Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

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shotgun
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Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by shotgun » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:30 pm

I get really low out put on my mixdowns, Can someone suggest a way to get louder sound output on my mixdown file?
and if anyone can suggest a basic step by step tutorial on how to do a basic mastering on a hip hop track in Auria? Please

Phil999
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Phil999 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:31 pm

it is not so clear today what is meant with 'loud'. Do you mean low level, or good level that has not that 'punch' like modern dance productions?

If you have low levels on your track meters and on the master meter, try to raise the faders. If you still have not enough level, it might be a good idea to normalise each track first. Then you have good levels on each track, and you may need to lower the faders to prevent clipping. But you should have no more problems with low levels.

Mastering is actually a different thing than mixing. This needs to be done in a dedicated environment with top equipment by a mastering engineer. But I guess you know that already, and want a simple DIY solution. Use the master strip from the subgroups and the master channel, and of course other plugins, and EQ's, to make your mix more radio-friendly. It's not mastering, but something between.

There is a dedicated thread about recording questions:

http://d4.drumagog.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=9918

shotgun
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by shotgun » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:37 pm

Thanks for the replay. I didn't normalize the tracks in Auria, just imported the tracks from Beatmaker and did a mixdown to see how it would sound.
I guess what i mean is that the mixdown out of Auria sounds alot lower then the mixdown i did from BM.

I'll play around with auria some more, still new to it.

Does auria 'include audio tail' on it's mix downs?

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:24 am

Mastering your audio just involves knowing what to do with your plugins. The ProL is a very good way to get your mix to the K12 or K20 scale which was created by Bob Katz a famous mastering engineer in order to settle the loudness war when compact disk was introduced. These volume scales fit today's radio and broadcast standards. By learning how to use this plugin you get all the level you need and without distortion. Just go to Fabfilter.com and touch video and watch Dan Worral as ge gives an in depth tutorial on how to use this plugin. As for not trying to learn mastering audio yourself and leaving it to the pro, well if everyone did that we would have no mastering engineers like myself. Trust me mastering is not rocket science and much of today's mastered music is produced using tools most of us have access too. Yes you can spend thousands of dollars on really high tech gear or you can do as most of us do and use whatever tools are available to you. Even some of the best mastered music was created on very old gear with much more noise floor than even the most basic digital recorder and done by learning or young recording engineers. Give mastering a try, it's really how you get the most out of Auria. Any app can record you but Auria has a flavour of Pro in it even in the mastering tools dept. The newly released plugins for Auria by Fabfilter are the same tools many project and post production studios use for their mastering. I recommend using a mastering facility only if you intend for your project to be released in a serious way or if you simply would like to have your songs professionally mastered. If that's the case I recommend Abby Road Recording Studios in England or Sterling Sound NY otherwise I recomend you watch some of Dan Worals Mastering Tutorials using the Fabfilter plugins that are available to Auria users. And if you can't get how to do it ,I believe this forum is for helping and encouraging artists to develop their art or assist them so you can send me your raw tracks an I will Master them for you for free or you can send me just your mix as a stereo file and I can master that too.
Good luck.
~~_/)~~~

shotgun
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by shotgun » Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:05 pm

Wow Anthony thank you for that response, that was very very helpful.

thats just it. I understand what Mastering is, I just never took a music/engineering class etc.....i just want to try and make some decent sounding music so i don't blow out my speakers every other song.

"today's mastered music is produced using tools most of us have access too"

Thats just it! The tools..... i'm not actual sure what tools i need for mastering a song in Auria so i just play with everything in auria. I haven't bought any plug in's because i didn't know what ones I would need or benefit me. I'm only making sampled based hip hop music, so i know a few of the plugins offered are not needed? but what one besides PRO-L are really needed?

I have used Logic and have used this youtube video as a guide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ch9n0uD8gg ......i was looking for somtihng like this video for Auria. So Dan Worals Mastering Tutorials using the Fabfilter plugins is a definite help.

Thank you.

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:00 pm

shotgun wrote:Wow Anthony thank you for that response, that was very very helpful.

thats just it. I understand what Mastering is, I just never took a music/engineering class etc.....i just want to try and make some decent sounding music so i don't blow out my speakers every other song.

"today's mastered music is produced using tools most of us have access too"

Thats just it! The tools..... i'm not actual sure what tools i need for mastering a song in Auria so i just play with everything in auria. I haven't bought any plug in's because i didn't know what ones I would need or benefit me. I'm only making sampled based hip hop music, so i know a few of the plugins offered are not needed? but what one besides PRO-L are really needed?

I have used Logic and have used this youtube video as a guide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ch9n0uD8gg ......i was looking for somtihng like this video for Auria. So Dan Worals Mastering Tutorials using the Fabfilter plugins is a definite help.

Thank you.
No problem shotgun, and your right not all the Fabfilter plugins are needed as almost all of the same treatment tools are already in Auria but the Fabfilter plugins allow you to visually see what your applying and how the track is being affected by the plugin.
As well the Fabfilter plugins are smooth and are remarkably intelligent . As well they come with so many pro presets that most of the time you can just choose one that best suits your track. You can fix a mix with mostly EQ and slight compression so those are the 2 I suggest first. The Fabfilter ProQ and ProC. if you get these two try to dedicate one week of just making fun tracks to mixdown and master. Save your favourite settings inside the plugin and give them names that correspond to what your trying to achieve like, "GREAT ON DRUMS" FATTER BASS" ect. This will speed your mixes. As well the ProL as you saw will get you the industry standard volume which you can use as a benchmark. Put one of your fav tracks alongside your mix to see if your close in volume, tone, stereo spread, ect. Good luck with your mixes an I will try to get some mastering on Auria vids up on my Tutorial youtube channel. I think its time for me to start helping some new artists get the most from their Auria experience. Post some of your tracks and I and other mixers will hear it and comment on it with helpful and positive advice. Cheers and keep those beats up.
~~_/)~~~

Phil999
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Phil999 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:29 pm

while this is all correct, I keep repeating this: one should be able to do a good mix with standard plugins. If that is not the case, new plugins won't help much, and the novice never really learns sound engineering.

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:24 pm

Phil999 wrote:while this is all correct, I keep repeating this: one should be able to do a good mix with standard plugins. If that is not the case, new plugins won't help much, and the novice never really learns sound engineering.
I agree. I think what your trying to advise here is that you see the same features in Auria's psp strips as I pointed out but why Fabfilter plugins as well as any plugin in Logic and ProTools are so visual is because developers for these high end plugins have done their research and have found that this visual cue is readily the most used buy mix engineers who mix in the box. The Fabfilter plugins are actually not a step backwards because they have all the basic and pro elements found in any compressor, gate, EQ, ect. So you still have to understand how it works and why your doing what your doing. You simply have a newer interface to get you there the real elements of the plugin are always there for the learner.
Cheers and thanks for your comments.
~~_/)~~~.

Phil999
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Phil999 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:11 pm

I bought the Pro-Q not because of its analyser (which I have disabled most of the time), but because it makes better notches than the one in the channel strip.

I'm probably totally outdated. I put my hands on the controls and don't really watch what is going on, I just listen to the changes. Visuals can be distracting and misleading, your ears should be the judge. You may end up with rather unorthodox settings, but as long as the sound is right, it's fine.

Like you said, today every plugin must look good. Often the look and the sound are in some sort of relation (companies who can afford good graphic designers can also afford good algo programmers), but not always. Listen carefully, and you may be surprised that the ugly plugin can sound better than the shiny one. Luckily this is not the case with Auria's plugins.

But back to the topic. Another often repeated phrase is 'sound engineering is all about levels'. Don't insert plugins if the levels are wrong. Get them right with the faders and panorama, so that every instrument is present. Especially when you have lots of tracks. Arrange them logically, maybe route to subgroups, create fader groups (excellent Auria feature), etc. Label each track. Then commence with dynamic processors and filters.

A good mix can't be done in five minutes. It is a serious job. That's one of the biggest misconceptions today, as those tools have become available to the masses.

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:40 pm

Phil999 wrote:I bought the Pro-Q not because of its analyser (which I have disabled most of the time), but because it makes better notches than the one in the channel strip.

I'm probably totally outdated. I put my hands on the controls and don't really watch what is going on, I just listen to the changes. Visuals can be distracting and misleading, your ears should be the judge. You may end up with rather unorthodox settings, but as long as the sound is right, it's fine.

Like you said, today every plugin must look good. Often the look and the sound are in some sort of relation (companies who can afford good graphic designers can also afford good algo programmers), but not always. Listen carefully, and you may be surprised that the ugly plugin can sound better than the shiny one. Luckily this is not the case with Auria's plugins.

But back to the topic. Another often repeated phrase is 'sound engineering is all about levels'. Don't insert plugins if the levels are wrong. Get them right with the faders and panorama, so that every instrument is present. Especially when you have lots of tracks. Arrange them logically, maybe route to subgroups, create fader groups (excellent Auria feature), etc. Label each track. Then commence with dynamic processors and filters.

A good mix can't be done in five minutes. It is a serious job. That's one of the biggest misconceptions today, as those tools have become available to the masses.
Again I agree. All good stuff and its the older mixers that should share their experience in this forum and thanks for that. I think what the user here is looking for is a direct cure for his problem as it relates to Auria. Accepting the newer style of mixing is always harder for the engineers who were old school. It is only logical that one would not follow the pretty lights of their plugin to make critical listening decisions, that of course only comes from your ears and brain. But these visual references do help you if you are looking for a problem as sometimes its as easy as the meter's fully pinned and in reality these plugins only replicate what hardware pieces have done for years. Why is there VU meters on a mixing board? Because not everything is evident to everyones ears. So its great that you mix with your ears, as you should but to some having the visual helps. Personally I use my ears first and last to judge my mixes. I have also heard and made many recordings that the levels, compression and the whole performance was so beautiful that the mastering took 10 mins. Its all in the original source, if its already there you dont have to go looking for it. Every CD or Album sounds different due to the equiptment and ears of the artists and engineers and producers who took it there.
Cheers
~~_/)~~~

shotgun
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by shotgun » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:55 pm

Again thank you Anthony and yes please make some simple Auria mastering tutorials or even mixing ones... please that would so help.

Question, i work mainly in Beatmaker or Nano, is it better to mix my song the way i like it in BM and import just the mixdown into auria? and then master it?
(Sometimes i'm totally fine with how the mixs sounds in Bm)

Or bring all my tracks into Auria and Mix/Master.

thx

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:07 pm

shotgun wrote:Again thank you Anthony and yes please make some simple Auria mastering tutorials or even mixing ones... please that would so help.

Question, i work mainly in Beatmaker or Nano, is it better to mix my song the way i like it in BM and import just the mixdown into auria? and then master it?
(Sometimes i'm totally fine with how the mixs sounds in Bm)

Or bring all my tracks into Auria and Mix/Master.

thx
Thats right import the mix as you like it already since you probably captured your best performance at the time of recording as you were in the listening mood, its likely that your blending of soundscapes and basic mix suited the track and was a real emoitional mix. KEEP THAT. Use aurias mastering tools and track count to enhance and master the track but DONT CHANGE IT. just make it slightly better. When your done your master you should only hear a very little difference from your original ti the finished mic. The only thing different should be when A/B the two your finished master should be the one your prefer to hear. Dont forget your music is only as goid as your source that delivers it to you ears so listen to your finished mix on as many different speakers and systems as possible. I like to send a fresh track to all my friens and offer them a beer for anyone willing to reply with how they liked it and what they thought they didnt like and a list of the gear they used to hear it. Youd be surprised how much this helps. And I will get on with recording the tutorial for Auria right away. Cheers
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Phil999
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Phil999 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:24 pm

Anthony Alves wrote:Again I agree. All good stuff and its the older mixers that should share their experience in this forum and thanks for that. I think what the user here is looking for is a direct cure for his problem as it relates to Auria. Accepting the newer style of mixing is always harder for the engineers who were old school. It is only logical that one would not follow the pretty lights of their plugin to make critical listening decisions, that of course only comes from your ears and brain. But these visual references do help you if you are looking for a problem as sometimes its as easy as the meter's fully pinned and in reality these plugins only replicate what hardware pieces have done for years. Why is there VU meters on a mixing board? Because not everything is evident to everyones ears. So its great that you mix with your ears, as you should but to some having the visual helps. Personally I use my ears first and last to judge my mixes. I have also heard and made many recordings that the levels, compression and the whole performance was so beautiful that the mastering took 10 mins. Its all in the original source, if its already there you dont have to go looking for it. Every CD or Album sounds different due to the equiptment and ears of the artists and engineers and producers who took it there.
Cheers
~~_/)~~~
very well said, Anthony. And you surely agree to what I am actually trying to say: for a seasoned engineer, those pretty GUI's are a real benefit, because he already has learned to trust his ears; while for a novice it can be distracting and not an advantage. But I'm not sure on this one, it's rather an assumption. Based on the thought that I would never have learned the basics in a few years if I lived in 2013. I still believe the novice should learn the basics first (levels, ear training, etc.), and then jump to modern GUI's for assistance.

Again, I might be totally wrong and desperately old-fashioned. We didn't have analysers in the 80's. But when I read about low levels I feel it may still be valid today. :?

Regarding BM->Auria transfer: another good advice from you. Keep the BM mix and use Auria as a mastering suite. I would do it differently, transferring each track to Auria and do the mix from scratch (that's what I do with Loopy recordings), but I tend to be a bit complicated.

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Anthony Alves
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by Anthony Alves » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:50 pm

Phil999 wrote:
Anthony Alves wrote:Again I agree. All good stuff and its the older mixers that should share their experience in this forum and thanks for that. I think what the user here is looking for is a direct cure for his problem as it relates to Auria. Accepting the newer style of mixing is always harder for the engineers who were old school. It is only logical that one would not follow the pretty lights of their plugin to make critical listening decisions, that of course only comes from your ears and brain. But these visual references do help you if you are looking for a problem as sometimes its as easy as the meter's fully pinned and in reality these plugins only replicate what hardware pieces have done for years. Why is there VU meters on a mixing board? Because not everything is evident to everyones ears. So its great that you mix with your ears, as you should but to some having the visual helps. Personally I use my ears first and last to judge my mixes. I have also heard and made many recordings that the levels, compression and the whole performance was so beautiful that the mastering took 10 mins. Its all in the original source, if its already there you dont have to go looking for it. Every CD or Album sounds different due to the equiptment and ears of the artists and engineers and producers who took it there.
Cheers
~~_/)~~~
very well said, Anthony. And you surely agree to what I am actually trying to say: for a seasoned engineer, those pretty GUI's are a real benefit, because he already has learned to trust his ears; while for a novice it can be distracting and not an advantage. But I'm not sure on this one, it's rather an assumption. Based on the thought that I would never have learned the basics in a few years if I lived in 2013. I still believe the novice should learn the basics first (levels, ear training, etc.), and then jump to modern GUI's for assistance.

Again, I might be totally wrong and desperately old-fashioned. We didn't have analysers in the 80's. But when I read about low levels I feel it may still be valid today. :?

Regarding BM->Auria transfer: another good advice from you. Keep the BM mix and use Auria as a mastering suite. I would do it differently, transferring each track to Auria and do the mix from scratch (that's what I do with Loopy recordings), but I tend to be a bit complicated.
I do agree. Thanks forhelping these young artists out.. Its true when I started in the late70's early eighties as a teen learning music production and attending the MIA Recording Engineering/Producer program at Fanshaw College London Ontario there was very little help. My friends barely listened to music and I had to pay a ton of money and study hard to learn the basics. Mix mag was what I fell asleep to and learning the Teac White Paper put bags in m y eyes. So I think todays young artists have it lucky because were all out there sharing it with them and giving them support. As a young artist I remember I couldnt get anyone to listen to my music not even if I through the cassette at them. I really do wish I was one if these young artists today because I would take advantage of so much free information which would of helped me along the way. Today like you I havef Soundcloud, YouTube, Facebook, Fandalisim, to connect my music to the world and Im really starting to take what I learned and applying it more seriously to my music while still keeping it fun. I bet you have some cool stories too and I think these artists need to know. Consider you and I have been around making music when all there was was rackmounts of gear, oceans of wire, reel to reel and dbx. How much its changed yet some days I miss my old Akai 4track reel to reel. Its was smmoth and sonic. Cheers bro.
~~_/)~~~

dominicperry
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Re: Audio output levels / Mastering tutorial

Post by dominicperry » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:44 am

If you are considering a track or album for commercial release, professional mastering engineers will want tracks which have not been mastered. This is because it makes their job harder or impossible.
In the days of analog recording, getting a good final level was the consequence of getting appropriate levels throughout the recording process. It was also a necessity to avoid the noise floor of the tape. And the only 'tool' available was a compressor or two, (and slamming the tape for compression). In addition, partly because of the technical contraints and partly because people were more concerned about music rather than commercial competition, the final peak levels were not as high as they are now, and the dynamic range of pop/rock music was much wider. So the average level was lower. (If the music peaks at 0 dB and the quietest pojnt is -16dB, then the average is always going to be lower that music that never drops below -3dB).
Fast forward to today and everyone is so concerned with 'mastering' that even newbies to recording are asking about it. While it can be frustrating to a new user of recording technology that their recordings sound very quiet compared to a commercial release, it really isn't very important. This is for three reasons.
1) The techniques you need to get a good song are still the same as they ever were. Good song, good performance, (perhaps good instrument, but not always), good mic technique/placement, good level setting.
2) Mixing skills are still the same as they ever were. Good balance between instruments/voice. Good choice of edits. Good use of the frequency spectrum.
3) Commercial/pro mastering engineers now have a sordid array of very expensive equipment to get levels slammed to 0dB (and sometimes over - digital clipping is becoming increasingly common). The tools consist of an army of specialist (often expensive) plugins, D/A convertors, summing boxes, A/D convertors, more D/A convertors. It's pretty extreme. All to get the level as high as possible while still leaving some semblance of impression that there's music going on. It's very clever stuff, and the guys who do it well are very good at it and command big fees. But as an amateur, firstly you can't compete with them and secondly, you don't need to. Because if you get good enough to need one, your record company will pay for one. You can also pay for mastering services online - ftp a folder of final mixes to them and get a properly mastered album for $500.

So, in my opinion, the average home studio user just needs a few skills and maybe a couple of tools to get their average levels up to a reasonable point. All the rest of it is a waste of time and money. Spend that time (and if you must, money) on the good song, good performance bit.

The built in compressors and limiters in Auria will do a perfectly good job of raising individual track levels and final mix levels to a very satisfying point. And with a little bit of practice, it can be done in a few minutes. Start with the song and the recording and the mix. (Mixing will most likely involve some track compression anyway). Once you've got it sounding how you like it, raising the final level and average levels is a relatively quick and easy task. Don't compare it with the latest release from one of the big pop/rock acts of the era, and you won't notice the difference. Just crank your monitoring chain up a bit and do your own thing.

Dominic

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