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  #1  
Old 08-30-2004, 02:03 PM
benjaminbarry benjaminbarry is offline
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Default final volume levels in PT

I need a fairly precise answer on this one please but if you have anything to add, feel free. Anyways, I am working on getting my songs as close to unity as possible and am having a lot of trouble. It bothers me that my volume levels aren't anywhere close to professional stuff. Is it just my lack of knowledge or is there something I am doing that is keeping me from achieving these volume levels. Right now I am putting a BF76 on the master track and POWrdither on the last plugin spot to try to get my songs louder but it doesn't do the trick.

I also have a question about the BF76. How the hell does it work? The instructions that came with the plugin are not very good and I have messed with those knobs for hours trying to get the settings I need. Right now I am working on a song that has some big bass and snare and the two keep driving the master fader levels to distortion (not audible tho). Is this okay or do I need to use some compression or eq on these elements instead of messing around with the BF76? I'm so confused, please help me.

ben.
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  #2  
Old 08-30-2004, 02:22 PM
Bixby Bixby is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

As others (who shall remain nameless!) have said before...

There are three steps in producing an album: recording, mixing, and mastering.

You've only done the first two.

Do a search on mastering and start reading. Also, check out Bob Katz' book "The Art of Mastering."

http://www.digido.com

Hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 08-30-2004, 02:25 PM
bzldzl bzldzl is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

The loudness you are talking about comes from a step called mastering. This is almost always done after the mix has been bounced to disk, two track analog, etc...

Try doing your mix with nothing on the master fader. Once you get the mix sounding good bounce it down and then open in a new session to work on the mastering. For the most part people take projects to a proffesional mastering house but many do it themselves. Do a search in these boards on Mastering and you will get all kinds of info and great links.

I use the Waves mastering suite and like it a lot, there are many choices out there. Basically I have, in this order on the master fader track; EQ, Compression, Stereo imaging if neccessary, Limiter followed by a spectral analyzer which is bypassed for final bounce.

I enjoy mastering as much as mixing. It is a good idea to take a break of a few days from mixing to mastering if you are doing it yourself. Most people will recomend to take your mixes to a pro for many reasons; equip, experience, new room, fresh take on the mixes, etc... So far I have recorded two albums that I also did the mastering on and the clients and their critics were very happy with the final product. Mastering your own mixes is not the norm.
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  #4  
Old 08-30-2004, 02:38 PM
benjaminbarry benjaminbarry is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

Thanks both of you. I will do some of that reading bixby and bzldzl, thank you for that insight. I want to be in control of the whole process when I do my songs because I like being in control of the whole creative process. Maybe this idea is silly but I think its worth the effort to learn these things in the end. I have another question... how does spectral analysis help in the final master? thanks.

ben.
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  #5  
Old 08-30-2004, 10:48 PM
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JFreak JFreak is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

mixing and mastering should be done by two different people, because... 2nd opinion is always valuable. if you record and do the mix, it is very hard for you to be objective during mastering.

anyway, quick way to get volume is to put vintagewarmer (by pspaudioware.com) to the master fader. if you know nothing about mastering, that gives you instant gratification.
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  #6  
Old 08-31-2004, 01:11 AM
Infa Infa is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

Quote:
anyway, quick way to get volume is to put vintagewarmer (by pspaudioware.com) to the master fader. if you know nothing about mastering, that gives you instant gratification.
Or download a free demo of the Waves L2, or L3 ( or hell just buy em, as the guy mentioned earlier "The Waves Masters" bundle) -- I knew NOTHING of mastering, and also yearned for the commercial volume. The L2 just with one slider and no other settings will give you that instant "Pro Pump" !!!

As far as a "Spectral Analysis" as you asked, mainly musical sounds are usually visualized as "waves" of air that vibrate with a particular frequency.*This frequency is expressed in cycles per second; however, instead of saying "cycles per second" we say "Hertz".* The range of human hearing is said to extend from 20 Hertz to 20 Kilohertz (i.e., 20 cycles to 20,000 cycles-per-second).* This range is referred to as the "audio spectrum".

However, day-to-day sounds and musical sounds consist of a mixture of different frequencies.* It is the nature of this mix which helps to determine timbre.* Therefore, by looking closely at these component frequencies we get insight into the timbre of any sound.* This is spectrum analysis.

Spectrum Analizers can be revealing, showing things that might not be obvious by listening. That's because waveforms represent audio in the time domain (amplitude vs. time), while Spectrum Analysis displays them in the frequency domain. If an audio track has a muddy build-up in the low frequencies, the Spectrum Analysis will show it, and appropriate EQ tweaks can be made.

Looking at a Spectral Analysis of audio tracks can be helpful in a number of ways. For example, it may reveal extraneous sounds that don't stand out in a visual examination of a wave file, but*do stick out like sore thumbs in a frequency analysis or sonogram. There are hundreds of sources for these kinds of unwanted sounds: Background noise from a computer or a fan, rustling of paper, bumping of mic stands. The Spectrum Analysis can also show a buildup of frequencies in a particular band, where instruments on different tracks are competing with each other.

As always, trust your ears first. But it doesn't hurt to have a little visual confirmation of what you're hearing. The insight that a Spectrum Analysis provides lets you know precisely where EQ should be used to correct problems in an audio track.

Hope This Helps--
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  #7  
Old 08-31-2004, 12:44 PM
cleft cleft is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

Check out this free RTAS plug-in for spectral analysis:
http://www.elementalaudio.com/products/inspector/

I just started using this for a project that I'm self-mastering and can attest that it's very helpful to see the frequency ranges. For me, it's a lot of trial and error and slow progression to train my ears. I'll usually do an initial master, burn a CD and listen on a variety of stereos. Usually I find that my mixes are too muddy and too heavy in the low frequencies. The Spectral Analyzer really helps me SEE this before my final bounce. I'm FAR from really understanding the details of mastering, but I found this tool helpful.
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  #8  
Old 08-31-2004, 07:51 PM
benjaminbarry benjaminbarry is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

Thank you cleft, Infa, and JFreak for your answers. All of those were very helpful. Sorry to be so difficult but I'm probably a very small fish compared to many on this forum. I'm just a home user with a nice powerbook and a little money but not enough to spend it on pro mastering plugs (although I would like to). I'm going to college soon (2wks) ... maybe after I get a job I'll have more money and I can build up a studio but I'm stuck on ultra-low budget gear for now. Would it be possible to download that free RTAS spectral analyzer and use that in conjunction with digi's compression, eq, and limiter? I also have the free BF76 limiter plus TRackSeq (which I prefer since its more visual). Do I have a chance at getting my recordings closer to snuff with these tools? Recently, I've been using either the BF76 or digi's compressor and limiter with some eq but the recordings aren't quite loud enough and they lose clarity in regards to peaks and valleys in the energy (volume), if you know what I mean. BF76 isn't a very strong compressor/limiter and the digi route doesn't do quite what I need either, I can't keep from clipping w/o lowering the volume. Do I need to be more specific in controlling the sound levels of each track to prevent this from happening? Hopefully all of this makes since to everyone. Thanks a lot.
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  #9  
Old 08-31-2004, 08:24 PM
Infa Infa is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

Ben, I understand your low budget. #1 - If I were you I may just skip the Spectrum Analizer,,, why?? you may ask, after everyting I told you? Because YOU, at the level your at don't even really need one... They help,,, but NOT that much for people on the begining end. I mean it can not hurt, especially if you download that free one,, but I don't feel it is essential FOR YOU... AND here is the main thing,,, it WILL NOT give your mixes that extra pro gloss/pump you are referring to. It just allows you to zero in on subtle things (if you even know how to use one/know what to look for).. And that free one (I took a look at it) won't help for a pile of beans..... But it is always cool to get something for free, and cleft we thank you for that link, it was real cool....

Now to answer your question on this "Why can't I get that pump with these compressors/limiters?" ... Let me tell you this my friend, I've been doing this for a while, and now am pretty much the guy that everyone asks, "how did you get it to sound like that!!?" -- Well, I could NEVER get that commercial pump/sound with them plug ins your using either. I would use them for SOME things, but NOT my final stereo master mix/bus....

You NEED a mastering plug in. And the one (IMO to me) is the L2 or L3 by Waves. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A FREE DEMO -- Then if you like it, buy one on eBay for cheap...

Either way, what you do is STOP trying to get that sound by using them compressors/limiters. And get something that "does that sound" easily.

Now I have gotten CLOSE to that sound with a combination of some of them compressors/limiters,(maybe even 2, one with a slower attack/fast release, another with a faster attack/medium release,,etc..) and a nice EQ with everything just tuned in right. And it gave me even a little different of a sound,,, it was pretty cool, and some would even say a little more dynamic,,, BUT the volume was no where near what them "Mastering Tools" plug ins can do... And I know that is what you are talking about. So I suggest you get the L2 or L3 by Waves... Save up, do what ever you can, but just do it. You will THEN get what you are looking for.

Hope This Helps--
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  #10  
Old 08-31-2004, 08:53 PM
benjaminbarry benjaminbarry is offline
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Default Re: final volume levels in PT

thank you Infa, you should be a salesman for freakin' Waves because I think I will do that. I may also do that reading on mastering suggested earlier by another user. Maybe the combo of the two can give me that pro sound I've been looking for. Thank you all but if there's anything else any of you think I should do then please input. The more the better I think. I will check this page everyday for a few days. Thanks again.

ben.
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