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Old 02-18-2012, 02:43 PM
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KevWind KevWind is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
That's different than "normalizing" or just setting the levels to the natural maximum, bring the highest peak up to 0 db. Now you're talking about deliberating reducing the dynamic range in some way so you can raise the overall listener-perceived volume of the track. That's basically a part of the mastering process, and if you're self-mastering, you may want to do this - but with acoustic guitar, a little goes a long way. Overdo it by even a hair and you'll hear it, and people will be saying "wow, listen to that compression" instead of "listen to that great music". There are lots of situations to deal with here - for example, you might have a track that peaks out quite low, -10db, say, and somewhere there's a single spike that goes to 0 db, a string squeek, a click, percussive hit, etc. If you "normalize" that, nothing's going to change because the loudest peak is already 0 db, but overall the recording is soft. So you have to do something to reduce that peak before you can do much. A limiter is one option, manual editing is another.

I think the important thing is to not get obsessed with "louder", that's the current volume wars mindset, and a maxed out, heavily compressed track might work for heavy metal, it's not going to sound attractive on an acoustic track - certainly not solo guitar. Keep the levels at a nice moderate range until you get to the mastering stage (even if it's you who will be acting as the mastering engineer), and don't worry about them. If you're doing a single track, like a you tube video, when you get to the final stage, put your mastering hat on and work on making the levels appropriate for release. If you're doing a CD, you want to listen to the levels in context with all the other tunes, not just pushing each individual track to max volume.
Yes I must have been using the term " normalize" incorrectly. I was indeed referring to bringing the overall volume of a number of songs ( like for use in a CD ) closer together . And yes in my process begins with adjusting individual track levels to be more alike ( which I do manually by ear). Which when home mastering is repeteted when applying the limiter which is the final step and I whole hartedly agree on judicious prudence in application .
" Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Albert Einstein
Enjoy the Journey.... Kev...

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Last edited by KevWind; 02-18-2012 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:26 AM
ukejon ukejon is offline
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Good definition clarification. Thanks Doug.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:57 AM
Joseph Hanna Joseph Hanna is offline
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As to the issues of level, particularly in a self mastering situation, I've had great success with taking the time to run through a tune or cue and with a decent meter (at home it's a Dorrough) identify the peaks. From there I identify the second tier of peaks. There's almost always 4 or 5dB difference. I'll go back and see if I can automate the first tier of peaks back (minus) 4 or 5dB. Much more often than not I can without harming the sonics of the track itself.

In doing so I've gained 5dB of head room and often more without any bit crunching gawd-awful grainy compression. I've also fundamentally changed how any compressor applied post that task is going to react and ultimately sound as well.

I'll take a 5dB bump through automating volumes over a 5dB bump using an L2 any day.
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Old 02-26-2012, 01:05 PM
selectedout selectedout is offline
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Default awesome

wow that sounds amazing

i might have to get that set up
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Old 11-13-2014, 09:37 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I thought some might be interesting in a little behind the scenes demo of a recording project. I took a tune from my new CD and created a video showing the track as it evolved, from raw dry tracks thru adding reverb and some other light processing, thru mastering. Here's the video

If you want to skip hearing me blathering about all the details, just go directly to 8 minutes in for a quick pass thru successive iterations, or go to

where you can hear just the final pass thru as a wav file without You Tube's audio mangler at work.
Amazing!!!! Thanks!
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