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GarretGraves
11-18-2009, 04:28 AM
I cant get ANY of my tracks loud enough to satisfy my needs. I've tried using MASSIVE head room, compression and the like. Still, I cant blow up the soundscape like everyone else here. Here are my specs:

Intel core 2 duo @^1.86 ghz
4gb RAM (WinXP only recognizes 3.25)
Creative SB Audigy 2 soundcard
Adobe Audition 3
FL Studio for Garritan Personal Orchestra and Superior Drummer 2.0
Line 6 Gearbox set with TonePort DI-S and software.

I know I've asked this question before and I tried everything people suggested. I'm only able to get my tracks SLIGHTLY louder. When I compare them to people's remixes on this sight I'm significantly quieter and can't get any louder without clipping. Is it all in the mixing or am I lacking in gear?

Meteo Xavier
11-18-2009, 06:02 AM
I'm running a similar computer setup and MY computer would not get loud enough either. I want to think it might be the Intel Core, but thats largely a crazed hypothesis based on nothing.

You might want to do as I did and just get external speakers you can plug in so you can amplify them out. Now I don't worry about my computer being not loud enough at all.

GarretGraves
11-18-2009, 06:22 AM
Actually I'm talking playback volume. Not my computer entirely. lol.

EDIT: Here's a sample. It's an original WIP. I haven't gotten a controller yet so the need for velocity in certain places is obvious. But the main problem im adressing here is volume and blasting the soundscape.
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=JWYIFAQY

Harmony
11-18-2009, 06:38 AM
If you're talking about just pure perceived loudness, grab a simple maximizer (http://www.yohng.com/w1limit.html) and push the threshold way down. It will sound louder. Assuming you've already tried this, you should post examples.

GarretGraves
11-18-2009, 07:39 AM
Got the limiter and used it on the Master FX.

Here's the original:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=JWYIFAQY

and here's the one with the W1 Limiter:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=ZT6CRGDC

I got it louder with messy results (especially at 1:21) and I've messed with the thresh and ceiling in the ways i know how. This is as loud as I can get with the least bit of clipping.

am i not suppose to use the limiter on the master track?

Harmony
11-18-2009, 03:50 PM
You can use the limiter wherever, but the master track is the usual place for it.

So here's the deal. When you're composing and mixing, conventional wisdom says to adjust the levels of your tracks so that the peak level on your master track doesn't get anywhere near 0dB. That's called leaving headroom: if your peak level doesn't go above -5dB, then you have 5dB of headroom. I think it's absolutely critical to do so when recording live instruments, but it may not be as important when you're working with samples and synths. To each his own. The point is, headroom may help at the mixing stage, but when it comes time to master and distribute, you want NO headroom. It's just wasted space at that point.

According to my meters, you have 5.2dB of headroom on the original track. Good, if this isn't your final output. One primary use of a limiter is to remove the headroom by boosting the signal to, but not above, the "ceiling" value. These types of compressors are often called a "brickwall" limiters for this reason. The track you posted with the limiter applied still has 2.2 dB of headroom, which tells me you most likely set the ceiling at -2.2dB. Bad. Or rather, pointless. It means your track could be 2.2 dB louder -- that's nearly 60% louder -- without introducing any clipping or changing the dynamics at all. To correctly use the limiter for your purposes, first set the ceiling at 0dB (or -0.1dB if you want to be safe). Leave the release time at the default 200ms (increasing it is fine, but don't decrease it). Now, lowering the threshold increases the gain on your track until the peak output level reaches the ceiling value. Lowering it beyond that point applies compression with a huge compression ratio and a fairly fast attack. Since the loudest sound doesn't get any louder as you decrease the threshold, the only thing that can happen is the increase in volume of the quieter sounds. This is what increases the perceived volume. One obvious danger is that your final track will lack dynamics since the quieter sounds are now closer in volume to the louder sounds. That's where the art of proper limiting comes in. On an orchestral mix, you especially don't want to overdo the limiting.

I think one problem you may have is that you're not looking at the waveform. Immediately after opening the wave in Audacity or Sonar I was able to see that you're wasting a lot of audio space. Grab something like this (http://bram.smartelectronix.com/plugins.php?id=4), put it on you master and actually LOOK at the sound you're pumping out. Is it peaking at, above, or below 0dB? Is there a lot of headroom that I could get rid of? Is this waveform too squashed compared to other tracks that I like?

So, always get rid of headroom on the final track. A limiter will do that for you. Proper use of the limiter will also get you increased perceived volume. If you want more volume without completely killing your dynamics, fancier plugins can analyze your entire track, find peaks in terms of their frequency content and apply some optimum settings to eek every ounce of volume out without just squashing everything to hell. You can do some of that manually with a multiband compressor, and while it's a little more tedious than the single limiter approach, the results can be fine tuned a lot more, and therefore are potentially better.

GarretGraves
11-18-2009, 05:25 PM
Holy crap I think that worked.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=SESKF4F0
Limiter set to threshold: -10.5db ceiling: -0.1db release:205ms

Comparing it without the limiter on, the volume is significantly louder. It is lacking in dynamics some but that's because of velocity issues. (I gotta get that controller!)

Thoughts?

Harmony
11-18-2009, 05:43 PM
Downloading...in the meantime:

Those settings sound good. I tried to get your track louder before I left for work and I used almost the same values.

Listening....in the meantime:

I also applied a multiband compressor just before the limiter for the purpose of controlling some of the peaks in lows which were triggering the limiter unnecessarily. That allows a little more volume increase with the limiter without squashing things. You can grab something like T-Sledge (http://rekkerd.org/sweetboy-vst/) and put it on a mastering preset to get started with something like that, if you don't have a mb-comp already.

The track sounds good. I can't compare it accurately to the old ones here at work, but sounds louder and less distorted than your original attempt with W1. Nice work :)

GarretGraves
11-18-2009, 05:54 PM
thanks! and thank you for all your help. I've been tackling this problem for years now.

Now to learn how to apply the limiter to my rock tracks. I'm still having an issue there. I'm working on this one track where it peaks at around -4.7db or so. but then i try to set the limiter to accomodate the headroom and I cant get much louder with this sort of pumping sensation in the volume. I'd upload it but i havent added the bass yet so it might be hard analye it properly.

But do you have to use limiters differently for rock/metal tracks?

avaris
11-18-2009, 06:00 PM
Can't go into a whole lengthy discussion but proper grouping and bussing of channels is the easiest way to achieve a louder signal while keeping some natural dynamics. It's a very easy way to dynamically "glue" different parts of a song together. In the "Quickening" track from the Xenogears proj we bussed the pads and the acoustic guitar together in order to get the song to dynamically sit together.

This book does a decent job of explaining bussing and grouping techniques:

http://www.sound.org/html/tranceexperience.html

They have one that covers more genres than just dance music but should hopefully cover the same basics.

Harmony
11-18-2009, 06:02 PM
You might try increasing the gain on your master track by 4dB or so, so the limiter only has 0.7 dB of headroom to remove instead of 4.7dB. Depending on what's actually causing the pumping, that may help. You could equivalently do this by increasing the levels on all of the tracks feeding into the master by enough such that the final result is an increase in level on the master track by 4dB...but who wants to do that?

And just so we're clear, the "gain" is not the same as the "level". Gain affects the signal level before it gets to the plugins. You can think of it as a global input level for the plugins on that channel. So changing the gain on a channel would change the output of many FX, such as compression or distortion. "Level" affects the output after any FX have been applied, and thus changing the level has no effect on the output of your FX.

Limiting a rock track should be similar to any other track, although a loss of dynamics isn't usually as critical as in an orchestral piece.

GarretGraves
11-21-2009, 07:44 AM
I'm getting the hang of this limiter. But I'm still not getting it loud enough with my rock tracks. it's irritating! There are remixes (like Sixto's Burn, Baby, Burn, "Super Hang-On" remix) that get SOOO much louder.

Here's a remix I attempted a month ago that I managed to get CLOSE to the level I want to achieve.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=9CN740V9 (Ignore the intro of shitty strings at get to about 44 seconds in.)

I used one of Audition's compressors that i didnt even know how to use (and still dont) and was lucky it sounds OK. but it's still not up to par IMO.

I want to think it's my sound card and I plan on buying a new one soon. I'm about to post for recommendations on one.

EDIT: I also tried to get a hold of Sixto but he's not replying. :( too busy i guess.

gwilendiel
11-21-2009, 11:33 AM
I'm getting the hang of this limiter. But I'm still not getting it loud enough with my rock tracks. it's irritating! There are remixes (like Sixto's Burn, Baby, Burn, "Super Hang-On" remix) that get SOOO much louder.

Here's a remix I attempted a month ago that I managed to get CLOSE to the level I want to achieve.

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=9CN740V9 (Ignore the intro of shitty strings at get to about 44 seconds in.)

I used one of Audition's compressors that i didnt even know how to use (and still dont) and was lucky it sounds OK. but it's still not up to par IMO.

I want to think it's my sound card and I plan on buying a new one soon. I'm about to post for recommendations on one.

EDIT: I also tried to get a hold of Sixto but he's not replying. :( too busy i guess.

Id say db wise the loudness is sufficient, but you might need to readjust the mixing levels if you are using a limiter on the main. I think I detect some clipping there too maybe... but I'm not sure.

Using a limiter on the main, you have to make sure the limit isn't inadvertently triggered.
I've had similar problems where the guitar or lead or whatever won't go loud enough, but it's actually caused by something else tripping the limiter - like snares, kicks, maybe even bass, or whatever.

So you may have to adjust your mixing track levels by ear as well. Limiters and mb compressors are great, but it's good practice to try and mix without them initially, shouldn't be relied on as a crutch IMO. Plus that helps you learn what they do.

Also are you listening to other songs on the same setup that you use to compose? It's a good idea to listen to them in the same program or whatever, because the decoder used or program settings can be an issue too.

Edit:
Also, loudness in db is not always the same as what you might perceive with your ear - that depends on frequency, band width, and loudness together. A well defined band will have more prominence. This track is db loud, to me, but not very distinct or dynamic (IMO) Your ear can't always cope with certain sound forms, and some times will refuse to cope with them (fatigue)

gwilendiel
11-21-2009, 02:46 PM
Yeah, I took a look at it in audacity, and you're pretty much as high as you'll want to go.

Here's a pic of the wave form of your track (the Doom one)

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/9836/garretdoom.png

It looks worse than it actually is because I have it zoomed out, so bear that in mind. But you are pretty much at the max desirable output here, you can see that by the fact that the blue wave goes all the way to the top and bottom of each channel (remember though, it's zoomed out so it looks 10 times worse)

So really, you won't be able to make it go much louder without clipping. The way you have it is pretty good actually, you might even want to cut back a hair (because I do think you are still getting clipping in some spots)

So you'll probably need to look at other things to find the problem you seem to be having.

Harmony
11-21-2009, 04:52 PM
I don't hear a vast difference in the loudness of your track or sixto's. If you're still concerned about getting it louder, as gwilendiel said you need to focus on mixing. If your pre-limited mix is very peaky, the limiter is going to have to do a lot more work than it should. The mid-level sounds will never get as loud as they could have, had you mixed them properly in the first place. There is also the issue of EQ. Certain frequencies, even if they're at the same amplitude, sound louder or quieter to the human ear. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour)

Bottom line, if you're "close" to what you want, then you need to work on other issues to solve the loudness problem. Limiting is not the end-all solution. And it is not your sound card that's limiting you. If you get a new one, get it for the right reasons.

GarretGraves
11-21-2009, 08:13 PM
Alright. Sounds good. I should upgrade anyway. This thing is YEARS old.

gwilendiel
11-22-2009, 07:53 AM
Oh, almost forgot. Stuff like reverb effects can cause these problems also, so keep that in mind.

I'm not sure if you used verb (your Ode sounds like it may have reverb but I could be wrong because of artifacts) but just remember, jumping too heavily into effects too early in the process can slaughter what would otherwise be a passable mix. (I know because I do it ALL THE TIME :-P)

Potshot
12-03-2009, 12:43 PM
Re: loudness in a rock/metal track, you may find that your snare/kick transients are eating up all the limiter response causing the unwanted pumping effect. Since they have a very quick peak, clipping them doesn't cause much in the way of unwanted artifacts.

Head over to http://www.gvst.co.uk/

Grab the plugin Gclip, very simple, has a nice visual interface, try dropping that on your kick and snare channels and have a look at the peaks, notice that clipping them pretty severely doesn't do much to their sound, but gives your limiter more room to work with the rest of the content.

However most likely what you need to do is take care of balancing frequencies in your mix, ie. High pass anything that isn't the kick and bass to leave enough room for the low end, especially guitars, low end sounds tend to occupy a massive amount of the available headroom in a track and for instruments and sound that don't require them, get rid of them. This also helps to glue things together better. If you find your snare or kick getting buried in a mix after clipping them off a bit, some surgical EQ on various other instruments such as guitar and bass to allow them to punch through in the mix helps a lot.

GRINFeerie
12-10-2009, 10:16 AM
Microsoft has changed the volume setting method in Vista.In WinXP or earlier if you change the volume setting in an application, it will change the system volume of Windows; in Vista if you change the volume setting in an application, it will only change the volume of the application, not the system volume of Windows.For example, if you change the volume in an application to 50 on WinXP, the system volume will be changed to 50, but in Vista it will be:System volume lets assume its already 80 application volume level 50 = 40.So you might think the volume is not changed because from what you hear it does not change a lot.I guess its not a bug of WinDVD.Hope this helps.H.T.