Why does my level drop when mastering

hey guys…i am relatively new to Ntrack, but I am really loving it. I cant believe you get sooo much for so little $$…

Anyways…i just recorded few tracks and mixed them down to save it as a single master wav file. However, the sound level drops when i play the wave file in winamp…I pushed all the levels in the Ntrack mixer to the point they almost clip…but still I get no improvement in the level…

How do you pump up the level so the master file is loud and crispy… :cool:


When you say the levels drop when you play it in winamp do you mean compared to how loud it was when playing in n-track or compared to other commercial songs you play in winamp.

If it’s softer than when playing in n-track it migh be that you just have your volume setting in winampe a bit low.
Also make sure you are including the master channel in your mixdown when mixing down in n-track.

If you’re comparing it to commercial songs then you probably want to add some compression and maybe some EQ to get it closer to the sound you want.

If you don’t have any compressor plugins to use
digitalfishphones.com and www.kjaerhusaudio.com have some decent free ones


hey thanks for the info…

I meant its sounds much lower than other mp3s i play in my winamp. I set the levels in the mixer much higher (to the point it almost starts clipping), but it still doesn’t seem to effect the level of the master wav file.

Am I missing something…

In the mixer…what is the “Master Channel” knob used for? Is this the knob which you use to set the master output?

In my winamp…i have to push my preamp level almost to its max position to get it to the level of my other mp3s…it seems the output coming out of N-track isnt high enough…


You might want to check out the mixing and mastering sections on www.audiominds.com.

This page in particular deals with compression

But read up on the mixing and mastering sections in general so you get to understand it in the overall context.


Yup, you need to look into mastering. There is a lot that is done to commercial mixes to make them loud. The link Richlum gave you is proably your best starting point. Also, check out the Kjaerhus Master Limiter and Endorphin. Those two tools will be good first steps in getting loudness. However, read what is stated at Audio Minds, making a mix too loud can wreck it.

And a word of advice: don’t necessarily aim to make your mastered mixes just as loud as the others. It depends on the genre, but most commercial music is mastered way too high these days for silly reasons, but reasons that end up affecting $$. Master your stuff so that it sounds reasonable when mixed in with the others, which may be difficult if your genre is highly compressed like garage or hard core and even a lot of hard rock (like the terribly mastered Rush album from a couple years ago, which one was it?).

Note that the pros, who are way overmastering, are also using a lot of techniques to punch it up that loud. If you take one tool and try to do the whole job, you’ll only short-change yourself by aiming for an impossible target.

If you set your goal to “not annoyingly quieter”, you’re more likely to produce good results and learn about good mastering, and as your technique matures (dare I say “improves”?) you can lear to punch up nearly as loud as the commercial stuff. Should you want to ruin your music, that is. :wink:

If you play acoustic or singer-songwriter stuff, the overmastering isn’t nearly as bad. And I think it’s not a problem at all for classical music (but maybe I’m out of date).

Also if you are using the Master volume control knob to adjust your final levels … when you do the mixdown, click on the “more options” button and make sure that “Process master channel” is selected.
Otherwise any changes to the levels you make with the master knob will have no effect. Same goes for any effects that you may have put on the master channel.

These are awfully good tips but no one has mentioned the .wav editing software out there. I have found Wavelab Lite (which came with my soundcard) to be immensely useful for making my stereo, two-track masters “loud and crispy”. There some nice free ones out there. Google up “wave editor” and try one out.


Wave editor?!!?! Pah, what need is there when you have a Kaboomifier on hand? :D (Inside joke.)

How silly of me. I bow to the mighty Kaboomifier and let’s not forget the wonderful analog-ness of the Tubificator!! You ready to go QVC yet? :D :D


PS Sonnet, don’t forget, most of these wave editors will let you use your favorite plug-ins. Some have some nice ones built-in.

I like to hit things with a hammer. That squishes 'em good. :laugh:

Kaboomifier ? Does it do the same stuff as my Brutalizer ?

Quote (teryeah @ Sep. 13 2004,15:23)
Kaboomifier ? Does it do the same stuff as my Brutalizer ?

Don't give it away Bubba!! QVC man, QVC!! Get yourself some nice Ray-Bans. Those TV studio lights are murder on the eyes.

Quote (gtr4him @ Sep. 13 2004,15:29)
Don't give it away Bubba!! QVC man, QVC!! Get yourself some nice Ray-Bans. Those TV studio lights are murder on the eyes.


Don't even go there. I felt like enough of a heel unknowingly picking on a blind guy. I still think the vast majority of the QVC stuff is over priced junk though.
I felt like enough of a heel unknowingly picking on a blind guy.

Woops. Humble apology.

I still think the vast majority of the QVC stuff is over priced junk though.

Yep. You prolly read what I thought of QVC already.

Quote (gtr4him @ Sep. 13 2004,15:55)
Woops. Humble apology.

None needed, that was an attempt at self deprication my man. No apology necessary.

Guys…thanks a lot for your concern. I dont really know how a compressor would help raise the master level…i mean…i dont need to compress anything to get my guitars or vocals leveled…

I just need to raise the level and save it as one master file…but no mater how much i raise the master level…it doesnt effect my master wav file… (I am listening to the file raising the preamp level all the way up in my winamp )

I cant believe N-track is so lousy when it comes to mastering a file…

I even imported the huge wav file in one track and tried to do some post editing with eq and levels…but still no luck.

I will have to find some third party wav editor.

Does anyone have links to any…i really cant afford to shell out any $ right now…i am broke after buying a new hard drive and a sound card :(

thanks guys…

Wait a minute guys…i think my level was fine…actually the song I was comparing to is too lound…(it seems the guy who converted it to mp3 did some post editing)

I just compared my clip with some of my other mp3s (which i converted from my cds without any post editing) and the level of my demo song is the same as the songs in others CDs :cool:

Thanks a lot guys.

But i would still like to have some wav editor as you guys have mentioned :)

Thanks once again.

N-track Rulz!!

If you’re using plugins to do your mastering (EQ, compression etc.) then you don’t need a wav editor.
Just load your pre-master mix into a new song file in n-track and apply the fx to that track.
You really only need a wav editor to edit the wav file (trim, clean up, denoise, silence parts, remove pops/clicks etc.).
FX processing can be done in n-track just as well if not easier than a wav editor - most wave editors I’ve used don’t allow you to swap fx around as easily.

The compression used in mastering is not to level out a particular part (this is why you would use compression when tracking or editing a single track).
It is used to raise the overall level or volume of the track without (hopefully) clipping.

It basically makes everything sound more “in your face” and if overdone “slammed”.

Run your mix through Endorphin or the Kjaerhus Master Limiter or Compressor and you’ll hear what the effect is.