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Loudness and clarity! HOW?!?
Old 27th January 2013
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Loudness and clarity! HOW?!?

I've been trying different things and analyzing and thinking over and over again but I can't seem to understand how these producers do it?!

I'm talking about loudness and brightness in the mix.Yes it have probably been brought up many times but since I can't find the answer for my question I guess I have to ask it again.

I'm working on my mix right now, it sounds pretty good imo and imo I do know basics and a bit more about mixing. However, I can't seem to match the loudness and "fullness" of some commercial tracks.
I've tried to balance my mid energy with high freq energy (I always end up with a lot of energy around 2khz-5khz) but all my synth sounds got so much energy there and if I cut it with an EQ all the energy disappear.

But somehow commercial tracks seem to have a pretty flat spectrum but still sound so energetic and "clear" and bright. For example this track, which is like totally flat in the spectrum analyzer:

Hardwell & Showtek - How We Do (Official Video) - YouTube

How is this possible? sounds like there is no muddy mid or anything.
And even though I remove the high freq energy and try to balance out my spectrum, I cant reach the loudness of tracks like this one:

Hard Rock Sofa - Quasar (Original Mix) - YouTube

(that one is a strong example because it is louder than a lot of other commercial tracks but somehow they make it that loud also right?)



Could someone please guide me? How do I achieve this loudness? do I need to remove my highs and get more mid? I know that mid is a lot "louder" for the human ear?

I've been cutting unnecessary freq from all channels, using compression, but nothing seems to do it.

I'm not a pro mastering engineer but I don't think it has a lot to do with mastering, its in the mix?

Please help me out, I know that a lot of people will say that loudness doesnt matter but in this type of music it really does separate the pro mixer from the noob.

The worst thing is that it doesnt seem to be any complicated stuff to get this loudness, I know many top producers do their mixdowns in a couple of hours...
Old 27th January 2013
  #2
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ohmicide's Avatar
learn to mix well and everything will come together

mastering will only make your track as loud as the mix allows it to
Old 27th January 2013
  #3
Gear Addict
 
gruenburger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
1. Hipass stuff
2. Compress the living **** out of your drum bus. 4 to 6db should do it.
3. Add a slow compressor and a really good limiter to the master.

Sent from my SGH-T989
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruenburger ➑️
1. Hipass stuff
2. Compress the living **** out of your drum bus. 4 to 6db should do it.
3. Add a slow compressor and a really good limiter to the master.

Sent from my SGH-T989
If I compress my kickdrum I will lose the punch? these tracks still got a lot of punch in their kickdrums.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ohmicide ➑️
learn to mix well and everything will come together

mastering will only make your track as loud as the mix allows it too
I do mention in my post that I dont think it has to do with mastering. "Learn to mix well" doesn't really help me out... Could you at least point me in the direction where I could learn to mix or what it is I'm not understanding. What is between my mixes and these commercial ones?
Old 27th January 2013
  #6
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staudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It comes from good clear and loud/big production first and foremost, then skilled mixing, then good non-destructive mastering.

Loudness potential comes more from the underlying production and mix rather than the mastering.

I find that bus compression and bus EQ helps me a lot to get bigger sounding mixes. Be aggressive with the mix, push it around, make big changes, find the core elements and mix them loud in the balance.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Addict
 
gruenburger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lallo ➑️
If I compress my kickdrum I will lose the punch? these tracks still got a lot of punch in their kickdrums.
a slow attack will leave the transients intact. send me a pm and ill try to help you out with any specific issues.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
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ohmicide's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lallo ➑️
I do mention in my post that I dont think it has to do with mastering. "Learn to mix well" doesn't really help me out... Could you at least point me in the direction where I could learn to mix or what it is I'm not understanding. What is between my mixes and these commercial ones?
by saying that I mean that you should go and do as much learning about mixing as possible, look up when and how to apply compressors, how to apply proper EQing, how to use reverbs to give tracks space, etc.

then the best thing to do is just practice and compare to your reference tracks
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
gruenburger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ohmicide ➑️
by saying that I mean that you should go and do as much learning about mixing as possible, look up when and how to apply compressors, how to apply proper EQing, how to use reverbs to give tracks space, etc.

then the best thing to do is just practice and compare to your reference tracks
agreed. there really are no shortcuts in this field. engineers dont "arrive" until they have mixed a hundred or so songs.
Old 27th January 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
This
Quote:
learn to mix well and everything will come together
is really the best advice in this thread so far.
But then you say this:
Quote:
"Learn to mix well" doesn't really help me out... Could you at least point me in the direction where I could learn to mix or what it is I'm not understanding. What is between my mixes and these commercial ones?
What is between your mixes and the mixes you aspire to is pretty simple: everything.
Quote:
I know that a lot of people will say that loudness doesnt matter but in this type of music it really does separate the pro mixer from the noob.
I have serious doubts about the truthfulness of that statement, but assuming it's true, then one thing you can recognize is: you are a noob, so you shouldn't expect to be getting the sounds that people who have put a decade into learning their craft get.
Quote:
I've been trying different things and analyzing and thinking over and over again...
Quote:
do I need to remove my highs and get more mid?
Quote:
I've been cutting unnecessary freq from all channels
All these statements indicate that you are starting from basically a zero-experience standpoint when it comes to mixing and production, so there's no reason to be confused or frustrated.
Quote:
The worst thing is that it doesnt seem to be any complicated stuff to get this loudness, I know many top producers do their mixdowns in a couple of hours...
Nothing complicated...just everything and nothing. All it takes is a couple of hours and ten years.
Old 27th January 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
^^^^ unfortunately true.

The opposite of the Joe Meek quote should be applied - If it sounds crap, it probably is.

Its the hardest lesson to learn because everything is OK yeah? But absolutely every little element has to be correct, and what the years of listening and practice allows you to do - reject stuff as much as add.

I mean how hard can it be, a bassline, a beat, a riff...?

But just the bass has to sit right with the kick, play with the beat, be bassy, but not boomy, cut through but not pull down the whole mix, have attack, but sustain as well....etc

Same with the kick etc etc. In fact when you can pull together something that works in hours, you think - what the hell was the problem all those years ago? Listening. Being able to hear that what you have is good, and being able to pull down sounds you know will work together - its this strange sense of taste and a pallete that seams to take a long time to develop - just like a cook I guess.

But the hardest thing is to compare, realise it dont match up - and go back to the drawing board.
Old 27th January 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Compress the everloving **** out of each channel separately, then hard clip each channel, then parallel compress the mix, then hard clip the mix, then gently limit the mix with a fast attack and fast release, then hard clip it again.

Make sure there are only like 3 elements sounding at any given time, and be extra sure to sidechain the bass. It will be awesome.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
gruenburger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2pulse ➑️
Compress the everloving **** out of each channel separately, then hard clip each channel, then parallel compress the mix, then hard clip the mix, then gently limit the mix with a fast attack and fast release, then hard clip it again.

Make sure there are only like 3 elements sounding at any given time, and be extra sure to sidechain the bass. It will be awesome.
OP this is exactly what you should NOT do. please ignore.
Old 27th January 2013
  #14
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cowboycoalminer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lallo ➑️
How do I achieve this loudness?
Attached Thumbnails
Loudness and clarity! HOW?!?-pendulum_es-8.jpg  
Old 27th January 2013
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruenburger ➑️
OP this is exactly what you should NOT do. please ignore.
I'm pretty sure that was part of the process for achieving the horrendous and fatiguingly loud mixes in the OP. There might be good mixing happening under all that stuff, but I sure couldn't tell.
Old 27th January 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Here's a waveform taken directly from one of the OP's linked songs.

Gotta make sure those overs last about 60 samples when it really gets bangin'.
Attached Thumbnails
Loudness and clarity! HOW?!?-let_it_clip.jpg  
Old 27th January 2013
  #17
Lives for gear
 
ohmicide's Avatar
I just randomly came across this, caught my eye since this is my go to EQ plug-in and ended up being a pretty kick-ass EQing tutorial

they're mixing a rock type track but you still might learn something from it since these techniques pretty much apply to anything

Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #18
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruenburger ➑️
agreed. there really are no shortcuts in this field. engineers dont "arrive" until they have mixed a hundred or so songs.
Maybe!! More like minimum ten years. Never met a great mixer under 40 yet!

I always quite like Daft Punks mixes. Then Alan Meyerson mixed them for Tron and made their whole back catalogue ( and every other edm mix out there) sound rather ..... Well .... Not quite as good. Still love em though.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
edwonbass's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ohmicide ➑️
I just randomly came across this, caught my eye since this is my go to EQ plug-in and ended up being a pretty kick-ass EQing tutorial

they're mixing a rock type track but you still might learn something from it since these techniques pretty much apply to anything

Thanks for that link!
Old 27th January 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lallo ➑️
I've been trying different things and analyzing and thinking over and over again but I can't seem to understand how these producers do it?!

I'm talking about loudness and brightness in the mix.Yes it have probably been brought up many times but since I can't find the answer for my question I guess I have to ask it again.

I'm working on my mix right now, it sounds pretty good imo and imo I do know basics and a bit more about mixing. However, I can't seem to match the loudness and "fullness" of some commercial tracks.
I've tried to balance my mid energy with high freq energy (I always end up with a lot of energy around 2khz-5khz) but all my synth sounds got so much energy there and if I cut it with an EQ all the energy disappear.

But somehow commercial tracks seem to have a pretty flat spectrum but still sound so energetic and "clear" and bright. For example this track, which is like totally flat in the spectrum analyzer:

Hardwell & Showtek - How We Do (Official Video) - YouTube

How is this possible? sounds like there is no muddy mid or anything.
And even though I remove the high freq energy and try to balance out my spectrum, I cant reach the loudness of tracks like this one:

Hard Rock Sofa - Quasar (Original Mix) - YouTube

(that one is a strong example because it is louder than a lot of other commercial tracks but somehow they make it that loud also right?)



Could someone please guide me? How do I achieve this loudness? do I need to remove my highs and get more mid? I know that mid is a lot "louder" for the human ear?

I've been cutting unnecessary freq from all channels, using compression, but nothing seems to do it.

I'm not a pro mastering engineer but I don't think it has a lot to do with mastering, its in the mix?

Please help me out, I know that a lot of people will say that loudness doesnt matter but in this type of music it really does separate the pro mixer from the noob.

The worst thing is that it doesnt seem to be any complicated stuff to get this loudness, I know many top producers do their mixdowns in a couple of hours...
It's probably the arrangement. Transient heavy sounds in the middle ranges don't clog up a mix like a pad with huge reverb would. Just a thought...

That being said, are you sure the mixes are flat? The commercial mixes I have seen are usually of the smiley face variety. High frequencies sound louder. Cutting around 300hz can take off the mud.

Edit: I listened to the example and IMHO, it sounds like crap, but each to their own. The mix is way, way too compressed sounding to me. Definitely cut the low mids, adjust your analyzer to be faster acting or something and you might see that the spectrum is most likely not so flat afterall.

Quote:
I know that mid is a lot "louder" for the human ear?
Nope, the highs are a lot louder than the mids. Take a simple sine and tune it to 5khz. Take a other and tune it to 300hz. Adjust them so that they sound as loud. You will probably discover that the 300hz sine will have to be a lot louder to appear to be as loud to you as the 5khz wave. On the other hand most instruments have a strong fundamental and thus the mids are loudest parts, since that the range you usually play at. May be confusing that with which frequencies actually sound the loudest. This is also why RMS matching is not always enough as high frequencies sound louder. Correct me if wrong.

You can actually do a test regarding this and measure the frequency response of your ears + monitors at particular SPL: http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html

here are the usual contours:
Old 27th January 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Ben F's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
First of all, level Match your mixes to the reference tracks. Then you will get a clearer picture of what's going on. Both those references are devoid of any sub bass, or low mids, hence the loud/bright phenomenon that you describe. Apart from Sounding like a rave track made 20 years ago, It's just screaming top end, distortion and hard clipping, without bass or sub bass to fill up the spectrum.

When you level match you will find those tracks have very little punch and actually may sound smaller than your mixes. It's the old 'louder sounds better' trick. On a big system you will find the opposite- dynamic range and less distortion will sound huge. They are mastered For previewing on YouTube and small headphones. And maybe 12 year olds on speed.
Old 27th January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
cowboycoalminer's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I agree . I finally listened to them myself. I had to instantly hit pause and "gain stage" the youtube player so my converter could live. That second example is terrible. @ the OP, You surely don't want your music to sound like that, right? If you do its pretty simple to achieve. Just slam a limiter till it dies, then throw on another one after that and slam that one too. If it still isn't loud enough, repeat.
Old 27th January 2013 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboycoalminer ➑️
I agree . I finally listened to them myself. I had to instantly hit pause and "gain stage" the youtube player so my converter could live. That second example is terrible. @ the OP, You surely don't want your music to sound like that, right? If you do its pretty simple to achieve. Just slam a limiter till it dies, then throw on another one after that and slam that one too. If it still isn't loud enough, repeat.
I was expecting to get answers like this. Well I know there might be some of you that dont like these mixes. They are however what you are competing against in the house music genre right now and I must say that you can't just put a limiter on and expect that punch and clarity, believe me, I've tried!

I do agree that they sound a bit light on the bass, but somehow (I've heard them in the club) they feel just as bass heavy as any other track.

I've had this problem before, I dont know where to cut the sub, how much sub I should have, etc... I dont own a club system or a sub. I have pretty good 7" monitors (in fact the same pair of monitors that both of these producers use themselves) but they only go down to about 41hz and when they are down there I believe its not flat either...

I keep my mixes pretty clean, in the drop of my track right now I have the following:

1 bassline
1 lead
1 kick
1 snare
1 ride
whitenoise

thats about it (in the beginning of the drop)
I've highpassed everything so no unnecessary frequencies are in the mix, but still...

If there is anyone here who really have good knowledge about this type of mixing, please send me a PM and I will link my track. I cannot post it here public unfortunately.

Best Regards
Old 28th January 2013
  #24
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
There are some really good advice here on this thread!

I would add to the discussion and suggest you try out multiband compression!

Works wonders to make tracks seem louder if applied correctly, which is the hardest bit..
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mullaha ➑️
There are some really good advice here on this thread!

I would add to the discussion and suggest you try out multiband compression!

Works wonders to make tracks seem louder if applied correctly, which is the hardest bit..
nononononono...do not recommend mbc to a noob, he doesn't understand basic compression and eq yet

OP: keep truckin, keep listening critically to the pro stuff, it will work itself out over time. There's about a thousand small steps to get from where you are to where you want to be. Two steps forward, one step back. There's no other way.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
kholland65's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lallo ➑️
If I compress my kickdrum I will lose the punch? these tracks still got a lot of punch in their kickdrums.
It should be the opposite effect. If you lose the punch on a kick after compressing it, your not dialing in your compressor properly. Most likely to short of an attack or too low a threshold.
Old 28th January 2013 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by StringBean ➑️
nononononono...do not recommend mbc to a noob, he doesn't understand basic compression and eq yet

OP: keep truckin, keep listening critically to the pro stuff, it will work itself out over time. There's about a thousand small steps to get from where you are to where you want to be. Two steps forward, one step back. There's no other way.
Ahaha! Ok watch LOADS of compression/ mixing/ EQ tutorials on youtube. And read! Reading is always good.

Old 29th January 2013
  #28
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
OP, haven't read the whole thread... but here's some advice condensed down to something important.

You mentioned loudness and clarity. So... forget loudness. Focus on clarity. Trust me. Loudness will follow naturally.

Loudness is not in how much gain you give it. It is in the sound. If you want a loud tune, you have to make a loud-sounding mix. Focus on the mix. Focus on the mix. Focus on the mix. I know this sounds cliche, but it's true... trouble is it takes a lot of work to learn how to do it intuitively.
Old 29th January 2013 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Addict
 
gruenburger's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Praxisaxis ➑️
OP, haven't read the whole thread... but here's some advice condensed down to something important.

You mentioned loudness and clarity. So... forget loudness. Focus on clarity. Trust me. Loudness will follow naturally.

Loudness is not in how much gain you give it. It is in the sound. If you want a loud tune, you have to make a loud-sounding mix. Focus on the mix. Focus on the mix. Focus on the mix. I know this sounds cliche, but it's true... trouble is it takes a lot of work to learn how to do it intuitively.
Very true. Most hip hop demos I get are distorted to oblivion because they take a bad mix and slap a limiter on it. The nature of my mixes allow them to have louder masters with less distortion every time.

With that said, you do need to learn how to use compressors and limiters on the master bus in order to get a track "modern loud", but you can't have a loud master without a decent mix.
Old 29th January 2013 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Praxisaxis's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruenburger ➑️
With that said, you do need to learn how to use compressors and limiters on the master bus in order to get a track "modern loud", but you can't have a loud master without a decent mix.
That's right. Even if you take the "unorthodox" road of mixing with a limiter on your master bus in order to "mix loud," the fact is you still need to understand how the sounds all work together to give an impression of punchiness and detail. Without those things you might go "yay my mix is loud" but you'll soon become dissatisfied with that.
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