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Reaper mastering CD volume question

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Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby rggillespie » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:51 am

After a fruitless search on the cockos forum, and I know there are some Reaper experts here, I hoped someone might be able to help with this issue. I have managed during the lockdown to get 9 tracks completed or abandoned (mainly the latter) and burnt off a cd to share with mates. Rather irritatingly there is some volume differences between the individual tracks. They all come up -0.4 or so on the stereo meter in Reaper individually so there’s no clipping etc. They sound the same volume wise played individually in Reaper. Then they are rendered and all put together into a new project and I burn off a cd. The volumes seem to change? Is there a away to get them to match volume wise with each other? You can adjust the volume per track when listening to it but that’s a pain! They are all mastered with Ozone and perhaps there's something in there I can use. If only I knew what it was, not sure of my normaliser and maximisers etc. Any guidance much appreciated as ever.
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:34 am

I burn my CD's in Reaper all the time, and I’ve not had this problem.
My working method is to match the volumes of the tracks in Reaper using the "item" volume controls, then it’s a final listen to the whole CD, to see if volumes match, the mood of a track can affect how the volume needs to be changed to match louder or intentionally softer tracks either side, so a compete manual listen is necessary, just normalising, or making every track a certain level on the meter isn’t ideal.
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:51 am

rggillespie wrote: You can adjust the volume per track when listening to it but that’s a pain!

Yup! Such is life...

... the Mk1 Human Ear linked to the Mk1 Human Brain is the best way of ensuring consistency... it's what I always use before finalising track levels.
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:02 am

Mike Stranks wrote:
rggillespie wrote: You can adjust the volume per track when listening to it but that’s a pain!

Yup! Such is life...

... the Mk1 Human Ear linked to the Mk1 Human Brain is the best way of ensuring consistency... it's what I always use before finalising track levels.

Yes Mike, and at least two or three listens, to really make sure it’s OK.
I find it’s easier to judge things like this when you’ve got your CD playing in the background, and you’re not really concentrating on it, anomalies tend to show up more for some reason.
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:00 am

rggillespie wrote:Rather irritatingly there is some volume differences between the individual tracks. They all come up -0.4 or so on the stereo meter in Reaper individually so there’s no clipping etc. They sound the same volume wise played individually in Reaper. Then they are rendered and all put together into a new project and I burn off a cd. The volumes seem to change?

There are two possibilities here.

Either your rendering process is screwing things up by adjusting levels some how... which is possible you you have some other processing going on, but doesn't seem very likely....

...or your ability to judge levels of individual tracks is not that great! Which is far more likely!

The best way to get tracks to sound right together is to adjust them when they are together in the same project.

So 'render' your mixes (24 bit or 32bit floating point -- NOT 16 bits!) and then place them in a new project in the correct order for your CD. You can then adjust the timing of the gaps between the tracks, and adjust the relative levels of the tracks until you have a complete master album that you're happy with. You can then add any CD data you require, truncate and dither to 16 bits, and burn to disc. Job done...

Oh... and it would make life easier if your individual source tracks had peak levels of between -6 and -3dBFS, just to give you more wriggle room to balance their levels in the CD project. Once you have all track balances sorted you can re-normalise the entire project to have a peak level of -0.4dBFS or whatever your preference is. (Personally, though, I would use a True Peak meter to assess the reconstructed waveform peak level rather than rely on crude sample levels in a normalisation process, to avoid problems with intersample peaks).
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:13 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The best way to get tracks to sound right together is to adjust them when they are together in the same project.

So 'render' your mixes (24 bit or 32bit floating point -- NOT 16 bits!) and then place them in a new project in the correct order for your CD. You can then adjust the timing of the gaps between the tracks, and adjust the relative levels of the tracks until you have a complete master album that you're happy with. You can then add any CD data you require, truncate and dither to 16 bits, and burn to disc. Job done...

As Hugh says, it’s best to collect all of your album tracks into one project, adjust levels, and gaps between tracks, which can vary according to the moods of the tracks.
If your project was created specifically for an album, and tracks were added to, and created within that album, over time then you only have to render once,
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby rggillespie » Mon Jun 01, 2020 1:46 pm

Many thanks for the helpful detailed replies, I'll look forward to trying out your suggestions after work today. Just one related query, on the new reaper project with the 9 mixed songs on them. Each song has its own ozone settings in its project on the stereo master.
So I should have no other plugins on the reaper stereo master mix section in the new project with all 9 songs. Because each song is already individually mixed and mastered, is that correct?
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 01, 2020 1:53 pm

rggillespie wrote:So I should have no other plugins on the reaper stereo master mix section in the new project with all 9 songs. Because each song is already individually mixed and mastered, is that correct?

I would suggest removing Ozone's limiting on the individual songs and using a limiter on the final master track. As everyone else says, balance the levels by ear. I tend to use individual item levels to set the volume for each song but, if each song is on its own track, you can use the track fader to set the levels.

Always use the quietest song as the reference and adjust the others down to match. You can then adjust the limiter on the master track if you want to bring the overall level up.
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Re: Reaper mastering CD volume question

Postby rggillespie » Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:51 am

Thanks to all for these helpful pointers, I did as suggested and its seems to be sorted out now. I adjusted some volumes on individual tracks. Sods law, it turns out the one that seemed quietest is next to one that seems loudest. I tried putting a PSP vintage warmer, lightly using a finalizer setting in the stereo master and that seemed to further unify the tracks volume and overall sound wise. I like the PSP 'finalised' cd best after comparing it to the untreated one. It's subtlety changed things and perhaps flattened things out a little, but I can live with that. In future I think I'll do the mixing of the songs and then do the mastering part only when I come to burn the cd. I have been doing it track by track thus far, but I see the drawback doing it that way now. You live and learn as they say, thanks again for the helpful replies its much appreciated
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