Song Volume

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deviantryan
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When I am setting levels for my tracks, I often find my songs are too quiet, and if I raise the master volume a bit, it can clip or sound bad. I don't like having to make the levels of all the tracks way up at the top; it's much harder to fine tune the volume overall by doing that.

Any tips or ideas, other than just making all tracks louder, to get the overall volume louder?

Edward Diehl
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Perhaps you need use a compressor (to compress the dynamic range so you can raise the volume without clipping). If you have not done so already read http://en.flossmanuals.net/ardour/index/?q=flossmanual especially the section on plugins (since you'll need a compressor plugin). There are numerous ladspa and lv2 compressors available.

seablade
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I would strongly recommend that you do some reading on the "Loudness Wars" and understand the arguments before simply throwing a compressor on it to fix it. Your mixes will probably be better for it, even if you do decide to fix it with compression.

Seablade

fernesto
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@deviantryan: from what i can see on your post it seems you are trying to get to the final volume for your songs from the volume of the tracks.

As ardour works at 24-32bit theres no problem at all by having a master volume low, since you will probably want to "mix well" your song and then master it which is another process so my first advice is: read about what is mastering process, and as seablade said, read about Loudness Wars.

Only after you understand mixing and mastering you'll know what to do about that final volume without sacrificing any quality to your mix and actually improving a lot its sound.

here are a few links you can start with:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_mastering
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug04/articles/computermastering.htm
www.aes.org/technical/documentDownloads.cfm?docID=65 (this is a VERY important document about loudness war)
http://www.audiopluggers.com/kmeter/loudness.html (this is a very instructive video about loudness war)

@seablade: i know Mixbus has a built in k-meter and a -1dB fast lookahead limiter, but for Ardour persé theres no K-meter plugin, the best meter alike i've found is the Invada Meter which can give you a good idea about loudness, do you know if there is any k-meter plugin already out there in LV2 or in plans? (i use both mixbus and ardour 3 so i miss a lot the k-meter in a3)

the C.L.A.
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@fernesto: I don't know of a plugin, but there is a jack standalone k-meter wich can be hooked up to ardour, called jkmeter: http://kokkinizita.linuxaudio.org/linuxaudio/downloads/index.html

Available from this site there is also the new ebumeter (jack stand alone) wich also includes command line tools for measuring the loudness of audio files according to the EBU-R128 standard: http://kokkinizita.linuxaudio.org/linuxaudio/ebumeter-doc/quickguide.html

joegiampaoli
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Just like seablade, don't just go for the compressor to fix volume issues and don't expect your music to sound as loud as commercial CD's. If it's too low just turn up you monitoring volume up, if you use too much compression you'll kill the Dynamic Range, a very important ingerdient in music not appreciated these days.

Compression comes later.

Here's some nice reading...

http://www.massivemastering.com/blog/index_files/My_Mixes_Are_Too_Quiet.php
http://www.massivemastering.com/blog/index_files/Proper_Audio_Recording_Levels.php
http://www.massivemastering.com/blog/index_files/loudness_war_in_real_life.php
http://www.pleasurizemusic.com/

joegiampaoli
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@ fernesto:

There is a good k-meter called jkmeter and it support the -14 and other types for more dynamic ranges (like classical).

You can get it here:

http://kokkinizita.linuxaudio.org/linuxaudio/downloads/

EDIT: lol, same one the C.L.A. posted above.

cajmere
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I saw ounce an interview with an german mastering engineer, Robert Babicz. From what i remember from the interview is that he mixed
an compressed(became with let the sound thru multiple compressorsin line) sound together with the original. The track had more volume and kept also dynamics in the result.

Is this a way that's acceptable since the track is not dead compressed?

German spoken, but subtitled in English.

http://www.eclectro.nl/2008-03-22-robert-babicz-over-mastering

seablade
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That is a technique known as parallel compression. I personally don't think it is the answer here no, the better answer is to mix and master it properly the first time, with any needed compression, but only what is needed and not squashing all the life out of it.

There are instances parallel compression could be useful in yes, and at first glance it may seem like the right answer here, I just don't agree with that.

Seablade

rombus
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I want to add that if your sound card/ audio interface is onboard, or bad quality, your sound takes would not sound as loud as they could be taken with a better quality sound card.