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Newb Question: Controlling Volume

So I’m still pretty new to music production, and I feel like I’ve gotten the hang of the majority of the basic concepts. But one thing that I’m still not familiar with is the concept of mastering, specifically in terms of overall volume.

This is probably a pretty basic question but what are some methods (or is there only one and I’m just clueless) to ensure my song is at a certain dB level? I use AUM, GarageBand, and Cubasis 3.

Also, is there a point in applying an EQ to the master? Or should my EQs on the individual tracks/busses be the main drivers?

Comments

  • wimwim
    edited February 3

    I'm not a good person to provide mastering advice, but I see your topic sinking fast with no responses, so here's a bump! I'm sure once this gets attention you'll get lots of pointers and advice.

    I would say though that a good starting point is to look at LUFS metering (Google should be helpful here). LUFS is a standard adopted by most music platforms like Soundcloud, etc. that aims to keep music loudness (which is not the same thing as volume) to some sort of standard. Its a good, objective measure. If you don't master to the appropriate LUFS levels, those platforms will adjust your music for you, and you may not like the results. FabFilter and ToneBoosters apps have LUFS metering, possibly others as well.

    As for EQ on the final mix? It's always best to get your mix as perfect as possible before the mastering stage. EQ on the master is more often needed than not to give some final touches that might be hard to pinpoint to the right adjustment on individual tracks.

    As a person who is horrible at mastering, I've found Grand Finale to be the easiest for me not to screw things up. I can always get a result that sounds better to me than the original with Grand Finale. YMMV.

  • @wim said:
    I'm not a good person to provide mastering advice, but I see your topic sinking fast with no responses, so here's a bump! I'm sure once this gets attention you'll get lots of pointers and advice.

    I would say though that a good starting point is to look at LUFS metering (Google should be helpful here). LUFS is a standard adopted by most music platforms like Soundcloud, etc. that aims to keep music loudness (which is not the same thing as volume) to some sort of standard. Its a good, objective measure. If you don't master to the appropriate LUFS levels, those platforms will adjust your music for you, and you may not like the results. FabFilter and ToneBoosters apps have LUFS metering, possibly others as well.

    As for EQ on the final mix? It's always best to get your mix as perfect as possible before the mastering stage. EQ on the master is more often needed than not to give some final touches that might be hard to pinpoint to the right adjustment on individual tracks.

    As a person who is horrible at mastering, I've found Grand Finale to be the easiest for me not to screw things up. I can always get a result that sounds better to me than the original with Grand Finale. YMMV.

    Uh oh, sounds like I need to figure out loudness vs volume.

    Thank you for your input. Appreciate it.

  • @YourJunk said:

    @wim said:
    I'm not a good person to provide mastering advice, but I see your topic sinking fast with no responses, so here's a bump! I'm sure once this gets attention you'll get lots of pointers and advice.

    I would say though that a good starting point is to look at LUFS metering (Google should be helpful here). LUFS is a standard adopted by most music platforms like Soundcloud, etc. that aims to keep music loudness (which is not the same thing as volume) to some sort of standard. Its a good, objective measure. If you don't master to the appropriate LUFS levels, those platforms will adjust your music for you, and you may not like the results. FabFilter and ToneBoosters apps have LUFS metering, possibly others as well.

    As for EQ on the final mix? It's always best to get your mix as perfect as possible before the mastering stage. EQ on the master is more often needed than not to give some final touches that might be hard to pinpoint to the right adjustment on individual tracks.

    As a person who is horrible at mastering, I've found Grand Finale to be the easiest for me not to screw things up. I can always get a result that sounds better to me than the original with Grand Finale. YMMV.

    Uh oh, sounds like I need to figure out loudness vs volume.

    Thank you for your input. Appreciate it.

    There’s some really good episodes of the mastering show podcast on this topic. Well worth a listen.

  • @gregsmith said:

    @YourJunk said:

    @wim said:
    I'm not a good person to provide mastering advice, but I see your topic sinking fast with no responses, so here's a bump! I'm sure once this gets attention you'll get lots of pointers and advice.

    I would say though that a good starting point is to look at LUFS metering (Google should be helpful here). LUFS is a standard adopted by most music platforms like Soundcloud, etc. that aims to keep music loudness (which is not the same thing as volume) to some sort of standard. Its a good, objective measure. If you don't master to the appropriate LUFS levels, those platforms will adjust your music for you, and you may not like the results. FabFilter and ToneBoosters apps have LUFS metering, possibly others as well.

    As for EQ on the final mix? It's always best to get your mix as perfect as possible before the mastering stage. EQ on the master is more often needed than not to give some final touches that might be hard to pinpoint to the right adjustment on individual tracks.

    As a person who is horrible at mastering, I've found Grand Finale to be the easiest for me not to screw things up. I can always get a result that sounds better to me than the original with Grand Finale. YMMV.

    Uh oh, sounds like I need to figure out loudness vs volume.

    Thank you for your input. Appreciate it.

    There’s some really good episodes of the mastering show podcast on this topic. Well worth a listen.

    Thank you, I’ll check it out.

  • I use AUM, GarageBand, and Cubasis 3.

    Don't think it's possible in GB but for the other two, you might try using a bus compressor from the very beginning. I often find if I try to 'pump up the volume' after the fact by putting a compressor on the master, the mix is no longer working the way I'd intended. Starting with a compressor (or two) on the master means I'm working with that from the get go. I dunno—I'm not great at mastering at all but I read this advice years ago on the TapeOp forums and it's basically worked well for me.

  • @syrupcore said:

    I use AUM, GarageBand, and Cubasis 3.

    Don't think it's possible in GB but for the other two, you might try using a bus compressor from the very beginning. I often find if I try to 'pump up the volume' after the fact by putting a compressor on the master, the mix is no longer working the way I'd intended. Starting with a compressor (or two) on the master means I'm working with that from the get go. I dunno—I'm not great at mastering at all but I read this advice years ago on the TapeOp forums and it's basically worked well for me.

    Interesting. I might give that a try. Thank you.

  • +1 on all the comments here. Wim has great points. minimal eq in mastering stage and most definitely get Grand Finale.

    Bounce down your best mix to a stereo mix and bring it in to Grand Finale ...experiment with some of the presets for mastering but you'll find you'll want to adjust to your own preferences.

    The Mastering Show Podcast has excellent info. Start at episode one and listen to them all . He also recommends some good free software for LUFs metering etc.

  • edited February 4

    I find Graham at Recording Revolution has covered the mix and master topics well in a bunch of videos!

  • edited February 6

    From my LIMITED and elementary experience.

    • Sounds with high frequencies sound louder. Stand out too much in a mix? Add a filter or eq to roll off some higher frequencies.
    • Sounds with more harmonics can stand-out more - see sine wave vs saw or square. Have a bass you can't hear? Add waveshaper to it to add some grit.
    • Compressors can help - by evening out the loud and soft dynamics (don't overdo it).
    • Gain can help - by raising the loudness (signal) of weak sounds.
    • Limiters can help save your hearing and keep volumes within tolerable max range.
    • Does the sound fall flat and changing the volume still doesn't solve how it sits in the mix - add a small amount of reverb or a resonator.
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