I’m embarrassed to ask this since I’ve been using Renoise for four years (and making music for longer), but I’m really struggling with the mixing process of my songs.
OK Here’s the deal. When I make my songs I try to maximize the volume as much as possible, but when I listen to them they’re much, much quieter than other songs.
If you go to my myspace page http://www.myspace.com/theDDtMM or download the mp3 from CTG music http://www.ctgmusic.com/song.php?id=15962 and compare them with other songs you’ll hear what I’m talking about. I felt like I did a good job giving my instruments different frequency spaces in the mix. I even slapped a compressor at the end of the song just so I could get some more volume (I was desperate).
So what the heck am I doing wrong? This problem has been plaguing me for years.
The one thing I notice is that my cymbol crashes cause big spikes. Maybe I should just lower them and that would fix everything?
Any advice would help. I can’t get my mind to wrap around this problem.
Loudness comes from mastering. But good mastering comes from a good mixdown, which requires good recordings and a good arrangement to be loud. So the whole process matters, but it’s the limiter at the end that does most of the work.
Don’t try to maximise the volume as much as possible when making your songs. Do try to make the volume loud (that is, make the mix sound relatively loud by using good EQ, levels etc.), but don’t mix with a limiter on the master bus. Don’t worry too much about making it loud until the mix is complete and you’re mastering the output. A mixdown is supposed to be relatively quiet because it’s not mastered.
About your mix, try working on setting your levels right first, because they’re out by a lot. Start with the kick reading around -8.5 dB and work on adding the other instruments, keeping the mix at least 3.0 dB below clipping. You’ll probably want to start a bit lower with this sort of kick, and work on compressing dynamic instruments to keep the volume under control. There’s a lot that needs to be done before mastering can make this really loud. Try to EQ the instruments to fill their own space, particularly you need more upper bass and less mids, and less treble.
You can limit this a lot more by lowering the threshold, but it won’t sound good if the mix isn’t right first. Keep the volume low when monitoring and try to get some monitors to make the process easier and more precise.
My personal opinion on mixing and mastering is that if you make everything loud, nothing will really sound loud. Like image processing, where a good image needs contrast, good sound needs dynamic range. There needs to be highs and lows, there needs to be negative space, and there needs to be a lull before the big boom. Think of your sound spectrum as a canvas… if you paint it all the same color, it will look fairly dull.
Individual sounds, while sounding great with an EQ that brings out all the frequencies, don’t always sound good in a mix. I often filter out frequencies that I don’t need on each channel, especially ditching the bass on synths, because bass muddies up mixes very easily, and synth presets often have way too much bass because they’re used to “Sell” the synth by making it sound good by itself. I take the DnB mentality that the bass and the upper frequencies should often be handled by different instruments that are filtered to sit in different areas of the spectrum. As I’ve said in posts before, I also try as much as possible to ditch note/drum sustains and I rarely use reverb… I do this in a variety of ways, including tightening up my envelopes, and using gates + downward expansion. Finally, using a multiband downward expander like the one in ozone (see my mini-tut post on it) can help cut through bass before shoving the entire mix through exciters/final eqs/compression(gah!)/whatever. But, as with all my posts, because my methods often get shot dow, keep in mind this is all my personal opinion. Hope it helps!
To any future reader of this post I’d say checking out “Ride the Lighting” was possibly the best thing for me to see. It is a good example of everything that has been discussed. I had some positive (though sounding crappy in a different way) results. In a couple of hours I made a much, much louder sounding track. Hopefully with more tweaking it’ll sound good too!
I also copied that post in Conner’s reply. I will memorize it tonight.
just some emancipation is needed.
But to come back to the topic:
You can also do some multiband compression with Renoise without plugIns.
I made this to avoid pumping and have a strong subbass. Here is a sourcefile to a song that I has started some while ago and haven’t finished it yet.