Getting song volumes the same

Hi guys, I know this question has probably been asked a fair bit but after reading a few things it left me more confused.

What’s the best way to make sure that the overall song volume is the same or similar to another song?

I am setting the same amount of head room (0db) via song options and also I use a maximiser on my master channel which is set to the same settings on both tracks, but I cant help but notice a slight difference in volume.

This has been bugging me for many years now and as my production is getting a little bit more serious I would like to work on this!

Any of your advice/suggestions would be very much appreciated! :walkman:

For me it came down to a lot of listening. I would play my songs over and over (often while doing the dishes or making breakfast) and that was where I would notice if something sounded off about a song. (I also tried to do a fair amount of reference track comparison using professionally mixed tracks)

A technique I picked up for setting vocal volume was to lower the song volume gradually to zero. The last instrument audible before you hear nothing should be the vocal. I would drop the volume down until I heard almost nothing, then slowly bring up the vocals. The goal was to get the vocals slightly louder than the remaining instrumentation.

Doing it that way the vocals then tended to be more balanced across songs. The goal for me was that they vocals never sound too loud or quiet for the music, even if objectively the vocal volume levels were different.

Loudness metering / LUFS meter on the master channel, adjusting boost stages (maximiser) in the mastering chain to fit the end results to the same target values?


There is a new free loundness meter that does the job (of metering loudness…) pretty well, just out from kvr challenge 2016:

…no need to buy a heavy pricey metering suite…

@Roms, as OOpsfly said, compare the loundness units of both tracks: the tools uses psychoacoustic models so when you have the same loudness units on the meter, you should theoretically feel the same loudness…

To acheive a similar loudness to your “reference” track, you will probably have to manage the dynamic range of your track, (often diminishing dy. range by compressing/limiting).

(Watch out for too much sub-bass in your edited track if you’re not able to acheive the loudness of the reference track.)

Thanks for replies guys you are amazing! I am downloading the KVR Meter now and will try that out!

@Woodpecking MantisI think what you mention about the dynamic range is EXACTLY one of the factors on one of the tracks being compared as it has all been tweaked to sound very subby indeed, which I kind of like but perhaps it should either be changed or put into a different album/ep with more of the same theme.

Also thanks @Neurogami for the technique you mention I think that could come in handy at times. But at the same time all my production is electronic so not much comparison to be made to vocals etc.

I have one track that uses quite a lot of lofi and distortion and that is the one which peaks at -1.7Db on the true peak max of that meter, the other track is much more ‘clean’ sounding and uses less distorted elements (and it peaks at -0.9Db), so im guessing distortion is the culprit here?

Like you said @Woodpecking Mantis its all about managing the dynamic range, but I suppose one should theme/group specific styles of tracks together if altering the overall loudness takes away from the style of the song? Finding it all abit hard to explain.

Maybe there are some harsh frequencies on the distorted elements I should EQ out and see if it helps?

To maximize the overall volume by controlling the dynamic range I use a combination of these:

  • use compression on tracks to limit dynamic range where it makes sense

  • use limiting (compressor with max. ratio or “maximizer”) on tracks to cut off peaks in volume

  • Carve out frequency ranges for your tracks, e.g. use hi- and lo-pass filters to bandpass your basedrum to e.g. 30-50Hz, your base guitar to 70-200 Hz - but these are just examples, it really depends on your material.

The point is to avoid having too many tracks or instruments with the same frequency range, because they add up and will be too “loud” in your mix compared to other frequencies

  • Take special care about your lower end, e.g. <100Hz. You won’t hear that range very well with headphones or cheap speakers, so it can happen that you have a mess of low frequencies without noticing. Use Renoises spectrum scope to get an idea.

I usually cut off all frequencies below 30 Hz and I’m really careful carving out frequencies for bass-heavy instruments up to 100Hz or more - it’s just too easy to mess up the lower end.

Usually it happens that mixes are too bass-heavy, so take it easy down there.

  • balance your mix in space, e.g. use different spatial positions for tracks with similar frequency range (e.g. pan the hihat to the left and the crash, which has similar frequency, to the right)

  • Use Signal Follower effect to duck other tracks / instruments with similar freq. range. e.g. you could duck your base guitar a little whenever the base drum kicks in.

  • You could also use a little bit of compression on the master bus, but be careful here to not mess up the mix. Also you could drive the gain a little into the Maximizer on the master to get some more volume.

Driving some gain into a tape or tube saturation plugin on the master bus sometimes sounds nice as well, especially because it helps to “glue” your instruments together. But this depends on your music.

Hope this gives you some ideas - I am no expert, these are just some examples of things that I found to help me controlling dymanic range and volume.

When I talk about “tracks” here I mean Renoise tracks - I usually use a separate track for each instrument, which makes all the above tasks much easier.

Best regards,