses in the past year, but as everyone knows there are no set rules to follow....The one thing I have learned is that recording and engineering is an ongoing learning process. Things that worked yesterday don't always work today.
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answered Sep 12 by reishardmontgomery (460 points)
You may want to compare your RMS levels vs. other commercial releases. If you have any software or plugins that can read your tracks and give you the RMS you can then get it to a level of what you're comparing it to and see how much louder your mixes will be perceived. -Reishard
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answered Sep 27 by lukemccready (1,430 points)
Loudness is tricky.

- A really strong limiter is a big component to increasing loudness without killing the quality too much. Ozone Maximizer by iZotope is a good choice, although there are others.

- Bus compression and master bus compression can help as well.

- Multiband compression is a powerful and dangerous tool for increasing loudness.

- You may have a lot of excess energy in the sub bass region that you don't notice or hear. Cutting that out can improve the headroom of your mix.

- Mastering engineers with killer equipment can actually intentionally clip the signal in the analog domain before converting back to digital without it sounding completely terrible. You probably won't be able to match that.

- Keep in mind you probably don't want to go as loud as many commercial releases if they're crushed to death, especially in genres like EDM.

Those are the tools and methods to make your track louder, but I encourage you not to go overboard. If you provide a track that's too hot to YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Apple Music, or even radio stations, they're just going to turn it down to match the loudness of other songs. And you've squeezed the life and clarity out of your track for a volume edge on CD playback and SoundCloud. It's not worth it, in my opinion. Unless a client asks otherwise, I master music to a conservative -14 integrated LUFS with a true-peak ceiling of -1 dBFS. When enough other engineers follow suit, we'll truly be in a post-loudness-war era, and music will begin to sound better again.
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