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Old 01-17-2022, 07:42 AM
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Default Raising the Volume Level (after an acceptable mix)

Letís say youíve done a solo acoustic recording that you are very happy with from a performance perspective and that to your ears may only need a dash of reverb and maybe the addition of a high pass filter for sub-40hz rumbles. Your actual recording levels also peaked around -6dB and the LUFS meter has the average volume level of the recording at around -18 to -20.

What would be your DIY strategy to raise the LUFS level to around -14 LUFS? Is compression the primary tool or are there other techniques you would use?

Thanks!
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Old 01-17-2022, 08:04 AM
j3ffr0 j3ffr0 is offline
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This is a good question and I'm interested to hear what others do. But for me to get to -14 LUFS its does take some compression and limiting. Depending on the tune and guitar, it can be a little bit (as in the case of steel string fingerstyle only tunes). But something that mixes Fingerstyle with strums will take more compression (or manual fader riding).

On thing that has allowed me to use a lot less compression in the box on the final mix is to use some compression on the way in. I only use the compression to squash the tops on those pieces that have some strums or something else percussive mixed with the fingerstyle and it makes the resulting audio files a lot less spikey and easier to deal with in the DAW.

I'm still kinda noob at some of this recording stuff, but I wish -14 LUFS was -16 LUFS (or maybe I should just mix to -16 anyway). Those last two LUFS hurt.... I sometimes feel like I'm compressing and limiting more than I want to.
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Old 01-17-2022, 08:12 AM
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I throw a compressor on the stereo buss. I think it's a necessary evil. I look at it like the mastering stage. The trick is to use a very transparent compressor and use a gentle curve.
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Old 01-17-2022, 08:41 AM
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I personally would go with limiting. I use automation to get a nice, consistent level throughout the track and then use limiting to moderate the excursions of the transients right at the beginning of the notes to allow an overall louder sound file. It is best to use a good limiter, such as a good look-ahead limiter, and set it for high-threshold limiting so that it isn't working on the body of the guitar's notes, just the transients.

Compression is much more noticeable to me than well-applied, high threshold limiting.

Bob
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Old 01-17-2022, 08:59 AM
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How effective the dynamic range of the piece is might determine what to do. As is you have about 83 decibels of average volume available and
a listener can always bump up or down the volume on what they are listening with.

However probably the first thing I would consider is whether the loudest note(s) are listener effective being that loud or were they unintentionally
played too loud and sound like it. If the latter I would most likely try a volume envelope in the DAW to spot cut the volume on those particular notes
a bit.
That would work pretty transparently if prior ringing notes that are there along with the loudest notes are not note noticeably altered (of course same
issue with a compressor) and you may need a wider area of volume cut than just a narrow spot cut to be a more transparent tweak.
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Last edited by rick-slo; 01-17-2022 at 09:52 AM. Reason: grammer
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Old 01-17-2022, 09:14 AM
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I only record stuff with my cell phone or ipad.

Before I fixed my volume problem with microphone placement,
I fixed it with "normalization": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_normalization

I can't hardly hear this unless I'm wearing headphones:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsER4axHdmw&t=12s

This is the same thing normalized:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxOlIs_iZC0

-Mike
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Old 01-17-2022, 09:41 AM
Sasquatchian Sasquatchian is offline
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I think a combination of mild compression and volume automation would be a good thing. I'm really liking using a small amount of compression at the recording stage - maybe 3:1 or so and have been loving both the pre-amp and compression in the UAD Neve 88SR Channel Strip Unison plugin at the recording stage. Simply a great sounding pre-amp emulation. After it's been recorded I love both Fab Filter compressors - the single band and the multi-band for clean compression and I really love what the UAD Fairchild 660/670 (mono/stereo) plugin can do to add real warmth and glue to your mix, either on a single track or on the stereo bus. I learned more about compression watching youtube videos on that Neve 88SR Channel Strip than anywhere else. Finally, if it needs it, the Fab Filter limiter set to limits peaks to minus 1db is a really great limiter that sounds amazing.

I would not use any sort of automated normalization where you don't know exactly what is happening. You never know exactly what you're going to get and you're going to be better off using a combination of compression and limiting - compression first, then limiting to get the best results. The idea behind that is to let the compressor get most of but not all of the dynamics and let some of the peaks through, then you only need just a tad of limiting to finish it off and nothing it too heavy handed.

One of the best sources I've come across has been Ian Shepherd's The Mastering Show podcast, which, even though they're aimed at people wanting to learn mastering, are extremely applicable to recording and mixing.
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Old 01-17-2022, 10:23 AM
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Great and informative responses folks, thanks!
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  #9  
Old 01-17-2022, 10:47 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SprintBob View Post
Letís say youíve done a solo acoustic recording that you are very happy with from a performance perspective and that to your ears may only need a dash of reverb and maybe the addition of a high pass filter for sub-40hz rumbles. Your actual recording levels also peaked around -6dB and the LUFS meter has the average volume level of the recording at around -18 to -20.

What would be your DIY strategy to raise the LUFS level to around -14 LUFS? Is compression the primary tool or are there other techniques you would use?

Thanks!
Bob, I've added section of videos on mastering to the AGF Members Gear Masterlist thread. It's in post #11. You might find them helpful.
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Old 01-17-2022, 12:34 PM
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Usually If I have the mix levels where I like them and I like the dynamics, I try to get the level from my hardware Mastering compressor.
But if still want to raise the level a bit more ....Like Bob W. I will usually use just a bit of gain on a lookahead brick wall limiter as opposed to a compressor
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Old 01-17-2022, 01:05 PM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Here's an exercise you may find interesting.

1. Normalize your file.
2. Find the spot(s) that hit 0. In as narrow an area as possible, reduce those spots by 3 dB. Play back to make sure you don't hear the level jumps; if the edits are sufficiently narrow, you shouldn't.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 a few more times.

This is tedious by-hand work, but it will give you a louder file without obvious dynamic processing.
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Old 01-17-2022, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Here's an exercise you may find interesting.

1. Normalize your file.
2. Find the spot(s) that hit 0. In as narrow an area as possible, reduce those spots by 3 dB. Play back to make sure you don't hear the level jumps; if the edits are sufficiently narrow, you shouldn't.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 a few more times.

This is tedious by-hand work, but it will give you a louder file without obvious dynamic processing.
I do something very similar to this for solo acoustic when I only want to pull down one or a few volume excursions that otherwise prevent getting a decent overall volume level. I donít compress.

Because I only do so few, if any, I zoom in and select the note or short passage manually as close as possible to where the waveforms cross the zero axis.
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Old 01-18-2022, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sasquatchian View Post
One of the best sources I've come across has been Ian Shepherd's The Mastering Show podcast...
Wise words.
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Old 01-18-2022, 04:54 PM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SprintBob View Post
Let’s say you’ve done a solo acoustic recording that you are very happy with from a performance perspective and that to your ears may only need a dash of reverb and maybe the addition of a high pass filter for sub-40hz rumbles. Your actual recording levels also peaked around -6dB and the LUFS meter has the average volume level of the recording at around -18 to -20.

What would be your DIY strategy to raise the LUFS level to around -14 LUFS? Is compression the primary tool or are there other techniques you would use?

Thanks!
With those data, you can simply increase the gain to about -1dB true peak and that should get you to around -14 LUFS.
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