Limitor on master track (having to push some tracks into 0db)

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by petrrr, Sep 22, 2022.

  1. petrrr

    petrrr Kapellmeister

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    Hi i have a limitor on master track (supposedly mastering done)

    but i'm just making some final adjustments on volume of some tracks now

    i have 2 options

    either lower everything down and go from there

    or push some tracks into 0db to get the volume i want out of them


    my main question is

    is pushing some tracks into 0db necessarily bad when limitor is on the master track?

    or as long it sounds good its good?
     
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  3. No Avenger

    No Avenger Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not completely sure whether I understood your question right or not.

    You mean (several) tracks/channels of one song and want to know if pushing the faders up to 0dB could be bad?
    In this case you need to check if this is causing clipping in the channels (after the fader), or in the master (before the plugins). If not, all is good, if it's causing clipping, it's not good.
     
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  4. madbuzzin

    madbuzzin Producer

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    I do it all the time, just try not to have the limiter hit -6db reduction or you will hear distortion, but some like distortion, some use the clipping in the daw without using limiters.... and they thin k that sounds good. There are people out there that bang metal rods and call it music. You must be new.... your tracks should not all be hitting 0db, the overall sound of all the tracks hitting 0db would sound like mush, but who am I to say that sounds bad, someone out there will always disagree with what I think sounds good
     
  5. b_side440

    b_side440 Newbie

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    When limiting/mastering you generally want to have around 6 dB of headroom (there's a lot of debate on this but this is a safe place to start). So the level on your master track should be averaging out at -6 dB (not peaking which is what most DAWs show). I think you're asking if you should turn some tracks as loud as they can before running them all through the limiter. No, you don't, you want your original mix to just have a good balance, the loudness comes from the limiter/mastering process. Pushing a track into a limiter too hard can make the whole song sound bad. To answer your question, turn the volumes of your tracks down until you are satisfied with the balance and the level of the master track is around -6 dB, then throw the limiter on there
     
  6. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    1) Do you know healthy gain-staging and how to apply it?
    2) Do you know how digital audio works, like 1528dB dynamic range in 32bit floating point internal processing vs. 144dB of dynamic range in 24bit)?
    3) Do you know the difference between peaks and loudness (and why a song can have lower peaks but still have higher percieved loudness)?

    If you are unsure of any of these then I would look into (and study) them more until you are confident what they are.
    Edit: What I'm basically saying is "go hunt for the answers and experiment for yourself to test what you read is correct". It was how I learned when starting out (some 30 years ago). I didn't really learn when someone "told" me the answers. I had to test them and make my fair share of mistakes/errors.

    Edit2: and I'm not talking about mastering at all, since you are not there yet. Let's first learn the basics.
    Mastering involves clipping, limiting, compression, distortion/saturation, parallel processing, EQ, de-essing, exciter, M/S processing, quality control, metadata, editing/different edits, DDP, conversion, dithering, etc. That shit takes decades to master (pun).
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
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  7. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    A good way to do this is to first establish volume relationships between tracks however you want it. Your DAW mixer page should support a "Shift +" method of adjusting all selected/highlighted tracks, so that you can pull them all down at the same time and maintain the same mix relationship between the tracks. (do not change any aux's, just regular channel volumes). Bounce it out to wav and re-import the file into a new project. Then it is time to worry about bringing the next render/bounce of the song up to its approximate full final level. By working incrementally with compressors and limiters, you can reduce the amount of introduced artifacts.
     
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  8. popka

    popka Noisemaker

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    Artifacts now in the room with us?
     
  9. madbuzzin

    madbuzzin Producer

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    never understood why this is a thing. I mean... its as simple as not turning the volume knob in a vst all the way up? seems like a goofy term for novice engineers to appear smart
     
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  10. Baxter

    Baxter Audiosexual

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    The term (and practice) might be simple and goofy, but if the OP don't know what it is and/or how to apply it - how is it not relevant? It ought to be one of the first things you learn and will have great impact on the quality and outcome of your work.

    Also, gain-staging is not "turning the volume knob in a vst all the way up". Do YOU know what gain-staging is? ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2022
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  11. mk_96

    mk_96 Rock Star

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    Bad? Not really. A lot of people mix into a limiter from the start but that has it's own considerations. In your case, If you're already doing some gain reduction with the limiter then the result will change whatever you do. If you increase the level of a track, you'll force the limiter more, if you lower everything, you'll stress it less, if you tweak stuff so the gain reduction remains the same at the end BUT change the ballance in the process, that'll change the end result too. Bad or good, that depends on you.

    As for the 0dB thing specifically, you should be fine with peaking individual channels AS LONG as you keep the master below 0dBFS (or some TP value if you're mastering on the same session). But that's pretty DAW dependant (particularly on how each DAW handles bit depht), and i don't know every DAW under the sun.
     
  12. madbuzzin

    madbuzzin Producer

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    this is all true, and seems as if op does not know, so thats why it was at the top of your list! It is relevant in this situation
     
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  13. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    Maybe you meant the other similar thread. Anyway, Compression artifacts in the post-compression audio caused by using one compressor that "works too hard" with aggressive compression. Versus 2 compressor instances in serial, or a second/third bounce; resulting in each plugin instance having to do "less work". So you are ending up with the same amount of compression achieved without distortion/damage to the waveform you are processing. Or so goes the theory for some people.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
  14. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    I think here lies the problem. You aren't at the mastering stage yet.

    Try this:-

    1) Get rid of everything off of the master bus
    2) get the total of your mix peaking around -6 to -8db
    (To do this properly, (this is considered the mixdown stage)
    3) Save the mix with nothing added to the master bus
    4) Load the mix back into your DAW
    5) NOW you should work on the mastering, which in effect should be a case of making what you have louder, with minimal amount of alteration to the sound.

    You can cut out the mixdown stage if you want, but it's not a bad habit to get into.
     
  15. madbuzzin

    madbuzzin Producer

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    To add here, mastering means applying eq and processing to the stereo file of the mixed song. It doesnt mean "make it louder", thats only part of it.
     
  16. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    For someone still in the beginning to intermediate skill/experience level, leaving the boost to final volume for after the multi-track project is mixed/bounced/rendered is so much easier for them to get decent results. Rather than trying to bounce from multi-track to a single wav with everything done, including final loudness; it is much easier working with just the single file. Keeping the entire project volume lower makes almost everything easier, and lessens the chance they will clip channel audio while trying to get to target final volume. It isn't the only part of it all, but it is the portion they most frequently screw up and cannot understand why they always have the same results.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
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  17. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    I mix into a clipper. Airwindows AdClip. But it rarely works. It's only there to save my poor ears from clipping and whatnot. :)

    You should really first work on your mix and make it sound the way you want it to sound and then do whatever you want to do with it [rape it, in other words].

    p.s. to myself: I shouldn't post anything when I'm listening to the Korn and my alcohol level is too high!

    p.s.2 Keith Richards for prime minister. Next time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
  18. nctechno

    nctechno Kapellmeister

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    nailed it

    nothing counts besides that
     
  19. Nefarai

    Nefarai Member

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    Mastering is a dark art indeed.
    I agree with the concept of bouncing your final mixdown out at the highest possible quality (32 bit probably, and look at dithering modes for best quality bounce) and then reimporting in and mastering the audio.

    I am delving into going into stem mastering though, ie bouncing down each audio track separately and mastering them individually and reimporting those, maybe doing some overall mastering on the lot.
    That's a different kettle of fish altogether. But it's a long road ahead, enjoy it
     
  20. Xenon

    Xenon Kapellmeister

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    Maat!
     
  21. nctechno

    nctechno Kapellmeister

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    never dither when exporting 32 bit
     
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