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CD volume level?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by RadioactiveGuy4, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. RadioactiveGuy4

    RadioactiveGuy4 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    New Orleans
    Ok so my band has started recording our songs for our album. Our Current set up consists of Either mics or DI for me into mixer, then mixer into Presonus Firebox, then in to Garage band. We have never done any recording before and i have been kinda running the show. So far ( to our surprise) we have been getting some great recordings. Everything is clear and sits well in the mix. We made the investment into some Monitor speakers so that we can do our mixing and it was a very good choice. When we finished our first recording we played it back on the monitors to adjust levels. When we were happy with what we were hearing I said lets put it onto a CD and play it in my car and if it sounds good in there we are golden. We play it in the car and it still sounds great. The only issue we have is that the CD is on the quiet side. For example when I listen to a CD in my car and I want it loud the volume is set at 45. In order to get our CD to that same level I had to set the level to 55.

    So my question is this. Is there a way to do a master level on Garage Band or to control the level at which the CD is recorded? :help:
  2. uhdinator


    Apr 20, 2010
    It's called "mastering" which involves compression and limiting the final stereo mix to get maximum volume without distortion/clipping.
  3. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Normalization and Dynamic compression
    The best way is to put your fingers on the masters while listening to the final mix. Keep it just kissing the red. You got 16 bits, use them, but use them tasteful
  4. Keep the output around -6db average and approaching -3db at max. This can be done in a stereo audio editor such as audacity or even by importing your bounced stereo file back into GarageBand for this mastering process.
  5. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    Seamonkey, kissing the red, is it something which is recommended on every software? What are you recommendation on the mastering on GarageBand desktop version?
    The clip in my sig is mastered in GarageBand on my Mac. Both me and Evnagelos (who done great job on the lead guitar) recorded our bass/ guitar in GarageBand iOS versions. We both used Jamup XT Pro for amp sim.
  6. For People using Windows Gclip is an awesome Mastering Clipping VST. I've compared it against clipping the Input of a Cranesong AD and it sounded very similar without the Price Tag. Unfortunately I have not found anything like it for mac.

    I don't have Garage band installed in my MBP, But if it has a comp and a limiter you can do some pre-mastering.

    On the Master channel Insert a comp and a Brickwall-limiter. Set the limiter's Ceiling to -0.1 dB and start playing with the Comp' ratio and threshold for Punch. The limiter's Threshold helps to increase loudness, make sure you don't clip the output. Digital Clipping sounds horrible.
  7. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    If you're doing your own recording and mixing in an untreated room with, presumably, cheap monitoring; I'd suggest that you pay for someone to master the material. Leave around 6db of room below 0dbfs when you send it off for mastering.

    Until it's mastered, just live with the fact that it's not as loud as a commercial mix. Your master should be loud, not your mix.
  8. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    I use my CEntrance DAC/ headphone amp and my AKG K701
  9. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    Just don't feel that you have to be as loud as everyone else, or you'll be the latest casualty of the Loudness Wars. Too much compression limits dynamic range and hurts fidelity.
  10. RadioactiveGuy4

    RadioactiveGuy4 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    New Orleans
    I have been reading up on the loudness War stuff. I personaly am not that worried about. The goal when we started this process was to get some good recordings that we would be fine giving to someone to listen to or to sell at our shows. But it is good to know how to do it. We might play around with it by my vote it to just have quieter recordings. thx for the help guys
  11. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    +1 You really should get your CD mastered. It is important to get a fresh set of ears on your mixes...especially from a trained mastering engineer with professional equipment.
  12. RadioactiveGuy4

    RadioactiveGuy4 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2011
    New Orleans
    The only down side is that mastering would require money and we are currently broke... it is something that i would like to do in the future but right now is not possible.

    I do have to say that for this being done by 4 morons in a basement it sounds pretty damn good even it the CD is a little quiet. If i get a chance i will post a clip for you guys
  13. GK Growl

    GK Growl Banned

    Dec 31, 2011
    Here's a good instructional video that will show exactly what not to do:

  14. Hey, where are you guys getting -6 from? I record mix and master bands and I may approach -6 in certain areas of the song, but not across the whole piece. There are a lot of ways to achieve PERCEIVED loudness and still have 10-14 dbs of dynamic range that do not involve compressing. It involves using saturation and harmonic distortion. 90% of my masters average -10 minimum dynamic range.
  15. LOL!!
  16. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Nice! Don't let MajorMetal see it though :p
  17. miiitch


    Nov 27, 2011
    the approach my masters sound best with:

    - make it loud in the mix already, eg. cut lows where not needed (sometimes up to 600hz), use appropriate EQ, (multiband-)compression on most instruments ... volume automation to reduce levels of certain instruments in certain parts of the song.
    some sidechain ducking on the bass (i never go past 6db of gain reduction), to leave kick and snare a bit more space.
    mainly keep lows and average levels under control, don´t squash it.

    - when you´re satisfied and it sounds good, render the project.
    all that should be left to do is peak limiting (i use a tube comp emulator with very fast attack & release) and normalizing.
    i always normalize to +0.5 db, you won´t ever hear it clip ;)

    the result is just a tad quieter than Death Magnetic and the like, but sounds a LOT more pleasing and less squashed than 90% of popular music.
  18. The standard metering that is included in most DAWs is not necessarily as accurate as you might think. The metering used in the pro audio mastering process is much more sophisticated and accurate. If the mix level shows 0 dB FS as a peak value, you may still have clipping even though it is not indicated by the meter. By setting the maximum level of your mix to -3 dB FS you can be assured you are not clipping.
  19. Absolutely. Inter-sample peaks can be missed so it is really important to track and mix with your peaks hitting -5 to -3 max. I personally track more headroom than that, usually a rms level ± -15 depending on where the peaks are hitting.

    Normalizing to anything above 0 is wrong for the end-product. Even the old rule is to master to -.5 because older cd players could have issues with peaks hitting 0. Also encoders are not written to work with levels over 0, so you could be screwing yourself. I've been told that some mp3 encoders sound better with peaks that fall a db below 0. Flac also doesn't support levels over 0 afaik.

    There is a belief of clipping dacs to gain level, but this is the way you do it: You clip YOUR dacs and record in from them. The clipping is now done and printed on the file. It should not be up to a listener's system to handle clipping. That, in my opinion, is utterly wrong.
  20. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I leave individual channels at 12-18db below 0dbfs, but the 2buss will usually end up around -6dbfs at the peaks. This is a common standard that mastering engineers request when you send them mixes. It's also what Izotope recommends for it's Ozone5 software.

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