Advice needed on how to "brighten" my mix! Tools of choice?


#1

Hello, fairly new to audiojungle. I’m finding there is a load of talent on this site! I’m not very strong in mixing my compositions. I’ve found that my mixes always come out duller (is that a word) than most of the music on this site. I’ve found that my music seems to be about 3db “quieter” than most music, and I need help on making my mixes more pleasant.

I use Logic Pro 8 on a dual G5, using a Saffire interface and KRK monitors. Lately I’ve been using Logic’s Multipressor, Spreader, and FatEQ to boost gain. I’ve even submitted projects where my monitor was indicating I was +3db and going to clip, but never got a rejection due to clipping. Even with this excess gain, my projects still sound softer, quieter, and blah compared to most of the music I’m hearing on audiojungle. Suggestioins?!


#2

Purchasing and learning both or one of the following will be a start:

iZotope Ozone - http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/

and / or

PSP VintageWarmer 2 - http://www.pspaudioware.com/plugins/dynamic_processors/psp_vintagewarmer2/

The other thing is use your ears all the time. Listen to pop records and try and work out what makes them sound bright / clear, etc… when you start ‘actively’ listening (most people listen passively) you can learn an INCREDIBLE amount about music.

I also like to differentiate between mixing and mastering. I get the track sounding as good as possible BEFORE mastering, whether this involves EQ, compression, or panning, it needs to sound good before mastering.

Then I bounce a WAV file with about 5-10 dB of headroom which will be the track that I use to master.

I open a new session and import the bounced WAV file.

I then use my various mastering tools on that track, (two of which are mentioned above), and the track, because I left headroom at the mixing stage, usually sound crisper and brighter than before.

Hope that helps, others will probably have their own just as valid ideas too. I will send a before and after mastering demo maybe later this week.

Best wishes,

GC


#3

so basically you need to use a limiter…

also, for brightness you could try some reverb and/or exciter tools, cutting out the mud with eq also helps, a lot.


#4

Gareth beat me to it :slight_smile: but yes - Mastering, mastering, mastering.

And it’s funny he also mentioned a demo because I finished a quick one as well which you can find here:

Before: http://timmcmorris.com/compare/unmastered.mp3

After: http://timmcmorris.com/compare/mastered.mp3

Keep in mind this is just a VERY quick example to help show you the difference.

Gareth may have something else to add.

By the way, the music content itself is good - so don’t beat yourself up there.

There is a saying that always goes around when mastering is brought up “Mastering is what separates a basement tape from a professional recording.”

EDIT: If there is one thing you learn well - make it Ozone 4, it will take you to the next level for sure


#5

Hey guys, you`ve already said it all.
I can only drop my 2 cents on this subject:
Like freshpulse said, you need to use a limiter. It is a type of compressor that will not let the audio signal to reach over 0dB (or less if you want --> 0,3 dB is often used), as there is no signal above 0dB on digital equipment.
Limiter is used as a last effect in the chain of the mastering process and modern limiters also have dithering options if you master a 24bit or 32bit track to a CD standard (16 bit 44kHz).
Check out Sonnox Oxford Limiter:


There are also other options like Waves L-series, PSP Xenon and so on.

You can find a good article about mastering here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug04/articles/computermastering.htm

Cheers,
Damir

P.S. Like Gareth said, Ozone and Vintage Warmer are very good processors. The latter can really spice up your mix and give it some analogue-style warmth.


#6

and for metering i highly recommend the dynamic range meter:

http://www.dynamicrange.de

this is very accurate and gives information about the loudness and dynamic range of your track.

cheers, Hermann


#7

wow, good stuff all. Anybody know of some good free mastering tools, or at least some good trials before i make a purchase? I know I need to upgrade my dinosaur of a computer to at least Leopard to take advantage of some of the newer software. Maybe an older UAD card?


#8

You’re dealing with “perceived loudness” and mastering is the answer. Go with the vintage warmer, it’s like the salt in all my tracks-AudioJungle or not. :wink: The better your dynamic range, the lower the perceived volume will be. The more you compress, the louder your track will sound. It will take you quite a bit of experimenting. Pick a favorite mastered track from a pro in the style you like and play it side by side with your composition. Compare them back and forth until you feel like you’ve captured the sound you’re looking for. Good Luck. :smiley:


#9

Limiter will, well, LIMIT the max db range, but I think you need compression, mild group compression actually. It’ll “glue” things together better. Try some SSL emulation or Multiband Compression (but be careful not to overdo it), and after that you can use limiter to boost the overall gain…


#10

Wow, some excellent advice on this thread!

garethcoker - as always, brilliant and extraordinarily useful information.

Rob, interesting and valuable advice about the warmer. This is the tube amp simulator, correct?

I’ll add some brass tracks observations as I just got done re-mixing and re-mastering an early AJ submission, a major effort. This will seem simplistic in light of what’s been said previously; it’s just brass tracks, from my experiences.

The $0.02: Your instrumentation will play a role. Are you switching leads? Or is everything playing at once? Are you balancing “bright” with “dark” sounds? Are you achieving the color you want? Are you hearing through the speakers/headphones what you hear in your head?

Do as much equalization as possible in the individual instruments. You want your trumpets (or equivalent sound) bright; you do not want low strings and woodwinds as bright. Therefore, boost the trumpets, but try to get a balance between brightness and synthiness. It’s difficult!

Go easy on the post-processing bass boosting. One of the goals of mastering is to make your sound sound good on as many different speakers/amps as possible, not just your speaker setup or monitor headphones. It’s a balancing act between making it sound good on your configuration, mine, and everyone else who will listen.

Listen to your work on headphones and external speakers - as many configurations as you can get your hands on.


#11

Ozone 4, 10 day trial.

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/ozone/download.asp

VintageWarmer 2, 14 day trial.

https://www.pspaudioware.net/register/demo.php


#12

Hello there

Allmost everything said :slight_smile:
Just wanted to add, if you are working on a mac and probably use Logic, you have everything you will need onboard. Have a look at the Multiband Compressor and the AD Limiter

http://www.keyofgrey.com/2009/09/what-does-a-multipressor-do

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug09/articles/logicworkshop_0809.htm

The only thing you might miss in Logics own plugins is a easy to use saturator like Vintage Warmer or similar. But you can still use some other things to go into the same direction ( use a little tiny bit of overdrive and a tube compressor with a moderate setting ).

Hope this helps regarding free versions of the allready named plugins. They are up to the job, especialy when youve just started your voyage :slight_smile:

Have fun with all that.


#13

Ozone is awesome +1


#14

Such great advice…thanks to everybody with their 2 cents. I feel like re-mastering everything I’ve submitted! I found the PRESET mastering tools in Logic that usually includes compression, limiters, etc. (about 5-6 different post processing tools) and was blown away just tinkering around with my old tracks…what a difference with just one click! Making minor tweaks here and there really solidified what I was looking for.

Also just downloaded the trial of Ozone 4…very nice! Cheers.