FLAC, OGG, MP3, CDs- setting recording, mixing, compression and printing levels
I'm having a lot of fun with Ardour, and I know I'll never even scratch the surface because my needs as a singer-songwriter aren't that complex. I'm stuck, however, on this issue.
I have two stereo tracks: one guitar, and one vocal. In mixing, I set whatever plugins I have (EQ, some reverb, compression and possibly a high/low pass filter) and mix. I listen to the mix in two sets of speakers in the room (one little doinky pair and a larger pair of KRK Rokit 8 monitors). I then burn whatever sets of mixes that potentially might be the final onto a CD and go listen to them in my car. The problem is that levels and mixes that sound good in the room change when I burn them to CD- levels that sound good and solid when playing a .WAV file in the room are barely audible when burned to CD, but when I try to raise the printing level (either via the Master Output, the compressor output, raising both the track levels, and/or normalizing the tracks), things shift and are no longer in balance, even if they sound that way on the speakers! (Everything sounds good on the headphones, so I try not to rely on that.)
This is a critical issue for me because I don't make CDs anymore. I give away all my music for free on my website as FLAC, OGG, or MP3 files. Up until recently I went into the studio, but it shut down and I went ahead and bought my own gear to do it in-house. But I'm trying to figure out what measuring line I should use for these tunes before I release them. Most people are NOT going to burn any downloads to a CD- they will either listen to them on their computer or put them on an MP3 player or similar. I get occasional emails for CDs, but that's secondary for now. So do I base my mix decisions on the digital sound or the CD, and why does it change?
Guitar mic: AKG C1000S
Vocal mic: Shure KSM44
I set my FP10 input channels to about 7, Master Gain to 7 as well. I record with the track levels at -30 dB and generally try to mix so that any peaks reach about -12 dB or so, and I place a vocal compressor a few dB below that. But in trying to match everything up, I play around with all those levels quite a lot to see what I can find out.
Sorry for the length. Thanks!!