Aiight, let's talk RMS level during psuedo-mastering

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Aiight, let's talk RMS level during psuedo-mastering

Post by vvv » Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:39 pm

First, I have no $ or interest in professional mastering as my songs are just for me and mine and whoever feels like listening - I sell nothing, bill for nothing, and don't wanna - it's my art, start to finish. And I note I'm too prolific to even consider ...

So, what I'm on about is, assuming I have my mixes completed and all EQ, etc., done to 'em and I'm at the stage of sequencing and setting an average gain for an "album", is there a target RMS level to shoot for?

Yes, I shall use my ears, etc.; I'm just curious, is there an initial RMS level that you use as standard?

And is that level initially set by the loudest passages of the particular song, or the average of the whole song, or something different?

I mean, do all y'all even consider RMS level?

Finally, I've read tons, I've UTFSF'd until my brain hurts; I wanna know what all you fine folks here at TOMB do.

Or don't. :twisted:
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:29 pm

I always advocate having someone else (hopefully a pro) do the mastering but on those rare occasions where I have to do it myself i set the overall level of each song by ear. That usually means jumping back and forth from song to song and adjusting levels as I go. I use the vocal as my main reference. Once everything is roughed in I apply whatever comps and limiting I want and then check everything again.

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Post by joninc » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:33 pm

Looking at the wave forms of a few albums you think are relevant references can be helpful in terms of level. Some albums are quieter than you think and sound great because of gentler approach to limiting and compression (more open etc).

I also like to check relative vocal levels between songs.

And start with the loudest/biggest tunes first as your peak volume. Acoustic or mellower songs with less thump and transient stuff are easy to make super loud so you don't want to set the bar way higher by starting with then and making them way louder than the rocking tunes can realistically go.

Does that make sense?
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Post by vvv » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:52 pm

Yep.

And I do do what both of you said.

Mebbe there is no starting shortcut?
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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:04 pm

The "apparent volume" thing comes into play on the acoustic stuff; less really is more, as a guitar and vocal will always "sound louder" than a full arrangement... Counter-intuitive, but true. I read and heard about it (but didn't believe it) before I experienced it, but when working on an indie compilation a few years back, we got a dose of "Why does that sound so friggin' loud?!?" from a guitars and harmony vox track, compared to the rest of the band tracks on the disc. It definitely is something to be aware of...

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Post by vvv » Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:21 am

Oh yep, I've made that mistake! :lol:

Is anyone using a target RMS, as in, "I need the album to be this loud to compete ..."?
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Post by lyman » Fri Oct 24, 2014 7:31 am

Having just pseudo-mastered my pseudo album of pseudo songs, I will chime in. I didn't shoot for a specific RMS, but I did compare the level by ear against records with a dynamic range similar to what I'm going for. I used the limiter very lightly. Like just knocking down some stray transients -2dB here and there. Dynamics over volume. I had to fight the impulse to go back and make it louder but I'm committing to it.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:45 am

forget RMS. don't even think about it. it means nothing.

the shortcut is just using your ears. they work great for this.

anything with super loud bass (or sustained low mids) is gonna read a high RMS. means nothing as far as loudness. anything that's super bright/lots of high mids is gonna sound loud, regardless of what the meters say.

as noted, a solo guitar/voice tune is gonna sound loud compared to a full band arrangement. you could have the biggest, meanest, most-tattoo'dest, beardiest sludge metal band of all time, and you put their record on next to a recording of an 8 year old girl playing ukelele and singing a love song to her pet unicorn, and the kid will make the metal band look like chumps. if her sister plays a flute solo in the middle, it's really all over.

do what lyman did, compare your stuff with records you want to stand up against. compare BY EAR, ignore what the meters say. listen to them loud and listen quietly.

perceived loudness has way more to do with arrangement, eq, and the sounds themselves than it does with limiting or compression or anything. a great mix of a great tracking job is going to sound louder than a shitty mix of a shitty tracking job, even if you squash the shitty one to death and it reads louder on the meters.

tl;dr meters are useless, ears are good.

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Re: Aiight, let's talk RMS level during psuedo-mastering

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:53 am

also, if this is the case:
vvv wrote:First, I have no $ or interest in professional mastering as my songs are just for me and mine and whoever feels like listening - I sell nothing, bill for nothing, and don't wanna - it's my art, start to finish.
then why even worry about "competing"? if it's really My Art And Fuck You (and there's nowt wrong with that), then just make it how it sounds good to you.

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Post by vvv » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:00 pm

Well, I was actually starting from the point of consistency in levels among the tracks.

My average levels on full band arrangements are coming out -13 to -15, so I was wondering if there's a number anyone here considers "magic".
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:52 pm

vvv wrote:Well, I was actually starting from the point of consistency in levels among the tracks.
just listen to them. go by the vocals, and to a lesser extent the snare.

numbers don't really mean anything, but if your averages are around -14, assuming you're peaking at 0dbfs, that's fine.

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Post by vvv » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:55 pm

8)
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Post by vvv » Fri Oct 24, 2014 5:48 pm

Aiight, so how it worked out ...
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:30 am

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:forget RMS. don't even think about it. it means nothing.

the shortcut is just using your ears. they work great for this.

anything with super loud bass (or sustained low mids) is gonna read a high RMS. means nothing as far as loudness. anything that's super bright/lots of high mids is gonna sound loud, regardless of what the meters say.

as noted, a solo guitar/voice tune is gonna sound loud compared to a full band arrangement. you could have the biggest, meanest, most-tattoo'dest, beardiest sludge metal band of all time, and you put their record on next to a recording of an 8 year old girl playing ukelele and singing a love song to her pet unicorn, and the kid will make the metal band look like chumps. if her sister plays a flute solo in the middle, it's really all over.

do what lyman did, compare your stuff with records you want to stand up against. compare BY EAR, ignore what the meters say. listen to them loud and listen quietly.

perceived loudness has way more to do with arrangement, eq, and the sounds themselves than it does with limiting or compression or anything. a great mix of a great tracking job is going to sound louder than a shitty mix of a shitty tracking job, even if you squash the shitty one to death and it reads louder on the meters.

tl;dr meters are useless, ears are good.

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Post by vvv » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:26 pm

More fun, too! 8)
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