small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by reverbmuddiesmix, Feb 17, 2020.

  1. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    greez to all,

    first of all i wanna say hi and thank you for all the input i got from this forum over the years!

    i'm mixing for over 10 years and am quite happy with my mixes by now. i think i manage issues like tonal balance, frequency seperation and stereo image pretty well but i do have a serious issue with dynamics which i can't seem to solve:

    when A/Bing my mixes/masters with commcercial tracks i find that they can compete very well regarding tonal balance, stereo image, frequency separation but my dynamic range is way too small compared to commercial mixes. i can easily tell this from watching my stereo out meter: when my track is playing it will barely move but when the reference track is playing it does move a lot. this lack of dynamic range results in small LUFS values and in times of loudness normalisation makes my music sound way lower and also more fatiguing to listen on streaming platforms. i tried to indentify the culpid for my lack of dynamic range: i think i do not overcompress in my mixes (i usually never comp more than 2db of gain reduction on a single track in my mixes). after some experiments i found that when playing my mixes without the most prominent low end track (in most cases the bassline and/or sub) my dynamic range looks still fine on the meter: the kick and snare really peak/spike nicely. but when unmuting the sub/bassline the meter kind of stops moving only moving tiny bits when the kick/snare hits. i then did some research and found that for genres with SUSTAINED low end like eg. long 808 notes this is quite common. i think this is caused by the long 808 notes eating up the headroom kinda permanently and also the commercial tracks with these kind of sustained long sub notes seem not to move on the meter but still they sound much more dynamic than my masters. btw when mastering i use to MB comp with a ratio of 1:4 and slow attack and fast release times and at the end i rarely have the limiter reducing more than 3db. so i think my mastering is not the reason for my small dynamic range, it s in the mixes - most likely in the low end. i couldnt live without my compression on single tracks since then they wouldnt sound right to me and since i just comp around -1.5db this should be ok, right? also i couldnt live without long sustained sub/bass notes since they are part of my composition. maybe in fact it might be a leveling issue: should the percussive sounds (mostly drums) just be much louder in my mixes so they will spike/peak more and result in an overall more dynamic mix? or am i maybe mistaken and my frequency seperation ain't that good as i think it is and i am therefor dealing with a muddy low end which might affect the dynamic range as well? please listen to some examples of my mixes here and tell me if you have any idea what could be wrong with my small dynamic range, frequency separation and/or tonal balance:

    chiptune:



    synthwave:



    dancehall:



    boom bap:



    celtic:



    dub techno:



    g-funk:



    heavy metal:



    trap:





    while i'm at it i also wanna comment on my view/approach on suggested -14 LUFS in times of audio normalisation: my average master still has a loudness of around -8 LUFS (short term). i do leave a 1db TPFS headroom though. i found aiming for -14 LUFS when mastering doesnt work, at least not for my genres. they still demand loudness since it s part of their aestetic. also when checking commercial tracks of my genres on youtube and right clicking them and checking "stats for nerds" all current commercial prods are at least getting reduced 5db so everyone still masters way louder than -14 LUFS. however as i mentioned earlier their (over limited) tracks sound louder than mine, mostly due to my small of dynamic range i assume, the human perceived loudness factors come into play. if u fancy please feel free to also comment on this -14 LUFS statement/opinion of mine but please only shortly since this topic should concentrate on hopefully solving my small dynamic range issue ;)



    thanks a lot for your help in advance!

     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
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  3. hackerz4life

    hackerz4life Ultrasonic

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    Perceived loudness vs actual loudness. Saturation can help you get your mix louder while your meters stay the same. Learn about bus mixing and stem mastering.
    Try mongoose plugin to get your bass centered and controlled.
     
  4. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    thx for the input, mate! i always narrow down the stereo width of my low end (most times to mono even) so that cant be the issue. question remains how can i make my mixes more dynamic? or do u find they sound dynamic enough and i should just ignore my meter not moving? but then why does the meter of all commercial masters move so much and mine doesnt? there has to be something wrong there, no? ps: maybe u got me wrong i dont want the meters to stay the same but the opposite! i want peaks and spikes hence dynamics. saturation/distortion will do the opposite of that. maybe i am using too much saturation on too many individual tracks then? btw i am also using transient shapers on all percussive sounds but since i use a comp at the end of the chan strip with relatively fast attack most of the time i might shave off the precious transients i enhanced with the transient shaper in the first place? or i gotta rework the envelopes of my non percussive sounds reducing their decay/sustain times a lot in order to make them more punchy? damn i m a bit lost. i wish someone will have/know the perfect solution for my problem lol
     
  5. hackerz4life

    hackerz4life Ultrasonic

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    Just by looking at the spotify spectograph you can see most of your material is very linear and undynamic.
    Compress or limit from track to track or bus to bus basis but leave the mixbus alone until the very end if you want to glue it some more.
    Automation can give a more dynamic track by lowering/increasing elements or automating the whole track.
    Gain staging is also important.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  6. Kwissbeats

    Kwissbeats Audiosexual

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    whatever it is you do, something seems to make it really flat.
    I think it is not even mainly compression, too me the tonal frequency balance sound really flattened out.

    the tracks boom bap, trap and dancehall really have potential to my ears but sound way to secure. nothing is really tickling my eardrums
     
  7. Gyro Gearloose

    Gyro Gearloose Audiosexual

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  8. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    thx a lot for the input. just to avoid confusion: u ment the soundcloud spectrograph. also i forgot to mention i uploaded masters (not mixes) so they do have a limiter on. the mixes' spectograph looks slightly more dynamic though since as mentioned in my initial post i dont compress/limit more than 4db during mastering in average. i put a clipper before the limiter though to cut off some peaks for that the limiter doesnt work that hard.
     
  9. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    thx man. could u give me an idea what u think might causing this flattening? since u mention the tonal balance i actually try to even that out since when checking the freq spectrum of my reference mixes i often find that the low end is really high but then from around 500hz on it s kinda one flat line (with a few small peaks here and there). which frequency/ies (area/s) do u reckon should i have pushed/lowered more?

    what do u mean nothing is tickling ur ear drums? do u mean volume wise some sounds should b louder to stand out? or again tonal balance wise?
     
  10. Sinus Well

    Sinus Well Platinum Record

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    It's very simple:
    Your music is not dynamic because it's not musically dynamic!
    Use your faders, pan knobs and sendreturns and make it dynamic with some automation!
     
  11. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    yea the more i think about it i reckon it might actually be a gain staging/leveling issue. i might level the sustained/musical instruments too loud so my percussive sounds (drums) dont cut through enough and this results in a not dynamic mix?
     
  12. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    yea very good point i totally second that emotion. so we are in the arrangement department then. problem is most of my songs/genres are loop based genres and i cant really escape that mantra not to repeat the same 8 bars loops over n over. it s very repetitive music. or did u mean i should use volume automation within an 8 bars loop in order to create more dynamics. but i never heared of someone actually automating the volume fader of eg. a drum loop since once the volume is set it s the right voume this track should be playing at, no?
     
  13. hackerz4life

    hackerz4life Ultrasonic

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    Working with loops has its advantage and disadvantages. You can not manipulate as much as you would want to so try not to worry too much.
    Some of the tracks sound good, big dynamic range is not needed always.
     
  14. Sinus Well

    Sinus Well Platinum Record

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    1. even in loop-based music, chord substitutions, inversions and other forms of harmonic modulation, as well as viriance of velocity and envelope modulation are on the daily agenda. but we are talking about dynamics in the sense of levels!
    therefore:
    2. level automation! of course, automating drum tracks (or tracks and aux in general) is standard! also in loop based music. The most obvious example are buildups in EDM. A slow swelling of elements in level or pitch or aux-mix etc. followed by an absolute volume peak at the beginning of the drop (so that it creates the feeling of pressure) which decreases again as the drop progresses...
    don't stick to 4 bar, 8 bar etc. divisions but take a fader in your hand and operate it by feel.

    when you introduce a new instrument in your song, why not turn down the level of some other instruments? that's what makes a song come alive in the end - the dynamics!
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  15. JMOUTTON

    JMOUTTON Member

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    It is very hard to deconstruct a cake that has already been baked.

    Perhaps it might be more useful to you to expose the underlying tracks to someone else who uses the same DAW as you and see if they manage to create the dynamism that you seek. If you restructure the project to only use the DAW's stock effects you can eliminate incompatibility issues.

    Outside of that, loops are generally already processed and should not require much compression. A slow attack, medium to fast release compressor can help to slightly increase dynamic range, though it has it's limits and the same can be said of an upward expander or negative ratio compressor.

    Limiters and fast attack-long release compressors with high ratios are by design dynamic range reducing tools, if your goal is to increase dynamic range endeavor to avoid them. Make an effort to set the attack of your track compressor as to allow more of the initial transient through, so a low setting of 12ms to 80ms-100ms.

    It is my suggestion to you however that you try to find someone of like mind who is willing to try to mix to your desired target, even if the project fails you'll probably still walk away with maybe a fresh outlook and knowledge which is something useful.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  16. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    I've been told more than once that I'm looking too much on numbers and graphs, but even I have given up caring about DR and Loudness Range years ago.
    The DR is determined by the instruments and the arrangement. No doubt you can screw it up by mixing and/or mastering but you can also have a punchy song at -14LUFS and a veery low LRA value. There's just no straight connection. Neither between DR and LRA.
    I see no sense in level automation for the sake of a value.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
  17. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    that is really good news to me, mate! me too when A/Bing with reference tracks i most of the time find my masters sound pretty good compared with theirs so i might be able to live with this lack of my meter not jumping around. at the end of the day noone will look at the meter but just listen to my music and i most of the times find it sounds about how i want it to sound
     
  18. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    cool. i ll defo try around with automation then
     
  19. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    good advice as well. i might book a stem mixing service. kinda costy but well worth it assuming they can point out my dynamcis lack issue then
     
  20. reverbmuddiesmix

    reverbmuddiesmix Noisemaker

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    thx for that contradiction as well. i ll still try around with volume automation but i get ur point. however i didnt fully understand the first bit of ur post: did u impliment that u dont really care for dynamic range so neither should i? as long as my tracks sound good as they are i shouldnt worry about their dynamic range? but then do u actually find that my tracks do sound good as they are?
     
  21. No Avenger

    No Avenger Audiosexual

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    Best Answer
    Yepp.

    That's your decision but as to my experience running after DR is a senseless undertaking.

    I didn't listen closely to all the tracks tbh, but so far I find them too loud and not that good sounding. Too low between 40 - 100Hz, too much 100 - 200Hz, midrange not balanced, sometimes high freq peaks.
     
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