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Mastering for Soundcloud... plz help

I recently started my Soundcloud adventure by exploring the up and coming genre of 'Scifolk ambient glitchcore' and decided to listen to my piece (created in Cubasis) in the car on speakers.

It was really quiet, and I've clearly misunderstood something as another track I created in Garageband (iOS) is also too quiet.

What I'm doing is playing the track through Cubasis and sliding the master fader down until the peaks in the track are around -14. I did this because I thought this is what Soundcloud wanted:
https://masteringthemix.com/blogs/learn/76296773-mastering-audio-for-soundcloud-itunes-spotify-and-youtube

So, when creating a Mixdown in Cubasis, what peak should I be aiming for on the Master track?
And, if Garageband is the source (with its auto normalization on export), should I put it in Cubasis and knock off a couple of db?

Or, do folks just upload whatever comes out of Garageband or Cubasis (assuming the track stays below 0db) and let Soundcloud sort it out?

Comments

  • The metering the article talks about is LUFS, which isn't available natively in Cubasis, so aiming for -14 on the master meter is not going to achieve the results you want :)

    You need a plugin that supports LUFS metering, such as FabFilter Pro L or Toneboosters Barricade. Then you need to make sure you set that meter for the whole track ("averaged" or "integrated" depending on the plugin) so that you are not just metering momentary peaks.

    But, as the article you linked to specifies, this really only applies to streaming platforms. Soundcloud doesn't do any volume normalisation, so you don't really need LUFS metering for Soundcloud, you can submit a louder master there if you wish.

  • I read somewhere else that 1 luf = 1 db:
    https://emastered.com/blog/lufs-vs-db

    ... but I read it too quickly and think I understand the difference now (Luf is how sound is perceived by an average ear).

    Having done a bit of research I've found a free auv3 which provides LUFs called 'Youlean loudness meter lite'.
    I put this in Cubasis on the master post fader and for my Garageband track I just took down the volume by 2 db.

    While my track's Integrated LUF of -15.2 is a bit lower than one recommendation for Soundcloud, I found other articles saying that Soundcloud doesn't normalise.

    I also found an article stating that Soundcloud likes a 16bit, 48k hz lossless format

    https://help.soundcloud.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003452847-Uploading-requirements#:~:text=We%20recommend%20you%20to%20upload,split%20it%20into%20separate%20uploads.

    I'm still feeling a little bewildered but that's normal I guess.

  • edited September 13

    I've been doing my mastering in Cubasis recently as I find their masterstrip to give really great results. I don't produce in Cubasis though, but the basic workflow is...

    1. Produce a mix in whatever DAW you want, output at either -12db or -6db (experiment and decide which works best for your music when mastered)
    2. Drop that mixdown into Cubasis and add the masterstrip to the master channel
    3. Try some of the presets until one sounds roughly like you want it, then tweak as necessary
    4. In the masterstrip, make sure your output peak is roughly -1db as this is what most streaming sites want it at
    5. Mixdown
    6. ?????
    7. Profit
  • ... I also found an article stating that Soundcloud likes a 16bit, 48k hz lossless format

    That is only a suggestion for lossless versions, if tracks are download enabled.
    Whatever Soundcloud plays has been encoded to their special version of mp3 streaming.
    As with all mp3 codecs peaks should be lower than -1dB/fs to avoid distortion, in some heavy genres you may need even -3dB.

    Lufs is complete bs imho, no reasonably mixed/mastered track needs it.
    The only benefit is for suppliers of plugins that are suddenly supposed a requirement. >:)
    A solution for a problem that doesn‘t exist.

  • I feel like I've learned a lot today, thanks. I'm now playing with the 'loudness maximizer' on the master strip in Cubasis and it's doing helpful things...

  • @Telefunky said:
    Lufs is complete bs imho, no reasonably mixed/mastered track needs it.
    The only benefit is for suppliers of plugins that are suddenly supposed a requirement. >:)
    A solution for a problem that doesn‘t exist.

    LUFS is simply a measure of the loudness target that streaming platforms use. It's definitely not BS, since there is a purpose to volume normalisation - it means that listeners don't have to constantly change the volume while shuffling through a playlist, and this is exactly why the platforms have adopted the standard.

    It doesn't mean that songs should necessarily be mastered to match a given target, but it certainly helps producers be aware that aiming for "maximum loudness" (for example) is not going to be worthwhile. So as a side benefit it has resulted in the end of the loudness wars since there is nothing to be gained from crushing all the dynamics out of a track to make it "louder".

    But of course every track should be mixed and mastered with the amount of compression and limiting that is suitable for that track and genre. You can then leave it up to the streaming platform to set the final volume.

    And none of the above applies to Soundcloud, since they don't do any kind of volume normalisation.

  • @FastGhost said:
    I've been doing my mastering in Cubasis recently as I find their masterstrip to give really great results. I don't produce in Cubasis though, but the basic workflow is...

    1. Produce a mix in whatever DAW you want, output at either -12db or -6db (experiment and decide which works best for your music when mastered)
    2. Drop that mixdown into Cubasis and add the masterstrip to the master channel
    3. Try some of the presets until one sounds roughly like you want it, then tweak as necessary
    4. In the masterstrip, make sure your output peak is roughly -1db as this is what most streaming sites want it at
    5. Mixdown
    6. ?????
    7. Profit

    Is step six a secret, an Export, or a joke about the Underpants Gnomes from South Park, lol.

  • Here is my lo tech, clueless volume mastering technique in Cubasis…

    1. I try to keep the iPad volume around 6-7 using Sony 7506 phones.
    2. I don’t generally allow any peaking for acoustics, but can push it with synths (they’re not “real” instruments after all 😉) and especially with Lumbeats drums.
    3. I push the master volume high enough to avoid any peaking.

    That's it. Seems to get me the volume I need on SoundCloud.

  • For me, I do two types of mastering of my own material - EDM/Trance mastering, and Ambient mastering.


    For Ambient, I keep the audio signal low on the master buss before I place anything else. When I do use a limiter, it's only to catch any possible peaks, but 99% of the time there are no surprise peaks. After recording a live performance or rendering to audio an Ambient production, I import the final audio into TwistedWave audio editor and normalise to -3dB prior to uploading to SoundCloud.


    When I master EDM/Trance, I first make sure the loudest part of the track is hitting approximately -12dB peak metering (which is the usual metering you see in any DAW). Then I place one MagicDeathEyeStereo and adjust the settings as such - master out all the way down, input all the way up, attack to "f", release to "5", low cut to 20hz, and then I raise the threshold until the gain reduction metres are hitting close to -3dB. Once that's achieved, I raise the master out until the DAW peak meter shows me it's once again peaking around -12dB.

    After that I place BarkFilter and set it to the TripleBand preset. I reduce the output gain to roughly -6dB as I don't want the signal to be too hot going into TB Barricade.

    Right, TB Barricade is next, and I first select the "Loud Master" preset. I adjust the compressor ratio from 1.3:1 to 1.4:1, turn on "True Peak", set the output to -0.3dB, and adjust the limiter gain until the LuFS metre reads about -7dB to really give that brickwall effect.

    Next, I render the audio. Before uploading to SoundCloud, I once again turn to TwistedWave audio editor to normalise the whole thing to -3dB.


    BUT, before I upload anything to SoundCloud, I register the audio with www.songuard.com . It's 4 quid per piece, and it requires the audio file to be no bigger than 10mb! For most EDM productions, this is no problem. Convert it to .m4a at 320 kb/s bitrate in TwistedWave or in AudioShare, and you're good to go. For Ambient? Yeah, there were times I had to crop out the beginning and ending of some of my longer pieces and compress the audio to 64 kb/s bitrate in order to get the fucker on Songuard. 🤣

    Songuard by the way is the modern equivalent of a "poor man's copyright", and by that I mean back in the day, I'd mail myself a cassette or CD recording of my music with the date posted on the package. Songuard is easier. I mean, getting an official copyright is so expensive and is fine if you're a big-time production studio exec. But me? I'm just a "bedroom producer" sitting in my studio efficiency flat making noise on an iPad. (Granted the 12.9" M1 Pro is hella powerful, but before that, I used a Mini 5 for everything, and it sufficed just fine!)

  • Thanks again, I'm learning stuff two days in a row!
    Copyright is probably a different thread, but for SoundCloud don't I get Copyright automatically by uploading it (and setting 'All rights reserved').

  • @belldu said:
    Thanks again, I'm learning stuff two days in a row!
    Copyright is probably a different thread, but for SoundCloud don't I get Copyright automatically by uploading it (and setting 'All rights reserved').

    That's true. I didn't think that. 🙂

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