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Might already be a thread about this but I have to ask. What is your stance on the loudness war? Sure, most of us out there don't mix our tracks to clipping/overcompression levels, but I bet most of us get the track sounding as good as possible - while being as loud as possible. There is a volume knob. Why not use that? Is it to fit in with other track volumes? It is just because its "common practice"? In some cases, are we slaves to what are considered good production practices? Does that cloud our judgement? What do you guys do? 

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I just mix my tracks at the current level I use so no one will have to touch the volume knob to turn it up, or turn it down because of clipping. Could be a standard from good production practices, but really, I do it for other people's benefit, not necessarily for loudness or to stand out.

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my older tracks, 2010 and earlier, were mostly too loud, or rather, shoddily maximized. i just didn't happen to know this.

it sounded great on a few and not so good on many.

 

i've gone over to pulling it back a good deal. this way, i don't have to learn to be a super good engineer. i'm just happy with boosting a mix until i feel cranking it up further would require several counter-measures that i don't really know about. works alright for me.

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The loudness I mix at these days is exactly where I want to keep doing it; I use zircon's "Level Bounce" as my maximum loudness reference. I actually used to mix more quietly. But yeah, I'm not going any louder than that reference. I mix about that loudly so people won't get startled if they hear a really loud track after a quieter track.

 

With actual numbers, I often reach about -8 to -6 dB RMS. Of course, I don't purposefully mix this loudly; it just happens to be optimal for my setup, and I just happen to like it at this level. Not too loud, not too quiet.

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I've seen all kinds of rationalizations for it when queried, mostly in the form of excuses, suggesting that they personally don't really want to and acknowledge that it's bad. It often feels disingenuous to me though. I think if you just keep asking why enough times, eventually it just comes down to "I'm just doing it cause everyone else is doing it".

 

Broadcasting and streaming services worldwide are currently adopting loudness normalization standards that work by analyzing the average loudness across blocks of material and adjusting them accordingly, so that compressed audio will have their volume compensated to have the same average loudness as something with more sensible dynamics. This mostly grew out of legislation to combat the insane compression levels on TV commercials making them appear much louder than the regular programming, but it encompasses all kinds of broadcasting. I think YouTube already have their own system in place for music published under their own music program.

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I used to worry I was not partaking in enough loudness in my mixes. I have found however that it tends to derail what I'm personally trying to accomplish musically. I'd rather not try and measure up to someone else's loudness, that's a battle I'm not interested in attempting to win. I'd rather try to write/mix the best I can.

 

Yeah, like WillRock mentioned, there is a volume knob. Sometimes it's built-in and automated. With the advent of soundcheck in iTunes (which is a wonderful feature I use all the time), I think maximizing loudness can hurt the mix potentially if it's matched down to a more dynamic (within reason/taste) mix. The 'louder' mix would likely sound lackluster in comparison when the volume is brought back down to match the RMS of the more dynamic track.

 

Also, with 24 bit recording, I don't think we're really hurting for headroom anymore? I really think the idea of loudness for sake of loudness (instead of the actual music) is obsolete by now.

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It is what it is.  Generally speaking though, the louder tracks in my library sound worse than those which hit the right balance of loudness to dynamics.

 

There's nothing wrong with being competitive on levels, but I feel it's a range as opposed to a hard number.

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i've always been much more concerned with stuff like a good stereo sound, because that part can't be fixed so easily on the users end.

 

and when you fuck up the mix via overcompression, that can't be fixed so easily either.

 

good sound on lackluster total volume, easy to fix by listener.

 

and i don't think the loudness war is getting any worse. it's more of a radio thing, and some artists like to mimic that in their mixing. not that they'd have to.

i notice that most (not all) of the artists i like don't terribly overdo it. as in, dynamics and loudness are balanced in a way that makes sense.

metal bands are one notable exception. i'm mainly talking electronic producers, musician and engineer in one type of sorts.

 

like, take pretty hardcore stuff like venetian snares. i think the mixing makes sense on most of his stuff. it's not over the top even though the music may be.

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My stance? I CRANK DAT SOULJA BOY UP CUZ!

 

really, most of my tracks are -8 to -5 rms. For the style I make, my tracks are supposed to be loud so it can compete in dj sets, but sometimes i'm to lazy to make my song louder (yes I get lazy) so I just slap a limiter on my master to prevent clipping and call it a day.

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Loundness seems to be a genre specific thing. Classical tracks rarely are maxed out and I often have to change the volume based on the work. Probably because of the dynamic nuances classical music has.  (Although I have noticed that more modern tracks are louder than say something recorded 20 yrs ago.)

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I master my songs until they sound as loud as they can without affecting the dynamics or causing distortion (these days anyway). I've always worried that my songs aren't as loud as other people's songs, but no one has complained about it so far so my fears are largely unfounded. As WillRock said, there's a volume slider/knob/control.

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