How to NOT be overcompressed

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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Joey
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How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Joey » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:19 pm

So I've been mixing a couple of my album tracks lately, and I find it very hard to have the track be loud enough without overcompressing everything and losing the dynamics

so what I'm asking is

what are some good tips on retaining dynamics while still having a song that can compete with everyone else's volume wise?
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:33 pm

Don't try to make things loud when you're mixing.

Mix with your peak levels at -3 to -6dB and just make it sound as good as you can. Turn your volume knob up so it sounds as loud to you as you want it, and then when you've got stuff sounding really good get someone who knows what they're doing to master it.

Retaining dynamics and competing with other volume wise are opposite ends of the same spectrum. Trying to aim for both will just frustrate you.

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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Synthaholic » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:37 pm

Joey wrote:what are some good tips on retaining dynamics while still having a song that can compete with everyone else's volume wise?
Everyone else does it by compressing the cr@p out of their mixes until there are no dynamics left and it's impossible to get it any louder.

And this is one of the many reasons why the music industry sucks eggs these days.

If you want to retain dynamics, you'll have to compress less than the other guys, and that means your song won't be as "loud". But it'll sound better!

So, do the world a favor and stay out of the loudness wars. Though I'm a rank amateur and just make music for fun, I use little or even NO compression in my masters. So I have to turn the volume up when I play one of my songs, I don't care. I have to do the same thing with CDs made in the 80s. And both the 80s CDs and my mixes are a lot easier on my ears than the compressed-to-c**p garbage that counts for commercial music nowadays.

Just for grins, take the "must-have album of the week" and rip it to your computer and bring it into a wave editor. The waveform display will just be a solid maxed-out hash. No dynamics at all. Just loud garbage from beginning to end. And to think that digital audio was supposed to offer us higher fidelity and wider dynamic range, but instead everything is crunched down so it has less dynamics than an 8-track tape from the 70s. Do you want your hard work to end up sounding like that?
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Joey » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:49 pm

okay well lets say I'm doing my own mastering job, I realize I need to retain headroom on the mix itself (which I do)

but if I'm doing a quick and dirty master to throw on myspace or something, what are some ways to not entirely kill the dynamic range?
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by kuroichi » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:04 pm

I often choose which parts of the track should be the focus, and mix to a bias of that. I only really compress kicks or snares that are too heavy or have a really hot attack, and just use filtering and mixing to effect the rest.

With most recordings I record each stem at around -4 to -6db, and then mix afterwards. Usually helps with volume, but myspace usually destroys anything I record.
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by pflosi » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:23 pm

try the NY gangsta hiphop trick:

VERY HARD compression, but not in series, but parallel (i.e. send/return). then mix as much to the dry signal as you want. makes it louder, but you keep the dynamics.

here is a nice interview with german techno producer rob acid about mastering, he masters quite well:

http://trashaudio.blogspot.com/2008/04/ ... -tips.html

he seems to like that trick too :) as well as very subtle compression in series

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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by GeneralBigbag » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:30 pm

Compression in series is hugely effective. Think of it as having each compressor dealing with a specific aspect of the sound and just taking a bit (~1dB) off with each, rather than slamming the whole mix into a limiter for 6dB of gain reduction...
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by pflosi » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:35 pm

yeah, that's what rob acid is talking about... iirc he also uses the different comps that are in a chain for different frequency ranges. he does seem to like it that way rather than using multiband comps...

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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Yoozer » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:07 am

Joey wrote: and I find it very hard to have the track be loud enough
How about letting the user turn up the volume instead of doing it for him?
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by JSRockit » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:57 pm

Yoozer wrote:
Joey wrote: and I find it very hard to have the track be loud enough
How about letting the user turn up the volume instead of doing it for him?
Do listeners really want to be riding the volume with each song they play? I think you at least have to aim for the same ballpark as songs of today.
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by pflosi » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:40 pm

which is -10RMS for dance stuff... for pop even louder

f**k the loudness war

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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by CS_TBL » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:02 pm

I'm not much in favor of any formal rules regarding mixing (or sound design in general), so I prefer to let anyone compress the way he wants, even if the sound becomes as flat as a billiard table. I'm referring to the sound design in general, not the perceived loudness. I agree that there should be a common output level for all CD's on this world so that we shouldn't need to tweak the volume knob all the time. I can imagine that in certain genres a 'wall of sound' is what one prefers, and compressing every bit out of it is a tool to do that.
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by GeneralBigbag » Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:08 pm

pflosi wrote:which is -10RMS for dance stuff... for pop even louder

f**k the loudness war
+1 - things don't bang at -10 the way they can at -14.
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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by Tchammosaur » Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:31 pm

What I do on the master is compression -> eq -> compression. I find it brings up the volume with enough control over the type of sound you want and without destroying the mix.

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Re: How to NOT be overcompressed

Post by tekkentool » Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:34 am

i know what you guys are saying about the loudness war!, death magnetic sounded like a basement recording!, i always record my stuff more quietly than everyone else i know does, the people in my group keep telling me to record it louder, because it "sounds better" #-o

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