Author Topic: Uniform volume  (Read 2632 times)

Wayne Higgins

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Uniform volume
« on: January 18, 2010, 09:39:45 AM »
I've got a really stupid question, one that Paul may fall out of his chair laughing at my ignorance, but I have to ask.

I've been doing a lot of sh@t over the past few years (since every thing in the past few years has been sh@t, right?) anyway...

I have always had this problem with overall volume of the music.  One comes out louder than the other.  Correcting it sometimes just adds distortion.  Increasing the gain doesn't always work.  How does one make it all the same?  Not normalizing, and keeping the dynamic range.  But from track to track.  Is their something I (obviously) missing?
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jkn

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 09:44:49 AM »
Admittedly - there are many others here better at this - but here's my take...

When I have an album done and the tracks aren't lining up in volume...  I'll just change the volume of the tracks to be more consistent...   If one is louder and sticking out like a sore thumb, I'll pull it back a notch, others I'll boost up.

Just volume changes - no compression or anything like that. 

I'm not sure why you'd get distortion unless the distortion was already there and just not very audible initially.   
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Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 10:38:59 AM »
Simple answer (because I am tired having just got back from NAMM), thats why mastering engineers have the skills that they do and why I almost always recommend using one.

They help coalesce the tracks together regarding volume, tone and overall perceived level. If raising your volume brings up too much noise and such then you are recording and mixing too quietly to begin with, which may mean you are monitoring too loud.

Paul
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Sunbreak Music

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 11:09:09 AM »
Music with a wide dynamic range can be challenging to level match.  I'm afraid there's not really an easy answer, other than using your ears.  If you're distorting, you're probably pushing the levels above 0 dBFS, or too hard into a limiter.

LOL at the past few years comment.
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ffcal

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 01:08:52 PM »
Wayne, do you use a lot of effects chains?  Maybe you are distorting out at the effects level before you even reach the mixer.  Could the variation in volume have to do with different combinations of effects in the same chain?

Forrest

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2010, 02:50:18 PM »
I do it like that:

1.) Normalize all tracks to 100%.
2.) Load all tracks into a mixing software (I usually use Audition for that).
3.) Determine the track with the minimum of overall perceptive loudness. Let t be this track.
4.) Compare each remaining track with t and adjust it's volume so that it maches t's volume.

However I leave the final mixing up to the ME, yet give him a mixing suggestion with levels that worked well for me...

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darkenedsoul

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2010, 04:11:31 PM »
Part of my problem is samples at varying volumes. I tend to put SIR (freebie) with a convolution on that track (or multiples with different cons) and adjust the levels so that it isn't clipping/distoring on all the clips (but this affects all samples in those tracks) and it also helps out when one isn't looped nicely (glitchy end or whatnot) and this way helps smooth it out sans me having to muck with start/end loop points.

I tend to use a compressor on my master track as well or a limiter (usually the former) to keep from peaking too loud and render it out once I'm done with it in arrangement view (Ableton Live here). That's about all the mastering I do on my tracks. I do try and keep the levels around the same on all my tracks (boost up clips that need it, tweak others or adjust a tracks volume in itself before rendering). But I am certainly not a master at mastering but I don't think anyone's complained about it (only 3 full lengths, 1 split and some compilations (which don't count) under my belt. Should be more like 5-6 releases by now LOL.

Mike

Seren

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2010, 04:05:15 PM »
I think I tend to plan towards the end whilst making my music or perhaps more accurately be aware of the end while working in the middle.

Sometimes I want dynamics, movement of levels both within and between the tracks, dependent upon what I am trying to achieve.

Sometimes I want a coherent level all the way though.

I know that somethings sound very loud when dropped into a mix, whilst others dissapear from clear hearing and leave a subtle nuance on the overall sound. sometimes these vagaries mean I have to juggle levels around trying to get the sound I think I want - sometimes they bring in a certain level of unpredictability that I love, in effect creating some of the soundscape themselves as I have to develop the mix around their character.

I tend to mix so there is no clipping, leaving enough headroom for any loud transients and then carefully listen repeatedly towards the end making any adjustments I feel important.

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2010, 11:06:15 AM »
Thanks for all the advice.

One thing about my music is that much of the stuff is live, one track, recordings.  The truest release for me would be to do things in mono. 

I run the guitar through
1: Line 6Filter Modeler
2: Distortion (which I really don't use very often)
3: Line 6 Modulation Modeler
4: Volume Pedal
5: Line 6 Delay Modeler
6: Lexicon dual processor
7: Lexicon recorder hooked up to a computer.
 
Then I duplicate the track to make it stereo, add a small pit of the Pantheon reverb to simualte a "place".

I'll mix other tracks later, if needed (or wanted).  I have never been mentally coordinated enough to listen to one track and record another on top (over dub).

The distortion I am referring to is that if I want something louder, and increase the gain using the software, it sometimes doesn't agree.

I was just wondering if there was some device, or software out there to correct volume that I didn't know about. (Like the Ronco Ambient Volume Setting Box). ::)
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False Mirror

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Re: Uniform volume
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2010, 01:04:25 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.

One thing about my music is that much of the stuff is live, one track, recordings.  The truest release for me would be to do things in mono. 

I run the guitar through
1: Line 6Filter Modeler
2: Distortion (which I really don't use very often)
3: Line 6 Modulation Modeler
4: Volume Pedal
5: Line 6 Delay Modeler
6: Lexicon dual processor
7: Lexicon recorder hooked up to a computer.
 
Then I duplicate the track to make it stereo, add a small pit of the Pantheon reverb to simualte a "place".

I'll mix other tracks later, if needed (or wanted).  I have never been mentally coordinated enough to listen to one track and record another on top (over dub).


The distortion I am referring to is that if I want something louder, and increase the gain using the software, it sometimes doesn't agree.
What exactly do you mean by "doesn't agree"?

Try to record with as much gain as possible from the beginning on, but so that no clipping occurs. That means play as loud as possible on the guitar while increasing the gain of the first effect as much as possible, yet still below clipping, then the next effect in the chain and so on...

Try to increase the volume at the beginning of the chain, instead of doing it at the end of the chain/on the recording. This way you don't increase the entire noise floor.