The most popular post on my site right now is this one:
The video above is a “sequel” to that post, in a way, because it demonstrates many of the techniques I talk about in the original post.
(I’m not saying you should make your music really loud, by the way – far from it. But if that’s what you’re going to do, I’d prefer you to make a good job of it : )
The video was inspired by an email from Brendan Zacharias, a musician and producer who recently bought a copy of my Home Mastering Compression video package, which includes the Mastering with Multiband Compression eBook.
(Multiband compression can be an invaluable tool for getting loud, punchy mixes without crushing the life out of your mix – to find out more, click here.)
Brendan was having problems matching the level of his songs, “Graphite” to a commercial release, even though he was following the guidelines in my eBook.
Here’s an excerpt from his email:
I know it is extremely hot, rms getting up to -3 and a DR of 2.7!! so I know this is ridiculously over compressed however, the drums sound nice and clear and punchy, all the bass is present and it just has a nice energy which of course sounds great over a club sound system. Even If I compress my mix to these levels it just lacks that in your face attitude, Is there something i’m missing?
I asked Brendan to send me before and after copies of his track, plus the commercial song he was trying to emulate, and once I’d heard it, I knew I could answer his question – in fact, it highlighted three key issues on making a loud master.
Instead of writing an email reply to him, I thought instead I’d do a video demo, so you can hear what my reply was, too. I sent Brendan a sneak preview of the video, and he said:
Great video, Deffinitely opened a few things up to me which I hadn’t been introduced to before.
I guess the thing which really answered my question the most, and I guarantee most young producers in my position won’t know about this same technique is using the eq to cut the bottom end and then using the gain utility to bring the apparent gain back up.
Most of the other guides and tutorials I have read on the internet have only talked about compressing and then boosting the top and bottom end using an eq. Maybe when writing the post you should really emphasize this point as it may be simple to you, but a completely new concept to others!
So, just to add some extra clarity to this point – bass has a big influence on the apparent loudness of a song, partly because it account for more of the power in the signal – so, it’s crucial to get the right EQ balance before you try to lift the level.
(I’m not just talking about slapping a high-pass filter across everything though, you need carefully chosen settings depending on the song – watch the video to see what I mean.)
The video was made on my home mastering setup, with plugins – if you’d like to know more about how (and why) I use them, I’ve made a series of free email tutorials – for more information, click this link:
And, if you’d like to take a really deep dive into how and why I use compression and limiting in mastering, click here.
I hope you find the video useful !