Howto Maximize

June 18, 2009 10:01 AM

Looking for a good way to create louder wavs and mp3s.

I can't get any of the programs I use to export loud wavs without overdrive. The results are always much softer than other mp3s and wavs. I know this is probably simple problem to fix, but I don't know how.
posted by es_de_bah (5 comments total)

Compression. When you bounce your session, try to put a compressor on the master bus. This will level out the dynamics a bit and allow to you raise the overall volume. If you have a multi-band compressor in your tool-box, try to work with that. The reason for this is when you use a single band compressor, you are compressing all frequencies across the spectrum, even the ones that don't need to be compressed. With a multi-band compressor, you can compress just the bass frequencies or just the highs, if they need it.

Keep in mind that this is common for audio that has been exported or bounced from production software and has not yet been mastered. One of the goals of mastering is to optimize the audio so it uses all the dynamic range available to it for CD audio. I don't recommend applying the compression as mentioned above to your tracks if you are going to have it professionally mastered.

Some people also recommend normalizing, but I think it sounds weird and it doesn't really even out the overall volume. YMMV.
posted by chillmost at 11:12 AM on June 18, 2009

There is a lot more to compression than chillmost lets on, but yeah pretty much. You basically compress and then bump up the master volume as loud as you can without getting digital distortion, because otherwise it would be actually be pretty quiet.

Digital distortion is not nearly as cool as analogue distortion as it eats all of the signal, meaning you hear nothing other than noise.

There is a shitload to learn about compression if you care to google it. Hopefully you find one with some good basic pre settings that you can mess around with. You can usually compress individual tracks within a song (vocals especially) and then compress the song itself.

Happy hunting.
posted by dobie at 8:59 PM on June 18, 2009

while you're googling compression, make sure you look up limiting, also - as limiting is what most professionals use to beef up their volume levels - it's also one of the most abused things ever, so approach with care

normalizing will not really do anything for you - the key is to get your levels in a good range to start with - the more you can equalize and record so things are fairly loud, the less compressing and limiting you'll have to do

what you want to do with equalization - eq - is to ensure that every instrument has its own sonic space and the other instruments aren't fighting with it - the more you can do this, the less worrying you'll have to do about maximizing

there's a lot of stuff out there and a lot to learn - this is just as demanding as learning to play a musical instrument
posted by pyramid termite at 11:20 PM on June 18, 2009

Basically this process of getting your mix louder is part of 'Mastering' which some people are paid lots of money to do.

so you will probably never get your mix to sound as loud as current CDs without introducing Distortion.

BUT: you coudl try running your mix through one of these freebie plugins:
KVR Vst plugins Database search for Mastering / Limiting FX
posted by mary8nne at 5:33 AM on June 19, 2009

Oh and Personally I prefer to Export to 24bit with no Mix Bus compression. THEN I load that up in Soundforge and use the Plugin Chainer to do a quick mastering job on the mix - a bit of EQ, Comp-ression and Waves L2 Mastering Limiter.

I don't like using multiband compression generally as it sounds funny.

but mostly it comes down to getting your Mix right in teh first place. and you will not need as much Mastering Limiting.
posted by mary8nne at 5:36 AM on June 19, 2009

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