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small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

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small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Postby DonGoliath » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:25 am

greez to all,

first of all i wanna say hi and thank you for all the input i got from this forum over the years!

i'm mixing for over 10 years and am quite happy with my mixes by now. i think i manage issues like tonal balance, frequency seperation and stereo image pretty well but i do have a serious issue with dynamics which i can't seem to solve:

when A/Bing my mixes/masters with commcercial tracks i find that they can compete very well regarding tonal balance, stereo image, frequency separation but my dynamic range is way too small compared to commercial mixes. i can easily tell this from watching my stereo out meter: when my track is playing it will barely move but when the reference track is playing it does move a lot. this lack of dynamic range results in small LUFS values and in times of loudness normalisation makes my music sound way lower and also more fatiguing to listen on streaming platforms. i tried to indentify the culpid for my lack of dynamic range: i think i do not overcompress in my mixes (i usually never comp more than 2db of gain reduction on a single track in my mixes). after some experiments i found that when playing my mixes without the most prominent low end track (in most cases the bassline and/or sub) my dynamic range looks still fine on the meter: the kick and snare really peak/spike nicely. but when unmuting the sub/bassline the meter kind of stops moving only moving tiny bits when the kick/snare hits. i then did some research and found that for genres with SUSTAINED low end like eg. long 808 notes this is quite common. i think this is caused by the long 808 notes eating up the headroom kinda permanently and also the commercial tracks with these kind of sustained long sub notes seem not to move on the meter but still they sound much more dynamic than my masters. btw when mastering i use to MB comp with a ratio of 1:4 and slow attack and fast release times and at the end i rarely have the limiter reducing more than 3db. so i think my mastering is not the reason for my small dynamic range, it s in the mixes - most likely in the low end. i couldnt live without my compression on single tracks since then they wouldnt sound right to me and since i just comp around -1.5db this should be ok, right? also i couldnt live without long sustained sub/bass notes since they are part of my composition. maybe in fact it might be a leveling issue: should the percussive sounds (mostly drums) just be much louder in my mixes so they will spike/peak more and result in an overall more dynamic mix? or am i maybe mistaken and my frequency seperation ain't that good as i think it is and i am therefor dealing with a muddy low end which might affect the dynamic range as well? please listen to some examples of my mixes here and tell me if you have any idea what could be wrong with my small dynamic range, frequency separation and/or tonal balance:

chiptune:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/chiptune

synthwave:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/synthwave

dancehall:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/dancehall

bagpipe:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/bagpipe

boom bap:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/boom-bap

celtic:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/celtic

dub techno:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/dub-techno

g-funk:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/g-funk

heavy metal:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/heavy-metal

trap:

https://soundcloud.com/warriorstance/trap



while i'm at it i also wanna comment on my view/approach on suggested -14 LUFS in times of audio normalisation: my average master still has a loudness of around -8 LUFS (short term). i do leave a 1db TPFS headroom though. i found aiming for -14 LUFS when mastering doesnt work, at least not for my genres. they still demand loudness since it s part of their aestetic. also when checking commercial tracks of my genres on youtube and right clicking them and checking "stats for nerds" all current commercial prods are at least getting reduced 5db so everyone still masters way louder than -14 LUFS. however as i mentioned earlier their (over limited) tracks sound louder than mine, mostly due to my small dynamic range i assume, the human perceived loudness factors come into play. if u fancy please feel free to also comment on this -14 LUFS statement/opinion of mine but please only shortly since this topic should concentrate on hopefully solving my small dynamic range issue ;)



thanks a lot for your help in advance!
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DonGoliath
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Re: small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:12 pm

Loudness Normalisation has given me the *option* to retain the dynamics I once had to sacrifice to peak normalisation.

If a mix sounds better slammed, I will still slam it! I decided not to be a slave to the meters, but let them guide me, so that I know what compromises I'm making, if any. So what if Spotify are going to shave me down 2dB? If the mix sounds good I'll take it!

How loud the end listener chooses to listen is up to him.

The above relates to music mixing - I accept that TV/Film, etc, are a completely different matter!
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Re: small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Postby DonGoliath » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:22 pm

The Elf wrote:Loudness Normalisation has given me the *option* to retain the dynamics I once had to sacrifice to peak normalisation.

If a mix sounds better slammed, I will still slam it! I decided not to be a slave to the meters, but let them guide me, so that I know what compromises I'm making, if any.

How loud the end listener chooses to listen is up to him.

The above relates to music mixing - I accept that TV/Film, etc, are a completely different matter!

i second that emotion, mate. very much my approach. cheers
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Re: small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Postby MOF » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:22 pm

If a mix sounds better slammed, I will still slam it! I decided not to be a slave to the meters, but let them guide me, so that I know what compromises I'm making, if any. So what if Spotify are going to shave me down 2dB? If the mix sounds good I'll take it!

It might be worth using this free utility to check your mixes aren’t turned down by more than 2dB.
https://www.loudnesspenalty.com/

You might consider turning down some of your sub bass to improve your mix.
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Re: small dynamic range in mixes (caused by low end) resulting in small LUFS values

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:42 pm

MOF wrote:It might be worth using this free utility to check your mixes aren’t turned down by more than 2dB.
No need - my metering tells me all I need to know. I know what will happen, because I've already checked. If I choose to have more sub-bass at a cost of a level drop, then that is my decision.

MOF wrote:You might consider turning down some of your sub bass to improve your mix.
If I think that reducing my sub-bass spoils my mix I can decide not to do it - this is the positively good side of Loudness Normalisation - choice!

There really is no need become a slave to this idea that you have to hit -14LUFS!
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