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Black Metal Bunny
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I read recently that all tracks should have their peak db no higher than like -3 or -6.

When I follow those guidelines, everything is really quiet. So I lower the volume on all my tracks so that the peak never exceeds -3db and everything is good, no clipping, etc. But it's so quiet compared to other .mp3s and stuff I have. Like if I render my file like that and play it on my speakers, I have to turn the volume up much louder than almost all the other music files I have on my computer.

I first thought "why is my stuff so quiet?" But if I'm following proper guidelines, does that instead mean that everything else is too loud and mine is actually at the proper volume?
 

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Dream Crusher
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Mastering is when the volume tends to come up.
 

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Black Metal Bunny
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
But even if I raise the master volume level, if I keep the peak db below -3, it's still quieter than everything else.
 

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Wirelessly posted :)sponge:)

ironfistx said:
But even if I raise the master volume level, if I keep the peak db below -3, it's still quieter than everything else.
It's not about raising the master level. Mastering is taking the final stereo mix and applying very careful EQ, compression, limiting, etc. to raise the overall level by diminishing the dynamic range, and adding the final polish to the track. When mastering for an album or EP it also involves getting the songs to sound good together as a whole so that they flow properly without jarring sonic changes.
 

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Wirelessly posted :)sponge:)

I don't have any, unfortunately, as most of my learning was from books and school, and then years of finding all the wrong ways to do it :lol: I'm sure others have some, and IIRC there's some good stickied threads.
 

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Serious Bedroom Guitarist
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Is Actually Recording
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I need to learn about that stuff (EQ/compression/limiting/etc.). Any links?
You need to learn about that stuff anyway, as part of learning to mix, but mixing and mastering are two separate processes. You'll do much better when you stop worrying about how LOUD your mix is and just focus on how it sounds.
 

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Premium Member
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You need to learn about that stuff anyway, as part of learning to mix, but mixing and mastering are two separate processes. You'll do much better when you stop worrying about how LOUD your mix is and just focus on how it sounds.
Worrying about how loud a master is is the route to madness.

Mastering for others, you have to be able to provide smashed if they want it. It can be a vast pain.

Doing your own music, I would advise that you think of 'mastering' as 'mix element gell' and do it to taste.

The more compression on the master buss, the more continuous in level (obviously) the music, and the comparatively lower any transients. Also, the comparatively lower low end has to be in the mix, as 99.999% of the time, thats where most of your volume really is, and most of your headroom is being used. Louder mixes must by their nature be brighter mixes (though a bright mix doesnt have to be loud).

By that token, if you want something that has a huge thunderous low end, you can very easily make a mix that has a really high RMS level/low level variation and all the measurable hallmarks of 'smashed', but is still quiet to the ear (as you hear high mid range, ~2-5k as much louder than bass at all but extreme volumes: see fletcher munson effect).

The other factor is that the master buss compression and/or limiting can help the music sound and feel like a unified whole. And, personally I like the sound of some compression on a master buss (not hella loud, but some). It can sound/feel aggressive and fatter.

So, your call. Its all trade offs and balances. There isnt a right answer. Death magnetic loud is definitely a wrong answer, but there isnt a right one.

With regard to your levels, if you mean that your tracks are -6 to -3, thats hot as fuck for raws. -18 to -12 is more like it. Aside from preserving headroom for when everythings summed and all the inevitable buildups happen, if youre running any sort of audio hardware any hotter than that then youre pushing it past 0VU and inducing distortion (to some extent), and harming the clarity of your separate tracks. Unclear separate tracks do not make clear mixes, especially not clear loud mixes. Ironically if you want a chance of a really loud master sounding good, you have to start with really cold raws.

If your master buss when just playing all the raws, no treatment of any kind, is -6 to -3 peak, thats fine.
 
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