How loud should it be?

How loud should the whole recording mix level be in the main N-Track VU-Meter’s scale. I always aim for ever so slightly above -9 on the Max peak.


Wow … -9
That seems rather low. ??? I shoot for -3 to -2 and bring it up even further during mastering.
The final product hitting between -1 and just under 0, depending on the genre.

Of course, you are taking advice from someone named “crankz1”. Bear that in mind. :;): j/k! That is good advice. If you are mastering, the master limiter is good for controling volume level. Good stuff.

you want yours to be as loud as it can without clipping. this will give you the greatest signal to noise ratio.

the mastering engineer will then compress/limit it to make it even louder…

It really depends on what you are recording
If something has a lot of dynamics (eg. acoustic guitar with some loud strums in parts) then a lot of the track may hover around the -15 to -9 mark but then in some spots peak at -3 to 0.
If you push your gain up any higher you will clip on the louder parts.

You could compress your signal to get the general level up higher. the trade off being that you lose some dynamics.


Guitar69 is correct when MIXING. Rich is correct when MASTERING.

When you mix, you want to get as close to 0dB as you can without clipping. Every 6 dB below zero wastes a bit (if you’re mixing to 16 or 24 bit – 32-bit floating point doesn’t have this problem, but you might as well be hearing what you’re mixing so the same advice holds, just less important.)

Practically, speaking, anything over -3dB should be fine, but I shoot for nearly zero.

When you’re mastering, you need another tool in addition to peak meters (which is what n-Track meters are – they’re not really VU meters). The other thing you need to know is the RMS level, which more or less tells you how LOUD the piece SOUNDS, rather than how high the peaks are (which doesn’t tell you how loud it is overall). You need to know both and undersatand the relationships. And very importantly, you need to know what other tunes your tune will be sitting next to (in your CD, or when played as a single in a genre).

So, you want to master so as to (a) fit with the songs in the genre, and (b) fit with the neighboring songs in the CD. It’s often a bit of a compromise meeting both these goals, especially if your CD crosses genres.

To achieve the goals of mastering, you need tools like master compression (usually multiband compression), EQ, mastering reverb, high frequency stimulation, tape or opto saturation, and other goodies.

So it’s best to stick to mixing until you’re fairly confident of your work. And for mixing, just punch that baby up as loud as possible without clipping.

Thanks for the advice, I’m putting it into practice.


Quote (learjeff @ Sep. 26 2004,11:39)
So it's best to stick to mixing until you're fairly confident of your work. And for mixing, just punch that baby up as loud as possible without clipping.

You make it sound easy LJeff. :)
You make it sound easy LJeff. I guess that proves how full of BS I am! ;)

Since you can't polish a turd, it doesn't make much sense to try to learn mastering with a crappy mix. Even more, it's a head space thing. Learn step 1 first. Then learn step 2. In the process of learning step 2, you'll learn things about step 1, but if you try to do both at the same time, most folks tend to lose focus and have a hard time learning either.

Not that I'm any wizard at either end. Note that I said "confident", not "expert" or "fabulous". I'm confident of my mixes, but I have no illusions that they're pro quality. They're polishable, but no sense pulling out the Farrari finish wax! I'm just beginning to delve into mastering. I have a basic understanding of the tools but haven't developed the judgement of using them well (I can't get Endorphin to do anything good, for example.) So for my last CD, I stuck to the very simplest "mastering" techniques. And I used the excellent general rule my old friend said about cooking: start with good ingredients, and don't ruin them! Basically, it means not trying to hit a home run your first time at bat.


I’ve listened to your CD “What Was I Thinking?” from when you finished, it’s an excellent job, you must be very proud. If I ever get to that level I’ll be more than happy.

Your obviously as your songs says "Doin’ It Right"


Hey, thanks guy! I’m very happy with it, though when I listen I tend to hear mostly the mistakes (in both musicianship and engineering).

:D HI there I am also having problems with mastering volume in N-track. I have the mix just under clipping, then when I mixdown, I add some compression and have it under clipping, it sounds loud, but when I mix it down to cd, the volume is a lot quieter than my other (processed mp3s) can someone please help? Thank you..

If you want a quick and dirty fix, try the Kjaerhus Classic Mastering Limiter.

Hi Guys:
I got that Bob Katz Book on Mastering.

“Mastering Audio, the art and the science”

In part 11, of the book, it devotes 7 chapters to that subject…

It starts off by… “Mastering Techniques”

It’s not “How Loud You Make It… It’s How You Make It Loud”…

In that section, all the Mastering Hardware is listed and it tells how and why these peices are hooked up and how they are used to produce the Mastered Product.

Here’s a link to look at and comtemplate…

This book makes reference to some of the most respected names in the field of Mastering…