Volume

I’m having a blast with Ntrack, but when I put the final product onto my mp3 player, or a cd, the max volume is about half that of a normal song of a cd. It’s so quiet that I can’t even hear it on the busride home from school. Is there anything I can do about this or just live with it? Thanks!
In Christ,
Adam

Provided you have your levels pretty right inthe mix already, it sounds like you may want some compression/limiting on the final mix.

Try either Triplecomp from Sinusweb or the Kjaerhus Classic Master Limiter.

They will give you levels more like the ones on commercial CDs.

Just be careful you don’t overuse them or the song may start sounding a bit harsh.

Rich

Most of the perceived volume differences in pro recordings have to do with mastering, here referring to the the process of using EQ and compression for the most part to make a track sound as “good” as possible.

Anyway, just repeating what Rich said. And as he said, first check the peak levels of the mixdown file - does it get pretty close to 0? Normalizing can help a bit here. The command is under edit-> normalize. You can use the scan that pops up to see what your peak level is first. I’ve also found that it sometimes helps to normalize to just a bit under 0, since some of my cd players seem to distort when stuff is normalized to 0, for some reason. Dunno why that is.

In the Goddess,
Tom

Mastering 101

Glad to see you still hanging in there. Although already stated above, I have to ask you outright. How do you think your input levels are? You might visit or revisit audiominds for this. Are you nomalizing your final mix?

Even though you have achieved good input levels, are you, during your mixdown, lowering your track volumes down too low?

You will eventually correct this issue, but it’s a learning process. Right?

Audacity is a freeware program that I use to amplify final mixes. It will also compress and perform many other wave editor functions. I usually compress a song on ntrack using the ntrack multiband compressor using a mastering preset then I import the wave file into Audacity and amplify it to 0db or even higher if it is a quiet mix.

The thing I don’t like about Audacity is that it performs an operation and doesn’t remember the control settings (as opposed to n-Track, where you set the controls and then render). This means that if I do some mastering in Audacity, but then decide to fix something in the mix, I have to re-master completely. Anything I did the last time is lost unless I kept careful notes.

Mastering in n-Track, on the other hand, allows me to set up mastering using FX using the same workflow model as mixing. If I remix I can re-import the original wave file and it automatically gets all the mastering FX I applied to the previous version (as a starting point).

Audacity is fine as a wave editor (as long as you don’t use its pitch shifting, which sounds terrible).

I agree with Learjeff.

I do my “mastering” in N by importing my stereo premaster mixdown wav file. [edit] into a new blank sng file/edit]

I then just put whatever effects I want (EQ, compression etc.) on the master effects send.

I save the song as “[songname]_Master.sng”

Then if after listening to the final “mastered” version I want to change something I can just reload the sng file and go from there.

Also sometimes I will need to go back and redo the premaster mix so I will load up the sng file that had the whole multi-track project in it and then remix and then load up the master sng file and import the new premaster wav into the sng file and mute the other one.

Sometimes I will end up with 3 or 4 mixes in the master sng file nad just mute and unmute each one to listen to the differences.

Burn a version of each one to CD and then listen in other environments.

Rich

I set whatever I’m recording to as high as I can without clipping. I don’t use the mixdown feature but record back into wave editor through the sound card at highest non clipping volume, and then set the volume of the whole thing to as high as i can without distorting. Maybe I’ll try normalizing, or could it be when I record the whole thing back through? Thanks so much for everybody’s help.

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I don’t use the mixdown feature but record back into wave editor through the sound card at highest non clipping volume,


May I ask why?

Why not just use the mixdown feature?
As long as your tracks sound good in n-Track and you aren’t clipping anywhere (tracks or Master channel), your mixdown to 16/44.1 wave should sound identical. Provided you process the Master channel (if you’ve made any level adjustments, added any effects and what not to it) during the mixdown.
Then use whatever program to convert the mixdown wave to mp3.

Yes, you should definitely use the mixdown feature! If you plan on doing subsequent mastering you should mixdown to the highest quality (32-bit float). For burning to CD then 16-bit, 44kHz stereo.

Your workflow involves an unnecessary sequence of digital to analog then back to digital conversions which is not good for your audio quality. Even if you have a card with really nice converters there will still definitley be degradation. You know what happens to a xerox of a xerox of a xerox . . .

hth,
mrtoad

Perhaps he’s running unpaid shareware still. If so, you definitely want to pay up and use the mixdown feature, if you’re interested in fidelity, as soon as you can scrape up the $50 or whatever.

I do pretty much what Rich Lum does, with these clarifications:

- Mix down to 32-bit float. If you do this, it won’t matter much at all if there’s a little clipping here or there in the master channel on mixdown. (In 32-bit mode, going over 0dB does not really cause “clipping” or lopping off of the top of waveforms. In fact, it doesn’t even degrade the signal quality directly. However, clipping should be avoided since plugins are generally optimized to work best when the input signals are below 0dB. It also means that there’s no need to normalize before exporting the mix.)

- When creating a collection (CD or EP), I use one .sng file for mastering all the cuts on the album. This way, I can experiment with different song orders and listen to the transitions (by sliding cut-tracks left & right). I can also quickly compare the sound of one song with another, to help balance out the collection as a whole.

Not that I do much in the way of mastering. I’m still quite a newbie at it.

Yeah I’m still using the unpaid shareware, and it’s going to be a while before I can get fifty bucks. I discovered that once bringing it back to digital through my sound card, if I do a volume change with Nero wave editor by about 7db, even though wave editor shows it clipping, it is not at all distorted when played. That seems kind of weird to me, but hey! I’m definitely going to register the program eventually, because it’s such a pain doing what I’m doing to mix it down.

Most of us can’t hear a little bit of clipping – a few samples here and there. We generally only notice it when there’s a lot of clipped waves in a row, or a big huge wave that gets lopped off.

There’s a free plugin called Inspector that helps identify how much clipping is going on. Regardless, it’s best to avoid clipping entirely, and use compression to raise the overall volume.