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  #1  
Old 09-15-2010, 10:29 AM
spearson8 spearson8 is offline
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Default Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

My master fader has a Waves L1 Ultramaximizer on it. The overall volume for the track is very good and nothing clips. HOWEVER, things can get just a bit 'crunchy' when the dynamics are very loud.

By reducing the master fader volume, the minor distortions go away. If I make up this loss of volume in the mastering phase, will this crunchy distortion rear it's ugly head again? I know it's better to leave more headroom for mastering, but I don't want to compromise my overall mix by reducing that master fader volume TOO much. Will it?

THANKS!!!

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  #2  
Old 09-15-2010, 10:49 AM
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

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Originally Posted by spearson8 View Post
...I don't want to compromise my overall mix by reducing that master fader volume TOO much. Will it?
No it won't if you're in 24-bit. The crunchiness is the L1. Do yourself a favor and give a listen to what the L1 adds to your mix. Print a small bit of audio without the L1. Print the same bit of audio through the L1 without setting any limiting. Now do a null test. Surprise! That's what the L1 is doing. (You'll need to slip one region to line them up accurately.)

You'll find that the L2 will give you a little more limiting before the distortion without adding the L1 character. You could also try out Massey's L2007. Fantastic price and quite honestly one of the top wideband limiters available.
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  #3  
Old 09-15-2010, 01:15 PM
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waltz mastering waltz mastering is offline
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

Quote:
Originally Posted by spearson8 View Post
My master fader has a Waves L1 Ultramaximizer on it. The overall volume for the track is very good and nothing clips. HOWEVER, things can get just a bit 'crunchy' when the dynamics are very loud.

By reducing the master fader volume, the minor distortions go away. If I make up this loss of volume in the mastering phase, will this crunchy distortion rear it's ugly head again? I know it's better to leave more headroom for mastering, but I don't want to compromise my overall mix by reducing that master fader volume TOO much. Will it?
Why are you using brick wall limiting on the master channel of your mix if you are going to do separate mastering anyway? What happens when you take the L1 off the master channel? Are you getting a few overs or a lot?

Something tells me that you are using the limiter to prevent overs on your master and are probably mixing to hot in general. a few overs can be remedied by pulling the master fader down a couple dB... more than than that and you should probably go back in and trim your channels and check that your plugs are not in the red as well. Distortion accumulates.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:51 PM
spearson8 spearson8 is offline
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

No clips with or without the L1.

I viewed the "Multi-Platinum" DVD series where John Merchant does a mix live. He suggested mixing with the L1 on the master fader allowing a -0.3 ceiling and a threshold of about -4.0. I put a trim plugin on all my audio tracks and simply adjust from there. He claims it helps preserve things sonically as opposed to lowering the volume faders themselves.

I usually mix with this in place. If I bypass the L1 in this case, nothing happens really. The headroom increases by about 3-4db but I do not get any overs. No overs within any plugins, buses, sends either...nada.

Is this technique NOT smart, or is it just 'his' (John Merchant's) way? I know it's all a matter of personal preference but I'm no mastering engineer and typically like to get my mixes as solid as I can without sending off to a mastering house, which I most certainly do with important projects.
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

Whatever technique works for you is not wrong.. You said "the mix was getting crunchy, (which means distortion) when your dynamics were loud".

What is making the dynamics loud and causing distortion? That is confusing.

Personally, I don't see the advantage to mixing into a limiter. Leaving some headroom on your mixes is key.
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

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Originally Posted by waltz mastering View Post
Whatever technique works for you is not wrong.. You said "the mix was getting crunchy, (which means distortion) when your dynamics were loud".

What is making the dynamics loud and causing distortion? That is confusing.

Personally, I don't see the advantage to mixing into a limiter. Leaving some headroom on your mixes is key.
Agree completely here. I mix with nothing on the master fader. Once the mix is perfect(is it ever?) I might insert Waves L2 to have a listen to what happens, but I bounce without it(unless I just need a quick reference file for CD burning). Most mastering engineers want the track to come to them at around -6db or lower(so they have room to do whatever they need to do). Handing them a mix that's "railed" simply means they have to lower the level before they start. Since MOST of my stuff gets mastered(a relative term) in-house due to ultra-low budgets, I will output my bounce just below clipping. I will master in WaveLab and use Waves L2 as the final level(ceiling set to -.02) in the third insert slot(behind a HPF with Req and softube's TubeTech set for gentle compression and warmth). My L2 never hits harder than 2-3db of reduction. If I really need more "juice" I add a second L2. I finish with the UV22 dither and render in place. As always, YMMV
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:25 PM
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

Quote:
Something tells me that you are using the limiter to prevent overs on your master and are probably mixing to hot in general. a few overs can be remedied by pulling the master fader down a couple dB... more than than that and you should probably go back in and trim your channels and check that your plugs are not in the red as well. Distortion accumulates.
By trim your separate channels do you mean with a trim plugin or with the channel faders. I have always controlled the mix with the channel faders and
the master fader if I need to. I do mostly singer songwriter projects and an usually keep everything under control.

Thanks
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:16 PM
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

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By trim your separate channels do you mean with a trim plugin or with the channel faders. I have always controlled the mix with the channel faders and
the master fader if I need to. I do mostly singer songwriter projects and an usually keep everything under control.
The main reason to use a trim plug-in would be if the individual channels were recorded to hot. Then it's best to put the trim plug before any other plug-ins or channel inserts so the trim plug attenuates the signal prior to any channel processing and then just use the channel faders as you normally would.

If your individual channel levels are recorded conservatively (peaking between -18 to -6 dBfs) to begin with, there's no need to trim.
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Old 09-16-2010, 03:50 PM
Bender Bender is offline
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

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If your individual channel levels are recorded conservatively (peaking between -18 to -6 dBfs) to begin with, there's no need to trim.
That is why I never needed one as I am very careful not to record to hot.
I do my best to get things recorded correctly. I am an old school guy who will spend as much time as needed getting things right rather than fix it in the mix.

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Old 09-16-2010, 09:14 PM
Mark Waters Mark Waters is offline
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Default Re: Optimum level for master volume - PRE-mastering

Ditto Waltz and Albee.. only thing I have in the master fader is an accurate large VU meter, a Phase meter, and a spectrum analyzer. More information not more sound.
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