When A Track Shows Up As Solid Color Is It Too Loud

Posts 1 - 13 of 13
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    neuromancer56 : Tue 8th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago So I see a lot of tracks on here (my own included) where the track appears as solid color. I'm thinking that means that the levels are too high, and that they should be lowered on all the individual tracks so the master doesn't go above 0db (into the red?)
  2. 186161
    Spivkurl : Tue 8th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago To answer your question, yes it is most likely too loud. When the waveform is sold, it means that all of the dynamics have been removed (if there was any to begin with). It may be due to overuse of dynamic processing in mastering, such as compressors or limiters. It may also be a result of mixing issues, which lead to too high of a signal at the master channel. I think that the best way to solve this is to remove or bypass any effects on the master, and then lower all mixer tracks by a set amount. This way, the relative balance stays the same, while the signal reaching the master is lower. Then you can re-do the mastering with a better input signal.

    As a side note, it is also very likely drenched in digital clipping. This does not always mean that a sound is over-gained or over-compressed, but it does mean that at least the peaks go beyond the available digital headroom. This leads to loss of data, and lowered fidelity.

    Sometimes these issues can be helped by giving the instruments space, both in placement and frequency. Pan certain instruments left or right, making sure that everything is not centered. Equalize or filter things in relation to eachother, so that they do not all fight for the same ranges.

    Another thing to consider is "fader creep." This is usually caused by turning volume faders up instead of down. While mixing, people tend to turn a fader up to bring an instrument more prominent in the mix... then later they can't quite hear another instrument, and they turn that one up too... and on it goes. It is far better in the long run to turn all faders down a bit, except for the one which needs to be more prominent. It has the same effect on the balance of the mix, without forcing the mix up up and away.
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    Neomorpheus : Tue 8th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago Yes watching those meters is very critical and usually a solid wave form is a clear indication of a bad sounding track. Spiv gives some excellent tips. I totally support never placing any effects on the master channel.
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    Spivkurl : Tue 8th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago Like Neomorpheus said, keep the master channel clean during mixing will give you an indication of the quality and overall level of your mix. I pretty much always do my mastering separately, after rendering the highest quality uncompressed mix as possible. This has the added benefit of ensuring that you don't accidentally mess up your mix while mastering. I'm sure we've all accidentally clicked something, or spun the mouse wheel in a weird spot... this can do some things to a mix which is hard to track down. If you are mastering separately, and you decide the mix needs more work, then it is a simple matter to go back and change it specifically.
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    neuromancer56 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago Thanks for all the great info. I think I can start applying all of this immediately, except the EQ and filter bits. It seems like I will have to do some learning to do more good than harm when working with that. Panning and turning all the faders down has worked wonders on the track I'm working on right now. I read that panning works on most everything except low frequency thumping like kicks which should be kept centered.
  6. 1564425
    rasputin1963 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago It helps to use a Multiband Compressor (any make) to insure that all frequencies, from low to high, are bouncing and pulsing along as they should, with no band ever pegging 0dB.

    Yes, in a rock or techno or EDM loop, you do want your track to be as loud as you can... but you DO want to give it a little "breathing room", too... Normalizing ideally to -1dB if you really have to have balls-to-the-wall loudness.

    One of the interesting things I've learned is: You don't have to actually use decibelage to give the listener the impression of loudness. The instruments themselves will convey cues that "loud" "intensity" is what's going on. Think: the way a trumpet blast will contain higher overtones than the same trumpet note played at a medium volume. Let your sonorities-- instruments-- give the listener an impression of intense loudness. You can have a screaming distorted guitar crunching an intense note... yet its apparent volume on the dB scale can be very moderate indeed, even as low as -12dB... and your listener will still get the impression of a screamingly loud note.

    Usually your higher frequencies are called in to play, with distortion or other piercing high frequencies. But even then, you, the producer, want to tame those high frequencies, always have them under control so they're not pegging at 0dB.
  7. 1564425
    rasputin1963 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago If an ageing burnt-out hippie like me can learn how to use a Multiband Compressor, you can too. :-)
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    rasputin1963 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago One of the coolest VST's I've been using is the Melda MULTI-ANALYZER. It lets you compare two tracks to find out where one track is "stepping on" the other track... because its frequencies are similar.

    In those troublesome regions, competing frequencies will often cause phase cancellations, a punky/thumpy dullness that can unnecessarily drive your dB response into the stratosphere and give your mix a certain mushy vagueness.

    When you find those "competing" frequencies, you can dial down ONE of the tracks in that specific frequency region with a parametric equalizer... and your listener will absolutely be none-the-wiser.
  9. 1564425
    rasputin1963 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago At the end of the day, if a listener is really turned-on by your track... he will raise the volume knob on his playback hardware. Let him.
  10. 1564425
    rasputin1963 : Wed 9th Aug 2017 : 2 weeks ago I'm sure you've noticed, as I have, that soft-synths (of every flavor) have patches that are, by default, set to a deafeningly high volume. You play a note, and you're like, "Jesus Christ! Who programmed this??" . You turn its master amp down... but then, when you switch patches, there it is again, turned up to max master amp again. Annoying. Don't let the default settings of softsynths necessarily be the ones you use when you bounce that track onto audio... Don't let them boss you around. They're here to serve YOU. :-)
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    neuromancer56 : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 1 week ago @rasputin1963: Wow, thanks for all the ideas. At this point I'm drinking from the firehose, trying to learn all aspects of music production, so it will be a while until I get into this level of depth with my mixing. I took a look at Melda Multi Analyzer, and it looks cool, but I'm not quite ready to figure out how to use it yet, and it looked pretty intimidating with all those colored instrument lines bouncing up and down heavily overlapping each other. There was no clear delineation as to what was good overlap and what was bad. There just was a huge amount of overlap. Maybe you just find the peaks for each instrument and then gently tone down around those peaks for each instrument, trying to make sure two dissimilar instruments don't have consistently the same peaks.
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    rasputin1963 : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 1 week ago vis-a-vis the Multi-Analyzer: You have to click open the tab that says COLLISIONS. There the screen will show you... with black bands at the bottom, exactly where the overlap is.
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    Spivkurl : Sat 12th Aug 2017 : 1 week ago "Overlaps" are caused more by frequencies shared, stereo position, and phase than anything peak related.
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