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#1 jono

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:10 PM

Jer asked me to also post this up in this forum, so see below. Interestingly perhaps the biggest culprits I've found are those trying to do the classic Anjuna sound FYI....

Polite music production tech "mini-rant" to some budding producers:

Please don't compress/limit your tracks so hard.

I just spent today putting together Trance Around the World, and some of the tracks submitted are so compressed, that while they may have a decent musical idea, they are going to sound awful on the radio because they are then going to go through the Trance Around the World compressors, optimods at the radio stations and get compressed all over AGAIN.....

Also when it comes to club play, by over-compressing you are effectively throwing away a tool in any musician's/producer's arsenal - DYNAMICS! There is melody/harmony, rhythm/groove etc, but let's not forget dynamics! Don't be afraid to have quiet moments - they make the loud moments feel even bigger.

I'm sorry to say that many "nice" tracks that might get a spin on the radio show don't make their way into our live sets because of the over-compression issue - the tracks sound weak in a club and often don't move enough air! Particularly in the bass department (which tends to suffer when smashing a master to bits with a limiter). Don't forget there will also most likely be a compressor/limiter on the front of house system in a club/arena so there's another opportunity for those lovely transients to take another punishing....

There has been a loudness war on for years now, but when it gets to the point that dance music suffers (dance music is already probably the most compressed music next to pop), I think it's time to review!

Perhaps the issue is that people are using radio streams for reference material in the studio rather than proper masters? Of course we do need stuff to sound sensibly loud and punchy, so just like adding the right amount of salt to a meal, compression and limiting are very important. But going to far actually makes stuff sound worse and very fatiguing to listen to.

Over & out! :)
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#2 Mike

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 10:22 PM

This has been said time and time again and is always worth repeating as people often don't "get the memo" so to speak.

With so many people learning production, many of them becoming very good at it, it's all to easy to use radio shows as reference.

Everyone should buy a 320kbps MP3 (or WAV, though there's not much in it) of a track in a similar style to what they're producing, and listen to it in detail, then bear in mind how it's been mastered, and work from there.

Whilst many people will get someone professional to master their tracks, still try sticking a mastering plugin like the Waves L2/L3 (or similar) on your main bus to boost it to around 0db, it's not an exact science and I'm no expert, I'm basically saying that you should try to recreate, even in an amateur way, what will happen when all that compression is added from mastering, radio stations, club-systems, etc. Don't produce/mix with it on, but have it there on bypass, just to check back to every now and then to make sure you're not over-doing it at the mixing stage.

If everything sounds a mess when you've hardly got any compression at all, turn EVERYTHING down. I often find that a track that is way too loud and is clipping, isn't so much because of compression in the first place, but because every individual sound in the sequencer is turned up way too loud, so when you compress the master, even slightly, it ruins what little dynamic a track had in the first place.

If a sound is too quiet, turning down 60 faders may seem way more effort than turning one up, but it's worth it, as once one goes up, the others will gradually follow, next minute you've got a track that's peaking before you've even applied any compression.

It might be good if producers could get hold of a pre-mastered well-known track to give them some idea, though I imagine this wouldn't be possible.

Edited by Mike, 06 July 2011 - 10:24 PM.


#3 DJ Sam Mackinnon

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:02 PM

I hate the sound of tracks that have been over compressed and have too much EQing... They just don't sound good.

They sound really like boxed in... If thats a good way to put it.

#4 jono

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:03 PM

Pretty much bang on Mike.

To be clear, someone raised an interesting point on facebook: Many of the tracks from producers such as EDX are running at hot levels such as minus 5 RMS. I responded to this, as it's a valid point.

The more "dense" your track is (e.g. a big trancer with a massive saw wave riff compared to a minimal techno track), the stronger RMS figure you can likely get away with. There is no hard and fast rule of course, but this is why tracks from deadmau5/EDX etc can be pushed a little harder perhaps without distorting terribly. All in my opinion.....
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#5 Mike

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 11:54 PM

Pretty much bang on Mike.

To be clear, someone raised an interesting point on facebook: Many of the tracks from producers such as EDX are running at hot levels such as minus 5 RMS. I responded to this, as it's a valid point.

The more "dense" your track is (e.g. a big trancer with a massive saw wave riff compared to a minimal techno track), the stronger RMS figure you can likely get away with. There is no hard and fast rule of course, but this is why tracks from deadmau5/EDX etc can be pushed a little harder perhaps without distorting terribly. All in my opinion.....


Cheers Jono.

Am I right in saying that ideally an uplifting trance track with a lot going on (for example - Satellite or the Club Mix of On A Good Day) should be running (before the master channel in the sequencer) at between -10db or even -20db, to give plenty of headroom in the master? I'm no pro producer, I'm just going of limited (pardon the pun) experience.

I'm also guessing that's why tracks by people like Michael Cassette have such sonic clarity. I'd imagine a track like Zeppelin or Fox & A Shooting Star sounded pretty "boring" before mastering, as a result of everything being relatively quiet. However, this gave enough headroom to allow a nice sonic "push" at the mastering stage to really allow everything to come alive, hence why although there isn't much going on sound-wise, these tracks sound incredibly lush and sonically "full".

Trying to think of a good analogy, and as always, it comes back to cars. Imagine a load of very fast cars are doing 60mph down a long straight motorway. At some point a guy will wave a flag to tell them to go as fast as possible. If they're nicely spaced out, they've all got enough room and free air to soon be at 200mph+. However, if they're all bunched together nose-to-tail, when they all put the hammer down, some will suffer in turbulent air, some will probably even crash into each other. They'll probably all end up doing 200mph, but some will reach it upside down in a ball of flames.

Crap analogy, but I think it makes sense.

#6 Tukishiro Hikari

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 12:39 AM

Cheers Jono.

Am I right in saying that ideally an uplifting trance track with a lot going on (for example - Satellite or the Club Mix of On A Good Day) should be running (before the master channel in the sequencer) at between -10db or even -20db, to give plenty of headroom in the master? I'm no pro producer, I'm just going of limited (pardon the pun) experience.

I'm also guessing that's why tracks by people like Michael Cassette have such sonic clarity. I'd imagine a track like Zeppelin or Fox & A Shooting Star sounded pretty "boring" before mastering, as a result of everything being relatively quiet. However, this gave enough headroom to allow a nice sonic "push" at the mastering stage to really allow everything to come alive, hence why although there isn't much going on sound-wise, these tracks sound incredibly lush and sonically "full".

Trying to think of a good analogy, and as always, it comes back to cars. Imagine a load of very fast cars are doing 60mph down a long straight motorway. At some point a guy will wave a flag to tell them to go as fast as possible. If they're nicely spaced out, they've all got enough room and free air to soon be at 200mph+. However, if they're all bunched together nose-to-tail, when they all put the hammer down, some will suffer in turbulent air, some will probably even crash into each other. They'll probably all end up doing 200mph, but some will reach it upside down in a ball of flames.

Crap analogy, but I think it makes sense.

Hi, Mike

You are right. Actually I think for a good producing habit we should have each track running at -6db before adding any synth or sound. But still it depends on the methods or the way of work.

Actually, today's compression/limiting, or over-compression/limiting, or even the whole "loudness war" is because of the digital technology that being introduced in nowaday music production. Because for digitalized sounds, they are only numbers. All the signal are quantized. If you set, for example, a 16bit integer as the audio percision, we can set 0 as the lowest signal and 65535(16bit integer's max value) as the loudest signal. But in nowadays DAWs their internal mixing bus' summing percision is much higher, e.g. 32bit or 64bit. max of 32bit is about 2^31 - 1 and 64bit will be 2^63 - 1. For the CD Standard(16bit percision) it is much much higher, just as 32bit max = 65536*65536-1...

So actually before master or even before final limiting processor the signals are unlikely be distroted or too hot because DAWs will have to use the headroom in the quantized percision(32bit or 64bit). We can set the 0db point as e.g. as 65535 in 0-65535*65535 space, then there are 65535*65534 headroom when process the audio signal. Because mixing is actually simply sum every tracks up, so even your track is hot(louder than 0db, or it is larger than 65535) it is still not distroted if you turn the master volume down. Because they are rightly summed up and no signal lose or clipping. If some DAW is using 65535 as 0db point that means you can sum up about other 65534 tracks of audio in 0db up and lose nothing. And this is the very reason limiting can be so much hot that "loudness war" broke out.

So I now have a habit in Ableton to use a utility to control the master volume. I will have each track in 0db but I will have the master track volume controlled that it won't clip and rightly summed up. Then I will add master plugins and processors.

It's just a point of view from a computer geek...I am also willing to let pros tell me if my thought is right. To sum it up, I want to take advantage of modern DAWs' internal summing headroom to make my life easier, also before master processing the signal should not be clipping for right processing by other plugins. Also, this thought will only apply to digital mixing down or mastering. Any analog mixing or mastering will not be applicable.

For the loudness war, I think we should consider to control our loudness. But...when on the market everyone else is doing the other way, I don't know if we can do this...

I usually control my master at about -9 to -10 RMS, and I will use my monitors and monitor headphone to check if there is distrotion. Is this ok? Also I have learned from WAVES manual that distrotion can happen when encoding/decoding or external processing if your track is limited to exactly 0db. Waves manual suggests that it should be limited to -0.1 or -0.2 db. Is this right?

BTW, I think for the mastering loudness, we should stick to our ears for a "almost the same loudness", not only the numbers on meters.

#7 Nick82

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:36 AM

Pretty much bang on Mike.

To be clear, someone raised an interesting point on facebook: Many of the tracks from producers such as EDX are running at hot levels such as minus 5 RMS. I responded to this, as it's a valid point.

The more "dense" your track is (e.g. a big trancer with a massive saw wave riff compared to a minimal techno track), the stronger RMS figure you can likely get away with. There is no hard and fast rule of course, but this is why tracks from deadmau5/EDX etc can be pushed a little harder perhaps without distorting terribly. All in my opinion.....


I couldn't agree more. Especially latest Dinka album was one of the hottest i heard. In some tracks the RMS level peaked at -4 , -3 db !
But its really interesting that the tracks sounded great in home. On the contrary i don't know the impact of so hot limiting will have in outdoor live dj sets.

It is a good idea, as a fellow poster said, to post an audio clip as a reference point .

To sum up if you haven't check it, listen to what Bob Katz says about this issue


Edited by Nick82, 07 July 2011 - 04:57 AM.


#8 Nick82

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:54 AM

? Also I have learned from WAVES manual that distrotion can happen when encoding/decoding or external processing if your track is limited to exactly 0db. Waves manual suggests that it should be limited to -0.1 or -0.2 db. Is this right?


Thas the case for mp3s and Cds. In the cinema industry they set global standards for loudness. Thats why sound is much more clear, dense and dynamic.Of course the resolution of the sound is much higher. Music industry can adapt a similar system but i don't think is an easy task.

Edited by Nick82, 07 July 2011 - 04:55 AM.


#9 MaDI

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 03:23 PM

Cheers, good tips! :) Though Anjuna released track, Arty - Around the World sounds pretty compressed to me. Same as Rebound.
Wanna hear something even more compressed? Check the break of this beauty:


Edited by MaDI, 07 July 2011 - 03:26 PM.


#10 Nick82

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:08 PM

Cheers, good tips! :) Though Anjuna released track, Arty - Around the World sounds pretty compressed to me. Same as Rebound.
Wanna hear something even more compressed? Check the break of this beauty:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=903bPhmw7IA


Yes, in the crashes i listen the pumping effect clearly even though you tube quality may fool my ears.And speaking of Arty, his remix of
Moonbeams - Hate is the killer sounds pretty compressed to me also



#11 jontron

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:27 PM

Arty's latest track, Around the World - that is so limited that I won't listen to it.

It sounds like it would be absolutely killer, but my ears just can't get over the extreme compression.

#12 Neon Discharge

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 04:50 PM

You wan't compression? The presence of it can't be any more obvious in this song (Plus it's on youtube which means it's SUPER-COMPRESSED!). Still love it, though. :music:

Edited by Neon Discharge, 07 July 2011 - 04:51 PM.


#13 Klaneer

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:11 PM

Arty's latest track, Around the World - that is so limited that I won't listen to it.

It sounds like it would be absolutely killer, but my ears just can't get over the extreme compression.

still banger in club and supported from axwell so who tf cares :)

#14 Marcioz Pollack

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:40 PM

Cheers, good tips! :) Though Anjuna released track, Arty - Around the World sounds pretty compressed to me. Same as Rebound.
Wanna hear something even more compressed? Check the break of this beauty:



Yes, in the crashes i listen the pumping effect clearly even though you tube quality may fool my ears.And speaking of Arty, his remix of
Moonbeams - Hate is the killer sounds pretty compressed to me also




maybe that's the why both sounded weird to me

BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS 
BASS 

 

~no bass, no like~


#15 Matt BK

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 05:45 PM

You ask for less master compression, so why did you release one of the most overcompressed tracks as your 200th release which is Rebound :) Or it's time to change the mastering engineer? :)

#16 Tukishiro Hikari

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 06:00 PM

I think the term "overcompressed" have different meaning or perception to different person.
Compression/limiting will bring some color to the track, but this is a personal taste matter.

But it is different when it is done far from normal, though I think this standard is different to each person.

Over compression/limiting may result in distrotion, but may be some timefor a track that distroted bass/lead is main part, the distrotion caused by over comp/limit may not be too noticable. And it may even add more good feeling to the track. But for a quiter or more "silk" sound track, it is complete different. I think this raise a paradox - if some tracks with distroted bass/leads gets over compressed or limited to get to a hotter level, then what should be done to a quiter track to maintain the same loudness of master? By doing the same over comp/limit? Obviously NO. But then what?

Although this over compression/limiting is also a personal taste thing(also it could be different on different playback systems), it is good to tell other producers not to compress/limit their track too much in case for djing/radio.

I support Nick, if music industry can have a system to control the loudness then it will be better. But it definitely is difficult.

#17 Misfire

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 09:24 PM

I've always been in the camp of less compression is better. For my productions I actually do no compression at all... I actually hate compression, but that's just my opinion.

If I want something to be louder.. I just EQ it better or just raise the volume, that simple. I find compression sucks the life of many elements and it reduces dynamics way too much.

and I'm gonna disagree with people about Rebound or Arty's around the world being super compressed. There's so much dynamics in those tracks, its just not going to sound that full/thick with compression imo versus the thinning out of elements usually caused by overcomping.

#18 Trancestorm

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 10:20 PM

yeah i noticed this Rebound is really killing me ears - i got haedache by listening to it.
i turned the level really down ...
so why not be the first the label and turn the compression a bit down - if some1 starts - i think other labels will follow the path.
and btw i think its also really healthier for the listeners. i think we dont want in 20 years ppl which are not able to hear and enjoy our world enough 'cos they listening to many overcompressed tracks.
and its also not good if they cant listen to our beautiful nature - how the wind goes or birds are singing - 'cos this freq are gone.
i posted last year such a topic about the Dynamic Range - i hope u guys could remember.

SO TURN THE COMPRESSOR/LIMITER DOWN PLZ


i would really like ... thx in advance.

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#19 oliverwarren

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 10:32 PM

You ask for less master compression, so why did you release one of the most overcompressed tracks as your 200th release which is Rebound :) Or it's time to change the mastering engineer? :)


You won't get a reply to that ... even though Jono probably agrees with you. I wouldnt be remotely surprised if Jono has different versions of those tracks (ie. a pre-master or less compressed copy of Rebound so it sounds better in a club). Bjorn Akesson was playing out a similar version of Painting Pyramids (he gave me the cd when it was done playing and I analysed it on my PC in comparison to the original painting pyramids mp3 release).

#20 jono

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 11:54 PM

You won't get a reply to that ... even though Jono probably agrees with you.


:msn-wink:
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#21 S.E.H

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:43 AM

:msn-wink:


INTERPRETATION TIME!

#22 Marcioz Pollack

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:16 PM

INTERPRETATION TIME!

Posted Image

here is a pic of jono's face when he post it

BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS 
BASS 

 

~no bass, no like~


#23 andrethuo

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:09 AM

Always a bad idea to slap a comp over the mix bus.This is the reason why we have had the loudness wars over the last few years, and along with young producers throwing out over limited, heavily comped tracks.
The problem is you over compensate everything when you have a master comp running live, you lose focus on Eq, send levels are off balance and misleading.The best way to get a truly better level & balance, is to turn your monitors up louder while composing……..not to try and fatten things up before your final mix. Off course it will sound better with a master comp……..but you are fooling yourself into what is exactly going on in the mix itself.
If you dont learn from the beginning the fundamentals, all you ever do is take shortcuts…and a master comp is BAD for dance music production period. It is a lazy mans shortcut to learning the proper way to produce & Mix.
For 40 Years top flight Mixing & Mastering Engineers were paid a fortune by the worlds Major record labels to do their job, and now, just throw a piece of Ozone or T-racks on the master bus and they are all redundant!.
Uptil 2001, most all dance & electronica was given to a mastering engineer at about -16-18 db rms……..He then had some headroom to master the track to -13db RMS.
Nowadays the bloody Kick level I see on most Beatport tracks is about -12db!………you all be the judge, but lets get back to dynamics and take away the Master comp bus idea……..it always leads to reduced dynamic, which means ultimately if your track ever ends up as an MP3 there will definately be clipping!.
Anyone who uses Platinum notes will have a chance to see whats really going on in the dynamics stakes, when you see tracks with 15000 clips regularly.
99% of all internal VST synth patches do not need compressing, compressing is better used for “recorded” analogue tracks where you couldnt at the time get a higher record level. To fatten a track use eq and a higher volume level….if it doesnt “fit”…..lower the rest of the channels……(Link your DAW channels to groups, it makes this task easy as pie)
Get the mix to sound balanced first, level wise – then introduce your Eq (Hi Lo cut filters where needed) along with using automation on duplicate tracks of your main parts..
Setting up levels etc, for your drums/bass etc, and then leaving them static with no changes as the track progresses, i.e when other parts come in….again a NoNo….your EQ & comping should be dynamically changing as your track progresses, with slight alterations when other parts are plying along.

#24 Tukishiro Hikari

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:36 AM

So why people here now all hate compression and limiting?
I don't think compression or limiting is the most evil thing in EDM.
They are just tools that can be used for a purpose.

Compression or Limiting can give a track advantage, and also, digital limiting is, I think, one of the most important things brought by digital recording/producing. The only problem is that we should not misuse them, or use them way too much. It's only a matter of degree, not a matter of "NO COMPRESSION" or "NO LIMITING". Like what Jono said here.

Loudness War is bad, but this will not be changed by hating compression or limiting.

The most important thing is to use them right.

#25 dankrueger

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 06:57 AM

Great thread.

Continuing from andrethuo's point, to quote Rick Snoman's production book:

It doesn't matter if your pet cat sets the compressor, if its louder, it will sound "better".

I like his advice to set the make-up gain equal to the gain reduction (basically), so that when the compressor is bypassed it sounds equally loud. Meaning you can compare the compressor output to see if sounds better squashed, not louder. On the master, in most cases, it doesn't. Especially keeping in mind club & radio compressors.

#26 jontron

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:47 PM

still banger in club and supported from axwell so who tf cares :)


Kanye West is huge "in the club" and gets supported from every major pop DJ in the world - doesn't mean that the compression isn't shit.

Seriously I just was trying to say that Anjuna doesn't smell like roses when it comes to the loudness war. That's what this thread is about isn't it?

#27 Marcioz Pollack

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 05:18 AM

i dont compress my masterings, this could be a problem?

im not a fan of compressor, since i dont really understand much of him


and when i compress my songs, usually they lost the dynamic, so i just use a simple limiter.

BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS BASS BASS 
BASS BASS 
BASS 

 

~no bass, no like~


#28 Klaneer

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 09:48 AM



is this an overcompressed track or not for example? for me it sounds like its alive, almost perfect clear sound. btw the groove in this track is sick as hell

Edited by Klaneer, 11 July 2011 - 09:50 AM.


#29 Nick82

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 11:21 AM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=lAhHNCfA7NI

is this an overcompressed track or not for example? for me it sounds like its alive, almost perfect clear sound. btw Alexandra Stan in this track is hot as hell

Fixed
This kind of tracks can be compressed really hard without losing depth and sounded bad. It is limited hard but i dont hear unwanted artifacts
or pumping effect. What i noticed is that the bass is not so dominant in the mix. But i guess they have a reason to mix it that way. Very clear production indeed

Edited by Nick82, 11 July 2011 - 11:22 AM.


#30 jono

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 12:09 PM

Compression/limiting is very important of course.

All I would say is that a Waves L3 in the wrong hands can be disastrous, as some of the demos/promos that we get sent show. My point was mainly directed at brick wall limiting and its over-use, and particularly an L3 seems to be abused more than say an L2 or similar. Some people are using these tools to compensate for a poor mix, and in the process you make it worse.

We're in a loudness war era, and that's a fact. Hard to fight it.

There are loud tracks that sound ok pretty loud, and there are loud tracks that sound dreadful, and like I said to some extent it depends on the type of track/style of mix on how loud you can comfortably go. As I said, the empty/minimal house stuff can normally pushed a bit harder when limiting. Some brick-walled tracks do sort of sound ok like that when someone knows what they are doing and are going for a certain effect. Deadmau5 material for example is slammed hard, but he clearly knows what he is doing.

As for the ridiculously loud tracks - well I just have to turn them down a bit in a set because they sound crazily out of place against normal (still loud!) tracks, so they don't end up much perceivably louder/more exciting to the audience in the end.

Certain artists are also supplying their own masters these days which leaves less options for the label sometimes.
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Anjunabeats - the label from Above & Beyond




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