August 21st, 2011 at 10:27 pm by admin

Some issues that came up in recent mastering projects were loudness and the maximization process. I wasn’t able to get a track sounding as best as I could because looking at the waveform it was playing at a constant -0db. This tells me that the track has already been limited and/or compressed before I had received it.

I just wanted to send a reminder out that light compression is ok, but overdone it limits the amount of room your mastering engineer needs to fully work with the track.

A lot of producers I know make music with a compressor/limiter on the master channel thinking that it sounds better if they turn it on, but not a lot of them know what they ruining the ability to get a quality master after the track has been made because the waveforms are effectively just being squashed already during the production process.

It is ALWAYS better practice to get the track sounding as good as possible before adding anything to the master channel. Adding effects or processing on individual channels during the production process is NOT a bad idea. The main point is to get it sounding how you want BEFORE doing anything to the master channel. Leave that channel alone.

Please also remember, your music is not about getting it as loud ass possible. Your track needs to breathe on the dancefloor. There are a lot of tracks being played nowadays that are over-compressed. Most of my favorite tracks are very quiet compared to a lot of big dance hammers. My main point is that when looking for a quality mastered version of your track, listen for the dynamics being played. If you can turn your track up and have it sound as good as a louder track played at a quieter volume then it should be alright. The maximization process basically pushes all the frequencies through the speakers and lets everything be heard on louder systems. This is why it is not a good idea to limit/compress your master channel during export because it is usually the last thing that we do in the mastering process, and therefore limits our ability to get a suitable master for you because everything has already been squashed.

Here are some very useful links I found while browsing the internet about this subject. The first link has a great pdf downloadable poster to show you what typical waveforms looked like in the last couple decades compared to recent ones. The 2nd and 3rd link gives more detail about “loudness wars” and are both really great reads. Apparently Metallica’s latest album got horrible reviews because it was just way too f-in loud.

1. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122114058

2. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun01/articles/dancemixing.asp

3. http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_big_squeeze/

I hope this helps you guys in further productions. I will be writing a bit more about other topics that come up when mastering tracks that I would like to share more info about.

Please forward this email if you think someone you know would be interested in reading these articles. Check them out.

Wishing you the best sound in future projects,
Casey

One Response to “Loudness Wars & Maximization”

  1. Boy says:

    It degrades your sound to save bnadwidth also, so it’s destined to sound low fidelity.On Topic: Wavelab is still the champ for mastering and editing on native systems. Good job Steinberg! Now if only you’d port Wavelab to Mac, so that I don’t need to go to and fro PC to Mac (Currently avoiding Bootcamp). Otherwise Bias may have my monies sooner or later. v5 and v6 still does it better than Bias IMHO though, ATM.

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