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Old 11-13-2011, 08:45 AM
dal007 dal007 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: southend/ essex
Posts: 9
Smile Massive volume drop after bouncing to disk

Hello to all you PT gurus.

Now please, before anyone start complaining that there are other threads already posted like this...yes...I know...I have just sat here for hours reading them! lol Please bear with us doofusses as we may not explain our problems in the correct way using the correct lingo.

I have understood all the comments but still think the point is being missed as to the problem.
It is not the 'mixed' volume that is the issue, it is the final overall volume that you end up with after bouncing to to disk then to cd and consequently you have to turn your stereo up way past the usual volume to actually hear the bounced tracks.

(just a quick background of me) I was recently involved in a semi-pro band and we did our own recording in our studio with Windows XP Pro, Protools 7.1 and a Delta 1010. The bassplayer at the time did the majority of the desk work etc and we never had any problems with an overall volume of our final bounced tracks once transferred onto cd for listening purposes.

As for mastering...I doubt he did that (as none of us are professionals in mixinig at all) and we did not have any additional plug-ins or limiters or additional mastering goodies. It was all managed with Protools 7.1 as it was.

Since then, the band have separated and I am now using the studio facilities. I have just started recording a friend who is a solo artist using just a semi-acoustic guitar and straight vocals.
I have recorded the guitar direct and a condenser mic for the vox. All sounds fine, even with an eq plug-in for the guitar and nothing on the vox. (this is just going to be a reference track, so no major tweaking required, just overall levels etc).
So....with nothing else to add music-wise I have bounced to disk and then converted to mp3.

When I listened back to that mp3 it is at such a low volume it is ridiculous.
Now, I am sure I must be doing something wrong as we didnt have any overall volume drop issues when we recorded the band songs as wavs and converted them to mp3s afterwards.....only now I seem to be experiencing problems.

So the big question is why is there such a big volume drop from what you hear on the pc when tweaking to after a bounce session? The tracks on the pc sound awesome (even for a greenhorn like me who has vague minimal mixing capabilities) and as mentioned previously...we did not use any limiters or additional plug-ins previuously and had no overall end product volume discrepancies.

I understand that 'my' cd will not be as loud as the 'industry standard'...that is accepted....but to end up with a poultry minimal volume as it appears to be coming out is soul-destroying!

I look forward to any assisitance that you experts may have...or if there is a simple explanation you have seen on another thread and want to direct me over there...I will be only too willing to go and check it out.

Thank you for your time in reading up. Soz if this seems trivial to you guys and possibly frustrating....but after reading nearly all of the other related threads...this volume drop seems to be a common issue.

regards (and thanks in advance)

Dal (Greenhorn)
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:32 AM
Ben Jenssen's Avatar
Ben Jenssen Ben Jenssen is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Oslo
Posts: 4,661
Default Re: Massive volume drop after bouncing to disk

Hi, Dal. I'll volunteer.

When bouncing, you should always have a master fader. (Remember the meter and plugins are always post fader on master faders, ulike all other types of tracks in PT. So if you adjust the master fader you affect the input to the plugins.)

The signal should almost reach but never exceed 0db. In digital that's the absolute limit.

Put the standard PT limiter on your master, pull the threshold back until the highest peaks (only just) starts to trigger the limiter, and bounce. The result is your max volume without compression and mastering.

You will most likely be disappointed.

So, we must make shure that the highest peak is not holding back the overall volume. We must control the dynamics with compression and limiting. Holding back the peaks to let us increase the overall volume without exceeding 0db wich would cause clipping and distortion.

Now, too much limiting will sound bad. Lifeless and kind of distorted. So you will have to find a middle way to compromise, or pay up to get professional mastering done.

There are no rules to get you there, but here's my take on it: the best way to achieve loudness is to mix well, and with loudness in mind. Control your low frequencies, they have much energy. Limit individual tracks instead of limiting the whole mix, less distructive. A gentle compressor on the fader (set up to sound good, not just for volume). And last insert on the master, a limiter to catch the peaks. (It's common to set the output of the limiter to something like -0.3 for a little leeway.) Remeber if you touch the master fader, it will affect the input of the limiter.

If it's not loud enough, tell people to reach for the volume knob, or pay up for a pro.

It's called the volume wars. Some people are wizards at it and you can just forget beating them, you will never sound as loud as them on the radio, but it's possible to get close.

Life-long audio enthusiast and small studio owner. Retired.
Mac Mini M1, 16GB RAM. 512GBinternal(3000MB/s),2TB(1300MB/s),2TB(350MB/s)
MacOS 11.6.8. PT 2020.12.1 (Reinstatement on hold for M3 macs and AS native PT)
Topping D50 DAC, Dynaudio BM6p, Artist Mix, SSL UC1, EuControl on iPad.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:35 PM
jbasil jbasil is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 169
Default Re: Massive volume drop after bouncing to disk

There are many mixing techniques for getting the most level, but that's not the question here, which is why the bounce was so low compared when it didn't sound low in PT.

I've seen one mistake made firsthand, and it was easy as pie to remedy. The person was recording as you were, and whatever levels made it into the DAW he turned his monitors up to hear it nice and loud, even thought the DAW levels were low. Then he made mp3s and played them on his iPod and was surprised and concerned about the low level. But the only way to compare would have been to re-import to the same DAW, and play it out of the same path. So as Ben points out, the issue isn't in the bounce but in the mix, because once you play it on a different player you lose the "control" or "standard". So the most important thing to start with is to make sure it's apples being compared to apples. Like Ben says, you need a master fader to see the output level. Don't turn the monitor up to hear it louder, bring up the tracks so that the master looks healthier.

If you have a limiter like Maxim that allows you to set the actual output level (as opposed to just set the gain boost amount) slap it on the master fader. Even if you don't do any compression/limiting it will enable you to see that it is peaking at, say -10 db and you can tell it to make it peak at -.02 even if it's not doing anything other than raising the gain. If you don't have one of those, find a compressor/limiter that gives you a numeric readout of what the track is currently peaking at when it goes through it. If it says it's peaking at -10, take the master output gain of the plugin and turn it up 9.5 db. It shouldn't clip. See what that does for you. It will help you to see what the track has actually been peaking at rather than if it has seemed loud or not.
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