The Mystic of Loudness in Electronic Music.

So after reading a few articles about Loudness-War between Studios, im not really sure if i should care the psychological effect on this or not.

After comparing my Tune with others on Soundcloud i realized they are much louder then mine and - i have to admit - clearer / better / fatter.

I found myself jealous about this fact. After tweaking my Samples / Instruments i still realize, i will never come up even near those output levels.

Since im aware they’re cooking also only with water, i was wondering how they do it ?

Do i need it that badly ? Nope

But - ffs - it sounds somehow FATTER and i wanna have that too.

This is a big subject and there’s probably no “real” answer. I’m not an expert myself. Its about mixing, listening enviroment, choice of sounds and mastering. This is what makes the difference between an amateur and a professional in my opinion. I dont know if you are asking for some adviced but when it comes to this i would recommend you check out’s message board. I mean, its probably one of, if not the “greatest” question when it comes to mixing today. At least in electronic music.

What i’ve learned is that if you mix the tune well, using eq wisely and make all the sounds “fit” in the mix then alot of the work is done. If its good staring material then you can probably make it “louder” later… If thats what you want…

Good luck!

I wouldn’t use random songs from soundclound as a reference, many people just overlimit their tunes to make it louder, which is not the best practice either.
also, don’t compare your unmastered songs to mastered releases, that would be just unfair.

just cut the bottom and and use compressors to bring up individual sounds, and adjust the levels that they sound nice together. that’s all I do. leave other tweaking and making it sound louder to mastering.

if the tune sucks, it wont be any better no matter how loud it sounds, and vice versa.

I don’t usually worry about comparing the levels to other tracks, and just try and get it loud as possible without ruining the dynamics. I usually just aim for a level around -12 to -10db RMS.

This is an area where overdoing it has a hugely detrimental effect on the overall sound. Dynamics can add do alot for your sound.

BUT if you want to beef things up - use a multiband compressor (Broadcast by JB is excellent), a little stereo expansion, subtle EQ and a master limiter.

Have a look at my tune in this thread - it sounds heavy but there is no huge effects on the master

You can also pay for a mastering engineer to master your track(s).
Look at the mastering studio for the CDs you prefer and prepare the cash ! But it well worths it when you’re happy of your tracks.

When I notice that other songs are so much louder than mine, I like to take a slow deep breath and calmly remind myself that all the songs that The Smiths ever released were mixed at a sensible volume. The Smiths, people, we are talking about the best band since The Beatles.

I like this video in regard to the whole loudness war-question.
It’s not a tutorial on how to do it but rather show the “issues” around loudness.

Put lots of compression on the master track.
Or, if you want to make your music louder without ruining all the dynamics, just turn the volume up on whatever device you’re listening on…
Modern producers and artists have apparently forgot that people can do this.

Welcome to the club! :lol:

i searched for that elusive loudness too and the first thing you need to do is to have your mix average -18 dbfs rms.

Part of the problem is also how most people do their listening these days. Some still keep hifi systems and do what is considered ‘active’ listening, but most people listen to their music while doing something else, through crappy earbuds or headphones, out in the world where there are lots of other noises filling up the background. Wide-dynamics music suffers in those kinds of environments, while hyper-compressed music levels stay pretty close to the same throughout. Add that to the whole penis-envy of ‘who has the loudest mix’ and thing get even uglier.

I gave up on even moderate use of compression just to make things louder. Volume knobs are there for a reason. Instead, I’ve been trying to nail down mixing to K-14. It’s really a matter of taste, but I feel that dynamics are as important to the life of the music as the melodies, rhythms, and progressions, and they’re as important to the sound quality as EQ, volume balancing, and use of the stereo/quad/surround field. Use compression to even out levels where they’re too wild for your mix, but leave the loudness for the volume knob.

Here’s my best attempt at K-14 so far.

  1. Why join a fad? Get the sound that is right for you?

  2. Talent. Composition, engineering, arrangement, production, mixing, mastering all contribute to a “good sound”. Experience, knowledge, and courage are all things that can be developed to foster talent.

  3. High quality gear in a workable setting. Both digital and analogue.

  4. Hire professional help.

I think most on soundcloud just pirate the fab-l limiter and set it to dubstep preset, +30dB.

I found a tutorial!!

Like everyone said… Com. Press. Ion.

What Hunter said. B)/> Once your song is laid out, focus on EQ, filter and panning for each track, and once you get your levels sorted out, you can work on boosting the sound in the master track with more EQ, limiters, compressors, exciters…

Lots of today’s club music, specially banging electro tracks, dubstep and stuff have loudness levels of ~ -5db. That’s damn loud, but it’s also gonna result in poor dynamics. Whatever you’re heading for, the first important and logical thing would be to measure the loudness. Since Renoise hasn’t (yet) something to do that, I’d recommend to use the TT Dynamic Range Meter.

As a few people have already pointed out, the most important thing is a good mix. To gain a high loudness level, “good” specially and first of all means elemination of ANY disturbing and redundant frequencies and strict focusing on the important parts of a sound. A simple example here might be HiHats, where you hard cut everything from below 400Hz up to even 740Hz and also highcut everything unnecessary above at least 17500Hz, often 13500Hz and sometimes even less. Depends on the needs and the sound of the rest of your tracks. By eleminating those frequencies you free up space for other instruments/tracks, that might have their “prominent” and important parts on those frequencies. If necessary, compress things after EQing, after compression limit/maximize them. There are lots of tutorials out on the web about this. Nicky Romero’s tips for example might come in handy for a few of your needs. We could talk about details here for days, but going deeper doesn’t make sense at this point.

The goal you have to achieve in the end and with the summary/complementation of your signals is a relation of frequencies and gain, that matches the optimal (average) loudness curve.

Loudness in this meaning in the end is, how the relation between frequencies and gain matches the ability of the human ear to receive/respond. This leads to the logical conclusion: a most important thing and requirement to match this curve with your mix is either some really good headphones or some really good speakers/monitors. Otherwise it’s gonna be damn hard to correct disturbing/redundant frequencies, because you might simply be unable to hear them. Usually you can’t correct faults you don’t know about.

Well, since we’re talking about Renoise, let’s talk about the important Renoise DSPs to gain loudness. If needed, first of all use a DC correction on your channel. The EQs are okay imo and so are the filters. So I recommend to EQ your sounds natively and afterwards cut frequencies low and high with the butterworth filters. After that, forget about the Renoise DSPs. And I’m specially talking about the compressors and the Maximizer. They’re (yet) simply not capable of achieving your loudness purpose in an appropriate way. Specially the lows with high amplitude are a problem. And those are very important for your loudness. So, if you’re not really heading for a 100% native setup, just don’t use them. Whatever you use to replace both, make sure it’s sounding neutral. After optimizing your frequencies with EQs and filters, you don’t want some device to more or less randomly “color” your sound and mess up your achievements again. Exceptions here and there might be okay and prove the rule.

Before hitting the master chain, the summary of your tracks now should already have the maximum loudness you’re able to achieve, without clipping(!) on any track. On the summary/master then I recommend to use something for massive saturation and filling up harmonics. Since Renoise yet hasn’t anything for this purpose, I personally like to use the VOS Tessla SE for this. I’ve tried a lot of things, bought a few of them, but Tessla SE is still my fav here. After saturation take care of the stereo image and make the lows a mono signal below 135Hz-160Hz. I personally use to do this after compression. Might be a matter of taste. After compression finally limit your signal again, cutting max 2db-3db of your peaks, no matter if multiband or single band limiting.

Do NOT use the native soft clipping and/or specially DC correction features of the master channel, because they’re for some reason applied as a post fx and would most probably screw up your limiting.

Might have forgotten some things. I’d specially have liked to talk a bit more about compression, but it’s late (in fact early) already and this posting already became way longer than intended. :)

Excellent Article Bit_Arts, however. I guess ill stick the teh sound, how it has to sound in MY ears, as soon im boosting stuff, its getting weird.

Someone said: People have a Volume-Knob too, thank you sir, youre right.

Wow, that was a really informative post, thank you! I have a few questions:

  1. Do you put EQ+filter+compressor on every single channel, or do you use buses for similar elements?
  2. How do you make the lows a mono signal below 135Hz-160Hz? Clever multiband send routing?
  3. Where are you supposed to put DC correct in the signal chain, at the beginning? (I’ve wondered this for a long time)